Stubborn as a Mule

By: Juliette Poe

A Sex and Sweet Tea Novel



“Now… let’s see what we can do to get you to behave,” Judge Bowe says, and I’m surprised he doesn’t follow that up with an evil cackling laugh.

The Honorable Winston Edward Bowe—Eddie to his friends, which I am not one of, but Pap is—is a decent guy. He looks haughty and commanding from the bench with his snowy-white hair, tanned face lined with wisdom marks, and keen blue eyes that don’t seem to miss a thing. Most people shake in their boots in his presence, but I’m not most people.

Jail doesn’t scare me either because what I did to be standing here right now? Well, I’d do it all over again.

But with a more fluorescent color.

“Your Honor,” my sister, Trixie, says, voice cooler than a cucumber. “I’m really not sure why we’re here. Lowe merely followed your orders to repair the damage he made when he previously boarded up the doors and windows of the Mainer House and—”

“Miss Mancinkus,” Judge Bowe interrupts as he leans forward to glare over the rims of his glasses. “I am dying to know how you are going to defend the fact that while yes, your brother repaired the casings around the doors and windows that were riddled with nail holes, he also painted the new casings neon pink. Pray tell, how is that not considered to be damage on a home such as that?”

“Well, I’d be glad to tell you,” she drawls impertinently, and I doubt many see the nearly imperceptible tilt of the judge’s lips in amusement at my sister. He acts all blustery and has thrown her in jail a time or two, but he likes her sass. “You see, the original color of the casings and frames was a cranberry color that had paled over the decades to a blush pink. Floyd over at the hardware store wasn’t able to replicate the existing color chip Lowe brought him, but really did the best he could with the pigments available—”

“That’s enough.” Judge Bowe cuts Trixie off with a raised palm. “There is no galaxy available where that argument would fly. You cannot claim that painting a historical home neon pink wasn’t done with some sort of malice or ill intent.”

That is true enough. I have to clamp down hard with my teeth on the inside of my cheek, because I totally used that pink paint to thumb my nose at the current owner of the home… one stylishly beautiful harridan by the name of Melinda Rothschild who stole my family’s home out from under me. Hell, even her name sounds cold and frosty, just like I suspect her heart is.

“With all due respect,” Trixie says, and Judge Bowe rolls his eyes because he’s got an argument to make that Trixie isn’t all that respectful to anyone. “Nothing in your order specified the details on the repairs. One could argue that the lack of such direction or specificity could infer it was Lowe’s choice on how to make the repairs.”

“Ridiculous,” I hear from my right and I turn to see Miss Rothschild, the ice princess herself, sneering up at the judge as she sits beside the prosecuting attorney. She sure wasted no time after I painted the casings to run to him and demand I be forcibly marched to the guillotines this morning. The paint wasn’t even dry before the sheriff showed up to arrest me for my second charge of destruction of property to the Mainer House.

Judge Bowe slides his gaze slowly from Trixie to Miss Rothschild, and his eyes turn glacial. Anyone in these parts knows Judge Bowe is tough but fair. Well, fair might be a stretch. He’ll home cook an outsider in a heartbeat, as evidenced by the fact that when I first came before him last week, he threw out the assault charge Miss Rothschild had pressed against me—that would be because I brandished a shotgun toward some workers she’d hired to gut the house—as well as a trespassing charge because I happened to be sitting on the porch with said shotgun. Judge Bowe was in a good mood and only ordered me to pay restitution in the form of actual labor. In other words, I was ordered to fix the shit I’d messed up when I boarded up every door and window of the Mainer House with about a gazillion nails so that no one would be entering the house anytime soon.

I mention the fact he went easy on me only to highlight that Miss Rothschild would not be a recipient of his generosity. She’s a blue-blooded New Yorker who had the temerity to question Judge Bowe’s order last week. I could tell then he didn’t like her—same as me—and I can tell now that he likes her even less.

Same as me.

“Do you have something to say to this court, Miss Rothschild?” Judge Bowe inquires pleasantly, but it’s a trap.

I almost want to yell at her, “Don’t fall for it,” but then I decide what do I care if she hangs herself?

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