The town residents packed in the courthouse early Monday morning. It was the last day in November, and Christmas was around the corner. Elderly women dressed like elves busily decorated the courthouse lobby. Bright red poinsettias were placed in every corner of the hall. Black and white angels and snowmen figurines were set on tables. A nativity scene of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus was constructed on the stage. Men with bulging muscles carried an twenty-foot evergreen tree into the lobby. After they strung it up and stabilized it in the center of the floor, men with ladders ran over to the massive tree. They carefully erected the ladders on the tree, and with Christmas lights in hand, they climbed up the ladders and strung them around the tree’s thick branches.
Loudspeakers belted out an orchestra playing Joy To The World in the background. People bundled up in wool scarfs, coats, and hats continued to pack the courthouse. They scurried around in various directions like big mice, looking for their assigned destinations. A frantic woman wearing a tiara on her long, curly brown hair, sprinted across the lobby in her wedding dress. Crying and throwing a fit in a nearby corner, a little boy about the age of four screamed like a hyena. Calm, his mother stooped down to his level, hugging on him. She covered his cheeks with kisses, and the little boy stopped crying. He giggled as his mother tickled his stomach. Then she picked him up and went on her way.
Sitting on the second floor in front of courthouse numbered five, Doctor Beebe and James Cole waited for the judge to approve and sign the warrant. At first, Doctor Beebe was reluctant to file kidnapping charges against his old friend and colleague, Doctor Benny. After an intense discussion with James Cole, he became convinced it was the right decision. Looking haggard with dark circles around his eyes, Doctor Beebe stayed awake all night, unable to sleep, anxious about his visit to the courthouse. With his mind made up, but still deeply troubled, he pondered when it would be the best time to fire Doctor Benny. The medical director knew his timing was everything. He needed to be as strategic as possible.
Finally, around noon, the clerk emerged from the courtroom. Short and dumpy, the woman’s straight, stringy hair was parted in the middle, and her bright light blue eyes were intense. Wearing an outdated black pantsuit with spiked red heels, the clerk strutted over to the two men carrying a sheet of paper. Her lips parted into a sardonic grin. “The arrest warrant has been signed.” She gave Doctor Beebe his copy, and she lingered for a moment, waiting for questions. Doctor Beebe found her frozen smile off-putting. He shifted in his chair, straightening up.
“Do you know when he will be arrested?” he asked.
“Tomorrow morning,” she answered.
“Why not now? He could leave town by this time tomorrow morning,” he told her. Doctor Beebe looked annoyed.
“I’m sorry,” said the clerk. “But that’s the best the court can do.” She turned her short, dumpy self around and slipped into the courtroom. Doctor Beebe rolled up his copy of the arrest warrant and stuck it in his coat pocket. “I’ll be glad when this is over. This whole situation has been quite taxing!”
“I know, old buddy. It will be over soon.” James slapped his hat on his head and rose to his feet. “How you plan to break the news to your staff?”
“Slowly but carefully,” Doctor Beebe half-heartedly joked.
James laughed. Then he turned serious. “But really, have you thought about it?”
“Yep, it’s been on my mind constantly. It’s such a delicate situation.”
“My friend, you don’t have a lot of time left. Once the media gets a hold of this, you’re going be peppered with tons of questions.”
Doctor Beebe let out a harsh sigh. “I know, man, I know. You can’t go to a gun fight with a hammer! I will tell the staff when it’s appropriate.”
Feeling sorry for his old friend, James offered a suggestion. “Let’s head to Sully’s for a drink. You could use a break.”
“Good idea,” Doctor Beebe grinned. “I’ll meet you there.”
James waved and headed down the hall. “See you in a few.”