Donna couldn't believe an entire year had passed since she was sworn in as Detroit's first African American Female judge. She can remember Like it was yesterday, the accomplished feeling she had on that very morning. Everything she had ever dreamed of as a young girl was hers. Her husband, William was one of Michigan's top defense attorneys. Her daughter attended Yale university, and she owned a home that even the wealthiest admired. It sat on ten acres of perfectly manicured land, with a pool, full tennis and basketball courts, and a separate eight car garage that housed William's luxurious automobile collection.His prized possession was a 1966 Shelby Cobra which was currently worth over a million dollars. Sometimes he would go out and spend hours staring at her. It reminded him that in spite of everything he had been through, that he had "finally made it."
William spent the majority of his free time, vacations included, traveling to car shows worldwide. It wasn't until Donna complained that he reluctantly gave in, and actually went on a trip with her. He never understood vacationing in "much-too expensive" spots like Jamaica or Puerto Rico just for the sake of "showing off". He would much rather be somewhere else..minus Donna, indulging in his own "hobby." But after 30 years of marriage, William knew what battles to fight, and which ones were better left alone. So he continued with the unnecessary trips. After all, his hobby was too precious to give up.
Monday morning. Donna prepared her lunch with the same contents as she had everyday for the last year. A turkey breast sandwich on rye bread, a bag of baby carrots, two oatmeal raisin cookies and a diet lipton green tea. Donna fully understood that "good genes" weren't the only thing responsible for her size 7 figure,perfect skin,and all her OWN hair at 59. It took some hard work of her own; something she was definitely not afraid of.
Predictability and punctuality were Donna's most apparent characteristics.Court started daily at 8 A.M., however Donna was upstairs, seated and robed in her chambers by 7:15. She had no tolerance for judges who "showered in their own power." She was extremely grateful for her position and was aware of how easily it could be stripped from her. She never, for even a moment, thought she was above the law. It was because of her honesty, fairness, and integrity that she had earned her title as the most respected judge in Wayne County.
William was equally dedicated to his career. He loved being a Criminal Defense Attorney. Partly because of his disdain for the judicial system; but mostly because of his desire to help those who can't afford outstanding legal representation. He received numerous offers to join his wife on the other side of the bench but he could never see himself as a judge. He had too many issues that needed "straightening out" before he could "play God" on a daily basis. He was cool right where he was.
William pulled a mint green button down shirt from his closet. He stood in front of the full-length mirror and looked disgustingly at the scar on the right side of his stomach. After 50 years, he still felt the pain of his flesh burning, and remembered the shameful circumstances surrounding the scar. He was thanked God for Donna who had spent many nights waking him from nightmares; never judging him. He quickly changed his thinking and finished dressing.
William hopped in his "everyday car", the S550 Mercedes, silver with black interior, and drove 5 miles to his office. He knew that strategic planning was the reason he was able to enjoy such luxuries and conveniences. His car phone rang displaying donna's number on the ID.
"Will,three weeks from today is the Judicial Convention. We are BOTH honorary speakers. I know you're on vacation that week. Do NOT plan one of your stupid shows that day."Damn. He hated speaking at these conventions.
"Ok big head. You just make sure your speech can match mine. Don't forget this fierce tongue and word game is what pulled you" he joked.
"Boy shut up!"
"Oh yeah. Don't wait up, I'm meeting Tom for drinks tonite", William lied.
She replied, "Make sure you have your key. I'm not getting up. Love you." They hung up.
After 30 years, William still loved Donna as much as he did the day he met her. He felt guilty for lying. But those feelings left just as quickly as they came.William dialed his friend. "Hey Terrance. We still on for tonite? Cool. Meet me at nine. Same spot."
Terrance and William had been friends for 4 years. He came in as a client and they became good friends immediately after. He knew he could never introduce Terrance to Donna, she would never understand the 25 year age difference. Plus Donna had a habit of "running checks" on new people they got close to. That was the last thing he needed.
He pulled into the Embassy Suites, parked around back, and walked into room 103 where Terrance waited. After 4 hours, he kissed Terrance goodnight and drove home blasting his radio. Sometimes he hated hearing his own thoughts.
He walked in, undressed, and climbed into bed with his wife."Goodnight Love". He kissed her softly on the cheek. He prayed. "Lord please help me to restore myself. I am lost and need to be the man you need me to be. I'm tired of lying. Please take control of my life. I am dying". He rolled over and cried himself to sleep.
The next morning Donna went in as usual. She was greeted by her Secretary. "Judge Daniels is out on an emergency. Remember the case he's trying about the Substitute teacher facing molestation charges? Well, the case needs to be sentenced today. He would Like to transfer it to you. All evidence is on your desk. Hearing is at 1 P.M."
Donna sat at her desk, grabbed a cup of coffee,put her glasses on, and opened the file. Terrance Greene, 35 year old math teacher...several counts of inappropriate touching and fondling a minor. Donna hated these cases. It reminded her of the horrific abuse her husband suffered at the hands of his OWN father. She continued reading the file. She reviewed the prosecution's case and opened an envelope that contained pictures that "established character". The outside of the envelope read: "Off the Record".
Inside she saw pictures of Terrance with several different men. She came across pictures of him naked on a beach with men of all ages and races. But the last two pictures almost stopped her heart from beating. She was holding a picture of Terrance Green completely nude engaging in sex with an unidentified man. Although his face was unrecognizable, the scar on his stomach was not. Nor was the wedding band on his left hand that rested effortlessly on the waist of Terrance.
Donna removed the pictures from the file, and placed them in her purse. She gathered the file, returned them to her secretary and instructed her to postpone the hearing until tomorrow.She ran out of the door, jumped in her car and drove home. Donna immediately logged onto the computer and typed the following letter:
"Dear William. Stop the masquerade before you lose everything. Your wife and family don't have to know. Please...do the right thing."
After printing the letter, Donna adressed the envelope to William's office and placed the pictures inside before sealing it. She hopped in her car, stopping at the post office before continuing to her destination.
Donna arrived at the address she gathered from the case file. Terrance opened the door after the first knock. "I'm William's wife. Also the judge trying your case. Tomorrow your sentencing is scheduled for 1 P.M. I will dismiss all charges and pay you $50,000.00 if you leave town immediately after and never speak word of any of this."She handed him the check and walked away. Never waiting for a response. She knew only a fool would turn down her offer.
That night she went home and cried uncontrollably for hours."God please work on my husband. Take away his hurts and pains. Make him the man I know he can be. Please Lord. Make him whole"
Two days later William received an envelope with no return address. He opened it and read the letter. His stomach turned as he looked at the pictures of him and Terrance. Fear like he'd never felt filled his soul. How had he become so pathetic? For years he engaged in unprotected sex with several men, never thinking of risking his beloved Donna.
He dropped to his knees and cried like never before. He thanked God for this envelope. It reminded him how close he had been to destroying the world of the woman he couldn't live without. He knew that he would never again engage in such horrendous acts. He prayed with everything in him that it wasn't too late.
He knew one thing.......He was done living the masquerade.