Here is a glimpse into one of my days from a couple years back. Names and some identifying characteristics have been changed. Trust me, however, the majority of this story is true. It remains burned into my brain…
The initial call came from his aunt. Her nephew, she explained, had a three-year-old daughter by his girlfriend. Now girlfriend had run off with another man, taking the child with her. Could she bring “Bubba” in for a legal consultation?
That very afternoon, Bubba and his aunt arrived at my office. He was a large, under-thirty guy—probably 250 pounds and fairly tall. Aunt was a little dumpling of a woman; somewhat older than Bubba and missing her front top incisors. They sat down in the conference room and began to tell me the background. It was surreal to see that Bubba was toting a Bible with him.
I could not resist commenting on the Bible, asking why it was with him.
“Goes with me everywhere, Maam,” he replied, resting his hand on the top of the Bible as if he were taking his oath that this statement was the truth. “I been trying to read it, and I’m turnin’ my life around.”
Okaaaaaaaay. The story continued.
Bubba and GF had been together for eight years, having little daughter between them, and she was pregnant with their second child. For her, however, it would be a sixth child. Her first four were removed from her custody because of her deep addiction to drugs. She had had Bubba served—while he was in jail for shoplifting—with a Protective Order, keeping him from contacting her. Oh, the horrors of it! This child in the throes of that drug culture!
Wait, wait, wait a minute! My head was beginning to spin. I needed to go back over the story. “Why were you in jail when she served you with this Petition?”
“Where do you live?” I grasped at a normal line of questioning, trying not to be sidetracked by the lurid details of his life lest I miss something important—like how to contact the client.
“Well, me and my GF been living with my Daddy.” He gave the street address. I did not know the street, but I knew the community. It was a rural, redneck sort of place.
“Wanting more of the picture, I continued: “Where is your mother?’
“Prison for selling meth.” Of course, Grandma...
”There’s another thing I probably ought to tell you…When I went to jail, my GF started having an affair with my Daddy.”
“You mean the mother of your child was having sex with your father????!!!!”
“Yes, Maam. It’s okay, though, him and me have worked through it all. Besides she’s left him, just like I knew she would. She’s a slut.”
“Bubba continued, tears welling up in his eyes, “Daddy and her started having sex. Daddy took her and my little girl to the State Fair—you know, on a date. While they were there, she met this guy, JoJo. And she left with him. It ‘bout broke my Daddy’s heart.”
“So, GF went to the fair with your Daddy but picked up a stranger there and left with him?” (Affirmative nod here) “And took the kid with them?” (Another nod).
Bubba picked it up here: He got out of jail and joined Daddy in outrage against GF and in longing for the lost child. They began to search for her. When found, sure enough she was with ol’ JoJo, and they had darling daughter with them, too. Bubba and his cousin made a move to try to snatch little daughter. A real tussle ensued, and GF drove off with JoJo, successfully taking her daughter with her.
Here’s where it really gets crazy: after this, GF ended up moving “home” with Bubba and Daddy. This is after she had the affair with Gramps, after she took up with JoJo and after the tussle. She stayed a month or so until Bubba was, yet again, arrested for, yet again, shoplifting. It was during this incarceration that she had the papers served on him.
Bubba had two goals for me:
To resist this Protective Order…she was not really afraid of him. After all, she had actually lived with him since the tussle of which she complained. And he wanted to be kept apprised of her address.
Custody of this child. This was a different situation. And it required considerably more money. We discussed that, and it was decided to put that one on the back burner for the time being.
We talked about my fee. It was was revealed to me that Gramps had actually accompanied them to my office but had stayed in the car, er, the truck. Aunt brought him in to pay the retainer. It was clear to me what he’d been doing as he sat out there in the truck. He absolutely reeked of cigarette smoke. I mean, it was all I could do to sit across the table from this guy. Nasty. He paid me with cash rolled from a wad of bills held with a rubber band.
I absolutely could not resist a little interview of this patriarch.
“So, you and GF had a relationship.”
“Yes, Maam, it ain’t somethin’ I’m proud of. It just happened.” (So very moving….).
“Well,” I continued, “do you think that your relationship with GF is going to be an impediment in Bubba’s attempt to resist this Order of Protection and, eventually, seek full custody of his child?”
“No, Maam, it ain’t,” he assured. “Me ‘n’ her is done. I know now that she only wanted me for my money.”
The late afternoon prior to his hearing date, there was a collect call. Bubba was in jail in another county. Shoplifting. I had to go it alone.
When I arrived, GF was sitting in the Courthouse hallway with JoJo. I talked with her—easy for her to do. I mean, once I introduced myself, that girl’s mouth opened and never shut.
“I hear Bubba’s in jail again; well, that’s okay ‘cuz it makes me feel much, much safer.” She was relaxed and chatty. Here’s the gist of what I got:
She had once been hooked on drugs but now was attempting to kick the habit. She had to , she said, because she was pregnant and had her daughter to look after. She had already lost four children forever to the system, and her children were the most important thing in her life. (emphasis hers)
I asked if grandfather and aunt could see her child, since dangerous Bubba was locked up.
“Well, that’s complicated,” her brow furrowed, “You see, Bubba’s Daddy has a thing for me, and I am just uncomfortable in dealing with him.”
Whew! How could I resist that open door? I didn’t: “I heard you and Bubba’s Daddy had an affair.”
She quickly disputed, “That was NOT an affair! I did not love him! All I did was f—k him for drug money! I’d do him, he’d give me money; simple as that. There was never any love involved. I don’t have to do that now that I’m clean! Unfortunately, he got attached.”
How does this happen? I mean, how does someone get to the point where they could just admit this out loud, openly? It was so casual—like it happens all the time, which I guess it might.
I went on to explore what she knew about my client. Here is what she revealed:
Bubba has never had a “real” job in his nearly-thirty years. But his “profession” is shoplifting. He doesn’t break any other laws, he just lifts merchandise.
Bubba likes Targets and Walmarts because they often have eye clinics with separate entrances. Those are not rigged with security detectors. He can leave through the eye clinic doors without fear of the buzzer going off.
If there is no eye clinic door, then Bubba patiently awaits someone who is checking out with a HUGE basket of groceries and items. He casually walks out the door with that person, carrying his goods in his clothing, and when the buzzer goes off the security person concentrates on searching the full basket and he saunters on out the door.
There is more…but this’ll do. You think you know what people are like? You don’t.
Amazing. Takes all kinds, I guess. I do love my job. C