Excerpt from Mary Jo’s Journey Home (2)

A man up front acting all important said, “All rise.” Everyone hushed and stood. I stood ’cause it seemed like the thing to do. My chains clinked.

Harris Courtroom

A short, fat man wearing a black dress with pants under it walked in. He sat down behind the tall desk, and then everybody sat. The important-looking man stood on the platform and said things ’bout a court, a judge, and the date. It was March already. I’d been locked up all winter. The man in the dress hit the desktop with a wooden hammer. Then he said things I didn’t understand, and my name–Mary Jo Huggins.

“Who’s he?” I whispered to the man sitting next to me. “How did he know my name?”

“Young lady.” The judge’s words snapped through the quiet room. “If you talk again, I’ll have you removed. You’ve been accused of habitually running away. I will decide if you are a delinquent according to the state statute …”