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The Justice Cooperative


The thunderous pounding at the door.
The door bursting open as he approached it.
The burly man charging at him like a fullback.
The half-seen blow to his head.
Judith’s screams that dragged him back to consciousness.
The pain in his wrists as he strained at the telephone cord that bound his arms tightly behind his back.
The horror he felt as the intruder pinned Judith to the floor, his body rising and falling.
Judith’s sobs as the intruder left.
Then the aftermath.
The cold, unfeeling police officers as they asked their probing questions.
Judith’s pain as the police doctor scraped samples from her for evidence.
The hatred on Grubbs’s face as they identified him in the police lineup.
Then the question of AIDS. Tom had asked that Grubbs be tested. The prosecutor told Tom that under
state law it was illegal to provide information about an AIDS test to anyone but the person tested. Telling
others was a violation of the individual’s privacy. Tom had demanded, hadn’t Grubbs violated Judith’s
privacy? His protests did no good. The law allowed for no exceptions.
Then the trial. Tom cringed once more at the memories.
Judith on the witness stand, being forced to answer the most intimate questions.
Grubbs’s sleazy lawyer, who tried to blacken Judith’s character and discredit her virtue.
The assistant prosecutor, whose blunder nearly lost the case despite the DNA evidence.
The numbness he felt even when the jury returned a guilty verdict. Somehow it wasn’t enough.
His utter incomprehension when the judge decided to impose only the minimum possible sentence.
The discovery that at the time of the attack, Grubbs had been out on parole from another rape
conviction.
Grubbs’s shouted threat, accompanied by a shaken fist, as he was led out to begin his sentence: “When
I get out, I’ll get you!”
And ever since then, Tom’s humiliation, his deep burning shame that he’d been unable to protect
Judith.
Their low-rent apartment suddenly had too many ugly memories in it. They couldn’t stay there.
They’d bought a house in a more expensive part of town. The mortgage payment was too much for his
paycheck; Judith had to take a job as well. That meant postponing a family. Not that it made much
difference. The memory of that night haunted their infrequent attempts at lovemaking.
Tom stood up and hugged Judith. The muscles in her back were like taut cords. Her arms were like
steel pipes. He touched his cheek to hers, then brushed his lips across her neck. She gave no response.
Defeated, he finally stepped back, holding only her arms in his hands. He looked her over. Externally,
she appeared the same as she had on their wedding day. Shoulder-length brown hair. Heart-shaped face.
Brown eyes. Upturned nose. A light dusting of freckles across her face. Forehead that came just to his eye
level.
But the smile he’d loved was gone. Outside she was the same. Inside she was in deep freeze.
He shook his head and released her. One more time he’d failed to break through what he’d come to
think of as the shell she’d crawled into.
“Judy, honey, listen to me”, he said. “It won’t happen again. I swear it. This time I’ll protect you.”
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