Blood Test by Kellerman, Jonathan
Blood Test by Kellerman, Jonathan
I SAT in the courtroom and watched Richard Moody
get the bad news ‘from the judge.
Moody’d come dressed for the occasion in a chocolate
polyester suit, canary yellow shirt, string tie,
and lizard skin boots. He grimaced and bit his lip
and tried to lock eyes with the judge, but she out-stared
him and he ended UP looking at his hands.
The bailiff at the rear of the room held his gaze on
Moody. As a result of my warning he’d been careful
to keep the Moodys apart all afternoon and had
gone so far as to frisk Richard.
The judge was Diane Severe, girlish for fifty, with
ash blond hair and a strong, kind face; soft-spoken, and all business. I’d never been in her Court bui knew
her reputation. She’d been a social worker before
going to law school and after a decade in juvenile
court and six years on the family bench was one of
the few judges who really understood children.
“Mr. Moody,” she said, “I want you to listen very
carefully to what I’m going to say.”
Moody started to assume an aggressive body posture,
hunching his shoulders and narrowing ‘his
eyes like a bar fighter, but his, attorney nudge ‘him
and he loosened up and forced a smile.
We’ve heard testimony from Dr. Daschoff and Dr.
Delaware, both eminently qualified as experts in
this court. I’ve spoken to your children in my chambers.
I’ve watched your behavior this afternoon and
I’ve heard your allegations against Mrs. Moody. I’ve
learned of your instructions to your children to run
away from their mother so that you could rescue
She paused and leaned forward.
“You’ve got serious emotional problems, sir.”
The smirk on Moody’s face vanished as quickly
as it appeared, but she caught it.
“I’m sorry you think this is funny, Mr. Moody,
because it’s tragic.”
“Your Honor,” Moody’s lawyer interjected.
She cut him off with the flick of a gold pen.
“Not now, Mr. Durkin. I’ve heard quite enough
wordplay today. This is the bottom line and I want
your client to pay attention.”
Turning back to Moody:
“Your problems may be treatable. I sincerely hope
they are. There’s no doubt in my mind that psychotherapy
is essential–a good deal of it. Medication
may be called for as well. For your sake and the
sake of your children I hope you get whichever
treatment you need. My order is that you have no
further contact with your children until I see
psychiatric evidence that you are no longer a threat
to yourself or to others–when the death threats and
talk of suicide cease, and you have accepted the
BLOOD TEST 1
reality of this divorce and are able to support Mrs,
Moody in the raising of the children.
“Should you get to that point—and your word
won’t be sufficient to convince me, Mr. Moody–A
the court will call upon Dr. Delaware to set up-a
schedule of limited and monitored visitation.”
Moody took it in, then made a sudden move forward.
The bailiff was out of his chair and at his
side in a flash. Moody saw him, gave a sick grin,
and let his body go slack. The tears flowed down
his cheeks. Durkin pulled out a handkerchief, gave
it to him, and ‘raised an objection concerning the
judge’s encroachment upon his client’s privacy.
“You’re free to appeal, Mr. Durkin,” she said
It was Moody talking now, the bass voice dry and
“What is it, Mr. Moody?”
“You don’t understand.” He wrung his hands.
“Those kids, they’re my life.”
For a moment I thought she was going to tongue-lash
him. Instead she regarded him with compassion
“I do understand, sir. I understand that you love
your children. That your life is in shambles. But
what you need to understand–the whole point of
the psychiatric testimony–is that children can’t be
responsible .for anyone’s life. That’s too big a burden
for any child to bear. They can’t raise you, Mr.
Moody. You need to be able to raise them. And
fight now you can’t. You need help.”
Moody started to say something but choked it
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