Blood Test by Kellerman, Jonathan

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


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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