As the final tremors of the earthquake subsided, Judge Judy gripped her frail, mean-spirited hands together to keep them from shaking. “Close call, Judes,” she thought to herself. “You almost bought yourself a one way ticket to Hell City.” Judge Judy was a dull minded simple person, who believed in things like heaven and hell, and felt there was a lovable value in coming up with horrible country phrases like “bought yourself a one way ticket” even if the person coming up with them was completely unlovable. She straightened herself, back pinned to the cinder block wall of the studio where her show was filmed. She had rushed out quickly, taking no time to check on the safety of her crew, or the guests on that day’s show. “Maybe they’re all fucking dead,” she thought. “Crushed in the rubble.” Judy took a cigarette out of her robe. “I wish.” Judge Judy was an asshole.
A young PA poked his head out of the studio door. “I found her,” he said into his walkie-talkie. He turned to face her. “Everyone’s OK, Ms. Sheindlin,” he said. Judge Judy shrugged and squinted over the boy’s shoulder. “We’re going to cancel the rest of today’s taping just in case there are any aftershocks. It’s better to be on the safe side.” Judge Judy continued to look into the distance, seeming to ignore him. “C-can I get you anything?” the boy asked. Judge Judy said nothing. The boy made a confused and uncomfortable face, like someone who’s just been hit on the head and dumped into a diarrhea pit. He slowly backed his way back into the studio, the door closing behind him. Judge Judy looked up at the sky and a blew a thin, mean string of smoke out her nostrils, hard. She had millions of dollars.
There was a gun in Judge Judy’s house, and sometimes she would take it from its drawer and put it against her head, in her mouth, point it at her reflection in the mirror. Sometimes she would point it at her husband while he was sleeping. He took medicine for his high blood pressure. His name was Jerry, and he was a “real judge.” One time, Judge Judy took the gun in her purse to a cocktail party, taking pleasure in the private confidence that she held the power over all the guests. That she decided their fate. When she got home she realized that Jerry had put canapés in her purse for later. It took forever to get the grease off the weapon.
Judge Judy stubbed her cigarette out under her heel. She was relieved not to have to go back inside, not to have to continue listening to small people complain about petty grievances. Even if it was just one day of relief, it would be enough, it would have to be. She could go home and have a drink. She could have ten drinks. She could get so drunk she forgot who she was. What she had become. Judge Judy would go home and lay in her bed with a relaxation mask over her eyes, listening to the gentle hum of the air conditioning like the cooling mechanism in a morgue. She’d put the gun next to her on the pillow, just in case. You never know. You really never know.