Bailey Powell

Involuntary Staring Contest

I squeaked into the courtroom in my rainboots and found my way to an arbitrary seat in the jury box as instructed. After settling my bags around my feet I looked up at the fluorescently lit, well-worn shoebox of a room, everything the unsightly color of dehydrated urine save for a patch of dark wood paneling inscribed with “In God We Trust” that was flanked by two sad looking flags. My eyes scanned over the buggy-eyed cop who’d escorted us into the courtroom. He’d seated himself next to the bailiff, who blinked for so long that each time I thought surely he’d fallen asleep. Watching his eyes open and close was like staring at the “don’t walk” hand flashing on busy street corners, the kind that give you the particular anxiety that each flash you see is going to stick and signify your lost chance to cross.

The rest of my panoramic visual digestion included 1) a Pacific Islander looking woman with chin length hair who’s only job seemed to be to call out juror’s names unclearly, 2) a dark, balding man who looked like an extra from House of Cards and sat on a platform six inches lower than the judge, essentially his back up dancer, and 3) His Honor himself, an older man who managed to be equally approachable and intimidating, chatty without being verbose, and comfortable while maintaining respect. The defendant was black, the lawyer was Hispanic, and the DA was Jewish. America.

The last pre-existing court occupant I laid eyes on was, by far, the most interesting. The recording secretary’s fingers flitted silently above what appeared to be a toddler’s toy, a rubberized typewriter with few keys. Her straw colored hair was styled with bangs that I imagine she had not changed since 1990, a style she must have decided worked for her in early adulthood and never cared to venture from since. Her wardrobe was put together yet seasonally inappropriate, like her hair a reflection of her value on good enough utility versus on-trend aesthetic.

As soon as the judge began to speak her fingers flew, but instead of focusing on the orator or her device she slowly turned her head while her fingers moved, giving dead eyed stares of uncomfortable lengths to unsuspecting recipients. Her hands seemed to be the sole body part at work while her head revolved like an owl’s and her creepy, beady eyed gaze seemed to trap various sets of eyes around the courtroom. After watching her for several minutes I decided the pace that her fingers were moving did not match the speaker’s gait and concluded she was blind and collecting some sort of notes via Braille keyboard. I shamelessly continued to stare.

The next day when we re-entered the courtroom I took a new seat ensuring I had a view of the R.S. I was so fascinated with. Her eyes darted up to the left and down to the right how a curious dog might follow an insect. I watched her mindfully as the judge began to speak the instructions we were to follow.

“Can you slow down?” The R.S. interrupted.

Shocked to hear her speak, my head snapped up from studying my lap to witness the exchange.

“What?” Asked the judge, cut off.

“Can you. Slow. DOWN?” The R.S. demanded, swiveling her head around on its owl neck axel to face the judge.

“Sure,” he said, before he continued on at the same rate of speaking.

Her eyebrows were furrowed and her frustration was clear as the R.S. turned back around to face her body to the toy keyboard, but it all seemed to melt away as her fingers began poking at the soundless keys again. It was the first time anyone had heard her speak, as if she’d been holding that card close to the chest waiting for the perfect time to play it. Her eyes began to scan the room again, locking innocent jurors into involuntary staring contests and relishing their surprise with a self-satisfied smile playing at her lips.

The Striped 9 Ball

When my fingers grip around the cool, smooth surface of the flaxen striped 9 ball, the night comes flooding back.

He stood before me with an elongated stare, sparkling sweat forming at his hairline in the August heat while I leaned back against the pool table in my safe, all black outfit. “Dare.” He stated, unflinchingly. My eyes scanned the dimly lit bar, it’s emptiness and lush, high-backed red leather upholstery leaving me uninspired. The closest wall was constructed entirely of glass doors, all of which had been flung open with their rich tapestried curtains gathered to the sides to let any teasing bout of wind find it’s way inside to where we stood. All the other patrons were dining outside where we had just been, softly lit by the sea of paper lanterns strung above them swaying gently in the balmy breeze. Their voices had become a calming white noise to me.

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A Year and a Half in Summation

One of my favorite pastimes is having juvenile life realizations and, with my self-righteous stock of words, attempting to convey the seemingly profound to any readership I may have. My mind reels, my fingers fly across the keyboard, and I think, “I want this excitement to be infectious, this enlightenment to be liberating!”. Meanwhile my trite discovery already sits stale in the back of every other well-adjusted adult’s mind and I’m over here betting and banking on the hope that you all find this process endearing, if not mildly entertaining. With that being said, welcome back! It’s been a while. For my next act of self-deprecation I’ll rip into how pretentious I sound in the written word.

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The Beginning of Something Big

I’ve got so many thoughts, all seemingly unoriginal and previously tried. However, isn’t that what people want to read, bits of familiarity dipped in articulation? An eloquent portrayal of an indescribable feeling, the simple satisfaction of knowing someone feels like you do? Essentially a temporary cure for loneliness, a comforting, warm bed in the shape of a book filled with people who couldn’t possibly disappear after a finite number of pages? Tiny, untraceable ideas dawn in my mind, each bearing the affectations of everything that passes through my irises and eardrums. They’re anxious to be transcribed to form a place one would feel desperate to physically delve into, a fantastic engulfment. I want these ideas to jump off pages and captivate readers. I want them to provide a temporary escape to a place absent of pretension, a place where the once mundane and trivial become bewitching and gripping.

The open-ended nature of creativity is simultaneously the most daunting and exciting thing about it.


Interview With Pint Size Painting Prodigy Autumn de Forest


Autumn de Forest is paying a visit to Dallas/Fort Worth this October and I had the opportunity to chat with her last month on behalf of Fort Worth Key Magazine. Wise beyond her years and a captivating conversationalist, read on to see what the ten year old has to say about her work/life balance, boxing skills, and main squeeze Ewan McGregor.

Find the interview here.


More interviews: Jane Seymour / Jay Godfrey / Martha Stewart / Peter Max / Ron Corning


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