He tried to step back, but Winona had seen it coming and held fast to his arm.
“Just another second, Jim.” She dusted imaginary lint from his shoulders and seized the knot of his tie. “You didn't do this right.”
He stood still as she tightened the thin ribbon of black silk around his neck and resisted the urge to make comparisons to a noose. Well, he didn't make them out loud anyway. Finally she smoothed down the jacket's lapels, which had never been wrinkled in the first place, and stepped back to survey her handiwork.
“There. You look good.” She smiled even though her eyes looked sad. “Like a man. That was your father's suit, you know.”
Jim nodded tersely and Winona checked the chronometer for the third time in as many minutes.
“You sure you don't want me to come with you?”
“Mom. I can handle this myself.”
She nodded once, terse.
“Well, I suppose you'll have to.”
He pretended not to hear the angry edge in her voice.
The courthouse was what he expected, all echoing halls and pretentious suits and “better straighten up, young man.” He put on his best sad face as he listened to the judge read the charges, and when he saw Winona in the back of the courtroom, he flicked his eyes away as fast as he could.
“How do you plead?”
Jim stood up, straightened his tie, and squared his shoulders.
“Guilty, Your Honor.”
He looked back at Winona, sitting in the last row with an old handkerchief clenched in her hand.
Guilty enough not to do it again. For another two or three months, anyway.