It's not a name that exactly inspires stability, safety and comfort. It brings to mind backwoods folk. Chicken fuckers. Rapists. Teeth that would make Europeans feel glamorous.
If you ever read about serial killers, you know Ottis Toole was Henry Lee Lucas' friend and co-criminal. "The Devil's Rejects" has a character named Otis. These aren't good people. They are misfits and killers. They are unsafe to be around.
I made my way through the security checkpoint at the Humboldt County Courthouse and felt like I was boarding a plane. All metal items placed in a bin. My keys were checked twice. Once again I regretted having a "Pussy Wagon" keychain.
I went to the directory. My destination seemed to be the fifth floor, which meant taking an elevator to the fourth floor and then boarding another one. Push the button. Get inside. Push another button. Wait. Nothing to do but look around.
Did it ever strike the elevator manufacturer that Otis might not be the best name for an elevator brand?
I, of course, couldn't help but think that. My stomach was already doing its best to eat itself. I was hungry. The two cups of coffee wanted me to pay. And here I was in Otis, making my way to the top.
On the fifth floor I was redirected to the third floor. No worries. I was still early. Once more in Otis. Once more hoping the cable would snap and that fail-safe break would safely fail. No such luck. This Otis obviously was a fan of torture.
So I waited outside the closed office, sending blog entries and doing my best to avoid the crazy woman and the other woman who declined my offer to move over on the bench by describing herself as a "stander."
The office opens, and I want to to see the papers. I want assurances that my daughter, the light of my life, the only reason to get up in the morning, won't be taken from me. Once again, I wished my friend, The Girl, was here. I had been there for her in tight spots. I could not get a return favor. So, you know. Fuck her.
Long story short, I left without seeing the papers. Took Otis to the ground floor and made my way back to work, but not before placing a frantic phone call to another female back east. This one who has actually stood by me. This one who is brutally honest with me. This one who I miss dearly.
There's been a mistake. The courthouse cannot find the records.
I work for the government. I know shit gets lost. I do my best not to lose it because I know the trouble it causes. Being on the receiving end makes it worse. I want to see. I need to see. I've been told it's 50/50 custody. I want proof. I want to put my mind at ease.
Work dragged me down. I needed to not be there. I was no good there. I'm not even sure what I did. All I kept thinking was that somewhere in that building where Otis delivered people to their own private hells, my papers sat. Perhaps there was a post-it note on it, or a coffee cup. Perhaps someone had thrown the lastest issue of "People" over it, and discovered that before leaving for home.
They are going to call me when they find them. I'm not holding my breath. I am, however, watching myself a bit better, though. My friend from back east, the one whose voice lights up whenever she talks about her son, scared me a bit. It's weird and ironic. I think I can safely say the shoe is on the other foot this go around. She is the voice of reason here. I am the voice of panic.
Tuesday will be here before I know it. I expect a call. Another friend will go with me. I promised her I would take her. I don't know what I'll see. Don't know what Otis will deliver me upon. I do, however, know that I won't rest well until I see them.