The Longarm of the Law – September/October 2006

The trial began as usual. The bailiff announced, “All rise. Hear ye, hear ye, Quilter’s Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge Eve Starr presiding. Please be seated.”
Judge Eve Star began her questioning, “Defendant, please rise and state your name.” “Yes, Your Honor. My name is Beverly Cotton.” The defendant was wearing a red hat covered with pins from various quilting clubs. Her white anklets sported red embroidered quilt block designs, and her tennis shoes matched her red hat.
Judge Star read the charges, “The defendant, Beverly Cotton, is charged with First Degree Longarm Quilter Abuse under a Federal Quilting Association statute. Witness, please.”
A woman rose from her seat and took her place in the witness chair. After being sworn in, she turned to the judge and said nervously, “Yes, Your Honor. My name is Trudy Bobbin. I am a professional longarm quilter. The defendant, Ms. Cotton, presented me with the quilt shown here as Exhibit A. As you can see, it is a traditional Nine Patch quilt in red, white, and blue reproduction fabrics. A nice quilt, to be sure. However, the defendant… well, I cannot bring myself to even say it out loud in court, Your Honor.”
Judge Star spoke quickly, “Please continue, Ms. Bobbin. I know this is difficult for you.”
The witness resumed, “Your Honor, the defendant insisted I quilt this Nine Patch, using for the backing a cheap, common, ordinary…if it pleases the court…well, bedsheet, ma’am. A cotton-polyester sheet! It was demoralizing, I can assure you.”

There was pandemonium in the courtroom. Shocked and horrified mumblings were heard throughout. Judge Star pounded her gavel impatiently, “Order in the court!”
Witness Bobbin continued, “That is not all, Judge Star. The defendant brought this quilt to me in a plastic garbage bag, after apparently storing it in the back of a closet for a number of years. It tumbled out of the bag a crumpled mess.”
Onlookers in the courtroom could not take their eyes off the defendant, who was looking down at her denim jumper and twisting her handkerchief.
The witness, Trudy Bobbin, on a roll now, could not seem to stop the flow of words. “Your Honor, the defendant brought a jumbo bag of ancient polyester batting purchased from a five and dime store. Yes, Your Honor, I swear under oath, the tag from Danny’s Discounts was still on it. She included the package wrapper so I would be sure to follow the directions as to how close to space the quilting. My heart is still palpitating. She had safety pinned a note to the quilt top asking me to be sure to quilt it into “squareness,” a virtually impossible task. I had to call the quilt police, Your Honor. There was no other choice.”
Judge Star spoke sternly, “Ms. Cotton, do you have anything to say in your defense?”
In a quavering voice, Ms. Cotton replied, “I was just trying to get the quilt finished before Christmas. Ms. Bobbin has saved me many times in years past.”
The judge, looking over at the Nine Patch quilt marked Exhibit A, asked Trudy in a soft voice, “What exactly did you quilt onto this top, Ms. Bobbin?”
Trudy replied, “Well, Your Honor, something in me snapped. The defendant requested double vein feathers, but also directed me to do whatever I thought best for the quilt. So, I quilted the entire Serenity Prayer onto it. Doing so was sort of like therapy for me. I know the prayer doesn’t really tie in well with the Batman sheet backing, but I felt much better after it was done.”
Judge Star’s chin appeared to be quivering. Her black robe rose and fell rapidly. There was silence in the courtroom.
“I’ve heard enough,” she said. “Ms. Cotton, I find you guilty as charged. I hereby sentence you to six months of picking out stitches under inadequate lighting with a dull seam ripper. You are additionally ordered to perform 200 hours of community service at your nearest senior citizen center where you are to hand quilt while sitting on a metal folding chair. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you will immediately apologize to Ms. Bobbin. And remember, Ms. Cotton, in the future—you cannot escape the longarm of the law. Quilter’s Court stands adjourned.”

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