“I’m due to make an appearance in 5 minutes in Courtroom 5,” I said, rolling down the window.

“And you just ran a stop sign to get there?” said the cop. “In front of the Xanadu Hall of Justice? Not an auspicious start.”

“Look,” I said. “I couldn’t see the sign because of that delivery truck parked in front of it!”

The cop craned his neck and nodded. “Okay,” he said, laughing. “You get off with a warning this time. Park over there and hustle to your courtroom.”

“Thanks,” I said. “Do yuo know where Courtroom 5 is?”

“No idea!” he cried over his shoulder. “But I’d get going if I were you. They’re not in order!”

I didn’t see what he meant until I got inside. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Xanadu Hall of Justice looked like a casino–it was, after all, part of Xanadu! But I was amazed by the glitz on display inside, with lawyers and judges walking among throngs of people, water fountains and slot machines, blinking lights and the sound of jangling cash.

I also saw what the cop had meant by “they’re not in order.” Before me, I saw Courtroom 1, Courtroom 19, Courtroom 7, and Courtroom 3. In that order. Frantically, I looked around for the proper one, and didn’t see it amidst the glitz.

I ran around a corner, thinking it might be there, only to inadvertently find myself in line for a water slide. I had to hastily excuse myself, stepping over chorus girls and mafia men in bathing suits.

The other way, around the opposite corner, brought me to the plaza that held Courtroom 5 (along with 13, 6, 4, and 20). I burst through the zebra print doors just as my watch clicked over the my official court date.

“Well, glad you could join us,” the judge said, raising her eyebrow. Her dais was low and gaudy, with the advocates’ tables in wront of it covered with purple velvet and backed by white countoured clamshell chairs. “Have a seat.”

I hopped into one of the tall clamshell chairs.

“You can try the ones at the other table if you like,” said the judge. “They recline.”

She seemed rather easygoing, for a Xanadu judge, so I hopped over obligingly.

“Of course,” she added, “you can use the hot tub too if you want.”

I craned my neck and, sure enough, there was a large hot tub where most courtrooms would have benches. One of the advocates was already therein, sporting a glittery bikini.

“I only wish I’d brought my bathing suit,” I said with a sheepish grin.

“Very well, court will now come to order,” said the judge. “Oh, and I hava a note here for you from the parking lot. They say you left a diamond in your car?”

“Well, you know, it’s funny…I’m accused of something relating to a diamond. I bet people will conflate the two.”

The judge laughed good-naturedly. “We can only hope.”

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