We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

“I don’t want to go in this motherfucker.”

Frank is standing in a grassy corner at the edge of the D.C. Superior Court entrance. He stares down at the steady rush of people waiting to be checked through the security entrance. He is wearing designer shades, a designer beige knit cap, and clean jeans cuffed at the tops of his bright sneakers. He’s a skinny dude, and youngish. He’s no teenager. But he’s no old-timer. For every newbie, Frank mumbles his line.

“I don’t want to go in this motherfucker.”

Frank says he has been here before. He is halfway through his Newport. He’d like to wait a little longer before going into this motherfucker. “I got another cigarette,” Frank says. It’s 8:30 a.m.

Frank is here for a show-cause hearing on charges he claims to know nothing about. But ignorance isn’t bliss. He waits. And waits. He smokes his Newport down to the filter. The wind is starting to pick up. A firefighter hustles up to the entrance and mumbles about his case, too. The firefighter looks lost. He turns away and walks down the block. He will soon come back. A half dozen men and women line up. All Frank hears is their rolling carry-on suitcases. Plastic wheels against concrete. Only Frank has time to talk.

“I’ll be all right,” Frank says. “What’s going to happen is going to happen.”

Frank saves his extra Newport and walks inside. In a few minutes, he will pass through the security check and take a seat outside a third floor courtroom and wait some more.