Kathy holds her breath as she drives into Hunt. The friends begin to trickle in: Rob and Walt, a woman whose house Zeitoun had renovated, and the principal at the girls’ school, among others. They all look tired and somber, but hopeful that the judge will pay attention to them vouching for Zeitoun’s character.
Kathy is cheered by the fact that so many people would come to vouch for her husband’s character. This seems to validate her fight against his wrongful imprisonment even more.
Raleigh is confident that the witnesses, along with Zeitoun’s lack of prior infractions, bode well for the case. They wait through the morning, and finally Raleigh goes to see what is happening: the hearing has been canceled with no explanation. Now Kathy has to go back into the city to find papers proving ownership of the office building, to be used as collateral against the bond for bail.
The bureaucratic nightmares that have plagued anyone interacting with the legal system after Katrina continue here, in an exasperating waste of everyone’s time. But Kathy refuses to give up, and instead moves on to her second plan, as she prepares to enter the city for the first time since the storm.
Adnan drives Kathy into the city, where they are immediately struck by an overpowering, acrid, and rotten smell. The city looks like it’s been abandoned for decades; there’s debris everywhere. The streets are deserted until a police cruiser pulls up behind them. Kathy tells Adnan to let her talk, so as not to provoke any more questions from his Middle Eastern accent. She tells the officer that she’s going back to her house to assess the damage, and when he asks what Adnan’s doing, she quickly says they’re contractors and hands the officer her card. He lets them go.
As Adnan and Kathy pass through the post-apocalyptic landscape of New Orleans after Katrina, Kathy continues to be acutely aware of the possible difficulties stemming from prejudice and paranoia, especially given that she now knows the Department of Homeland Security was “interested” in her husband for unknown reasons, presumably having to do with terrorism.
They continue on to Dublin, where Kathy is shocked that the fire had stopped only a few yards from their building. The lock is rusted and Kathy’s key doesn’t work. Adnan finds a ladder and climbs up to the second-floor window, then goes downstairs and kicks down the door. Inside, the building is ruined: the ceiling dotted with holes, a gray sludge covering the floor, the smell of mildew and sewage everywhere. Cockroaches are scurrying through the floors.
Even Kathy and Zeitoun’s familiar office building has to be broken into, showing how much the systems of the city have disintegrated as a result of the storm and the flooding. In only a few weeks, everything has changed—though Zeitoun did his best to keep his buildings safe from harm, it wasn’t possible here.
The file cabinets have moved, and the desk organizers are all over the floor, so Kathy makes a pile of the files that are unreadable, hoping that one might be enough proof of ownership. They search for an hour before finally finding the act of sale. Kathy cries, clutching it to her.
Something as simple as finding a file becomes an epic enterprise, and another example of Kathy’s need to persevere through all manner of obstacles in her path.
They return to Raleigh’s office in Baton Rouge, where Raleigh prepares the paperwork and faxes it to the bondsman, who confirms the payment. Raleigh calls Hunt to confirm, but it is 3 p.m., and the office has closed early, so Zeitoun has to spend one more night.
After a number of other small bureaucratic steps, Zeitoun is excruciatingly close to freedom, although he doesn’t know it—the authorities keep him in the dark, as usual.