Jury DutyMarch 31, 2010 at 8:43 am | Posted in J. Frederick | 1 Comment
Tags: Jury Duty
When will those twelve noble citizens decide? That’s the question on the minds and tongues of the assembled masses as they wait with baited breath in the sweltering courtroom. A hush, a stillness falls over the crowd as the door to the deliberation room swings asunder and that distinguished assemblage emerges from their chamber, the foreman clutching the fruit of their weighty discussions in his trembling hand. The magistrates lean forward, sweat beading on their brows – their careers, their very livelihoods in the hands of that proud yet humble dozen, teetering precipitously between glory and failure, depending solely on the pronouncement that awaits. The judge, glorious and resplendent in his ceremonial wig, waistcoat, and spats, leans forward in anticipation; not even the massive condor perched on his shoulder dares to move a feather or utter the merest squawk. The audience waits in silence, as still and ageless as the marble and bronze and titanium of the ancient courthouse. Nary a gust of wind seems to move; not a speck of dust is rustled. The twin suns shine mercilessly through the windows. The bailiff, his heart beating a steady and ceaseless tattoo against his chest, signals for the foreman to rise. This is it, this is the moment. The foreman of the jury, that wise sage, chosen by his fellows with the utmost respect and awe, stands, nervous – for who wouldn’t be? – but also, finally, confident about the terrible responsibility with which he has been entrusted. He is but a man, a simple man who lived a simple life, and now has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He thinks of his wife, his dying father, his farm, all so many miles away, as he rustles the paper. This is it. The crowd feels helpless in their velvet robes and wicker chairs. The magistrates wipe more sweat from their brows. A bead of drool falls from the condor’s gaping beak. The foreman’s lips part, and in his stentorian tones he speaks the word that no one in the room that day will ever forget: “GUILTY.” Nothing seems to move for a long time, a lifetime – an eternity! Time seems to hang by a single tenuous thread – and then the thread snaps, and who is the first to stand, and salute the bravery of those twelve simple men and women, and their decision on this fateful day? Why, it’s the condemned man himself, and he applauds – for even though he is to be cast into the stark bleakness of the Justice Pits, he cannot help but admire them, the humble jury, for performing their civic duty with grace and dignity. He smiles widely, and a single tear traces down his cheek. The judge, the magistrates, the assembled crowd join him in a thunderous ovation, for who is not now filled with undying respect, even love, for that gallant dozen and the service they have provided for their country and the world? The crowd takes the jury upon its shoulders and carries them outside, past the landscape of bleached bones and into the woods, where the celebration lasts deep into the night. The defeated magistrate shakes the hand of his victorious counterpart, tipping his cap with the respect due a worthy adversary. The condemned man drunks lustily to his last night of freedom, and the foreman gazes off into the moonlight, knowing that now, for once, his father can be proud of him.
And now you know what jury duty is! – J. Frederick