Sunday, March 4, 2007

shot to the heart ...

whenever i hear gunshots, i always look at the clock. like i just did two minutes ago. 12:17 a.m. sunday morning. nine shots. first eight in succession, then another after a delay.

i've always wanted to be on a witness stand. but i don't want to be the bad guy or know the bad guy or see the victim or their brains splattered against my garage. i just want to be the crazy woman with a cat wearing a wrinkled pant suit from walmart who says: i heard the shots. it was 12:17 a.m.

i'm unsure if the perp was wobbling through the back alley or taking aim at the washington center, though. so my time on the stand will be hardly worth the part where i take the oath.

very briefly in my young little life, i considered becoming a lawyer. i was enamored with the idea of my glasses sliding down my nose, stapling packets of official paper. the sound of expensive pumps clipping across a marble floor.

once i was on a jury. i was the 23-year-old forewoman because i raised my hand the fastest when they asked "who wants to be the foreman." this meant little. i was able to deliver the verdict after two hours of deliberation and a free mediteranean salad from papageorges. we found that the 90 year old plantiff did not have a case against mercedes benz. that the reason his car caromed out of control through a church parking lot had more to do with operator error than the lemon law.

"i hit the brake and the car accelerated!" he warbled.
"i think he hit the accelerator and it accelerated," i told my peers.

one of the men on the jury worked in a small locally owned shoe store that catered to people like my grandfather. that is to say, people with a classic taste in apparell, a hankering for vodka tonics, and figurines carved from wood. an office that smelled like sharpened pencils and eraser dust and musk. toothpick models of boats built inside a bottle. an understated tendency to hobnob. now that he is gone, i try to remember him as jay gatsby.

this man from the shoe store and i spent a decent amount of time sparring. sometimes people do not like me. we are like mismatched cogs and there is friction. in my head, i'd linked him to al bundy and i wondered if when he went home from work his hands smelled like sweaty black dress socks ... like my grandpa's feet.

the rest of the jury seemed to like me, though. even though i found it very hard to stay on topic during the deliberations. law, law, law ... hey did any of you see "friends" last night?

i thought i was flirting with the baliff. throughout the testamonies, i'd scan the room and occassionally make eye contact with this cop. in those days, i needed to have someone to flirt with everytime i walked into a room, or the day was considered a ruin.

"i hope you guys deliberate into dinner time so we can go out to dinner," the baliff said to me.

i thought this meant he wanted to eat with me. a passive aggressive proposition. i thought i was pretty cute. i was sure he thought i was pretty cute. i didn't realize that he was just hoping for another free meal. i told my dad that i was flirting with the baliff and that the baliff was flirting back. my dad told the baliff, who set him straight: he wasn't flirting with me.

i felt stupid.

on the last day of the trial, i woke 15 minutes before i was due in the jury box. i was still wearing a makeshift toga. fannie and i had thrown a toga party, then constructed our costumes from elaberate swaths of material and safety pins. mine was teal and it shimmered and it was a two-piece that exposed my stomach. i was blocks from home. i scampered through the streets barefoot, past my old elementary school and church, past the high school and into my apartment. i quickly washed my hair, threw on a skirt and unmatching shirt, and sped to courthouse. i took my shoes off and ran three blocks to the building. i arrived looking wet and mangy.

i avoided eye contact with the baliff, the shoe salesman and the plantiff and later we delivered the verdict.

not only do we not find in favor of the plantiff, we think you should revoke his liscense.

No comments: