Jury Duty

(Written as I sat in the Milwaukee County jury holding tank. Inspired by real people.)


I sure as hell didn’t want to be there. Freakin’ jury duty. There had to be about two hundred sorry assholes like myself just a sittin’ and waiting for something to happen. And when they called my name and led me into a big-ass courtroom, then I was more than sorry. Sorry I didn’t blow the whole thing off and never show up in the first place. But what the hell, I thought. At least I’d get nineteen bucks a day and all the free soda I could stomach.

“Juror number one, stand up and answer the questions written on the wall,” some worn-out judge tells me. He had a gigantic head that sprouted little tufts off hair around his ears. He looked like some old creature from about a thousand years ago.

“Judge Shrek,” I whispered to the old fart next to me. He stared straight ahead and pretended he hadn’t heard a word.

“The attorneys need to determine which of you will stay on the jury for the trial,” the judge continued.  And so I stood up and told him my name and that I’m unemployed and that my cheating, fat pig of a wife left me with nothing but the flannel shirt on my back. Course, I didn’t say that exactly, but you get my gist. The even asked me about my hobbies, but I’ll be damned if I’ll tell them I play poker on the computer in between looking at a whole lot of unmentionables. When I sat back down, I looked at the screwed-tight lady public defender who was squeezed into a pant-suit that prob’ly cost her a thousand bucks. Her tinted hair and pinched up face made me name her “Hillary” and I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had been cloned from some leftover DNA found in a motel bedsheet in Arkansas. She was seated next to a light-skinned, corn-rowed “accused” crack dealer that I called “The Convict”. He looked like a cross between Eminem and some big ‘ol buck from a plantation down in Georgia. The prosecuting attorney was prob’ly fresh out of some fancy-ass law school and his white teeth flashed all over the courtroom. He smiled at us and I thought of all the jag-ass guys back in high school that knocked me around the locker room. “Prince Charming”, I couldn’t help but think. But deep down, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a fag. The pretty ones usually are.

Up next was juror number two. I called him the “Duck Hunter” ‘cause of his camouflage shirt and his beard that was about as long as Santy Claus’. He kept on tugging on that thing when he was answering all the questions. Personally, I didn’t give a rat’s ass that he used to be an electrician before he retired, and that his wife was as dead as a doornail, but the judge seemed to think it was a pretty important deal how she died. Prob’ly died of boredom if she had to live with him for fifty years. I thought the old coot was gonna tell his whole life story before he was done. Just when I was thinking he was gonna kill me too, he finally stopped talking. Then he sat down sucking on his whiskers as if he was starving or something. Poor old guy oughta stick to shooting ducks and just leave the rest of us the hell alone.

Next up was “The Whisperer”. He couldn’t have weighed more than a hun’ert and ten soaking wet, and I thought he might piss himself answering all the questions. He was shaking and he spoke so soft that the court reporter had to ask him three times to talk louder. I had hardly noticed her typing behind the counter and I was mad at myself at first. She had long, curly black hair, and I couldn’t believe I missed her the first time through. I stretched to get a peek of her jugs, but I could only get half a glance. Then the girl did me a favor and leaned toward the judge where I caught a look at her big ‘ol pair of pork chops.  “Meat Pie” I named her. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five and even the ring on her finger didn’t stop me from imagining things that ain’t fit to discuss. But, at least it made me get through the skinny guy who eventually got done with his whispering. I still couldn’t tell you what the hell he did for a living and to tell the truth I didn’t care.

The old “Bible Thumper” was next. She wasn’t five feet tall and I could barely understand a word she said her through her Spanish accent. I swear, Meat Pie had to ask her what she was saying about four times before I think she just gave up and typed in whatever the hell she wanted. Turns out the old lady worked in a nursing home and read the bible as a hobby. I may burn for this, but what the hell kind of a hobby is that? I think even the Lord-almighty his-self would want one of his creations to do something with themselves besides read a  book from about fifty lifetimes ago. I just don’t get some people and I doubt I ever will.

“Mr. Bean” then stood up as proud as he could be. I almost laughed aloud at his nice white collared shirt and little blue suit. I dress like shit most days, but even I know you don’t wear brown shoes with pants that barely cover your ankles. But somebody must have forgotten to tell him. He told us he was in charge of “personnel” at some little company. I heard that and was damn glad I didn’t work there with some doodly-squat like him running the hiring and firing. He got done and he almost bowed before Judge Shrek like he was some kind of a goddamn king or something. Talk about king of the numnuts and Mr. Bean was your guy.

Next stood up a good looking thing that gave Meat Pie a run for her money. I was getting a little hot until she opened her mouth and you could tell she was one of those women that was a regular she-bitch. “Ball-Breaker” I called her even though she said her name was Sheena or Sheeba or some such thing. She was recently divorced and I swore I saw her give a little look at Prince Charming before he smiled back. At that rate, the two of them would prob’ly end up in the sack before too long. Unless of course, the Prince was as fruity as I thought he was the first time. Either way, Ball-Breaker was having a good time watching the men ogle her before she set herself back in the chair and crossed those long legs of hers way too fast for anyone to catch a quick peek.

“Tub-a-Goo” stood up next and he was like one of those guys from a freak show at the circus. I counted three big ‘ol rolls in his gut bigger than truck tires, and I could only guess at the number of chins he had. More than I few I would say. He was some sort of mechanic, but I’ll be damned if I knew how in the hell he could get under or over anything so that he could fix it. I bet he had a screwdriver or two stuffed away in the folds of his stomach and he didn’t even know it. At least until he needed to find them to get a little work done. Damn boy, I thought to myself, lay off the donuts for a few months so that your feet can see the light of day.

Juror number eight could just have easily been on the other side of the courtroom. Fact is, I’d bet more than a few dollars that he prob’ly had been at some time in his life. “Ice-T” I called him. And when he stood up it was like he blocked the light from the ceiling. He was blacker than midnight and I’m betting his muscles had muscles. Damn guy was as big as a house, but when he spoke only this tiny little voice came out. I kinda snorted when he first talked, and I had to act as if I was covering up a cough. Prince Charming gave me a look, but I pretended I didn’t even see him. Turns out Ice-T was fresh out of the military and was some kinda war hero. I’ll be damned, I thought. Who woulda thought that?

The next one up was “Grandpa Moses”. I think he must have been pushing ninety and prob’ly still thought Nixon was president. He had the damndest time hearing and I bet Judge Shrek had to come as close to yelling as ever took place in that courtroom. Grandpa Moses never did quite get the questions down and the best I could guess was that he was a teacher from sometime way back. Like from the stone ages or something. He prattled on about having twenty great-grandchildren and Shrek damn near gave him a standing ovation for being such a good citizen to still be showing up at the courthouse. All I could think was that the trial better be a quick one before the old geezer keeled over completely.

“Scar Face” stood up next and he took the smile right off of Pretty Boy’s face. I’ve seen some things in my day, but I had to work on keeping my morning cereal down. I was betting he had been burned a long time ago, and I didn’t hear a single word he said to the judge. I just kept staring at his twisted skin and wondered how in the hell someone deals with that sort of thing. He seemed like a good enough guy and all, but it had to be hidden below about an inch of dead skin that was never going to go away. Talk about a life sentence.

I thought I didn’t hear “Sally High Schooler” right when she said she was missing some class time from her senior year. She told us she had just turned eighteen when she received her jury letter. I think she just about shit herself when she stood up and The Convict eyeballed her from across the courtroom. It wasn’t fair that they put her up against that scumbag and expected her to stand tall. Least of all when she told everyone that she had hobbies of playing soccer and volunteering at the hospital. How can you not like a good kid like that? I know I sure did, even though by now I was starting to get a bit itchy about the whole process.

“Packer Man” was juror number twelve and he should have been embarrassed whenever he looked in the mirror. I love the Packers as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to soak myself in green and gold and look like some kind of a clown. But this guy had on his Packer sweatshirt and kept it going all the way to green sneakers with yellow laces. The clothes by themselves should have gotten him tossed out of the room, but Judge Shrek played right along and gave him slack. At least until either Prince Charming or Hillary tossed his Favre-loving ass out the door.

There were a whole lot more jurors’ that got to speak their piece. From “Adolf” to “Zeke from Cabin Creek” they all spilled their guts to the court. But in the end I was one of the fourteen that got to stay and listen to more bullshit from the lawyers about the law and whatnot. I tried to stay awake and knew even before the trial started that I would vote to put The Convict where he prob’ly belonged years ago. But at least I’ll be getting my nineteen dollars a day to listen to whatever the Prince and Hillary got to say. I got no qualms with that. And I’m hopin’ they keep the free soda machine all stocked up at least until I’m done playing jury.


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