Being the upstanding citizen I know I am, and now, obviously, my home town court system also realizes, I was picked for jury duty. Some people cringe at the thought of getting the call, but I chose to flaunt it.
“See, miss no-it-all,” I said, waving the paper in front of my wife, “and you think I make bad decisions. Well, this shows that our county’s judicial system obviously believes I am the best decision maker in this family. When was the last time you got a jury duty notice, huh? Huh? Huh?”
Maxine patted my cheek, her voice gushing over with patronization. “I know, dear. You’re just a regular Perry Mason. I just hope your fellow jurors don’t lynch you before it’s all over with.”
“You’re just jealous,” I replied with a raised brow….
On the fateful morning I walked in the room I was directed to. There inside were a milling group of fellow jurors, each with a name tag on their chests. Checking in at the desk I was issued mine. While putting it on, much to my surprise, I spotted one of my fishing cronies sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup.
“Hey, Frank,” I said, putting out my hand. “You got chose too, huh?”
He seemed less than enthused. “Well, this certainly screwed up this week’s bass fishing…Why are you wearing that stupid suit? ”
“Well, mister sloppy dresser, I want to make sure I get chosen for a jury. I figured a distinguished look might help their decision.”
“There are some people who might believe a tie with a jumping bass on it is not that distinguished. And you actually want to get picked? What, you got a screw loose? I want out of here as fast as I can.”
“Well, that just goes to show you who the upstanding citizen of this community is.”
“That’s not exactly how your neighbors classify you,” he replied.
“A guy makes a couple questionable decisions and every neighbor thinks….Hey here comes somebody.”
The court bailiff walked in and in a bored voice called out the names of those chosen as perspectives jurors. When my name was called and Frank’s wasn’t, he mumbled, “There ya go hot shot. I’ll think of you while I’m on the lake.”
After the attorneys questioned a few of us I was chosen as one of the jurors for the case. I was giddy with excitement. Wait till my wife hears I am going to be making a life or death decision…Well, maybe not life or death, but at least freedom or the alternative of a couple weeks or more in the big house…er, our two-roomed county jail.
The defendant was accused of physically assaulting another man, saying he was repeatedly hit, and while on the ground, kicked. The fact that the defendant was the accuser’s first cousin was not the issue. But when paramedics arrived, they said the only markings of a fight they could find on the accuser were two black eyes and swollen nose. The rest of his body seemed unmarked.
The defendant said he only hit his relative when the other swung at him first. And he only hit him once in the nose, at which time he went down. That was the end of it. After all, they were related.
After only two days the case ended and us jurors retired to make our decision.
In the jury room the debate began. I quietly listened, my mind feverishly going over every episode of Perry Mason and Ironside I could remember, in hopes of making what ever I said that much more impressive to the others. Finally the question came up on whether two black eyes could be caused from a single blow to the nose. It was then I voiced my opinion.
“Excuse me,” I interrupted while straitening my snap on tie. “I know for a fact that two black eyes can be caused by a single blow to the nose.”
“And this information comes from?” a woman asked, her question overflowing with skepticism. Her name tag read, Irene Diddle.
“Because on our first date my wife hit me right between the lookers and both of my eyes blackened.”
“Your wife punched you in the nose…on your first date?” one of the men replied with an obvious smirk of amusement.
“And she still married you?” Another woman interjected wide eyed.
“It was totally by accident,” I shot back. “She just swung her arm around when I poked her. It was a reflex action.”
“Poked her?” Another woman on the jury said, looking over her glasses. “Exactly where did you poke her?”
“It was all done in total innocence,” I pleaded. “Hey who’s on trial here, anyway? Bottom line is I got two shiners from it.”
“Sounds to me like they were well deserved,” Missus Diddle mumbled out of the corner of her mouth.
“Yeah,” my face beginning to redden. “and it sounds like it’s been a few years since you’ve had a good poke, and I don’t mean with a finger.”
“Please,” the jury foreman said with raised hands, “let’s keep our comments on the case at hand.”
After that things seemed to smooth out some, although me and Missus Diddle exchange icy glances from time to time. Coming to the conclusion that it was very possible the incident happened just as the defendant said, having only hit his accuser once, we quickly decided that there was enough reasonable doubt in favor of the defendant. One problem. We had a lady who said, “Okay, I agree that the defendant may have only hit the other man once, but I don’t believe he needed to hit him so hard to blacken both of his eyes.”
Every male in the jury room groaned in disbelief. “Maam,” one man pleaded, “when a man makes the decision to hit another man, he does not attempt to gauge how hard or soft he is going to swing.”
“Do you want a person you just hit, to hit you back simply because you chose to give that person a love tap?” another man interjected. “Do you want to be hit?”
“Well, no,” she quietly replied. “But….”
The room once more filled with groans. Long story short, she finally concurred with the rest of us. We found the defendant not guilty.
“Well,” my wife said as I walked in the door, “did you finish the case?”
“Yes we did,” I replied with an arrogant smirk, “and the final decision came down to my personal antidote to swing the entire jury to find the defendant innocent.”
“Oh Lord,” she groaned in her well hidden enthusiasm on how my seductive brilliance had solved the case of the two black eyes. “you didn’t say something that might actually be put in the newspaper. I’m still hearing the reactions to your last editorial comment.”
“Hey, there are a million jokes that can be made about the debate of whether to have a child circumcised or not. How was I to know they would actually print my letter? Anyway, remember our first date when I poked you and you hit me in the nose?”
Maxine’s eyes shot to the ceiling. “You didn’t tell that story, did you?”
“Don’t worry. I didn’t share the whole story.”
She gave a relieved sigh. “Thank you. I’m still trying to come up with a good reason why I decided to continue dating you, much less marry you after doing something so perverted on our first date.”
“How many times do I have to say it? I was just pointing…and your boob got in the way. It was an accident!”
“Yeah, about as much of an accident as me giving you two black eyes.”