(Next week I’m scheduled for jury duty for the first time. Last night, I dreamed the following dream in black and white …)
Scene: an empty meeting room with a long table in the center with chairs around it. 12 men of different ages and nationalities file in and take a seat in chairs around the table. One man, in a white dress shirt with a black tie, the foreman, remains standing.
Foreman: Okay, that seemed pretty cut and dry. I’d like to suggest we vote on a verdict right away. I’ll poll each of you. Jurist number one, how do you vote?
Me (raising my hand) I’m sorry, Mr. Foreman, but shouldn’t we vote by private ballot?
Foreman: I don’t think that’ll be necessary. We all saw what happened in there.
Me: Still, I think, just in case, we should make sure we do this right, to the letter of the law. So there’s no chance of reprisal, or getting the defendant off on a technicality.
Foreman: Of course, you’re correct, thank you, jurist number twelve. Please cast your vote on one of these little folded up pieces of paper.
(Everybody writes their vote down.)
Foreman: Jurist number three, would you mind collecting the votes?
(Jurist three, a small, nerdy looking man, rises from his chair.
Jurist Number Three: Not at all. (He picks up a small wicker basket from the table and goes around the table. One by one, the jurists all put their votes in the basket, I am the last to do so. Jurist Number Three hands the basket to the foreman.
Foreman: Thank you. Jurist Two, would you mind keeping a tally of the number of guilty and not guilty votes as I read them off?
Jurist Two: Got it.
Foreman (reaching his hand into the basket) Okay, here we go …
Me (raising my hand and interrupting): Excuse me, Mister Foreman, excuse me …
Foreman; Yes, juror number twelve?
Me: Don’t you think you should, you know, shake the basket up a little bit?
Foreman: What? What do you mean, shake the basket?
Me: You know, mix the votes up …
Me: Well, it’s just that I was the last to put my vote in …
Me: So my vote is on top. If you don’t shake the basket, everybody will know that the first vote is mine. And the whole purpose of using the paper ballots are to protect the anonymity of each vote cast.
Foreman: Okay, okay, I gotcha. (With great exaggeration, he puts his hand in the basket and mixes up the contents.) Is that good enough?
Me: Yes, thank you.
Foreman (taking out and unfolding each piece of paper) Guilty …. Guilty … guilty … not guilty? (He and all of the other jurors look at me)
Foreman: (going through the remaining votes) Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. That’s all the votes. Jurist Two, please read the final tally.
Jurist Two: That’s eleven guilty, one not guilty.
Jurist Four: Okay, Twelve, joke’s over.
Me: Joke? What joke?
Jurist Four: Look, we get it, very funny. Now can we get on with issuing a verdict and get the Hell out of here?
Me: Why are you looking at me? You don’t know that I was the not guilty vote. In fact, I’ll bet that if you look closer at the not guilty ballot, you might find a clue as to who really cast it.
Foreman: (holding up the vote) You mean, where it says here, “Voted by Jurist Number Nine, not Number Twelve.”
Jurist Nine: (jerking awake from nodding off) Hey! What’s the big idea?
Foreman: Okay, Twelve, would you like to explain your Not Guilty vote?
Me: But you don’t know that I …
Jurist Six (A large and muscular and intimidating man) Knock it off, Twelve, before I knock you off!
Foreman: Do you really vote Not Guilty?
Me: I do. (The entire room erupts in unison at me)
Foreman (gaining control of the room) Okay, okay, everybody calm down. That’s better. Now, Twelve, could you please explain your vote? I mean, the defendant admitted to being at the scene of the crime. And we have the bank transactions that prove he was laundering money.
Me: That’s just it! Where’s the detergent?
Foreman: Huh? What detergent?
Me: My point exactly! If he was laundering that much money, there had to be some detergent somewhere! But the prosecution never produced a single sud!
Jurist Eight: He makes a good point.
Jurist Seven: You’re an idiot, Eight.
Foreman: But he was caught at the scene of the crime with the weapon in his hand. How do you explain that?
Me: By the Handyman’s testimony.
Foreman: What’s that got to do with anything?
Me: Remember when he described the contents of the refrigerator? When he got to listing the condiments?
Me: Remember he said, “Mayonnaise?”
Foreman: Yeah. So?
Me: So when we examined exhibit B-1, there was no mayonnaise, just …
Jurist Eight: Miracle Whip!
Me: Miracle Whip is not mayonnaise! (Pulling a packet of Miracle Whip out of my back pocket) See, it says right here, Miracle Whip is salad dressing.
Juror Seven: Why did you have a packet in your pocket?
Me: Never mind that! If you want to find the real criminal, I suggest you look no further than right here! (I move over by juror eleven and dramatically lift the mask off his head, revealing JIM PAYNE.) You’ll find a trail of victims that lead to his doorstep. He is none other than ….
Foreman: You mean …
Me: That’s right. He’s the notorious Mayonnaise Madman that’s been terrorizing our community for years! Once he found out there was no mayonnaise in the fridge, he went mad!
Jim Payne: How does that make you feel?
Foreman: And I thought you were a complete idiot, Twelve! Now I know the real idiot is whoever wrote this drivel!
Me: Guilty as charged!