Friday, June 09, 2006

Jury Duty - 7

During the course of his preamble the judge said: This case is a racketeering case. It is a case, you will hear talk of the Mafia. You will hear talk, la Cosa Nostra. The defendant's name is Gregory DePalma. Here he is now, sitting before you. He is an elderly man. He is in very poor health. He is an ailing man.

And he recited the charges against this man, a garish hodgepodge of loan sharking, bookmaking, assault, intimidation, embezzlement, payola.

And more.

His candor had a rhythmic, mesmerizing effect, as of some litany or chant.

Mafia. Cosa Nostra. DePalma.

Bookmaking. Loan sharking.

He duly introduced the prosecution and defense.

Then, one at a time our numbers were selected by the languid black girl from some ancient, hallowed tumbler. It was six-sided, I think, all nicely wood.

Number 27 please. Take the first seat in the box.

I was the third juror.

There began the litany of excuses.

I have a house reserved in the Hamptons. It's quite expensive.

My son is graduating and I can't miss his graduation. He's graduating.

My wife requires medical attention and I am afraid no one will look after her.

Some tearful.

I for one saw no reason to reject my duty though I felt as though I were sliding inexorably toward something strange and new. Bewildering.