Day 157 – The Trial

I wrote it in about 20 mins, so it’s a bit naff.

Word count: 648

“All Rise,” a response of moving chairs, creaking knee joints, shuffling feet.
James stood alone, isolated in full view of the jury, the judge and the public executioner. This day had been years in the making. This day had been coming for such a long time that James had almost forgotten why he was here in the first place; but of course he could not forget, he could never forget.
“James Franklin, the jury has deliberated over the verdict for many hours and I can now confirm that a unanimous decision has been made.”
Three hours swapped for thirty years of his life. James could not describe how he felt; distant, bitter, in limbo, in disbelief, in denial: maybe he did not feel anything at all. Some light coughing came from the stalls up high. He turned to look and saw strangers, journalists with paper, pen poised for the possible penalty.
They were all here for him. Every single one of these people’s lives were affected by one action on one night that, to them, might never have happened at all. Only James knew the truth, the rest were just guessing or deducing from the evidence remaining at the scene of the crime. No one seemed to care about what he felt in all of this; there was never a chance of innocence; not a single journalist stopped to question what lies they were being fed. An eyewitness says he was somewhere else; another saw him leave the flat at nine o’clock. Who was right and who was wrong; who told the truth, and who was the liar?
“All be seated,” the judge ordered and another shuffling served as a response. “I spoke with the jury before they adjourned to discuss the case and advised them on the complexity of this case. I reminded them of the eyewitnesses, of the character references, of the potential for error in the DNA results. I urged them also to remember the statement that Mister Franklin made on the night of his arrest and of the answers he gave to both the prosecution and the defence over the last few weeks. I requested that they return a unanimous vote and that this case would not be closed until such time that one was met.”
The judge looked James dead in the eye, his long wrinkled finger nails pointing at him, accusing him without words.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what is your verdict?”
The head jury stood up and suddenly James could only see a darkly lit kitchen and a bloodied towel. The jury stuttered, she was nervous. James liked that juror, she looked homely and reminded him of his Aunty Mae. Something trickled down James’ cheeks, but he could not tell if it were tears or sweat. This was it. The final moments of his life were hanging in the balance; this could be over within a matter of seconds, or it could be the beginning of something horrifying.
The head juror stole time from the universe to unveil the verdict. For all the time it took to say but one simple word – or two – she was taking forever and James no longer had forever.
The bloodied towel grew bigger and the black of the kitchen ensnared his sight.
“Judge Whittaker, we – we – we have found the defendant… we have found the defendant… Not Guilty.”
A wave of relief crashed over him. The words relinquished his chains and he ran screaming from the mental cell that had held his thoughts for too long. Whispers and mutters through the courtroom –no one could believe it. Was he dreaming, did he imagine it? He was free, right?
Every single pair of eyes turned on him. If he had gotten away with murder, why was everyone staring at him as if he had just stabbed his girlfriend in the middle of the courtroom?

~ by S.G. Mark on March 12, 2012.

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