“Dum-de-dum-dum. ‘Deep Thoughts.’ But you know what? I think you’re right.”

The next day she said, “I was talking to my brother-in-law about Mr. Bittner and how he can’t keep his eyes open.”


“I didn’t say he was on the jury, and I didn’t mention his name. He said it might have something to do with Mr. Bittner being morbidly obese.”

“Morbidly obese?”

“He’s a paramedic, he knows all the terms.”

The man was obese, Keller thought. Large enough to have his own zip code. But where did morbid come into it? Did carrying all that weight around make you think depressing thoughts? Did you spend hours wondering how many men it would take to carry your coffin?

“Maybe he’s just tired,” Keller suggested. “Maybe he can’t sleep nights because he’s weighed down by the responsibility of sitting in judgment over his fellow man.”

“Or maybe he’s just bored to the point of petrifaction. It’s really boring, isn’t it?”

“It has its moments,” he said, “but they’re few and far between, and the rest of it’s like watching water evaporate.”

“On a humid day. The lawyers go over everything until you want to scream. They ask the same question over and over. They must have a real high opinion of jurors.”


“It’s not like TV.”

“No, or you’d turn it off. Well, take Law and Order. The two cops catch the guy in the first thirty minutes, and Sam Waterston puts him away before the hour’s up. It takes this prosecutor longer than that to find out what brand of VCR we’re talking about.”

“Court TV’s more realistic.”

“When they’re reporting live. Otherwise they just show you the part where something’s happening. And even with their live coverage, they tend to cut away during the dull parts.” She stirred her iced coffee. “I guess we shouldn’t be talking about this.”

“You can relax,” he said, deadpan. “I’m not wearing a wire.”

She stared at him, then burst out laughing. And put her hand on top of his.

“The cop’s black,” he told Dot, “and the defendant’s white. I don’t think I mentioned that before.”

“You and Justice,” she said. “Both color-blind.”

“At first,” he said, “we didn’t know. I mean, we knew about the defendant, because there he was sitting with his lawyers, a middle-aged white guy with an OTB face and a bad rug named Huberman.”

“His rug’s got a name?”

“What is this, English class? You know what I meant. His name is Huberman.”

“I know what a rug is,” she said, “whether it’s got a name or not, and I never saw a good one. But what’s an OTB face? Off the books? On the button?”

“Off-track betting,” he said. “There’s a look horseplayers get.”

“A kind of a woulda-coulda-shoulda look.”

“That’s the one. Anyway, you don’t get to see the cop until he gives testimony, and the prosecution’s case is fairly far along by then. And it turns out he’s black. And the thief’s black, too.”

“A minute ago you said he was white.”

“Not the defendant. The thief, the guy who stole the VCR in the first place and sold it to Huberman. He’s a prosecution witness, and he and the cop are both African-Americans.”


“So that explains a lot about jury selection. The big question in voir dire was do we believe cops lie or tell the truth. Well, generally speaking, white people generally have more faith in the police than black people do.”

“Gee, Keller, I wonder why.”

“Right. So you’d think the prosecution would want white jurors, and the defense would want blacks.”

“Got it. When the defendant’s white and the cop is black, everything gets turned on its head.”

“But I don’t think anybody’s sure just how far it gets turned. I wish I’d known all this before voir dire, because it would have been interesting to watch. See, the ideal juror for the prosecution is a black man who thinks highly of cops, and the ideal for the defense is a white man who doesn’t.”

“Black man, white man. Don’t they have any women on your jury?”

“Seven of the twelve are women. And one of the two alternates.”

“And the black and white balance?”

“Four whites and three blacks, plus both the alternates are black.”

“Doesn’t add up, Keller.”

“Plus three Hispanics and two Asians.”

“How do they factor in, as far as believing in cops is concerned?”

“No idea.”

“How do you think the jury’ll decide?”

“Same answer. I couldn’t even guess.”

“And you? How’ll you vote?”

“I really shouldn’t be talking about this.”


“I haven’t made up my mind.”

“Really? You don’t know if he’s guilty or not?”

“Oh, there’s no question about it,” he said. “Of course he’s guilty. One look at him and you know he’s a crook. He was probably making book on football games in high school, and he’s been receiving stolen goods ever since he dropped out.”

“But you just said-“

“And that’s not even considering the testimony we didn’t get to hear. For example, nobody told us what they found in Huberman’s apartment.”

“Maybe they didn’t find anything.”

“Then the defense would have brought up the subject. ‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client’s supposed to be a receiver of stolen goods, and yet the district attorney would have you believe that the VCR identified as People’s Exhibit One is the sole piece of stolen property in his possession. Isn’t that an extraordinary coincidence?’ But nobody’s said a word about what the search did or didn’t reveal, and that means they found a room full of TVs and VCRs and camcorders, and the judge ruled the search was improper and threw it out.”

“Still, if you know the man’s guilty-“

“But did they prove it? And was he entrapped?”

“And who cares? You know what I think, Keller? The guy’s a fence, and the cop went and bought the VCR for his own personal use. And then he got mad and arrested the guy because he couldn’t figure out how to program the goddam thing. Well? What do you think?”

“I think it’s a shame you’re not on the jury,” he said.

“The cross-examination was brutal,” Gloria said.

Clifford Mapes, the arresting officer, had been on the stand all morning. Keller said he kept waiting for Mapes to lose it and explode.

“What I kept waiting for was for him to burst into tears. I know, I know. Cops don’t cry. But if it had been me on the witness stand there would have been tears.”

“Maybe it would be a good strategy,” Keller said. “Maybe it’d throw Nierstein off stride.”

Nierstein was the lead counsel for the defense, a deceptively mild-looking man whose hairline had receded to complement his chin. Confronting a hostile witness, the little man turned into a bulldog.

“I’d like to see him thrown off stride,” Gloria said. “Or off a cliff.”

“You don’t like him.”

“I think he’s mean.”

“It’s an act. ‘I’m not a sonofabitch, but I play one in court.’ “

“He should get an Emmy,” she said, “and she should get an enema.”


“Uh-huh. You just know she’s gonna bring him back for redirect this afternoon.”

“She pretty much has to, don’t you think?”

“I suppose. We’re not supposed to let our feelings about the attorneys influence us, but how could you help it? Fortunately I dislike them both about equally, so it balances out. I don’t like anybody, to tell you the truth. The rest of the jurors are jerks and the bailiff’s a self-important idiot. I feel sorry for Mapes, but he’s sort of a doofus, isn’t he? And I feel sorry for Huberman, because he’s on trial, plus he’s got a family. On the other hand, the man’s a crook. Guilty or not guilty, he’s a crook.”

“I guess you’re looking forward to the end of the trial.”

“And going back to work? It’s a job, that’s all. Believe me, it’s not such a picnic at the office.” She lowered her eyes. “It’s not that great at home, either.”


“Being married is like being on a jury,” she said. “You’re not supposed to talk about it with others. But I have to say it’s not so hot.”

“Maybe it’ll get better.”

“Yeah, right. Or I’ll get used to it. Meantime, you know the one thing I look forward to?”

“The weekends? No, not if it’s not great at home.”

“No, definitely not the weekends. Lunch, five days a week, here at the Saigon Pearl. That’s what I look forward to these days.”

The prosecution rested its case late Friday morning, and when they resumed after lunch the defense moved for a directed verdict of acquittal. That was standard procedure, Keller knew, and the judge denied the motion, which was also fairly predictable. Then Nierstein announced that the defense would rest without presenting a case, since the prosecution had demonstrably failed to prove anything. The judge told him to save that for his closing argument, and told both attorneys to save their closing arguments for Monday morning. He gave the jurors his usual instructions-don’t talk to anybody, don’t read newspaper coverage of the case, di dah di dah di dah. Keller could have recited it along with him, word for word.

There was one addition. This time the judge suggested that they bring an overnight bag to court Monday morning. Once they began their deliberations, he explained, they would be sequestered until they reached a verdict. The city would pay for their hotel room, but the city’s largesse didn’t run to toothpaste and razors and clean clothes, so they ought to bring those along just in case.

“You’re already packed,” Gloria said, on the way out of the building. She nodded at Keller’s briefcase. “I bet you’ve got it all in there. Socks and underwear and a clean shirt.”

“And a book to read,” he said. “Everything I need for a weekend away.”

“A romantic weekend, I hope?”

He shook his head. “A nephew of mine’s getting married. That makes it a romantic weekend for him, or at least I hope it does. For me it comes under the heading of family obligations.”

He got back from Baltimore early Sunday evening and took a long soak in the tub, then called a Chinese restaurant and ordered dinner. He cradled the receiver, then picked it up again, feeling the urge to call someone. Dot? No, not Dot, but someone.