(from the forthcoming Amerikana 365 collection
Fall 2012 Poetry In Motion Publishing House)

 

14. One Angry Man

Characters:
Juror #10 / Young Man / Girlfriend / Old Gentleman

Setting:
Infinite Space (foreground) & Intersection (background); Night

 

Darkness.  A car brakes hard on a quiet street.  The car hits a body and the body hits the ground hard.  Old Gentleman lies on the floor in the background, unconscious.  Juror # 10 enters.

 

Juror:               Do you know what happened?  (flips a coin, catches it)  Neither do we.  A week ago I was called in to the courthouse to perform my civil service of jury duty and was chosen for a criminal case.  Here are the facts… December 25th, 6:08 pm, an elderly gentleman, who is to remain unnamed, went for a walk after a dinner he enjoyed with his entire family, down to the youngest granddaughter.  Just before this, a young man and his young girlfriend leave his small family’s Christmas get-together early; his girlfriend with a fever on the rise.  These two met by chance at that intersection [background].  But what happened, we’re trying to figure out…

 

Young man runs into the intersection and kneels next to the Old Gentleman.

 

Young Man:     Call 911!  He’s still breathing!

 

Young Man freezes.

 

Juror:               Now, the young man and his young girlfriend swear they never saw him in the street.  There was a stop sign and street light nearby, but the old man was lying 10 meters past that intersection.  There were no witnesses who could confidently state they saw the incident happen and now an elderly man has been laid to rest and a young man brought into the hands of us; his jury; his peers; mere humans.

Young Man:     You’re gonna be alright, okay.  You’re gonna be alright.  I’m so sorry.  You’re gonna be alright.  Babe, hurry!

 

Young Man freezes.

 

Juror:               So here I am, stuck on a hot summer day in a poorly air conditioned room with a fine view of a parking structure across the way, surrounded by 11 others, all just like me; with better places to go and much nicer places to see.  Right now, though, it’s our job to interpret the law and find this young man innocent or guilty of the crime of homicide.  Each of these people wants to send this man to prison with unquestionable doubt that he is guilty.  ‘He obviously hit the old man with his car, right?’  Everyone except me.  And right now, we need a unanimous vote to get out of here.  No one in this small room likes me right now.

Young Man:     Here, take this.

 

Young Man takes off his coat and puts it over the Old Man.  He takes off his scarf, folds it quickly, and places it underneath the Old Man’s head.

 

Young Man:     Help is on its way.  You’re gonna make it.

 

Young Man freezes.

 

Juror:               One shmuck is missing a baseball game for this.  A handful are complaining about the money they’re losing by not being at work.  Others joke about the measly paycheck we’ll get at the end of this.  Two are just plain prejudiced.  Everyone’s got their reasons to wrap this up, and their reasons go on and on.  The trial only lasted three days.  More than enough time to decide the fate of the rest of one young man’s life, right?  But what about this elderly gentleman?

 

Young Woman runs out to her boyfriend and stands behind him.

 

Girlfriend:        They’re on their way.

Young Man:     Good.

Girlfriend:        Where’d he come from? (starts crying)

Young Man:     I don’t know.

Girlfriend:        I didn’t even see him-

Young Man:     I know.  Neither did I.  Neither did I.

 

Young Man lowers his head.  They freeze.

 

Juror:               79 years old.  Widowed recently.  Leaves 4 children and 10 grandchildren behind.  When he left his family for his nightly walk, his family recollects that he said goodbye to everyone in the room before leaving; something he doesn’t normally do.  Also, and more importantly to me, he did not wear his glasses on the walk; leaving them at the front table before leaving.  For a man who is nearly legally blind, it would be very difficult to clearly see things walking down his darkened street.  I don’t think he saw this car coming.  I think he walked out in front of the car.  I don’t think this young man entirely deserves to go to prison for a minimum 5, maximum 25 years for this accident.  I think it was an accident.

Girlfriend:        So what do we do, David?

Young Man:     (pause) Pray.

Girlfriend:        Okay.

Young Man:     Just pray.

 

Girlfriend gets closer to her boyfriend and kneels next to him. Both lower their heads.

 

Juror:               I believe this Young Man is innocent; that he didn’t commit a crime here.  Everyone’s angry, and I could care less.  It’d be easy to say ‘guilty’ right now and be on our way, but it’s time for me to do what I believe is right, regardless of how long it takes; of who gets upset.  A young man’s life is at stake and it’s rolling around in the palm of our hands.  One mistake does not deserve another.  Until I’m beyond a reasonable doubt this young man ‘killed’ that gentleman, I’m staying put.  Let the other jurors hate me.  We’re here to deliberate.  Let’s deliberate.  I say he’s ‘Innocent.’  Let them hate me.  I’m here to deliberate whether they like it or not.

Young Man:     Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come…

 

Lights and vocals fades to nothing.

 

Girlfriend:        He’s not breathing anymore.