Howdy all. This week’s entry for the ever awesome Thain in Vain’s Flash Fiction Challenge is below. The theme?
Your protagonist is a member of jury about to hear the sentencing of the criminal you just convicted.
I decided to do two things with this story. One, I wasn’t going to reveal the sentencing, which, contrary to what they show in the movies, doesn’t necessarily happen immediately following the verdict. And two, I decided to continue exploring a character I introduced in Chuck Wendig’s latest challenge.
So here is “The Verdict”
It was weird being on this side of the box. How many times had I sat with the defense, waiting for people just like this to decide my fate? Watching their faces, some angry, some bored, some with empty, far-looking gazes.
I’d lucked out. No convictions. Not saying I wasn’t guilty, but never beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s what mattered. My lawyer was slick, sure. Jimmie the Gent saw to that. Likewise, I’m sure he saw to it that at least one member of each jury I’d faced was bent, to assure the conviction went the way he wanted.
That’s why I was here, wasn’t it?
“All rise for the honorable Judge Malcolm McFarley.”
I stood up, rolled my shoulders. In the pit of my stomach, I felt butterflies. Huh, funny. It felt just like when I was out there, on the other side. I looked at the guy standing with the defense. Vincent Taglieri. Didn’t know him personally, didn’t have to. The Gent told me what I needed to know. Taglieri’s lawyer was slick too. Real slick. The prosecution made a tough case, but his guy made every weaseling turn he could make, and hell, even though I knew he was guilty, I found it easy to doubt.
And I fuckin’ hated kid touchers.
That’s one thing about my line of work. Sometimes, you run with people you just can’t stand. By nature, the profession draws undesirables. Jimmie the Gent had that going for him, though. If he could avoid it, he wouldn’t work with the worst of them. But some guys…some guys just had to be stomached.
“You may be seated.”
We sat. The judge wasn’t in Jimmie’s pocket. He was straight and hard as shit. His sentence would be the maximum he could get away with and not risk an appeal. He hated crime. Loved justice. Too bad the American system was too fucked to see it gotten.
“Vincent Taglieri, you have been accused of the abduction and rape of a child of thirteen. The time has come to ask the jury for their verdict. Will the foreman please rise?”
I stood. Yeah, me, the foreman. Fucked up, right?
“Mr. Foreman, has the jury reached a verdict?”
“We have, your Honor.”
“Will you please read the verdict?”
I looked over at Vincent. He looked back, an almost imperceptible smirk on his lips. He recognized me. Knew that if Jimmie had gone through the hassle of hiring a real slick lawyer and getting a man on the jury, he was as good as free.
“Guilty, on all charges,” I said, staring Vincent in the eyes. His face drained of color. There was an eruption of sound in the courtroom, followed by the banging gavel.
“Mr. Taglieri is to be taken into custody while I determine his sentence.”
I watched them drag him out of the courtroom. The whole time, he stared back at me. Jimmie was gonna be pissed.
But like I said, I fucking hate kid touchers.