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12 Days After

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A frazzled white guy in a polo shirt

Juror #1

"Honey, I'm home!" he said as he stepped through the brownstone's front door.

"Daddy!" He braced himself not a moment too soon as the Two Terrors raced into the room and threw themselves at him.

"Oof!" he said with a smile. "You're getting a bit big for that, boys—one of these days I'll show you how to do a real tackle, and then you'll be ready to play on the team!"

The boys ignored this, talking over one another with great gusto about their day, and school, and asking him what court had been like. He answered their questions as best he could, briefly, and looked up to see Marge watching this with a smile, baby Donna on her hip.

"Boys!" she said, "you'll have time to pester your father later, but I'm sure he's hungry—he hasn't had dinner yet, you know. Off you go, make sure you finish your homework this time—I'll be checking!"

"Thanks, Marge," he said, giving her a brief kiss, careful not to smudge her lipstick. That could come after the kids were in bed. He dropped a kiss on Donna's forehead, too. "What's for supper?"

"Pork roast," Marge said, turning away to head into the kitchen to get his. "I'll just warm it up for you."

He made a face—what the hell, Marge couldn't see it. Donna giggled, though, so she must have. Marge's pork roast wasn't much to speak of even fresh; it'd be shoe leather now, having been reheated. But he remembered too many meals as a kid during the Depression when they hadn't had meat, at all, and he loved Marge, so he'd eat it without complaint.

"You're home later than you said you'd be," she commented, bending over the stove. "Something go wrong?"

He took Donna from her and flopped down in one of the kitchen chairs. "It was like herding cats," he said, shaking his head. "Most of those guys were perfectly decent fellows, but they had no sense of procedure or getting things done. It probably took us twice as long as it would've if they'd just waited and talked in turn and kept cool rather than blowing up at one another."

"But you got a verdict in the end?"

"Yeah. Hell of a thing, though." He made faces at Donna to entertain her; she was such a happy baby, and he loved hearing her giggle.

"Will he be executed … soon?" There was a hesitancy in her voice. Marge was soft-hearted, always had been; he liked that about her.

"Actually, we voted not guilty," he said with a smile.

"What?" She pivoted sharply to stare at him. "You said there wasn't any doubt about it, that the boy had killed his father!"

He shrugged. "The defense attorney didn't do a good job. Turned out, there were a lot of things he missed pointing out. Witnesses who couldn't have seen what they said they did, that sort of thing. Anyway, that's why it took so long."

She turned back to the stove. "So, how do you feel about it?"

"I think we made the right choice," he said. "That kid—sure, he was a bad kid. Sure, he's trouble, and if he didn't do this he'll probably do something else to get himself in trouble with the law pretty soon. But I've got guys like that on the team, guys with rotten home lives, guys with all kinds of anger and shame bottled up deep down. You get them on a football team, you give them respect and structure and something to do with all that anger, and you give them an ear to listen to their troubles off the field, and a lot of times they turn around. Straighten out. This kid, he never got that chance. And that's not his fault."

"You can be there for the boys on your team," Marge pointed out. "You can't be there for every troubled boy in the city."

"I know," he said. "I just wish there were more men out there willing to be there for boys like him, give them something to look up to, instead of beating them down and treating them like trash."


 A short, balding guy with glasses, wearing a neat shirt and tie.

Juror #2

Mary greeted him with a kiss at the door, like always. Like always, he wondered to himself how he'd gotten so lucky. Sure, his wife wasn't much to look at—mousy brown hair, short, plump, crooked teeth—but she was sweet and wonderful and spending time with her was a joy. And she was a good cook. Man, that smell from the kitchen was incredible!

"Pot roast?" he asked.

"Yup!" Mary smiled. "Glad you're finally home. How'd it go?"

"Oh, it was so exciting!" he said. "You know, I was kind of disappointed by the actual lawyers—it was nothing like Perry Mason, so boring! Just droning on laying out facts and interpretations. Even the judge looked bored. But then when we got into the jury room, and then things got interesting. Everyone had their own angle, and we had one guy who really thought the kid was innocent, and he had some really good points—did a better job than the kid's own lawyer did! He should be a lawyer, if he isn't one already."

"Maybe he should be, if he's trying to do the lawyer's job for them," Mary said. "What kind of things did he point out?"

"Well, like there were a couple of witnesses who couldn't have seen what they said they did. I mean, given how long it would have taken them to get to the door or get their glasses on."

Mary frowned. "But the whole point of doing that sort of thing in court is so you can cross-examine the witnesses, isn't it? Did they say they needed to put their glasses on, or did he just guess? I mean, maybe he was right, but maybe he was missing something."

"Oh," he said, sagging a little. "I never thought about that." That was another great thing about Mary—she always thought about things he'd never have noticed, on his own. They should've made her the juror. Not that he'd done badly, himself. "Anyway, I spotted something myself, that the lawyers and that other juror missed. The way they reconstructed the scene just didn't make sense—the kid would have had to stab his father in the most awkward way possible for it to have happened the way they said. He was shorter than his father, see? And none of the big guys noticed it, but I did. And I made them listen when I pointed it out. That wasn't easy—there were some real jerks on that jury, and one or two bullies. But they listened to me."

Mary smiled at him. "Well, I'm sure things worked out the way they were supposed to, anyhow. Come on, let's get your dinner."


Middle-aged white guy with his tie loosened and cuffs rolled up.

Juror #3

He swore as the drill slipped off the screw-head, gouging into the wood as it went. He slammed the drill down and threw the pieces of the chest across the shop. After that mockery of the trial he was jittery, too jittery to keep his hands or his brain still. This kind of working with his hands usually took the edge off, when nobody in the office needed a good reaming out.

It wasn't working tonight.

He wanted to punch someone, something. He thought of finding a bar to start a fight in, but he was negotiating a delicate contract, that had had to be put on hold for the trial, and the last thing he needed was to take the chance of trouble following him back to the business. Or showing up with bruised knuckles.

Millie had probably heard the clatter, but she didn't come to see. She'd learned her lesson early on: stay out of his way unless he wanted her for something. He didn't want one of those clinging wives, he wanted someone who knew her place. But, hell, he wasn't getting any younger. If he dropped dead of a heart attack in here, she wouldn't dare check on him even if she heard his body hit the floor. He'd die alone, just like that poor sucker.

He walked over to the half-assembled chest and inspected it. The damage wasn't that bad, after all; he could probably just sand it down. If not, well, maybe a little inlay or decorative carving to cover it up. Carpentry, as long as you didn't cut anything too short you could usually fix your mistakes easily enough.

You couldn't do that with people.

It didn't matter much, anyway. Who'd he have to give it to? Millie sure as hell didn't need anything more to clutter up the house with. He'd put all this sweat and time and money into it, and he might as well chuck it into the fireplace when he was done. It didn't matter to anyone but him.

Just like the business, too. He'd poured his life into it, a legacy to pass on. His son didn't want it. Hell, when he died, would they even be able to find his son to tell him?

He thought back to the trial. That sneaking, murdering son of a bitch, sitting there throughout the trial like he didn't care his father was dead. He might have raised a piss-poor son of his own, but at least his own son was better than that kid.

He thought.

Given how many years it had been since he'd seen or heard from his son, who knew?


Fussy-looking white man in a neat suit and tie, with wire-rimmed glasses, and a cigarette in his hand

Juror #4

Nobody asked him about the trial when he got back to the office, which was the way he liked it. There were no distractions as he researched what the stock market had done while he was distracted by his civic duty. The Dow had dropped significantly, more than normal adjustments. He checked various stock valuations. It was a good time to buy, several key companies were undervalued. There was uncertainty in the market; people were nervous. Possibly over the Soviets and their new satellite.

If only people thought their economic decisions through logically, the economy would be better run and far less volatile. Of course, that would negate the advantage that had brought him to the top of his field and made both him and his firm a great deal of money, so he couldn't fully regret human fallibility in this case.

At 10:30 he went to the break room, as usual, for his coffee and cigarette.

"So, I hear you had a real cracker of a case for your jury duty! A murder even, I heard."

He sighed, at the voice from behind him, returning the coffee pot to the burner and adding the proper amount of cream and sugar to his cup before turning to face his co-worker. Daniels was an annoying blowhard at the best of times.

"Yes," he said, sitting down at the table and pulling a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket along with a Zippo lighter, one of his few souvenirs from the War. It had the name of his unit etched on one side. He extracted a cigarette from the packet and lit it with practiced motions, inhaling deeply and enjoying the familiar feel. "A young man from the slums was accused of murdering his father."

"Hope you gave him what-for," Daniels said. "Was it a capital case? Best way to make sure he doesn't do it again!"

This was, at its heart, why he so disliked Daniels. Yes, the man had a passion and drive and instinct that made him a cutthroat broker. But that same passion and drive could and did lead him astray sometimes, when he couldn't tell his own emotions from reality. "Being accused and being guilty are not the same thing," he pointed out.

"So, he didn't do it?" Daniels said, disappointed.

"The boy was not guilty." Nobody but God could determine true innocence, but the jury had done its duty. To his relief, Daniels wandered away when no further details were forthcoming.

That evening over dinner, his wife Lillian asked what movie he wanted to go see Friday night. "I've heard Witness for the Prosecution is excellent," she said. "You know how much I admire Marlene Dietrich's work, and Susan said she's at the top of her game."

"Perhaps next week, dear," he said. "After my recent experience, I would prefer something that didn't hit too close to home."

"What about Desk Set?" Lillian said. "Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy—you can't go wrong with them. Oh, I think Richard Burton has a new war movie out, if you think it wouldn't hit too close to home." He had the occasional nightmare in which his experiences in Northern Africa and Europe figured prominently, as she well knew.

He considered while he chewed his steak. "Whichever you would prefer, dear," he said at last. "The war movie would be no problem. I've yet to see Hollywood capture even a small bit of what the War was like."

She raised an eyebrow. "Yet you believe they could do justice to a courtroom?"

He adjusted his glasses. "Touché."


Earnest-looking white man in a suit and tie

Juror #5

"How was it?" Bill came out of the kitchen, drying his hands on a dishtowel.

"Interesting, gruesome, awful, and satisfying," he said, closing the door behind him and checking to see that the curtains were drawn before crossing the room to give his 'roommate' a kiss hello. "Not at the same time, of course."

"Wanna talk about it?" Bill asked.

"Not really," he said with a shrug. "We declared the kid not guilty. I was glad we did—what a rough time that kid's had! But I tell you, it was not fun being stuck in that room with some of those guys. Some of them were okay—a couple of them were even good!—but I tell you, some of them were real jerks. And loud about it, too—those kind of people, you know what people say."

"Ouch," Bill said, wincing.

"Yeah. I got to speak up about it, though, didn't have to keep quiet about it. One or two of them actually listened, I think, and it may have influenced them to find him not guilty."

"They listened?" His lover knew almost as well as he did how seldom people were willing to hear what life was really like in the slums. Bill had been one of those people who didn't hear, before his family kicked him out for being queer and he found himself living there.

He smiled. "Yeah. At least for that hour and a half, they listened. What the hell, they'll probably forget all about it tomorrow." He shook his head. "What's for supper?"

"Casserole," Bill said.

It wasn't surprising—they ate a lot of casserole. It was a cheap way of stretching leftovers as far as they'd go. "My turn to do the dishes, right?"

"You know it." Bill gave him another kiss and a pat on the ass before heading back to the kitchen.

"The Orioles are playing the Yankees next week on Tuesday, think you'll be able to join me?"

"Maybe," Bill called back. "The things I do for you—going to a Yankees game."

"Only to root against them," he said. "You like rooting against them. Besides, you need a new team now that the Giants are moving to California—might as well be the Orioles."

That was enough to set Bill off, his lover spending the rest of the meal grumbling about dirty traitors.

He smiled and listened without comment. When his team, the St. Louis Browns, had moved to Baltimore and become the Orioles, he'd followed without much complaint. Even if he'd lived in St. Louis for more than a couple of years as a kid, he didn't think he'd have minded, much. People moved around to find work and the best jobs they could, he couldn't be sore at a ball team for doing the same thing. But Bill was cut from a different cloth.


Sincere-looking white guy with his hair slicked back, in a collared shirt, no tie

Juror #6

He checked his watch as he got out of the courthouse. By the time he got back to his apartment, it'd be too late to call his crew to let them know he'd be back to work tomorrow. He could go home and make himself a sandwich or a can of soup for dinner and eat it in front of the television. Or he could go out to eat at a restaurant.

Or he could go to his parents' place and let his mother feed him.

It'd probably been long enough that he really should put in an appearance, and anyway if he went tonight, they could talk about the trial. Maybe it would be a distraction.

He arrived at their door just after dinner. "Ah! Bambino, so good of you to come and see your old mama, come, sit," she said, ushering him in to the dining room table with a kiss and a hug. "Come in, come in, let me look and put something together for you—it won't take a moment!"

"You don't need to go to any trouble," he said, protesting because it was polite, knowing she'd brush it away. She liked feeding people. He turned to his father. "Sir," he said as they shook hands.

He took a deep breath, letting the smells of his mama's cooking flow through him. He felt a little more real, now. It was easy, in that cramped little room with tempers flaring and guesses and supposes flying and a man's life in the balance, to feel cut off from the world. It was like they'd all been put in a can and shook up like a can of paint. He felt something in him settle out into its proper place.

"So glad you came to visit," Mama called from the kitchen. "How is your business doing? I hope taking a break for the trial didn't hurt it too badly. I was talking with Mrs. Cartinelli the other day, about business and things, and she mentioned that her daughter Dolores was doing a secretarial course. Do you need a secretary? You're certainly busy enough to want someone to answer the phones and handle your schedule for you."

"Mama," he protested. He painted houses, it wasn't exactly big business! Yeah, sure, he had a couple of guys he worked with, but it was strictly small-scale stuff. He didn't need a secretary.

Of course, that wasn't what Mama really wanted. If he'd given her warning he was coming, she'd have found an excuse to have Dolores Cartinelli here to meet him. Because the only thing she liked more than feeding people was doting on her grandchildren, and she hadn't give up on the idea of getting some out of him, yet.

He turned to his father. "I don't think the time off for the trial will be a problem, and I kinda liked it. It was interesting."

His father, being a smart man, knew what he was doing—and being a kind man, helped him out. Between the two of them, they managed to keep the conversation away from Dolores Cartinelli or any other young lady of the neighborhood for the rest of the evening.


A sweaty white guy in a collared shirt and a fedora

Juror #7

The game had been rained out, but New York wasn't the only city in the world with a baseball team. And, sure enough, when he got to his regular bar, there was a Phillies game playing on the radio.

The bartender slid him a glass of his usual without even needing to ask.

"Shame about the rain, huh?" he said. "Boy, that sounded like it was gonna be a real great game."

"Eh, they'll reschedule it," the bartender said philosophically.

"Yeah, but I had tickets tonight!" he said. "And I tell you, after the day I had—Jury duty, I had a lotta better things I could've been doing with my time—cramped up in a little room with no fans working half the time and people yelling—if I'm gonna be yelling, I'd rather be yelling at an ump with a cool breeze in my face and a brewski and a dog in my hands, you know?"

The bartender hummed. "Can't say I disagree. The case anything interesting?"

"Nah, just some kid from the wrong side of the tracks they thought stabbed his dad in a fight. Didn't do it. But I tell you, the way some of those guys went on, you'd have thought we were in a detective movie." He turned to the radio as Del Ennis bunted, tensing until he heard that Bobby Morgan and Johnny Wyrostek had made it home safe. "Turn it up, huh, pal?"

"Sure thing."

"Man, that Ennis guy may not have the best batting average, but I tell you, nobody can beat him for runs batted in." But the bartender had moved on to serve someone else, and nobody was around to talk with.

It wasn't long until a couple of his friends trickled in, and while a Phillies game on the radio wasn't as good as a Yankees game in person, it wasn't a bad way to spend an evening.


Calm white man wearing a neat white suit and tie, with a switchblade in front of him

Juror #8

The first night after the trial, he slept like a baby. It had been an exhilarating day, but also draining. He fell into bed without a second thought.

But the next day, back at work, he had time to think, time to go over what he'd done in that jury room. There were some days his job in a big architecture and engineering firm didn't require much thought, and today was one of them. He had time to mull it over as he reviewed other peoples' proposals and designs, looking for flaws, trying to clear his inbox before starting his next big project.

The thing is, he hadn't ever really planned on actually getting the boy acquitted, not until he was in the heat of the moment and the momentum was swinging to his side. From that moment on, he hadn't thought of anything but the possibilities that were opening up in front of him. He'd seen an opportunity and gone for it, with everything he had.

And he'd won.

But with further time to reflect, he wasn't quite sure that was a good thing.

After all, the boy probably did kill his father. He'd always thought that, just like the rest of them. It had just stuck in his craw, the way everyone—both lawyers, judge, witnesses, the jury—sort of assumed it, going through the motions of a fair trial without paying much attention to the substance of it. Sure, the kid probably did it, but even the guilty deserved better than that! Particularly when a guilty verdict would result in a death sentence.

Just last month, the minister had preached a series of sermons on the book of Amos, pointing out the similarities between ancient Israel and the modern day, and how even in America they still trampled on the poor. He hadn't wanted to believe it; America was the best country in the world, the most fair, wasn't it? And then he'd been called for jury duty, and all the way through the trial, he'd asked himself, would a rich boy have had the same trial? Or even a middle class boy? No. And he'd heard the grumbling of his fellow jurors about "those kind of people," and been ashamed. He hadn't wanted to get the boy off, he'd just wanted him to get a fair trial, a fair hearing. And in trying to do that, he'd probably gotten a murderer off scot-free.

A stack of folders slapped down on his desk.

"Davis! Good, you're back. Listen, I need you to double-check these all real quick—you're so good at proofing stuff."

He looked up at the vacuous, jowly face of Mike Jr. Mike would get along well with Juror 7. "I'm sorry, Mike, but I've got my own work to do," he said. "I've got to get started on the Olson account."

Mike smiled. "Naw, you don't! I'm handling it."

"But it was my sketches that won us the bid," he said. "Olson said that specifically. And Mister Myers said that it would be waiting for me when I got done with the trial." It was such an interesting commission, and he'd poured a lot of thought into it. He had so many ideas for what he was going to do with it!

"Well, plans change, and Dad said I could have it. But don't worry, I've got all your sketches, and I'm sure you'll be happy to explain anything I need, right?" Mike Jr. winked at him. Half the brains of his father, and not even 1/10th the skill at the drafting board, but Mike Junior. got what he wanted. No doubt he'd need to do half of it for him, but Mike would still get all the credit.

He glanced over to Mike Senior's office. Mike Senior was on the phone, but he gave a little wave through the window in his door. Mike Senior would back Junior no matter what, and Myers wouldn't contradict his partner. There was no point in complaining; he knew from long experience that it wouldn't change anything.

But, dammit. It was his design that'd gotten them the job, and there was no way on God's green earth Junior could do it.

He hadn't thought sticking up for the kid would change anything, either. But his dogged determination and attention to detail had saved a young man's life.

"Excuse me," he said to Junior, getting up and walking over to Mike Senior's office, closing the door behind him before Junior could think to follow him.

Later that day, the trial drifted to the forefront of his brain again when he was sipping his coffee and looking over the Olson details. He shook his head. If the kid was innocent, he'd done a good thing; if he wasn't, maybe now that he wasn't being beat by his dad everyday he could turn over a new leaf. But even if he hadn't, there was no use worrying over it now. He had a building to design.


close-up shot of an old white man watching interestedly

Juror #9

His apartment seemed very dark and empty that night, as he made himself dinner and settled in his chair to listen to the radio while he ate. It was a relief to be away from some of the men on that jury, but he'd miss the others. And he'd definitely have to look Davis up some time. Get to know him in the regular way. It was odd; he felt he knew the man, but he hadn't even known his name until they were leaving.

That room had been packed full, and he hadn't liked all of them men there, but there'd been an electricity in the air, a liveliness, that he hadn't felt in a long time. Not since his Bertha died, anyway. God, how he missed her! He wanted nothing more than to tell her all about it. She always knew how to listen, how to help him talk through his experience, and then she'd tell him all about her day, all about the other people in the neighborhood, family and friends they'd known their whole lives. Most of them were dead or gone, now, and he'd let relationships fade with those who remained, because he just didn't know how to do it—how to do anything—without Bertha.

He should make an effort. Some of them might be as lonely as he was. Maybe he could get together a pinochle night; he hadn't played in ages. Jim would be interested, he knew; John was dead but Edith was still there, and she'd actually been more of a card-player than her husband, back when he and Bertha and John and Edith got together every week. He'd have to think about it.

The next day he got up, and took his paper down to the corner diner for breakfast as usual, to eat his eggs and bacon among the other men, discussing the stories in the paper and shaking their head over the state of the world.

"Hey, McCardle, welcome back!" Harrison said as he came in the door. Faces turned. It was good to know he'd been missed.

"Hope you weren't sick," Green said.

"No," he replied. "I was on jury duty."

"I've had jury duty before," Harrison said. "Boring as all get out. Some kids knocking over trash cans, petty vandalism, that sort of thing."

"No, this was quite interesting. It was a murder case."

At that, the other men turned, various expressions of surprise and interest.

"My usual, please," he said to the waitress, setting his folded newspaper in front of him. Today they'd probably have more interesting things to talk about.


 late-middle-aged white guy in a shirt and tie with messy hair

Juror #10

He took his time inspecting the garage the next morning, making sure his lunkhead of a mechanic hadn't broken or taken anything while he wasn't there to keep an eye on him. He was a polack, and you couldn't trust them. To his surprise, everything was fine, where it should be, and the deposits had been made every night right on schedule.

"Huh," he said. Then he checked the register. Business had been down while he was gone; maybe it was nothing, but maybe people just didn't want to work with a polack, even one who did excellent work. He couldn't blame them. Or maybe business had been fine, but he'd done a job or two under the table and pocketed the money himself.

Wiznewski came in just then, a few minutes late. Lazy bum. "How was business while I was gone?"

Wiznewski shrugged. "Not bad. Coulda been better—you can check the ledger yourself."

"I was asking you." He would have said more, but Mrs. Johnson rolled in with her Chevy. Make a man cry what she did to that thing, but she gave him a lot of business. And she seemed to like Wiznewski, who was always toadying up to the women.

"Hello, Mrs. Johnson, how're you this fine morning?" Wiznewski walked over to open the car door for her with a big smile.

"Oh, I'm doing fine, Phil, but my baby here isn't," she said, patting the steering wheel and fluttering her eyelashes at him.

He rolled his eyes and got back to work. If he were Mr. Johnson, he'd keep a closer eye on his wife. But it was no skin off his nose if she wanted to go sniffing around some greasy polack, and as long as her cash was good he was perfectly willing to let Wiznewski's flirting keep her coming back.

That evening at the bar he was already on his second before anyone asked about it. Wouldn't you know it, it was that bastard Walker, who couldn't keep his mouth shut and had a laugh like a braying donkey. "Heard the verdict was a real surprise, thought that kid would fry for sure." There went the laugh. "How'd you let him get away?"

"Buncha bleeding-hearts on the jury," he muttered, taking a long drink and idly turning to watch as a new game started up at the pool table off to the side. And he'd let them get away with it, he thought with some shame.

Walker snorted. "Damned dirty reds, stirring up trouble in the slums and then covering for 'em. Should just burn the whole place down, and be done with 'em."

"They get off all kindsa scum," Cooper said. "When he kills again, then they’ll all be sorry."

"How do you know he did it?" He unclenched his fist and wrapped it around his drink instead. Cooper was a good buddy and a good man, he didn't want to start anything with him.

"Paper told what happened," Walker said.

He snorted. "Yeah, because the paper's always right and reporters always know their asses from their elbows."

Cooper stared at him. "You think he didn't do it?"

He took another swig of his drink. "Not sure enough to kill him over it."


A white guy with a mustache, looking serious, wearing a neat shirt and tie, and suspenders

Juror #11

Nastja was knitting in a chair by the door when he came in, and stood to give him a kiss. "Ah, darling, it is good you are home."

He returned the kiss with enthusiasm. "Dinner smells wonderful, but who is making it?"

"Marja," she said.

He'd insisted on the American form of the name for his eldest daughter, to give her a good start in their new home, but Nastja often used the more familiar pronunciation. So did he, when he wasn't thinking, to tell the truth.

"I suppose it is good for her to learn," he said, "although her žlikrofi can't possibly be as good as yours."

She smiled at him. "No, but it will be one day."

It wasn't žlikrofi for dinner, just meatballs and gravy and potatoes and green beans. Such a meal would have been reserved for special occasions back in Yugoslavia; here, it was common fare.

"So, how was the court case?" Dennis asked. "Was it exciting like Perry Mason?"

"Don't talk with your mouth full, Danis," Nastja said.

"Nobody confessed on the witness stand," he said with a smile, "but I do believe the prosecutor was as wrong as Hamilton Burger ever was."

"Did the innocent man go free?" Dennis asked, eyes wide.

"Yes, he did. And I helped," he said with pride. "It could never have happened in Yugoslavia—there, trials only have the verdict the Party decrees. But here, even a poor boy from a bad part of town can be acquitted if he is innocent."

"It can't have been that easy," Mary said, rolling her eyes. "America isn't perfect, Papa, there are many things wrong with it."

He knew that, better than she did. But he also had a clearer perspective than his daughter, she who had been born in freedom, never gone hungry, never had to fear that the police would take her away for speaking to the wrong people about the wrong things. "It was not easy. And of course there was prejudice, and not all men are good men—even men on a jury! They took it all for granted, they did not always attend to the importance of their work as they should. But in the end, justice was done." He hoped she was listening. She was so cynical, his daughter, and there was no reason for it, here in the land of freedom.

She rolled her eyes again and he sighed. Dennis, at least, loved America as he did.


A well-groomed white guy with thick glasses wearing a shirt and tie.

Juror #12

He's got a pretty great life, all things considered, and there's something about the trial that really made him think about how lucky he is: beautiful wife, three great kids, well-paying job, nice house. He got out of the podunk town he was born in, and made it in the big city.

He'd never really given much thought to all the people who lived here who hadn't made it.

The morning after the trial he gives Dotty a kiss on the cheek and heads in to work. When he gets there, he starts off by reading through the ads in a selection of papers and magazines that came out while he was at the trial—it's always good to check out the competition, see what others are doing.

He pages through file folders of clients, looking for something to work on that catches his interest. Nothing does, so he goes to get some coffee. If nothing jumps out at him when he gets back, he'll pick the one with the nearest deadline. You can't always work on inspiration, he's learned that after a decade in the business.

He gets the coffee, chats amiably with his co-workers about his absence and what happened while he was gone.

Nothing has shaken loose by the time he gets back, so he picks the Ovaltine magazine spread, tucks the other files away, and gets started.

The company, as usual, wants everyone to know about their product, and they've got all kinds of facts about how healthy it is that they'd like to include. But any ad-man knows that facts are not what sell a product. If they were, you wouldn't need ad-men, now, would you? You'd just slap a sticker on your product with the facts and call it good. And sometimes too many facts work against you—people get confused, they don't want to wade through all that information. So he has to figure out how to put together an ad campaign that will appeal to people while still satisfying the client.

But his mind wanders back to the trial, to that jury room, to the arguments that went back and forth. They were arguments about facts, certainly, and yet in the end it wasn't the facts that decided things, was it? It was the story Juror 8 told, the way he told it, the way he got them to stop thinking of all the things that made the kid sound guilty and focus on all the things that made him sound innocent. And other things, like not wanting to be on the same side as that old bigot, Juror 10.

(Juror 8 should work in advertising—that was some sales pitch he made!)

He looked down at the sketches and doodles he'd made for the Ovaltine campaign. He loved his job, really he did, but compared to saving a young man's life, selling a kid's drink mix seemed kinda prosaic.

Ovaltine wasn't bad, though. It didn't hurt anyone, and it tasted good, and it was better for kids than soda. It was a good product. Not like some he'd had to pretty up for a magazine spread.

It did make him wonder. Juror 8 used his abilities to sell the idea of doubt, and mercy, and saved a life in the process. Ideas needed selling, too, not just products. The way you talked about an idea made all the difference in the world. You could sell bigotry; you could sell tolerance. It just depended on the sales pitch.

He didn't want to have lives depending on his decisions; he didn't want to go back to the high-pressure world of that jury room. But it did make him wonder. Alongside his products, what other sorts of things could he sell?

He shook his head and dismissed the idea. None of their clients would go for it, and anyway, he wasn't there to sell ideas. He was there to sell product.