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“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” the judge said in a scary, stern voice.
I wanted to answer “no” so badly, but I mumbled the word “fine” just barely loud enough for the judge to hear.
“Does anybody object and say no?” The judge turned around to the other witnesses in the room. Everybody was silent so that you could hear a pin drop.
“Must I repeat myself? DOES ANYBODY HERE, IN THIS ROOM, RIGHT NOW, OBJECT?” She was yelling in a tone that told me she was extremely annoyed, or aggravated, or maybe both. I began to fidget uncontrollably. It tends to happen whenever I get nervous… but…. Ha… what is there for me to be nervous about? Haha… I mean… I didn’t do anything…. there is no evidence…. The thoughts just kept running in and then out, constantly being replaced by new ones. Now the sweat was beginning to pour down my face and all over my body. Could people tell? Was I being too obvious? Please stop sweating! Please stop fidgeting! Please! Just stop! OH MY GOSH! What if she told? She promised she wouldn’t though. But you never really can trust anybody can you? Even if she’s your best friend? Well, look at yourself Jen, you’re about to lie after saying that you wouldn’t…. Oh gosh! What did I get myself into? Just play it cool, Jen. For all the judge and jury know, you were just a witness. Put on your game face and shape up!
“Now, were you or were you not in the park the day of the killing?” The prosecutor questioned me.
“Not,” I slinked down in the hard wooden chair.
“Shy and timid, huh? Or just lying? Eh? If not, what were you doing, on the day of the killing?” His deep voice was getting louder and scarier as he continued to talked. He was getting frustrated, which I could easily tell.
“On the day of the killing,” I paused and took a deep breath. “I woke up and showered. I proceeded to get ready for the school day, and on my way into the kitchen to make my lunch I grabbed the gun… Oops! I meant bun… uh... for my hotdog! I was putting the hotdog in the—“ I was interrupted.
“I’m sorry did you say gun?” Agrin began to grow on his face as he slowly pronounced “gun”.
“Ha…er… no…I never said anything about a gun…I said…um…bun! You know, like a hotdog bun. I was making a hotdog for my lunch.” I stopped. I was nervous. What are they going to say? Come on girl! Get it together! You can’t afford to give it away. She’s your best friend. Poker-face time.
“Continue with your day.”
“Lunch was made and I waited out in the cold weather for my bus to come. I went to school, came home, did my homework, ate dinner, and went to bed. The end.”
“It seems as though you are hiding something from me. Hmm? Tell me about your school day.”
“Homeroom, 1st period through 8th , and advisory. In homeroom I just met up with some friends. You know, the usual ‘hello’, ‘good morning’, ‘how are you’, ‘I’m tired’, etc. etc. etc.”
“Tell us who your friends were. Was Jenna there? She was the killer wasn’t she? And tell me about these etceteras. You are very clearly hiding something, Miss.”
“Yes, Jenna was there. She did no such thing though! How dare you accuse my best friend of killing Stuart! Even if they were like mortal enemies or whatever! You have no right to say that! You don’t even have any evidence!”
“See, that’s where you are wrong.” He pulled an envelope with my name on it out of his back pocket. I wanted to scream and felt like I needed to scream. No, I needed to get out of there, and fast. A smile grew over his face as he realized that he had gotten to me. I couldn’t look at him any longer. I looked out into the pews. A few family members, some friends, some random people and an oddly familiar looking man. He winked—or at least I think he did. I kept looking but the man now had a grin on his face. What was there to be smiling about? Maybe I was just imagining it. I tightly shut my eyes and slowly opened them again. He wasn’t there anymore. Why did he look so familiar? School? No. Family friend? No. “Now, you know exactly what this is. Would you mind explaining to the rest of us, though?” He interrupted my thoughts.
“No. I wouldn’t. In homeroom,” I paused. Was I really about to spill? No. I’ve already lied enough today, why not lie some more? I mean, really! What really is the truth? They don’t know. I’m not connected to some lie detector. They aren’t and won’t suspect a thing! “We were just talking and she had remembered that she had it with her so she pulled it out and handed it to me. She was simply paying me back for a pair of shoes that I had helped her pay for the other day while we were shopping. She ran out of money. Happens all the time. But—wait, how do you have it?”
“You dropped it, and I just simply happened to pick it up. Shall we open it?”
“Have you ever heard of the fourth amendment? It says that you have no right to go through my stuff. There was no search warrant after all. Seriously, you need to read up on your history.”
“I was not in your house. I was not in your car. I was not in your locker. I was not in your bag. I was simply picking something up off the ground.” We began to argue. This was getting insane. I was beginning to get antsy and I knew that within a matter of minutes I wouldn’t be able to hold it in any longer. The truth had to be told. I needed to get out of there, and the judge came just in time.
“Silence in the court! SILENCE IN THE COURT!” Goodness! She was loud! But as soon as the gavel was pounded, and she announced that court was dismissed and would reassemble tomorrow, I ran out of that darned room as soon as I could. I ran all the way past the edge of the parking lot and into a nearby forest. Hidden behind a tree, I let it all out. I screamed first. It was all beginning to come out. The anger, frustration and confusion. Even the truth.
“Ha. I knew it couldn’t have been you. Then again, I also knew that you were involved. Wow, I’m good. Aren’t I? Just like me. You know, I-“
“Wh-who are you?” I turned around to face him. It was the guy from the pews. It hit me. I knew where I had seen him! He was in the newspaper a few years ago! Why hadn’t I realized it before? There was a story about him on the front page—I think it was about how he was sent to jail- kind of the same thing I was in trial for, except he was accused as the murderer- not the suspect. The judge had eventually realized that he was innocent and let him go. “You’re the guy… fr-from the newspaper. Right?”
“Yes. And the newspaper was right, but they left one part out.” He slowly and quietly lifted his bangs off his forehead revealing a rather large scar. “While in jail, I was injured. A group of the guys decided they didn’t like me and jumped me one day. I don’t want you to go through this too. Now, I know you have a lot of questions—we will get to them later. Right now, you just have to listen to me very carefully. Tell them the truth. Your friend is not who you think she is. It will save you a great deal. Trust me. If you don’t you will forever regret it.” And he walked away. That was it? Wow, that was odd. But, I did what he said anyway. I felt badly about breaking my promise to my friend but some guilt had been lifted off my shoulders from all that lying.
I was sentenced to 12 hours of community service since I lied in court, but I figured I deserved it. I never saw that man again, but I thank God, for sending him to me every night before bed.