Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Cora Fielding, Forewoman of the jury, took a vote as soon as the five men and seven women had been seated. She announced the result had been eleven votes for innocent and one for guilty. Ms. Fielding, about 35, overweight, blond with streaks of gray asked, “Would the person who voted guilty care to identify himself or herself?” Janet Carter raised her hand. Puzzled, Ms. Fielding stared at her. “You don’t look familiar,” she said. “Are you one of the jurors? What is your name?”
“I’m registered with you as Mary Carter,” responded the juror. “My real name is Janet Carter.” Mystified, the other members of the jury remained silent. “This is bizarre,” commented Ms. Fielding. What did you do, switch places with Mary Carter? “No,” responded, Janet. “I’m the same person that entered the room. I took on a different appearance and name while we were voting.”
“Nonsense,” retorted the forewoman angrily. “What’s going on here? As I recall, the other person was young with dark hair. You’re, at least, thirty years older! How did you get in here? Where is the other person?”
“I know this will cause a mistrial,” said Janet. “I have a special reason to being here. The other person was me as a young woman. My present appearance is as I was when I died! We’re here to judge the innocence or guilt of Jerome Carter. He’s accused of killing his wife, Janet Carter. Most people think this trial is a farce since there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. I’m here because I know he’s guilty! I am the person he killed!”
The silence in the room continued but its character changed from mysticism to shock. There was not so much as a murmur in the room. After several seconds, Ms. Fielding found her voice. “Do I understand that you are claiming to be the murdered person?” “Exactly, declared Janet!”
“How can we believe that? What can you show? What is your objective in being here?” gasped Ms. Fielding.
“I do have a purpose, “responded, Mary. “Whether you believe what I’m saying or not, does not matter. I want this jury to file back into the courtroom and have Jerome see me, a year after he shot me. We need to see his reaction.”
“I can’t agree to that,” Ms. Fielding shouted. “As forewoman of this jury, it’s my duty to report this to the judge at once. This is for him to handle.” She picked up the phone. “Open the door,” she commanded. “We’re coming back. Now!”
She led ten jurors to the door. Janet followed slowly several steps behind.
There were still several persons in the courtroom. The judge was standing behind the bench speaking to his adjutant. Jerome Carter, the defendant, middle aged and balding, was seated absorbed in a discussion with his lawyer. The prosecutor was having an animated conversation with several reporters.
A great deal of confusion ensued as eleven members of the jury seated themselves. “What is the meaning of this? demanded Judge Allen. “Your honor,” began Ms. Fielding but didn’t get any further. Janet was walking through the door when Jerome Carter caught sight of her. He hesitated for a moment, then rose shakily.
Janet pointed her finger at him. “I’ve come back, darling,” she shouted. With color draining from his face, Jerome sank back into his chair.
“Yes, it’s me, lover,” Janet continued. “Do you have anything to say to your adoring wife? Speak! Though I’m already dead, I’m dying to hear your voice!”
“Jan, Jan, I’m sorry!” shrieked Jerome. “I did it in a moment of madness. I’m sorry! Go back. Go back to wherever you’ve come from.” He clapped both hands to his eyes and began to sob.
“I’ll go now, beloved,” responded Janet. “But I won’t be far. Stray not one step from the path you need to walk!”
She vanished. The room was quiet except for the tumultuous sounds of Jerome’s continuing sobs.
In the jury room, a vote had been taken concerning whether the accused was guilty or not guilty. The vote was 11 to 1 in favor of not guilty. The lone vote for guilty had been cast by a juror who was present in the room but in a form unknown to the other jurors. Her actions caused a mistrial but there was no doubt as to what she had accomplished. This story is short but it will have you gasping at the end.