It happened. For a lot of reasons that mostly boiled down to wishful thinking, I didn’t think it would ever happen to me.
I didn’t believe it when I got the summons. I didn’t believe it when I called the number provided and learned that I was just inside the cutoff of people who actually had to show up. I didn’t believe it when I sat in the room of nearly two hundred people and was told that only two trials needed juries. I started to believe it when I was the last person seated on the second jury.
And you better believe there was a whole truckload of internal grumbling about it.
I know. It’s very un-American of me to be annoyed at the inconvenience of dropping everything else (and figuring out how it would get picked up) for the three days I had to be at the courthouse, not knowing each day if I would need to be there the next. I talked to some family about the events later – when it was legal for me to do so – and I conceded that it was at least somewhat interesting to have this new experience.
That’s when the teasing began. Everyone said that now that I knew what jury duty was like, that was how the characters were going to meet in my next book. There were ridiculous jokes about passing love notes in the jury box and that #4 would forever be someone’s pet name. The word sequester was laced with so much innuendo I may never again be able to hear it without sexual undertones. (Thanks for that, guys.) One of my sisters defended me by saying that I would ignore those suggestions because I write cute books. Though she doesn’t use cute as a compliment.
Once the talk died down my mind went where it always goes, to the happy place where I’m telling myself a story. I had to at least consider the courthouse. People could meet there.
The story immediately took a dark turn. I envisioned that the juror fell not for another juror but for the defendant. She planted a bomb in the courtroom and it somehow took out everyone except herself and the object of her affection because that’s how that sort of thing usually goes down in fiction. They went on a wild run from the law. I thought it best to try to work it so that the reader wouldn’t know until the very end whether the defendant was a guilty man pleased with his escape or an innocent man playing along because he was terrified of the psycho juror.
But I’m not going to write that book (and not because it’s probably been done a few dozen times) or several other ideas that I’ve thrown out since. I have more ideas than I have time to write so I only start on the projects that interest me the most. Unfortunately for some people, those are usually the cutest ideas. I spend a lot of time with my characters and I need to enjoy their company. I would not enjoy spending months trying to get inside the head of someone willing to commit murder. I don’t think I’d even enjoy the few hours it would take to read it.
I plan to continue to write books where people only die of natural causes, if they die at all, and no one has to set foot in a courtroom for any reason. I’ve been to the courthouse and no matter how you use the word, cute just doesn’t describe it.