100 Center Street, Part 79

The industrial clock groans through the afternoon in its 46th year on the wall of Part 79.

The Judge plods through a mandatory speech entitled, “Jury Selection As Public Service.” His arms make sparing gestures beneath billowing robes. The sound of his own voice still arouses him.

The microphone buzzes through each pregnant pause.

The court stenographer faces the gallery, swiveling slightly in her chair, crossed legs protruding from a skirt cut above the knee. Off to the side, her fingers type furiously as her expressionless gaze floats off high in the air.

Bailiff #1 casually checks his watch and shifts his weight on aching feet. A trickle of sweat snakes down the center of his back, beneath a damp bulletproof vest.

Bailiff #2 flexes a hand to examine chipped blue nail polish. The sleeve of her uniform creeps back to reveal a wrist tattooed with vines and flowers.

Fingers of dust wave frantically from the cooling vent behind the jury box.

Juror #1 stares at the judge with an expression of rapt attention as he contemplates evening plans with his girlfriend.

Juror #5 fights off sleep after a heavy lunch and two draughts. His belt pinches against his protruding flesh.

Juror #6 makes sideways glances at Juror #5, whose aroma she finds most offensive.

Juror #9 slowly, carefully, slides his phone out of his pocket in an attempt to check his email.

Juror #11 is awaiting test results and trying not to think about it.

Their bags and briefcases are gathered around their feet, containing both crucial and inconsequential pieces of their real lives, all impatiently waiting to be addressed.

The prosecuting attorney sits in front of a stack of documents and folders, one of which contains graphic crime scene photos that will visibly upset Jurors #2, 6 & 11.

Ziplocked bags labeled “Forensic Evidence” wait inside a cardboard box marked “Case #26294.”

The defense attorney holds up a folder to obstruct the view as he leans in to quietly talk to his client.

The defendant rocks slowly in his chair, the angry voices now muddled by medication.

His brother sits behind him in the gallery. His jaw aches through clenched teeth.

A woman in the gallery clutches a wrinkled picture of her deceased daughter. There is a tissue balled up tightly in her fist. Her husband, in a freshly pressed suit, keeps his arm around her shoulder.