Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Jury of Her Peers

Mick Parsons

After the paper came out, Denise sat in her cell and decided on her course of action. Everyone knew, anyway. Everyone always knew everything before the paper came out on Wednesday; but they never knew enough, and what people didn’t know, they made up. All anybody would see was that she had been arrested. No one would be surprised. And no one would bother to listen, either.
Denise liked Sheriff Cleary because he was an old man who still looked at women as the weaker sex and in need of protection. Even when he was forced to arrest one he made sure they were as comfortable as possible. He let her have the starched white bed sheets to put on her bunk, let her keep the toilet seat, and even put a little chair in the cell to give her someplace else to sit. The only other thing in the cell besides the rusty sink was an old Gideon’s Bible. Pages were missing and what pages were left was covered with obscene drawings.
If it were up to deputies Marty and Erle, she would have had none of those things. Denise knew them and knew what they were like. They weren’t men like Cleary. They were men like men had become. Men who saw women as either fuckable or as marriage material, but not both. And both of them had, in their time, fucked her. They fucked her the same way their fathers had fucked her mother in that small apartment above the old laundromat. They fucked her because she was just a townie whore and That Was How You Treated A Townie Whore.
That it had been self-defense wouldn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter to the judge, who had fucked her mother and had once offered a then 15 year old Denise extra to let him fuck her, too. It wouldn’t matter to the prosecutor who wouldn’t leave her alone even after she married Jeremy and bore two sons. You can take the whore out of town, he told her, but you can’t take the whore out of a whore. It wouldn’t matter to her Public Defender, who was also an evangelical minister that believed she was an evil sinner. All that mattered was that she’d kicked the shit out of Jeremy when he came home drunk and angry and wanting to beat her bloody again; and Denise had done it while his young sons watched. And in spite of all the humiliations Jeremy heaped upon her in front of her sons, to cause a son to lose respect for his father was the greater sin.
Standing on the small chair, Denise put the noose around her neck, tugged on the knot, and closed her eyes. As she kicked it out from under her, Denise hoped there was a God and that he would watch over her sons. Then she also hoped for the sake of her unborn daughter that God wasn’t like the men he’d created in his image.


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