I found it hard to believe, but I just couldn’t remember whether I had seen a gun. Not to remember seeing a gun meant not having seeing a gun, surely. But I couldn’t remember.
The witness testified that it was impossible for me not to, that it had been in his waistband from the start, that it was there when he picked me up. He didn’t say I had planned anything with him, admitted nothing was ever spoken, but insisted I must have known what we were doing.
As I experienced it, though, it hadn’t seemed like he described it. The facts, fine, I agreed with the facts. But surely a kidnapping has a vibe. You can’t just mistake a kidnapping for a double-date.
I thought it was innocuous. Zatz and I had been in the front seats, the two girls in the back. I had been sent in to get coffee; I asked what everyone wanted. Zatz was edgy, even shouty, but not unusually so. The girls said little, ordered americanos.
When the trial began, the judge had instructed the jury on the law. If the gun was visible, it was a kidnapping. If no gun, then a double-date.
I had read Zatz’s book, and I looked down at it as I cross-examined him, hoping he’d get scared of contradicting his published account.
“Have you ever been convicted of a crime involving deception?”
“Did it have to do with faking your own death?”
“No?” I knew it didn’t, but I thought I could plant multiple possible deceptions in the jury’s mind: the crime he would admit to and the faked death he wouldn’t. The question was permissible under the rules, and I was proud of my slyness.
Most of the jury had retired by now (at that time there was no requirement that jurors remain if they did not wish to, once their minds were set), but I wasn’t concerned. I preferred addressing a single juror; I am very persuasive one-on-one.
The trial had a fixed length. It took place in a moving schoolbus, heading for the penitentiary. If I could convince a juror to acquit me by the time we arrived, I would be free.
As my closing argument began, we pulled up to the gates.