This story

DES GOES ON JURY SERVICE

by Robert Williams

"At last!" declared Des in the cafe one morning. "The time has almost come! I've been waiting ages for this!!" He rubbed his hands with glee.

"So have I!!" grinned Clive. He also rubbed his hands with glee. "A whole two weeks without you!!"

"Yes, tomorrow I'll be off to sunnier climes, following the Showaddywaddy reunion tour round all the holiday resorts on the coast of Spain!!" exclaimed Des. "I'm so excited, I'm going to every single concert!!"

"Good grief," groaned Clive. "Is that the only reason you're going?"

"Yes, why else would I want to go to a hot, sunny country like Spain?" said Des.

"Well..." said Clive.

Just then the smell of Mrs Greasy's cooking came wafting across the cafe.

"I'd better be off!" said Des. "I need to start packing! Also I need to catch up with my post, I haven't opened it for the last couple of weeks."

"Couple of weeks??" said Mick.

"Well you know, I've been busy, what with Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night and all that!" said Des.

"You'd better go and open it, there might be something important!" said Mick.

"Yeah right," said Des. "It'll all be junk mail anyway, and most of that from Mrs Greasy!"

He rushed off home to pack for his holiday.

The next morning, Des was all ready. All his bags were packed, and he was dressed, very unusually for him, in a loud Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, hat, sandals (with socks of course), and sunglasses. He was about to leave when he remembered that he still hadn't opened the last two weeks' worth of post that was lying on the floor of his hallway.

"Oh, I'd better clear all this stuff out the way before I go, otherwise there'll be so much post I won't be able to get the door open when I come back!" said Des to himself.

As Des moved the letters off the floor, the vast majority of which was either copies of Des's favourite magazine, 'Yachting Monthly', or junk mail, including an awful lot of special offers from Mrs Greasy designed to tempt him down the cafe, he noticed an official-looking envelope. Des looked askance at it - he wasn't used to receiving official-looking envelopes. In order to find out what was inside, the quick-thinking Des opened the envelope. When he read the letter that was contained inside, his heart sank. Sighing, he picked up his suitcases, loaded them onto his car's roof rack and then drove down to the cafe to show the letter to the others.

"Hello Des!" greeted Mrs Greasy. "No doubt some of those smashing special offers I've sent you have tempted you in for a quick snack before you leave!!"

"No," said Des.

"Des, what are you doing here, you should be on your way to the airport by now!" said Mick.

"Look at that," said Des. He handed the letter to Clive and Mick, who, when they saw it, both burst out laughing.

"Jury service?!?!??!" laughed Clive. "They've selected you for jury service?!?!?!? Do me a favour!!! You can't go on jury service, that's just ridiculous!!!!"

"Look at the date," said Des.

"That's today!!" exclaimed Mick. "You're supposed to be there in fifteen minutes!! For goodness sake Des, that's why you shouldn't leave your post unopened for weeks!"

"I'll have to ring them and tell them I can't go," said Des. "That two weeks of jury service clashes with my holiday!!"

"You can't do that," said Clive. "And certainly not at this short notice! You need a better excuse than that to get out of jury service!"

"Why don't you just go on holiday another time?" said Mick.

"And miss out on all those gigs?!" said Des. "Their tour only lasts two weeks!! I've got to go!! It's now or never!!"

"That was Elvis, actually," said Clive.

Des took his mobile phone and rang the number on the letter.

"Hello? Yes, it's me, Des. I'm afraid I can't come to jury service, you see I've got to go and see Showaddywaddy."

"What did they say?" said Mick when Des finished his call.

"I've got to go on jury service," said Des, sadly. "Well, I suppose I'd better be off then, don't want to get into trouble!!"

"Dressed like that?!" exclaimed Mick, looking at Des in his holiday gear.

"I've got to be there in ten minutes, there's no time to change!!" Des hurried out of the cafe and drove to the local court as quickly as he could which, considering it was his Fiat 126, was not all that quickly. When he arrived, he removed all his suitcases from the roof rack and carried them with him into the court where he found the other jurors quietly sitting in the waiting area, reading newspapers and so on.

"Hello!" said Des, cheerfully. "Sorry I'm a bit late!" The jurors, all dressed in smart clothing, looked incredulously at Des dressed in his Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts, looking like he had just walked into a hotel on the Costa Del Sol, rather than the local court in Surbiton.

He looked for spare seat in the waiting room and sat down on it (which is always a good thing to do with a seat), dumping all his bags on the floor.

"Ouch!" exclaimed one man, for Des had dumped one of his suitcases on his foot.

"Sorry!" said Des.

"Did you have to bring all those suitcases with you?!" he said.

"Yes, I'm sorry about that, I've got to bring these with me, I daren't leave them on my roof rack, you know, for security reasons," explained Des. "Anyway, how long have we got to wait for our first crime?"

"We have to wait until we're called," said one of the other jurors. "Could be days."

"Oh great!" said Des. "So I'm going to be sitting here twiddling my thumbs when I could have been sunning myself in Spain! Cor!!"

So Des sat there, twiddling his thumbs. It didn't take long for him to get bored.

"I know what we'll do, let's introduce ourselves to each other!" He turned to the person sitting next to him who, up until now, had been obscured by the newspaper he was reading, and held out his hand. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name's Des."

"Hello Des," said the person, putting down the newspaper. "My name's Dickie the Vicar!!"

"Right, I'm off," said Des, picking up his luggage and standing up.

"You can't go!" said the other man. Des tutted, and dropped his suitcase on his foot again. "Ouch!!!"

"Sorry again!!" said Des, sitting down again.

"What a coincy-dinky!" said Dickie. "Us being on the same jury! But I thought you were going away on holiday this week!!"

"I was," said Des.

"What are you doing here then?!" said Dickie. "Seems very suspicious to me! It's almost as if you'd been pretending to be going away on holiday just to get out of going to my fabbo discos every night!!"

"Perish the thought!" said Des.

"But of course that would be absurd!" said Dickie. "Who wouldn't want to go to my fabbo discos every night! Speaking of which, I'm holding one of my fabbo discos tonight!! It's at 7.30 at the church hall, to raise funds to fix the church roof!! And you're all invited!! It's gonna be grrrrrrreat!!!"

There were groans from all round.

A couple of hours later, the jurors were still waiting to be put on a case.

"Cor, I wish I'd brought my guitar with me," said Des. "We could have had a sing-song to while away the hours! Hey, tell you what, do you think they'd mind if I just popped home and got it..."

Just then an official-looking person walked in and told them that it was time for their first case.

"Oh botherations," said Des. He picked up his luggage, and they all filed into the courtroom.

"Can I sit next to you, Des?" said Dickie.

"Oh, yes, whatever," said Des as they filed into the jury box.

"Hey, watch what you're doing!!!" said the miserable man as Des fumbled about with his suitcases. "Why did you have bring those in here with you?!"

"I told you, I can't leave them outside, I've got all my important stuff for my holiday in them, like my Black Lace records!!" said Des, struggling to fit his suitcases into the jury box. "Cor, there's not much room in here, is there? Why don't they think of these things?! Would you mind holding one of my bags for me?"

"Yes I would mind!" said the man, but Des plonked the bag in his lap anyway.

"I wonder what our crime is going to be?" said Des. "Mass genocide?! Fraud on an international scale?!"

In fact, the trial concerned a gentleman who had been arrested for illegally downloading the theme tune to 'Rainbow'.

"Cor!" exclaimed Des. "Who cares about that?!"

But despite what Des saw as being a rather trivial case, the trial seemed to drag on somewhat that afternoon.

"'Ere Dickie," whispered Des. "I reckon that if they got a move on, I might still make it to the first concert! I wonder if I can hurry them up a bit..." Des very deliberately looked at his watch and gave a very loud sigh. When this didn't work, Des started tapping his fingers on the wooden rail in front of him, then yawning and pretend snoring.

"Do you mind?" said the judge, glaring at Des.

"Are you going to be long?" said Des.

"As long as it takes!" said the judge. "And what are you dressed like that for? This a courtroom, not Club Tropicana!"

"All right, keep your hair on!!" said Des. "Actually, I reckon that isn't even your own hair, I bet that's a wig!!"

Eventually something came up which meant that the trial had to be abandoned and the jury would not get to deliberate on the case. Instead they were allowed home.

"Oh well never mind," said Des as he caused more chaos trying to get his suitcases out of the jury area, holding everyone else up in the process. "Looks like this means I can go my holidays now!! Yippee!!"

"No you can't!" said the man behind him. "We're on call for the next two weeks, we might get another case tomorrow!"

Unfortunately it was now too late for Des to make it to Spain in time for the first gig on Showaddywaddy's reunion tour, so that evening he had to make do with some Status Quo records at Dickie the Vicar's disco instead.

"What's happened to all our mates then?!" said Dickie. "They promised they'd all come!!"

"Well I don't think they actually 'promised' as such..." said Des.

The next day, Des turned up at the court once again, this time in slightly less inappropriate dress - just his usual tank top and flares. But to the other jurors' horror, he had brought something with him.

"Good thing I've got my guitar with me today!" said Des. "We can all have a sing-song while we're waiting!!"

But just as he opened his mouth and got ready to strum the first note, to his dismay, and his colleagues' relief, an official man ushered them all into the courtroom.

"Another trial, eh?" said Des, as once again they filed into the jury box.

"Hey, watch what you're doing!!" said the miserable man. "Why did you have bring that in with you?!"

"Oh sorry!" said Des, realising that he was still holding his guitar. "I don't really need this in here, do I?! Ha, ha!!"

However it was too late to do anything about it, so Des had to sit on the bench holding his guitar, with the arm of the guitar poking into the miserable man next to him.

"I wonder who the defendant is going to be today!" said Des. "Perhaps it'll be Ronnie Biggs!! Or Jack the Ripper!!"

"It's Mike the Manic Mechanic!" said Dickie the Vicar.

"Naah, don't be ridiculous...oh no!!" said Des. For it was indeed Mike the Manic Mechanic who had just walked into the dock. Quickly, he reached into his pocket, which was rather difficult considering he had a guitar in his lap, and pulled out his emergency comedy nose/moustache/glasses disguise and put it on.

"Pssst, Dickie, put your disguise on, quick!" said Des. Dickie quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out his own emergency comedy nose/moustache/glasses disguise and put it on.

"I hope Mike doesn't recognise us!" said Des. "I think we're safe with these clever, cunning disguises! I wonder what Mike's been arrested for this time! Whatever it is, I'm sure he's innocent!"

It turned out that Mike had been arrested for selling fireworks to underage children. Des's heart sank - he knew full well that Mike was guilty, for he had even admitted it to him! There followed a string of witnesses and incriminating evidence. There was surely no way Mike could get away with the crime.

"How do you plead?" said the judge.

"Not guilty!" said Mike.

Des sniggered. Mike looked round at the jury and stared at the two individuals wearing comedy disguises.

"Trust me to get the Chuckle Brothers on my jury," muttered Mike.

"Silence in court!" said the judge, banging his gavel.

When the court hearing was over, the jurors went away to deliberate.

"Well as far as I can see, it's an open and shut case," said the jury foreman. "That man is guilty!"

They went round the room, and each of the jurors agreed that Mike was guilty. Except for one.

"Innocent!" said Des.

"What?!?!" said the foreman. "How can you say that? Did you not pay any attention to the case??"

"Well, not really," said Des. "I was thinking of what songs I could play on the guitar."

"Look, can't you just say he's guilty and then we can get out of here?" said a woman on the jury.

"But he's not, he's innocent!" said Des. He knew full well that Mike was guilty - but he knew if he got sent to prison, he'd never find anyone else who would pass the MOT on his Fiat 126. "Dickie agrees with me, don't you, Dickie?"

"Eh?" said Dickie the Vicar. "What is it we're doing, again?"

"We're on a jury," said Des. "We're deciding whether Mike the Manic Mechanic is guilty or innocent. He's innocent, isn't he?"

"Oh yes, yes, of course he is!" said Dickie.

"Excellent," said Des. "So that's two say innocent, ten say guilty."

"Well I'm not changing my mind!" said the miserable man.

"I can't see that there's anything to discuss," said the woman. "The man is clearly guilty. All we need is for those two to change their minds!"

"No, all we need is for you ten to change your minds!" said Des.

And so they sat and waited for each other to change their minds. Unsurprisingly, Des quickly got bored.

"Tell you what, while we're waiting," said Des, "how about we have some music?"

"No!" said the other jurors in unison.

"Okay!" said Des. He started strumming the guitar - which, of course, he had no idea how to play. Then he started singing. "I fought the law, and the law won, I fought the law and the law won..."

Unfortunately, this was the only part of the song Des knew. After half an hour of him droning on, he finally got bored of singing. So once again they sat in silence.

"Look, if you lot just got a move on and changed your minds, we could all go and I might make it to Marbella in time for the gig!!" said Des.

"Certainly not!" said the miserable man. "You've caused nothing but trouble these past two days! The last thing we're going to do is to bow to pressure from you!!"

"We could have him thrown off the jury," said another man.

"Oh, don't be like that!" moaned Des.

They sat in silence for another half hour, until Des had a thought.

"Hey, what was that television screen for in the courtroom?" said Des. "Is it so the judge doesn't miss 'Cash in the Attic'?"

"It's in order that young or vulnerable witnesses can give their evidence via a live video link," explained one of the other jurors.

"Live video link...hey, that gives me an idea!!" said Des. "Do you mind if I just make a highly important phone call?" He picked up his mobile phone. "Hello, directory enquiries? Could you get me Showaddywaddy's number please?" The other jurors groaned.

"What are you up to?" said the jury foreman as Des waited for the number.

"I just thought we might be able to organise a live satellite link-up from Showaddywaddy's second gig in Marbella tonight!" said Des. "Seeing as that's what I'm missing for this!"

"Are you serious?" said the miserable man, getting ever more tired of Des.

"Yes of course, you'll love it!! Come on, who isn't a fan of the 'Wad?!" said Des.

Unfortunately, directory enquiries were unable to find their number, so there was to be no satellite link-up in the courtroom for Des.

Having failed to reach a unanimous decision, they were eventually sent home for the night. The next morning, before the jury were due to reconvene, Des popped into the cafe. He was surprised to see Mike the Manic Mechanic was there - and Mike was just as surprised to see Des there.

"What are you doing here?!" said Des. "Aren't you supposed to be...um..."

"What are you doing here?!" said Mike. "You're supposed to be on holiday, aren't you?!"

"Yes, but I, um, decided not to go," said Des.

"Decided not to go?!?!" exclaimed Mike. "You've been going on about it for months!!"

"Well anyway, I can't stop here," said Des, "I've got to go to...um...well..."

"Me neither," said Mike. "I've got to be in...err...um..."

"Well, after you then," said Des.

"No, no, after you!" said Mike.

Eventually, Des left first. He got into his Fiat 126 and drove off towards the court. But Mike, of course, had the same destination.

"Oh this no good," said Des, continually seeing Mike's Cortina in his rear view mirror. "I can't let on that I'm on his jury..." Before long, he came to a roundabout. "Ah! I know!!!"

Des decided to drive round the roundabout twice, in order to let Mike get ahead of him. But to his alarm, Mike followed him twice round the roundabout.

"Strange!" said Des. "What is he up to?"

Just then his mobile phone rang. In order to not become a law breaker himself, Des pulled over into a lay-by. Mike pulled in just behind him.

"Hello?" said Des, answering the phone. It was Mike. "What are you doing, following me?"

"Listen Des, I need you to do me a favour," said Mike. "I'll come clean, I'm on my way to court. I've been accused of selling fireworks to underage kids, and all the evidence is against me!! All I need you to do, as a reliable and trustworthy pillar of the community, is come forward as a witness!! Tell them it wasn't me! Tell them you saw Dickie the Vicar selling those kids those fireworks!!"

"Mike, I'd love to, but I can't!" said Des. "I really, really can't!!"

"Thanks a bunch, Des," said Mike. "Great friend you are!!"

He pulled out of the lay-by and drove off. Des waited a short while before doing the same.

And so, the trial of Mike the Manic Mechanic dragged on for day after day, with Des and Dickie refusing to budge from their verdicts. Finally, it came to the second Friday, and last day, of Des's jury service. By now, the miserable man was a lot more than just miserable - in fact he was close to breaking point.

"We could have been out last Tuesday!!" he exclaimed. "But all because of you I've been stuck in here, every day for two weeks!!! And I can't take much more!!!"

"I thought you enjoyed our sing-songs," said Des. "Anyway, it's our last day today!"

"Not necessarily!" said the foreman. "If we don't reach a verdict, we could be stuck here for weeks!" Des gasped.

Just then an official man came into the room and called them back into the courtroom - for apparently, some startling new evidence had come to light.

"Make sure you've got your disguise ready, Dickie!" said Des as they filed into the courtroom once again.

"Oh get that thing out of my way!!" exclaimed the miserable man as they sat down in the jury box.

"Oh look, I've gone and done it again, haven't I!" said Des, realising that he had needlessly brought his guitar in with him again.

Once they had reconvened, a new witness was called - and it was none other than Wayne!

"Oh gawd," ground Des. He looked across at the dock, where Mike was grinning.

"'Allo, it's yer ol' mate Wayne 'ere!" said Wayne to the judge.

Wayne told the court that it wasn't in fact Mike the Manic Mechanic who had sold the fireworks to the children.

"Naaah!" said Wayne. "It was Vickie the Dicar!!"

"Dickie the Vicar!!" whispered Mike.

"Oh yeah, 'im as well!!" said Wayne.

Everyone in the courtroom gasped, as Dickie the Vicar took his disguise off.

"Yes, I have to come clean, it was me!" declared Dickie.

"Dickie, what are you doing?!?!" whispered Des. "It wasn't you, it was..." Then he remembered how it was essential that Mike went free, but not all that essential that Dickie went free. "Well done Dickie!!"

And so Mike the Manic Mechanic was a free man, while Dickie was arrested by police.

"No more boring discos for a while!!" grinned Des. "Although it still doesn't make up for missing those fourteen Showaddywaddy concerts."

But in the end, Dickie didn't go to prison. Instead he was released on the grounds that it was well known that he didn't really know what he was doing half the time.

"Hey!" said Dickie as a free man. "Fancy coming down to my super disco tonight?! I'll be playing some Showaddywaddy records that I've just bought, to make up for you missing your holiday!!"

"Well...all right then," sighed Des. But when he got there he found that Dickie had actually bought some more Status Quo records by mistake.


Copyright © Robert Williams
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