Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mistaken Identity (Part III)

Next I was subjected to a battery of questions about my alleged previous criminal activity, any weapons I may own, drugs I may haven taken and or sold. I answered everything to the best of my ability, although I still didn’t have a great alibi because my wife and I crashed early that Friday, even if she didn’t remember this critical fact when asked. Maybe she wants me to go to jail? Dick Small was a real pain in my ass asking the officer to repeat every question he asked. No doubt he learned this annoying practice at law school that is if he even went to law school.

I was then placed in a room, side by side with other suspects that bared no resemblance to me. This was the lineup I’ve seen many times on CSI Jersey City or some other show like it. The walls were marked with lines to determine the suspect’s height. We were instructed to turn different ways by a voice that was behind the one way glass. I presumed the cashier of the 7-11 also sat behind the one way glass.

My faith in our legal system has never been what you call great, but having been witness to five guys who look nothing alike, are not the same height, or even the same race for that matter really destroyed what little belief I had.

The guy to my immediate left had an accent that I couldn’t quite make out. The best I could tell it was some type of Nordic dialect; Finnish, Swedish, Icelandic (if that is even a language?). To my right was an Indian fellow, not Bombay Indian, US of A Great Plains living in a Tepee Indian. He was in full Indian garb, and by the looks of what he was wearing he had to be important in his tribe. Maybe he is the CEO of the hotel and casino, like a Donald J. Trump type. Maybe he is Chief Combover?

I kept waiting for my wife and some friends to walk in from behind the glass to finally tell me I’ve been Punk’d., but that never happened. After the cattle call, I was questioned some more. One of the questions I was asked is whether I would take a lie detector test or not.

I glanced at Dick Small for some guidance. The way he shrugged his shoulders with both palms facing the sky didn’t really help me decide. I assumed the yellow legal pad he was scribbling into had important legal notes that would ultimately result in my vindication. I was disappointed to learn the pad contained only poorly sketched renderings of Homer Simpson and Spiderman. “Before I became a lawyer, I was student at the Philadelphia College of Art” he proudly announced. I then wondered if his parents ever demanded a full refund from either the college or the hospital where he was hatched.

I was aware the test has some built-in fallibility. I’ve read stories of the guilty passing and the innocent failing. I took the lie detector test since I had nothing to hide and if I didn’t take it this may be an assumed admission of guilt. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous in my life. I worried that my nerves would help yield a false reading. “Just relax”, coached Dick Small. “I’m going outside for a smoke, do you want anything?” he asked. “How about a real lawyer” I mumbled to myself.

These were all the same questions I answered before except this time I was all wired up and answering for some geek in a bowtie. After the test I was told by the police I was free to go. They said if they needed anymore information they would contact me. Since I was free to go I made the reasonable assumption that I passed the lie detector test. I didn’t want to press my luck by asking and my legal representation was still outside smoking or drawing.

I went home not knowing what to expect next. A steady stream of friends, relatives, and neighbors stopped by the house to discuss the whole ordeal. By their facial expressions; I could tell they were either shocked that I was accused of such a thing, or shocked that I was a free man given what I had done. Apparently when I told the wife to “DON’T SAY A WORD ABOUT THIS TO ANYONE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES” I wasn’t clear enough.

Turns out the guy robbed a few other convenience stores in the area and was finally caught. I saw the whole thing on the six o’clock news. Incidentally, he didn’t look like me or any of the other fools in the police lineup.

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