Absolutely Maybe

WRITING - Joe Bob's America


How to beat a murder rap:

"Well, Sturgis," your lawyer says to you, "that jury is gonna wanna know where you got that gun."

"What should I say?"

"Have you been hunting lately?"

"I live in Brooklyn."

"They have rats in Brooklyn, don't they?"

"Enormous rats."

"Okay, there you go. Have you been hunting rats lately with that .38 caliber pistol?"

"Yeah, I see what you mean."

"And another thing, Sturgis, they have a witness who says you were yelling 'I'm gonna kill that guy, and then I'm gonna grind his body into dogfood.'"

"That won't look good for me, will it?"

"Maybe you didn't say that," the lawyer says.

"Maybe I didn't."

"I don't wanna put words in your mouth, but maybe you can't remember that conversation at all."

"Maybe I can't."

"In fact," says the lawyer, "maybe you didn't even KNOW that guy who died."

"Well, that would be kind of hard, because he was the best-known drug dealer in a 40-square-block area."

"So maybe you knew OF him, but you didn't really have ANY OPINION ABOUT HIM."

"No opinion about the guy who lived with my sister?"

"Oh, yes, well, maybe you had an opinion about him," the lawyer says, "but it NEVER CAME UP IN CONVERSATION."

"That's right. It never came up in conversation, because I was too busy talking about . . ."

"The Mets. Are you a baseball fan, Sturgis."

"Damn right I'm a baseball fan. I was talking about the Mets, so I forgot to tell my sister that I HATED that guy she was living with."

"Sturgis, are you sure that the word 'hate' accurately reflects your views. One of these lawyers might ask you about that when we get to court. He might even try to make a big deal about it. He might even say that, if you HATED the man, then that might be a motive for killing him."

"I didn't hate him. I thought I did, but I didn't."

"You know, Sturgis, let's talk about this 'thought I did' part of your answer. If the question you're asked is 'Did you hate him?' then you MIGHT say 'No, I did not.' You wouldn't necessarily have to add the 'I thought I did' part to it, would you?"

"No."

"Because they didn't really ask you that, did they?"

"No, I guess not."

"So it would be their fault, because they didn't ask the right question, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah. I get it."

"And do you remember pulling any trigger, Sturgis."

"I can't recall, no."

"That's what I thought."

"Now let me get this straight," Sturgis says at last. "I didn't really know anything about my sister's boyfriend. I mean I KNEW things, but I . . ."

"You didn't really KNOW things, did you, Sturgis?"

"What?"

"You heard things in the neighborhood--that he was a drug dealer--but you didn't know ANYTHING, did you?"

"No, I guess not."

"Don't say anything about what you don't know."

"And this'll really work?"

"I'm certain of it."

"Even though I have a gun and I went to his house and I caught him with my sister and a couple dozen people are gonna say how much I hated him? Even though all those things are true, you're saying that, if I answer all the questions in JUST the right way, if I, like, don't QUITE answer em, but answer the LITERAL, limited meaning of them, and I never say ANYTHING about what opinions I have, and I don't TRY to remember anything I've forgotten--you think this will actually WORK?"

"Of course it will."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Clarence Thomas is the judge."