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16

for Peete’s sake

There was a quarterback named Rodney Peete who played for the Philadelphia Eagles when Bob was growing up. Although he was a serviceable quarterback he never caught on in the town because he had a nervous tick that caused him to smile whenever he felt stressed.

Like when he threw an interception.

That kind of reaction will not endear you to the fans.

Bob always felt sympathetic towards Rodney because he too had a similar tick. Except his happened every few minutes, unprovoked, and was the kind of smile that you only saw on the face of people who had just won a million dollars or heard that their ex had fallen down a well to their death. For a few seconds every now and then he would absolutely beam.

Rodney Peete had gotten off light compared to Bob. His tick hadn’t caused him too many issues and Bob was pretty sure he ended up marrying some beautiful sitcom star despite his little tick.

Bob’s eulogy at his mother’s funeral was the kind of thing that stuck with people. They would wake up in the middle of night saying to themselves “Jesus… that fucking smile…”

Which was ironic because his mom had always told him that his smile came from Jesus. “It’s how Jesus reminds people he loves them. Through your smile” she would say.

He remembers saying “Jesus” over and over the time in the airplane lavatory when he joined the Mile High Club as a direct result of flashing his pearly whites at the exact right time to an attractive yet lonely middle aged woman across the aisle from him on an empty cross-country flight.

Apparently, Jesus does work in mysteries ways. He giveth and taketh away and throws the Bob the occasional bone.

His high school guidance counselor said it was a shame that society didn’t need executioners anymore. Although he would have to wear a hood, it would be wonderfully ironic that he might be smiling as he lopped off the head of a criminal. Bob always thought that was an odd thing to say to a seventeen year old.

Back in the here and now, Bob sat at the table in his kitchen in his Rodney Peete jersey and read the letter telling him he’d been called for jury duty. He sat for a minute and imagined how that little scenario would play out. The prosecutor explaining the grisly murder in detail and the judge asking him what he was so happy about. Relatives of the victim glaring at him.

Not a chance.

The last time he had talked himself into trying something like that had been in high school when the drama club needed another male to be in a play. He can still remember the local paper’s review calling him out by name and saying how he ruined Long Day’s Journey into Night.

He wondered what the penalty for not showing up for jury duty was. Could they charge him with anything?

Suddenly he smiled.

If they did, could he request a jury trial?

Another huge smile.

And, by definition, could they ever assemble a jury of his peers given the charge? If they showed up to the courthouse how could they be considered his peers?

A third, enormous smile.

That one wasn’t the tick. That was all Bob.

They would literally have to go to the homes of twelve separate people and present each of them the case. He imagined the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and himself spending the whole day driving all over town. Separate cars of course.

He smiled again. A giant grin. His eyes twinkled. Danced. Alive.

That was the tick.

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