Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 592
Along with five hundred others, Lianne is summoned for jury duty. She learns the trial is for a lawyer accused of “aiding the cause of terrorism.” Lianne completes the forty-five-page questionnaire with a combination of truths, half-truths, and gentle lies. She is juror 121 but is dismissed because of her questionnaire, and she is unsure whether the truths or the lies got her dismissed. She has been offered books on terrorism and related subjects to edit, and she wonders now why she had once been so desperate to immerse herself in such things so near the event’s happening and with the sound of Middle Eastern music playing incessantly in the hallway below her. As the trial progresses, a female lawyer defends a blind sheik but Lianne does not follow it. Instead, she is editing books on polar exploration and Renaissance art—and counting backward from one hundred by sevens.
Her father’s death by his own hand has “marked her awareness of who she is and how she lives.” Jack is in a marble vault in a mausoleum with hundreds of others, not buried, not resting in a cemetery under the shade of a tree.
Keith is in Las Vegas and she is reading a six-day-old newspaper. Her husband never reads the obituaries because people die every day and that is not news, but Lianne reads them. David Janiak died at age thirty-nine. There are no photos, the article is sketchy and poorly done, and there is no follow-up story. After a few brief details of his life, there is one sentence describing his acts as a performance artist known as the Falling Man. Lianne wants more information and does a computer search on this man, David Janiak.
She sees picture after picture of him dangling from places all over New York. His body was discovered by his brother. He apparently died of natural causes. He had been arrested many times and beaten up once outside a bar in Queens. She begins to read commentary, what others feel about his “art,” but then she stops. All his falls were done head first. The only photos came from passersby; none were staged for publicity. Most charges against him were dismissed, though he had plenty of fines and warnings. His...
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