WARNING: This article may contain spoilers. If you haven't listened to the podcast Serial, then go download it now - Idiot!
It's Thursday. As usual I have cleared my schedule. I perform my menial tasks and try to keep an air of grace, ignoring the instinctive need to jump around like an excited fish on Prozac. I am an adult after all; I don't get excited. I moan, groan, and lampoon the world that harasses me morning after morning. I am the Fonz; too cool for school. Excitement is for kids, right?
Ah, sod it: "Serial! Serial! Serial!" I feel a twinge in my back as I land my double-twist somersault. I am reminded that I can't actually perform a double-twist somersault, and that landing on my face probably does not constitute a good 'landing'. I scrape my cheek off the unreceptive kitchen floor and resume my place staring at my Podcast app, eagerly awaiting the next episode of Serial. Of course, this week, it's not coming. No, those pesky Americans are too busy celebrating the historic moment when settlers handed Smallpox-invested blankets to Natives - 'Thanksgiving' I think it is called - therefore we all have to wait another week (is there no end to American tyranny?).
Without doubt I am immersed in the podcast. With each episode I lie on my bed and listen as Sarah Koenig brilliantly takes us on a journey of genuine mystery. In a world of Netflix and Sky Go, it seems almost archaic to make time to sit and listen to an audio broadcast. Don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to radio, but to actually make time to lay still and listen is a very unique experience for me. It reminds me of my dad's stories of how, as a young boy, he excitedly used to sit cross-legged on the living room floor and absorb the dramatic adventures of Journey Into Space via the wireless radio. And even though doing something evocative of what kids did in the 50s should seem regressive, it's actually feels quite the opposite. Or am I just becoming my father? Eek!
Like Ms Koenig says, I'm getting ahead of myself, we'll come back to that later (except we won't).
Baltimore, Maryland, USA - an interesting place by all accounts. To some, it is a city of corruption, poverty, drugs, racial divide and murder. To us, this side of the pond, it is the birthplace of possibly the best dramas of the modern era: The Wire, and now of course, Serial. We can't get enough of the city. It's the only American city with which I feel I have invested a tiny part of my life. Plus if I ever go there and end up murdering someone, I know where to bury the body: "Leakin Park; where West Baltimore brings out its dead"- Det. Bunk Moreland.
Okay, opinions time.
I've always maintained that the guy is guilty as hell. But admittedly, my opinion is swayed every time I hear him speak. It could be argued that the facts against him aren't the strongest, but Adnan's defence is always "I don't know". Not the most resolute of arguments.
Maybe he can't remember anything because of the amount of weed he smoked? I have sympathy for him there. When I was in my early 20s, I remember (or don't) staying in Melbourne with three mates from Belfast. We slept in a converted shed in the back yard of a friend's house in the suburbs of Moonee Ponds. Our busy schedule from dawn to dusk consisted of smoking very strong skunk, watching DVDs and playing chess. This lasted a month before we all coughed and spluttered out of the smoky haze that had engulfed us. Truth be told, I have no real memory of what happened. To this day I still can't recall which films we watched even though we sat through about 100. Having said that, I'm pretty sure that if a friend/ex-girlfriend of mine had gone missing, I would have been able to recall something. Even if I couldn't, I would have strived to put the pieces in place. The fact that Adnan does not have any answers at all and is quite content to leave it as that, is more than strange. Everyone surrounding this case has an account of where they were (true or not) but Adnan doesn't - weird.
You get the sense that he feels guilt for something. Perhaps he was up to no good doing something that couldn't be disclosed. Perhaps he was having a romantic relationship with a man, an alibi that would cement his innocence, but a truth that he feels he could never admit due to the religious strains of his parents. Perhaps that would be, in his eyes, the real crime that would truly isolate him from his family. But is a murder charge really the answer?
What is his motive to lie? There isn't one right? Agreed? Good, let's move on.
The Police (Pronounced 'Poh-lees')
Detectives - Scenario 1
Imagine that Detectives McGillivray and Ritz are The Wire's Jimmy McNulty and Lester Freaman. When McNulty and Freaman have a hunch that someone's guilty, they're right. From then on it's just a matter of proving it. As a viewer we would never detract from believing them. We trust their gut instinct:
"He's guilty as hell Lester, I know it".
"I know Jimmy, but it's not me you have to convince; it's the jury".
"True dat. Now let's get drunk and throw cans at a disused train".
Detectives - Scenario 2
McNulty and Freamon are working the case but aren't entirely convinced that Adnan Sayed is guilty. Deputy Commissioner Bill Ralls is under pressure to get this case sewn up (be it for numbers or whatever). He summons McNulty and Freamon to his office and demands to see what evidence they have thus far. Much to the dismay of our two hero detectives, Bill Ralls decides there is enough to charge the young kid Adnan and take the case to court. The rest is history.
Let's face it, we know this happens in Baltimore - we've seen it on TV.
See. That's that sorted then. No? Okay, maybe not.
Undeniably, Serial is both haunting and engaging and offers a mystery that no television drama ever could. It's easy to get swept away and excited by it's brilliance, but it's also worth recognising that it is in fact a true story, and therefore it is only fair our enjoyment be curbed by the sadness suffered by Hae Lee's family. My karma-sent pain reminded me of this as I landed face down on the floor. It also reminded me to mop the kitchen tiles.
So, as I nursed my back and tried to stem my anxiety of not hearing the next episode of Serial, it dawned on me that we may never learn the truth: when the end credits of this drama finally roll, we will still be left scratching our heads.
Next time on Serial..... How about a frickin' Lie Detector test?!