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A convict contemplates his crime while awaiting the execution of his sentence. Warning: foul language.
Tracy Jean Amelia Tj Harrison
T. J. Harrison clearly has an over-active imagination and way too much time to fritter away.
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (3)
Stomp (Short Stories) A daughter contemplates her relationship with her alcoholic mother. [323 words]
The Corpulence (Short Stories) Two young, Jewish sisters run away to Hamilton, Ontario, while their parents vacation in Europe. [2,193 words]
The Porcelein Angel (Novels) An angel, a daemon, and an addict, all teenagers, all redeemable and irredeemable in equal measure, are pitted one against the other. [2,225 words]
Tracy Jean Amelia Tj Harrison
He ordered rib steak, layered under peppercorn sauce, mashed potatoes with garlic, and buttered peas on the side. He had ordered it with the bone in. He would taste the marrow, the fat, and the streaks of rare meat. He would clean it through and through, gnaw it to its last. This was a good final meal, but only if they left the bone in the rib steak. He worried that they would forget this last detail. He'd get the steak, bone out, and it wouldn't be the same. Somehow, that struck him as totally unfair.
No one had ever come to see him at the prison. Not even the "human rights activists" or the "Innocence Project" people, 'probably because they didn't believe in his rights or his innocence.
He had shot her in the back of the head and sodomized the corpse. She had been 14 years old and slightly pudgy, so she had been keen to go with him, avid even.
He was scheduled to be executed for this in 5 hours, 37 minutes. 12:00 a.m., Georgia time.
The appeals process took 14 years, the same age as the victim, and, even he had grown bored with it, he had many years to think it through. He had had many years to consider and wonder.
How had he come to this?
So, when they said, "Death," he learned, later, to bow his head and accept the verdict from the appellate courts, consider that the sentence was just, though, initially, he had screamed, "Fuck you, you fucking cunts" when he was ordered out of the oaken courtroom.
Whatever struggle he had put up with the guards, it was just for show. Mostly, he slumped, limp and pliable.
The parents, over time, had forgiven him their loss. They knew that she'd been "troubled." She had run away several times, was overly fond of food and marijuana and boys and rebellion. They couldn't control her. She would fight, slam doors. And then she was gone. Out into the streets where she could smell liberty and dirt, where she could love with the wholeness of her heart, and just be.
She'd been what you might call fat when she left, but, on the streets, she reduced herself to an indolent plumpness, living as she was on cigarettes. Had her father seen her size before she'd been murdered, he would have been proud of the weight loss and claimed that he saw in her "a greater sense of self-control."
The execution room was ivory, not even fully white, though the straps were tan with silver buckles. He had seen this before, once, on A&E. Channel 31 on the dial.
A heroin addict, he was terrified that his veins had collapsed and that he would prove a poor candidate for execution, a failure, even in this. He had seen one episode of Law and Order where a botched execution, another lethal injection, had left the convict convulsing and comatose. They had propped him up in the courtroom as Exhibit 17 in the battle against the capital punishment. Even then, the defence had lost its case.
He could bear a lot, but, even then, he could not bear that. He did not wish to be exhibited.
When it was the countdown, he watched the clock from his gurney vantage.
His suit was grey. It had five buttons on it. Thankfully, they did not have to shave his head, an indignity, a final loss of self before the final loss of self. Electrocution was the other method. His other option. Invented by a dentist, for God's sake. There were no words for that. Only a dentist could have invented that, in the fullness of the electric age. Mercifully, he lived in the age when Americans bowed to pharmaceuticals, believing that drugs would make life worth living and death worth death.
He did not need the companions, the two guards, to walk him to where he was supposed to be walked. He would have, and could have, walked into the execution chamber on his own accord, in his grey suit, with the five buttons.
He would, maybe, go to God. Or elsewhere. But, he thought, maybe to God. Or, maybe, no place in particular. But he also thought that it was possible that he would go to where he went before he came here, to this place, to this room. Maybe the girl he had shot in the back of the head went to that place. Maybe he would see her again, even though he had fucked her flabby corpse. Maybe she'd forgive him.
Certainly, at least, he would say that he was so very, very sorry. And that she had been lovely, really, that he couldn't resist her softness or her paleness or anything else that had attracted all the boys who had loved her before.
There were 36 people outside the execution chamber. Witnesses. Some were members of the girl's family, and some were members of the media. None were members of his own family because no one had come for him. He asked for forgiveness and met with no answer.
But that was not their sin to own. He held it, kept it, forced it into him and hoped his veins would not collapse when they sought out the place to place the needles.
He lay on what was, ironically, called a hospital cot, an apparatus of death, closed his eyes, let them strap him up, and called for a vein and for the white light to appear.
First, he was sedated. Second, he was paralyzed. Third, his heart was stopped. With the push of a button.
And, make no mistake about it; he did not simply go to sleep. No more than the girl with the loose skin and wide, pale hips and the dreams of dirt and freedom had when she finally let go in the filth and and the freedom and the blood of the street.
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© 2008 Tracy Jean Amelia Tj Harrison
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