Yeah — I write horribly contrived short stories. Here’s the start of one.
Eehhh Huuh. Eehh Huuh The young man’s breaths became deeper, more rapid, more pronounced as the priest before him began to speak, nervously and just as rapidly as the man’s breathing.
“The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want,” stammered the priest, his eyes shyly darting back and forth between his Book of Prayer and the young man’s flushed face. It was his first execution — his first time to see a noose put around the neck of one of his God’s creations. The experience was worse than he had imagined.
A prison guard, burly and stiff, authoritatively guided the young man to the trap door in the floor. The young man moved quietly, hesitantly, his feet shuffling against the worn smooth wooden flooring. His dark midnight eyes looked down at his feet and the floor. That floor — it would be the last thing he touched before he died and he couldn’t even really feel it, not through his thick, prison-issued shoes.
“Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,” the priest droned. Feeling embarrassed as the young man came closer to him, the priest kept his eyes on his book as he completed the psalm. He wondered if it would always be this way; during these moments, would he always feel shame for being alive? For staying alive? Or, would he get used to it, to the sight of death leering before him?
The young man gasped and fought the urge to recoil as the guard pulled a dark cotton bag over his head. It smelled of aged fear and vomit. The young man blinked hard in the enveloping darkness of this new world.
“This is what it will be like. This is what it is. Darkness. Just darkness,” he thought, willing his mind and heart to calm down in his final moments. Panic continued to push at the back of his throat, beat on his lungs, and send its battering rams into his brain. Disjointed images came to him in the darkness, one after the other, rioting for his attention: the judge’ gavel slamming in the packed and stuffy courtroom; his mother sitting stone-faced behind him; thick, scarlet blood splattering onto the fresh whiteness of the bedroom wall; his hands and arms aiming the shotgun at her blonde head. Even the face of his first social worker, craggy and pale, flitted before him. The young man tried to find a soft picture, a pink and blue picture, a warm picture but there were none. Not in his life.
He felt the platform shift slightly as the guards and priests stepped back, leaving him alone on the lonely stage, spot-lighted by the flash of government cameras. The warmth their bodies had emanated abruptly cooled and, for the first time, the young man became acutely aware of the thick, scratchy noose firmly tied around his neck.
Fifteen minutes later, the prison director stood at his podium as reporters waited, cameras and pens poised for his announcement.
“Gentlemen, at 11:25 this evening, Prisoner number 3478-B was executed by hanging, in accordance with the laws of this state.” His voice was emotionless, practiced, sure of the words that issued from his thick, graying lips. He had said these words over and over throughout the years; only the numbers ever changed in his brief speech.
Coming soon . . . hopefully.