“I see you in colors that don’t exist.”
I wonder how many stranger’s stories we make it into? You know, maybe someone saw you in passing and told their friends about how pretty the girl in the lavender sweater was. Or maybe they overheard you say a joke and repeated it to their friend, confessing that they heard it from some guy at the store.
“The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships.”
I had killed people before, but when Travis was sent to the chair I couldn’t stop shaking.
The guard grabbed the door handle to let me in. Just hold the mic to his mouth, let him speak, and come back out. Quick and painless, he said. Quick and painless. Of course it would be quick and painless for him. Me? I’d imagine I was as panicky as Travis was inside.
I jumped at the hard buzzer sound of the unlocking door. Go ahead, he mumbled, opening up to the closed room. Ceiling lights bleached the room with a blinding yellow light, the only darkness from the body in the chair. Despite the bag over his head and his manacled limbs, fear overcame me as I spoke to him, knowing he’d recognize my voice. Your last words, sir, I let out, a quiver in my voice. I had never referred to him as sir before. After a long hesitation, a sound came from beneath his cover. His strained whisper was barely caught by the microphone, but everyone heard it: “thank you.”
For a moment I just stood there and stared at him. “Thank you,” he had said. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. This prisoner who was facing death at the hands of his friend…thanking him. A tear started to roll down my cheek; I knew I had to tell him something in return, but what could I possibly do: me, the executioner, standing over the sentenced criminal in his final moments.
CONNORS! the megaphone blared. With a jump I turned around and went back to the door, the guard buzzing me back in. I retreated behind the glass, into the darkness of the prison, and raised my quaking hand to the switch, closing my fingers around it. My head lowered, breathing in the dead air of the room. The gallery across the hall were all watching Travis with attentive eyes, but I couldn’t bear to look again at the motionless, helpless soul before them without losing all composure.
On my mark, the guard said, watching the clock. A silence fell over the room as I had never heard before. I looked at my shoes: polished black to match the navy blue uniform. But there was something else beside them on the floor: only distinguishable by the unique T. McCARTHY 36130 patch was the man’s prison uniform. The uniform he wore for the past 11 years in here. The uniform he wore when I first met him. The black and white stripes that marked a dangerous man to society, but a friend to me. A friend.
Contact! The guard shouted.
No, I managed. I can’t.