State Of Grace

Entry by: Sirona

10th August 2016
Most people don’t know when they’re going to die. Death comes to them messily, shockingly, or agonisingly slowly so when they eventually pass? It’s a blessing. It won’t be like that for me; my death will be clean, planned and just as quick as they can make it. The wardens have explained it to me, and it sounds like they’ve thought of everything.
First, they give me one drug that knocks me out so I won’t feel a thing. Then they give me another shot, and that one stops me breathing. You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? But they follow it up with a third to stop my heart. No beat. No breath. No pain. No me.
My family, and my lawyer…they’re still holding out some hope of a Hail Mary. A stay of execution from the Governor, or my sentence commuted to life. Like somehow that will be better. Now, I read somewhere that the survival instinct in a man is so strong that they’d rather live on a square foot of earth than step off to their death. I mean, I can see that, in the short term; but after years? Decades? I think you’d walk. I really do.
I’m innocent. ‘Course, everyone here says they’re innocent. It’s a jailhouse joke; all of us were done wrong, somehow. As to me, well, you can choose to believe me or not. Doesn’t really matter. Family of the girl that died, they think I did it. Police think I did it. Judge and Jury think I did it; my lawyer thinks I’m innocent, innocent enough that he worked for free, pro bono he calls it, to help me out. Innocent enough for campaigns and newspapers and politics and petitions.
Comes to a point though, where it doesn’t really matter what anyone else believes, because all the stories over all the years; all the testifying, the police reports, the circumstantial evidence? They’re just confusing. There were times when they damn near convinced me that I did it! End of the day, the only one who knows what happened to that girl now? Is the one who killed her. What I believe, or you believe? Don’t make a difference to what actually happened now does it? Won’t bring that girl back to life. Won’t give me back whatever future it was I had when it was taken away from me. Won’t bring justice for the real killer, and who knows, maybe they found it someplace else. Karma or something it’s called, right?
Ah, who am I kidding? I know I shoulda been here. I would have ended up in jail one way or another, it was just the way I was going. I was a no good punk. Shooting my mouth off, stealing cars, cheating on my girl, beating on my friends. I was never gonna settle down, get the nice house with the yard and the picket fence. Every chance I had? I just threw it away. I didn’t kill that girl, but I’d have been biding my time here just the same. It’d have been something.
I was a jerk. That’s why I’m here. When fingers started pointing, a whole bunch of them started pointing at me. Why? Well, my girl was mad at me for getting with her sister, and her sister needed to make it up to my girl so they said some things. I don’t blame them. They just wanted me to get some heat, they never meant for me to spend my life in prison.
The rumours just kinda snowballed, grew big with all the other stories of shitty things I’d done so it seemed like I was the only guy in town who coulda done it. A car like mine had been seen around when the girl disappeared, and I couldn’t tell them where I’d been. I didn’t remember. Spent half my life drunk and the other half high; how was I supposed to remember details?
I just thought…you know what? In a crazy way, I believed in justice. I did! I might have been “bu bu bu bad to the bone”, but all those cop shows I watched made me think that they’d find who really did it. There’d be some piece of evidence, or a witness or something, and I’d walk. I don’t know when I stopped waiting for that. I don’t know when I stopped believing.
Even when the jury said, ‘Guilty’. Even when the judge said, ‘death sentence’, I was waiting. All through the appeals, up and down the circuits. Motions filed, motions rejected. I had faith in the system. Sometimes I think I had more faith in it than anyone else who was a part of the whole damn circus.
A preacher is coming, in a while. He came yesterday too, just to be with me in these last days, he said. I could tell that he wanted me to confess. He kept talking about how I could be at peace. I said to him, ‘I am at peace. I didn’t do the thing they said I did, but I did other things. I was a bad seed, Father, and being in here was the best thing for me. I woulda wasted a life, if I’d had one. But I’m tired now. I want to step off my square meter, and see what it feels like to fly.’
He didn’t understand. Just looked at me like I was crazy and said he’d pray for me, that I might find forgiveness.
I think it worked, just maybe not in the way he was thinking. Just that last night, after I told them what I wanted to eat for my last meal. After I met with my lawyer who was still talking about the Governer and public pressure and yada, yada, yada. After all that, when I was lying down to sleep, I suddenly felt kinda peaceful.
I only felt like that once in my life before, when I was a kid. I was out fishing, with my Grandpa, on a boat, on a lake. It was so quiet, we’d walked miles and miles from the road to get to this little lake and there was no one else there. There was no wind, we just floated out there in the sun and after a bit, Grandpa’s eyes started to get heavy and his head nodded forward. It was like someone had cast a spell; I was still young enough to believe in fairy tales a bit. Maybe it was a mermaid of something, who knows? But I lay down in the bottom of that boat and looked up at the bluest sky I ever saw. It felt like I dissolved, like I was part of something big. Part of the wide, blue sky. Like anything was possible.
And there I was, feeling it again but in a hard prison bunk on death row. Funny, huh? I just couldn’t be angry any more, I didn’t have it in me. Not with the killer, or the liars, or the cops, or the judges. Not with anyone. I closed my eyes, and I thanked God for giving me the peace to understand that it was over. It was over.
The Preacher asked me if I would give the family of that girl some peace, and tell them where she was. Oh, now that question has made me so angry, over the years. Worse than thinking I’d hurt her at all, is thinking that I’d hurt her family so bad that I wouldn’t let them bury her proper. I didn’t know them, didn’t know her…why would I hurt any of them? You’d have to hate someone pretty bad to do something like that. When the Preacher asked this time, it didn’t make me angry though, just sad. I said, ‘I’m sorry, Father, I can’t answer that. I wish I could, but I can’t.’
He left, just after that. He said he’d pray for me.
And it’s OK. It is. It’s OK. Even if they find out today that someone else did it. With this DNA evidence or whatever, even if they proved once and for all that I didn’t do it? How does that change anything? Doesn’t bring the girl back to life, doesn’t make her family feel better, doesn’t turn back all the time I served. It’d just be me, tossed out of jail to a family who disowned me. I can’t remember what life was like outside, where you choose your own clothes, food, job. I don’t know as I could do any of that, any more.
I just got a few more hours until they come and bring me my meal; chicken fried steak, baked potato and corn, peach pie and cream. Until then, I’m just gonna lie here in my bunk and feel the boat rock. See my Grandpa’s nodding shadow. Let my mind become as big as the wide, blue sky.
It’s OK. It’s OK.
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