The 8X8 cell room looked crooked enough for 2 people. There was a washbasin, a toilet, a poster of Jesus in the small room. He was crying for the past one hour. Not that I would blame him. Even I would have done the same if I knew that I had just few hours to live my life.
He looked at my name badge which proudly read Srg. Frank Darabont and smirked. I could understand his emotions and didn’t know how I would console him in his last hours. In a few hours from now he would be seated on a chair and crowned with an electrode and be made to fall asleep...forever. As his last wish, we played him a movie yesterday and today I brought tuna chicken from my home for dinner. He ate it for almost half an hour and relished each bite as if he was trying to delay the inevitable. It was a practice to stay all night along and comfort the dying man and talk to him....just talk.
"What were your happy moments Steve?" I asked him.
"The days I spent with my wife, Sir. I still remember the day after our marriage. We went to an island and walked on the beach looking back at our footsteps on sand as they were washed by the incoming waves. She held my hand tight when one huge wave pulled her and as I took her in my arms she gave me a love full look that I will remember forever." As he said this his voice broke.
I could hardly reply. I had known John for these 7 months in jail very well even though I was introduced to him some time before as a colleague of my son.
"Did you like the dinner Steve?"
"Yes Sir. It was very delicious. How much more time do we have Sir?"
"6 more hours."
"Sir. Is my wife coming tomorrow? Please don’t let her in. She loves me a lot. I know how hard she fought for my case to be proved not guilty. I don’t want to see her sobbing. Her memories of smiling face would do." He cried as he said that.
"Why did you do it then?"
"I didn’t Sir. I kept telling that at the court. All evidence was against me. I didn’t kill the manager. Agreed that we all employees were against him and the peace talks didn’t help during the strike. Of course we had tensions in between. But I aint the murdering type."
"Your finger prints were on the gun and in the scene of crime. It’s ok. You can admit it to me."
"Sir. I respect you a lot. Why would I lie when all I have is only a few hours to live?"
We remained silent for sometime. I asked him to sleep for a few hours and he obliged unwillingly.
As the clock ticked 6.30 A.M, the guards arrived at his cell and a doctor did his medical checkup. We escorted him to the room where the electric chair was placed and he was seated there. The murdered guy’s family had come to witness the process. Sometimes I feel that it is too inhuman to watch a person die in front of your eyes, but then they are the bereaved family and this was revenge in their perspective. I had to read the rights to the dying man.
His face was covered with a black cloth. A sponge was dipped in water and placed on his head and then an electrode was placed above it to transfer the current to the body directly.
"Stephen Callaway. Electricity will now be passed through your body till your death in accordance with the state law. May the lord have mercy on your soul."
All the guards and I said "Amen" in unison. As the seconds hand ticked to 12, current was passed and he whimpered and his body shook heavily. Few minutes later he made no movement and the doctor confirmed his death.Tears flowed from my eyes as I saw Steve's dead body. I had mixed emotions as I felt both happy and sad.
I was happy because someone else had now died for a murder that my son had committed in a rage of anger. I was sad because in an attempt to save one of my own, I had now blood in my hands of an innocent man. May the lord have mercy on me.