Beads of sweat create a gleaming shine on his bald head. I’m wearing the same one; only no one notices since I have a head chock full of wavy black hair. In his defense, he did too, just before they shaved it off earlier this morning in preparation.
Heavy brown leather straps secure his wrists, arms, legs, and ankles. Another pair of straps secures his neck and chest, tightly against the metal chair. Tears start streaming down his scared, sullen, face, merging with rolling drops of sweat like two streams converging into one river.
“Any last words?” The Warden asks in a calm, relaxed, manner. He sounds so smooth and so casual. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think he’d done this a hundred times before – he hasn’t though, this is his first, and will likely be his last, as well.
“I did not do this. I’m an innocent man,” he screams out, ferociously through heavy tears before nodding defiantly to the Warden; signaling that he has said his final piece on this earth. The Warden hits the switch, and the chair he’s strapped to comes alive; lighting up the dimly lit observation room like the fourth of July.
I’ve spent the last twenty years working as the Psychologist in this prison. Sixteen years ago, inmate 16539 was convicted of killing a corrections officer in cold-blood, violently strangling him with piano wire. That conviction extended his short, two-year sentence for Possession of Cocaine, to his new, never-ending penalty of death.
It takes two minutes for his harrowing and horrific screams to finally come to an end. Two long, and I’d imagine, very excruciating minutes before he’s gone. Dead. The only thing is; he actually is innocent. He really didn’t do it, but I know who did.
The slightest wave of satisfaction washes over me as I get up to leave, but I resist the urge to let it overtake me completely. I sure wouldn’t want to arouse anyone’s suspicions, or draw any unwanted attention to myself, now would I?