*Scenes of violence*
My clients’ time is limited, as for that matter is mine in this role. Putting people to death was never exactly a career path – witness the hoods and cowls my predecessors wore to protect their identity – but public opinion has very much turned against capital punishment. The world war has been over for fifteen years and the public have decided that they’ve had enough slaughter for now. Add the executions of people like Ruth Ellis, pretty blonde cupcake that she was, and the mood around the noose really soured.
Do not mistake me for having an opinion or, heaven forfend, taking a stand on the matter. The value of human life versus the deterrence factor, execution of the innocent versus an eye for an eye – tired debate thrusts and holier-than-thou, spittle-flecked invective do not move me. My role is simple. I share a journey with a special few. It is a privilege to spend my wards’ last moments with them. We might share a moment’s silence, hand in hand. I might say a prayer if they so wish. My point is that although they are the condemned and I the executioner, it is a journey we take together. The bond that I share with the condemned is like no other; I am God in human form to them. If I can guide my man to the gallows with his back straight and his hand steady, I will judge my job well done.
So it is with you, friend. One, two, ups-a-daisy – there we go, up onto the box. Hush now – let’s meet our fate as men. You’ve nothing to regret now. All your cards are played and you’re square with the house. Now don’t make such a damned fuss. Any more out of you and I’ll quieten you down with the business end of a bell hammer. I’ve got neighbours, dammit.
There’s no use prayin’ either. Nobody gonna hear you down here. Like I said, I am your God now.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is a doctoral student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order