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Final Statement

The parting gifts of a condemned man are his final words.

Robert Bailey shows us that sometimes these gifts can last forever.

Final Statement by Robert Bailey



The curtain goes up in the witness room. They’re all sitting there in the rows of burgundy velour seats, like they’re at a movie theater and the feature presentation has just begun. They have me strapped down on the gurney, an IV hooked up to each arm, the EKG monitoring my pulse. Some of these people came a long way to see me: I’m going to give them one hell of a show. In the old days, the state used to charge an admission fee. Hundreds of people came from all around to gather around the gallows. But this is more intimate.

“Remember me?”

I remember them. My memory is meticulous. I haven’t seen them since they made their statements in the courtroom, but I recognize everyone. These are the families of my victims.

But no one responds. They have to maintain complete silence in the witness room. No change in their stony expressions. And this sort of irritates me.

I am surprised to see Nikki here though, sitting in the front row. She was only eight-years-old when I killed her mother. I smile a toothless grin. The warden hasn’t asked me to give my final statement yet, so I’m not supposed to say anything. But what the fuck do I care? In ten minutes, I’ll be dead.

“You get your period yet, Nikki?”

Of course, she has… You got to be eighteen to be in the witness room. I’ll be damned if she didn’t grow up to be just a spittin’ image of her mother, even wears her auburn hair the same way, parted down the middle. I hate women who wear their hair like that. Reminds me of my mother.

Over the intercom, the warden asks me if I want to make a final statement.

I’ve thought a lot about this moment. I wait a moment, feeling the cool saline solution seeping into my veins. I had planned on quoting Job 13:15: Though he slay me… yet I will maintain my own ways before him.

But instead I let the words come out of me. I’m not even sure what I’m going to say until I’m saying it. The words ooze out of me like blood from a puncture wound.

“You people think this is the last you’ll ever see me?” I throw my head back and show them my toothless grin. “You think you’re going to forget me after this? Come on… You can’t get rid of me. I’m inside of you. I ripped out a big chunk of each and every one of you, and I filled it up with a big raw chunk of me. All of you, I’m part of you now. Everywhere you go, I’ll be inside you. You can’t get rid of me. I’m not going anywhere.”

Some of them can’t look at me. They close their eyes, the streaks mascara running on the cheeks. But that bitch Nikki just keeps glaring at me. Her ice blue eyes are sharp as knives. I swear I can feel them on my skin. And this just makes me angrier. I feel my heart pounding against my ribcage.
The warden gives the command to begin the execution.

Now the executioner in the anteroom injects the first drug, the anesthetic, Pentothal. Supposed to be a lethal dose, and at the very least it should put me under, but I’ve always had a high tolerance for drugs. I weigh three hundred goddamn pounds. I even wrote a letter to the warden, telling him they’d better use three times what they would normally use. He wrote back thanking me for my suggestion, but he assured me that the executioner was competent.

The warden thinks I’m a narcissist.

But here I am, wide awake, watching them watching me. I just grin at them. “You can’t get rid of me. I’m not going anywhere.”  

Then the executioner injects the second drug, Pavulon. It’s supposed to paralyze me, make my lungs stop working. I admit, I feel strange… kind of lightheaded. I get the feeling I used to get when I found the perfect victim, and I knew it was going to be her.

Who knows? Maybe I’m dead now and this is just the beginning of my transition to hell…

Then I see Nikki, and I swear to Christ, I’m looking into her mother’s eyes. Like I said, my memory is meticulous, and when you’re choking the life out of someone with your bare hands, you get a heightened sense of awareness. Everything is in slow-motion. You never forget those eyes as the capillaries burst and they glaze over.

Time is slowing down again now. I hear the EKG machine beeping, my bloodbeat pounding in my ears, the steady ticking of the clock on the wall above my head.

Now the third drug is administered. The toxic agent, potassium chloride, is supposed to stop the heart. All of a sudden, I feel a pain like nothing I’ve ever felt before, like a snake slithering underneath my skin, up my arm, towards my pounding heart.

I’m damn sure I’m not looking at Nikki any more. It’s her mother, standing up now, right against the glass. I see the purple bruises on her throat. She’s looking right at me, right into me, and it feels like a snake is biting into my heart.

And I scream, “I’m not going anywhere!” 

Robert Bailey lives in Pittsburgh and is a graduate of the MFA program at Carlow University. He works as a writing tutor. Links to his recently published pieces can be found at www.anatomyoftheartist.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @rslbailey.