The End

“Hold your arms out through this hole and don’t even think about causing trouble”,

I rise my head, the cold cell – clumsily stumbling to the door – “What time is it?” I ask

The guard nods down at my hands, wanting a little more than I have already given,

I push them out, he cuffs them and grunts, “You know the time, if you don’t, you will know soon enough.”

Hard metal on metal rolls, then a heavy dull throp, the cell door unlocked.

“Face away” He coughs, “We need to chain your feet”, and shackles me at both my ankles,

Pulled roughly, back and out the door, I count five guards, there could be more, I shuffle behind two, down the corridor,

An open room waits at the end, and then a search, clothes off, everything checked.

He coughs again. “He’s clean, book him out.” Bundled along and through another door.

Sunlight glares, hot and searing down as I am pushed into a waiting vehicle, either side I am flanked by a guard. Guns holstered.

The driver moves off urgently, four guards now. Two in the back with me, two up front, one rests a shotgun across his lap.

Everyone is quiet, sullen even, the journey is tense and vigilant and silent.

Then out we get the other end, “Look at that, the light of day.” I squint as the guard laughs and gestures and then it disappears,

I am pushed quickly through a door, into a room, into a cell once more.

This one is different, a cage with bars, and seats outside for the guards, a coffee table, a bed and a clock hangs on the wall,

Time is fragile, it falls away in no time at all, but now I watch as the hands turn slowly, it feels as though this should be torture,

But it isn’t, I savour every click of that clock, I hope, I pray, I wish it would stop, I wish it would freeze or give me time to flee.

A shabby man walks by, bible in hand, the noise of him dragging his chair across the concrete floor breaks my trail of thought, “Do you want to talk?” he says

I shake my head no, lie on the bed, close my eyes, but panic creeps in and I don’t want to lay there longer, before long I am pacing

Each step watched, each occurrence noted, I am back to standing and watching the clock in no time.

The shabby preacher tracks my gaze to the wall and the clock, “Son, you still have time”.

I shake my head no and resume my stare, minutes make way to hours and then my dinner arrives.

The preacher hasn’t moved from his chair, “Eat Son, you need your strength.” The guards have changed, at some point, I must not have noticed.

I leave the food, grab at the drink, my mouth feels dry, I can’t swallow, I’m thirsty.

Its funny, I have spent years up until this point completely hungry, but hunger is no longer a concern,

Before long the same routine ensues, arms out, cuffed then ankles too.

Quickly I am taken to a room, one guard turns to another and says “That felt like a long walk!” His friend nods agreement. To me it flashed by in an instant.

The room is horrible cold and bare, in the middle is a table like chair, six guards and the warden as I am placed on it.

Everything within me wants to fight, but the tension succumbs to fright and I am laid out on the gurney without so much as a noise.

I can’t see much from where I lay, I know earlier I saw my last glimpse of day, I know what time it is without a doubt, “Any last words?”

I feel a hand upon my leg, the preacher, still shabby, holds me as I shake my head no a third time.

The needle goes in, I begin to cry, it doesn’t hurt, but I don’t want to die.

I feel tears as they roll down my cheeks, I feel the preacher give a reassuring squeeze,

And then I think about the things I’ve done, no more promises to keep, no more miles before I sleep.

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