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Conversation Pieces III: Innocence
By: Wayne Brown
(Writer's Note: Please understand that this is the third vignette in a series called "Conversation Pieces". If you have not read "Conversation Pieces" and "Conversation Pieces II: Warped", I suggest that you read them first. These are designed as "one way conversations" with an undefined other party. I am not taking a stand on the issue but simply trying to put myself in the shoes of the person experiencing this situation and relate what he might say. You can decide for yourselves the guilt or innocence. I also do not intend this to be a statement on capital punishment. I want you to feel the emotion of the person about to have this experience in yourself. Whatever you come away with from that is yours to own. Thanks.~WB)
You probably cannot imagine how it feels to be an honest man who is surrounded by nothing but reinforced concrete and steel bars. You cannot fathom the thought of losing your freedom much less your life even though you are innocent. I find myself in this predicament and my executioner awaits on the gallows at sunset. I will pay for the crimes of an unknown assailant. Lace up that pair of shoes and stand up in them for a while then decide whether or not you will be bitter or helplessly angered by your forthcoming fate--a fate you can do nothing about.
Oh, you think my past does not speak well for my claims of innocence. Well what the hell do you know? So I have had a few scrapes. Everyone has been cross ways with the law at one time or other in their life. I am just an innocent victim of a flawed system bound on matching the crime with a culprit. The evidence is secondary to satisfying the need for vengeance. At sunset tonight, I will become yet another victim of this insanity. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I will pay a very high price for that mistake.
You think the evidence is strongly against me…well, what the hell do you know about evidence anyway. I was framed. Don’t you get that. All the evidence was planted to make me look like the guilty party. Somewhere out there, a criminal is running free and the system is about to hang an innocent man for his crimes. Does that not trouble you just a little bit? Does it not create doubt in your mind? You would be a fool not to believe what I am saying here. But the role of playing the fool and clinging to what you perceive as a fair system of justice is much easier to embrace than to go out on that limb and believe that I am an innocent man.
They say I was judged by a jury of my peers. Those low-life people could never be my peers. They were dead set on hanging me before the first gavel fell in that courtroom. It was a kangaroo court only carried out to fill the square. All of them wanted me convicted, even my own attorney. That’s what you get with a court-appointed lawyer, a quick trip to the gallows. He is the very same one who also mishandled all my appeals. He thought I was guilty from the first day I laid eyes on him. That bastard! Once the legal system gets its talon deeply embedded in the skin of a man who can fit the bill to answer for the crime, all bets are off. They have a crime and they have a suspect--all they need to prove is the motive and come hell or high water, they most assuredly will, even if the conclusion is a total lie.
Don’t you see that some things in this world are justified? Don’t you realize that there is a limit to everything. Isn’t it apparent that one man can only stand so much and be pushed so far before he snaps and takes things into his own hands. Well, it happens and I have been a victim of it. It is not enough that I have suffered those indiscretions, I must also pay for my actions with a noose around my neck. I have been victimized by the system my entire life and now the system will deal me the executioner’s hand. My light will be snuffed out in repayment to the victim and all those who grieve his passing from this life. The need to gain an eye for an eye will have been satisfied--no matter who the eye is taken from in the process. The debt demands payment and payment it shall have. That payment is due and demands the end to my life here on earth.
I hope when I am standing there with that bag over my head, the noose around my neck and my feet resting on the trap that you will think about all of this. You think long and hard about it because I surely have as I have waited for this moment to arrive with each monotonous tick of the clock. When my neck snaps today, your conscience will be cleansed with the thought that another criminal has paid his due. I will be dead but you will be haunted for the rest of your life with the thought that possibly you executed an innocent man. The judge and jury has long since dimissed any reasonable doubt in my case.
Look closely at my face, my eyes. Study it well for it will cease to exist at the hands of my executioners. I disdain you, your system, and all that you stand for. It is a sham, a mockery, a delusion of security and comfort that stands as the curtain behind which you and all the other cowards like you hide. Gutless cowards who hold up the scales of justice and drool with power as you delight in watching yet another execution. The execution cleanses your hands and soul of your inability to stop the crime. My face standing before you on those gallows will only be replaced by another, then another, as the debt for crime is repaid again and again. Each payment gives peace to those that remain here that the right thing is being done and the right people are paying the price of justice for an errant human society.
You self-righteous son-of-a-bitch coming down here on my last day on earth to offer me a final meal and the chance to pray for my soul with some tinhorn preacher who salves the agony in his own soul by grieving over mine. Well, you can kiss my innocent ass! I will not give you one moment of pleasure watching me imbibe in your food and drink or pray for my salvation in the after life. Not one moment will I engage in such behavior. For in this last moment, I am the one in charge; I am the one making the decisions and the choices that do not belong to you. Is this your way of saying "Gee, we are so sorry but someone has to pay and that someone today is you." Forget it! I don't need your kindness or your unspoken apology for this lack of injustice on your part.
You can only laugh when I make my claims of innocence, you can only laugh. What does that say? You think me a fool? You think that I make this statement and declare myself a victim just to hear myself talk? You sir are the fool! You have allowed this system to flourish and consume honest men sending them to their graves. You make a grieveous error in doing so for one day, one day, they will come for you as well. And when they do, you will cry out and proclaim yourself a victim. You will scream, cry, and beg your captors to reconsider but all your pleading will fall on deaf ears as mine has throughout this long process. You attempts to save yourself will be futile and the rope will claim your life. It is only fitting that it will work out that way for you and those like you who are deserving of the fate.
When you slimy bastards pull the lever on that trap tonight and that rope snaps taut under my shackled weight, I want each one of you cowardly murderers to feel that lump in your throat, to feel the intense pressure of that rope around your necks, to feel the life suddenly yanked from your bodies. I want you bastards to suffer like I will for you know you are killing an innocent man. You know that yet you do not have the guts to stop it. And for that lack, I shall go to my grave at sunset. At the very least, I can go there knowing that I have a clean conscience, knowing that I am the victim in this process, and you and all your kind will wake in the wee hours of the coming dawn for the rest of your lives and hear my name screaming in your brains. Damn your kind!
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