At first I hated this cell: the coldness of the metal toilet (especially in the middle of the night), the constantly tepid water that trickled from the faucet, the dull gray concrete walls, the scratched Plexiglas window that provided me a rectangular glimpse of a tumbleweed-infested field, and the equally scratched small square window in the metal door just above the food port.
And the bed. A thin twin-sized mattress atop a wooden shelf, with an equally uncomfortable pillow, dingy sheets, and an itchy wool blanket. Two in the winter. Under the shelf bed was my “closet” where I kept extra clothes, my shower shoes, and the little bit of commissary I can buy with the small bit of money various friends and family members occasionally send me.
I also hated the noise. The howls and shouts and even sobs (yes, sobs) of the other inmates here on death row. But I got used to the noise and learned how to shut it out.
Death row is also known as the last mile. Not to be confused with Stephen King’s infamous The Green Mile which was hued for artistic purposes. In both the book and film, the aged Paul Edgecomb said it was called the green mile because the faded floors resembled the color of faded limes. Damn, limes. I sure do miss citrus. We don’t get that in here because they think we’ll make hooch from it. Fruit, bread for the yeast, and a plastic bag usually hidden in a trash can or somewhere else where the guards don’t usually look apparently makes a shitty tasting fermented beverage. I don’t drink, but that point is moot in here.
I’ve been here now for six years, five months, twelve days, seventeen hours, and eleven minutes.
STOP doing that!
Anyway, as I was saying, I hated this cell at first. I don’t know why. I’ve always been a loner who enjoyed being by myself, home alone, away from the irritation of people. I hate people. But “out there” it’s different. I had television and a kitchen. A car and a computer. In here, all I have are books from the prison library and paper and a pencil to write. I’ve read all of the books. Many times.
I liked to write “out there.” But, again, it was different. Typing is so much better than this longhand shit. Good thing I’m ambidextrous or I’m sure I’d have carpal tunnel by now. I’ve written thousands of poems since I’ve been here. Stupid ones like:
Roses are red
Violets are blue
You say fuck me
Well, fuck you too
And, actually, some pretty decent ones. A lot of sonnets. I love sonnets. Shakespearean ones.
But now, after all this time, this little eight by ten foot cell has become home. Home sweet home. For twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week. Yes siree, folks, we never close. I get to take a shower every other day. Now that’s fun. Shackled ankles attached to cuffed hands as I’m led to the cold metal shower area and locked behind a metal door as I wash myself in tepid water. The rest of my “free time” is spent in the yard. However, the yard for death row inmates is not like the yard you’d see in prison movies. My rec time is in a dog kennel with chain link and razor wire fencing ensuring I don’t climb away. So I do laps, walking around in circles like, well, a caged dog. If I had a tail, at least it might be interesting as I could chase it.
I bet you want to know why I’m in here, don’t you?
Let’s just say someone was murdered. Someone I hated and who I joked about killing with whoever would listen to my ranting. I always said that if I joke about it, I’m not going to do it. Just like suicide. I talk about it, but if I was actually planning to do it, I sure as shit wouldn’t tell anyone. The fucked up thing, though, is that this person was actually killed. What are the fucking odds?
He was my ex, Satan. The “man” who beat the shit out of me for six years and who I planned every day to kill. One day I’d suffocate him as he slept. Another day I’d shoot him with his security service piece. I fantasized about setting him on fire, cutting off his junk with garden shears, running over him in his three-quarter ton Ford pickup, drilling holes into his head a la Jeffrey Dahmer and pouring muriatic acid inside of his skull, bashing his face in with the cast iron skillet he loved so much. The possibilities were endless, really.
And, hey, it could be self-defense. I could claim battered woman’s syndrome. The only problem with that would be I would have had to kill him whilst defending myself. So my elaborate fantasies wouldn’t cut it. Pun intended.
I was at the grocery store one day buying food for dinner. I stopped in the household goods section and considered buying rat poison, but that would be traceable in a tox screen.
Oh, did I forget to mention I have a bachelor’s degree in criminology and forensics. So, you see, if I actually did murder that piece of shit, I would be able to hide the evidence, clean up the crime scene, protect myself against Locard’s exchange principle. All of that good stuff I learned in college. And for the record, CSI and those shows drive me crazy. They are so inaccurate and hokey. Perhaps my biggest gripe is that crime scene investigators are usually NOT peace officers and, ergo, they don’t carry guns. Another issue I have is that when blood is exposed to UV light, it doesn’t glow. It turns black. However, when doused with Luminol, then blood does glow a pretty blue color. Also irritating is that these forensic “experts” don’t use rubber tipped tweezers to pick up small pieces of evidence like hairs and fibers. Most tweezers have ridges (you know, to easily grab eyebrow hairs or splinters) and these ridges could be transferred to the evidence. Also, DNA testing and running fingerprints through CODIS take much longer than is presumed in the media. Whatever. Stupid shows.
I can see I’m boring you with my scientific jargon. What you really want to know is how he was killed, right?
It was a lovely car accident. He was driving home up the mountain pass like always when his brakes failed and he crashed through the rail guard and plummeted about 100 feet. And no, the truck didn’t explode. That’s another issue I have. Vehicles do not always explode on impact. There must be a gas leak where the gas vaporizes and is sparked to cause an explosion. In most cases, however, the vehicles just burn. But once you get a car going, it’s pretty flammable with all of that plastic and foam and carpet and whatnot.
Unfortunately someone witnessed the accident and called 911 and emergency crews were able to put out the fire. Satan was toast though. Quite apropos, if you ask me. The truck wasn’t completely destroyed, however, and investigators found that someone poked some holes in his brake lines. It wasn’t me, but I would like to thank whoever did it.
Of course, because of my big mouth, during the investigation several people told the detectives that I had admitted wanting him dead. Wanting him dead and killing him are two separate things, and I did not go through with it. Then, of course, my education was brought up at trial—including my forensic knowledge—and I was found guilty of first-degree homicide and sentenced to death. There was no physical evidence as to my involvement, but I was convicted on mostly circumstantial evidence.
My first appeal was denied, and I just told my attorney to not even bother continuing. I don’t want to sit in this cell for ten more years—or more—while I waste taxpayers’ money keeping me alive and paying for all of my legal costs. That’s not fair to them. Death penalty cases typically cost between half a million and a million dollars more than non-death penalty cases, including appeals. Lethal injection drugs have gotten far more expensive as well; from about $85 for the three to around $1,300. The switch from sodium thiopental to pentobarbital (brand name Nembutal) hiked the price. And then the Danish manufacturer of Nembutal—Lundbeck—restricted its sale in executions. And let’s not forget the overhead costs for electricity, staff, the executioner, etc. It’s crazy expensive, and I don’t want to continue to be a burden.
I asked the judge if I could just be hanged, because that’s cheaper. She said no because it was cruel and unusual.
“Anybody who’s been through a divorce will tell you that at one point. they’ve thought murder. The line between thinking murder and doing murder isn’t that major.” ~ Oliver Stone