And Now for Something a Little Different.

First of all, allow me to point out the new applet, upper left on this page. Angie, from A Whole Lot of Nothing, a truly awesome mother, wife, blogger and person, has a small business that, due to the economy, is struggling. She has asked for help. Not handouts. Just help. She needs to address a larger audience - so as to garner more business. So, I am trying to help. Look at her site. If there are things there you've been thinking about buying, or if you know of someone who may need things she has to offer, consider making those purchases through Angie's site. Help a woman owned, small business stay in business. And help a family through difficult times.

Now - on to the difference.

Normally, on Friday, I do Haiku. But today, I want to publish the short story I did for "The Inferno" Challenge - Into Oblivion. I hope you like it.

The Execution
A Short, Short Story
Louis Charles Lohman

He lay on the gurney, his uniform white and newly pressed, only wrinkled where the wide straps which held him in place pressed down on the fabric.

The lighting in the room was soft, indirect, but bright, so that those outside the room who were there to witness, would have no trouble seeing what they came to see.

His left arm was strapped down on a small swing out extension of the gurney, and the needle was carefully taped down so there would be no possibility it would come out before it was intentionally removed. A plastic tube ran from the needle to the wall and disappeared through a fitting which led into the room next door - there, the contraption that the State had contrived for these occasions stood fixed to the wall, ready to feed the contents of the three plungers into the tube. Into him.

The Chaplain, dressed in a black suit, his Roman collar the only white, read softly from the book in his hand, occasionally making the Roman 'Sign of the Cross' in the air, the symbolism pretty much lost on the young man lying on the gurney.

"That stuff ain't gonna do me no good, Padre. Knock it off, will ya?"
"You do this your way, my son. And I'll do it mine ... but I'll stop."
"What's takin' 'em so long?"
"Patience, my son. It will be over soon enough."
"What time is it, huh? How much time is left?"
"It's 11:57. Three minutes to go."
"Three minutes? Can't they hurry up? Tell 'em it's okay. They can do it now."
"You can't hurry them, son. The State does what it does in it's own time. At it's own pace. And in it's own way."
"Yeah, well, I still wish they'd hurry up."
"I know, my son. I know. Soon."
"I know you don't like this, Padre. I know you tried to stop it. But it's okay. Really it is."
"What I think doesn't matter now. It's too late. I only wish you hadn't given up your appeals."
"I had to, Padre. I couldn't take it any more. The dreams. The voices. They're in my head all the time. I just can't take it any more."
"I don't like the notion of giving up. But then, I do understand. You need peace."
"Nah. I need somethin' alright, Padre. But it's not peace I'm lookin' for. I did what I did. I ain't proud, but I can't take it back. All I can do now is find a way to forget. That's all I want to do, Padre. I want to forget."
"It's time for me to leave, now, son. But I'll be right outside. Are you sure you don't want me to pray for you?"
"No, Padre. Don't waste your breath. This is what I've been waitin' for. So long."

The Padre turned around and left the room, and as it closed, he faced the door and made that 'Sign of the Cross' in the air, again.

"Whether you like it or not", he said, under his breath.

The klaxon sounded. The witnesses held their collective breath. The TV monitor over the window to the room showed the three plungers as they slowly closed, one at a time.

The klaxon stopped. The sudden silence was as unsettling as the sharp sound of the klaxon had been just a minute or so before.

Five minutes later, the Doctor entered the room and felt for pulse, checked for breath, and listened with his stethoscope to the young man's chest. He turned and nodded to the witnesses. The lad was dead.

The Warden sidled up to the Padre, and spoke softly, in natural reverence for the dead.

"It'll be a short trip to hell for that young man."
"I suppose it probably will, but who is to say? For my part, even though it's contrary to everything I believe, I hope he has found his way to where he needs to go."
"Where's that, Padre?"
"Oblivion. I hope he's found his way into Oblivion."


Audubon Ron said...

First of all, if you have a first of all you should always have a second of all.

I'll check out your blogger friend and see if there is anything there. Nice of you to look after a friend.

As far as oblivion, I think that was oblious. Srsly, after listening to my wife the mental health professional and all that goes into the making of a killer, there are some people better off gone, we are doing them and us a favor.

Nan Sheppard said...

Wow, that was ... forgiving. Awesome.

Tara R. said...

Very intense. You have wonderful dialog skills.

Mrs F with 4 said...

I can't agree with Audubon Ron, or not the last paragraph... but I guess that's allowed!

Excellent piece of writing, and now I'm off to visit Angie.

Miss Ash said...

Love this piece.

Tuli said...

Before I go visit Angie, I wanted to chime in...

I enjoyed your story! As a criminal justice major who has issues with prisons and the death penalty, reading an execution story (like Dead Man Walking - holy cats, what a great book), gets my mind running. I love short stories that make me THINK.

Thanks, Lou.

Joyce-Anne said...

I think I've said this before, but it's worth saying again. You have a way of weaving your reader into the story, making us feel like we're a part of it.

PattiKen said...

What a powerful piece, Lou. You and the chaplain show such empathy. I have to think that unless the bad guy is a sociopath (and who knows, maybe even then), there is an inner person who is horrified at his own behavior. Your prisoner seems like that guy. Oblivion sounds like it would be a blessing.

Hockeymandad said...

Thank you so much for the shout out to the store and posting a badge. It is very greatly appreciated.

Nevine said...

You really have a way with dialogue, Lou. And what a topic to tackle in a short story! You did it so well, and so humanely.


LceeL said...

Audubon Ron: Thanks, Ron.

Nan: Thank you, Nan.

Tara R: Thank you, Tara. Dialog is fun.

Mrs F with 4: Thank you, Beccy.

Miss Ash: Thank you, Ash.

Tuli: You are MORE than welcome. And thank YOU.

Joyce-Anne: Thank you, Joyce-Anne. High praise, to be sure.

PattiKen: A blessing, at least.

Hockeymandad: Any Time, Sir.

Nevine: Thank you, Nevine.

Holly at Tropic of Mom said...

I can't really add to the great compliments the previous commenters have heaped on you, but I also would say the same things again and again: super dialogue as always, great way of weaving a tale and just that way you have of knowing about a bunch of stuff to make your stories authentic. I hope you're trying to get published somewhere.

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

Thank you thank you!!!!!

I'll have to come back to read the story b/c right now, the only thing keeping my eyelids open is my dry eyeballs.