The gown gaped and the floor was cold but Roland kept his eyes forward as he shuffled along. The attendant patted the hospital bed, saying, “Just sit up there and lay back, big fella. This won’t hurt.”
Roland grunted as he squatted minutely before taking the micro leap upward that raised his buttocks high enough to perch on the bed, the attendant’s hand on his bicep for support, the grunt a mixed response of effort and dark irony. “Yeah,” Roland drawled, his voice thick with bayou, “that’s what ch’all keep telling me. Guess we’ll see.”
“Ain’t had no complaints yet,” the attendant replied, his smile softening his words. “Can’t claim one-hundred percent satisfaction but nobody’s ever complained after.”
“Sent out a survey, did ya?”
“Ha! Now that’s a good one. Real gallows humor. Good for you. Lemme see your arm, gotta prep you,” he added, donning gloves and applying an alcohol swab before inserting an IV needle.
Roland’s arm jerked slightly with the prick and the attendant said, “Come on. You trying to tell me that hurt?!”
“Well we’re done. Just got to set back and let it run its course. You talked to Chappy? Said your last words?”
“Made my peace,” Roland replied with a single head nod. “That works fast,” he added indicating his IV line. “Feeling sleepy.”
“No. Least no extra.”
“Alright. Just going to get the attending and the man from State. Don’t go anywhere,” the attendant said with a wink, “be right back. Need me to adjust anything?”
“Can you adjust the ankle shackles? They’re biting some.”
“Yep,” the attendant replied as he did so. “Hold tight, right back.”
Roland’s mind drifted backwards over his fifty-nine years, his time in and out of prison, his scrapes with the law and his conviction for a capital crime he had not committed. “Rape a fourteen year old?” he slurred. “Never. Might a used some persuasion a time or two but I never raped nobody and I sure as hell never cut no woman.”
Fifty-nine years of hell danced through Roland’s head as the administered cocktail painlessly drained the life from him. “Fourteen,” he whispered, “just fourteen,” his mind drifting from the girl whose rape by another was the proximate cause for his execution to his first real taste of carnal knowledge, his transition from boy with unmet desires to man that women lusted after. He laughed aloud, remembering that first sexual escapade, one that happened in a hospital bed with his gown thrust out of the way, his girls panties ripped off and her skirt riding high, his concussion from a cop’s nightstick in no way interfering with their quiet as possible lust filled sexcapade.
Roland’s ramblings including, “Damn shame,” were heard by the attendant, the doctor and the man from State, each of them certain that his drug induced, tongue stumblings were proof positive of Roland’s guilt and his execution a true vindication of justice served mercifully, coldly and without passion.