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LuAnn Lewis
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deathrow.jpg
Art by John Thompson 2018

Death Row

 

Luann Lewis

 

 

The judge’s voice carries a finality that you know can't be good. The women of the jury won’t meet your eyes. You can tell they don't believe you. Women have a natural aversion to you. Shy and tongue tied, you’ve never known how to talk to them. Of course they'd condemn you now.

“Will the defendant please rise and face the jury. Madam Forelady, has the jury agreed upon a verdict?”

“Yes, we have. We find the Defendant guilty of murder in the first degree.”

Your knees tremble at those words. What happens now? So far, it's only been a holding cell. Now it's gonna be prison. Prison! You’ve never been in prison!

 And what’s it like on death row? Death row… shit, they’re gonna kill you.  Sure, your attorney says he’ll file an appeal but we all know how that goes. You get lost in the system. You have no money, no power. Nobody cares.  

How does it feel to get the final injection? Where do you go when you die?  You don’t want to die. And you sure as hell don’t want to spend your last days in prison. Your heart’s pounding out of your chest. Maybe you’re gonna die right now from a heart attack.

Clamps on your wrists, chains on your ankles, they lead you out shuffling like an old man. You’re humiliated and terrified. The bailiff’s grip is tight. What do they think, you’re gonna run away? 

Powerless, afraid and resentful, you hate yourself for getting in this mess. Wishing to turn back time is useless. You know that, but your mind still goes there. One stupid mistake...

If only you had put her body in the river instead of the trunk, you wouldn’t be here now. You’re not a criminal. You don’t belong with those animals—behind bars. You curse yourself for how sloppy you were that night in the forest. One hour of fun and look at you. You screwed up and you have to pay for it like this. Damn women. Why the hell is it that they just don't like you?



FEELING LIKE GOD

Luann Lewis

It’s deserted in the gloomy morning and broken beer bottles are crunching under your step.  You can’t find that damn rose.  Where the hell is it?  You stride back and forth from one side of the street to the other, kicking debris out of the way. An old glove and a Pepsi can meet the toe of your boot and go flying.  

Wait! There it is!  The rose is submerged in a muddy puddle.  Your face twists as you shove your hand into the thick sludge to pull it out.  Still red but sodden the flower curls in your hand.  “Ha!” You fold your fingers around it and crush the bud then slip it into your pocket.

She had been wearing that rose when you dragged her into the abandoned warehouse last night.  Maybe dragging her wasn’t such a smart thing to do.  After all, if you had carried her, it would have been easier to make sure nothing got dropped, no evidence to find later.  But dragging…well, the clunk of her head bumping along the ground, the look of pain in her eyes…Ah, you couldn’t resist.  And the groans, the sounds from behind the gag, those were so exciting.  Yes, you’re well-acquainted with discomfort and the thrill you get from watching the pain of others, hearing it, smelling it… well, that’s deliciously tasty.  These women, your “night visitors,” they send thrills through you as they slowly die.  And you know the most torturous ways to entertain them.  The muffled screams from behind stifled mouths confirm your talents.  Their begging eyes and flowing tears make you feel like God.  In fact, in those moments, you suppose you ARE God.  After all, you have the power over life and death.  It will always be death, of course, but the edge of hope in their eyes amuses you.  You revel in their pleading.  “Pray to me,” you whisper in their ears.  You know where to twist, where to cut, where to thrust so that they will shudder with agony.  

And last night, the woman’s palest parts, so soft and protected, the secret parts leading into her warm body, her unsuspecting parts, all these received your attention as she wiggled beneath you, beside you, under you.  Fear, anger, anguish passed over her face then the final terror before her eyes were empty.  Her used remains were disposed of in the usual way but that damn rose was missing.  It wouldn’t do to be sloppy, even in such an obscure way.

But now it was taken care of.  Time to head toward home.  On the way, you would make your usual pass through Tentville, as it was called.  Your cries for those poor slobs stuck living under the makeshift blankets in that desperate place.  Such a terrible situation. You’re disgusted with the government for letting the economy get so bad.  Those men are hungry and cold at night.  Yes, you are familiar with discomfort, you remember living through terrible days being starved and beaten as a kid in the streets, and it nearly makes you cry to see these folks with their torn up clothes and dirty faces.  That’s why you always bring dollar bills, socks, toothbrushes and other gifts when you pass through here (and you pass through whenever you’ve been “entertaining” a woman in the old warehouse. 

“Thanks, Mister!” you love to brighten their lives. The way their eyes shine when they’re thanking you makes you feel like God.

 

Luann Lewis is a Chicago native who has spent many years writing legal documents. Now, in semi-retirement, she is pursuing her MFA. Dabbling in varied genres, she has had over a dozen stories, essays, and poems published in print and online, as well as had a piece performed by Manawaker Studios.

In Association with Fossil Publications