There are people who are full.
And people who are empty.
People who die, and people who live.
And in darkness
they find one another.
Chapter One: "THE WITNESS"
Dead guy walking.
Heart bumping lots faster than it should have,
for a little walk like that.
Lights too bright in here. Too many people.
They don’t tell you there’s going to be that many people
in the place you die.
People talking. Saying nothing.
You can’t hear good with your heart so loud.
Strap you down, arms stretched out like jesus.
Needle in the arm. Big needle.
Curtains open. Grey cloth.
Now you can see the witnesses
and they can see you.
Witnesses. Not friends. Didn’t have friends, now.
Lawyers, plenty. No friends.
The victims families were there.
Lot of hate coming from them, coming right through the window.
Wrong hate. For the wrong guy.
Well, no reason why the last minute of your life
should be any different from how the rest of it had been.
All that hate from all them people. Except from one.
Skinny guy. Tall. White hair.
Dressed all in grey.
Something kindly in this one.
All the hate out there, it kept its distance from him.
Like it parted around him.
Warden was coming.
Warden put a microphone next to the killing table.
Anything you want to say?
Anything to say?
Why ask? He’d been saying the truth for five years.
Nobody listening then, nobody listening now.
Didn’t do it didn’t do it never did it.
Done a lot of things, but not this one.
Pretty funny that the one thing they kill you for is the one you didn’t do.
The white-haired guy, leaning forward now.
Looking right at him. Into him. Like he wanted to tell him something.
Wasn’t a voice, but it said
easy. easy. it’s bad, i know, but don’t be scared….
Not-voice made his head hum. It pushed the room away.
White-headed guy was the only place he could look.
Warden made the Governor phone call
from right there in the chamber.
Warden listened, Warden shook his head.
Once the needle’s in, time comes, somebody presses a button.
Nobody touches you.
Somebody ought to touch you if they’re killing you.
He saw it. Saw it. The stuff that was moving down the tube to his arm.
They said the first dose made you sleep.
The second stopped your breathing.
Third one stopped your heart.
He could feel it coming.
He lay there holding his breath, like that’d stop anything…
here. i’m here….
The not-voice again, outside the window.
Sound but not-sound. Sharp and soft.
Like the white-headed guy had called him.
…it’s okay. it’s okay. don’t be scared. let it go….
White-headed guy’s eyes. White-headed guy’s breath.
White-headed guy was all there was.
First dose coming. No second dose. No need.
Somebody was singing a high note in his ears.
The room stretched. The singing stretched. His life stretched.
Thinner… thinner… until you could see light through it…
until light all there was…
…it was okay it was okay it was okay now….
Chapter Two: "MAN MINUS SELF"
sting of needles
bottom of the ocean
reduced to nothing
with the switches thrown wide
wrapped in the jacket
with the sleeves strapped behind
hauled like a sack of sand
helpless in rough hands
buried deep inside
where no one could find him
outer voices through cheesecloth
inner voices choked and strangled
no calm, no quiet
no me here
no here here
not where he belonged
wanted to go home
too heavy to move
but so so light