Billy – a young man on Death Row
I’m posting this again for some of my new readers.
August 14, 1974
The screams shattered his peace. He sat up, breathing hard, sweating. He rammed his hands to his temples. Stop! he yelled aloud. Leave me alone! It was the kids, the taunting, jeering, angry kids that came to him when he slept. They were screaming in his head again, their madness engulfing his mind, their hate and laughter echoing.
The young man opened his eyes and looked around to get his bearings; he had drifted off to sleep, but the clock on the painted concrete wall in the hallway had not. It told him that he hadn’t lost much time, enough for the nightmare to visit again, but not enough to put him much closer to the event that would end his pain.
“You OK?” the large guard asked as he poked his head around the corner. The fat black man in the faded blue uniform had become almost compassionate since the final stay request was denied. He grunted and stared at Billy for a moment then tucked his head back to his solitaire at the little table behind the light green wall. His head hit the single hanging bulb as he did, as he often did, swinging eerie shadows onto the wall beyond the cell. “Shit,” the guard spat, as he often did.
Billy watched the clock on the wall as the light played off of it. He didn’t answer the guard. The screaming had stopped for a moment, but the deafening silence returned, broken only by the incessant tic-tic of the wall clock. As the disorientation of waking up lifted, the fear flowed in again: always the fear, the bone-chilling horror of his reality.
He looked at the clock again. 3:45 am. Oh God, he thought as his mind grappled with the calculation, only… less than four hours to live. Oh, Jesus! He clenched his fists into stone and began to rock back and forth as his stomach twisted, tightly, one way then the other. When he opened his hands, they were white and trembling. He was scared, scared to the very depth of his soul and he closed his eyes, trying to divert his thoughts.