A Drabble for a Saturday

Time for a Drabble, a little slice of fiction in 100 words.

Rules & Attraction

The object of his affection was a woman he’d first seen on the train, and just in profile at that.
He was struck by her refined features, the coal-black hair, the color of her skin, like good olive oil. The athletic sculpt of her calves, her arms.
They’d gotten of at the same stop and he felt drawn to follow her across the platform and onto the street. He felt alive, mesmerized.
She turned, put a hand on her hip. Raised her other hand slowly.
The pepper spray was unexpected; he writhed in agony as she watched in sadistic satisfaction.

There's 58 words in this story

And that's why it's called a Fiction in 58. Sort of a literary "amuse-bouche."


She unfurls the linen napkin, smoothes it across her lap.
The wine is robust, a Chilean red that’s scored well; it breathes in a glass carafe.
The meal is presentation-exquisite, edible sculpture on square bone China.
“Why yes, there’s Tabasco in the remoulade,” she whispers to the emptiness.
And frees the empty pill bottle from her grasp.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three word Wednesday are callous, interfere and persistent.

Twist, A Love Story
She stands outside the arc of light thrown by a lone streetlamp, vaguely aware of the muffled music that’s trying desperately to break from the brick facade of the dingy club.
She rests a spiked heel on the brick, flips open the hardbox pack of cigarettes, selects one. The Zippo lighter explodes into flame, illuminates for an instant her face as the end of the cigarette catches.
Dark eye makeup the color of bruised plums. White face powder. Lipstick like wet cherries.
Smoke curls around her face and shrouds the cold and callous looks she gives to anyone who passes.
She is a warning sign, like dangerous curves ahead, and still men are persistent at the bar. They walk up, cavalier, offer to buy her drinks, lean in to talk to her tits, not her.
“No thanks,” she’d say coolly, turning to pick up her vodka and cranberry.
“Dike,” they’d say, dejected like scolded puppies, tails between their legs.
Tonight, the hits were an assembly line of monotony.
The only escape was out the metal doors and onto the cracked sidewalk. There she could breath, relax.
And from the shadows, a giggle. Then a whisper, faint, in a voice she immediately recognized.
“What took you so long?”
“I didn’t want to interfere,” she called from the darkness. “Besides, I knew you could hold your own against all those horny little boys. Buy you a drink?”
“I’d love one, thanks.”


It’s there when a bloom of anger rises in the cheeks, when you’re standing in the greenspace that counts as your front yard waiting for your dogs to do their business and teenagers in a Jeep honk at you because they're being funny.
It’s there in the darkness and silent in the middle of the night, when your eyes snap open and there’s nothing there but your thoughts.
It’s there on a walk with the dogs before bed, when the only sounds are the scuff of footfalls on concrete – and the jangled tune clicked out by the metal tags fastened to the girls’ necks.
It isn’t loneliness. It’s deeper than that. A progression of time that stretches forever forward. But by yourself.
It becomes a prison. And institution where the mundane repetition of action - the same action, day after day - becomes something of a security blanket.
I’m trying to break free.
But it has come to a point where I don’t know how.
Or why.

Continuation of a theme; a Fiction in 58

Thanks for all the well-wishes. I am feeling better – and while outside pressures continue to push, I’m dealing with them.
Let’s keep thinks brisk. A Fiction in 58.

Darkness Falls

He walks through the neighborhood, the pre-dawn chill illustrated by steam puffs as he breathes.
A flock of crows passes overhead, throaty squawks pierce the quiet. He pauses, watches them disappear on the horizon.
He thinks about their wings, greasy black. Suddenly, he’s nauseous, dizzy.
The blackness presses against his temples.
“Please don’t go there,” he whispers.

Sunday Scribblings: Trust

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is trust.
“Today, for some reason, I think of it in terms of money left, and the games that we used to play to team build at summer camp. I'm not sure what that says about today! Who do you trust? Who do you not trust? What does it take to earn yours? What would you do if you discovered you had money in one? What do you think about trust?”
I choose to write about trust, as it relates to the relationship of reliance, in 100 words.

The highball sweats on the bar, a black swizzle stick angled erotic from the ice, vodka, lime wedge.
He’s been here too long, throat parched, the liquor a hazy veil on his thought process. He eyes the room through slits; angered mistrust. A warning sign, caution, don’t touch.
The bartender keeps count. The next will be his last.
“How you doing?”
Hands rub together, nervous.
“Fine. I’m fine. I’m OK.”
“Just checking.”
The white collar got to people. He knew it. The beliefs, the code, the ethics. Sometimes, it was way too much.
“Father, let me call you a cab.”

Fiction in 58, dialogue

Dialogue is hard to write. It's even harder when you limit it to 58 words - but you still want to push a story forward. Consider it a test.
A fiction in 58.
Just dialogue.

Brutal Truth

“If judging him judges me, what does that say about me?”
“Forget I brought it up.”
“You started this; an explanation, please.”
“Usually, our harshest critics are ourselves. Your callousness radiates to everyone - but yourself.”
“That’s a horrible thing to say.”
“You asked for it. Your cruelty knows no bounds.”
“Are we friends?”
“Yes, your only one.”

Thursday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three Word Wednesday are candid, impulse and risk. 3WW is a writer’s prompt created by Bone and administered now in his absence by ThomG and The Tension. Take the words, write something with them, and leave a link. Try it yourself – and tell your friends.

Class Wars

Blaze has a calculated affinity for me; she’s candid about it, sticking her tongue in my ear and clamping a hand on my crotch, even though we’re on the crosstown train and the stares of disgust burn my cheeks as much as her grip scorches my loins.
Blaze took her name from her hair color. An impulse color she said, it looked like out-of-the-can pumpkin pie filling.
She has also gone by Cerulean, Cerise and of course, Scarlet. Her hair - and thus her alias - was a deluxe box of Crayola Crayons.
She was a woman almost in miniature, as if the drugs fed off her flesh. He skin was like the tissue paper they line gift boxes with, marbled and translucent. She hid the track marks in the cuffs of her elbows with her hands, the chewed nails painted the color of dried blood.
“My little punkrocker,” I whispered as she took a new, glorious grasp on my privates.
It took a $50 and two vodka rocks to lower her defenses in the grimy, back-alley club. The promise of more cash, as well as what she desired most – the shakes and the itch betrayed the time since her last hit – and she was mine for as long as I wanted. Her risk-to-reward alarm was completely disabled.
And who could blame her?
I am a particularly handsome fellow. Blue eyes like huskies, raven hair. Even-toned skin, which was exfoliated daily in the bath. My suit is a two-button Kiton in gray wool with the most luxurious lavender pinstripes; my shoes are John Lobb customs in black.
We’re the Odd Couple, without the canned laughtrack.
But I’m not really laughing. Not really.
Blaze was selected, shopped for, carefully chosen. For her willingness to do just about anything for drugs and money. For her willingness not to question or rebuke a single statement I make.
Besides, she’ll look so good, so hot, in the black leather jacket I’ve altered. Almost like it was tailored just for her.
Along with the big silver buttons, the shiny metallic studs, the lug zippers, the jacket was lined with enough C-4 plastic explosive for a blast radius of several meters. The same jacket I’d hooked up to a remote timer, a cheap cellular telephone that when I pushed 6-6-6, well, Blaze would be true to her name.
And I’d already selected the pretentious bar to light up.
“My little anarchist,” I said, stroking that fabulous, fiery hair of hers.

Sick Day

I am sick.
Like coughing up a lung sick.
I might try and craft something later for Three Word Wednesday, but not now.
Now, I take medications.
And try and sleep.

A journey continues...

Surface Tension was born out a frustration I needed to verbalize over the death of my mother. She died in November 2005 of colon cancer – although the real culprit was an overzealous regimen of chemotherapy. She died without speaking to any of us, a tube snaked down her throat.
Doesn’t me we didn’t communicate. We got to say our goodbyes, which frankly, came way too quickly.

And Surface Tension became a place where I less wrote about my personal life and more about trying to figure out if I had the chops to make it as a writer (cap W) and not just a journalist (still a wonderful, fulfilling career).

Last week, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s treatable, just not curable.
And has the control to make decisions on how his life with end.
Without getting into too much detail – I don’t feel like it’s my purview to “spill my guts” here – he did say if he had to live in pain the rest of his days, he’d rather not. And as he slipped a pain pill between his lips, I told him that it was his choice, it was the end to his life and he was in control of it. That course will be partially decided when he visits his oncology team.
Moving forward, we’ll be able to spend time – there’s at least one fishing trip scheduled – and we’re talking about taking the Chrysler on a road trip to his hometown in Massachusetts.

People ask how I’m doing. Having gone through this before, I tell them that I’m OK. That it’s not about me. That I will have my dad for a time, where I didn’t get that with mom.
But I’ll be keeping those feelings off The Tension. He’s a private man and I need to respect that. This will color my evolution, there is no doubt.
And The Tension will remain my journey.

President's Day: George Washington

A classic video from Creased Comics:

Sunday Scribblings: Sports

The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings, the 150th prompt, is "Sports."
"Um, how about sports? To follow up on last week's 'Art' with something very different. Sports: love em? Hate em? Forced to do em as a kid? Serious athlete? Fanatic about watching/playing? Any experiences stand out in your memory?
For me, a short piece of fiction:

Through his company, dad grudgingly went to community health to get a flu shot. He instead got stuck with a syringe full of THG, with a sidecar of human growth hormone.
A week later at softball, he went five-for-five with four dingers and a triple that just bounced fair from the 325-foot fence line. He showed power to all fields, and ran like a gazelle between the base pads.
In the stands was a Carolina League scout, on a fluke visit to his in-laws when he decided to take in a beer-league softball game instead of having to listen to his mother-in-law talk about her utter lack of grandchildren.
He signed dad to a contract, right there with a sweet bonus, and told him to report Kinston, North Carolina High A affiliate. In his first two weeks, he hit .436 as the Indians’ designated hitter.
He bypassed the rest of the A leagues and made his major-league debut against the Kansas City Royals. A night game at the Jake. He wrote mom’s name on the swoosh of his shoes, in Sharpie.
And proceeded to go three-for-four, with two dingers, a double and a single.
At his debut at The House That Ruth Built, dad tore tendons in his ankle trying to stretch a dying quail into a double.
He tested positive at the hospital and the report was leaked to the press.
Dogged by reporters, the harsh camera lights, dad retired just after the Indians were mathematically eliminated for the A.L. wild card slot. And was promptly summoned to Congress, where he declined to discuss juicing in baseball in front of a House subcommittee.
“I never knowingly took steroids,” is all he said.
Back in the city leagues, dad rejoiced in the simplicity of the game: You hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball. Besides, the beer was always cold, you could hit in a pair of torn sweat pants - and the crisp fall air still buzzed with the cadence of crickets.
In the concrete dugout, which smelled of stale Marlboros and domestic beer, the guys from work joked with him about the company flu shots, which were scheduled for the day-after-tomorrow, at community health.
“Fuck that,” he said, picking up an aluminum bat to go swing in the on-deck circle. “I think I’ll take my chances this year.”

Fiction in 58, a story in small packaging

They spooned on her tastefully appointed leather sofa, late, after drinks, conversation.
She rested her head on his shoulder, wrapped fingers around his wrist. Their breath, in time, harmonized.
His hand found the small of her back. He pressed.
She drifted off.
She twitched, yelped softly.
He ran a finger across her brow, ached to relieve the pain.

The six-word story

I guess there was a spirited talk on public radio Wednesday about six-word stories. The most famous supposedly penned by Ernest Hemingway:

“For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”


Funny though, in my research, it’s entirely possible he never wrote it - and it’s grown to urban legend status.
I got asked once, on a Fiction in 58 exercise, how short was short. I know of a prompt site that asks for stories in 100 words and 55 words. The creation of Fiction in 58, for me, was something to test my storytelling abilities. I picked 58, since it sounded cool.
How short is too short? And can you say something bold and meaningful in six words? I think the story attributed to Hemingway answers that easily.
So let’s try a few, shall we?

“Tender kisses,” she asked. “Alas, no.”

Through the static, “End all hostilities.”

“I freaked.” “Why?” “He had scales!”

“Love,” he said, a tossed grenade.

He deliberately pushed; she resisted, earnestly.

Stranded, he prayed for clarity, beer.

“Trust isn’t a four-letter word.”

Tears fall, tissue offered; faith restored.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The word prompts over at Three Word Wednesday are disarray, rabble and validate.

Old Habits Die Hard

I guess it was some big secret, but my dad was founder of some hippie group called the Monkey Wrench Gang or something.
I guess others got all the credit, though, as he met my mother at a roadside taco stand in Matamoros, Mexico after some big dustup with the Texas Rangers over some damaged road equipment near South Padre Island. Something about bird estuaries and, I dunno, whatever.
I knew him as a guy in a suit, selling insurance and personal portfolio investments.
That is, until I found his battered footlocker in the basement.
I asked if I could start wearing the Army jacket with all the patches and he got all weird on me.
Got weird on all of us.
Mom kept asking when he was going to get a haircut. The brushy mustache he grew came in gray, but he didn’t color it or anything.
I noticed that my pot stash began to dwindle.
That’s when the news started warning of some new eco-terrorist threat, especially after several Hummers went up in flames over at Carmody’s Dodge, Chrysler, Hummer.
Over dinner one night – meatloaf night, I guess – he made this dam of mashed potatoes between two slabs of loaf and mom asked what he was doing and he mumbled something about “Praying for a pre-cision earthquake” and taking his fork to bust up the potatoes so that the butter flowed into the green beans.
Mom, she just shook her head.
Me, I guess I was curious.
Dad grew more secretive about his den, the pictures of fishing buddies, the gold plastic golfing trophies, the musty deer head on the wall. He didn’t lock the door – mom would have gone ape-shit over that – but he did ask that anyone announce their presence before asking for admittance.
It’s where he started teaching me stuff like delayed timer fuses, homemade napalm and how to bend nails into caltrops, these wicked little landmines that dad said “would forever remain fondly in his heart,” since he dumped a shitload on Texas Highway 48 outside of Brownsville – stopping the Rangers and leading him to mom.
“I remember, she was drinking a Jarritos, strawberry, and eating a couple of shredded beef tacos,” he said. “Most beautiful woman I had ever in my life laid eyes on. Made an honest man out of me.”
His eyes clouded for a minute, then a smile came over his face. He put a hand on my shoulder, cocked his head and said, “Let’s go catch a movie.”
Giggletown 24 was a temple of excess. The gaudy neon, the sea of concrete where people parked their SUVs that had never seen a speck of dust, a drop of mud. There was a valet, for chrissakes.
“The rabble,” he mumbled, pushing his way through the crowd to buy tickets.
We sat near the back of the main theater, waiting through the trailers for the main feature, when dad pressed an M-18 smoke grenade into my hands.
“Pop it, drop it and casually get up an leave when it rolls a few rows down,” he said.
As I put a shoulder to the swinging double doors, I heard dad yell,
The panic was immediate. The disarray, ultimate.
Dad stood with his arms crossed, protected from the chaos by the air hockey table, and watched with amusement at the mayhem he created.
When the police showed up, he nudged me with an elbow, said it was time to “get truckin’.”
But in the smoky haze, my dad just couldn’t help himself. He casually stopped Margaret Templeton, herself wild-eyed in the upheaval that was the Cineplex lobby – she looked like an idiot in the blinking bowtie and multi-colored vest and rhinestone-covered nametag – put his hands up to calm her and asked:
“Could you be a dear and validate my parking pass?”

The American Sentence

Without getting into specifics (it's personal), the last day has been a gut punch of emotions. I'm trying to be of some help and comfort, but find little I can do right now, which is frustrating. So I penned some private notes into a leather-bound journal for sanity's sake.
You, the reader, get an American Sentence, sort of a haiku, with 17 syllables.

Bare branches bend with the breeze; skeleton fingers reach out, swirl sorrow.

In 58 (words) a short story

Just a short slip of fiction for your reading pleasure (or deep analysis).

His eyes snap open, like a light switch, illumination. But instead of enlightenment, there’s confusion.
He listens to the couple in Three tussle; shouts, the bump of flesh shoved into door frames, furniture.
He slips a pillow over his ears; there’s no insulation for the symphony of rage.
He’s helpless, again the little boy tucked in cowboy sheets.

Sunday Scribblings: Art

The prompt at Sunday Scribblings is: Art. For such a little word, it holds a lot of energy and even some controversy! What do you make of art?

I rarely do poetry. Not because I don't think I can, but because I've found more satisfaction on the short fiction stage. This prompt called out for lyrics, poetry. I hope you enjoy.

faithful executions of sight, sound, feelings,
tender aspirations,
the blossoming soul,
creation, busting light, morning,
darkness, flesh, moonlight,
searing, seething anguish,
pushes capricious thoughts,
twisting tendons, heartache,
sexual tensions,
a canvas,

For your reading pleasure

I've been carrying this story around for some time. It was time to flesh out.

Like Father, Like Son
I’m sneaking sips of bourbon, disguised in a plastic convenience store cup filled with Diet Coke, when my father shuffles into the family room.
I’m caught between feeling like the little boy who has been caught doing something illicit and adult-defiant and doing whatever my 56-year-old self wants. And right now, I want the hurt to stop, so the Bourbon Big Gulp, tipped back in dad’s coffee-colored leather La-Z-Boy.
“I’ve got something for you,” he says, guiding the tennis-ball-covered walker tentatively across the ancient orange shag in the family room.
Out of his pocket comes a black ring box, trimmed in gold.
“I want to give this to you now, not after I’m dead.”
I hold out a hand, tentative. He puts it on my palm, like a proposition.
“You know what that is, don’t you?”
I open the box. It’s his diamond ring, a full carat, set in a simple gold setting.
“Dad, I…”
“That’s the ring I bought myself when I quit drinking. I want you to take care of it. No arguments.”
He turns the walker, trundles toward the kitchen.
I slip the ring onto a finger. It’s too small to fit anything but my pinkie.
I take a sip of my drink, exhale with a cough, the bitter taste covers my lips.
My mouth tastes exactly like defeat.
I burst into uncontrolled sobs, tears like raindrops.

A slight slip of fiction, 58-style

Veteran Affairs
He keeps it on a shelf, same shelf as the cereal, the oatmeal.
A modest ceramic bowl; blue, the color of an early sky after a day’s rain shower. One handle is chipped.
He doesn’t looked inside. Doesn’t need to; he carries the pain inside.
Within, a dozen aluminum tags, memories of boys who wouldn’t be coming home.

Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday at crumple, illicit and nerve.

Worth Every Penny

The first thing you’ll notice is the cardboard sign, torn from what looks like a packing box, rough-edged, but the lettering, immaculate.
Then you’ll notice his hands, but only when he takes off the cream-colored cotton gloves.
Lotioned and perfumed hands, soft and supple. Clean and pink.
And the nails. Ohhhh, the nails. Professionally manicured, each nail on each finger was filed to a elegant point, not like a spear of a missile nosecone – sharp and overtly sexual – but refined. Mesmerizing.
The rest of him? Unremarkable. Another homeless guy with a beat up Dunkin’ Donut coffee cup begging for your change. Wool trousers that needed mending, a black sweater and a tweed jacket over it, fraying fabric at the elbows, cuffs.
The sign read “Backs Scratched, $20 for 10 minutes. Guaranteed Satisfaction.”
He’d made an easel out of two dented aluminum trash cans and brownstone brick of the building near Washington Square. He was tucked into alley, keeping a sharp eye out for the cops.
“You for real?”
“What you mean, ‘Am I for real?’ he said, cracking his glove-covered knuckles, working the tendons, staying limber, moving his hands in gentle circles like he was conjuring a spirit from his chest. “Course I’m real. Twenty bucks, you’ll see.”
I laughed, despite myself. Looked at the sign. Looked at him. He took off the gloves, put two squirts of lotion into those magnificent hands, raised them, palms up, motioned me in with a wag of his fingers.
I fished out a $20 from my wallet, and pulled it back, just as he reached for it.
“You do anything illicit, go for my nuts or anything like that and I will crumple your ass.”
He laughed through dark teeth and told me to take off my jacket, loosen my tie.
And preceded to rake those nails across the Oxford cloth of my dress shirt. Deliberate, a pattern that seemed to hit every inch of skin across my back. Eyes closed, a dreamy trance, I didn’t see the line forming behind me until he patted the hollow between my shoulder blades and announce the end of 10 minutes.
I looked at my watch, woozy.
In a world where bliss is measured in ticks of clocks, it was one of the most satisfying 10 minutes I’ve ever spent. Top 5, anyway. Nearly better than sex. Nearly.
“This is my outlet location,” he said as he readied for the next client, more lotion, more knuckle-cracking. “Usually, you can find me on the Upper West Side, West 78th, near the museum.”
And tucked a cream-colored business card into my shirt pocket.
All it read was “BACKSCRATCHER” in bold block letters.
My back tingled the rest of the afternoon, the occasional gooseflesh shiver, bliss.
I got out of the taxi on Columbus Avenue, absently flipped the cabbie the fare, began a nervous search for the back-scratcher. Licking my lips, sideways glances, desire like burning lust guiding my breath. Short, addict gulps.
And there he was, six deep in waiting customers.
Except he had a new sign, same torn edges, same tidy lettering.
“Backs Scratched, $100 for 10 minutes. Guaranteed Satisfaction.”
Crestfallen, I cut in front of a woman dressed like Annie Hall, and blurted out my argument.
“You’ve got some nerve, jacking the price like that!”
He smiled through those dark teeth, sucked on them, grinned, put those glorious fingers together, pulled them apart, so just his fingertips touched and pointed them at me.
“The nerve? The nerve? I’m providing a valuable service here, my man. Get in line or get going down the road.”
Wiping sweat from my brow, I absentmindedly gave the last guy in line a $5 bill to hold my place, while I searched out an ATM.
“Worth every penny,” he called out, laughing.

It's fiction, but in 58 words

An exercise in brevity.


She studies the rust spots on the ancient clawfoot tub, tears in her eyes.
Above the lavender-scented bubbles, juts the rise of her belly; an island of olive-colored skin. She wipes a wet cloth over the rise, watches the track of baby oil beads.
She’s 16, on the cusp of adulthood.
Nowhere ready.
“Baby,” she whispers.

A Monday Drabble

A Drabble is a story in 100 words. Hadn't done one in some time. So here you go:

The party swirls around her, the talk, engagement.
She passes through like a ghost, or an aberration – a distortion in normal line of vision.
She’s cloaked in a shyness her friends all hope she’ll grow out of; hence, the continued invites. She’s aware of their concern, but peripherally. She feels the concern, but just the edges. She’s content to be prickly.
See, there’s a boy she’s waiting for, someone she’s always pictured - readied herself for that moment.
And at this minute, that boy is looking out the window, gazing at the city lights, nervously plucking at his sleeves.

Sunday Scribblings: Regrets

The prompt at Sunday Scribblings is "regrets."

No Regrets
In a sea of regrets, he was the pebble that sank to the bottom, unaffected.
He listened emotionless at the sentencing, where people lined up to cast him as a pariah, a butcher, a monster.
When it was his turn to speak, he raised his hands as far as the chains would allow and quietly, logically, laid out his story. An explanation of that night, the brutal surroundings, the terror. The blood. The two teenagers, dead.
He never once said he was sorry.
Death by lethal injection was the next day’s headline.
The public defender, half-heartedly, said he would pursue an appeal (more-or-less not to lose his standing in the bar).
Solitary, thick gray paint on iron bars. An orange jumper. Plastic slip-on shoes. Three squares a day, one hour of supervised exercise in a pen in the yard, an AR-15 trained on him. Like he could go anywhere, his ankles chained together with a foot of play.
He paced, hands clasped behind his back, and contemplated. He never said anything to anyone, except to answer direct questions.
His hair grew long and went silver, and it helped mark the years on appeal. Appeals he never wanted, granted by people he didn’t know, didn’t know him and the things of which he had been accused; they did it on moral grounds, believing executions tore at the social fabric of society.
The rest of the world? They prayed he’d burn in hell. For eternity.
And in the end, the appeals ran their course. His time was to come to an end.
Newspapers picked up on it, as the date got closer. The first such execution in nearly a decade. The rehashing of the brutality. Renewed calls for repentance.
And again, he showed no remorse. He refused all interview requests. He continued to answer yes and no to the questions asked by the guards.
No new details on that night, now so long ago.
The saline drip coursed into the crook of his arms, just below each bicep. The double IVs were a precaution, in case one push didn’t work, they had the option to introduce the drugs into his system. Three drugs would be pushed into the IV, from another room, that would end his life. First, sodium thiopental, a fast-acting barbiturate to render him unconscious. Then the muscle-relaxant pancuronium to cause paralysis in each and every muscle.
Then potassium chloride, which would stop the heart.
He’d die by cardiac arrest.
Just before the sodium thiopental was injected, he called for the preacher, asked in a clipped, muted tone to bring a paper and pencil. He whispered into the old preacher’s dandruff-covered ear; the old man’s liver-spotted hands trembled visibly as he wrote.
Seven minutes passed until his heart stopped.
The coroner marked the time of death, two hours later.
On the steps of the prison, under the harsh klieg lights of television cameras, the preacher stepped to a bank of microphones, adjusted the thick, black eyeglass frames and read from the slightly crumbled paper.
“What I done, I done for my boy,” the preacher read in a loud monotone. “It’s a sin to kill the feeble-minded, but a child of God nonetheless. For that, I have no regrets.”