Category Archives: Sentenced to Death

Rest In Peace

A friend of mine is leaving today,
I told him goodbye as he went away.
Be strong my friend, tear in my eye,
He showed no fear as they took him to die.

As he walked away, with a smile on his face
He yelled out, “I’m going to a better place.”
I thought to myself as I watched him go,
It’s gotta be better than Texas Death row.

I just heard on the radio they put him to death,
And his last words were, “I can finally rest.”
I feel ya bro, no more pain and misery,
Rest in peace my friend, you’re finally free.

Written by Troy J. Clark, about a friend of his on Texas Death row.   Troy can be contacted at:

Troy J. Clark #999351
Polunsky Unit D.R.
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351

 

Humanity Undenied

On April 13, 2000, I was convicted of capital murder.  Despite endless pleas of innocence, fallacious testimony of witnesses, and a substantial amount of physical evidence supporting my acquittal, a body of jury members determined that my humanity was beyond repair and sentenced me to death.  Hours later, I walked onto Death Row, a fragment of the aspiring young son that my mother raised.  I prayed that every door that clanged shut behind me was a pinch that would rouse me from the ghastly nightmare.  I was numb, and with the best part of me eroded, there really wasn’t anything left to be executed. I was deemed worthless and unfit, forfeited to venomous IV drips and decades of incessant mental anguish. That man’s life expired the day the world gave up on me.

Since then, I have ascended beyond the threshold of Death Row twice.  Once in 2010 for a court session where I was treated like a leper by citizens who held me at the leashed end of their opinions, and again today, December 16, 2016, when I was scheduled to see a dermatologist for possible acne.

The sting of ostracism was immediate as myself and two other Death Row inmates were escorted to an area in the prison known as ‘Receiving’.  Officers from different units shuffled to and fro, as though we were unnoticeable.  Some sported faint smiles, while their eyes held glints of familiarity. Their seniority was somewhat validated by their capacity to fraternize with Central Prison’s most notorious. Corralled in a holding cell that reeked of stale urine, we were put on display through dense Plexiglas like weapons grade cargo on a showroom floor.  Inmates from various statewide facilities scrutinized us, as though our red jumpsuits uncovered some penal myth.  A few nodded nervously, ceding to a hierarchy of status, while others held stares of sympathy.  I wanted to say, “Don’t feel sorry for me. We’re having our first ever talent show on Death Row today and a pizza party, later, to celebrate our accomplishments. With drama class, chess club, and journalism, we are changing the narrative,” but I didn’t.  Instead, I sat there, guarded, while their gazes pricked holes in my dignity.

Soon, a jangled sound filled the air announcing the arrival of chains and shackles. Our waists were girdled in iron, while a steel box and padlock outfitted our wrists.  After the other two Death Row inmates departed, I felt sullen and degraded. My eagerness to see the world waned in the confined loneliness. Finally, I was retrieved and ushered to a vehicle while my escorts discussed travel details. In proximity, I was no more than toxic merchandise to be handled with care, but once secured, they paid little attention to me.  Artillery joined our convoy as guns were collected at the gates.  My despair deepened as I realized their potential should I become overwhelmed by the desire for liberation.

As the big gates folded outward and we departed, I checked for vantage points.  I hoped to disconnect from the unsettling notion that these men were an incident away from destroying me.  They seated me behind the driver, which proved to be a visual hindrance, but then, the strangest thing grabbed my attention – a traffic light. It was suspended high above the earth like some sustainable relic from a past millennium, its illuminated orbs unbiased in providing safety for travelers.  With the advancement in everything else electronic, I imagined that even traffic lights had gotten smarter.  The familiar sight comforted me.

I also noticed the assortment of parked cars stacked like dominoes in their lots, and other things, like the brittle grass, and withered leaves.  It put me in a place of wonderment that made fretting over small displeasures seem trivial.  The vast blue sky vaguely resembled the same outside my cell’s window. Patches of trees along the highway took me back to when I was a kid taking refuge in the woods, where I would scale the colossal monuments with as much vigor as my inquisition could muster.  Seeing these everyday sights through the window, the feeling of confinement gradually dissolved, and I decided that any point from which to view life’s splendor would be fortunate.  I sat back to enjoy 18 years of societal evolution unfold.

The first person of whom I took careful notice was a pedestrian woman of Asian descent. She was saddled in a trench coat and scarf, while the silky strands of her hair danced in the morning breeze.  The young woman walked with a determined pace as the steps of her sneakers pounded to a drum of freedom in my head.  I guessed that she was an intelligent college student, who was running late for class.  Then, I thought how stereotypical I was being to think that all Asians were intelligent.  It could be that she hated school, and was on her way to work or anywhere.  I realized the pitfalls we create for ourselves, and others, when we judge people on sight alone. I quickly put my assessments in check, given the circumstances. People would be judging me soon enough, yet with the chains and shackles, it was unlikely that their opinions would waiver.

As the young woman faded from view, another pedestrian snagged my attention. He was a Caucasian male with cropped brown hair and an unsuspecting face. He wore baggie jeans and a hoodie, and walked leisurely as if having no particular destination. I was moved. How nice it must be to have the liberty to head nowhere.

Other daily norms stood out – a guy pumping gas into a brown Chevy, a caravan of drivers spilling through a fast food lane, and a gorgeous blond sitting at a bus stop reading a book. These simple acts of living filled me with inspiration and envy. As we passed shabby, destitute homes, I imagined the warmth and comfort of finding rest inside. I saw lakes and rivers with depths that held mysteries. I observed drivers along the freeway who kept pace with our detail – some I admired for their boldness to steal glances, others I despised for their obliviousness. There were roadway signs and billboards I read with the meticulousness of a good novel.  Some strip malls and hotel chains I saw were like oasis’s of renewed hope.  My head ping-ponged from side to side as I was engrossed from every perspective.

When our vehicle slowed and veered onto an adjoining roadway, I barely noticed. The sign read ‘Medical Facility’, which showed our arrival. Other transports from around the state departed, each with an inmate in back whose eyes held envy of freedom. There was an edginess that crept over me as I mentally prepared for the stigmatizing treatment to come. I made presumptions of a scripted encounter, where I would be objectified in a way that found many of the questions bouncing up off of the floor at me.  I remembered a guy on Death Row who once wrote about his experience with the outside hospital.  The focus of his composition was social ostracism. That message now resonated with me, strongly. He spoke of a particular moment when he felt eager to return to Death Row.  I dared to feel the same way.

I was peeled from my place of refuge by armed guards and escorted to an area marked ‘Outpatient’. There, an orderly awaited.  She was a petite woman with auburn hair and a tailored smile.  The orderly greeted us (or rather, the officers were greeted since she barely looked my way), then led us inside. Admittedly, there was a politeness and professionalism in her disregard for me that did not seem spiteful.  It was then that I realized that my lesson in being dehumanized had already taken effect.  As we moved about the corridors, watchful eyes landed on my crimson jumpsuit with cautiousness and curiosity.  I was overcome with shame.  The contemptuous stares and unsteady demeanors of others made me reject myself.  I wasn’t quite ready to go back to Death Row yet, but the idea seemed plausible.

We were shown to a waiting room and held up there for some time. The officers from Central Prison, along with those from other facilities, flung chatter over my head at one another, as though my cuffed hands prevented my grasp for understanding.  Eventually, their attention turned my way.  It began when the Sergeant who oversaw my transport detail asked, “So, when is Death Row going to perform another play?” Another officer asked, “What was the rehearsal process like?”  While another officer asked, “Did Death Row really host a Story Slam?”

I felt grateful to be in the position of being somewhat of a spokesperson.  I replied that our performance of the play, “12 Angry Men,” in front of guests from the Vera Institute for Justice, was a turning point, and that our Drama Club was excited about the potential projects to come. The rehearsal process was a grueling experience at times, but humbling in that it formed bonds among many Death Row inmates and staff. And the Story Slam was a competition in which Death Row writers performed short stories before guests and judges.

Afterwards, the questions from the officers poured in, while each response unraveled the fallacy of a woven stigma. Before long, we were engaged in stimulating conversation about life, politics, and other recent events.  The officers seemed genuinely interested in the many productive ways in which we were reshaping the Death Row image.  I recounted some of the other programs, such a Social Psychology, Houses of Healing, Speech / Debate, and Yoga.  They could hardly believe it.  I guess some of my own generalizations were beginning to unravel.  I still didn’t doubt their course of action should I have tried to escape, I just concluded that it likely wouldn’t be malicious.

A while later, a nurse came who seemed accustomed to working with inmates, even those from Death Row.  Her cordialness was refreshing, her eye contact, relaxing.  I almost forgot that I was an inmate or that she wasn’t in a prison.  Her interactions with me were not what I had expected.  I thought the distance she kept would be obvious, but it wasn’t.  I thought she would refer to me rather than speak with me, but she didn’t. There was a kindness and consideration about the nurse that was pleasant, it reminded me of a time I once knew.

The entire process took an hour or so, then, afterwards, we were back on the road to damnation. As I sat in the backseat on the drive back to prison, I bid goodbye to all of life’s liberties that I may never see again. I thought about all of the chaos in the world – the 49 civilians gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando, FL, for no other reason than their personal lifestyle, the nine church members in Charleston, SC, executed while attending service, for the capital offense of being black, the spectators bombed at the annual Boston Marathon, and the tiny bodies of innocent children that littered the hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary.

I thought about the heightened gang activity plaguing our urban communities and the politicians who pass laws that arm the mentally unstable. I thought of the victims of sexual violence and the random lives cut short by inebriated drivers. I wondered at the people who did not appreciate their liberties. Why, just being able to walk around, headed nowhere, was not enough to stay the hand of violence.  Just the other day, someone killed four people in my own hometown.  I wondered would their lives have been spared had the perpetrator known the trials and hardships of incarceration. How an inmate is devoid of all liberties, the decades of having lost friends to the cruelty of lethal concoctions, the segregation from a world that has moved on without you. And yet, you develop such a profound appreciation for all things that even trees and traffic lights can inspire.

Death Row isn’t a place that lacks humanity.  It’s where humanity is rediscovered and restored.  Death Row is where the meaningfulness of life tremendously exceeds the inevitability of death.  We are all human beings, and as such we are genetically prone to make mistakes, but for many Death Row inmates we are simply paradigms of the great fall before triumph. Our humanities are not beyond repair, and any judicial system that conceptualizes such nonsense is flawed. To give up on a person’s humanity says a lot about our own, for we can never fully share in the humanity of others until we have recognized and repaired our own tendencies towards cruelty and unconscious bias. This means forgiveness, accountability, faith, and in many cases, a second chance.  No matter what our personal or collective opinions are, no one will ever deserve to die.

© Chanton

A New Addition To The Library!

Travis Runnels, a man living on death row in Texas, recently sent me a copy of a book he authored, How To Survive In Prison.

I was hoping for the best when I opened it, but didn’t know what I would find.  I post Mr. Runnel’s work, but had never seen anything of this length from him.

Thank you, Travis, for coming through.  The book is a quick read, but packed full of practical information, and written with Travis’ no-nonsense, positive outlook.  Runnel’s writing is clear, easy to read and to the point.  He covers the things he can cover and also leaves the reader with pages of valuable resources and their contact information.  Everything from where to turn for penpals, to immigration resources.

I give Travis Runnels five stars for How To Survive In Prison.

“This book provides an inside view of what it is like to enter prison and survive. It guides you through the day to day activities, expectations and the mentality on how to survive. Travis shares from personal experience and provides insight into what prison life is really like.”

Don’t Cry For Me

She sits weeping in the front pew wearing a pretty dress.
The ivory casket conceals what remains.
Don’t cry for me, Mama, you did your best.
In the eyes of the gathering is a terrible truth.
The ivory casket conceals what remains.
I am the good that I have done, and the bad.
In the eyes of the gathering is a terrible truth.
Joyous hymns ward off the minions awaiting my soul.
I am the good that I have done, and the bad.
What’s next for a guy like me?
Joyous hymns ward off the minions awaiting my soul.
Tear drops descended for a fallen son.
What’s next for a guy like me?
A long black chariot and a caravan of mourners.
Tear drops descended for a fallen son.
Six feet is plenty deep to bury my regrets.
A long black chariot and a caravan of mourners.
Words spat from Scripture can be swift and deceiving.
Six feet is plenty deep to bury my regrets.
I was meant to be so much more.
Words spat from Scripture can be swift and deceiving.
The portal opens and I am summoned forth.
I was meant to be so much more.
Farewell to all who knew me.
The portal opens and I am summoned forth.
She sits weeping in the front pew wearing a pretty dress.
Farewell to all who knew me.
Don’t cry for me, Mama, you did your best.

© Chanton

Joy Ride

My favorite childhood memory was of our first family trip.  We went to an amusement park in Virginia, King’s Dominion.  I can still remember when my older brother, Ray, first told me, “We’re going to King’s Dominion tomorrow.” I was eleven years old with no idea what King’s Dominion was and too afraid to ask Ray stupid questions.  He was fourteen years old and easily annoyed.  Besides, Ray seemed excited enough for us both.  I simply emulated his enthusiasm and listened to his descriptions of the park for the rest of that day.

By the next morning I had revisited the idea of the wonderland a hundred times.  Would there be a mighty King in regal garments with a jewel encrusted sword and a crown of gold?  Was there a magnificent castle with a moat, drawbridge, and subjects who paid the King’s toll to have fun? Were there dragons, guards, and clashes of steel?  I was psyched about going to King’s Dominion.

We were up before dawn getting prepped.  I chose my favorite pair of jam shorts, which I’d already worn earlier that week, a blue tank top, and my only pair of name brand sneakers, gray suede Adidas. Ray wore jam shorts, a t-shirt, and a pair of blue and white Nikes. His style was always fresh.  My mom fixed meals and got my sister, Sophia, ready.  At four years old, she seemed more irked for being awakened so early than stoked about the trip. To cheer her up, I promised her an amusement park ride together.

Shortly after that, Reotis arrived.  He and my mom were dating. Reotis was tall, dark, and liked to wear shades.  He was always in good spirits, accompanying every other word with a smile.  We liked Reotis a lot for being active in our lives. He talked with Ray and I about school, gave us money for arcade games, and took us all out for fast food.  On that day, he had promised to take us to King’s Dominion.  We all gathered our things, loaded up the car, and headed out.  I situated myself next to the backseat window to gaze through the glass.  I was a dreamer, and the world beyond our town’s limits had always piqued my imagination.  Within minutes we’d put the hazardous potholes of the E. B. Jordan housing projects behind us, and were cruising down the smooth, endless blacktop of highway 301.

The adventure began for me right away. I was transfixed on everything outside my window – rural homes, rivers and ponds, pastures with grazing cows. The simplest things fascinated me. There were radio towers that spanned the heavens, eighteen-wheelers that devoured our tiny car in their shadows, and roadways interwoven like knitted linen. The world outside our town of Wilson, NC, was everything I had imagined.

The mood inside the car was made livelier with the sweet sounds of Whitney Houston, “Oh, I wanna dance with somebody!”  It was my mom’s favorite cassette.  Ray and I played a game in which some of life’s luxuries were as easily obtainable as being the first to point and proclaim, “That’s my car!” or “That’s my house!”  After a while, I grew bored with the scenes outside my window and dozed off.  It wasn’t long before Ray shook me awake. “Git up!” he shouted, punctuating the command with a jab to the shoulder.  “We’re here!”  I sprang to life, anxious for my first peek.

There was a giant Ferris wheel that could be seen above the tree line, with its bucket seats dipping down below, along with steel tracks and the guardrail of a roller coaster ride.  I bounced from window to window as I took in the spectacle of King’s Dominion.  It was a timeless moment without breath or sound. The stillness lasted momentarily, then uproar.

Mom reiterated her list of do’s and don’t’s.  Reotis weaved through traffic to make the exit ramp.  Sophia pointed this way and that, while Ray verbally committed to every ride he saw.  I was enchanted by the sights alone – bright lights, colorful balloons, water rides, and candy.  I noticed that there weren’t any castles or dragons, but the disappointment lessened with each scream that came from within. Before entering the park, we ate cold cuts and drank canned sodas from a cooler stored in the trunk. Then, we made our way to the ticket booth, paid the fare, and were admitted.

We took a brief tour of King’s Dominion to get familiar with the premises, then enjoyed an hour or so of family time. Booth games. Arcades.  The carousel.  Reotis bought us sun visors, except Ray, who chose a purple sailor’s hat.  We were so happy just being together.  It was the first time I’d felt like one of the normal families I’d seen advertised in movies and on cereal boxes.  For one day I wasn’t poor, uneducated, and destined for failure by the dysfunctional circumstances of my environment.  We weren’t restricted to having black fun while everyone else had white fun.  It was the one time I can remember when the world was perfect, and racial strife was a thing that existed galaxies away. The only universe that mattered was King’s Dominion.

After a while Ray was ready to head out on his own.  His adventurous side had been quelled long enough, and it was roller coaster time.  The only stipulation was that he had to take me along and keep me safe.  Ray wasn’t thrilled about that, but I was.  I liked being Ray’s responsibility.  He and I spent the day screaming, laughing, and clutching each other as monstrous roller coasters whisked us through their courses.  It felt wonderful to lean on my brother when I was scared.

Ray and I later rejoined the rest of the family.  The sun was setting, and patrons were winding down from the day’s activities. It was time for us to leave.  Reotis snapped photos to capture the moment.

Soon, we were back on the road driving away from that magical Mecca of fun toward a more arid reality.  A reality where sugar water with cereal bespoke the absence of money for milk.  A reality that would discover Reotis with a wife and family, and fading from our lives.  Where, in just a few short years, Ray would become hooked on drugs.  The consequent neglect would cause me to harbor anger and resentment for my vulnerability and to turn to negative influences, trying to fill a void.  A reality where my brother and sister would grow estranged as adults for a theft three decades past.  One where I would battle tumultuous inner demons while serving more than half of my life in a cage.  That was what we were driving back to – the only reality for people like us. Yet, for one day, King’s Dominion allowed us to shrug off our fates, cast aside our burdens, and live in a moment of blissfulness that even reality could not disturb.

© Chanton

Things I Carry

Burden is a thing I carry as a consequence of donning the fabric of hardship red each day.  Oh, yes, hardship red is a color. It falls somewhere between credit department red and eternal brimstone red. Hardship red is the mark of cruelty and justifiable death. Its burden is the stigma that comes with those who are systemically unaware that my character is not defined by my circumstances.

Another thing that I carry is loyalty. I carry it to a fault.  I believe that power is vulnerability, and that even the mightiest of men have an Achilles heel.  Mine is the naiveté that everyone views loyalty the same as I.

There is a King James Version Bible that I carry, one given to me by the mother of a friend of mine in 1999. That Bible is my oldest possession and the thing I cherish most. It has been a chariot of hope and comfort throughout a taxing ordeal that can be spiritually depleting.

I carry an appreciation for social proximity and the opportunity to inspire. Evolution is not growth in isolation. Evolution is the necessity to impact one another constructively, as we are all vital building blocks to the future. It’s my fondness for proximity to others that has me strive for social compatibility. I like to think that I make friends easily, but the truth is, I’m not very good at it. The flaw is my hardened demeanor, with shoulders that are tense and eyes that are instinctively suspicious due to the hardship of another color. Proximity to others keeps me aware of my truths. It reminds me of our humanitarian duty to each other to accept people as they are. I’m reminded that it’s our very flaws which give us the strength of individuality and uniqueness.

I carry a liking for fantasy books and soap operas as a means to lose myself. Many would say that those pastimes are lame for a forty-four year old black man to enjoy, but what better alternative is there than fantasizing when my reality is so unkind.

I carry a passion for reggae music and its essentialness to the music genre. Music is a platform of global influences, and it’s the wisdom of roots and culture reggae that is the blue print for unity and world peace.

I carry the ashes of regret for the many bridges I’ve burned. My life today is a looking glass of my present self viewing my past. Maturity is about accountability and correction, yet, when the opportunity for correction is unavailable it can cause daily emotional strain.

But the thing I carry most is my undying devotion to family. I believe that blood ties alone should warrant trust and security. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “A man who has not found something worth dying for is not fit to live.” I stand here today, on North Carolina’s death row, willing to die for family. And though the sentiment is not always mutual, still, it’s something that I will never regret.

© Chanton

Full Circle

I caged a bird once when I was a kid.  I used a small box to build a makeshift trap equipped with string, a branch, and bread crumbs for bait. Then I crouched down in my shadowy perch and counted off the seconds as I lay in wait, imagining the thrill of victory. Before long a small bird soared into view, landed near the hidden dungeon, and ventured inside. Unable to contain my excitement and anticipation, I yanked the string, and the box slammed shut.

I was so elated to see that the trap had actually worked. I sprang towards the prize with little consideration for anything but my own sense of accomplishment. I had outsmarted the opposition and conquered it. I had won.

Initially, the commotion from within the box confirmed that the prey was inside, but then everything went silent. I contemplated my next move. Where to keep the bird? What to feed it? It struck me that, more importantly, the bird needed air. So while firmly holding the box with both hands, I lifted it just slightly enough for a crack of sunlight and air to creep through. Nothing happened. I started to doubt if I’d even captured the formidable adversary or if its innate elusiveness had something to do with magic. The curiosity was killing me. I had to know.

I eased the box higher, just enough to peep inside. That’s when the bird saw its chance and made a break for it. It shimmied out the slit, hopped several times building momentum, then took flight. I stood there motionless, disappointed, as I watched my victim escape. I felt duped and deprived, as though the bird was at fault for defying me and not conforming to an outcome that I had set. It had stolen that feeling of invincibility from me and it just didn’t seem fair. I was the greater force at work. My happiness was the only thing relevant.

Today, I was caged by a bird. It sat perched atop the windowsill outside my cell here on death row. At first, I tried paying it no mind, but its looming presence was impossible to ignore. Then I tried shooing it away. Unfazed by my frivolous antics, it refused to budge, instead peering at me here in the box with seemingly no consideration or regard for the victim trapped within. Its eye stoic, holding no empathy or remorse for the horrible conditions I suffered. I suddenly remembered a time when the roles were reversed.

The day I watched that bird escape and fly away, not once did I consider what an ordeal it must’ve been like for it. How afraid it must’ve been, being swallowed up in the darkness. The loneliness it must’ve felt. Confusion. The hurt and anger of being violated and victimized. And what of the consequences had it never returned to the nest. Would its family miss it? Would there be songs to mourn its absence? Were there young that depended on its safe return for survival?

I have known what it’s like to be the bird outside my window but not the one that I trapped in the box, until now. Today I am that bird, trapped beyond the cruel dark thresholds of North Carolina’s death row. Except here there are no cracks to breath, no slits from which to escape, and the only air to breath holds the aroma of death.

Sometimes I think it’s karma. The encounter with the bird was certainly not the only stain on my moral canvas. I would go on to do many things I regret. Other times I think maybe it was a test. That the bird was sent to metaphorically provide an escape from a gateway of terrible decisions and a path from which there was no return. Maybe the bird was never really trapped at all. Maybe it was me all along. If so, then here I wait – afraid, lonely, and confused, feeling violated and victimized, and desperately hoping for the day when a crack of sunlight will come creeping through.

© Chanton

Day of Silence

It is October 18, 2017, and on this day I will not talk.  I cannot talk and have not talked for the entire day.  Silence is my voice, my method of communication.  A way for me to see, know and realize what is going on around me.  It is the day of an execution.

I want to be as one in understanding and knowing today could never be a regular, normal day like tomorrow or the day before this one.  For me, to act in any way like it is, would be insane on my part and ignoring my own situation, that of being confined with a death sentence hanging over my head.  It’s not me today, but the possibility is there that it could be me in the future.  So, it is through the condemned that I see everyone around me living in their cells.

Each day we have a responsibility to realize the reality of our circumstances.  If we come to the point of rationalizing an execution day as normal and just another day, we come into acceptance of this being okay, justifying our own execution or death sentence through embracing an execution day as a day to be normalized.

My silence toward prisoners and guards keeps my mind on the reality that we are all here to be executed.  That should never be forgotten.  Until I’m not in this situation, I can think no other way.

 

Travis Runnels, is a published author, who is currently working on his second novel.

Travis Runnels #999505
3872 FM 350
Livingston, TX 77351

What Are The Things I See?

What is the view from inside my cell, what are the things I see?

I see the walls, with their peeling paint and scribbled words left behind by hands that made this cell their home before me.

There are tiny squares that make up the door frame, and I can sometimes try to make out was is happening just beyond my reach.

Standing on top of a stack of books, I can look out the window located just about at the top of the cell. Seeing off into the distance over the razor wire, there are guard towers and buildings inside the prison fencing.

I can look in the stainless steel wall around the sink and toilet combo and see my reflection gaze back at me in its shiny surface.  I look and wonder just how many images and memories are stored in that steel, pictures of faces that have looking into it, staring with their eyes full of different hopes and dreams.

This is my reality, my view of the world as I’ve come to know it over the years, enclosed by four square walls of the dullest white.

 

Travis Runnels, is a published author, who is currently working on his second novel.

Travis Runnels #999505
3872 FM 350
Livingston, TX 77351

Vigil On The Row

Another domino is falling, to be toppled over by a substance injected into its core, within days to be marked by a grave stone in memory of who it was and what it represented in this lifetime.

For hours it’s a waiting game, defined by the unknown, to live or to die, what will be their fate beyond this day, these minutes, each and every second that passes?

Everyone is holding their breath and wondering with conflicting emotions.  Family members are embracing hope that humanity will come to the forefront, and they will not have to mourn this day.  The victim’s family also wait, but with anticipation and a different kind of hope that is laced with pain, anger and vengeance, wishing for a twisted form of justice that will never bring the closure they seek.

Guards wait with the indifference of those who’ve done this before and, just as factory workers view boxing up goods for shipment, they glance at their watches, waiting for the shift to be over and thinking of going home.  They are blind to the fact that a man’s life will be taken as part of their work shift, it’s become routine.

The clock continues ticking, later and later the day wears on and the sky begins to darken, the stars making an appearance, and the sun finally lays down to rest as darkness descends.  The street lights come on, and still, nothing is decided.  The cruelest part of it all becomes when there starts to form within the heart of the the condemned a false sense of hope that they will survive, they will get a stay of execution.

Even the family begins to hope with the passage of time and no news coming.  For whatever reason could there be such a delay in such a monumental decision?  Everyone gets antsy within their own thoughts that are all based upon what they hope to come out of the situation.

Then the ax drops, all the lights and power of hope are extinguished with the ring of a phone.   The execution is to proceed as planned.  No stay, no last second decision after so many hour of nothingness, and with the finality of a last breath, the leather straps and restraints are buckled and locked on the body of the condemned.

This is the hard core reality of legalized, state sanctioned murder.

 

Travis Runnels, is a published author, who is currently working on his second novel.

Travis Runnels #999505
3872 FM 350
Livingston, TX 77351