I write to you, my love, from a very humble abode, from a place so dark you can see a glint in the devil’s eye. I write to you from a den more of insanity than iniquity, from a room without windows, joy or fresh air — indeed, from a room without hope. I write to you from a lonely cell well earned, a fresh hell well deserved, from the last place I will ever write anything to anyone.
I write to you, my angel sweet, from death row.
But fear not, for I write to you in better spirits than you might expect under the prevailing circumstances. I am fed, clothed and sheltered here — in however primitive a fashion. I am alone, blessedly so. Because I have been confined to solitude, I am not being assaulted, murdered or raped by my fellow convicts.
Obviously, I have no desire to be in contact with them, much less the outside world. There is no outside world, not anymore. For whatever reason, the guards treat me with sufficient disinterest and a notable lack of brutality. I am in good company, as said company consists purely of myself and thoughts of you.
Best of all, I live knowing that, soon enough, I will no longer have to endure living.
October 20th is the day — or night, who knows? It will be an injection, I am told by my court appointed lawyer, who is pleasantly removed from concern, much like myself. David is his name; he is Jewish and very amiable and from Denver. He tells me that the injection will be administered by a physician who has presided over fourteen executions to date. One more than thirteen — seems lucky enough a number to me.
Since 2010, pentobarbital has been used as the primary drug for lethal injections in the state of Texas, rather than some of the more obsolete cocktails responsible for some of the more gruesomely drawn out executions. David tells me it is a barbiturate which serves as an anticonvulsant or sedative, and also that it’s supposed to be pretty safe, very effective. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about men suffering through a virtual eternity before succumbing.
Seven minutes is how long it usually takes, apparently. Seven is a factor of fourteen. I’m liking these numbers more and more.
They’ve got me in the Allan B. Polunsky Unit here in Huntsville, TX, just 30 feet from where I’m to meet my maker. Here’s hoping the devil’s in a good mood. The Texas Death House; that’s what they actually call it. No point in sugarcoating on death row, I suppose.
It’s a fitting title, empirically speaking. The Lone Star State has executed more people than any other in the union, claiming 537 souls since 1976. Part of me takes solace in being just another statistic. The anonymity makes me feel less like a criminal, I think. Though if truth be told, my love, I haven’t really felt like a criminal since getting here.
Pleading guilty doesn’t make me wrong, not in the least.
I killed a man last year, angel. I killed him in early June, when the summer air lays atop you like a warm, wet towel, when Texas might as well be hell. I found out where he lived — a ranch eighteen miles outside San Antonio — then hid in the woods surrounding his home, waited until he was asleep, and strangled him to death with a garrote wire.
It wasn’t easy, physically, that is to say. He was a large man and struggled violently, such that my arms nearly gave out trying to hold him down. It is also rather difficult to garrote someone while they are prostrate (this was my first time murdering someone, and I didn’t get the angle right), so it took a few minutes for the life to leave his wicked eyes.
He bled a lot, my love, mostly from the throat and mouth. My hands bled from the sharp wire pressing against them, too. His fists were huge and flailing wildly; they almost knocked me unconscious a number of times, but I was on a mission — perhaps not from God, but certainly for justice — and God knows I would not be denied.
When it was over, when his twisted soul drifted out of his wretched body and into the depths of hell, where I am soon to join him, I wept — not for killing him, but for what had brought me to do so. I wept bitterly and without respite for a long, long time; and when the tears finally stopped flowing, I picked up his phone and called the police.
“911 — what is your emergency?”
“He’s dead. I killed him.”
“Sir, who did you kill?”
“Where are you, sir?”
“I am in his home. Come get the body.”
They arrested me within the hour; and, because I gave a full confession upon arriving, they brought me here, to Huntsville, to the Death House, just six hours later. One plus six equals seven, which is a factor of fourteen. I have been in prison, on death row, for exactly fourteen months — which, as you know, is the number of years we were married. Those were blissful years, my darling.
My abiding memories of that night are that it was balmy and cloudless. The landscape is very pretty out there, out in ranch country. I wish you could’ve seen it. The stars were innumerable, bright and clear as day, even over a sea of flashing red and blue lights. There seemed to be just as many stars as mosquitoes, I remember. Living in rural Texas has its beauties and banes, it would appear.
Preston Calloway is dead, my love, and thank Heaven for that. I do not regret my crime. I pled guilty without remorse or hesitation. I have spent my time on death row in relative peace, and the only reason for my having attained that peace is because now I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he is dead and gone. Some people deserve to die, and he was one of them.
As it turns out, so am I.
I’m sure you must be disappointed in me, but I hope you are not ashamed of me. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you know that what I did was right, that it was necessary. You must know that, my sweet, because you know me. You know that I could not let him live, not after what he did.
And so, my dearest love, I write to you for the last time, from death row, from hell on Earth. I write to you in darkness and in joy, for soon, very soon, it will all be over. Preston Calloway is dead, and I killed him. I had to, because he killed you.
On October 20th, I will meet my fate. Because of what I have done, I will not be meeting you, my darling. I will spend an eternity in perdition, but I’ve become accustomed to that here at the Death House, and shall accept it with open arms. May you forgive me my transgressions, angel, and rest in grace above. From this cell, from hell, and from the bottom of my blackened heart, I write to you, wholly and forever yours.
Until death do us part.