I couldn’t believe where I was. In the witness room of the death chamber in the States.
It was utterly surreal, as surreal as my first time being escorted into a palace bedroom to be seduced by a prince. As surreal as my first time walking the red carpet at the Awards. All of these were fairy tales, though, places you never thought you’d be and when you’re there it’s as if you’re in a song.
This was a nightmare, the saddest song I’d ever heard, and I was courtesan, accustomed to being abandoned on holidays and other times. There you are in a small, antiseptic room adjacent to another antiseptic room where someone you know, love, is going to be put to death. As I sat in the first row waiting for the curtains to open, I thought that when I signed on for a life that few others would dare live there was no reason to dare to expect this.
I was the only one in the room, which was reserved for his witnesses. He had no one else.
I did an interview with a British reporter named Nigel Scrum. I had no desire to be featured, but I talked on background as they say, giving Nigel an awful lot of information
I wish there had been one last chance to see him, but there wasn’t. I had gotten there in time, but evidently some broad he had whored out wasn’t on the approved visitor’s list. I wasn’t his lawyer or his pastor or his wife. It was rich him having a spiritual advisor. He had no religious beliefs at all. I had talked to Rob and the pastor said he still didn’t, he just wanted a friend.
The Colonel was the first one to contact me, but that had taken a while because I am not easy to find and the arrangements were not easy to make on a dime. The problem was not getting into the States. I was actually born there. It was my native country, I remain a loyal subject of the States and I could go there whenever I damn well pleased.
The problem was getting out of the small European country I had settled in years ago. They knew I was connected with him, of course. At first, it wasn’t a big deal. They knew what I did but I did it with the most important people in the world, people no one wanted to bother. But the ambassador must have sat on the right hand of the Father because everybody went apeshit when he was assassinated and when they ID’d him as the killer, and when he escaped and went underground and couldn’t be found, trouble started for me because the ambassador’s country put pressure on my home country to hassle me.
They tried to get me for conspiracy to murder the ambassador. Good luck with that. They couldn’t even manufacture evidence for that one. When that didn’t work, they tried to get me for being a courtesan. I was one, of course, but they couldn’t prove anything there, either. Good luck getting an heir apparent or sheik or cardinal to squeal on me and Lord knows I wasn’t squealing on them. Discretion, which I could give clinics on though which mainly consists of keeping your mouth shut, is included in my fee.
They were determined, however, so determined I got the impression a bribe offer would have been repulsed and I didn’t want to sleep with the entire ministry of justice anyway. Plus, they had resources, so eventually, they got me on some brutal tax evasion charges. I pointed out that I had never evaded a tax in my life, I had merely declined to pay them and my lawyer, with my checkbook open, said I was prepared to make amends.
This didn’t go over well at all. They noted I had all this money and no visible job. I said OK and they said I was a whore to wealthy men. I held up a finger and noted I preferred the term courtesan and that didn’t even make them laugh. Then they made up a figure that just happened to be the approximate value of my chateau and Rolls and other earthly things and this was the tax I just happened to owe. These were things I liked. Sometimes, rarely, really, I didn’t like being a whore but a chateau and a Rolls, palaces and red carpets made up for an awful lot.
All right, though. If they want my things they can have them. I’d given the best head on the planet and fucked the royal and the rich blind for my possessions but whatever. Easy come, easy go. Thanks to Swiss banking laws I could buy more.
They sent me to prison, too. It wasn’t hard time, but it was prison nonetheless. I wasn’t sharing a cell with large women with hairy legs and tattoos who demanded things for free I used to get paid for, but on the other hand, if I wanted to make dinner reservations I was screwed. I pled guilty. A trial would have exposed people who had paid me for my discretion. Plus, a jury would have found me guilty anyway. They were of a mind.
They raised a stink about letting me leave the country. They had taken my passport years ago and revoked my visa. This was rich, typical government crap: I could neither legally stay in the country, nor could I legally leave it, though I was allowed to live there after I got out when word came from a throne or two that they had made their point and kindly stop harassing me. Finally, I made a deal with them: let me go and I will never come back. To secure the deal I bribed and seduced the government minister, too. I’d never had qualms about using my, er, talents, to get what I needed and wanted. It’s only head and it’s only money.
I had left the States for Europe right after high school. The States bored me. I was so scared of being everyone else, of fitting into the roles everyone else pigeonholed themselves into. They have those same roles in Europe, of course, but I thought I could avoid them better over there. I did a good job of avoiding them, too, by becoming a high-class call girl. The highest class, really. I have never regretted not taking the usual path. Anyone can do that.
The bottom line was they gave me my States passport back and I was able to scoot across the Atlantic in time.
I missed him terribly. Even during my troubles, I knew what he was going through. The arrest was international news, of course, and I managed to keep up with the trial and conviction. I should have written, of course, but I didn’t know if he’d want to hear from me and I couldn’t bear his rejection. The prospect of no response at all or a response written with scorn was too much to take. It was best to maintain my distance. I actually wrote a couple of letters, but I never sent them. I flew into the big city and was met by the Colonel, who ensured I made my connection. At the airport there Pastor Rob and his wife picked me up. If they knew the relationship I had with him and how I had earned more money than they’d ever see in the army and if they resented it they kept it to themselves. They were very gracious. Pastor Rob told me he was doing as well as could be expected. He was focusing not on injustice, but on finding peace. He had spent 15 years on death row and had maintained his sanity. He still had his dry sense of humor, though that was making fewer and fewer appearances. He was eating well, though Pastor Rob gathered he never had had much of an appetite. I said it depended on how many stars the restaurant had. It was the first first-hand news I’d had of him in years.
I stayed with Pastor Rob’s wife that day. I had gotten in early in the morning. I was actually exhausted, no, weary is more like it, and she gave me a sleeping pill and I slept till mid-afternoon.
I woke up feeling guilty about sleeping, but what would I have done awake, break him out of prison? We had about three hours before the execution. She drove me in, to the main building. I was treated with a great deal of deference and courtesy. My ID was checked a lot, but soon enough I was escorted to a van for the drive to the chamber, We entered the small compound and drove straight to a door off to the left. I got out and the door was opened and I was inside the room where I would watch him die. There was some coffee and water and a bathroom in the back. A female guard greeted me. She was standing in the back, probably in case I fainted.
The execution facility actually appeared to be outside the walls of the main prison. But it was fenced in with barbed wire, whose purpose appeared to be keeping people out rather than keeping people in.
The curtains weren’t drawn until he was strapped in, so I didn’t see him enter the chamber. His arms were spread out and he was strapped twice on the arms and around the chest and legs. I felt so bad for him. There was no way this wouldn’t be painful. People said it wasn’t, but what do they know? They’ve never been lethally injected before.
I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to see each other, but they moved the gurney up a bit so he could look around. Good God, this was awful, the absolute very worst. I don’t think this could have been worse had I been strapped to the gurney. He wasn’t a killer. An innocent man was about to die.
Then our eyes met. I was leaning against the window, clutching a tissue against my face and I wept. He looked so peaceful. I could tell he saw me. I was told he would be able to see inside this window. I saw recognition in his eyes, then shock and sadness and then, finally, love and peace, all in a few seconds. He smiled, the sweetest smile I’d ever seen from him.
The warden asked him if he had anything to say and a microphone was lowered from the ceiling, but he shook his head and said no and then the phone rang. We were so focused on what was going on in the chamber that it had to sound like a thunderclap to everyone else, too, because it startled me. It was a red phone, across from me and to the left. The warden went and answered it. He said something, nodded a couple of times, said something else, then hung up. He gave instructions to the medics, who removed the needles from his arms, and then told the guards something and they unstrapped him. He was lifted off the gurney and escorted out to my right.
His expression never changed.
The same look of peace.
Chapter 17: The Colonel
Chapter 19: A Wondrous Imbroglio