Other than my neighbor Jenny, I am the only person who knows that she is innocent of murdering her husband. As Jenny is to be put to death by lethal injection in less than an hour, she will take this knowledge to the grave with her. When her body signs slowly fade from her body, then I will be the only one who knows the true identity of the actual killer of James Smith.
She will be pacing the cold confines of the condemned cell, as the minutes slowly and sadly tick away, indignant and outraged by the injustice that put her there. Perhaps she will beat the unyielding walls and scream her innocence to the world. No one will hear her though; only the correctional officer standing outside her door, and he will have heard it all before from other ‘innocence’ people.
Eventually, as her final moment approaches ever nearer, she will quietly lay on her hard bunk, and anger will be replaced by a far greater emotion: terror. She will know pure liquid fear as her mind enacts the ultimate moments; the trembling walk to the room to be strapped down, the strong arms supporting her at both sides as she takes each faltering step up to the platform, the blackness as a mask is place over her head and steals her last sight of the world around her. Will she be one of those that stand firm and proud as she feels the rough sting of a needle being placed in her arm? Defiant at last in the face of the inevitable, determined to make her exit dignified and ladylike? Or will she succumb to basic animal panic and have to be dragged kicking and screaming, begging and pleading, weeping and crying, to end her days as a cowardly wreck?
Jenny will be praying now, praying as she never has before, praying desperately for the last-minute reprieve that will never come. Every tissue of her being will be fervently hoping that the true guilty one will step forward, remorseful, and conscious-stricken that another is being punished for her crime.
But it will not happen.
A woman in my position must be seen to be above reproach, to be beyond criminality. I must adhere impeccably to the law. The scandal would be enormous shout it become know that it was I who kill James.
I had to take his life. If only he could have been content to let our affair remain a secret. I thought that I had convinced him that it was for the best that we continue as we had for all those months. However, that night, that last night, when we met at his house while his wife Jenny was attending one of her many late-night sessions at a local bar. No amount of reasoning or persuasion from me would sway him; he loved me and he wanted the world to know. He was leaving Jenny. He had even written a letter telling her so. What could I do? How could I allow it to be discovered that I had been conducting a long-standing affair with the husband of a local well-known politician.
I am noted for my calmness and passivity, it is necessary in my work, but that night when James showed me the letter with my name in it like an accusation, I snapped.
When the police arrived at the neighbors house, they found Jenny standing over the body of her husband spread out on the bed, and the stocking I used to strangle him still clutched in her hand. The evidence against her, though circumstantial, was damning.
At the trial, the housekeeper and other witnesses revealed the graphic details and the constant bouts between the couple and Jenny’s violent behavior toward her husband after coming home drunk from the bar. When it was further exposed that she had been conducting an affair (one of many) with the bartender, from whose bed she had come home that night and with whom she had often discussed how much she despised James, the jury had little hesitation in finding Jenny guilty. No one was aware that the real culprit was viewing the whole procedure from the back of the courtroom.
It is almost time now. The door of the condemned cell well be swinging open to admit the escort who will accompany Jenny on the long walk to her final rendezvous. What exquisite dread she must be feeling. I know I wouldn’t wish to be in her shoes.
“We’re ready for you now, Ms. Smart.”
“What? Oh, I’m sorry officer, you startled me; I must have been daydreaming. I was just giving the equipment a final check. Everything seems to be in order.”
“Oh, I’m sure it must be, madam; I’ve never know you to make a mistake. Very professional you are, if you don’t mind me saying so. Though I couldn’t do your job for a million bucks. Dirty work it is, being the one who put’s the needle in someone’s arm.”
“Why thank you, officer; that’s very kind of you. You’re right, it is dirty work, but you know what they say; someone has to do it.”
“I suppose so, madam. Oh well, it sounds like they are bringing Jenny in now.”
Dirty work indeed, but I make sure Jenny Smith’s execution is as clean as all the rest. One should always take pride in one’s work.