If Only at the End

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Michael Allen Vail is in the last moments of his life. Will he show remorse for the crimes he committed?

Submitted: August 04, 2011

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Submitted: August 04, 2011



He was sitting in his cell, his hands cupped in his lap. Michael Allen Vail had been on death row in the Nebraska State Penitentiary for seven years. In 1993, he was found guilty of murdering an eighty year-old Czech woman, Beta Sokolova, in her home during an armed robbery. Michael was sentenced to death just one day after the verdict was returned and he’d been awaiting his demise since that moment. In all this time, he never imagined that the day would finally arrive when his life would end. But, then again, neither had his victim. Now, sitting alone on his bed, he contemplated what that ending moment would be like. He would meet with “Old Sparky” at eleven that night and he seemed to recall that he would sit in the same chair that took the life of Charles Starkweather. It was an odd twist of irony, the only thing that the two murderers had in common. During his thoughts, the guard rapped on his door and spoke to him without opening it.

“What do you want for your last meal?” He asked with a chuckle. The guard, Michael found out a year ago, had lived next to Beta Sokolova when he was a child. He’d gone to her house after school for chocolate chip cookies, he’d told Michael once. He was more than willing to deal with the man who had taken his childhood friend.

“An original Runza, large fry, large coke, and chocolate ice cream.” This was the meal he missed most since he’d been incarcerated. It was the last meal he’d eaten on the outside, before the robbery, and he thought it would be a fitting way to leave this earth.

“Wow. Thought you’d go out better than that, killer. No chocolate chip cookies?” Another chuckle as he walked away.

As he waited for his meal, which would come in about three hours, he picked up a copy of Leaves of Grass. He found some peace in Whitman’s words, letting them penetrate his mind and take his thoughts away from reality. Michael did not like the feelings that swept into his brain when he remembered his crimes. He could see her eyes, open in horror, as he stabbed her. They haunted his dreams. Night after night, he relived the vicious attack and tried relentlessly to change it. As in life, he could never go back and undo the damage he’d caused. Tonight, he would see only his mother, father, and her adult son, who wanted nothing more than to watch this man leave the world in a more violent way than his mother did. He went back to reading his book, falling asleep until the sound of the door rattling woke him up. The guard slid the tray through the slot, Michael lunging to grab it before it fell to the floor. He took it back to his bed without a word and ferociously unwrapped the Runza, then slowed to eat it, wanting to enjoy every bite. He would take twenty minutes for the sandwich alone, not worrying about the melting ice cream. At half-past nine, he finished his meal and went to the sink to wash his face and hands. He brushed his teeth without looking in the mirror and lay back down on his bed. He knew they would be here soon to take him to the chamber. An hour later, he was being led down the corridor and seated in the chair, where two guards began to strap him into the electric chair. A priest was present to read him his last rites and his parents were seated in the watch room, crying quietly. Sokolova’s son had not arrived yet and Michael silently wondered if he’d changed his mind. But, he saw the man walk in just a few minutes before the scheduled time and stand against the wall opposite Michael’s family. Michael then looked at the priest, nodded, and looked back at the crowd.

“I am sorry for what I have done. I cannot imagine the pain I have caused both my family and the Sokolova family. I will pay for my crime with my life. I only hope that you can find peace after I am gone.”

The executioner put the hood over Michael’s head and nodded that the lever could be pulled. It had taken Anna Vail seven hours to bring her Michael into this world and now she watched as it took two minutes to take him out of it. As the doctor quoted the time of death, Anna cried silently as her thirty-three year old boy sit, head slumped, lifeless in the chair in front of her. Now, she thought, you can have peace.

© Copyright 2019 Ellison Drake. All rights reserved.

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