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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2264125-Waiting-for-the-Call
Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Thriller/Suspense · #2264125
Short flash-fiction about the minutes before an execution.
Waiting for the Call

 
 
The phone looks out of place on the otherwise bare oak panel desk. Like a prop movie phone, the kind that you can just pick up and start talking to the president of the United States on. Lieutenant Kelly Rosner is watching it with apprehension as if it were a deadly snake waiting to pounce. She doesn’t expect it to pounce, however, as it’s a landline phone, not a snake, and Matthew Hibbler has raped and killed two ten-year-old girls.

In a way, Rosner is unsure what would be worse; if the phone rings or if it doesn’t. Her gaze charts an upward route to the small analog clock above the desk. 11:50 PM. If the age of miracles is upon us, Rosner thinks, God has ten minutes to announce it.

God being, of course, the governor of Oklahoma.

Mr. Hibbler is having the last of the black straps wrenched across his chest. His head is pitched uncomfortably back on the splintered wooden chair like so many who have proceeded him. His face registers an internal peace that looks monk-like and wise.

Rosner muses on what species of thoughts, revelations, memories, regrets, or resignations have come to this doomed man in his final minutes on earth.

On the other side of the viewing window, the Russell family and the Curdy family wipe their eyes with tissues. They look like statues, Rosner observes, chiseled from stone into artificially somber poses. Some are embracing each other in comfort. Others are shouting with rage. Their declarations of vengeance are lost behind the plexiglass.

11:57. Rosner’s heart is a hammer. Her feet have turned to lead. She wonders if, when the time comes, she’ll be able to complete the walk up the platform and over to the control box. She watches the second hand make its agonizing circuit of the clock.

11: 58. "Any last words," the chaplain asks. The condemned man has none.

11:59. The smooth black exterior of the phone, endowed with a smug, all-knowing conceit, winks under the incandescent glow of the overhead lamps.

12:00. Midnight. The witching hour. Poe’s hour of unmasking. The fate of Matthew Hibbler is unmasked at last. Rosner makes the thirteen – exactly thirteen – steps over to the impatient lever on the wall. She grips it tightly in her hands.

It goes down heavily.

The lamps flicker with purpose. The soul of Matthew Hibbler leaves his body lighter than a feather. In that room of mortal men, all of whom have bestowed themselves the supreme authority of life and death, not one in attendance knows its destination.

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