A young man seeks forgiveness from his mother.
"I have tried," said Fermata. "Oh, how so I have tried."
It was the last day. The last day of Deligan's life. As per request, he had had his final meal: Cheetos and Arizona Iced Tea with a lemon on the side. Pure Punschi delicacies.
But the sun was rising, which meant that the son of perdition must fall. Fermat had been through the trials, the international harangue, the embarrassment, and finally, the declaration of death. Nothing was going to make this right. Nothing was going to replace the feelings they had had for one another. A mother cannot bury her son more than once. Or could she?
"I'm not a murderer." said Deligan. "You know that."
"All I know is, things are about to get a lot easier around here," said Fermata.
They were in the meeting room at Joliet State Prison in Illinois. There was an air of opportunity, of rebirth in the room. They could both feel it. Even the prison guard, stalking his prey, could feel the opportunity.
"You know," said Deligan. "Somewhere, somehow, there is a young boy being born."
"Yes? That's not exactly news," said Fermata.
She had gotten up at 1am in the morning to make this meeting. After hours of security breefings and veiled threats, she had made it this one, last time. This was the reason why she had never asked if he was guilty. She could feel the power, the awesomeness of the state over everything. Did they even need a trial? Just to do this? Fermata thought about every day she had spent with Deligan, she thought about the things he said, how he was a "hard rocker" who would never amount to much, but would always "push the curve." Fermata was begining the relish her own new beginning.
"Yes," said Deligan, moving his purple hair to the right side of his head. "But what you don't know about this boy is that he is, innocent."
"Innocent?" said Fermata, looking askance. "I don't know what that means.
"Don't you realize?" said Deligan, pointing all ten fingers at Fermata. "He's 'inno-chento lutimo bambino'! He'll never have a parking ticket. He'll never have an IRS audit. He'll never be suspended, expelled, expunged, exiled, expatriate, ex-husband, ex-life..."
Time was goming to an end. There was no place to run. Here, right in in Joliet State Prison, a man was unfolding. Into what, nobody would know. It was his journey which created the tale. And there would be no question that he had failed the test. He was a failure. Nothing was left to wonder. How could he? And to a baby? Through his protestations, one could hear the screams of indignation from a public crying for blood. "Blood for blood!" they screamed at their aquatic TV sets.
"Everyone dies," said Fermata, tears coming to her eyes, looking serious. "You are just one in a long line of accidents, mistakes, misgivings, misconceptions. I just...There is nothing left for you-nothing left of you. Nothing left of the son I once knew."
Everyone dies, this is true. The only question was, how much longer could he live? The executioner was set, had made his way into the heart of the Joliet State Prison. There would be no mistaking the extreme prejudice with which he would carry out his duty. These were the last moments of a man's life. The only way out was to accept fate. Nothing could stop it.
"Mom, I'm not that bad," said Deligan, surprisingly. "I'm not that bad that I would do something like that. I know that I was unpopular, within the family, but...killing a baby? Where was the precedent?"
"Wait," said Fermata, holding a hand up to silence her behested sun. "Do not try, or attempt, to make this about me. I am not about to get my neck rung by the law. I was at every single trial, listened to all of your...testimonies. I carried the bag for you. And now you can..."
"What, mom?" said Deligan. "What can I do for you?"
The most damning part of it all was that Deligan's siblings chose not to bother with the trial. They all agreed that he was guilty, but where was the precedent? He had never so much as threatened to do anything like this. There was no reason to suspect him. But now, there was also no reason to let him live. So here he was. Hewn down, all sides repellant. Nothing and no one could strike a deal, a deal that would make him free. Free like you and me. Free as a bird escaping winter for the year. Nothing would give him that feeling that he longed for.
"Die," said Fermata.
"Die what?" said Deligan.
"What you can do for me," said Fermata, "is die. Don't postpone. Don't make excuses. I gave you life. And now I take it away, take it back. I am your mother and I'm telling you that I want you to die. Put my pain, these fears, to rest, with your dead body."
That was the end of his last words with his mother, or, really, anybody who he had known his whole life. The authorities ushered him into the execution room, where there was a simple chair with straps on it. As soon as he saw it, Deligan's body seized up. The authorities forced him into the seat, strapped him in, and told him his rights.
"You have the right to die. You have the right to die with dignity. You have the right to die without pain. You have the right to die now, as we watch," said the executioner's supervisor.
"Do I have the right to...a cigarette," said Deligan.
"No, cigarettes are harmful for your health. Now die," said the executioner's supervisor.
They strapped him in and prepared to flip the switch. The governor called. He was pardoned. He never saw his family ever, ever again.