As I sit in the dressing room waiting to make one of my many entrances on stage in my latest play, I have little option but to read the various publications lying around. These publications mostly take the form of daily newspapers, either one of the intellectual former broad sheets or the freebie left at railway stations for commuters to pick up.
The owners of these publications have invariably removed the puzzle section and are sitting around completing them. This means I am left with reading about current affairs or the World Cup.
There is only so much one can read about the World Cup, especially when it has been rammed down one’s throat all day on the news reports on the radio. So to the current affairs.
As I flicked through the former broad sheet, I came across a story which was disturbing on two counts. Firstly, it was a story about a pending execution in the state of Utah in the US of A. Execution number 28 this year in America. That is roughly one execution per week!
I do not condone the acts carried out by the accused; neither can I agree with the death penalty. It’s not as though the death penalty quickly frees up space in the prisons. On average, it takes eleven years to carry out an execution, and the accused in this case has been in prison for twenty five years!
Now how was this story disturbing on the second count?
Well, it was disturbing in a bizarre, if somewhat humorous way. If one can attach humour to an execution! The story was accompanied by a photograph of the chair in which the accused will sit. However, he is not going to be executed by electricity or gas, nor is he receiving a lethal injection. No, he will have a target strapped to his chest and positioned over his heart and will then face a firing squad.
The chair was surrounded by piles of sand bags. These were positioned strategically to trap any wayward bullets!
Now, I’m not an expert with a gun, but I have fired one at clay pigeons and not been too far off the target. I have also successfully shot at tin ducks at a fairground, using a gun which we all know will have had its sights adjusted to prevent too many winning shots! On both occasions, my targets were moving and yet I still managed to hit them.
So I must claim to have been a bit surprised for the need for sandbags in case the executioners missed. I mean, who is firing the gun? Have they just got in a passer by from the street?
Did they ask someone walking by “have you ever fired a gun? No? You’ll do fine, come in here and be an executioner”.
Surely the people or person pulling the trigger will be enough of a marksman to hit a human being from a few paces. It’s not as though they are going to be standing two hundred yards away with a cross wind! And their target is going to be strapped into the chair, so it’s not as though they have to aim at a moving target!
That’s when I read that this is the first time one of these has taken place since 1996.
Perhaps the gun is rusty or maybe just the executioner. Perhaps he hasn’t picked it up in the last fourteen years!
Maybe the accused would like one final request and opt for a different method of execution!