Other essays on this theme

Essay: "Too Close for Comfort"

by Larry Matthew Puckett
"It's my turn." Picture yourself on deck in a baseball game. The bat is in your hands and you feel the weight and texture of it as you do warm-up swings. The weather is perfect for a game and the crowd is enthusiastically involved. You step up to the plate with a tingling excitement coursing through you. You stare down the pitcher, daring him to pitch anything remotely to your liking. He ignores you, nodding his head at the catcher as they agree on a pitch that will trip you up. The pitch comes and in a second your mind calculates the speed and direction as your eyes never leave the ball. It's exactly what you want. Your body torques, swinging the bat; it connects with the ball with a resounding crack. The ball has left you quicker than it came to you and sails out of the park. As you make the circuit of bases the excitement in you can barely be contained. A huge smile crosses your face that you aren't even aware of. The thrill is wonderful.

My turn.

There is an inherent excitement that races through us when it's our turn at something. There are a myriad of examples where we can show our prowess or skill or knowledge; at work, at play, at whatever we are good at. "I can do this, and I love to prove it."

My turn.

Each of the above instances has the commonality of being voluntary. But what really matters is when it's your turn and you don't want it; when it's involuntary that you must "step up to the plate." My turn.

Since I have been on death row Mississippi has executed four men. The most recent was October 2006. it was his turn and as each day progresses, as each appeal is denied it's one more closer to my turn. "Please God, don't let it be my turn." Now picture yourself surrounded by big burly men with firm grips on you as they direct you to the execution chamber. The excitement and base fear course through you like no other time in your life. You sweat, you pant, you want them to stop. They won't, they can't, the whole process is inexorable. Ironically, at the moment of your death your body proves to you are the most alive. Everything in you is on heightened alert. Your skin is flushed with heat and goose flesh. Your body pumps adrenaline through you as fast as it can be produced and you suck oxygen until you are on the verge of hyperventilating. You plead for mercy but there are no ears to hear. You don't even get up on the table yourself or lay down because the officers have forcibly done it for you. (Each participant has been thinking about how it was their own 'turn' to complete some task in your death.) They strap you down across the chest, at the wrists, elbows, waist, thighs, and ankles. Once "secure", they prick your arm with a needle that will be your end.

It's just too close for comfort for me. I know how close my turn is and it even makes my heart race to write about a sequence of events that I am, at present, safely removed from.

It has to come, I can't stop it. The prospect alone is just too damn close for comfort.

- Larry Matthew Puckett