Execution Day Jitters

Submitted into Contest #123 in response to: Begin or end your story with “Well, that was dramatic.”... view prompt


American Crime Suspense

This story contains sensitive content

TW*** Language and Violence

On the evening before the execution, I drank eight cups of coffee, paced the house for a total of eighteen-hundred steps, tried on three press conference outfits, bought new makeup on Amazon, ate two tubs of double fudge, rearranged the living room furniture, and re-watched my recommendation for execution. The murder case was straight forward and easy to prosecute. Yes, I was confident—more confident than I had been on my other capital cases—of the defendant’s guilt. Hell at sentencing, I pushed Judge Marvis for execution, and yet I could not sleep. The house began closing in around me at sunrise, and I had trouble breathing.

At six a.m., I threw my hair in a ponytail, changed into my tights, and went for a twenty minute jog. When I returned, Detective Sam Norman sat on my porch swing, guzzling cheap whiskey. Detective Norman wore a stained white undershirt, and he struggled to remain upright when the swing moved. When he saw me, he picked something green out of his beard and flicked it into my rosebushes.

“So I’m not the only person who had a sleepless night?” I asked.

“Malik didn’t kill anyone.”

“Sam, I know all about execution day jitters. You know, I prosecuted a fair evidence based case, and there is no doubt.”

“Yeah great, Sheryl, blah blah the evidence shows blah blah, you damn ADA’s. Always with the blah blah bullshit.”

“Get out of here Detective.”

“I tried to talk you out of making this a capital case, Sheryl. You wouldn’t listen. Seriously, I just couldn’t tell you about the video. Now you are going to gas the kid.”

“Okay, first of all, fuck you, and second of all, I am not gassing anybody, and third of all—what did you just tell me?” I said.

“I’m saying, that boy didn’t kill nobody.”

“Stop calling him boy, Sam. The audio they played during your cross was bad enough.”

“I know. That was the point of it. I wanted to get him off, and keep the money,” he said.

“If I remember correctly, I asked you if you were sure and you said... Sam, what the hell, man? Don’t do that—Oh at least turn around—damn it. All over my. No don’t worry about it, please drench my porch. I’ll wait.”

Eventually, Sam passed out on my swing. I thought about hiring a contractor to demolish the porch or the house; instead, I rummaged through my living room drawer, pulled out a N95 mask (Plenty of those handy nowadays), grabbed a bucket of ammonia, some gloves, and my hand trowel. Avoiding the mess would allow it to set, so I grit and cleaned, but even with the mask, I retched as I cleaned up the porch.

Almost an hour after I finished cleaning, Sam sat up, and wiped his face on his shirt. I wanted to flay him.

“I would have cleaned it up, honey,” the terrible, stinking, pile of vomitus idiocy said.

“Hey, ‘ass-munch’, busy day remember?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna send you a video. Your phone in there?” He pointed at my pack.

“No,” I said. I picked my phone up off the banister, and he stared a while. His gaze slowly moved up and down.

“Nice outfit.”

“Oh, you like it? I liked it better before you puked on it.”

“Damn it. Do you have to? It’s fine. You’re right.” He took a pull from the whiskey bottle. “Sheryl, I found a video on the vic’s phone the night of the, ya know.”

“Murder investigation, are those the words for which you are searching?”

“Whoa, why so formal all of a sudden? For which blah blah. There you go again.”

“An investigation led by—you. That produced a report—you—wrote.” I said.

“Whatever honey, I found this video of the murder, but money was paid, and it got scuttled.” He pressed his phone to mine, gulped the last of his whiskey, and said, “I’ll be in the pisser while you watch it.” I put my arm across the threshold.

“Listen, Sam, if this is what you say it is—I'll have to…”

“Yup. I would if I was you.”

My phone, that I placed on the coffee table, taunted me. I was alone. The phone blinked a notification, “One new video added”. Yeah that much I knew. They say in Alcoholics Anonymous that, “When you pick up the phone to ask for help, the phone weighs a thousand pounds.” My phone weighed ten tons, but I lifted it anyways.

The video started, but immediately I shut it off. Someone had knocked on the front door. I opened Ring on my phone. Maritza Salas a reporter for The Bugler was banging on my door, hard. Sam stepped out of the bathroom. He sneaked closer, silent, wary.

“I might not hear you, but I can smell you, Sam.” I lifted my phone. “Well, any idea why there is a reporter here?”

“I called her,” Sam said.


“It was fucked up that I laid this on you.” He walked towards my door.

“Yeah. So why invite her here?” He shrugged and opened the door. Maritza pushed the door open the rest of the way. She held her phone close to Sam’s face.

“Good morning, Detective Norman, you said that you have new evidence?” she asked.

“You get down to business,” I said.

“Hi, Sheryl, long time,” she said.

“He just told me about this, and I think he should call someone first,” I began but Sam interrupted.

“Yeah I have to make a confession about my...”

“What the hell is that smell?” Maritza asked. She backed on to the porch a few steps.

“I told you, Sam” I said. A gun shot sizzled outside, and I was sprayed—with the back of Sam’s head. The long range bullet crashed into my china cabinet; bits of plates and cups filled the room, and the shards of glass and flat wear rained down on top of an intruder, dressed in black. Maritza screamed and ran outside. Two more shots rang out, I heard her stop running and hit the ground. The man grabbed me, and he pressed a knife to my throat.

He whispered, “Well, that was dramatic.”

December 10, 2021 06:43

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Patrick Samuel
16:43 Dec 15, 2021

Glad to know that Donald Westlake isn't dead after all. Seriously, this is brilliant. The writing is sharp, sparse and darkly funny in the best hardboiled tradition ("Sam, what the hell, man? Don’t do that—Oh at least turn around—damn it. All over my. No don’t worry about it, please drench my porch. I’ll wait.") The most unsavory aspects of the story are handled with a restraint that only makes them more powerful. I really did not see the ending coming (like the main character, apparently) but it makes a great story perfect. Hats off to you,...


Thomas Giorgione
18:24 Dec 15, 2021

Thank you for the encouragement, Patrick. Your entire comment is kind and overly generous to little old me. It was a wonderful thing to wake up and find this morning. The dialogue you quoted was a risk, and I am ecstatic someone liked it .


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Austin Seaver
23:36 Dec 14, 2021

Great job on this story! I loved the metaphorical weight of the phone, sometimes it feels like that.


Thomas Giorgione
00:30 Dec 15, 2021

Thank you for reading it. I’m glad you related to that line, honestly, I was nervous about it.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Howard Seeley
02:57 Dec 13, 2021

Moral of the story: Never say I told you so. Welcome to Reedsy!


Thomas Giorgione
03:32 Dec 13, 2021

Thanks for commenting. Yes, things never go well after someone says that.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Graham Kinross
01:07 Dec 13, 2021

Dark ending, nice. Thanks for reading my story. I like your work as well.


Thomas Giorgione
03:31 Dec 13, 2021

Thank you for the encouragement.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply