Kaptain's Blog

The writings and musings of The Kaptain

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Proximate Cause

“I don’t want this! …I don’t want this! No! I beg you… Please, I beg you. Nooooo! Pleeeeeease…”

 

His voice is like that of a child lost in the woods; the terrible sounds that escape from him sufficient, surely, to send an irresistible request to all humanity:

 

HALT PROCEEDINGS.

 

Yet his pleas go unheard. He’d been strangely calm all along, until the final few minutes. Now he’s shuffling along as he begs; as he implores. Impeded by restraints that bind him at the calves; thrusting plexicuffed hands uncomfortably to the fore. Shuffling to a place he has no desire to reach– why should anyone be forced to walk to his own execution chamber?

 

He wants to be dragged there, screaming.

 

There’s some unwanted, wizened coot in fancy dress droning on in his ear about one god or other, but the condemned man is an atheist. He wants to tell the believer – the loser – to go to hell. He is weak, though; he also wants redemption– a pardon from god – any god – in all of whom, or perhaps which, belief evades him. Such is the sparsity of courage when it is really needed. They fix him to the gurney– instinctively he wriggles, struggling to free himself, but those binds are tight. The sweat is now pouring from his brow.

 

Beyond the one-way mirror an audience is assembled; some of its members wearing looks of concern. Of guilt, even. Others who are unable to hide their excitement at what they’re about to witness. It’s that grimmest of attributes; a ghoulish trait which causes drivers to slow at the site of a car crash; that teases the crease of a smile to dance around the lips when one bears witness to a tragedy.

 

At 05:30 Waktu Indonesia Tengah precisely, the wicked deed is done. Five fingers from five unseen hands depress five discrete plungers, only two of which will release the drugs that form the lethal cocktail. They used to use firing squads here; the damned being ferried overnight to remoter islands where they breakfasted on full metal jackets. But Kerobokan High Security Prison has recently been privatised; its new foreign JV partners having modernised the facility. Made it more “humane” with a morbid makeover.

 

For a few moments, nothing happens in the chamber. But then there begins a shuffling in the row of seats outside. An awkwardness amongst the voyeurs as some notice that the man behind the glass is starting to tremble. The trembling increases in intensity, then surges to a crescendo of wild spasmodic jerks before subsiding, once more, to milder shudders. Rising/falling, rising/falling, the macabre breakdance of death continues for fully thirty minutes.

 

The onlookers cannot hear the muted screams that accompany this spectacle, nor see the grinding of the teeth. This is no longer the blubbering of fears realised; of terror: it is the sonic release of agony unbridled. Neither can they imagine the mix of blood and gore that is sloshing round inside him as his organs are slowly commingled with the blend of circulating toxins. The execution is taking so long to reach its conclusion that a sense of irritability begins to cloak the gathering of the vengeful; the parents of ruined kids. The feeling dawns that this drawn-out exhibition of cruelty was not, after all, what they signed up for. That revenge should be swift as well as sweet.

 

They are rescued from their unease when a fountain of scarlet bile coughs its way out of his lungs and at last the man is stilled. By the time the doctor – strange application of the word – enters the chamber to pronounce him dead, they are readying themselves for departure to workplaces, hotels and homes.

 

It is officially over. Proximate cause of death: alcohol led to sex led to unwanted birth led to abandonment led to alienation led to the miracle of love led to sudden, irreversible illness led to crime led to conviction, incarceration, and to now. With a dusting of unendurable tragedy along the way.

 

The End.

 

*

 

…let’s start with the fact that i didn’t choose to be born. so none of what happened can be directly attributed to me. i wasn’t the proximate cause: my parents were. parents i never met, by the way; nor wanted to. yet now that i sit here on death row it occurs to me that i don’t particularly want to die, either. occurs to me just about every minute, in fact. every second.

 

it’s too soon– i’m too young. everyone deserves a second chance on the road to redemption. depends on what they’ve done, you’re saying. well indulge me in a little fantastical interlude here for a moment. you’re speaking of “justice”, right? well if there was any justice in this shitty life, no kids would ever starve, no bombs would be dropped on terrified citizenries in far flung, tin pot despotates (they’re suffering enough already, aren’t they?) no one’s loved ones would die before their time and no one would be sitting here like me, facing a disproportionate punishment for my crime, to be “made an example of”. a warning to others, yes– that’s what i am: a warning. not a person deserving of mercy; not flesh and blood, no– just a symbol of what the authorities can do if you step out of line in the way that i did. a message; an expression of their irresistible power. and cruelty; evil.

 

see while some might dispute the fact, i never took a life in my life. yet now they’ll take mine from me. and not in a merciful way, either: no guillotine; no unexpected bullet in the back of the head while i sleep, no. methods have “improved”, these days. things are more “humane”. and so it’ll be carried out by way of an untested cocktail of drugs that’ll conspire to put me through a spell of torture as i writhe about, shackled to the gruesome gurney.

 

why such cruelty? man, that’s why. the ultimate grinning torturer, world’s greatest sadistic voyeur, lustful for riveting spectacles like my impending, life-ending ordeal.

 

the whole thing’ll be stage-managed, of course. from the long walk down the corridor from my cell, to the deliberate and drawn-out tethering to the bed of no return, to the gallery of onlookers “concerned to see justice being meted out in as compassionate a way as is humanly possible”. (compassion. now there’s a word…) there will also be those in attendance who’ll be wanting me to suffer. who are there to enjoy the show.

 

another willing attendee, no doubt, will be the clergyman whose task it’ll be to prepare me for that interview when i get to the gates. where i’ll be judged and found worthy and welcomed to the bosom; or otherwise condemned to eternal flames. bull-shit. i don’t believe in none of that baloney. and even if i did, like i said before: i hold myself in no way responsible for what happened. i had no part in my birth and will not be held accountable for anything i did.

 

and what, exactly, was that? i hear you ask.

 

*

 

…the whole thing started about ten years ago, when i was sweet sixteen. more importantly, so was Cherie, who had just entered my life. sweet Cherie she was, too– and when I took Cherie’s cherry there was no looking back. those first couple of years were magic– we seemed to fit together like hand and glove. it was hard to remember a past in which we hadn’t been conjoined: such was the intensity of our interdependency.

 

i enacted the “flunked high school/got a job” cliché and we rented some digs. nothing special but a place we could at least call “ours”. before long, we tried for a baby– we were so carefree, careless in those days: we had no concept of responsibility. all we knew was love. but the baby never came. just as well.

 

then one day Cherie got sick. not no ordinary kind of sickness. this was congenital: it was also serious. the love of my life was dying, prematurely. she needed a new heart. i was determined to get her one.

 

at this point, a little back-story: before emigrating Stateside, Cherie had grown up in a village not far from Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China; the “Middle Kingdom”. the “world’s factory”. its oldest surviving civilisation, allegedly.

 

its civilisation extended these days, as a cursory amount of research was able to reveal, to supplying organs to order. the irony is rich, i know, but death row prisoners were regularly being harvested to satisfy ever-increasing fat cat demand for their body parts. in particular the kidneys, livers, lungs and hearts. their offal, as some might like to think of it. offal fit for pigs. see those overweight, cigar-toking tycoons all around the super-rich Sino seaboard figured they didn’t have to worry about lifestyle choices all the while they could simply order a new internal organ kit any time they wanted.

 

and so my plan was hatched. Cherie didn’t have enough time left to wait for a normal donor so we’d take the other route. having dismissed the moral dilemma out of the sheer necessity of saving her, this plan brought with it a problem of a different type. a financial one. throughout our years together we’d barely put a cent by. how was i suddenly going to find the thirty-k i was now informed it would cost to acquire the “merchandise”?

 

i had no family to turn to; i knew the bank would laugh at any loan request. most of the small number of friends i had were as broke as me. i considered “conventional” crime: smash & grab, armed robbery, straightforward burglary. even kidnap & ransom– all seemed to involve the potential for something with which at no point i’d ever felt comfortable: violence.

 

i needn’t have worried. emerging as the unlikely providers of a truly cradle-to-grave service it was the snakeheads themselves who provided me with the means of funding the whole enterprise. they were heavily into the drug trade: a variety of pills and powders, mostly. and their customer base was expanding beyond the Middle Kingdom’s borders…

 

…once i’d got used to swallowing condoms, the first few runs into Bali were a breeze. i looked the part: took care to always dress down; carried the ubiquitous surf gear around with me at all times. typical beach bum: that sort of look. but i became complacent. blasé to the potential for trouble; for getting caught. and when they swooped down on me in the airport that day, with their (very accurate) intel, i was like a babe in the woods; a lamb to the slaughter.

 

it’s clear to me now that the snakeheads had set the whole sting up. i’d accumulated sufficient credit to make the next delivery the last i’d need to partake in. obviously, this is as far as they let you go, i now realise. there had never truly been a moment when i was going to get that heart. how naïve i’d been to ever imagine they’d orchestrated my fundraising for anyone’s benefit but their own!

 

not that it provides any comfort, but there must’ve been dozens before me who suffered the same fate. those, like me, who came to know the operation and the individuals operating within it too well and who, similarly, were disposed of to make way for a new intake of innocents. and so it was that i found myself tossed together with a collection of fellow disenfranchised souls. in a newly brutalised super-jail and in a merciless jurisdiction to boot.

 

it was at this moment that my sense of desolation was compounded by the heartbreaking news: my Cherie had died. the shameless screw who delivered it offered no apology at the grin that spread across his face. had i possessed the strength to carry on i’d have put his head right through the wall. but i was defeated; bereft of the will to fight.

 

which brings us to today, and the sealing of my fate. the intervening period has been unremarkable: at times i have willed time to fly. yet now i want it to stop; want the Earth to cease revolving. i’ve begun to feel this is all a terrible injustice, just at the moment when time has run out, as the cell door is opening… and the guards are coming in…

posted by Kirk at 11:32 am  

Powered by WordPress