Detective James Barnes was sitting at his desk sipping a cup of fresh made coffee when the phone rang. “Barnes.” he answered. “Detective, just a reminder about Thursday. There is a change, they pushed the time to midnight.” “Midnight?” Barnes questioned. ” Yea, something about some electrical mishap, no biggie, just need a little more time to get it right. Don’t want things to go wrong during…well…you know.” said the caller. Barnes sat in silence. He was angry. For 7 years he has been waiting for this moment, and now due to difficulties, the monster gets 2 extra hours to live. His face burned out of frustration. He quickly finished the conversation. “As long as it’s done.” and he hung up. He sat back in his chair, staring at the clock. He didn’t deserve it, but what’s done is done. Nothing he could do, but wait. The past 7 years he has waited. The anticipation grew and grew closer to May 3rd. Just a couple more days, and it will be over.
7 years ago, on a chilly October night, October 24th as a matter of fact, he came home to find his wife had been murdered. He was devasted. He truly and deeply loved his wife. Stacy was her name. She was a Nurse Aide at the local hospital. She loved her work. They both worked hellish hours, so their time spent together was catching up on each others day, or week if it had been that long. Most of the time, they never had enough time to make love. Most days, Barnes worked more than 24 hours, just to go home, cat nap, and go right back in to work. In this town, crime never sleeps.
On October 24th, he had left work early just to be home in time for his wife. She had the day off, so he wanted to get home to take her to dinner, something they haven’t done in a long time. He didn’t know the tragedy that awaited him. It took less than a month to track the killer. A man named Marshall Curtis. A convicted felon, mainly robbery. Served time in 2 states, but was released on parole. Never confessed to actual murdering her, but enough evidence showed that he was the man. His fingerprints had been found inside the bedroom where she lay, and his footprints outside the bedroom window matched the shoes he was wearing. The weapon however was never found.
Barnes was buried in paperwork. The weekends are usual pretty busy with burglaries, rapes, occasional murders. Monday’s are the day he is usually stuck in the office. As he was reading over a case, the phone rang. “Barnes.” he answerd. “Detective, it’s Rick McGhee.” Rick McGhee. McGhee was Curtis’ lawyer. Not the best defense around these parts, but an all around nice guy. He tried to appeal the case several times, but was never approved. “What can I do for you, McGhee.” asked Barnes. “Well, Detective…I must say this really isn’t a call I wanted to make, but my defendant insisted that I try.” That struck a nerve in Barnes. Defendant? Just come out and say it. Marshall Curtis. McGhee continued “Detective, as you may know, he is on death row awaiting..well you know. He wanted me to contact you to see if…well….if you would be willing to talk to him?” Barnes face started to burn. He could feel his blood pressure rising. What could he possibly want to discuss with him? He had some balls to even try. “Talk? About what?” Barnes asked. “Honestly, he didn’t say. All he said was that it is just one last thing he needed to do. Would you be willing? I could have something set up for Thursday morning, beforehand.” Then there was silence. McGhee could feel the tension. This wasn’t his style, but under the circumstances, what harm could it really do? “Listen, Detective, you don’t have to answer me now. Just give me a call before tomorrow afternoon.” Barnes waited a second to reply. “Sure.” and then he hung up. Breath and relax, he told hisself. This is ridiculous to get all worked up over. In a couple of days, the man would be dead. Gone forever. He put it in the back of his mind, and went back to his work.
That night, he was still in the office. Nowadays, he was never home. To painful and lonely to go home. His work was all he had now. Although the mountain of papers were scattered across his desk, he could not concentrate. No matter what he did, he couldn’t figure out what Curtis wanted to tell him. Maybe to confess. No need to. It was him. All the evidence pointed to him. Although he was certain, deep down he needed to know how his Stacy fought, felt, and said that night. He decided to go for a run, clear his head. Do some thinking.
The next day, McGhee was making some phone calls when his secretary buzzed over the intercom. “Mr. McGhee, Detective James Barnes his here to see you.” Suprised to hear from him so early, or if at all, he told her to send him back. Barnes opened the door to his office and walked in. He looked tired, worn out like he hadn’t slept for days. “Good morning, Detective.” said McGhee. Barnes nodded, and walked over to the window. McGhee watched and waited. A minute later, Barnes began to speak. “I’ll meet with him.” McGhee was almost certain that Curtis would not get his meeting. He was shocked. “What made you change your mind?” he asked. “How did you know that I wasn’t going to do this?” Barnes asked. “Detective, I have been handling murders most of my career. 90% of the time, the families and friends of victims never want to hear what the convicted have to say, they mainly want them to hear what they have to say, which is usally nothing kind of the sort. This is just the way things are. You can never really let go of the hurt, no matter after the guilty is dead and gone, justice is never really served.” Barnes stared at McGhee for a moment, and turned his attention to a picture on the desk. It was a picture of McGhee with his wife. Beautiful woman. Devoted wife. McGhee watched Barnes. Even though he was sour for losing his wife in such a fowl way, there was something else about this man that put McGhee on edge. “What would you have done?” Asked Barnes. McGhee pondered the question for a moment. “In my belief Detective, he may have commited a horrendous crime, but every man deserves forgiveness.” Barnes did not agree with him. Not every man, he thought. After a brief moment, McGhee stood up and walked over to door. ” I will get back to you with a time. I don’t mean to rush, but I am a busy man, and I have a lot of clients to contact today.” Barnes nodded, and left the office.
The next two days dragged on. Barnes was excited about the execution, but nervous about the meeting with Curtis. Not sure why he was nervous, maybe because the last look he wanted to give the man was when the last few minutes of his life slipped away. That thought made him feel better.
Thursday morning finally arrived. He was scheduled to meet Curtis at 10am. He made the long trip to the prison. The prison was secluded, away from all society. Nothing around but flat land. If any man risked escaping this prison, they would surely be seen unless they decided to go underground, which to Barnes was highly unlikely because if any of these men were caught for their previous crimes, they were dumb enough to not get away with that.
After the long and quiet drive, Barnes reached his destination. As a man of the law, it wasn’t hard to get in. After the usual checks and so forth, he was escorted to a small room with 1 chair. In front of the chair was the glass. This is what kept the men seperated. Good for him, Barnes thought. After a few minutes of waiting, a buzzard went off, and the door in the next room opened. A guard stepped in, and held open the door. Barnes heart started to beat fast. He could feel his face getting hot again. Calm down, he told himself. A few seconds later, wearing a white jumpsuit and shackles from the wrist down, Marshall Curtis stepped in the room. Another guard helped him to the chair, took off the chains, and both guards left the room. Curtis stared through the glass at Barnes. They stayed that way for a few minutes. Finally, one of them spoke.
“Detective, I am so glad you could make it.” Curtis smiled. I could wipe that shit grin right off that ugly face, thought Barnes. Curtis continued to speak. “It’s been 7 years, Detective. That’s a long time for a man to think about the mistakes he has made.” He pulled out a cigarette, and a guard walked in to light it, and stepped back out. “I tried quitting.” he said. “But, who am I kidding? I am dead in 14 hours.” He took another drag. Barnes continued to stare at Curtis. Just get on with it, he thought. “You know, the other day I was watching this show on the television, about this man who had spent 16 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. 16 years. Wow. That’s a long time there. I’m trying to think of how they ended up finding out.” Curtis rubbed his chin, and looked up at the ceiling. This man is crazy. What the hell is he trying to pull here? After a few seconds, assuming that he couldn’t remember, he began to speak again. “Anyway, the man was let go, and he lived his life out preaching the word of God. Alot like me, except I’m still here. Do you know that I have read the bible through 20 times? Took me a long time, but I studied every verse. Turned my world upside down. God, Detective, knows what he is talking about. I truly believe the word he has spoken. I decided to get saved, and so I did. When there is nothing else to believe in, why not believe the unthinkable? His words move me. This man saved my life, or what life I have left in this dreadful world. Do you believe in God, Detective?” ” Why do you care?” Barnes asked. He has heard this all before. Man gets incarcerated, gets all holier than though, and starts babbling all this religious jibberish thinking that God can actually save their little pathetic lives. Curtis gave a puzzled look. “Why wouldn’t I care? We are all brothers in the eyes of God. I am worried about your well being, Detective.” “Well,” replied Barnes, ” You only have 14 more hours to worry about me, but only 5 minutes to tell me what the hell you wanted me for?”Curtis took another draw off his cigarette, put it out, and looked back up at the ceiling. ” You know, now that I think about it, the reason they found out that he was innocent was because the actual person who commited the crime confessed.” “Who gives a damn! Tell me what you want!” screamed Barnes. He had already had enough of this man’s crap, and wanted to get out of there. “Detective, Detective..” Curtis said as he shook his head, “Don’t you see the irony? You and me my brother, are in the same position. I am going to get punished for a crime you committed.” Barnes stared hard at Curtis. What he hell is this man saying. ” You murdered my wife! Not me!” he screamed. “Oh, but on the contrary, I did not murder your wife. I indeed was there, but never touched her. Do you actually intend to go on with this? Pin me for a crime I didn’t do?” Barnes again was getting angrier and angrier by the second, his face as red as blood. Curtis watched Barnes, and after a few seconds asked, “Do you honestly not remember?” Barned stood up, put his finger up to the glass and shouted “You murdered her! You killed my Stacy!” Curtis smiled. “You don’t remember. You have a problem sir…have you been taking your medication?” Barnes was stunned. Medication? “You are manic depressive, am I not correct?” Curtis asked. Shortly after he and Stacy were married, Barnes started having outbursts, violent outbursts. He sought help, and was diagnosed as manic depressive. He was giving medication, and was taking it for a while, but then finally just stopped. He never again had another episode. “You blacked out, didn’t you? You don’t remember.” Curtis paused. ”You came home after a long night, your wife was in the bedroom. You were outside when you saw her lover leave. You caught her red handed. You were arguing. She told you she had enough of the lonely nights, no attention from you. You accused her of being dishonest. She shot back at you, calling you names, making you angry. Your face reddened, your hands balled into fists. You stepped out the room. She sat down on the bed, her face in her hands. You came back, stood at the doorway, staring at her. She watched you, began to call you names again. You had a knife. You threw yourself at her. There was little struggle. You plunged the knife into her heart. She never moved. You stood up, called her a cold hearted bitch, said that she broke your heart, so you broke hers. You left.” “How do you know all this?” Barnes shouted. He could not have killed his wife. He loved her. He would have never hurt her. He tried to think back. He really couldn’t remember anything about that night aside from coming home and finding her there. Did he have another episode? No, it wasn’t true. “I didn’t do it.” said Barnes. Curtis folded his arms across his chest. “What a shame. Of course you don’t remember. You didn’t take your medicine.” Curious about how Curtis knew all of this, he started to question him.”How did you know I was manic depressive? How could you know?” Curtis thought for a second. He laid his arms across the table. “I do confess. I was there. I didn’t murder your wife. I was there before she got there, her and her lover. I was in the bedroom, rummaging through your stuff to see what I could take. I saw the bottle in the dresser drawer. Kind of thought it was funny. Of course, by the time I found the good stuff, they walked in. I jumped back out the window, the way I came in. I was walking away, till I heard them start to make love. It had been a long time since I had seen a woman, so I went back. Watched. A little bit later, I saw you pull up, and him pull away. I thought to myself, this is going to be good. Never would have thought it would have went down the way it did.” Barnes mind was in a frenzy. There could be no way this had happened. No matter what state he was in, he would have never done that. Or could he? In the past, he had had trouble remembering some things he had said or done, even Stacy herself had told him. Did he know about the affiar beforehand, and he blew up? Curtis watched Barnes. Barnes sat back down in the chair, trying to remember that night. “I just want to you say it. I just want you to to say that you don’t blame me, after all, I didn’t murder your wife.” Curtis said. “But…” Barnes stammered. “I…don’t know.” ” I am telling you!” Screamed Curtis. “Look Detective, I have been in and out of prison most of my life, and until this I never once looked in the direction of God. I have accepted what I have done, and I have accepted that the reason I am in here is not because I killed your wife, but because this was the only way the man upstairs was going to get my attention. Do you think that I am asking you to confess so I can get out? That they will stop the execution? This is my fate! This is how it ends. But, I can not move on until you confess, to me. To God. Detective, save yourself.” Barnes tried to recollect every piece of information that had happened that night. He looked up at Curtis, and Curtis was looking back at him. As Barnes started to speak, the guard walked in. “Times up. Let’s go.” Curtis shook his head, and stood up so the guards can once again put him back in shackles. As Curtis was led out the door, he turned back around, and faced Barnes through the glass window. “May you rest in peace. God loves you.” and walked out.
It was 11:30pm. The execution was to start in 30 minutes. Barnes was waiting in his car in the parking lot. For the life of him, he couldn’t peice together what had happened. Could he believe Curtis? Or did Curtis just make up some asinine story to get Barnes worked up for one last thrill before he took his last breath. That was it. What a joke! Now Barnes couldnt’ wait to watch him die. He decided to go on in. He walked to the trunk of the car to get his jacket. He popped open the trunk and reached in. When he grabbed his jacket, something shiny towards the back of the trunk caught his eye. Curious, he reached in a grabbed it. There, in his hand, was a kitchen knife covered it what appeared to be old blood. Then it hit him. The night his wife had died, he had drove by to see if she was still at home. Parked in the driveway, was a blue metallic Mustang, which he had seen several times before. He had followed the car before. It was one of the doctors that worked with his wife. He had watched them before. Coming out of hotels, restaurants, and their home. They kissed, held hands. He knew she was having an affair. He loved her so much, he tried to look past it and go out of his way to make her happy. He thought it was working, till he came home to find the car parked in the driveway. He was hurt, betrayed. Why didn’t she love him? He had his moments, but he went to the doctor, got better, but the medicine gave him nightmares. He never slept. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to give her attention, he wanted to give her a life she wished for. But it was too late. There was the car, and there was the man that had been sleeping with his wife. He began to become outraged. When the car backed out of the driveway and took off, he pulled in, walked inside the house, and found her in the bedroom. That’s all he could remember.
He was astonished. He did it. He really did it. Not on purpose, but he did. He dropped the knife and slumped down beside the car. How could he live with hisself now? What could he do? A car pulled up next to him. It was McGhee. McGhee got out of the car, and confused, walked over to Barnes. “Everything ok?” he asked. Barnes didn’t know what to say. He tried to act natural. “Yea,” he replied. “Just…well..sometimes it can be too much.” McGhee nodded, and said “Let’s go in, they are about to start.”
The only people that were in attendance were McGhee, Barnes, and a doctor, preacher, the usual attendees. McGhee and Barnes took a seat in the first row. Barnes was sweating and shaking. McGhee watched Barnes out of the corner of his eye. Something about this man just wasn’t right. At 11:45pm, they brought in Curtis. They set him up, and waited in silence. Curtis looked like he was staring right through Barnes. Barnes could feel the beads of sweat roll down his face. Curtis began to smile. At 11:55, they started. “Marshall Curtis, you have been sentenced by a jury of your peers to be executed in the state of Ohio by lethal injection. Do you have any last words?” Smiling, Curtis continued to stare at Barnes. A few seconds later, he spoke. “Confess. Save yourself.” Suddenly, Barnes began to scream. Startled, McGhee tried to calm him down. “Detective, are you alright? Mr. Barnes, please!” Barnes fell to the floor on his knees screaming. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” He repeated over and over. McGhee continued to try to calm him, but was confused and a little frightened. Barnes rambled the same thing, over and over, and Curtis laid his head back, and smiled.
A nurse walked in to room 303 at the Bell County State Hospital. She opened up the curtains, checked the chart on the bed, looked at her watch, and set aside the chart. “Mr. Barnes, it’s time for your medicine.” She walked over to the bed, raised it up, and gave him his daily medicine. She made sure the straps were tight, wiped the drool and sleep off his face, turned the bed towards the window, and walked out into the hallway to the next patient.