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A Cruel and Unusual Punishment (standard:mystery, 2676 words)
Author: Gavin J. CarrAdded: Sep 24 2006Views/Reads: 2158/1415Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Riley Fakney's last day on death row.

Riley Fakney sat at the table and smoked a cigarette.  There was a clock
on the wall in front of him and he watched with perverse fascination as 
the seconds ticked by.  The execution would be at 9pm.  The clock read 

He dragged deeply on the cigarette and let the smoke out in a controlled


‘Yeah,' said Riley, ‘a lot better.' 

The man across from him pushed a packet of Marlborough across the table.
 He did not smoke, but flipped the lid of a Zippo continuously, as 
though he were nervous. 

‘You know, when the Warden said there was someone who wanted to talk to
me I never thought it'd be you.  I thought it'd be a politician or 
something.  They visit the prison sometimes, trying to look like 

‘I'm glad you agreed to see me,' said the man.  ‘I used up a lot of
favours to get here, but it wouldn't have done any good if you'd said 

Riley examined the tip of his cigarette.  ‘I don't mind talking if it
takes my mind off it.' 

He found himself smiling.  It had been two years since he'd seen
detective Rowantree, but he hadn't changed.  He still sported a neat 
line in suits, spoiled by his ties.  The one he wore now showed Wylie 
Coyote chasing Roadrunner in endless repition across the shiny silk 
desert.  Riley wondered if it had been a gift or if the detective had 
bought it himself. Rowantree's grey eyes darted from Riley's face to 
his hands and back again.  Riley knew that they took everything in, 
appraising, studying, categorising.  He looked like an accountant but 
was a dangerous son-of-a-bitch. 

‘You know, your case was the first I worked on after joining homicide.' 

‘You never forget your first,' said Riley, stubbing out the cigarette on
the table top. 

‘Hmm, yes, I suppose that's true, but there's more.  I suppose I was
never entirely comfortable with your case.' 

‘I wasn't either,' said Riley.  ‘After all, they're about to kill
because of it.'  He took another cigarette and leaned over the table 
while Rowantree lit it. 

‘Johnston retired.  He's probably sunning himself as we speak.' 

‘I'm very happy for him.' 

‘It was Johnston's case really.  He was lead detective.  I was still
learning the ropes.' ‘How far we've come, detective.  Look at us now.' 
‘Johnston never doubted.  It was open and shut.  After all, you were 
found at the scene with the murder weapon.  You had a conviction for 
burglary.  Means, motive and opportunity - the holy trinity.' 

‘And I confessed, detective, don't forget that.' 

Rowantree began flicking the lighter once again.  ‘Yes, your
confession,' he said.  He reached inside his pocket and removed a 
folded piece of paper.  He opened it and placed it on the table. 

‘Let's got sick of the victim living the high life while you
sweated on his lawn and flower beds.  You thought he'd gone and 
broke-in to rob the place.  But Pearson and his wife were at home.  You 
knocked the wife unconscious.  Pearson appears with a gun and you 
struggle.  You overpower him and shoot him dead.'  He looked up, ‘How 
am I doing so far?' he asked. 

Riley shrugged. 

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