Last Minutes

by Bob Hazlett

Here I stand at the top of the steps, listening as he reads, in a somber voice, from the book of judgment, reciting my crimes. Little does he know of those not recorded. Yet my crimes are trivial compared to those of the powerful self-righteous. Their crimes are not crimes because they write the law to make their outrages legal. I face the loop. They skate through the loophole.

I survey the crowd observing me. Strangely, I am able to see into them — beyond the skin and bones — into their soul. Some eagerly wait for the spectacle. Others feel discomfort, recognizing the luck of the draw put me here instead of them. Will their day come before they meet their maker naturally? Still, others stand confident that God has given them the solemn duty to carry out his vengeance, not comprehending that God gives not a rip about them or me. One stands beside me, feigning remorse for my soul, while he savors his last adventure stealing the innocence of one of his altar boys. A few shed heartfelt tears, trying to reconcile this absurd social ritual with their belief on where we stand with God. Off to the edge of the crowd stand two who will pick a few pockets as they watch. Close at hand stands the one who makes his living carrying out the edicts of the state. In his soul, I see nothing. No compassion for the victims, no satisfaction in supposed justice. Just a job to be done by one who somehow finds himself at this position in society – respected, feared, loathed — doing what no others have the courage or stomach to do.

I fear what is about to happen, yet this cannot be the end. There has always been an escape — often narrow, but …


Word count: 299

Prompt: voice, book, fear


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