The ‘funny’ thing about being on Death Row is that you don’t know when it’s your time to go. They come for you one day during your sentence and tell you the date has been set, and you can appeal it if you want to. Your life becomes a ticking clock; you’re constantly counting the months, days, hours, seconds until your death.
I’ve been here for three days now. I sit and think about everything I’m missing out on in the outside world. We’re not allowed contact visits here in Texas…but if you’re good they’ll let you have non-contact visits every two weeks. I can’t see anyone wanting to come and visit me though. Family is something I don’t really understand. I have one yes, but we weren’t close by any means. And friends? I have them too…but I can’t see them queuing up to see me in here. We only get to leave our cell for one hour a day but I don’t particularly like it. Whenever I step foot into the yard, I feel vulnerable. I am not a bad person. I am a good person who made the biggest mistake of his life. But I suppose we’re all in here for being bad people.
The scariest part of being on Death Row is when the guards come and take one of the inmates away, because you never know when it’s going to be you. Yesterday, they came and took Doug away. He was the guy from the cell next to mine. In the middle of the night, he would shout and scream that ‘they’ were going to get him, but none of us were sure who ‘they’ were. I felt a bit sorry for Doug, until I found out that he’d killed his parents and his grandparents. He was led away and we never saw him again.
It was around a year into my sentence when I was given my first chance to appeal. I’d thought a lot about it, and I’d finally come to a conclusion.
‘So, Mr Grayson. Have you had any thoughts on what you’d like to do?’ The attorney shuffled through some of his papers, before reaching for his briefcase and pulling out a pen that looked like it was worth more than my life. I cleared my throat, leaned back on the chair and looked up to the ceiling.
‘Yes…I don’t want to appeal my sentence.’ The attorney looked stunned at my admission, and pushed his glasses further up his nose before taking a deep breath.
‘Mr Grayson, I’m surprised. Considering the way you reacted to the sentence in court, I thought you’d want to appeal as soon as you could. May I ask why you’ve chosen not to appeal?’
‘I’m a firm believer of karma Sir. I killed those men, now the state wants to kill me. Is it fair? In my eyes, no. But in the victims’ families eyes it is. I must face the consequences of my actions.’
‘Well Mr Grayson, it sounds like you’ve made your mind up. But if you change your mind, please let me know.’ He stood up, shook my hand, knocked on the metal door and was let out by the guard. I sunk back into the chair, unable to comprehend what I’d said to the attorney. I had made my mind up just days into my sentence that I wasn’t going to appeal. But hearing myself say the words out loud made everything sound so real.
‘How’d it go Grayson?’ the guy from the cell across shouted. I had no idea what his name was, but he was huge. There was no way I was going to ignore or argue with him, in fear that he’d crush me in our one hour of recreational time.
‘Not bad, decided not to appeal. Just got to play the waiting game right?’
‘Yeah, just like the rest of us. It’s just a bet on who’s gonna go next!’ He threw his head back with laughter, and I nervously laughed along with him.
‘I’d rather not think about when I’m going to go to be honest. Sooner rather than later hopefully, but I’d rather remain oblivious.’
‘You’ve got years until you find out man! Make the most of it! Carpe diem and all that shit!’
‘Yeah…erm…’ I started, before turning my back on the huge man and lying on my bed. I hadn’t really bothered socialising with any of the other guys in here. I’d seen a lot of them out in the yard occasionally and to be honest, they all scared the life out of me. They were all huge, muscly guys covered in tattoos and I was small and not strong in any sense of the word. I wasn’t bothered about not knowing the other guys, I preferred to keep myself to myself, but somehow they all knew my name and I didn’t know theirs.
‘Hey Grayson!’ The huge guy shouted back to me. At first I was unsure whether to acknowledge him, because I thought he was going to threaten to beat the living daylights out of me for ignoring him. But to avoid further confrontation, I looked up. ‘What?’
‘You sound like a smart guy Grayson. Why the hell are you in here?’ I slowly got up off the uncomfortable mattress and walked to the bars, pressing my hands against the metal.
‘I wouldn’t say smart, but I am educated. I’m in here for the same reason we all are…I did something stupid. I’d rather not say any more on the subject.’
‘Suit yourself, smartass.’