Family Fiction posted January 28, 2012


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Father and sons goodbye

The Executioner's Final Farewell

by forestport12

Disguised Contest Winner 
If the executioner wore a grin, no one knew, least of all the condemned one. His job was simple and discrete. Pull the lever and watch the man fall through the trap door and be hanged to death. The gallows were designed to humanely break their necks and limit suffering. According to the state of Iowa, in the early 1900s, the use of a ligature as an instrument of death did not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. However, there were times when the executioner's job required him to watch thick-necked criminals kick their way into eternity until their own weight eventually choked them to death.

The state paid him well, and the benefits were excellent. In fact, he was able to buy a home and start a family. Once the quota of dead were met for the day, he would go to his private dressing room and put on his street clothes, slick back his hair, and leave the prison gate as a non-descript service worker.

Once home, his name was Stanley Jankowski. He became a loving husband and doting father. Over the years, he would take his boy fishing for hours, patiently unscrambling his line. The mentoring father thought it was his duty to keep his son on a straight path. He lived vicariously through him, and when he had grown, he sent him off to college.

Then one day the unthinkable happened. His son raped and murdered a virgin teen, throwing her mutilated body into the Missouri River. He was sentenced to death where his father worked, where the smell of Lysol and formaldehyde permeated the dark and dampened walls.

Poor Stanley didn't know how to quit his job. He'd done it for twenty-nine years and had never called in sick. He puked his guts out the night before. He was ordered to come in the next day. The executioner never had a backup, no one understood his job like he did. He summoned the courage, and thought if he wore the hood, no one had to know but the warden. His family never knew his real job.

"Any last words?" asked the warden.

"No sir," said the bleach-faced boy. He swallowed a knot in his throat before the trembling executioner put the pillowcase over his head. "Wait! Wait!" he looked directly at the disguised executioner. "Tell my father I love him, and it weren't his fault. Tell him not to blame himself for the way I turned out."

The grim executioner covered the boy's eyes.

As the lever fell and the bottom dropped from his feet, the fall snapped his neck. The executioner was relieved. That day, Stanley changed in his dressing room for the last time, and retired his mask, never to return to the identity crisis spawned by one bad son.

As the steel door slammed for the last time, Stanley was satisfied that he had untangled the line of his son's final cast into eternity.



Writing Prompt
Write a story where one of the characters is in a disguise.

Disguised
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