The Chair
by Georgepat
forum: The Chair
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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The Chair


        Wayne Edward Humboldt sat stoically and watched impassively as the men secured him to the chair. It had been five years, six months and twenty-two days since he had been arrested and convicted for a crime he didn’t commit. Now they were going to make him pay the ultimate price for their foolishness; his life.

        He had long since given up proclaiming his innocence as it always seemed to fall on deaf ears. He knew that he hadn’t murdered the young woman in that dark alley. He wasn’t even in town the night it happened. He had been out in the woods, by himself, spotlighting deer to feed his family when the murder occurred.

        When the police came to his door later the next morning and threw him up against the wall, he thought that they had somehow found out about the deer. He wasn’t too worried because he knew that the judge would only give him thirty days in the county jail for poaching and his family had two large deer hanging in the smokehouse, enough to keep them in meat until he got out.

        It wasn’t until he was at the station that he realized that something was terribly wrong. The two plain clothes detectives were asking all the wrong questions of him and never once had he heard the word deer mentioned. They kept asking him why he had done it and he kept telling them that he did it so that his family would have food on the table.

        “You mean to tell me that this was a murder for hire?” One of the detectives asked, “Someone paid you to kill her?”

        Wayne looked at him as if he was speaking in tongues like the holy rollers at the end of his road did. He shook his head and wished that whatever was going on would just go away. The detectives grilled him for thirteen hours without a break, and he was tired, hungry, scared and totally confused. By the time they finished with their questioning, he had admitted that everything they said he had done was true. He had murdered the woman just the way they said he had done it. All he wanted to do was to be put in a cell with something to eat and then go to sleep.

        The detectives congratulated themselves on solving this case quickly and after seeing Wayne placed in a cell, left the station and headed to a local cop bar to boast to each other and all that would listen, of their latest arrest.

        Wayne sat in his cell and stared at the empty plate that had held a dry bologna sandwich and a too soft dill pickle. He finished off the last of the weak tea that had come with his meal and sat the glass down beside the plate. He was dead tired and his brain was spinning as he pondered his predicament. He had told them what they wanted to hear so they would leave him alone. He hadn’t killed anyone, it wasn’t in his nature, but every time he told them that, they slapped him and told him that he had done it.

        Two months later they hauled him to court and in a trial that lasted just two days, heard the judge sentence him to death by electrocution for the crime he didn’t commit.

        Wayne’s family had sat behind him during the trial and when the sentence was read, burst into tears. The judge had pounded his gavel on the table until all the commotion subsided and motioned to the bailiffs to remove the prisoner from his courtroom. He turned to take a last look at his wife and children as they roughly grabbed his arms and pulled him from the room.

        “I swear I didn’t do it!” He shouted to them, as the heavy oak door slammed shut behind him.

        They allowed him no visitors or phone calls until he was transferred to the state prison later that week, and except for his guards, he neither saw nor heard anyone.

        The gray prison bus pulled into the parking lot at the jail and heavily manacled, he was led to a seat in the rear of the bus. They placed guards on either side of him and one in front and then pulled the shades down over the windows so he couldn’t look at anything as they traveled.

        Arriving at the prison several hours later, he was led off the bus and into a room with three men standing beside a long table with one chair. The guards removed his shackles and forced him to sit down as the men took up positions in front of him.

        “Wayne Edward Humboldt, you have been sentenced to death and as such, you will be housed in a separate part of this prison known as Death Row. You will be allowed visitors only once a month, for fifteen minutes and these visitors must be approved by us in advance. You will not be allowed to make or receive any phone calls at any time that you are here. Is that understood?”

        Wayne nodded his head and watched as one of the men placed a small stack of dingy, black stripped prison garb on the table in front of him.

        “Take off your clothes, boy, and put these on. You will be issued a clean uniform every two weeks and allowed to shower once a week. You will spend twenty-three hours of every day in your cell and if we feel that you deserve it, one hour out to exercise. Do you understand?”

        Again, Wayne nodded his head and watched the third man step forward. He was fat and balding and smelled like he hadn’t bathed in quite some time.

        “I’m Captain Christian and it will be my men that will be assigned to guard you twenty-four hours a day, every day. You are not to speak to them at any time unless one of them asks you a direct question. You are not to speak to any of the other prisoners on the Row at any time either. I want to assure you right now Mr. Humboldt, that if you break any of these rules that we have explained you will be severely punished. Do you understand me completely?”

        “Yes,” Wayne told them, as he fastened the slightly large pants around his small waist, “I understand you.”

        The months and then years passed as slowly as if time had been mixed with molasses before it ran out of the hourglass. He knew every inch of his cell, how many tiles were on the floor and how many spots were on the ceiling, from years of looking at them. His wife had come for the first year of his confinement but began to miss visitor’s day regularly, stating that she was just too busy working and earning a living for their children, to drive two hundred miles every month to see him.

        His court appointed lawyer had appealed the case to a higher court several times but it was always tossed out because he had, ‘confessed to the crime’. No amount of effort on the lawyer’s part did any good and after a while, he too, quit trying.

        The warden came to see him when the date of his execution was but a month away and told him that since he had been on Death Row, he had been a model prisoner. As a reward, he was told that he could shower every other day and spend two hours out of his cell every day, until such time as he was moved to the cell reserved for those close to their date with destiny.

        With two weeks remaining before he walked the last mile, he was asked by one of his guards if he wanted some paper and a pencil to write any last letters. Abandoned by his wife and children, he shook his head no and continued to stare at the stark, concrete wall in front of him.

        Forty-eight hours before he was to die, the chaplain came to his cell and was let inside by one of the guards.

        “Have you made peace with your Lord?” He asked, as he removed a small bible from his jacket pocket.

        “Yes, I have and He knows that I didn’t do what they said I did. He told me that He would be with me every step of the way until I stood before Him in Heaven.”

        “Do you wish to pray with me?” The chaplain asked.

        “No, I don’t,” he said, “I’ve talked to God and He is all that I need.”

        The morning of his scheduled execution dawned with the prison barber coming to his cell to shave his head and lower leg. Wayne sat in the small chair that a guard brought in and said nothing as the barber did his job.

        With three hours of life remaining, the guards brought a small table and served his last meal to him. He had selected a steak, rare, and a baked potato with sour cream and butter. One of the guards stayed with him as he ate because for the first time in over five years, real utensils were allowed instead of the usual plastic tools that always had a tendency to break. The guard made an attempt to have a conversation with him but he wanted to fully enjoy this meal and so he said nothing.

        The warden and two large guards came to his cell and asked him to stand. They laced the chains and manacles around his body and then led him from his cell to a small chamber one hundred feet away.

        When Wayne saw the strange looking chair sitting by itself in the middle of the room, his heart froze momentarily, but taking a deep breath and steeling himself, he walked to the front of the chair and waited as the guards removed the chains that bound him and sat him in the chair.

        The prison chaplain joined them and as the guards went about their job of securing him to the chair, and read the Lords Prayer over and over, until finally, Wayne asked him to stop.

        One of the guards attached a copper band around his lower right leg after swabbing a special liquid on the exposed flesh. He tightened the thumbscrew on the band until he was satisfied that a good contact had been made. The other guard secured thick leather belts around his waist and chest, asking Wayne to release the air from his lungs as he tightened them.

        His wrists were tightly bound to the arms of the chair and he closed his eyes as he felt someone place a wet sponge on the top of his head and then place a copper cap with a chin strap attached to it over the sponge and secured it tightly under his chin.

        It was then that Wayne noticed the two telephones in the room. One of them was black and the other, bright red. He started to ask the warden what they were for when the black phone rang and was quickly answered by the warden.

        He watched as the warden glanced at the clock on the wall and then checked his wristwatch as he nodded to the unheard voice on the other end of the line. He hung the phone up and announced that the execution would proceed as planned, as no reprieve had been received.

        A guard walked to the front of the room and pulling a short rope, the curtains opened and Wayne saw ten people sitting quietly in seats behind the glass front. He looked at each person there and studied them, committing to memory all that sat before him.

        The warden asked if he had any last words to say, any remorse for the crime that he was to be executed for and Wayne, for the last time, spoke loudly and clearly.

        “I did not kill that woman. I swear to all here today that I didn’t and you folks are making a big mistake.”

        The warden nodded and a guard fitted a black leather hood over Wayne’s head and loosely secured it around his neck. A final check was preformed by a guard and when he was sure that all was in order, the warden motioned them from the room. The chaplain stood off to one side and was mumbling prayers softly and the doctor, with his stethoscope dangling loosely around his neck, entered the room and assumed a position on Wayne’s other side.

        In a small closet off to the side of the execution room, a man adjusted the three dials in front of him for the maximum voltage that would soon course through the body sitting on the other side of the wall. He carefully checked the breaker switch that was securely mounted on the wall and finding everything in order, waited for the signal from the warden to throw the switch.

        The warden solemnly removed a document from the inside pocket of his coat and read its contents to the assembled men. It was Wayne Edward Humboldt’s death warrant and when he finished reading, he glanced once again at the clock on the wall and then at the two phones on the table.

        The second hand made its inevitable sweep towards the appointed hour and the warden motioned to the executioner to stand ready.

        Wayne was taking his last, deep breaths as he waited for what was soon to happen. He had been told that he would not be aware of any pain as the voltage was sufficient to instantly render him unconscious before death occurred.

        His hand on the wooden top of the switch, the executioner watched as the warden raised his hand and looked carefully at the clock. As he started to lower his hand, the red phone beside him rang, its bell sounding as loud as one in a large cathedral.

        “Stop!” He shouted, and the executioner stayed his slowly moving hand and waited.

        The warden picked up the phone and listened to the voice on the other end. He nodded his head several times and then replaced the phone gently in its cradle.

        “Gentlemen, this execution is cancelled.” He said, “The governor has issued a pardon to Mr. Humboldt as of this minute. It seems that he was telling us the truth all along, that he didn’t commit the crime. A man was arrested yesterday and tonight confessed to the killing of the young woman.

        “Mr. Humboldt, you will be removed from this room and will walk out of this prison tomorrow, a free man.”

        The guards hurried to remove the restraints from Wayne and return him to his cell, but when the hood was removed from his head, the doctor gasped and rushed forward. He placed the stethoscope against Wayne’s heart and listened closely, then moved to another spot on his chest and listened again.

        “This man is dead!” The doctor said, as he gently closed Wayne’s eyes, “I believe that his heart simply gave out. I’m sorry.”



copyright 2005 Georgepat.


I am a 59 year old male that has been writing a little over a year and live with my wife of 35 years, her 26 parrots, 10 dogs, 5 cats, 2 pigmy goats, 2 pot bellied pigs, assorted reptiles and a miniture donkey in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

I have several erotic stories published by MVP Group, a publisher out of Canada and one short story to be published next year in a group I belong to.