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[Soft piano keys play]

 

        … … …

        I’m in this world all alone

        The only heartbeat I hear is my own

        I don’t know where I am, but wonder…

            is there anyone there…

            is there anyone anywhere…

            does anyone care…

            can anyone hear… 

 

    The spectral nature of it, I never know where this feminine voice is coming from. Sang in a melancholy voice, it is always close but distant. Tangible but immaterial. Guarded but vulnerable. It has the ability to pierce the soul in a way that the isolation of being on Texas death row hasn’t…As familiar as she is to me, I have no idea who she is to me. I only know that her dismal tone is a repetitive rendition to a recurring dream. A dream that invades when heavy, exhausted, eyelids close. A dream that transports me along a crystal arc of reverie to the edge of conscious thought. Moving through a menagerie of thoughts, desires, and phantoms seemingly created by the minds of dreamers everywhere. A collection of intents displaced by the waking world that all appears as a blur until the courtroom comes into focus…

    There’s an African-American male prosecutor standing upright at the table that’s positioned to the left of the judge’s bench. A single manila folder lays closed on the table in front of him. Beside it stands a small stack of yellow id-sized cards. He appears flippant, somewhat agitated, towards the process that is taking place.

    Seated at a table to the right of the judge’s bench is a white male dressed as a legal aid. His demeanor is haggard. Rushed. Desperate. Shaky hands move over three sheets of paper on the table in front of him as he looks up to where his client is standing on a platform.

    A young Black boy standing at a gallows tree in the middle of the courtroom. Naked. Hair a mess. Dirty yellow complexion. Noose around his neck. Hands bound behind his back. The wildness of his eyes gives away the fact that he’s scared. The tears that well up elude to the idea of an uncertain future as he looks at the judge.

    A simple placard reads “Final Act”. Seated behind the bench and predisposition name placard, a white male in simple black robes speaks.

[Judge]

So, entertain me…

[Legal Aid]

    *looking over papers*

    Your honor, if it may please the court, we think it’s imperative that the record HAS ALREADY reflected that my client tested negative twice for gunshot residue, and was also excluded from all DNA tes--

[Prosecutor]

    *heavy sigh*

    I’d like to say that there’s compelling evidence in this case that is tailored to my office securing a conviction…

[Legal Aid]

    Again, your honor, pointing to the record…The administration pointedly went against their own policy in an effort to secure this “evidence”. My client was deemed to be experiencing a psychotic break and was placed on suicide watch as a result…

[Prosecutor]

    No one gives a fuck. We are prepared to move forward with this death penalty case. I’ve already been notified by the 5th Circuit that they’re willing to back our approach…

[Legal Aid]

    What!?! Objection! Your honor--

[Judge]

    *bangs gavel*

    Save it, you’re over-ruled.

    *motions to transcriber*

    Strike that last comment from the record…

 

[Boy hears a haunting melody as soft piano keys play]

            … … …

            I’m trapped inside of me

            And I am unable to get free

            I’ve locked myself inside my mind

            And the key I cannot find…

                is there anyone there…

                is there anyone anywhere…

                does anyone care…

                can anyone hear…

[Legal Aid]

    *begins to move erratically looking over papers*

[Prosecutor]

    Looks up at the scared boy. Opens the manila folder slightly to peek at something. Looks back at the boy and smiles smugly.

[Judge]

    *looking at young Black boy*

    Do you wish to waste anymore of the courts time?

[Legal Aid]

    Well…Your honor, I’d like the record to reflect that I’ve shown due diligence in presenting factual evidence on behalf of my client as to why this case should not be tried…We know that DNA evidence does not lie…We know that he never fired a gun…The illegal footage taken shortly after his arrest should not be admitted based on the States own testimony…

[Judge}

    *sighs heavily before yawning*

[Prosecutor]

    *looks at wrist watch impatiently*

[Legal Aid]

    …To further depict the negligence of the State, we’d like to RE-PRESENT the prosecution’s own personal handwritten notes that are clearly biased and shows racial prejudice against my client. Not only does that intent taint the process of being afforded fairness, the record will show that the State made an extreme effort to doctor the evidence that was uncovered against them…

[Judge]

    *with a smirk*

    Does the State have a rebuttal?

[Prosecutor]

    *looks at wrist watch again*

    Yes…

*the prosecutor reaches down to pick up one of the yellow id-sized cards from the small stack on the table. 

May I approach the bend?

[Judge]

The judge nods as the prosecutor approaches.

[Prosecutor]

    He walks up and hands the judge the card.

[Judge]

    The judge looks at the yellow card to see the Monopoly Man running past a jailer that appears to be giving him a warning.

    The judge smiles.

[Prosecutor]

*turns to look at the Black boy disapprovingly*

I took an oath to uphold the history of this office…

*prosecutor sucks his teeth*

The world is a ghetto, and your kind bred you as a degenerate. You shouldn’t have been, because, simply, you don’t belong. You are just another nigger in America…

    *the floor of the gallows tree begins to collapse*

[The young Black boy blinks tears back as the haunting melody plays]

 

            … … …

            I fled reality, and exiled there

            Trapped in a system the youth of America fears

            I’m in this world all alone

            The only heartbeat I hear is my own

            I don’t know where I am, but I wonder…

                if I was never good enough for you then…

                    tell me…

                        am I good enough now…

 

                            [Melody faded to nothingness]

                                [End Scene]

 

 

        Creative work of immediate situation written by:

                James Broadnax (TDCJ #999549)

                *June 20, 2022*

Polunsky Unit, Livingston, Texas

12 years in solitary / ad seg

James

BROADNAX

June 20, 2022

Words by JAMES BROADNAX

Photography by TEXAS LETTERS​​

© 2023 by Name of Site. Created on Editor X.

JAMES BROADNAX