With every turn of the tire, I feel the hu-bump.
KILLER RUBBER SQUASHES BIRD the headline
Resounded like a choir, a reverse echo, one that
Gets louder with every hu-bump of the bird murder
Rather than softer.
I ran over a bird. Involuntary bird-slaughter. Accidental.
Pile of concrete colored feathers thunked the hood
Of the neighboring car at red-light.
Bird slid off, perfectly coincided with my tire,
And hu-bump, then sobbing.
October 20th, 2015, the day I murdered a bird,
Also the day Ohio delayed executions for seven
Death row inmates: 2017 would be their death year.
My previous theory that Ohio
Held only four people within its borders
Was proven wrong.
Meet Robert Van Hook.
Setting: Gay bar, Cincinnati,
1985. Robert “Bobby” Van hooked
David Self, unsuspecting. Strangled
David Self. Stabbed David Self.
Murdered David Self. Homophobic
Panic, self diagnosed.
Bobby will be injected on July 25, 2017.
He will be married a week before
To an Australian pen pal. He has waited
31 years to die.
Meet Sr. Helen Prejean.
Born: Baton Rouge. Occupation: Nun.
But none of her nun occupation
Would endorse death penalty.
Do you know how the death penalty is performed? Performed, they say, as if it is a show or talent that we can watch, that we can clap at the end and say, “Bravo! Again, again!”
Three rooms, separate. Four if you count Bobby’s, who will be imprisoned on a gurney, a word I hate for how it comes out the mouth, like regurgitating a word we can’t remember from long ago. Gurneys, wheeled beds who roll patients to their saviors, or bodies to their graves, now also used for those in between, those being rolled to their final living destination; straps will coil around his wrists and legs.
Patches and heart monitors will pepper Bobby’s chest. His lungs will probably expand in, out, in, out, in, out, rapidly, as if they know that soon, their job will end. Two needles will prick and enter the epidermis. They will slide into place with trouble at first. Poking, poking, poking until the right vein pops.
Enter Isotonic solution. Harmless.
There will be a curtain call because an audience will have gathered to watch the “performance.” Spectators loved ones of both Bobby and David. Curtain between Bobby and his spectators, and curtains separating the other three rooms. A second injection will slither in, rendering Bobby sleepy.
Button One. Sodium thiopental. Anesthetic. His unwinding will be unknown to him, unless they do it wrong. If they do it wrong, his stomach will swell in unknown hernia, and his gasping for air will penetrate the glass in between him and his spectators.
Button Two. Pancurium bromide. Liquid will ink into veins, muscle relaxer—if done right.
Button three. Potassium chloride will stop his heart. Some will say his heart stopped long ago, in 1985.
Sr. Helen Prejean is the one who told me how; the three drug givers will sit in separate rooms out of view of the audience, of Bobby, of the doctor present who will only be required to announce when Bobby is dead. How odd will he feel? A doctor, there to make sure death is safe. How odd will he feel? There is a button for each injector. There is a light above the button. When it comes on, Injector must push their button. They do not know which of the three they are. Who delivered the final dose?
I murdered a bird in 2015. Hurt, bobbling, painful rasps exuding, probably, from its chipped beak. It was a pigeon, the scavengers. Did it plunge in front of my car to end its suffering?
What’s worse, the dying, or the waiting?
Kate Aquilo is a 24 year old who currently attends the University of New Orleans in the MFA program. She works at an elementary school and wishes to one day be a teacher in some capacity. Her work has previously appeared in Maudlin House.