No One Can Be Spared

You have been sentenced to death; the evidence against you has been weighed, debated, and judged; a jury of your peers has watched you inconspicuously, interviewed you together and separately, at home, at work, in bars and clubs and on street corners. They are tactful, discreet, if you weren’t watching for them you couldn’t have picked them out of the crowd.

“Nice day,” one of them says, a woman, middle-aged, gray suit, hair going gray.

“Yeah,” you say, but don’t stop working. Your hands are clever and quiet. You are good at your job. You take her money, count out her change, make enough eye contact to be friendly but not enough to be threatening.

“Finally clearing up, do you think? I’m sick of all this rain, rain, rain.”

“That’d be nice, ma’am. Eight, nine, ten and ten is twenty. Thank you. Have a nice day, ma’am.”

Her eyes weigh you as she turns away, cool and sympathetic. When the judges ask her verdict she will say crisply, “Guilty.”

“And the punishment you recommend?”

“Death.”

You won’t know the day when you’re going to be executed, even if you look for it. They are tactful, discreet, they might be anyone. You might be standing on the sidewalk watching the traffic slide past when one of them passes you. Their sleeve will brush yours, and…