Derby’s blindfold was much too tight, forcing his eyebrows down onto his eyelids. He tried to force his brow up, but he could just barely manage a peek. The sash around his face was, ironically, red, and he wondered if that shade of red will change, assuming at least one of the three bullets will hit him in the face.
Derby had once heard that one gunmen in firing squads was given a blank, apparently it provided a shadow of a hope to the executors that they, in fact, were not executors. The life of a legal murderer must be terribly burdensome, Derby thought, but it must be nice to have people looking out for your welfare. Sympathy aside, none of this really mattered to Derby. Getting shot by four simultaneous bullets cannot be any better or worse than three, or so he thought as he waiting for either outcome.
Eyes strained open, the sash forced his eyelashes into his eyes, so he closed them as not to experience any pain before being shot to death. For this same reason, he kept his hands very still, so as to prevent any rope burn on his wrists. Though he wasn’t quite sure why his wrists need be bound- it was his legs that could do the escaping- Derby wasn’t thinking about escaping, only his tied hands, the red sash, the executors and his eyelashes.
The too tight blindfold muted most external sounds. His own breath sounded like a wind-filled tunnel or a dried conch shell, and the muffled sounds of air reminded him of his childhood near the beach and being hushed to sleep by the sea. Hush, hush, hush. And through hushing, Derby thought he could hear someone speaking, perhaps at him. “Do you have any final words?”
“Excuse me?” he replied. But the lack of response let Derby know that it must have been some conversation between gunmen.
Again, Derby thought he was being asked a question, but he quickly realized it was a command given to executors.
This time, there was no room for confusion. Derby thought to close his eyes, but they were already closed. Not knowing what else to do, he replied to what he knew was not asked to him. “Yes, I’m ready.”
The sound of three bullets whizzing by his ears answered all of Derby’s questions. How nice of them to give that bit of hope to the gunmen, and how sad for them that they are forced into this job. To kill for money, and to intentionally miss so as to spare what bit of dignity they had left. Derby knew nothing of dignity, and he envied the gunmen for their humility. These feelings of envy and pity muted any sensation of gratitude that they prolonged his life, even if only for a moment. Though Derby had never been grateful for his life, and during this slight extention, he felt no different.
The silence sounded louder now, in the echo of the four fired guns. As things seemed to settle, Derby swayed from side to side and began to wonder why he was still swaying and not bleeding into the sash or the dirt. And in the distance, Derby heard the sound of four men weeping, and he began to wonder when he would finally die.