The Chair
by Michael Toney

   

Texas Death Row
August 14, 2001

The Chair! It looks like a high performance, super efficient version of the “Old Sparky” electric chair. The old hardwood model that horrifically but expeditiously executed hundreds of human beings, sometimes up to five a night, appears to have been replaced by an energy efficient turn-of-the-millennium model.

There are two guards escorting me as usual, but today both have their hands on my arms, one on each side. Something is wrong! Usually, one guard holds onto my arm while the other walks a step behind with his truncheon at the ready. My hands are cuffed behind me back but I can feel something amiss. I can feel the tension in the guards hands. They're escorting me down a long corridor with no windows or doors except for the doorway behind the fearsome chair. As I approach this horrific chair my heart races. The trepidation has my pulse pounding in my ears like a huge bass drum. The chair has a heavy black cord that is plugged into an electrical outlet. I see the word “DANGER” stencilled in big red letters on the back support of the chair. I ask myself, “what kind of chair would be hooked to an electrical outlet and have the word “DANGER” affixed to it?” Oh no, these people are going to electrocute me! As I get closer I see the words “HIGH VOLTAGE” and some other cautionary words attached to a metal plate across the bottom of the apparatus. The beastly device has what appears to be some sort of restraint mechanism similar to that of an amusement park ride. When I get within a few feet of the monstrosity, with great relief I am escorted around it and through the doorway at the rear. I'm too afraid to speak. I want to ask the guards why the electric chair is there but I can't summon up the courage. I'm terrified the guards may change their minds and strap me into the life exterminating chair.

They take me into an office and a woman asks me what my name is. I tell her “Michael Toney” and she shakes her head “no” and tells the guards they have brought the wrong one. Another wave of relief came over me. As we walk back through the doorway and into the corridor I see someone sitting in the chair. The man sitting in the chair looks like people I have seen in photos of Nazi concentration camps and Vietnam prisoners of war. He looks malnourished. His eyes are sunken in his head and I can't figure out who it is… As we neared him, he obviously recognised me. He wasn't strapped into the contraption yet, so he jumped up and yelled at me, “have you been to Vietnam yet?” I recognise the voice straight away. He's another death row prisoner that I met some time back but he has changed. He's screaming at the top of his lungs but I can't understand what he's saying.

As we exit the corridor I finally find the courage to ask the guards about the chair. I ask “why is that chair there?” On of the guards answers, “It's a body orifice metal detector, we sit prisoners in it and checks all body orifices for metal contraband such as handcuff keys or weapons.”

Knowing its not an electric EXECUTION chair makes me feel a lot better but its still an “ELECTRIC CHAIR” and it looks absolutely terrifying.