The Two Dead Girls

Chapter 1

Thishappenedin1932,whenthestatepenitentiarywasstillatColdMountain.Andtheelectricchairwasthere,too,ofcourse.

Theinmatesmadejokesaboutthechair,thewaypeoplealwaysmakejokesaboutthingsthatfrightenthembutcan’tbegottenawayfrom.TheycalleditOldSparky,ortheBigJuicy.Theymadecracksaboutthepowerbill,andhowWardenMooreswouldcookhisThanksgivingdinnerthatfall,withhiswife,Melinda,toosicktocook.

Butfortheoneswhoactuallyhadtositdowninthatchair,thehumorwentoutofthesituationinahurry.Ipresidedoverseventy-eightexecutionsduringmytimeatColdMountain(that’sonefigureI’veneverbeenconfusedabout;I’llrememberitonmydeathbed),andIthinkthat,formostofthosemen,thetruthofwhatwashappeningtothemfinallyhitallthewayhomewhentheirankleswerebeingclampedtothestoutoakof"OldSparky’s"legs.Therealizationcamethen(youwouldseeitrisingintheireyes,akindofcolddismay)thattheirownlegshadfinishedtheircareers.Thebloodstillraninthem,themuscleswerestillstrong,buttheywerefinished,allthesame;theywerenevergoingtowalkanothercountrymileordancewithagirlatabarn-raising.OldSparky’sclientscametoaknowledgeoftheirdeathsfromtheanklesup.Therewasablacksilkbagthatwentovertheirheadsaftertheyhadfinishedtheirramblingandmostlydisjointedlastremarks.

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