Dead Man Walking

     “Dead man walking!”  Such a common phrase shouted around these parts.  Today is no different.  They are marching Jerry down the block in a bit and I will be there shouting it along with the rest of them.  Kind of a last respect for the man for what he is about to go through.  But he can go out with pride because he lived his life to the fullest.  And I won’t lie, it also breaks up the monotony.  Staring at these walls and bars gets old after a while.  But that’s okay, by the end of the week I won’t be looking at them anymore.  I’ll be taking the big ride myself.

     Am I scared?  Nah.  I made this life my own and sought every pleasure I could find.  I got mine and if I ever felt I wasn’t getting what was owed to me, I took it.  I don’t care if people got hurt in the process, it is all part of the game, man.  You’ve got to be strong and on top of the pack or you will be at the bottom of the pile.  And no one is gonna keep me down.  My only regret is that I got caught.  I was living like a king.  Money, women, drugs and a gang to run with.  Man, life was good.  But then some little snitch ratted me out for wasting a guy who refused to give up his wallet.  The chump was coming between me and my desire.  That’s not gonna happen, not to me.  So I took it and put him down.  Heh, he didn’t need that money anymore after that.  But I should’ve looked over my shoulder and saw that fool who witnessed it.  Lucky, cause I would have put him down too.  But that’s okay, karma catches snitches.  He’ll get his.

     Dinner time.  This slop isn’t gourmet, but this week I’m gonna enjoy it.  Fill up and eat as much as I can.  But tonight was different, my meal was brought to me by a guy I’d never seen before.  Alright, company for a change.  Maybe they figure I need someone to hang with before the end.  But they don’t understand.  I don’t need anyone.  I got everything I ever wanted on my own and didn’t need a tag along for help.  But whatever, maybe he will be good for a laugh…and he was.  This guy starts talking to me about if I know where I am going after I die and if I have ever thought of this dude named Jesus.  I just look at him in disbelief.  What is this guy on?  I need to get me some.  I bust out laughing at his ridiculous superstition.  That is one crazy story he is trying to tell me.  He calls himself a “man of God.”  God?  Pffffff!  Ain’t no God!  If there was a God, I wouldn’t have gotten caught.  I’d still be living the sweet life doing what I wanted.  And telling me that this Jesus dude died for me?  Then that is stupid.  Wasted his life when he should have been living it up like I did.  I finished my meal and threw the tray at him telling him that if he was such a good servant, he could wash my dirty dishes.  Ha!  What do you think about that, “man of God?”  He took my tray and left with his head down.  That’s right, “man of God,” you just got owned.

      Morning.  Another day another, “Dead man walking!”  This time it’s Rodger.  Go with pride, Rodger.  Yeah, you earned it.  But since that is over, the rest of the day is going to be the same.  Staring at walls and bars again.  Oh well, only a few days left.  Guess I should make the most of it.

     Dinner time.  Tonight is spaghetti.  Or noodles with ketchup, but they try to think of themselves as cooks.  Whatever, I’ll eat it.  Got nothing better to do anyway.  Maybe they will at least have some decent garlic bre…are you kidding me?  That fool is back with my dinner again tonight.  It’s the “man of God” come back for a second round.  This guy must love a good beatin’, cause that’s all he’s gonna get.  Tonight though, he spares me the mumbo jumbo about this supposed savior and gets to the good stuff.  Hell.  Yep, that’s where I’m going.  Well, according to him anyway.  He tells me that is where all the bad people go who don’t repent.  All the bad people?  Heck, that’s most of my friends.  Sounds like fun!  We’ll be together again and do whatever we want.  Best of all, there will be no God there to interfere.  He looks at me in silence.  What, do you think a change in stories was gonna get me to come over to your weird group?  You obviously don’t know who you are talking to.  I’m the big man and I am in charge.  There is nothing waiting for me after they put me out.  Nothing.  So I slop up the rest of my sauce and toss my tray at him again.  Get to cleaning, “man of God.”  Hahahaha!  I could do this all night!           Morning again.  But today there is no one to pay respects to.  Gonna be a quiet day.  Staring out my window my mind starts to wander.  What is the deal with the guy bringing me my dinner the last two nights?  What does he think he is going to accomplish?  God…man there is no such thing.  I have never had a run in with him.  And I have been everywhere and done a lot of things.  If there was a God, surely he would have stepped in and stopped me since he is apparently all good.  But not one time did he do so.  I will give the guy this though, he sure does believe what he is talking about.  Speaking of that, it is getting close to dinner.

     Wouldn’t you know it, dinner time and once again the “man of God” is bringing it to me.  Alright, lets do this.  I know what you think you are going to do, but I have some news for you.  Tonight I am asking the questions and doing most of the talking.  You are going to explain to me where your God was my entire life and why he never helped me.  Explain to me, “man of God,” if you can.  It went pretty much like you’d expect.  He seemed to have an answer for every one of my questions and even said he understood when I got angry.  Understood?!  How could he understand?!  Has he been where I have been?  I doubt that.  He is just trying to blow smoke!  Although tonight he took my tray before I could throw it at him.  Guess he’s learning.

     Last full day of the rest my life.  Tomorrow it will be my time.  But today it is Mike’s turn to go.  “Dead man walking!” I shout as he passes by.  But today there isn’t as much passion behind it as the last few times since he and I are buddies.  He looks my way as he walks, and I can see it in his eyes, fear.  He is truly afraid.  Why?  Why was he afraid?  We have talked before and he has the same attitude as I do.  I understand not wanting it to end this way but there was something more to that look he gave me.  He wasn’t sure anymore.  He wasn’t strong.  The rest of the day I spent pacing my cell, with many things going through my mind.  What had happened to him to make him unsure and afraid?

     The “man of God” brought my dinner again tonight, but I didn’t say a lot.  I had too much on my mind to have a back and forth with him.  I had been rattled.  Mike was so sure about everything.  What happened?  Did he know something I didn’t?  Is this what happens when you look death in the eye, you flinch?  Or do you realize that maybe you don’t have it all figured it out?  My mind was racing, and I began to question myself.  Now even though I didn’t say much that didn’t stop the “man of God” from talking.  He did quite a bit tonight, more than I thought he would.  When he was done, he took up my tray and told me he would be back again tomorrow and left.  I just sat there.  My brain on fire and questions, non-stop questions.

      My last sunrise.  I didn’t sleep at all last night.  I sat up thinking and trying to figure out what all of this meant.  My last few hours were spent pacing and pondering.  And before I knew it, the “man of God” was there with my final meal.  I had asked for steak with all the fixings and they delivered.  More than I expected.  They catered this meal out and even gave me a brownie for dessert.  I tried to enjoy it as much as I could.  And of course the “man of God” talked.  That is until I yelled at him.  I exploded with anger and released everything I had.  There was nothing I didn’t say and nothing that was held back.  I only had a little time left and I was going to get it all out.  He left my cell with the tray in his hand and tears streaming down his face.  He had done all he could do, and my time had come.

     The guards came and opened my cell.  I took one last look at it before they escorted me to the chamber.  “Dead man walking!” was being shouted at me from all directions.  And I held my head high because I was going to meet my end with confidence.  I wasn’t going to doubt like Mike had.  I knew what to expect.  The guards strapped me down to the bed and got everything ready for the procedure.  I look over to the glass and there is the “man of God” on the other side of it.  He was smiling at me and I smiled right back at him.  It was in that moment that I understood that he was more than just a “man of God.”  He was my brother and he had brought me to God.

     You see, in my cell when I had my explosion of anger, it wasn’t an anger towards him.  It was an anger at myself and what I had thought my entire life.  I was furious that I never had anyone try to tell me of a different life.  I was furious that no one seemed to care what happened to me.  I was so sure of everything, I knew what was and what was going to be.  I had it all figured out and then out of nowhere, this man came and changed my views on everything.  I slumped to the floor in tears and sobs.  Weeping over all the pain and misery I had brought others and myself.  For the first time in my life, I was afraid.  I didn’t know what to expect and what would happen to me once they came for me.  After all I had done in this life, was there any hope for me?

     The answer was given.  “Yes”, he said.  He came and comforted me, crying tears and praying.  I had an outpouring of everything I had kept locked up inside all my life and I was empty.  But he told me that I was now ready to be filled up again.  Filled with the Spirit of God.  I prayed what was called the sinner’s prayer and turned to this dude named Jesus who I had never known, but now accepted.  Near the end, I asked him why he stuck with me when I was so mean to him.  Why did he care?  He told me that he cared because Someone had cared about him once.  Someone cared enough to chase him down and pursue him with a love that he had never known.  He had been bought with a price and no one is ever too far gone that there is no hope, that they cannot be saved.

     The man of God left my cell with tears streaming down his face rejoicing that a soul had been saved.  And I prepared myself to meet my Creator.  There was no getting out of this, I had to pay the price for my crimes.  I knew that and accepted my new fate.  When I said that my head was held high, it was held high in confidence of knowing where I was now going.  I now truly knew what was coming after.  And it wasn’t a big nothing and darkness, and it wasn’t hell.

     When asked if I had any last words I spoke sorrow for all that I had done.  I looked at the family of the man that I had murdered and asked for forgiveness hoping that they would find peace.  I even saw the witness who for so long I had called a snitch and wished karma to catch up with him, I was now wishing him peace.  Then I was ready.

     I have always heard that your life flashes before your eyes when you are about to die.  And that is no lie.  As the toxin spread throughout my body I saw everything I had done and all the major events that had led me to this place.  But then something happened.  I started seeing things I had never seen before.  Flashes of light and colors that I didn’t know.  I saw far off shores and beauty in every direction.  Then I knew.  I was going home.  I gave one last look at the man of God, my brother, and everything went dark.  I awoke in light and love that I had never witnessed.  I was welcomed home because someone cared enough to reach out.  If it wasn’t for him, I would have been lost forever.  Now I wait on him, my brother, who I will see again one day.  And I tell you my story because I am reaching out to you.  I hope that one day, I will see you too.