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STEP IN THE RIVER TWICE
YOU CANT STEP IN THE SAME RIVER TWICE
By Richard Tornello © 2014
The Village idiot Press
“Your Honor, the paper work has been submitted and I have reviewed it. Everything is in order,” stated the law clerk.
“And their financials are adequate for this procedure?” asked the judge knowing that this was simply a formality with this family. They were wealthy beyond count.
“They have more than sufficient for the requested actions,” replied the clerk. He had to check the boxes and this line of question and answers had to be completed as per the legal requirements imposed. This was being recorded for history. It was a first.
The judge looked about the courtroom absent all but the attorney for the prisoner and the attorney for the defendant’s estate and the prosecutor and the clerk. He stated, “Let it be known that the court grants the estates of XYZ the right to administer the procedures outlined in the penal code as amended by the Republic of Texas. The estate and family of XYZ will work the schedule of events with the court, the criminal Justice system as prescribed by law.” His gavel hit hard. He grinned and as a matter of habit for the death penalty he declared, "May God have mercy on his..." he stopped for a second and concluded, "souls."
“Next case,” he declared.
A month later:
The attending physician for the event stated, “His bio functions are completely flat lined. The prisoner is dead.”
The sentencing judge standing by the monitors at the execution said to the prison clerk, "Note the time of day, the attending physicians and scientists, executioner and witnesses. Now lets resurrect the son of a bitch. Get him to the hospital for recovery." The judge then said to the physician standing next to him and all the others, as a smile crossed his face, "The next time will be even better.”
Do no harm the physician thought. He winced at the judges comment and kept his thoughts to himself. He looked at the judge again and then decided, "Sir, I resign as of this moment." He put the paper work down. Took his badge, handed it to the guards and demanded, "Take me to the gate please." As he was excorted out The judge just laughed, "You're no real Texan."
His vision was blurred. A fog filled his consciousness. He was in pain but it was muted, drugged, but the pain was there, he could feel it deep in his brain. His body was numb. It was if the two parts were separate. He pissed in his pants. He was aware, even embarrassed, he knew he should have self-control, but just didn’t care. He cried.
Some time later he came to. His eyes were clearer. His fingers moved but not his arms. He curled his toes but couldn’t move his legs. He could move his head to the right and to the left. He could not sit up. He realized he was held down with straps, and his arms were handcuffed to the metal railing of the hospital bed. He noticed a nurse standing by a wall of monitor. He voice was weak but he could be understood and heard. “Nurse where am I?”
She didn’t even turn around when she answered. “You’re in a hospital. You’re in recovery.”
He was in a state of shock. “What? Why? Where… I mean I don’t understand. What’s going on?” He realized it was useless to pull against the restraints. He felt trapped. He was trapped.
The nurse turned around. She was tall. He guessed about five foot ten or so. He guessed from what he could observe that she had an athletic build. Her hair was short and dark brown hair, not dyed, it was too shiny and natural looking to be dyed. She stared at the prisoner. In a most dispassionate voice, she said, “I cannot answer any of those questions. You will have to address your captors.”
“Captors? What the hell are you talking about? Where am I?” he attempted to scream. His voice was weak. All he said after a moment or two was, “My nose itches”. He attempted to lift his arm and scratch his nose. The restraints prevented that. Then he noticed all the tubes running from his body. The hospital gown fell from his arms. His arms were black and blue/purple. The monitor began to beep along with his increased heart rate.
“Your nose itches. You want me to scratch it?” She stifled a laugh. His nose itches. He was dead and now his nose itches. “They didn’t prep me for this.” She took a tissue and rubbed his nose. “That’s the best I can do.”
The nurse looked at him closely. She had become a nurse to help. She was going to medical school but had decided she didn’t want to give it all the time it would required. Being a certified nurse was close enough. Then she landed this job with the Republic’s prison system. This environment altered her perspective on the human race. When had she become so cold she wondered?
“I’m in hell. Tell me this is hell. This has to be hell.” But it came out as a screech. His couldn’t articulate anything but low level short sentences. His body was still in recovery.
“Sir, you are not in hell. You are in a prison hospital. And I shouldn’t be even telling you that.” The nurse was used to prisoners and their sorry complaints as well as their claims of innocence. She had become immune to it.
An armed officer of the Republic of Texas ran into the room. His hands had pulled the safety strap of his Sig P226 and in his other hand he held a syringe. “Nurse, are you okay. Any problems with the prisoner?” he asked as he looked over at the fully restrained individual and took his hand off the grip of the pistol. This guy wasn’t going anywhere. “Nurse?”
"I’m fine officer. Thank you. Everything is under control. Those restraints would hold a gorilla. There is nothing to be concerned with. He is just aware that he is here.” She smiled at that.
The officer nodded. He stared at the prisoner and said just low enough for the prisoner to hear, “Trust me you’ll wish we had finished you off.”’
“That will be enough," said the nurse. "That is uncalled for and we are not supposed to inform him of anything. That will be for the doctors and the … “ She didn’t finish her sentence realizing that to conclude her thought and her warning would be to give the prisoner more information that he was entitled to at this point. "That is cruel and …” She didn't finish the sentence.
The officer was smiling or was it a grimace? She wasn’t sure.
“Unusual, Miss? It’s not as much as it is for us, if you think about it.”
“Sir, please leave the room now. If you continue I will have to report this.”
Both of them were aware that every conversation was being recorded and every second was being monitored. There was no privacy here.
The prisoner looked up at both of them. His voice was a bit stronger. "What the hell is going on here? Why am I here?”
The police officer looked at him and tonelessly said, "Congratulations, you’re the first.”
“First fucking what,” he somehow manged to blurt out? The prisoner looked around. There was fear. The guard and the nurse smelled it.
The guard asked rather surprised, “You don’t know? How can that be? Part of the punishment is knowing, of being aware.”
“Aware of what, what the hell are you two talking about? He was about to start yelling and then something else hit him. He realized he didn’t even know his name. In a very quiet subdued almost child like voice asked, “Nurse, what is my name?”
“What did you just ask?” she said.
The guard was shocked even more. He had expected something else all together dealing with killers all his life never before had he encountered anything like this. This guy was telling the truth. He was positive. And this event was a first. He looked at the nurse and pointed out of the room.
The two of them spoke in low tones their backs to all the monitors, their hand covered their mouths so they couldn’t be read and whispered to each other.
The guard stared, ”This is more bizarre than I assumed it would be." Then he smiled. “This is even better when you think about it. It’s more frightening for him. If he knew he might become inured to the events about to occur. Justice will be served.“
The nurse had other ideas. She wondered if they could legally or morally execute someone who was not in his right mind. Or even more bizarre as the guard had suggested, in this case, was he an entirely new human being having been executed, declared dead and then resurrected? Were we dealing with the same person that we put to death or was this an entirely different person inhabiting a similar body? Had death made him a new person?
The two of them returned to the prisoner’s room. The big cop grabbed a chair and straddled it. He looked at the nurse. “You can take a break if you want. Nothing is going to happen. He’s restrained and I have a syringe. I am medically certified to administer it.”
The cop gave her a dirty look and a smile. “Yep, and I love my job.”
She looked back at the two of them in the hospital room. The other armed guards were just down the hallway. She glanced up as she came out of the prisoners room and gave them both a wave and a smile. There was nothing to be concerned with and that’s all they cared about.
Meanwhile back in the room the big cop was looking at the prisoner. He looked the guy up and down. You can never tell a killer. Most of the time it was someone you knew, a friend, a family member. There was no look. But then he thought. This guy is telling the truth. What the hell?
The prisoner was staring up at the ceiling. He was counting the holes in each tile. His vision had improved. His voice was back too. He felt pretty good, well as good as anyone can feel being restrained and in a prison hospital for he knew no what. He lost track of the count again. It was maddening. He stared over. But his nose still itched. "Hey guard. My nose itches. Would you mind scratching it?"
“Yeah thanks. You can take the restraints off.”
“There is one thing you can do, tell me what the fuck is going on? I remember something about an execution. I have no recollection of much else. The details are all gone. I assume that the execution was put off and if not, then this is hell.”
The cop stared at the prisoner. He stated a matter of fact. “You’d be better off in hell, trust me.”
The prisoner looked at the cop. “You really mean that don’t you.”
"Sure do. Once is enough. But in your case, you lucky bastard, you killed a rich SOB and his family can afford the cost of multiple executions.”
“What the hell are you talking about?" The prisoner was alarmed. This was the first he heard about his of he couldn’t recall anything about it. “Pay? Pay for what?”
The cop was really taken off guard. He was beginning to feel something that he knew he shouldn’t. "You really don’t remember? Fascinating. That part of your memory seems to be erased. This is worth a study. But you are the first. You’ll go down in history. What a way to do it.” Then he thought and said, “You may be an anomaly. If all the others after you suffer from the same affect, then we’re dealing with a very strange outcome.”
The prisoner was annoyed. “What are you babbling about? I’m in a hospital, a prison hospital. I get thatI’m supposed to be executed for murder or if I am to believe you, I have been executed and," he thought, shuddered about it , shuddered as a chill ran through his veins and said, “brought back to life so I can be executed again?”
The cop raised his hand to stop the prisoner. He looked around at all the monitors and sensors. Thought what the fuck. He looked at the cameras and nodded. Then to the prisoner he said, “Okay, here goes.”
The prisoner thought for a second the cop was the executioner.
The cop stood up then grabbed the chair and moved it closer to the prisoner. He waited for a second or two. He wanted the prisoner to hear every word. He laughed to himself. He thought for a second he wouldn’t mind repeating them and then thought against it. He let him have it, the whole story, the murder, the trial and the new laws, and his execution and the present state of affairs.
The nurse ran down the hall to the prisoner’s room. She looked at the cop. “Get out of here. You were not supposed to say a thing. You have…"
The nurse was beginning to have the same idea. "What are we going to do?" she asked. Her voice had changed completely. She was asking for help.
“I don’t know about you but I’m not saying a thing to anyone until I see a lawyer. The implications here are beyond me.”
“The prisoner is alive,” declared the head nurse. She made note of the time and the day. She looked at the prisoner. He was unconscious but breathing. His heartbeat was in the normal range and his vital signs were acceptable.
This was her first experience with the new system. She was intrigued. This was everybody’s first experience. It would make medical history. She had read about earlier studies in a related vein. This was the real thing. She had six more hours on her shift. She looked outside the private hospital room, through the large bulletproof window and nodded to one of the two officers standing guard. I wonder if he’ll come to any time soon, she thought looking at the prisoner tied down in the bed.
The monitors at her desk indicated that the prisoner was awake. She made note of the time and the day. She looked toward the room where he lay. “Let’s see what we have here,” she said to the orderly. She got up in no particular hurry and walked toward the prisoner’s room. She nodded to the guard and he followed her in. She made a note of his name, badge number and time of day. “Sign here as you are the first witness," she commanded and passed the computer toward the officer.
He signed it, looked at the prisoner, and shook his head. The nurse couldn’t tell if it was in disgust or pity. But she could tell he wasn’t pleased about something here. “Are you okay,” she inquired?
The officer faced her and said, “Yeah but this is … “ He was about to give his opinion but realized before he said it that his statements would be recorded and would most definitely affect his job. He let it drop.
In her typical cold manner the nurse said, “Thank you. You can wait outside. I don’t imagine he will he a danger to me or anyone.” She pointed to the restraints. She had worked in the prison hospital for a number of years. She knew the routines and how to deal with the cops. Unless the doctor was in the room, she was in control. The guards were insurance. In this case, and at this specific time, unnecessary, but protocol was protocol.
The officer nodded and left the room.
He opened his eyes, Things were not clear. His vision was blurred. He couldn’t move. He had pain throughout his body. He heard the scratching of shoes on a floor and turned in the direction of the sound. He could barely make out the uniform of a nurse. At least he thought it was a nurse. “ Where am I?” he asked in forced whisper.
“You’re in a hospital. You are recovering,” she replied.
“I can’t move. What’s wrong with me? Recovering from what?" The questions spilled from his mind to his mouth.
Shocked, she looked at the prisoner “You don’t remember?”
“Remember what?” All I can remember is,” and he stopped. He thought. He tried to go back in time. He had no recollection of anything other than now.
“What is your name?” she questioned.
He looked at her and closed his eyes. He opened them again. He turned his head toward the window. He saw the guards. He said, “I… do not… remember. I do not know. I’m in a hospital that much I can tell. I can’t move. I’m tied down and I just don’t know.”
She was recording all the conversation. The doctors would want to hear all. The room was under surveillance too so a visual recording was being made.
She observed at him closely. She looked at the monitors. His heart rate was up. The monitor attached to his bare skull read out that he was probably telling the truth.
He looked up at her again. He looked at his arms. They were black and purple. He had intravenous lines in both arms. But the coloration was far more than medical incompetence, that much he knew.
“Why am I here? Why am I here?” The prisoner repeated
“You really don’t know?" the nurse replied. She looked at him again. She said, “This is against protocol but I am going to let you sit up.” She unfastened the restraints across his chest and arms. She raised the portion of his bed so he could sit up and look about.
“Why are there cops out there?” He looked closely and asked, “Do you have a name? You have no identification. What am I doing here?”
The nurse sat on a chair. She needed to sit down. I had to get the doctor in here as soon as possible. There was something terribly wrong with this. A concept, an awareness of the situation that had never been broached was becoming more than apparent. She stood up. “I’m not supposed to tell you more than required by law. You are a ward of The Republic of Texas. You do not have a name. For all intents and purposed you are a dead man. In fact you were dead. You had been executed by lethal injection, declared dead and revived.”
His monitors spiked. "What are you talking about? This is a dream, a nightmare, or hell. What and who are you?”
"I am a nurse in the prison hospital assigned to make sure you are kept alive and well. At such time as decided you will be executed again for the murders you committed. And then you will be revived again. This procedure will continue for as long as the family and friends of the one you murdered can afford to pay for this new punishment we have declared as the only fit method of revenge. The death penalty really has no detrimental affect. So the Texas legislature, has decided to cut to the chase and call our executions exactly what they are, revenge. And to make sure you suffer as much or more that your victim, you are supposed to be executed for a number of times. The memory of each execution, burned in you memory should prove ample revenge.”
“You’re barbarians. I do not remember killing anyone; I don’t even remember my name. I don’t recall being executed. This has to be a nightmare. I’m going to wake up and…” He was yelling and crying.
“No this is real,” she replied in a cold disassociated voice. “This s real.”
The guard came in and asked, gun drawn, “You okay? He’s not supposed to be free. What are you doing?”
The guard looked at the nurse, an eyebrow raised, his disbelief showed. He holstered his weapon.
“Please,” she pointed to the door. “I’m fine. I’m safe. He is still restrained and you needn’t worry.”
“I’ll be right at the door if you need me. I will have to report this." The guard was inputting his report as they spoke.
“Yes and so will I," she said. “This has been recorded as you must be aware.” She pointed to the cameras all over the room. No space was left without observation.
The nurse moved to a control panel and hit a set of codes. Within a minute the prisoner was asleep. She decided that this was a bit much to give a newly executed human, the first one to be subject to the new laws of The Republic.
The Republic of Texas prided itself that it was one of the few places on earth besides Japan, Iran and possibly China where executions were an art form. However the results of this execution and the follow up to be administered would require a review.
A year later after numerous exececutions:
The nurse faced the Judge, the head Doctor, senior medical staff and the prison warden and the prosecutor and select members of the press. “Ladies and gentlemen,” she began. “We have been studying the results of our resurrected executions. We, the medical staff that is, have come to a conclusion that the prisoner has no recollection of his past. We are sure he is telling the truth based upon observation, scans and truth serums administered. We are not killing... ”
The prosecutor interrupted, “So what do I care. What does the Republic care? He was convicted and duly sentenced. WE must carry out the orders of the court.”
The Judge said, “Yes I understand your point and concern Mr. Prosecutor. Have you read the full report?”
"Why do I need to? This is a miscarriage of justice. He will be executed as many times as declared by the court. I have the record here. You can’t go back without an appeal. And you know as well as I do, no appeal will work in the Republic of Texas except death.” He laughed, “And now that won’t even work. Kill him.”
The nurse was in tears. The judge held his temper. The others who had not had the opportunity to read the report watched. They wanted to know what the nurse was getting at. She obviously had a point.
He was groggy. “What the, where am I, what?”
“Don’t even try to move,” said a voice from the mental fog. He couldn’t hear the rest. The ringing in his ears was deafening. All he felt was pain. His head felt like it’s was about to explode from the pressure. He passed out.
A few hours later he woke again. He realized he couldn'tmove. He panicked.
A beeping noise in the background increases in frequency. His vision is still foggy. He tries to rub his eyes. His arms won’t move. His fingers do but the movement is restricted. I’m tied down. What the, “What’s going on here?” he croaks out.
“No need to yell. You’re in a hospital,” says a voice.
“I can’t move my arms or legs. I hurt all over. What’s wrong. I can hardly see. I can’t focus.”
“You’re restrained. You’ve been revived. You were dead. Now you’re not. I’m the nurse in charge of this floor of the prison hospital," says the same voice.
“Prison? What are you talking about?”
“You don’t remember? Strange. You really don’t remember?" asks the voice.
“Remember what? Know what?” He is pleading.
He heard her say, “Oh dear. I have to call the doctor. You’re my first one. This is most unexpected.” She hit a button on a monitor. The drug worked quickly and he passed out.
Later a day a week an hour, he has no idea, he wakes. His eyes focus. He sees a nurse reading a monitor. He’s not sure if it was the same one as earlier.
“I see you’re up,” she says not turning around.
He looks around as best he can. He is restrained. And he remembers the initial waking experience. He notices a very large cop standing outside the doorway looking in.
“He’s awake and alive. What do you know. That won’t last." The cop laughs at the thought and sits on a chair that faces the open doorway to the hospital room.
The prisoner asks the nurse, “Who is he and why is he here?”
"You’re in a prison hospital. He’s to take you back to your cell when you recover. Don’t act like you don’t know.” She turns to the officer and says, "You're new like I am. What's going on here?"
The cop shrugs his sholder. "The others resigned or were reassigned. I thought this would be interesting."
The prisoner interrupted, "Excuse me but all I know is I’m tied down. I know there is a cop outside what you have said is a prison hospital room. I know,” and he stops. “I know, I don’t even know why I’m here and", he stops again to consider. "I don’t even know my name.”
The nurse turned around. As she said, "I'm new. The turnover rate was high in this section. There was no introductions, no briefing. They needed a senior level nurse and I needed a job." The nurse looked at the prisoner’s chart. She would have addressed him by his name but the chart only had a number where the name should have been. “Do you remember anything else," she inquired? She was not full aware of the protocols for this specialized prison department.
The prisoner thought about the question. He went through a mental check list. The only things he knew for sure, he was alive, and that was a maybe. He laughed to himself. He could have died and gone to hell. He was sure he was strapped down to a bed. There was a fairly large cop sitting outside the doorway to the room he was in. There were tubes running from his black and purple blue arms, and from his groin. And he was still in pain. He could talk. But other than all that, he had no memory save what recently occurred since he awoke here, where ever here was.
She knew this would have to be reported.
A month or so later:
As he lay on the gurney and wondered what was all this. No one had even bothered to tell him. They assumed he knew and was lying. Scared and afraid, the needles went in. As the venom dripped into his veins vague memories of this same room drifted in as an unfocused defused fog.
micheledutcher - This story really made me think about how an assailant might be punished for more than one murder. The callousness of the guard and the growing distrust of the nurses adds a bit of psychological drama as well.
r.tornello - see today's (Nov 7-17) NY Times re "Execution of Inmate Who Cannot Recall Crime"
dandrew72 - Nice!
r.tornello - BTW now I see the typos a few of you mentioned. My editing skills, in a word, stink. RT
r.tornello - Thanks, RT
Modelling_Mushi - Richard, Im glad to see this one published. Like it and the premise alot. Ciao Ish
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