A macabre flight of fancy…
On January 2, 2006, condemned inmate Clarence Ray Allen had yet another massive coronary; heroic measures being taken to save his life so he could be justly executed.
I, Frank Gonzalez, the duly sworn Chief Executioner of San Quentin, sat in the warden’s office that afternoon feeling remorse, realizing that I may not have the opportunity to execute Mr. Allen in the death chamber, using my trusty, sawed-off, Mossberg 935 12 gauge magnum autoloading shotgun. As with Tookie Williams, a review panel appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger had determined that lethal injection was much too merciful for a depraved monster like Clarence Ray Allen, and that the method of execution chosen for him would be lethal shotgunning. I would administer the sentence, using four blasts from the Mossberg, timed one minute apart, in respectful memory of the four victims he ordered murdered.
“Don’t worry, he should recover from his unfortunate heart attack, the physician in charge performed a quadruple bypass,” said the warden.
“Yes warden, but after that Tookie Williams affair a month ago – ”
“How many times do I have to say this Frank – you executed Stanley Tookie Williams on orders of the state of California and Governor Schwarzenegger. Just because you spoke to him before you blew his head off is no reason to castigate yourself.”
“Before that incident, I never violated prison procedure once in my thirty five years of employment at San Quentin, my record was perfect.”
“And it still is, no one, not even Governor Schwarzenegger, held against you what you said to Tookie, in righteous anger I might add, before you blew his head off.”
“But – ”
“No buts,” said the warden, “To the matter at hand, if condemned inmate Allen survives, will you, following the directives of the review panel, slaughter him mercilessly with a sawed-off shotgun?”
“Yes sir, you only have to show me the death warrant; I am the Chief Executioner of San Quentin,” I answered with firm resolve.
“Very good,” said the warden.
Condemned inmate Allen recovered, due to the devoted care of San Quentin physicians. As his health improved over the following week, I was pleased to learn that I would indeed have the opportunity to execute him by shotgunning on January 17, 2006.
The welcome day arrived, and Clarence Ray Allen was prepared for his well-deserved execution. Half-blind, nearly deaf but not one bit remorseful, the condemned prisoner was ushered into the hall via his wheelchair.
“Do you think that bloodthirsty old geek can walk to the green room in the shape he’s in?” I asked.
“Sure, he’s virtually knocking on Hell’s door,” said the warden with a smile, “The doc says his heart’s like a hammer now, with no need to worry about the stress of his execution inducing another heart attack beforehand. His physician also his him on anticoagulants, so there’s no chance of a stroke disrupting the execution either.”
“Excellent,” I replied. He handed me hearing protection earmuffs and the shotgun, again loaded with four hotloaded, brass cased 00 buckshot shells, one for each of his victims. Walking into the green room, I took my seat and placed the sawed-off Mossberg in my lap.
Yelling at the top of his lungs into Allen’s nearly deaf right ear, the warden pronounced the death sentence to him in the hall. The condemned was ordered to rise from his wheelchair for the final walk to the death chamber and his self-inflicted rendezvous with destiny.
Guards lined the path; a half-blind Allen stumbling down the hall, followed by the warden. One smirking guard put a leg out, tripping Clarence, who landed on the floor with a thud.
“That’s enough of that Lieutenant Jones,” said the chuckling warden, looking to the officer.
“Sorry warden, my foot slipped.”
“Yeah, I’m sure it did.”
I observed the condemned rise to his knees and say to Jones in a slurred voice, “I forgive you for tripping me.”
“Who does he think he is, Jesus or something?” asked the coroner while other guards broke into laughter, a smile crossing my face.
“Get up you murderous old half-breed injun and die like a man!” the warden yelled as Allen struggled to his feet.
Allen steadied himself and stumbled into the deathhouse, taking a seat within. He stared at me, angry, with sullen, beady eyes.
Guards strapped him down tightly, the officers walking from the death chamber when their chore was completed. Allen looked to the warden and asked in a slur, “Any word from the governor on my appeal?”
“What appeal might that be?” the warden yelled into his ear. Laughing, he turned and left the deathhouse while the condemned man stared at him in astonishment. The disgusted warden had tossed Allen’s latest appeal in the trash that afternoon, and, out of sheer spite, had faxed Governor Schwarzenegger a blank sheet of paper instead.
“Close the door to the green room so we can kill this evil old bastard,” said the assistant warden, leaving the condemned and I in the death chamber.
Rising from my chair, I put on my shooting glasses and hearing protection muffs, released the safety, and cocked the shotgun.
“You may proceed, executioner,” said the warden over the intercom, giving me a thumbs-up.
“Yes sir,” I replied with a smile.
Turning to Clarence Ray Allen, without hesitation I aimed at his legs and pulled the trigger, the blast of buckshot shredding his prison uniform and blowing off chunks of flesh from both legs. As a brass shell casing bounced off a wall, smoke filled the death chamber, an overhead exhaust fan automatically coming on.
“Hold for one minute,” said the warden.
I nodded; noting with dissatisfaction that Clarence Ray Allen hadn’t flinched, neither had the expression on his face changed. He looked at me with a cold stare as blood poured in torrents from his leg wounds. Turning to the warden, I put my hands up, not knowing what to say regarding Allen’s apparent insensitivity to pain.
“What’s wrong with that senile asshole – why isn’t he crying out?” asked Jones.
“Who knows, maybe the strokes killed off his nerves,” answered the uncaring warden, looking to his watch. “One minute has passed, proceed with the second shot, executioner.”
“Yes sir.” Taking a gut shot, I pulled the trigger, blasting open Allen’s abdomen, chunks of bowels and bile, laced with feces, splattering on my clothing, a shell casing flying past my head and clattering to the floor of the death chamber.
“Goddamnit!” I exclaimed in disgust, pulling off my shooting glasses and wiping away the foul debris.
Condemned inmate Allen continued to stare at me with his evil, beady eyes, not moving or speaking.
“Hold for one minute.”
I looked to the warden and nodded, replacing my shooting glasses.
“I’ll say one thing, Allen’s one tough son of a bitch,” said the assistant warden.
“That, or he’s dead from the ass both ways,” said a smirking Jones.
“Shoot away Gonzalez, blow off one of his arms like you did with Tookie,” said the warden, his voice coming over the intercom.
“Yes sir,” I answered, placing the muzzle near Allen’s left forearm. Looking the condemned in the eyes, I pulled the trigger. Another deafening blast came from the sawed-off Mossberg, the buckshot severing the arm, another casing bouncing off a thick glass window.
Allen sat there; apparently oblivious to the pain as more smoke filled the death chamber.
“Christ, that injun must be dead!” the warden exclaimed.
“No sir, he’s still breathing, this old bastard’s as tough as nails,” I answered, “Should I just blow his head off and be done with it?”
“No, hold for one minute, per the orders of the review board and Governor Schwarzenegger.”
“Yes sir,” I answered with a nod.
Allen continued to glare at me, not showing the slightest sign of pain or fear. The piercing stare of his beady eyes unnerved me; that of an evil monster who couldn’t care less what was happening to him.
“Time’s up Frank, blow that bastard’s head off his shoulders!” the warden yelled over the intercom.
Nodding, I moved the muzzle to Allen’s neck and pulled the trigger, the final spent shell ejecting from the Mossberg. The blast severed his skull at the base, the beady eyes finally showing a response to the assault, becoming glazed over after his head bounced off the floor of the death chamber. Blood squirted like a fountain from the headless body, covering my right arm in gore.
“Son of a bitch, he didn’t even care,” I said to myself, looking to the blood still flowing from the torn arteries.
The door to the death chamber opened, the warden and coroner stepping in.
“Good job Gonzalez, you executed Allen in the fashion he deserved,” said the warden, taking my blood-covered hand in his. Turning to the coroner, he asked, “He’s dead, right?”
“Terminated,” answered the coroner.
“You’d better get cleaned up; Christ, you look worse than when you slaughtered Tookie,” said the warden.
“Yeah,” I replied, “I’ll tell you one thing, Allen was so damn mean, I’ll bet we could’ve poured molten lead down his throat and he would’ve smiled at us, and shit buckshot.”
“I don’t doubt it,” said the warden, looking to justly executed corpse of Clarence Ray Allen. “You two, get that hunk of shit out of here and clean out the deathhouse,” he added, looking to a pair of trustees.
“Yes warden,” they answered, charged with returning the green room to its usual immaculate appearance.
Later, the remains of Clarence Ray Allen were dumped outside the prison walls, his blood covered, mangled carcass feeding stray dogs, ravens, and condors, with ants later nourishing themselves with the tasty marrow of his bleached bones.