Number 74212
written by Leigh-Anne Dennison - September 1997
(copyright 1997 L. Dennison)

Looking thru the bars
down the stark, cold hall
he saw the door to
the room.
The room you only exit once
before their carry out
feet first.

His collar grew tighter
(making everything harder to swallow)
while he thought of
the fate that awaited him.
Every short black hair on his neck
stood at attention
as he watched
Prisoner #022431
being led down the hall.
"So long old pal,"
he thought,
but dared not utter.

Though his number
wasn't next
sequentially,
it was indeed up--
he was next in line.
Could it be the knowing
made the inevitable more terrifying?

He was acutely aware
that his heart was now pounding wildly
(it was all he could hear)
and his tongue was as dry
as if he had just licked the tread of a tire.
Would it be injection or
electricity?
(Neither was a comforting thought.)
And, as the lights dimmed briefly,
he had his answer.

Then the footsteps came
and the key clicked in his door.
The warden nodded
and he fell in-step behind him.
He passed #437775,
a little, meek fella
with salt and pepper hair
who occupied the cell next to his own.
#437775 bowed his head sadly
and turned his back to the walk,
causing #704212 to break down a little.
He cried--he wimpered, but
he never lost a step--never faultered.

There was no jury to save him
or a judge or governor to pardon him.
There would be no last minute amnesty,
he knew.
There was just the empty cell,
the cold hallway,
the others hiding their faces,
and the warden leading him onward.

So it was
on December 20th
when Prisoner #704212,
a.k.a. F.I. Doe,
left this world
with a whimper...
not a bark.
His only crime?
Being unloved.


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