Myra had made a pot of decaf. We’d banned caffeine and alcohol. A democratic decision. Riley was outvoted on both counts. We needed clear heads. We needed to think straight. We needed to leave emotions and feelings (there is a difference, Myra says) and any kind of distracted thinking behind. We needed to make some decisions and develop a plan that would cover any doubts we might have later.
‘It has to be quick,’ said Riley. “No room for mistakes. No chance that he could see our faces, escape or fight back.’
‘He should be made to realise why it’s happening,’ countered Myra, ‘be forced to face the things he’s done.’
‘What?’ sneered Riley. ‘So he doesn’t do them again?’ Riley laughed, looked to me to see if I would join him, but I didn’t.
‘He should be given a chance to repent,’ explained Myra.
‘Repent?’ Riley was stunned. He rarely moves out of his slump, but he’d pushed his Babe Ruth bulk over the table. “So what? He can have a nice time in heaven?’
Myra wasn’t taking the bait. She focused her attention on me. ‘He needs to have a chance to …’ she almost looked at Riley, ‘not confess, but explain. Atone. Doesn’t everyone deserve that right? They let Bundy have a last word on the chair. This guy is bad but he’s no Bundy.’
Riley leaned further across the table, stretching his arms into our space. ‘So what do we do? Take him to our secret lair? Tie him up like we’re the bad guys and he’s James Bond? Bond always gets away, and he always kills the bad guys.’
Myra kept her eyes on me. ‘We just need a good plan. The perfect plan.’ She sat back, picked up her coffee cup. ‘That’s why we’re here, right?’
‘We’re here to decide how we’re going to do it.’ Riley started counting off his fingers. ‘Bullet. Knife. Bomb. Piano wire. Poison.’
‘Bomb?’ It’s was Myra’s turn to be incredulous. ‘Even if we knew how to build a bomb, wouldn’t that attract just a little bit too much attention? Wouldn’t that risk killing innocent people when the whole time we’re here because we want to save innocent lives?’
Riley spread his arms. ‘This is good. This is dialogue. We can rule out bomb.’
This step onto common ground helped diffuse the emotions for a moment. They both sat back in their chairs, Myra sipping at her coffee, Riley with his arms folded, steadfastly refusing to drink anything that didn’t give a hit.
‘I can consider poison,’ said Myra. She stared at the wall as she processed that particular thought. ‘Something certain. Something deadly, but that would take some time. It would give him the insight into death he needs, without us,’ she looked to Riley, ‘having to find a secret lair.’
It took a moment, then they both shared a half-laugh and smiled.
Riley nodded. ‘We could slip it to him easy. He goes to that same coffee place every morning.’ He looked to me for confirmation of this fact. I nodded. ‘Or better yet, the bar on a Friday night. We could just drop it in his drink.’
Myra didn’t look so sure. ‘He might taste it. Or it might turn the drink cloudy and he won’t touch it.’
Riley already had an answer for that. ‘We find something tasteless that won’t turn vodka rocks cloudy.’
‘Like what?’ Myra was getting all sceptical again.
‘I don’t know.’ He looked around the office. ‘You got all these computer here. Fire one up and ask the internet.’
‘Oh sure. Great idea. Dear internet, we want to kill a prominent lawyer with close connections to the police and organised crime, what would be the best poison to drop into his Friday night vodka?’
Riley wagged a finger at Myra, but he was looking at me. ‘Do you see this? This passive aggressive bullshit? That’s why she wants to keep the guy alive, so she can sarcasm his ass to death.’
‘You’re the one talking about poisoning the guy, but you don’t know the first thing about poison; what kind you’d need, where you’d get it, how you’d give it to him, how much would definitely kill him before he had the chance to get to a hospital. ‘No,’ said Myra, trying to calm herself again, ‘however we do it, whatever we use, we need to have a solid plan. Right, Tom?’
They both looked at me, waiting for an answer.
I didn’t have one. I only had more questions. And there was only one that was really troubling me. ‘I think we need to ask ourselves this,’ I looked at them both in turn, right in the eye, ‘which one of us is going to do it?’
I let that sink in for moment, then got up and started to brew another pot of coffee, this time with caffeine. It was going to be a long night.
(Exercise: Gather three or four ordinary people to discuss an execution. from 3AM Epiphany)