Fiction · 01/08/2014

The Execution

They could not decide how to execute the man.

First, they laid the man’s head on a rock — they were going to cut the man’s head off with an axe.

But then an axe could not be found.

One of the executioners said, “Anyone have an axe?” and the other one laughed.

Because there was no one else around.

One of them discovered he had a knife — it had been stuck in his leg this whole time.

He pulled the knife out of his leg and said, “Oooh.”

The knife was tested on a thing that was somewhat like a man’s neck, in their estimation — a rock.

But the rock broke the knife.

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The man himself was growing fidgety.

Because he was unsure he had done what they were accusing him of having done — had he really killed the woman?

It would have been out of character — he had been pretty nice his whole life.

The woman, for her part, did not think so — that she had been killed by the man.

And had testified to this during the trial.

But the defense had posed rhetorically how a woman who was murdered could know whether she was murdered or not.

This apparently swayed the jury, but was later seen as a big mistake on the defense’s part.

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The executioners decided to smash the guy’s head with a rock.

“Good idea.”

“Thank you.”

They found a rock, but the rock was heavy, so a third executioner was called in — there was no end of people who wanted to be executioners.

With the third executioner, they tried lifting the rock again.

But it was still too heavy.

So they made fun of the rock.

They told the rock it was a rock.

Then they tried executing the rock by throwing it off a cliff, but the rock was too heavy to lift.

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“I have a good idea, let’s throw the guy off the cliff,” one of the executioners said.

They began to lift the guy, but then they remembered they needed his body to prove he was dead.

“We could throw him off the cliff, and then jump off the cliff ourselves, and down there count the body.”

Hastily, one of the executioners jumped off the cliff.

“There he goes,” one of the others said.

When the executioner reached the ground, though, his body exploded.

“That did not work,” the other executioner said.

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Night was falling.

Then, night had fallen.

The man decided to make a dash for it.

In the dark, he quietly undid the string holding his hands.

Then he ran.

He ran into a cactus almost right away, but he didn’t allow himself to scream, which was hard.

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At first the executioners did not notice he was gone, but then they did.

They reacted to his disappearance poorly — the bigger executioner grabbed the smaller one — “You killed the lady!”

The smaller one, struggling for his life, said, “You have the wrong guy!”

But the bigger one wouldn’t let go because he was trying to kill the other one to make up for the condemned man’s escape.

Eventually, the bigger executioner squeezed the smaller one to death — he thought it was a lot easier to kill an executioner than it was to kill a condemned man.

Feeling satisfied having thought this, he went to sleep.

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At dawn, a fourth executioner appeared.

This fourth executioner awoke the one sleeping.

“Who are you?” the executioner said, wiping sleep from his eyes and trying to subdue an erection.

“We heard you needed help lifting a rock. But where is the condemned man?”

The executioner looked around confusedly — it was taking longer than normal to subdue his morning erection and he was afraid the other executioner might think it was for him.

It wasn’t — it was for a completely different executioner — this big, tall executioner he had a crush on.

“Whose body is this?” the fourth executioner said, toeing the body of the smaller, deader executioner.

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When it was discovered what had happened the previous night, the fourth executioner condemned the other executioner — “You’re a murderer, so you have to die.”

The executioner who was a murderer just shook his head — “Man, things really do come full circle, don’t they?”

The fourth executioner asked if there was an axe anywhere.

“This is just too rich,” the other executioner said.

“Without an axe, I’ll have to stomp your head.”

“I wish we would have thought of that,” the executioner said.

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The executioner laid his head on the rock and the fourth executioner stomped it several times.

But he seemed to barely make a dent, at least on the outside.

However, much was changed on the inside, because the executioner whose head had been stomped began to speak French — “Je suis still alive,” he said.

“What was that? I can’t understand you,” the fourth executioner said.

The executioner spoke in French again.

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Unnerved by the French-speaking executioner, the fourth executioner stumbled backward.

He kept stumbling backward because there was no one there to stop him.

So he accidentally fell off the cliff.

“Wheee,” he said.

Then his body exploded against the ground.

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The French-speaking executioner peered over the cliff — “Quelle tragedie.”

He felt very alone up there.

There were no other executioners, and the condemned man was long gone as well.

So he began to stumble backwards, just for the fun of it.

But there was no one there to stop him.

So he fell off the cliff too.

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As he fell, he couldn’t help but laugh again about how life always seemed to come full circle.

After all, here he was — falling off a cliff.

But he hadn’t fallen off a cliff before.

What did it matter — he was about to go splat anyway.

However, it was taking longer than expected — Maybe I am dead already, he thought. Maybe I’m already floating up towards heaven.

He thought this right before he died.

And he did not go to heaven — he went to hell.

Because he had killed so many people during his life.

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Beau Golwitzer’s writing has appeared in Sundog Lit, Spork Press, Kugelmass, and elsewhere. He lives in Chicago.