Off With His Head



Suggested Audio Candy:


[1] Offspring “Beheaded”

[2] Papa Roach “Last Resort”



I must have been culpable of some pretty horrendous crimes in my past life. As I sit here in the tower, succumbing to a rather nasty head cold and clad in soiled linen rags, I have plenty of time for reflection. It appears that I have been the victim of circumstance; framed for a crime I had no hand in and made an example of by the jury on account of them not having their morning shot of caffeine. It’s just typical that the instant coffee machine in their quarters decided today was a good day to blow a fuse; as a result they were irritable as they were presented with my defense and gave me the communal thumbs down. One simple landslide decision later and I am heading for the chopping board. Capital punishment was abolished decades ago and I suspected that was the last we would hear of it other than in history lectures and topical fiction. Not the case; the government reintroduced it last May under intense pressure from the general public and, wouldn’t you know it, I’m the first man destined for modern-day execution.


I’m not a bad person per se; sure I may have pilfered a little confectionary from my local convenience store from time to time and I once kicked a Yorkshire Terrier but only because it was persecuting my beloved cat Gerald. Other than that, I have been a model citizen; to suggest I would murder my wife in cold blood is ludicrous in the extreme as I simply wouldn’t have it in me. Some bogus individual snuck into my boudoir in the dead of night and cut her throat while we both slept. The first intelligence I received was when I got up in the wee hours to take a piss and returned to our marital bed to discover an altogether different case of bed-wetting. I did what any man would do upon discovery that their spouse had been murdered where they lay beside them; I screamed until coarse, shed tears until dry, and slept with her one last time for old time’s sake. I think that may have been where I went wrong you know.


I had never considered myself capable of necrophilia but, in my defense, she was still warm to the touch. Because she was no longer privy to my sexual advances, she clenched right up, making it nigh-on impossible to traverse any speed humps and give her one for the road. The whole sorry affair was over in a matter of seconds and I was left frustrated and alone. Perhaps that call to the police was a little low on my priority list but, after sixteen years of blissfully happy marriage, I required a send-off in the one place where we had made the magic happen. If that is a crime then, by all accounts, lock my ass up and throw away the key. But beheading; it just seems a little harsh to me. Somewhat astonishingly, the crowds have turned out in numbers to watch me lose my head. I blame the tabloid media for that one; casting judgement is one thing, especially given the fact that millions of commuters buy into their bullshit every single morning; but giving away front row tickets for my forecast denouement as an incentive to buy their rag is simply bad form in my book.


As a result of their meddling antics, the mix-up has become national news and everyone has now formed an opinion. We’re all culpable of casting judgement in some way, indeed, I have sat in my armchair on numerous occasions bellowing “off with his head” when presented with biased news reports suggesting such rotten eggs. But I didn’t actually mean it; it’s just the done thing in such situations. Sitting in front of our soap boxes granted the right to seal another’s fate through being gifted a remote control, we all say things we don’t mean. In the comfort of our own living quarters; we are the top dog. However, you don’t see me brandishing a battle-axe and proposing I get the first chop do you? No I’m not in possession of the facts; that is where the criminal justice system comes into play. Historically, they haven’t always been accurate with their findings and that has led to the wrong person being chastised for an act they played no part in. Wrong time, wrong place. It happens.


What happens when they get it wrong? Does the persecuted party’s family receive an apology or hamper of deliciously zingy apricot marmalade? No they don’t; it gets swept under the rug and never spoken of again. Meanwhile, some hapless unfortunate has had their right to wear a bonnet callously snatched away and their head impaled on the gates of parliament as a grave warning to others that crime doesn’t pay. I know that kind of public humiliation may have long since been taken off the table but, after new laws were introduced in last year’s governmental shake-up, they’ve already polished a pole by the front gate for my very own top box. I suspect that, given the fact that we no longer live in the dark ages, they thought they were doing me a service when allowing me still to receive external mail right up to the day of my execution. They weren’t; to date I have had one hundred and thirty-three correspondences stating their wish for me to burn in hell, forty-five misguided attempts at humor at my expense and, somewhat ironically, twenty-seven death threats. All of this and not one Christmas card.


Had I negated to mentioned that it is the 6th of December? That’s right, while the entire free world are preparing for the festivities; I am stuck here soaking up my own urine and preparing to be cut down to size. There are no decorative reefs or even a simple sprig of holly; only chains and damp surfaces. It’s a wonder I haven’t caught hypothermia as I’m sure these conditions wouldn’t reach regulation standards. My only friend for the past three months has been a cockroach whom I affectionately named Tim. He was good company for a while; never what you would call a conversationalist although I rather enjoyed watching his wayward scuttle across my cell. Who would have thought that an irritant like Tim would be the victim of club foot? Despite the fact that I have been sentenced to death; I’m still quenching my thirst for knowledge. It’s a shame the world will never know about Tim; it will have to be our little secret. Alas, I rolled over in my sleep last night and woke to an almighty crunch. Tim died; I’d like to report that his memory will live on beyond his mortal shell but I’m for the high jump too so I guess he’ll wind up just another bug statistic.


I can hear what you’re whispering you know. This dude has lost it; he clearly slaughtered his wife and deserves every last punishment coming to him. You try sitting in solitude for 97 days without another soul to converse with. Look at Tom Hanks; a few paltry weeks as a castaway and he took to befriending a volleyball. You don’t see anybody questioning his scruples do you? I’m sure Helen Hunt would’ve had second thoughts about taking him back if she knew that he pumped Wilson up daily with an altogether more philandering valve. Let’s all hate on the convict, after all, it’s not as though he can do anything about it is it? Tim was my friend; to you that may not mean a whole bunch but, to a man about to feel the business end of an axe, it most certainly means something. Folk seem to conveniently forget that I lost my wife in all of this. We may have bickered on a bi-daily basis and I might well have feigned wringing her scrawny little neck on occasion, but to think that I would end her life while she lay in slumber suggests that you never knew me at all.


Chop first, ask questions later. I ask you, what good is that likely to do me? I can hear the baying crowds and, to rub salt in the wounds, they even invited a hot dog vender to distribute light snacks as nobody wishes to spend a chilly December morning with a growling stomach. The guards will be here any minute now and I will be led away to my final resting place. Soon it will be just me and the almighty as he casts his final judgement and decides whether I have done enough to secure a place at his top table. I’m hopeful, despite this blip, that he will consider the times when I have acted out of kindness and selflessness. Let’s not forget the time when I bought a homeless guy a portion of fries and sat with him as he practically inhaled them as it seemed unkind to let him eat alone. That has to count for something right? If the man upstairs takes that into account, and it isn’t an isolated incident, then I should have my very own initialed halo by suppertime. Shame I won’t have a head for it to levitate over. Life, and it appears, death can be so cruel.


Then there’s Tim. He should be receiving his verdict about now and, with a little luck, he will relay back some of the marvelous life-enriching times that we spent together. I hope so as I’ve always been rather hot-blooded and don’t relish spending the remainder of infinity in Lucifer’s kiln. I’ve seen the brochure and am fairly assured that hell wouldn’t fare well on a health & safety check. Besides, my flesh is stringy and not particularly flavorsome; hardly prime rib material anyhoots. Perhaps if they left my bones to simmer on a low heat for long enough; they may get some cutlets out of me. But I’d make a reasonable entrée at best. I just hope all of these factors are being taken into consideration and I receive a fairer trial than the one I was afforded here on Earth. If it is decided that I have done insufficient to warrant my own cloud then so be it. I’ll take my bitter medicine and do so as a man.


Okay look, I’m about to die. Nothing is going to change that now. I would rather level with you than carry a white lie to the netherworld as that’s just excess baggage. Thus, I feel that it is my duty to come clean. I may have been partly responsible for her demise; there I said it. Before you all go calling for my head, please hear me out and remember that I am already doomed to lose it anyway. At worst it was manslaughter and I’m not sure even that would stand up in a court of law if all the correct contributing factors were presented by an unbiased attorney. I had absolutely no intent to snuff her out and only desired to make a mockery of her in the comfort of our own boudoir. Have you heard of the term “dutch oven”? It is a largely juvenile affair whereby flatulence is released beneath the divan and your loved one’s head held under the cover long enough to incite mild nausea and a little harmless retching. That’s it; no impish plot to maim or encourage discontinuation. Just a fart and a frolic. I even told her how much I adored her as I forcibly restrained her beneath the sheets.


I don’t keep tabs on her menstrual cycle; how was I to know that her ovaries had just reconvened their monthly everything must go yard sale? She failed to see the funny side and I shoulder full responsibility for acting unceremoniously but, never in a million years, did I expect her to cut her own throat. I don’t even believe it was suicide; judging my her incision it would appear she performed a failed tracheotomy in an endeavor to clear her airways. So you see, there was no murder to speak of; just a botched attempt at humor which I am paying a princely dividend for. I’m not a bad person; just a man whose life has been turned upside down by his penchant for roughage. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” That’s how the saying goes right? Well three aubergines and a Greek Salad apparently dared the executioner to grind his halberd. Where’s the fairness in that? I didn’t eat vegetables because I actually enjoyed their taste; I just bought into the whole 5-a-day deal and look where it got me. If you ask me, she was damned fortunate I hadn’t stumped on a Mexican chilli that night. She should count her lucky stars if you ask me and, before you bother reminding me that nobody has, I’m exercising my right to voice my disapproval and you can’t take that away from me.


There they are now; right on time and not a minute tardy. Looks like this is it; I truly appreciate you taking the time to sit with me in my final moments and listen to a dead man walking talking. Our paths may cross in the afterlife; much of that depends on whether the one whom cannot be questioned got his morning caffeine shot or not. Either way, I have rather enjoyed the time we have spent together. It has helped getting that all off my chest as, at least, when I leave this mortal plane, I will do so with a clear conscience and head held high. Who is to deny a dying man his final words? I have the same God-given right as the next man to part with something meaningful; a nugget of wisdom I can leave as my legacy. Problem is, I’ve always been something of a jester at heart. Much as I would love to leave you with “weakness is merely an opportunity to build strength” or something iconic like that; the urge to play the fool is just a little too enticing. That’s what got me into this sorry mess in the first place so, I guess, at least I’m consistent. Here goes, my final thought: how much do you think Grover from Sesame Street can overhead bench press? I mean, the dude has no discernible biceps to speak of. My guess is around about 40lbs, maybe fifty at an absolute push. There, I’m ready. Peace out Tim.


Click here to read The Sluggish Demise of Cornelius






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