by Jamie Ford
Norman Harwood stood in the gallery of Walla Walla prison’s execution chamber. Behind the glass, he watched his cousin Ray, twitch like a horse carp in the bottom of a fishing boat. His cousin’s limbs thrashed, while his head jerked back.
The body of his oldest daughter, Neela, was found in the shed behind Ray’s house, and though Ray denied it, his underwear was found stuffed in her mouth. Despite four years of appeals, Ray was lit up at the stroke of midnight.
On the long road home, Norman thought about what he’d say to his other daughter, Angie. She was almost eight and had cried for days when her big sister went missing, but now seemed at peace.
“Do you think it hurt when she died?” Angie had asked.
Norman said what made sense. “I bet angels took her to Heaven. She was long gone by the time it happened.”
“I think she was happy to go.”
Norman thought about that all the way home. What does she know? She’s just a babe. Not old and spiteful like her older sister––so strong natured. Eager to get out on her own. Likely to run her mouth. Can’t have that can we?
When Norman got home. He wasn’t thinking about Neela, or his cousin. He had closure now. My worries are over, he thought. What’s done is done.
With that, he went alone into Angie’s bedroom and showed her how all daddies protect their little girls.
[Jamie Ford grew up near Seattle's Chinatown and is busy querying his first novel, Surefire. He hangs out at www.jamieford.com and has been known to eat jellyfish, sea cucumber and chicken feet on occasion.]