Strapped to a board with needles in his arms, Hubert still tasted chicken parmesan. He smiled at his reflection in the Plexiglas mirror, horrifying the onlookers on the other side. It wasn’t to gloat or scare them. He shed such impulses long ago. It was the marinara sauce. Licking droplets on his back teeth, he basked in it.
Before they checked his anal cavity and handcuffed his arms and legs, Hubert met with a priest. He didn’t find Jesus. The only deliverance he received in his final hours came from garlic bread, green beans, and cauliflower: the sides of his savory savior. Hubert couldn’t wrap his mind around it. He’d spent the last sixteen years alone in a cell the size of a parking lot space, and not once did anyone do something nice for him.
Were they doing it for him or themselves? Did it make them feel better about taking his life? Did it prevent them from becoming a murderer like him? Hubert never served a fancy meal to that bank teller before pulling the trigger. He killed people the wrong way.
It was the same meal his mother made him as a child, the same that he shared every other week with his fiancé, Tricia. Both of them were gone now. Only the taste remained. When the warden asked him if he had any last words before a lethal combination of drugs would surge through his veins and stop his heart, he tasted his lips once more. Memories flooded him. Then in what would be misconstrued by the local paper as the parting words of a depraved psychopath, he said, “It was delicious.”
Brett Pribble is the editor-in-chief of Ghost Parachute and is on the board of directors of the Kerouac Project writer in residence program. His work has appeared in such places as Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Saw Palm, The Molotov Cocktail, Crack the Spine, and The Airgonaut. Follow him on Twitter @brettpribble.