THE WITNESS

THE WITNESS

A Story by Peter Rogerson
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A simple tale of waiting for the end ... Justice can be wrong.

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I’m standing here now with a sack over my head, blinding my eyes as the noose is adjusted round my neck. They don’t like you to see the instrument of your death. They don’t like you to see the truth, but then, truth has precious little to do with this.

I’m thinking these thoughts. The same ones that have rolled round and round my head since the affair started.

I’m thinking I’m not alone. Hundreds, maybe thousands, have stood on this spot before me with the man of God reading meaningless nonsense from his prayer book and everyone sombre, and like me they have known their own innocence. Crowds of them, proclaimed guilty but innocent as new born babes. Like me.

You can’t take a life in London whilst celebrating victory in Nottingham. Can you? I mean, with witnesses by the score?

I’ll be falling soon, down to the cell beneath whilst the noose tightens on my neck. And the hangman, he won’t care, he can’t afford to care. Why, if he knew what he was doing he would know what he was. A killer. A cold-blooded murderer, because there’s no way on this planet I could have done it.

And the truth is there’s no way on this planet I would have done it, either.

I’ll be jerking to a shattering stillness. That’s what I’ll be doing, and the Priest will look my way and tell himself that his God’s will has been done. The condemned man is dead, and serve him right.

I was celebrating a beautiful victory in Nottingham, and that’s hours from London even by the fastest stage. That’s what I was doing, in front of hundreds. The polling booths were all closed, the votes had all been counted, and I had won! Unexpectedly, the people had turned out in their droves and decided that now, at last, there was a man who spoke their language and understood their needs. The champagne, not the expensive stuff but decent cava anyway, flowed, and the cheers were growing hoarse.

And the constable stood at the back and eyed the crowds, grim because he wanted to be at home with his lovely wife, in bed and telling her the same things that he told her every night because he meant every syllable of them, but instead he had to be here, watching the count, listening to the result, imagining the curves of her precious body next to where he should be.

The clock is ticking. I can’t hear it, but I know that it is.

The man in London was killed in dockland on the darkest of nights and in the darkest of places, in murky shadows surrounded by w****s but penniless.

It was him!” screeched his wife, pointing at a poster on the wall.

My poster. My face, silently explaining my reasons to be a candidate in the election. My image looked out at the dead man, the expression on my photographed face anticipating a hoped-for victory.

It was him!” she screeched again, lashing out at my monochrome face. “I’d swear before God it was him! I saw him, din’t I?”

But he’s miles away,” soothed a sergeant, all starched uniform and shiny boots, “in Nottingham, being elected.”

It’s him!” howled the woman, grief tearing her face into shreds of tears. “I saw him! I swear it, I saw him...”

I suppose they had to ask me. They could have asked her why she was there with all the w****s, watching her husband being stabbed, but instead they asked me.

Where were you on the evening of the ninth?” asked the Inspector, whiskey and cologne and a hangover.

I told him.

Have you any witnesses?” he murmured.

Hundreds.”

They don’t count! You were on a stage up high and they were down below in the shadows. You need proper witnesses, folks who could see properly. You might have put a look-alike on that stage while you sneaked down to the smoke with your blade. You might have given him the words to say and gome off yourself, maybe taken the stage to London.

You might have killed the poor sod. We’ve a witness who knows it was you. His ever-loving wife, left with the kids to bring up on her own while you were knifing her man!”

I was celebrating a great victory in Nottingham!”

I say as you were in London. And I’m arresting you for the murder of Mickie Fellen, and I know what’ll happen to you, mister politician, you’ll swing for it!”

And the irrational sod of it is, that’s the way it’s turning out.

Why did you do it?” wept my lovely curvaceous wife, “why did you kill the man?”

But I didn’t,” I shouted, suddenly desperate. “You were there with me! You saw me on the stage! You cheered with everyone else! I even winked at you, and you winked back!”

I thought it was you standing high on that platform, up high, shadowed, but… there was a witness, the policeman said, and policemen know these things...”

But you were a witness, you and everyone else at the count! You all saw me!”

They’re going to re-run the election and you’ll not be on the ballot sheet,” she told me, “but they’re sure we’ll lose because of you. Nobody’ll vote for a party that harbours a killer!”

But you saw me!” I almost screamed. “It can’t have been me! You of all souls must know that.”

There was a witness,” she said, weakly, and went forlornly back home. To my home, and I’m not there, I’m here, weeping inside.

It was a shock when the jury said GUILTY because I knew I wasn’t. It was a shock when I was clamped in handcuffs and pushed roughly back to the cell. My brain is numb. I didn’t do it, that’s the message that runs round and round my head like one of those fancy new steam engines.

And I’m here, waiting for the clock to tick to the appointed time, standing with a sack on my head and a noose round my neck.

And I never hurt anyone.

I never killed anyone.

But they’re still going to ha……

© Peter Rogerson 21.11.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson


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Added on November 21, 2017
Last Updated on November 21, 2017
Tags: condemned, hangman, murder, innocemt, politician, proof

Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing