Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Last Words

—"What time is it? I wish you'd hurry up, I want to get to hell in
time for dinner." (John Owens (AKA Bill Booth), executed for murder in
Wyoming on March 5, 1886).

—"I would rather be standing here for the crime that so help me God, I
never remember committing, than to be sitting down there eagerly
waiting to see a man die." (Edward J. Brislane, executed in Illinois
for murder on February 11, 1921).

—"Don't worry about me. I'm okay. They are not shooting me for
deserting the United States Army—thousands of guys have done that.
They're shooting me for bread I stole when I was 12 years old."
(Edward Donald "Eddie" Slovik," convicted of desertion in northeastern
France and executed on January 31, 1945.)

—"When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some
headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I'm dead." (Douglas
Roberts, convicted of kidnapping, robbery and murder in Texas and
executed on April 20, 2005.)

Quoted in Charles Simic's review of Robert K. Elder's Last Words of
the Executed (U of Chicago Press, 2010), in the New York Review of