The Benevolent Offender

By: Percy Weathers

“I’m going to die soon anyway, so why not?” This was a question I kept asking myself over the course of time. What I did to get to this point in life caused me to begin searching for a way to leave a legacy other than what the Newspapers made mention of. The media kept highlighting my evil deeds and caused the community to come unglued with anger. How could I do something worthwhile from the position I now found myself in? I’ve done terrible things and hurt a lot of people. I had been a bad seed from the days of my youth. Questions, questions, which is all I’ve been able to come up with. No satisfactory answers! Only feelings of regret, and hopelessness…Until yesterday, that is.

The magazine article was compelling and made even a man of my depraved stature well up with emotion. The author wrote of a young boy who had lost his eyesight to an accident. The kid had been playing with a chemistry set at home and splashed some acid in his eyes. The poor little guy was only ten years old. I could not bring myself to imagine what a life without eye sight could be like. I’d rather be dead than to have to live without my sight. What a horrendous curse such a life would be, I thought.

Reading of this young boy’s plight got me to thinking: “Could I do something to help?” But just as soon as I entertained such a thought another invaded my mind and clarified things. “Ha! What could Percy Weathers, the convicted murderer possibly do for this kid? I’m about to die in one of the loneliest places on earth and for most of my life I haven’t done anything good for anybody.” I must be crazier than I thought! That settled it, I was being naive to think I could make a difference in this kid’s life that I didn’t know, and who, if he knew me, would refuse my help anyway. I could not feel any lower than I felt right now. What a miserable life I had created for myself and others. I need a nap.

“Hey man, what are you going to leave me?” Did I just hear what I thought I heard? The guy living down the run from me had just spoken to me for the very first time in five years, but what was even more shocking was that he wanted me to leave him something when I died in a few days. He had another think coming if he thought I was going to give him anything of mine. I didn’t know this guy from Adam, and on top of that, I hated that punk. His life had turned out even more miserable and destructive than my own. That piece of crap hurt kids; he tortured and raped little children, and in my book that was the worst sin a man could ever commit. I hated this guy with every fiber of my being. No way, he’s not getting any of my meager possessions, but the loser made a good point, although I’ll never let him know it: I can leave something to someone else for them to enjoy when I’m gone.

The kid in the magazine article came to mind. I can leave him something that he can enjoy. I can leave him my eyes. With the advancement in medical technology these days it’s only a matter of a well-planned surgical procedure to implant human eyes into another person. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do, because after all, I won’t need them in a few days! But wait- what if the kid also gets the memories when my eyes get transplanted? I’ve read about just such a nightmarish situation happening. It’s a phenomenon and had rarely been reported in medicine, but it had happened a couple times. I don’t want an innocent kid seeing what I saw. I don’t want a child to be tormented with the sights and gore of murderous death just to have the opportunity to see. It was bad enough for me to see the things I saw and did, but a little kid would be deeply traumatized by it all. It would definitely drive him insane. It almost drove me crazy and I’m not innocent.

What should I do? I probably won’t have to do anything because just as soon as this kid’s parents discover who it is that wants to donate eyes to him it will all be over anyway. Once the community knows that Percy Weathers wants to do something good, the judgement carnival will start up once again. I’m the scum of the earth deserving of hell fire and nothing else, so what good can come from the likes of me anyhow?! Can anything positive come from my condemned life? I must be stupid for even imagining such an outlandish gesture. I wrote the magazine editor anyway – told you I was stupid – and decided to lay it all out on the table and explain to the guy what I wanted to do. I was convinced he was going to laugh his butt off as he crumpled up my letter and tossed it into the trash can, but I could at least rest knowing I did everything possible.

It was over and I could die in peace. Or so I thought. I dreamed about that fateful day again last night. The screams played over and over in my head. I could see the blood once again gushing from the guy’s head after I shot him. And for what, because he smarted off to me in the grocery store?! Did I really blow that dude away for nothing more than a smart-assed comment??? I certainly didn’t know he was the son of Judge Roy Littleton. And why did I shoot his buddy point blank in the face…3 times? For coming to his defense? How soulless can a man be… I never considered myself that cold-hearted before. And yet, I walked away from their lifeless bodies like I was walking away from a Newspaper Stand. Killing another human being wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. But then, I was already dead myself – I had been “killed” years ago by severe physical and mental abuse. The foster homes I was sent to after my parent’s divorce were nothing more than houses of horror. The things done to me as a young boy were unspeakable. I was forced to grow into manhood without a soul; without a conscience. I was a man without feeling, without love, without God.

It was yesterday that the editor responded to my letter and contacted the boy’s caregivers. I was stunned when the boy’s guardians approved my dying request. Did they actually know who they were saying yes to? My name and deeds had been plastered all over the local media when I was discovered. Percy Weathers was a name that quickly became synonymous with Satan and evil and everything bad. I had been hunted for months like some rabid dog, the town’s men hot on my trail, itching to put a bullet in my skull when they eventually caught up with me. I had built a reputation from my youth, and pain followed me wherever I went. I hurt people just to watch them writhe in agony. Why not. People had hurt me the same way when I was a kid. I was just getting my revenge. Violence is all I knew. But who was I to think I could run and hide forever anyway? No matter how good at eluding capture ya think you are, ya can’t stay hidden forever. Whatever is done in the dark comes to the light, sooner or later. Isn’t that what the Good Book says? Like I’m some expert on what the bible has to say. Ha! I had been running from God my whole life, how did I even remember that quote? Hmmm… anyway, I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it into heaven in just a little while, but you can’t blame a man for trying!

I won’t get in the newspapers this time for doing something “good” but in my heart and spirit I will know that I tried, and that has to be enough at this juncture. I can go to my grave with the last deed done in a pure, altruistic motive. I can leave this place one last act of kindness; something positive Ol’ Percy Weathers got away with! I woke up sweating from the nightmare. The dreams seem to come to me nightly now. I now constantly dream about the day three people’s lives changed forever, mine and two others. In the dream I kept hearing the throng of people screaming at me over and over again, “Why did you do it? Why??” How could I answer their questions when I could not even provide the answer for myself? I’d been asking myself that exact question for years now. Why did I do it? What compelled me to turn into a monster that night? What made me go against the Christian teachings of my hypocritical mother, God rest her soul. What happened to me as a kid that twisted me into a remorseless adult monster?

Finally, the answer came to me: Pain. Pain inflicted upon me as a child slowly changed me. Pain robbed me of my innocence and morphed me into a man who knew nothing more than pain. And a man filled with pain can give out nothing more than that. And that made me the monster I was hailed as being in the local press. I had become a product of the evil in the adult’s hearts who were supposed to look out for me. Imagine that. Thank goodness my mother is not here to witness the depth of despair her only boy had stooped to.

But anyway, enough of the reminiscing. What’s done is done. I can’t unring any bells now. I must move forward and try to leave something positive for the world to benefit from. But all I have to give is my pitiful self… And how very pitiful that gift would be. A worthless gift to be sure. I do have my eyes, however. I’ve always had good eyesight, even my worthless mamma said so. I could hit a baseball going 90 miles an hour as a kid when the grown men on professional teams couldn’t hit balls going half that fast. I could’ve made it in the big leagues too. I really could’ve… if I hadn’t gone and started using dope.

What possessed me to try that mess in the first place? Was it my living conditions at the time? Did I get high to escape? Smoking dope for the first time at the tender age of twelve is one of the greatest mysteries my life has ever encountered. I simply cannot figure out why I tried it.

Jeremy’s guardians wrote me personally a few days later and we established a contract. I committed to donating my eyes upon my death and they committed to having them implanted into Jeremy. I was terrified of causing Jeremy a life-time of pain and horrific nightmares if he were to have my memories transferred to his mind. I didn’t want to hurt the boy that way, but I didn’t want him to suffer a second longer with no eyesight either. I figured the lesser of the two evils was to have my eyes and just deal with any side effects if and when they might present themselves.

I was ready to do the deal. The execution date had finally arrived. Today I was going to die. I was ready to leave the confines of my concrete and steel world and head off into the sunset, or hell, or wherever men like me went when they died. I knew it wasn’t heaven I was headed toward, but then, I didn’t deserve that kind of destination either. Jeremy’s dad was well connected politically, and the courts quickly agreed to let me donate my eyes to the kid. The Warden even came to my cell personally to thank me for what I was about to do… and then read me the execution order. I didn’t need or want his gratitude necessarily, but I liked knowing that more people than just myself cared about Jeremy seeing again.

The execution was going to happen tonight, and I couldn’t help thinking that by the end of the week Jeremy would be seeing again like other boys his age. And hopefully he wouldn’t be experiencing any nightmares as a result. Nevertheless, he would have his sight back and I could finally be at peace. I had been living with what I’d done for too many years now and I was flat-out tired. I had come to terms with my sentence and my God and I was ready to “ride the Lightening,” as the old cons around here used to say. One peculiar thought kept pervading my mind: Would the needle hurt? Lethal injection was supposed to be rather painless, but… Imagine that. Me, a stone-cold killer worried about a needle stick?!? How laughable! While everyone else in the county was praying I would feel tremendous pain and suffering I was brooding over my fear of needles. Did I tell you already that I’m pathetic? What should I care about suffering at this point anyway?

I’m about to die and whether it takes minutes or hours; the process won’t stop until I wake up dead. After the Warden had come to read the death warrant a guard stopped by to give me my last bit of mail. The return address on the lone white envelope had Jeremy’s name on it. What was he doing writing me and how did he write me when he was blind? I wasn’t in the mood to read any letters but I felt obligated to read what this kid wrote to me. In the penmanship of his guardian he had written: “Dear Mr. Weathers, I just wanted to tell you, thank you, for giving me your eyes. I know you did some bad things to get you on death row, but what you have done for me is a very good thing, and God will take your kindness into consideration. You do believe in God, right mister?! I hope so because I sure would like to personally thank you some day when I get to heaven. I am praying for you, sir. Your friend, Jeremy Wright.”

What was a man to do with a letter like that?! I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, and prayed to God for the first time in what seemed like forever. I was not about to let this kid down. I was going to see him someday in heaven. And lo and behold, when I cracked open the dusty bible in my cell, the story of the thief on the cross came to life in front of me. I knew then there was hope. Maybe not a lot of hope, but just enough to hit my knees and cry out to God. “God, please protect Jeremy from the horrific scenes and memories I created in my madness. He just wants to be a normal kid again. May he always see You, and not me. May Jeremy enjoy a dream come true, and never be exposed to the nightmares I was the author of. I don’t deserve your grace, Lord, but Jeremy does.”

Would God hear the prayers of a wretched man such as myself? I could only hope so. And just when I was about to say amen… “It’s time, Percy.” The Warden almost whispered, as he stood in front of the cell. Yeah, I guess it’s time alright. Get ready, Jeremy, I thought. You are about to have the opportunity to make something of yourself. Don’t squander it, son. Take my sight, but not my sorrow.

As I lay strapped tightly to the death gurney, I stared at the ceiling noticing for the first time just how white it was. I was surprisingly calm considering the situation too. “I’m ready Warden,” I said, and as the lethal liquid began pumping into my veins, my very last thought upon this earth was a weird one: “Hope I didn’t forget to put on clean underwear.”

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