In the newspapers there are photos of a raging madman. Have you seen him? Gray beard, dark eyes, brown skin sagging off his skull. He is pointing, mouth open. He speaks a language I don’t understand. There are scores of men seated in ranks behind him, looking alternatively bored, outraged and amused. Not since Nuremburg have we tried a criminal in public view. Not since Nuremburg have we known the fate of this man before the trial began. He is unafraid to be executed. When this man was arrested and evidence produced, his family cried. “He bounced grandchildren on his knee. He gave them candy and money. He kissed them goodnight,” they said.
He looks familiar to me. This man. He has kissed me goodnight and told me stories about a rabbit in tar. He sang songs about the jailhouse. He tossed me into the air while his wife, my grandmother, screamed at him to be more careful. He won medals. He pinned them on his uniform. He typed letters for presidents. He drank. He suffocated a man with a plastic bag. He maimed a child with toxic gas. He sat alone on a rusty porch swing in his carport in West Virginia. He smoked after my grandmother went to bed. Elbows on his knees, face to his boots. He shook involuntarily. He drank more. He assaulted police officers who came for him when my grandmother called. He served time. He posed for a photo. The public tsked-tsked, then turned the page. There is a raging madman in the papers. Have you seen him? They have already killed him.