by Greg Thompson

    Short and strong, heavy from southern cooking, close cropped white hair, wearing a button down shirt with an American flag stitched across his chest, the county judge pointed his finger and dropped the hammer of his thumb and shot the poor salesman dead. A pool of blood formed under the twitching body as the judge, stepping around the puddle, shook the hand of the cotton farmer briskly and said "Hello Joe, I didn't see you at church last week, please sit and excuse the mess."

    Out at the jail, the jailers and the inmate passed around the last Marlboro light as they waited for the DPS trooper to take him off to Huntsville and death row. Out in the booking room a tall dark man, with a sweet smile, joyfully mopped the floor and chatted with the computer tech about the new fancy equipment. For fun they took his picture and printed it out on the computer and gave him a copy to send to his mom. Later the jailers joked about his assaults and attempted murder.

    At the poor salesman's funeral , the judge spoke well but a bit too long -- the election was only a month away and he was little worried. And at the widow's house he complemented her on her black eyed peas.

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