I remember a bag being stuck over my head as I was led barefoot out of the building and into the ring. I had seen the ring before, of course. It was large and spacious and could sit thousands. There were at least that many there that day, all gathered together. All gathered for me.
The bag was itchy. That stands out to me now. It rubbed against my face, and I wanted to lift my hands and scratch beneath it. I couldn’t, of course. My hands were bound behind my back.
It also smelled. I think perhaps it had been used for grain or something similar at one point, and I could still smell the fresh oats on it. That bothered me. I deserved a clean burlap sack but they hadn’t even sprung for that.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. The type of men that would take away a man’s shoes weren’t the sort of men who would give him a clean bag to wear to the ring.
I remember hearing shouts. People called out to me. They despised me, and I knew it. They were glad of my imprisonment. They were glad that my faced itched and I couldn’t scratch it. They were glad that the sand beneath my feet was hot and burned my heels as I walked over it.
I never felt such hatred before, but I hated each and everyone one of those people who had gathered together that day. I hated them for their cheers and their jeers and for their sheep-like compliance.
Once I was in the ring, the bag came off, and I could see the people waiting in the middle. The people waiting for me to approach. If it had done any good, I would have turned and fled, but there were men there to stop me from doing exactly that.
Some of the people had come prepared. They threw things at me; some had rocks but mostly it was rotten food. I remember the stink it made and the mess. Some landed in front of me and I was forced to march through the sticky, syrupy mass of old-aged, mold-ridden fruit.
When I got to the center of the ring, one of the men there forced me to my knees. He had a bag over his face too, this one black. I could see his eyes though, and I remember thinking I’d never seen such coldness before. He should have been remorseful, or at least pitiful, but he wasn’t. He enjoyed his job.
His voice was rough and low. It sounded like it scratched his throat on the way of coming out. He asked me for my final words.
I remember that I could have said a thousand things, I could have condemned them all, and how I wanted to! How I wanted to use these last, few, final moments to lecture and abuse these fellow men. Instead, a prayer came to my lips and I spit it out like poison.
Then they forced my head over the block. It was wooden, and I remember the splinter that lodged in my neck. It would have been uncomfortable if adrenaline hadn’t been racing through my veins. Wasted energy, I remember thinking.
Then the whistle of the axe. Oh, how I remember that. The sound it made as it came crashing down. That’s all. No pain, no suffering, no screams, no cries. Just the whistle of the ax, and darkness. Peace.
I remember how I died. I just don’t remember why.