(Reposted from May, 2010)
Today, we have a guest blogger. Ronnie Lee Gardner, a 49-year-old native of Utah, was executed by firing squad early this morning. But before he was blasted into Kingdom Come, he got off one final shot of his own with this day-long account of his last hours on earth.
Gardner was facing murder charges in the 1984 slaying of a bartender when he tried to escape from the courtroom. During the attempt, he killed a lawyer and shot the sheriff (though let the record show that he did not shoot the deputy). He was tried for the second murder and sentenced to death. Given the choice between lethal injection and facing a firing squad, he opted for the latter in the belief that it would be way cooler.
Guaranteed a swift resolution of his case by the Constitution, now it is 25 years later and — sorry, Ronnie — but it’s time to die. First, though, he took us through his final day.
8:30 a.m. Thursday — Woke up. Got out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head. Go ahead and sue me if you want, surviving Beatles. I just hope your case gets on the docket pretty damn quickly because I’ll be dead by this time tomorrow. Besides, if you’ve seen any recent pictures of me, you know I don’t have any hair anyway, so I’d get off on a technicality. Though I am thinking of wearing a toupee to the execution. Sure, my head will be covered in a shroud, but I’ll know I’m looking sharp and that’s what really matters.
8:45 a.m. — Bit of a nasty incident with the kitchen staff. It’s my contention that when I’m guaranteed a “Last Meal,” it means I get to eat whatever I want for each of the last three meals of the day — breakfast, lunch and dinner. So I ordered a vegetarian omelet with Egg Beaters, turkey sausage, a fruit cup, juice and coffee. And they tell me, no, you’re getting the usual, some generic version of Honey Bunches of Oats and toast. So I go on a rampage on the cafeteria ladies, killing three and wounding six. I’ve had it with these people. I’m going on a hunger strike. I know it’s only 15 hours til I’m shot, but there’s a principle involved here.
9:00 — Time to watch me some Hoda and Kathie Lee on the fourth hour of the Today Show. All the guys in the yard find this is a great way to catch up on a little news, some cooking and housekeeping tips, celebrity gossip, etc. It’s kind of a bonding experience for us. We gots to have our daily dose of Hoda.
9:50 — A clergyman stops by to ask if there’s anything he can do to help me feel I’m “right with God.” I say, yeah, how about a 50.0-magnitude earthquake right here in Utah, breaking me out of this joint and opening up a fissure in the countryside that reveals a treasure chest of gold buried by the ancient Mormons. I grab the gold and head into Salt Lake City to get me some hookers and some crack. He says he can’t do that, because there ain’t any hookers and crack in SLC.
10:05 — A riot erupts in the common area. There’s one gang, the Aryan Supremacy, that prefers to watch Regis and Kelly while a rival gang, the Latin Kings, want to see Judge Judy. A hail of tear gas and rubber bullets bring the mob under control, and the guards insist on a compromise of The Price is Right. It’s not the same since Bob Barker left, but still it’s better than being thrown into solitary.
10:30 — I head back to my cell for a meeting with my attorney about the last-minute appeals. (He tried to blow me off til tomorrow but I’m like, “hello?”) He said my last chance is with the U.S. Supreme Court and it doesn’t look good, especially since Justice Scalia has applied to be on the firing squad. I say Scalia should recuse himself then, and my idiot attorney says “what’s recuse mean?” so I guess that means there’s not much hope.
10:45 — I turn on the portable TV they let me have in my death row cell and watch a little bit of that BP boss (Tony Hayward) testifying before Congress. It gives me great comfort to see somebody who’s under more fire than me. But I could not believe that Republican guy who apologized to BP because Obama was making them cough up $20 billion to pay for the damages. I mean, I’ll admit I’m a low-life scumbag but this Barton guy is even worse. I just wish he’d volunteer for my firing squad. He’d probably apologize to me for how uncomfortable the execution chair is, then end up shooting himself.
11:30 — I return my Netflix movie, Mamma Mia! I never did get to watch it, what with all this last-minute stuff going on. I’m not leaving much behind, but I’ll be damned if my kids have to deal with Netflix in probate.
12:00 noon – No lunch for me! I’m on a hunger strike! Okay, maybe just a cookie.
12:30 p.m. — Nap time. I’ll be up past midnight tonight (even if it’s only til 12:01) so I need a little shut-eye.
1:45 — Guess I better go ahead and execute my pet roach, Larry. He’s been a good pal these last few months, yet I can’t stand to think how he’d survive without me, so I’m doing one of those mercy killings. I knitted a little hood for his head out of dental floss but damn if I could get it on him. He kept twitching his antennas so I finally just stomped him with my shoe. Farewell, Larry. I’ll see you on the other side.
2:30 — I watch some World Cup soccer, Myanmar versus Antarctica, I think it was. Soccer is so boring, but it makes time go past slowly which makes me feel like I’ve got more hours to live.
3:00 — My business manager stops by to offer a final goodbye and some good news about a promotional tie-in we’ve been working on. Usually, the execution guys just pin a white circle over your heart for the firing squad to aim at, but we worked out a deal with Target to use their logo instead. I wasn’t too sure at first about increasing the odds that somebody’s going to shoot my heart. Fortunately, that check for $10,000 convinced me otherwise.
4:15 — I get access to the computer in the prison library. I’m writing some letters to the families of my victims asking for forgiveness but I can’t get the damn Word files to attach to an AOL email. Oh, how I hate AOL. I look forward to meeting them in Hell. I manage to sneak on to Overstock.com and find a great deal on a bullet-proof vest. I’m willing to pay extra for expedited delivery; I’m just not sure it’ll make it here in time.
5:00 — No dinner! What? This really is my Last Meal? Okay, I’ll have filet mignon, lobster, caviar, champagne, foie gras, chocolate mousse, and baked Alaska.
5:10 — Warden says no dice on the fancy dinner, though he’ll be glad to send out a press release saying that’s what I “requested”. (Ever notice that they always say “he requested such-and-such for his last meal” but they never tell you if the prisoner actually gets it? What a scam!) Guess I’ll eat the chipped beef on toast anyway, since now I got myself all hungry.
6:30 — Doing some yoga moves I read about in the library that are supposed to relax you. I also found one that supposedly allows you to shift your internal organs around. I’m working on having my heart and appendix switch places so that instead of death by firing squad, I’ll simply be having an appendectomy tonight. Hope it works.
7:15 — Having some second thoughts about turning down that lethal injection thing. I bet it gets you high first, at least for a second or two.
9:00 — One last bit of fun before meeting my maker: I get to watch Game 7 of the NBA finals. I got the Lakers by eight in the Death Row pool, though it’s not going to do me much good to win the pot. I just hope it doesn’t go into overtime, taking it past midnight.
10:40 — Back to the library for one last session on the computer. Updating my Facebook status to “almost dead”.
11:30 — They’re taking me down to the firing range. This is it. Goodbye, cruel world. Oh, and my thanks to DavisW for giving me this last chance to chat with everybody on his blog. It gives me great solace to know as many as 250 people may actually read this.
11:59 — They’re strapping me into the chair. Here comes the hood. Hey, watch the toupee, will ya? Jeez, it slipped down over my forehead and is now itching me like crazy. Oh, the indignity.
12:01 a.m. — Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Damn, that hurt.