I used to be one of those ‘the courts are too soft. They should slice the bastards’ balls off with rusty wire cutters. Lock the fuckers up and throw away the key.’
Like so many, I was convinced I had a better understanding of justice than the courts.
Like a lot of people, I was sick of seeing murders and rapists walking free after less than a year or two in jail while their victims suffered the rest of their lives. I was actually pleased with the shock election of a far-right government when it freed us from the judicial restraints of a civil and human rights obsessed Europe.
And then it happened; a little the worse for wear after too much booze, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If only I’d called a taxi that night, everything that followed might have been avoided. But I didn’t. I’d decided to stumble along the dark back streets to where I lived. I’d hoped against hope the night air might clear my head, maybe just enough to minimise the disapproving reception of a wife no doubt less than impressed at my turning up in the early hours of the morning. I can’t help but sigh at the irony of such a trivial concern now.
I was passing some derelict factory when I noticed some bloke walking towards me.
“Got a light, mate?” he asked. I should have just muttered I hadn’t and continued walking, but thinking about it, I doubt it would have made a difference.
I fumbled for a lighter among my pockets. In the process, I dropped my wallet to the ground. Fuck it, I silently cursed, cursing the stranger too for interrupting my efforts to walk home. The man immediately reached down for it. I assumed he was picking it up for me, undoubtedly aware I was too drunk to do so myself. I extended my hand for him to pass it back to me. He didn’t. Instead, he opened it, taking out the one remaining twenty-pound note before tossing the wallet among some discarded black trash bags. I could well afford the loss of twenty quid, and it would have been easy enough to cancel the credit cards the next day. I should have just shrugged and continued my walk home and let it go. I didn’t …
“Oi, what you up to? You’ve taken my fucking money,” I shouted at him. He turned to walk away, so I grabbed his arm to try and stop him. He easily shoved me to the ground, among the trash bags where my cashless wallet lay. If I’d any sense, I wouldn’t have got up, allowing the stranger to go on in search of his next victim.
I rose to one knee and reached out to an empty bottle lying among the adjacent rubbish and threw it in his direction. It hit him in the back of the head, hard. He turned back towards me, now with a knife in hand. But having slumped back on my rear end, it was hard for him to lunge at me the same way he might if I were standing. Nonetheless, he tried to strike in a downwards motion. He stumbled in the dark. After that, it’s mostly an alcohol misted blur. All I know is, when he fell, the knife he was holding ended up piercing one of his lungs. Despite my drunken stupor, I still remember those last frantic gasps for breath while he literally drowned in his own blood.
If only I’d been sober. I would have either made sure I left no clues I was ever there or would have called the police. Instead, I continued on my way home. The police found my wallet, and I was arrested the next day. A month later I was convicted – of murder.
Sentencing was very different now from what it was before the recent changes promised in The National Patriots’ election manifesto before their unexpected victory. All the medieval punishments I would often wish for had become a part of the here and now.
The first change was the reintroduction of the death penalty. But you had to suffer beforehand, the public demanded that. First, they would amputate a foot. A month later it might be a leg, then perhaps an eye or sometimes just a couple of fingers – there was no order or timetable for the surgeries. The Government kept the public onside with lots of happy-ending heart-string pulling posts of children being saved by the many more transplant organs available – courtesy of all those scummy criminals who wouldn’t be needing them.
In between the amputations and the organ extractions, the authorities would wheel me out around the schools and young offender institutions. I served as a stark warning that the days of being soft on crime were over. As my anatomy continued to shrink, the looks of those I was paraded before gradually turned from pity to ones of horror and disgust.
We’re forced to write or dictate blogs, detailing our experiences as a further warning to others. That’s how you come to be reading this. I won’t be writing for a while, I’m due for another surgery tomorrow – another limb removal or perhaps a lung, I don’t really know.
George Richardson never did get to write the end of his story. They amputated his hands yesterday. There’s not much of him left now, certainly not enough to parade before all the young offenders. Not surprisingly, he’s changed his mind somewhat about judicial punishments. He misses all those civil liberties and human rights he’d once been so dismissive of … along with most of his body.