In Remembrance of Troy

The following story is fictional.   My goal is to deal with the morality and spirituality surrounding the images and media leading up to the execution of Troy Davis and the inevitable abolishment of the Death Penalty.


Two entities that have been around since before the beginning of you and me, and they live together in a place where they can see and hear all of creation.  They are Mama and Papa.  You may have heard about some of their work.  It is rumored Mama was the brain behind the extinction of the dinosaurs.  It’s a controversy that she denies vehemently (she has to) Papa created them and would be furious if he knew what she did.

Now Mama and Papa have a lot of children.  How many humans are there anyway?  Who keeps count?  Mama is the worst with names.  So she refers to all the boys, no matter their ethnicity, as son.  It’s the same with the girls, she calls them daughter.


Papa takes out his cell phone and reads the text message:


Georgia inmate Troy Davis proclaimed his innocence to the end, in the 1989 slaying of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.

Here are his final words, as witnessed by an Associated Press reporter:

“I’d like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent.

The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth.

I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.

For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.”


The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a stay of execution, and Troy Davis was executed by the state of Georgia at 11:08 p.m. Eastern Time. [1]


In their home, Papa goes to wake up Mama, “Hey girl.  Up, up, up.”

Mama drowsily reaches for the alarm clock, reads the time and asks, “Did something happen?”

Papa hands Mama her favorite robe and slippers, “Just received word.  Two of our sons are coming home today.”

Mama sits up, stretches her way into a standing position, where she happily lets Papa help her into her robe.  She tucks her feet into her slippers before shuffling over to the vanity table.

“What happened?” says Mama.

Papa hands her a brush, “It was cruel what they did.  Everything was set to go at 7pm, then it was 10 minutes after, and the clock kept rolling.  We started hoping that he would receive a stay.  Then it was announced that the Supreme Court was involved.”


Mama stops brushing her hair.  She looks at Papa in amazement.


Papa takes Mama’s hand, “What are you thinking?  Talk to me.”


“You know who’s on the Supreme Court right now,” She inquires, and then continues brushing.


“Well I know Sotomayor was recently appointed.  Why?”


Mama sighs, “Clarence Thomas.”


“Oh yeah.  Georgia boy,” says Papa.


“You would think that he alone would have voted differently.”

“Now Mama, we don’t really know how he voted.  Let’s be fair.”


“I know.  I just, keep hoping for one of them to take a stand for human rights, and stop calling murder sanctioned by the government, justice.”


Mama drags a brush through her long, brown hair.  “ So, you say just two of them are coming?  Family have been coming in here all day.”


“There were two scheduled to be executed at the same time, but in different states,” Papa mentions.


“Who was the other one?” Says Mama.


“Lawrence Brewer.  The guy who was behind the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper Texas,”[2] Papa answers.


At the last minute, Troy’s lawyers petitioned the Supreme Court.  I was listening, waiting to hear their decision, when a group of Georgia State Troopers decided to stage a show of force with their cruisers, flashing their lights and sounding their horns in the middle of the crowd,” Papa says.


Mama bristles, then walks toward the kitchen, “They were showing out.”


“Is that all?” Papa continues, “I thought they looked like a lynch mob.”


“Please…more like Keystone Kops,” Mama laughs.  Papa hugs her while they both enjoy a laugh.


“Oh, I want a biscuit!”  Mama exclaims and then looks at Papa.

“You know he refused his last meal,” Papa says.

“Who, Troy?”  Mama opens the refrigerator, pushing aside week-old leftovers and green apples.  “Where is that ground beast, did you eat it for lunch?  I have a feeling he might like burgers, and all I have ready is this pot of Rice-a-Roni.


Papa pours a cup of coffee, stirring it absently before sitting the cup on the counter.  “The other one, Lawrence, ordered up food like he was at an all-you-can-eat.  Now inmates on death row in Texas aren’t allowed last meals anymore because of his excessiveness.”[3]


Mama reacts by shaking her head, “Let em have it.  I bet the judge who made that decision isn’t missing any meals,” Mama pats her belly, “Kids today don’t have much compassion.”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I believe they have compassion.  They just show it in different ways,” says Papa.


“Lawrence didn’t touch a drop.  Refused his last meal too.”[4]


“I know something we could do, once a month we will have a big dinner to celebrate everyone that came home that month.  That way, if they missed a last meal, I can cook for them,” Mama offers with a smile.


Papa gives her a withering stare, “Mama, you might kill them a second time.  Better let me do the cooking.”


“I can make tea, and I’m really good with peanut butter sandwiches,” Mama laughs while choking back tears.


Papa places his hands on Mama’s face, just gently touching her.  “Shh, it’s okay.


Mama slumps a little before continuing, “You know many of them come up here thinking they can just go about business as usual.  You know, hating and causing pain at will. Lawrence probably thought they wouldn’t bring the food to him so fast.”



Mama touches one of Papa’s hands, and says, “That’s why I built the playground.  I wanted a place where all of us could meet, eat, discuss our differences and work it out.  This is a place to do the work we were supposed to do in life.  They have to do the work if they want to get to that other place.”


“What other place?  You mean Heaven?”


Mama just smiles, but doesn’t confirm or deny the existence of Heaven.  “Why do they all ask about Heaven when they arrive?  They come up here loaded down with their baggage from life, harboring hatred and trying to rebuild their old social clubs and having sex.  Members of hate and terror groups show up and the first thing they do when they see I’m black, is threaten me.  And they think someone wants to sit on a everlasting cloud with them singing Sweet Home Alabama until the last day comes.”


“Wait a minute?  You’re black?”  Papa squints at her.  “Could’ve fooled me.  I thought you were white,” Papa turns his back on Mama for a second.


“What about now?”  Mama asks, as she transforms herself into a dark skin woman.


Papa turns, and then flinches as he struggles to recognize her.  “What do you want them to do Mama?” Papa leans against a counter.


Mama eats a cracker and then takes a sip of tea, “I want them to work it out.  Talk it out.  Meet each other.  You know, the one that did the thing that hurt the other one.  I want them to come together and talk it out.  Talk out the hatred.  Love out the hatred.”


Papa offers, “You know we could be at this for a while.  Folks can be petty.  Some people carry grudges because you stomped their toe, or took their candy.  Let’s not even get started on the evil ones that killed because a black kid took a swim[5] or another one whistled at the wrong lady.[6]  Mama, who gets to decide who’s right or wrong?”


Mama looks Papa square in the eye, puts her hands on her hips and stomps one foot down, “We are all wrong.  We are all guilty.  We allowed it to happen.  We stood by and let it happen.  It’s still going on, and on.  We can do something.  We can let the playground be the one place where hate and bigotry and poverty do not happen.  This can be a place where murder is not renamed justice.  Then, and maybe then we will all make it to Heaven.”


Papa angles his head to the side, “I like your idea.  It will take a long time to get things turned around,” He then looks Mama directly in the eye, “Is there sex in Heaven?”

Mama throws her hands up in the air, “Men, men, men, men that’s all you think about.”

Papa spins her to face him, “Tell me woman!  This is important.”

Mama just laughs, “Enjoy this moment, this day.  It’s all we have for now.  I will tell you this, there’s music.”


Copyright © 2011 Kimberly Yarbrough Carpenter

Song Suggestion: Bob Marley’s, Redemption Song



[1] THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | September 21, 2011 11:54 PM EST

[4] Former death row chef offers to cook free meals for the condemned – By Lateef Mungin , CNN 2011-10-02T12:07:29Z


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