John Wright was a promising child. No one at the orphanage, better known as the San Quentin Optimist Youth Center, had the slightest doubt about it. He was a little too silent, maybe, but nothing to be worried about. His grades at school were excellent. The educators were confident: John Wright had all he needed to make it through.
Johnny traces lines with his forefinger on the pebbly playground. He draws a star within a circle. Then he stares at a small wall lizard marking the circle and the star with a streak as it runs to rest against the wall. The sun brightens the wall lizard’s green blotched back and the small blue spots running along its sides. Johnny hears the other kids’ merry cries and calls: they are distant. The children are playing hide-and-seek and now and then, in escaping from each other, they make clouds of dust fall on Johnny’s drawing. He puts the wall lizard on the ground and with his left hand holds down its tail: the wall lizard is unable to go any further. Johnny watches with fascination the spasmodic movements of the rest of its body. Then he grasps a broken plastic spoon from the ground and cuts off the wall lizard’s limbs one by one. Johnny laughs with childish pleasure.
Mr Wright, you’re such a gentleman and I can feel that, yes, I can. You’re a judge, aint you? But you don’t judge me, ‘cause you are a man of law and you can see that even God has forgotten about this life of mine. What else can I do? Nothing, Mr Wright, I can’t do nothing. Do you believe in God, Mr Wright?
John Wright was a determined and industrious young boy. One must be hard-working to craft a sharp object out of rusty nails and make a small hole right through a wall. One must be strong-minded to make a piece of paper fall through the wall and let a person passing by read what he has written with his own blood: help me my mom forgets me here.
Determination and industriousness: it was evident to everybody at the San Quentin Optimist Youth Center that John Wright had both qualities. He was one of God’s gifted children.
Johnny is the first one to wake up in the morning at Schumann’s ‘Arabesque in C’ groaning out of the loudspeaker. He quickly makes his bed, with care. He has won the “best-made-bed prize” three times in a row.
Waiting for breakfast to be served, Johnny clenches the spoon in his hand and feels its round edges pressing against his little fingers. His turn has come. He watches the azure eyes of the educator pouring milk into his bowl, and wonders what it would be like to run the spoon through her eye and haul out the eyeball. What a breakfast.
After all we’re human and everyone is someone’s son or daughter, ain’t we Mr Wright? Then I’m the daughter of the streets and walls have been my feeding breasts. This aint no life, Mr Wright. You always make me talk about myself but I’ve nothing to say no more, ‘cause when you have this huge nothing inside yourself your mouth feels so dry that if you speak the lips break apart and there’s the risk that you won’t never come back from something like that.
John Wright was a bright young man. To graduate from UC Berkeley School of Law is quite an achievement, and a first class degree is something that most students cannot even hope to attain. John Wright’s sharp intelligence was unquestionable. At San Quentin Optimist Youth Center were all very proud of him.
Johnny looks at his image reflected in the mirror. He feels the long graduation gown enveloping his naked body. He raises his arms to the side to shoulder height. The ceremony is beginning. They are waiting for him. His smiles, frigidly.
Mr Wright, this long dress of yours means something for you and for many people, ain’t it? Well, what do I have? All is done and gone. You know what? I’d wanted to be a ballet dancer once, but things happened and I found myself with nothing else but my legs to walk the streets and my arms to call our God and ask him to help me to go through life and give me peace.
John Wright was a powerful man. When he stood up the woman fell silent. His turn had come. He undressed her and carefully folded her clothes and placed them on a nearby chair. Slowly, but with firmness, he took the woman’s slim arm under his own and walked her gracefully to the long sofa. He puffed the pillow and placed it under the woman’s head. Delicately, he laid the palm of his hand over her upper eyelids to escort them to a gentle closing and, composedly, kissed her forehead. He let his thumb and forefinger glide from her wet cheeks to under her chin. Then, in deep transport, he courteously stimulated the woman’s epiglottis to fall back.
However, the body parts John Wright liked most were the area around the hips and the eyes. Therefore, with a gentle passion, he grasped the woman’s femur with his left hand. Then, with his right hand he ran, with zeal and precision, a golden knife through the femur’s neck. The woman had long ceased to resist opening her eyes. What a release.