By Gabriel Magno
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Short Pause... Long Pause......
SCENARIO:A condemned death row prisoner Striker, is in a cell on his last night on earth and with one hour left until his execution, meets with the prison priest one final time. Self discoveries are made by both men. A complicated issue arises in which society has set aside certain rules for that cannot be altered, but maybe a much higher authority can help Striker make his own final decision on a solution.
STRIKER: (priest enters the cell, Striker holds one of his hands with both of his) Father Riley, I’m glad you came...you’re the only friend I got in the world, I owe you a lot.
FATHER RILEY: You’re one of God’s children...no matter what you did in your life...you don’t owe me anything...I’m just a man preaching the word of God...
STRIKER: And what’s that tonight father?
FATHER RILEY: Redemption......
STRIKER: I don’t understand
FATHER RILEY: It means to atone (bending over slightly and grabbing below his right rib cage with his left hand and rubbing)
STRIKER: What’s wrong father?
FATHER RILEY: Oh it’s nothing, just a little heartburn...It will pass
STRIKER: You said redemption and atone, I don’t understand these words
FATHER RILEY: It means to say you’re sorry for all your sins my son, say it from the heart and the lord will welcome you into his arms
STRIKER: Welcome me? I never been welcomed anywhere, what makes you think the lord’s gonna welcome me now?
FATHER RILEY: You’re one of his creations, good or bad, oh... (grabs his left rib cage once more and this time is bent over with pain and helped to the cot by Striker)
STRIKER: I’m gettin’ the guard
FATHER RILEY: (grabbing and holding Striker’s arm, preventing him from going to the cell door) NO!
STRIKER: (in an excited manner) Father...you’re not telling me the truth, tell me what’s wrong!
FATHER RILEY: Just let me breathe for a second (takes a long breath in and exhales)
STRIKER: Let me call a guard
FATHER RILEY: No! They will only take me away and we don’t have much time left...
STRIKER: Then tell me the truth...please
FATHER RILEY: (smiling) It’s ironic isn’t it?... A man preaching the truth all his life, now finds it difficult to tell the truth about himself. Afraid to expose his own demons
STRIKER: I don’t understand these fancy words father, can’t you just tell me what’s wrong?
FATHER RILEY: (as if out of breath) Alright my son...alright...but understand that no one here knows what I’m about to say and you must promise me that you will keep it a secret, I have too much work to do...(in a serious tone) promise me!
STRIKER: Sure, I promise...tell me, what?
FATHER RILEY: Two years ago I was diagnosed with a serious liver disorder. Six months ago the doctor said my liver was failing. I’ve been on a liver transplant list since, waiting for a donor... and now I only have days left and still no donor...
FATHER RILEY: Striker......that’s the first time I heard you mention the name of God...the first time I’ve seen you look frightened
STRIKER: Well I...uh, never mind, go on father
FATHER RILEY: The doctors at St. Patrick’s hospital said the donor must be a non drinker with a healthy liver and have blood type A positive...the deceased man must be rushed to surgery within one hour, the liver removed and put into solution and transplanted into the recipient within two hours from that time......
STRIKER: Wait a minute......just hold on there...my blood type is A positive and I don’t drink
FATHER RILEY: (slightly smiling and shaking his head) No...no no no...completely out of the question. Don’t even think about it my son
STRIKER: Why not?...Listen father, I been reading up on the law and penal codes and such, and I know I got the right to donate any part of my body if I die, even while I’m on Death Row...
FATHER RILEY: You’re right Striker, I know that law also, but it only applies on the condition that someone dies of a natural cause, such as a heart attack, or an accident on work detail, not......
STRIKER: Not what?......
FATHER RILEY: You don’t know...do you?
STRIKER: Know what?......
FATHER RILEY: Lethal injection is a mix of poisonous chemicals that will destroy all of your vital organs...there’s isn’t even a remote chance that your liver will survive...none......
STRIKER: (looks down, confused and momentarily speechless) Let me talk to the warden father, have the guard phone him
FATHER RILEY: (getting up from the cot, stands and holds both of Striker’s hands) Striker...it’s too late...when I said redemption, I meant for you to redeem yourself to God, not to me. You owe me nothing. This is your final hour and my final days. We cannot change God’s will (let’s go of his hands)
STRIKER: To hell with God’s will!...You talk about God...I can’t see him...I can’t touch him...I can’t even talk to him, why should I believe he exists?
FATHER RILEY: You have my word, you must believe
STRIKER: No...I don’t believe. I believe in what I can touch and grab and see. If there’s really a god, he wouldn’t let this happen! (Warden walks into the cell)
WARDEN: Everything alright in here?
FATHER RILEY: Oh yes warden, everything is fine...... (looks at Striker)
STRIKER: No, everything’s not fine warden
FATHER RILEY: Striker!
STRIKER: Sorry father, I gotta do at least one good thing in my worthless life...warden
FATHER RILEY: (loudly) Striker!
STRIKER: Warden...Father Riley’s dying......
WARDEN: (looking at father with a shocked look on is face) What’s he talking about father?
FATHER RILEY: He’s just (hangs his head down)
STRIKER: No! he’s dying of liver failure. He asked me to say nothin’ but I got to......
WARDEN: Tell me it’s not true father
STRIKER: No father...... (puts his hand on father’s shoulder and shakes his head and softly again says) No......warden, father Riley’s been on a waiting list for a liver transplant for six months and his time’s almost up and he still don’t have a donor
WARDEN: (in a confused manner) Uh
STRIKER: (grabs the warden by his shoulder) Warden...I can give him my liver...I can save his life...we got the same blood types, and I’m in perfect health. Warden...for once in my worthless life I gotta chance to do something good...I been a nothing from nowhere and nothing’s what I’m gonna be when I burn in hell, but now...I can do something right (gets on his knees and wraps his arms around the warden’s waist and rests his head on the warden’s belly) Please warden......
WARDEN: (puts both hands on Striker’s shoulders and shakes him once for every word he speaks) Get up son (still keeping his hands on Striker’s shoulders)
STRIKER: (grabbing the warden’s lapels) Please......take me to St. Patrick’s hospital warden, let the doctors do the transplant...please......when it’s done they can pull the plug, I don’t care...the state’s gonna have their death and the father’s gonna have his life...you must warden...YOU MUST!
FATHER RILEY: Stand up Striker (father and the warden both lift Striker off his knees and sit him on a chair)
WARDEN: Son...I wish I had the power, but you know I don’t...only the governor has the right to stay your execution, and even then it would be impossible unless you died a natural death and you know that won’t happen now
STRIKER: I’ll hold my breath, I won’t breathe again until I die, then you gonna have take me to the hospital!
WARDEN: That will never work and you know it...give it up son, there’s no chance at this point unless God himself were to strike you in the next 30 minutes...there’s not a chance of that
STRIKER: (looks at the father and begins caressing his cross for a few seconds) You’re wrong warden......for once in my life God’s gonna help me......right now (in a matter of seconds, Striker grabs father’s cross, tears it off his neck then plunges and rips the long bottom part across his neck several times and severs his Jugular vein while they both look on in horror, stunned, with their mouth agape)
WARDEN: (putting his fingers on Striker’s neck, searching for a heartbeat and saying the following words, growing louder in volume with each one, looking at Striker with the first two words and then towards the cell door with the final very loud word while father is giving the sign of the cross above Striker)