Date of Execution

Characters: Paul, Brutus, mentions of Dean, John Coffey, and Del.
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: I do not own The Green Mile or Stephen King.

Summary:"I can't take it anymore," Dean tells me, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve. I am sitting at my duty desk, signing his transfer papers. Warden Hal has already signed them, I notice. Now I have to. I wish I didn't…but I know E Block is too much for Dean. He's young. With children…a wife. He should be allowed out of this while there's still a chance. Before he has time to end up like me.

"I know," I tell him quietly, signing and pushing the paper across the desk to him with a slight smile. "Take care of yourself, Dean. Don't let no Wild Bills wrap their wrist chains around your neck again, you got that?"

Dean actually laughs slightly and picks up the paper, glancing it over as if to assure himself that my signature is actually there. Whether he wants it to be there or not is beyond me.

It was like signing his Date of Execution.

Note: I'm stepping out of my Lost comfort zone a little. This explores Dean's death that was briefly mentioned in the book and not mentioned at all in the movie. I always like those doomed characters.


"Paul…"

I looked up from my work at my duty desk, a little upset about being bothered. But when I saw the look in Brutus' eyes I slid back my chair and stood up quickly, nearly knocking my knees on the desk. I couldn't even utter out the word: "what?"

"It's Dean," Brutus continued anyway. His eyes were wide. I have never seen Brutus cry, really. I've seen him distraught, upset, angry. Especially at Percy. Always at Percy. But I've never quite seen him like this before.

"Dean? Brutal…" (we call him that sometimes. A joke. The man is huge but he'd hardly hurt anyone if he didn't have to.) "…what about Dean?"

"C Block. One of the prisoners got him. Stabbed him in the throat."

My heart stopped.

"Paul. D-Dean's dead."

The green linoleum floor was reflecting in Brutus' eyes, I noticed. Making them look even more ill than they were.

I didn't ask questions as I walked out from behind my desk - stumbling slightly over my feet in surprise and shock and disbelief. All of those. Brutus led the way down the Green Mile, his gigantic shoulders quivering slightly. He didn't even bother to try to control it.

The Green Mile is wide so you can keep a good three or four paces away from each cell. But I still noticed Del's old cell as we quickly walked passed it. And Bitterbuck's. And then…Coffey's.

Coffey was the one that changed us all. Violent he appeared, of course. But he was so gentle. More than my wife, Jan, even. Del followed behind Coffey at a close second. I know what he did, and, yes…he did deserve to die. But not like that. Some would say burning alive was karma for him. I just say it's cruel. And Percy…he deserves to be locked away in that mental institution, Briar Ridge. After what he did to Del. Shooting Wharton dead wasn't too much of a deal. But Del…

Convicts, yes…they were convicts and rapists and murderers. But Percy took it too far.

Percy always took it too far.

It had been four months since Coffey's execution now. I remember when Dean had quickly transferred to C Block.

"I can't take it anymore," Dean tells me, wiping his eyes with the back of his sleeve. I am sitting at my duty desk, signing his transfer papers. Warden Hal has already signed them, I notice. Now I have to. I wish I didn't…but I know E Block is too much for Dean. He's young. With children…a wife. He should be allowed out of this while there's still a chance. Before he has time to end up like me.

"I know," I tell him quietly, signing and pushing the paper across the desk to him with a slight smile. "Take care of yourself, Dean. Don't let no Wild Bills wrap their wrist chains around your neck again, you got that?"

Dean actually laughs slightly and picks up the paper, glancing it over as if to assure himself that my signature is actually there. Whether he wants it to be there or not is beyond me.

It was like signing his Date of Execution.

Brutus and I ran across the prison yard to C Block where people were just starting to gather.

This must've just happened, I thought, my stomach churning as Brutus swung open the door and I followed.

We walked down the row of cells. This tiling isn't green here. It's more of a beige, ugly color. But green, in my opinion, is the ugliest color of all. Especially the lime-green of the Mile. Too long I've had to look at it. Walk prisoners across it. The beige was a relief to see.

There was a circle of people in the middle of the row. I noticed all the C Block prisoners had their faces pressed up against the bars of their cell, trying to get a look. I noticed that one cell is empty. I guessed it must be the cell of the prisoner that killed Dean. I wondered if we'd be seeing him on the Mile. Killing him in Old Sparky might me worth it. But after Coffey…Brutal and I knew we couldn't take it anymore. We knew we weren't going to merely transfer to a different block as Dean had. No, we needed to get out for good. Out of Cold Mountain forever.

"Move it!" Brutal roared, clearing a path through the circle. All the smaller guards meekly moved out of the way and I trudged after Brutus, head down, my hand on the hilt of my shotgun. I knew there wasn't anyone to shoot. But if Dean was still in pain…I don't think I could've taken that. I imagined that being stabbed in the throat is one of the worst ways to go and if he was still suffering from that, I could do him a favor if nothing else could be done. I felt I still owed that to Del. Everyday I think about how we went on with that mess of an execution, watching him scream and jerk in pain. But if we had stopped, it would've been so much worse. Coffey had told me later that no matter how "poor old Del" went, he was the lucky one. I tried to remember that.

But poor Dean. His throat had taken quite a beating these last few months. First Wild Bill - wrapping his chains around his neck, jumping on his back and hollering and laughing as Dean nearly died from his grip. Percy had stood and stupidly watched, mouth hanging open. Brutal had stepped in, grabbed Percy's club, and knocked Wild Bill out cold. Helped Dean - told him it was all right, to just breathe. Those bruises had been there for weeks.

And now this. Stabbed in the throat. I finally spoke as we pushed through the crowd.

"How did he even get a kni-"

But it wasn't a knife. It was a shank. Right in the center of his throat, sticking out like a stake. Blood was pooled everywhere…on the shoes of people nearby, running in the cracks of the linoleum like tiny red rivers. Dean's eyes were wide and scared…but still. His face was a deathly pale.

I watched as Brutal put one shaking hand on Dean's chest where his heart was. He sighed with relief, and I knew what it meant. It was the same sigh that escaped our lips when the doctor put his stethoscope on an electrocuted prisoner's chest and let us know that, yes, he was dead and there was no need to lay on another jolt. Dean wasn't suffering, but his eyes were so haunted still. Like Coffey's eyes had been.

Finally, Harry came forward and threw a white sheet over Dean's body. Harry's old gray face was dusted with tears, and I knew that he thought he should've gone first. He was old. Dean was young. But the world wasn't fair, so I said nothing. Nothing but:

"Who's gonna call his wife?"


"We're being punished."

Brutal looked up at me from our card game and shoved his stack aside. He had been thinking the same thing.

"I mean…" I shook my head. "How did he even get a fucking shank?"

My head fell in my hands and I took a shaky breath. I could feel Brutal watching me sadly, and I knew he didn't have an answer. Sometimes, things just remain mysteries.

I finally looked up and wiped my eyes. "We killed Coffey. He was a gift from God, and we knew it wasn't right. Now we're being punished, Brutal. It started with Del. Before we even killed Coffey it started."

Brutus silently stacked the cards back up. He wasn't meeting my eyes just yet. But he stood up, walked to the filing cabinet, and pulled out two transfer papers. We were going to leave.

Dean still haunts my mind. He only had four months of life after Coffey's execution. We had gone so far to protect Dean, too. When we didn't let him join us to take Coffey to Melly, it had been because he was young and had a family to care for. He had gotten a bit huffy, but he took his position back at the block seriously and covered for us during the night. If we got caught, we didn't want him to go down with us. We told him that if we did get caught, he should act like he knew nothing. He should save himself from a stain on his work record. Brutus was single, my kids were grown, and Harry was just old.

"Dean," I had told him. "You have a long time to live, buddy. If you got caught, what would happen to your wife? Your kids? You stay. Anyone asks, Coffey got a bit upset and he's in the restraint room. The boys and I are doing our laundry…"

If I had known he wouldn't live, I would have given him the satisfaction of joining us that night.

I wish I had known then that I would live through all my friends' deaths. Even though I was far away from the Mile, I still had to watch them walk it.