“Sir?” Jacob Tyler tapped on Warden Jameson’s door.
“Yes, Tyler, come in.” The warden stuck a pencil into his large file book to hold his place. “How can I help you?”
“Well, lately we’ve been running low on meat for the prisoners.”
Jameson raised his eyebrows and said, “Can you ship in more by next week?”
“We could, but sir, I’m afraid it would hurt our budget. However, I have a suggestion.”
The death-row prisoners were fighting over lunch again. Stupid stuff, really, thought Mark Hussey. “Hey,” he said. “Buck.”
“Yeah?” said the large man next to him.
“You ever been in a fight?”
“Hells yeah! Been fightin’ since m’ youth!” Buck Clayton hawked and spat. “Not over nothin’ like this, though.”
“Before I killed my woman and landed here, damn old hag stabbed me with a pencil. Lead’s still in there.”
“Gad!” said Buck. “This meat is awful!”
Mark froze as he heard the voice of a guard: “Markus Edgar Hussey.” It was time to die.
Mark rose, jelly-legged, to meet his fate. He did not manage to say goodbye. Oddly enough, he began to think of The Green Mile and John Coffey. Well, here goes nothing.
Buck noticed one day that the meat tasted much better. He could not quite place what it was; in fact, he had never tasted anything quite like it before. Wherever Mark is now, he thought, at least he’s not here.
Cursing, Buck spat out something dark and shiny: a pencil lead.