Issue 3

An Execution

by Gabe Durham


On September 22, 2011, the state of Alabama put to death Derrick O’Neal Mason for the 1994 shooting of a store clerk named Angela Cagle. He’d made her take off her clothes and then shot her twice in the face.

About Mason’s execution, Internet commenter dvlasadvocat said, “Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, GOODBYE . . . .”

and naildawg said, “So long Derrick...your time is up!”

and Jon said, “Time for Mason to meet his maker!”

and Hagar the horrible 2012 said, “He is a savage/animal and should have been snuffed years ago.”

and bamaman5219 imagined contemporary public hangings in which the government charged admission to recoup losses,

and BelleII thought a guillotine might “draw a larger crowd ;=),”

and Erik_Eriksen_832 imagined “premium pricing for ‘squirt zone’ seating,”

and then Wewillrejoice had to ruin the thread by saying, “Killing another will not bring Angela Cagle back.”

“in case you didn’t know,” 1bamanative replied, “punishing criminals in an appropriate manner is Biblical. Read a little more.”

1978gump said, “I missed that part in the New Testament, could you please enlighten me?”

“Gump, read about Ananias and Sapphira,” jarhaid suggested, referring to a story in the book of Acts about a Christian couple who sold their property and gave the proceeds to the church but on the sly kept some of it for themselves. When the Apostle Peter caught them, they both dropped dead on the spot.

It was reported that Mason had already sought and received forgiveness from Angela Cagle’s father, and WolfAmongSheep said if Mason was so sincere in his apology, Alabama ought to “execute the murderer and let him apologize to Angela Cagle ‘in person.’”

USMCDad said, “he won’t be able to do that because he is headed SOUTH (hell) not North (Heaven) where Angela is.”

“He and Troy Davis can sit with the devil tonight,” Newgene agreed.

Six years ago, Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean spoke at my college to tell of her experience getting to know a death row inmate and said she was against the death penalty because “people are more than the worst thing they have ever done.”

Lloyd Little Jr., the judge who’d sentenced Mason to death, wrote a letter earlier in the week asking Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to commute Mason’s sentence, saying if he’d been more experienced at the time of sentencing, he’d have given Mason life without parole. There had been a lot of mitigating evidence that didn’t come up in the sentencing: Mason’s lack of a record, his history of having been physically and sexually abused, the fact that he’d smoked a joint laced with something stronger before the murder, and that he was 19, still kind of a kid. But the governor said no.

Judge Little had been entrusted with the power to condemn Mason but, like the Internet commenters who’d used their platform to judge Mason, he would never be able to take the sentence back. 

About the Author

Gabe Durham is the author of the novel Fun Camp and is the publisher and editor of Boss Fight Books. Previously he edited Dark Sky Magazine and Keyhole Magazine. His writings have appeared in Hobart, Mid-American Review, Quarterly West, Daytrotter, The Rumpus, HTMLGiant, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, Everyday Genius, NOO Journal, Quick Fiction, Nano Fiction, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. His fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Web anthology. He lives in Los Angeles.