Death Row – Episode 1

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DEATH ROW Episode 1

Location: THE APPEALS COURT

The courtroom is very quiet.

Some people are weeping and murmuring, but the sound they are making is low.

The courtroom is totally full; both lower and upper terraces are filled with people.

This has been a case which has been short but very emotional. The case of young PASTOR ZAC LARBI has really brought emotional tensions to a head in the country.

It is all over now!

The case which has dragged for almost a year and a half is now over.

The judge is going to finally give his ruling.

The thirteen-member jury has returned a unified verdict of GUILTY.

Accusing fingers are being pointed at the young man in a dark-blue suit sitting with his lawyer to the right of the judge.

He is simply inconsolable as he weeps in a most heart-breaking way.

But no one has any pity on him. Indeed, all the eyes that are on him are hard, bitter eyes seeking to devour him.

JUDGE ATINGA AWEDEGA is looking at some notes in front of him and writing something in a log book. Finally, he looks up, pushes his spectacles further up the bridge of his nose and fixes a stern look on the Defendant.

JUDGE AWEDEGA

(coldly)

Will the Accused please rise?

LAWYER BIBIO BUABASAH, the portly lawyer of the Accused, stands up.

A moment later he reaches down and grabs the arm of the weeping man by his side, and pulls him up too.

LAWYER BUABASAH

(whispering harshly)

Get hold of yourself, Pastor Larbi. The die is cast, and no amount of tears is going to change the verdict. This is the time for you to be strong and pray that you escape the death penalty.

Pastor Zac Larbi looks up slowly.

His eyes are so swollen that they are almost closed. His nose and lips are also very swollen because of excessive weeping.

Zacs face is wet with tears, and his nose is blocked with snot. It is quite pathetic to see a man broken down to such a wasted condition.

JUDGE AWEDEGA

(coldly)

Pastor Zac Larbi, do you have anything to say before judgement is passed?

The pastor tilts his head back and looks at the ceiling, and then he looks at the judge.

ZAC LARBI

(voice hoarse)

In all things, we have to give thanks to the Lord God we serve. So, even though my heart is bleeding, I have to give thanks to God, and to praise Him. All I can say is that Im innocent of the charges levelled against me. Youre about to pass judgement on an innocent man.

The judges eyes narrow down to slits, and sudden anger and loathing fills his face.

JUDGE AWEDEGA

(coldly)

We have heard terrible things, and seen things that have rendered all of us incapable of understanding the sheer malice and cold-hearted disregard for life that you have shown! Almost two years ago, when this case came to court, it shocked the whole nation. You were found guilty by a seven-member Jury and sentenced to death by lethal injection.

Your Appeal came to this court, and this time the thirteen-member Jury upheld the guilty verdict on five counts of cold, meditated and terrible first degree murders. Your actions are detestable, gruesome, fractious and totally hellish, an abomination that even the depths of Hades cant stomach. I have no option than to uphold your first sentence, which is death by the injection of a measured lethal dose three days from today. May the God you pretend to serve have mercy on your soul!

The frantic wails of the pastor are drowned out by the instant screams of pleasure from the great crowd that has gathered.

Huge police officers approach Pastor Larbi and clamp handcuffs on him. He is wailing now, unable to even stand straight, and then suddenly he collapses in a faint.

There are frantic calls as paramedics rush to his side to help him.

Journalists and spectators are doing their best to get picture shots and video capture whilst the police try unsuccessfully to keep them at bay.

Pastor Larbis inert form is put on a stretcher, and an oxygen mask is clamped on his face.

They quickly wheel him through a side-door which closes, and which is guarded by armed policemen.

On the upper terrace of the courtroom, an incredibly handsome man dressed in an impeccable black suit with sky-blue shirt and a polka-dotted tie is sitting calmly.

His legs are crossed, and his sharp eyes roam over the crowd.

He has been in court from the moment the trial began, always coming early and making sure he sits at the same spot to observe the proceedings.

He takes a little diary from an inside pocket of his coat, removes a beautiful gold pen from it, and begins to write in the diary.

And now he watches critically as the people begin to leave the courtroom.

He waits patiently until everyone has left, and he alone is sitting at the upper terrace.

He sees that there is a pretty young woman wearing a deep shade of blue dress. She is sitting alone, just a seat behind where young Pastor Larbi had sat.

She is weeping, using a small handkerchief to dry her eyes once in a while.

The man in the upper terrace watches her for a long time, and when she finally stands up she totters for a moment, as if she is going to fall down.

Finally, she puts on a huge pair of sunglasses that hides almost the whole of her upper face.

As she begins to walk towards the entrance the handsome man on the terrace stands up, puts his diary and pen back into his coat pocket, and then quickly moves towards the entrance.

He is holding a wide-brimmed cowboy hat in his hand.

He descends the stairs casually, and when he gets to the ground floor he finds the woman in the dark-blue dress sitting down in the Waiting Lounge of the courtroom.

She is holding a handkerchief pressed tightly to her eyes as she weeps in a heart-breaking way.

The handsome man hesitates and looks around quickly. No one is looking at him.

He suddenly turns the hat he is holding downward.

A huge growth of fake facial hair is attached to the hat, and so when the man puts on the hat the hair perfectly frames his cheeks and chin and upper lip.

The fake hair has given him a huge growth of beard, sideburns and thick beard that almost hides his lower face.

He reaches into his pocket, brings out a pair of sunglasses, and puts it on.

The effect is that the man no longer resembles the young incredibly handsome man he is.

By putting on the customized hat and the sunglasses, he has suddenly changed into a middle-aged man with facial hair tinged-with grey.

He takes some Hacks candies from his pocket and pops one into his mouth.

He descends fully to the Waiting Lounge, and then he sits down beside the mourning young lady.

*******************

She is in her late twentie, slim, well-formed, dark and very pretty.

She looks at him and begins to get up, but he quickly reaches out and holds her arm.

THE STRANGER

(smiling kindly)

I understand your pain, my dear. It seems to me that youre the only one who has been shedding tears for this condemned Pastor Larbi. Even his fiancée didnt seem to be shedding this much tears. Believe me, I really do admire your complete faith in him.

The lady looks at the stranger helplessly, and then she begins to bawl fiercely.

WOMAN

Theyre going to kill him! Zac is going to die! In just three days! Oh, Lord, Lord, Lord! Why should you allow this to happen? Lord, my Lord Jesus Christ! My Heavenly Father, You know he is innocent! Why is he going to die? Why?

The stranger pulls her into his arms and holds her as she wails, her heart tearing up.

THE STRANGER

There, there, there, young lady! Please pull yourself together! Perhaps, if hes as innocent as you claim, the God that he believes in will never abandon him.

WOMAN

(painfully)

We have prayed, we have fasted, we have sought the face of the Lord in earnest, but still no miracle has happened!

THE STRANGER

(smiling sadly)

The ways of the Lord have always been higher than our own, my dear. With tears, prayer and fasting you sent your supplication to the Lord. What is missing is that you have failed to back it with faith! Let your faith take over, dear, and leave the rest to the Lord.

She relaxes in his arms and cries for a while, but gradually her tears cease, and she sits down with a look of humiliation on her pretty face.

WOMAN

Oh, oh! Im sorry! I ruined your nice suit.

THE STRANGER

(smiling)

It is alright, my dear. It is made even more beautiful by the tears of a real woman of virtue. May I ask your name, please?

WOMAN

(shyly)

Ama Boatemaa.

THE STRANGER

(nodding)

And you love Pastor Larbi, dont you?

She looks down at her linked hands and nods without looking at him.

AMA BOATEMAAA

Ive known him my whole life, and loved him my whole life, and Ill gladly die for him if they will let me.

The stranger reaches out and touches her arm gently.

THE STRANGER

Im intrigued, Ama. If you love him that much, why is he betrothed to someone else? Why is he going to marry some other woman?

She looks into the kind face of the stranger and as she speaks her lips tremble terribly.

AMA BOATEMAAA

(sadly)

Because our Senior Pastor, the Apostle, had a vision in which God had blessed the union between Zac and a lady in the church called Yaa Pomaa. Zac had promised to marry me, no matter what, because he loved me as much as I love him!

But, after the Apostles vision, when Zac protested that he cannot marry Yaa because he loved me, a Prophet in the church also had a vision in which God was warning Zac not to disobey the Apostle, but to marry Yaa Pomaa. I had no option than to let him go, if indeed that was what the Lord wanted.

THE STRANGER

That, for a fact, is a very sad story indeed! But this is not the time for crying, my dear Ama. I do not know what is going to happen to the man you love, but in all things the Lord exhorts us to give thanks and make supplications!

AMA BOATEMAAA

(heart-broken)

How can I thank the Lord in this time, sir? I can pretend and pray, but deep down in my heart Im dying, and Im asking myself a lot of questions, about how God could allow this to happen!

THE STRANGER

(gently)

If indeed Pastor Zac Larbi captured five women, brutally raped them, cut off their heads and cooked their hearts and ate them to be more powerful, then surely it is evident that he is not of God!

AMA BOATEMAAA

(distressed)

Dont say such things of Zac, sir! I do beg of you! He is innocent, do you hear me? Innocent! He is not capable of even harming an ant!

The stranger takes her hands and rubs them gently.

He smiles sadly at the young woman.

THE STRANGER

Indeed, may your faith be so! If truly you believe in your heart he is innocent, my dear lady, then go home now. This is the time for you to fast and pray. No pretence, dear. Tell God what you feel. That is what Zac Larbi needs now, your prayer. Because, apparently, no one is praying for him!

Ama looks at the calm face of the stranger, and for some reason she finds her heart calming down.

It had seemed she was all alone, but now, looking at this man with so much bushy facial hair, she is reminded of the Rabbis of Israel, for no apparent reason, and she feels a certain calmness.

AMA BOATEMAAA

(tremulously)

Yes, youre right, sir. It is time to pray. Please, if you dont mind me asking, are you from hereabouts? I perceive that you may be a good Christian too, and I might need strength. Maybe, if you tell me your name, or give me a number, I can reach you in my hour of deep need.

The stranger smiles and gets to his feet.

He looks down at her with gentle eyes.

THE STRANGER

Would you like to see him?

She looks expectantly at him with huge eyes suddenly filled with great longing.

AMA BOATEMAAA

(sadly)

Who, Zac?

THE STRANGER

Yes.

AMA BOATEMAAA

(heartbreakingly)

Ever since he was arrested one and half years ago, Ive tried to see him. Ive begged the Apostle, and my father has tried with many policemen he knows, but to no avail. Ive not been able to see him, except in court.

THE STRANGER

Ill make arrangements to see him tomorrow morning. Perhaps you may want to come along.

She jumps to her feet and suddenly takes his right hand in both of hers as her face crumbles with acute longing.

AMA BOATEMAAA

Yes, please, oh, yes, please, please!!

THE STRANGER

Good. It is settled then.

He tries to walk away, but she stands in front of him.

AMA BOATEMAAA

Please, your name? You didnt tell me your name! Ive never had any hope from even the people I know, but you, a complete stranger, has suddenly filled me with hope. Please, sir, your name, and where I can find you, please. Im convinced that indeed, you might be a man of God!

THE STRANGER

(gently)

My name is of no import now, my dear. I just want you to know that yes, Im a servant of God. Im here to find out the truth about Pastor Zac Larbi. I dont have much time, and I dont know how, but if indeed he is innocent, believe me, God will not abandon him, even if he is wrongly killed. However, if he indeed committed those heinous acts, then he will certainly die. I will be seeing you around, Ama.

He turns and, humming a song to himself, walks towards the huge entrance.

AMA BOATEMAAA cleans her face and watches him go.

For some strange reason, new hope is filling her heart, and quickly she gets up and runs towards the entrance.

Yes, indeed, it is time to pray and push God to the wall!

Story continues…

© -Agyeman

All Rights Reserved.

 

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