June 7, 1947, 11 am
Today is the day I’ve been chosen to die for my sins. Or at least for actions ‘the powers that be’ believe are sins.
To me, they were a means to an end for what I lost years earlier at the hands of a woman I vowed to love.
As I sit here on a metal bench in this small cell awaiting my final meal, I'm reflecting on the woman who changed me.
The woman who took our children one by one and drowned them in the family bathtub.
I never got to say goodbye to my children. Judith took that from me, left me with the final vision of their lifeless bodies, their tiny faces frozen in terror.
I will never forgive her. I only hope the devil has tortured her all these years, as I would have had I gotten home before she took her life.
June 7, 1947, 1 pm
My final meal was exquisite, unlike any meal Judith prepared over our ten years of marriage.
And as I sit here, waiting for the men to take me to the wooden chair meant to end my life, I ponder over the life we led.
The children, John, William, and Richard rarely sat at the table without a grimace when their plates were put before them. And I don’t blame them.
Even at their young ages of three, five, and six they knew a good meal when it was put in front of them. Rarely did Judith care enough to provide that for them.
Of course Judith blamed my meager earnings, just shy of two-hundred thirty dollars a month. She complained about the prices of food on her weekly grocery trips.
But it was her lack of compassion for the boys that should have alerted me of the events that were to follow. Including the night that changed my life.
But now, only minutes from death, I no longer frown at the memories.
Instead I recall the man I became afterwards, a man searching for another woman to bare my fruit and recoup that with which I lost.
Of course the women weren’t compliant. And I learned soon enough just what to do to stifle their cries.
I also learned that returning to the home where my sons drew their last breaths could never be.
How could I sleep restfully lying within the same four walls my boys lives ended at the hands of their own damn mother.
I had to be free of their haunted cries echoing throughout our war time shelter home. But leaving did little to ease my hatred for what she’d done.
Instead I spent my days searching out the finest woman, one with hips meant for breeding, and my nights sculpting from wax that which refused my seed.
Martha Mayweather stirred in the hard wooden chair reserved for her before the glass partition separating her from the electrified death chair where her son’s life would soon end.
Nearby, her son’s victims families sat, their cries resonating in her ears.
Yet she heard nothing, saw nothing but the sandstone colored chair on the other side of the glass, the leather straps attached.
Fastened to the backrest, one solid piece of wood stretched upwards, the strap that would wrap around her dear boy’s head.
She read the newspaper articles, heard the whispers around town. But how could she believe her beloved Melvin could do the heinous acts he was accused of?
She shook her head, bit back tears while holding her son’s final letter in her hands, turned tear filled eyes onto his written words, ones she'd barely gathered the courage to read.
Hadn’t she suffered enough? Burying her three innocent young grandsons?
A tear slid down her cheek as she clutched the folded pages to her chest, tears running down her cheeks.
June 7, 1947, 3 pm
Well, it seems the knucklehead wasn’t coming for me afterall. Instead he stood inside the bars, a smug look on his face, his arms crossed over his chest.
He was goading me, trying to instill fear. But I’m past being provoked, past the hurt and anger that once ruled my heart. Now I feel nothing.
I asked the bastard for one final cigar. He replied with another smug grin as he threw one, uncut, unlit, at my feet.
Apparently, my second victim, Barbara was his sister.
I admit, I grinned at his admission. I remember Barbara, how couldn’t I? She was amazing. Vivacious. It was because of her that I started the wax molds.
Her terrified face frozen in death mesmerized me.
But she refused me. Refused my seed. And so I immortalized her final moments in wax.
At the time I was angry at their refusals of me. In their womanly allure, their seductive bodies. I only saw reflections of the weak woman Judith was, and what she stole from me.
I cared little that she took her own life, hanging herself from the bedroom chandelier by my own belt. I only cared about the three soaked bodies, blue lips, cold skin of my sons.
Why wax as the method to this situation, you wonder. Because I chose to solidify my future in something that could last a lifetime, outlast the short lives of my young sons.
Up inside the attic above my cigar shop, boxes and boxes of unspent candles beckoned me.
I lit a few in honor of John, William, and Richard, my gaze riveted to the pool of liquid melting beneath.
When the cool air hit that molten wax, solidified it into a grotesque replacement of the pure, sleek form it once enjoyed, I thought of my boys.
Recalled the monstrous, twisted expressions on their faces. Faces I wanted free of my mind.
To do that, I needed to fill my thoughts with other fanciful images instead.
Those feminine faces, each molded with my own hands, forgetting the heat of the hot wax against my fingers, would be my demise.
Was it smart to keep them all? Each of the twenty-two women who’d refused my seed? Probably not. But those faces kept the memory of my sweet boys’ from my mind, from my nightmares.
Those likenesses, each trapped in their final expression as my hands snuffed out their life saved me, little by little.
In death they helped me recoup my sanity, drive away the nightmares of those I once loved.
Martha sat still, her heart raced, eyes welled as her breath caught. On the other side of the glass the empty chair waited for her son. Clutched against her heart were his final words.
She swore to herself she would not read a word, would not look upon the familiar handwriting until her son’s final breath was taken. But time dragged on too long.
The demand to hear his voice in her head strained on her heart.
No longer could she stare through the glass at the chair waiting to erase his life.
If she could not hold Melvin in her arms one last time, then she needed to hear his voice, read his words, understand his motives. If that were even possible.
How could a mother understand that her own blood, someone she carried for nine months in her womb, coddled when he was sick, sang soothing lullabies to,
was capable of the heinous crimes he committed?
Reading the words he wrote, pain darkening each syllable made her understand. If only a little.
Melvin suffered greatly after Judith’s disgrace. His wife chose actions Martha never could understand.
Although she originally had compassion for Judith’s depression, now she was only angered by the result on her poor son.
That woman forced him down a dark path. Reading his words fueled her belief that the injustice done was to him. Not those after, not his victims.
For he was the victim.
Anger rose inside her as she sat quietly, listening to the heated words about her dear, sweet son from the room around her. Her body vibrated, her mind raced.
And although she had a page of his final words yet to read, she saw nothing but red.
June 7, 1947, 5 pm
How long do they plan to hold me here, keeping me from the sentence they handed down? Do they think it will bring me remorse? Bring back the children I loved?
Well it won’t.
Because Judith did this. She turned the ignition on my demise.
I only feel angrier as I wait, pacing this concrete room.
I care not for those who suffered at my hand. The only thing I care about are those who’ve passed before me. My boys. I miss my boys. I wish I’d killed their mother.
Martha folded the pages once more just as the steel door opened beyond the glass. She watched as Melvin appeared, shackled, manhandled as guards shoved him into the room.
Over his head, a black sack kept her from seeing her son’s beautiful face. The men pushed him forward, forced him into the death chair.
Martha clutched the letter to her chest, her breath caught, heart stilled.
Behind her, the voices of the victims families screamed vulgarities, demanded his blood in vengeance. They hooted, hollered and Martha steamed.
One hand clenched the papers, crumpled them in her grasp. The other reached beneath her finest Sunday dress. The same one she wore to church every Sunday.
The same one she wore to her grandsons’ funeral.
Before her widened, frightened eyes, the bag over her son’s head was removed. He looked towards the glass partition, no fear in his steel grey eyes.
Martha splayed her hand on the cool glass. Their gazes met.
The voices around her became deafening, yet she only heard the sound of her own heartbeat.
When his eyes closed, his chin tilted skyward accepting what was to come, Martha turned on those who sat waiting for her son’s death.
Her brow narrowed, nose flared as she withdrew the Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special handgun, aimed it at the woman closest to her, cocked it.
Martha knew before she pulled the trigger she wouldn’t get them all, could never fully avenge what was happening to her son. She would never be able to right a wrong done to him years earlier.
But she would stand by her son. She would go down with him.
As the gun fired, flames shooting from the barrel, the lights went out in the building and her sons tortured screams echoed through the walls, into her soul.
One body fell, but she did not hear the thump as it hit the floor, instead she cocked the gun again, blasted it into the darkness.
The last of his written words she would never read.
‘Momma, I love you. Please forgive me. I know you will be here watching as my life is taken. But know that I regret nothing. Now I will finally get to see and hold my boys once more.’