Execution: A Final Meal
For quite some time The Texas Department Of Corrections posted the final meal selections of their death row inmates. For whatever politically correct reason, they’ve since discontinued the listing, but it survives on the web. I look at it often. Most men who wind up being executed are from predominantly poor, marginally educated, blue collar backgrounds, so, as you can imagine, the majority of them pick the sort of simple American comfort foods that were, in all probability, the cornerstones of their diets while they lived in the free world. Cheeseburgers, french fries, pizza, and ice cream reign. Lobster, prime rib, and sauteed shiitake mushrooms do not. So it’s safe to say that their choices are a fairly accurate metaphor for much of their former life. Of course, you’ll find the occasional vegetarian request (one doomed inmate asked that “his cheesesticks be clean,” the irony of which is more than slightly amusing), or even “one tortilla,” which is certainly worth a moment of consideration. But out of the entire [lengthy] list of final meal requests, one stands out far above all others. David Castillo, executed on 8/23/98, requested “twenty-four soft shell tacos, six enchiladas, six tostadas, two whole onions, five jalapenos, two cheeseburgers, one chocolate shake, one quart of milk and one package of Marlboro cigarettes.” What an exit. You’d think that with the grim reaper rapping at the door, one’s appetite would, well, die. But not for this guy. In his own mind, the act of pigging out must have given him one last vestige of control, of power over his own life, over his death, one last “Fuck you” to the guards, to the warden, and to the world. And if he expected to rendezvous with the devil, he did so with his stomach bursting at the seams.