The Executioner's Song: Reading Journal - Book Two


Day 8: Part One - In the Reign of Good King Boaz

For me, the really exciting part, i.e., Gary's trial, is over and done with, and so these subsequent chapters are sort of a waiting-it-out period until the time he is actually executed. New characters are introduced just as soon as they enter the drama that is Gary's life, like Dennis Boaz, the guy with the writer-first-lawyer-second drama, and Tamera, the reporter who befriends Nicole and whose ulterior motive can be so easily discerned.

The Stay given by the Governor of Utah was a mockery of his execution, Gary thinks. Everyone must be suddenly wondering what kind of person Gary is: instead of pulling all the stops to get a stay on his own execution, he is the one insisting that it push through as planned.

Nicole Barrett. Credits.
Nicole is a crazy, crazy woman, thinking of suicide and even smuggling in some pills in prison through the, uh, most unusual way. But I have to admire her persistence. Even when all reason has left her, she still persists.


Ganoon pala yon: 6 dedicated rifles then only 1 of them is loaded.

I think our own Jose Rizal was executed in the same manner. Not all of the guns are loaded, and the person who has the loaded one doesn't know it. I'm not sure but I think this has been how it's always been done. :)

I thought I would Google to find out who King Boaz was until I realized that this must be Dennis Boaz, the new lawyer of Gary.

In fact Kuya, there IS a "King Boaz" in history. That is, biblical history. Boaz is the husband of Ruth and the father of Obed. Check out the Book of Ruth and Boaz himself. Unless I'm mistaken. :D

Day 9: Part Two - Exclusive Rights

Tommy Lee Jones as Gary, Rosanna Arquette as Nicole

Wow, a double suicide attempt! And so synced that the two fools are supposed to die together! What a manipulative a**hole Gary is, and what a stupid girl Nicole is. Imagine, when Brenda asked Gary what would have happened to Nicole's kids, he simply said, "Oh someone would have taken care of them" or something to that effect. Friggin a**hole.

With such sensational goings-on, it is merely to be expected that the media vultures would sooner or later descend. And descend, they did! Susskind, Schiller, all the media people who want a bite out of the story of Gary and Nicole. I got utterly bored with all the negotiations and manipulations that went around, to be frank. Boaz decides he was suddenly anti-death penalty, and even entertains the idea of connubial visits between Nicole and Gary. Duh? And then Vern replaces Boaz, just like that. So many personalities taking a dip at the drama.

What seemed tremendously funny to me - or ironical, if there is such a word? - is that Gary went and tried to commit suicide, because he was supposed to die through execution anyway, but they revive him and then bring him back to Death Row. Geebs (Gibbs) had a good laugh at that, too. I mean, why would the state spend good money on Gary's recovery, only to send him back to Death Row, where the chances of him getting executed were quite high? Funny, and yet a stupid idea, too.

Day 10: Part Three - Hunger Strike

I remember reading about the article of a journalist named Farrell entitled "Merchandising Gary Gilmore's Dance with Death" or something to that effect (I forgot to bookmark it on my copy and it's going to take me forever to go back, so I'm sorry for the inaccuracy). I only mention the title now because when I read it, I thought it described this part of Gary's life perfectly. Gary going on hunger strike because he couldn't get on the phone with Nicole, and then the media vultures flying low around him. For a con man like Gary, the hunger strike could have been very well part of the whole act - the one that he's finally sold out to Schiller.

It's very nice again to learn something about the US criminal law: they have what they call the "Next Friend" petition, where someone can file suit on behalf of the real party in interest, like Gary in this case. A lawyer named Amsterdam had filed a Next Friend petition before the US Supreme Court in order to stay Gary's execution, and fortunately gets a stay.

I mention this fact because we don't have an exact same petition here. Always, a suit should be brought by the real party in interest, or if someone should file it on his behalf, he should be equipped with the necessary power of attorney. :)

Stay on execution. Credits.
I don't think Gary really, truly wants to die. I remember reading something about his mother Bessie as not among the original people who were supposed to receive money from Vern, but when she managed to find Amsterdam and, through Mikal, was able to get a stay on Gary's execution, she was suddenly entitled to get some money - and hand-delivered by Vern and Ida, too.

Someone should talk some sense into Nicole. That girl is absolutely wrecked.


I didn't fully realize until you pointed it out, but yes, Gary's suicide was a farce, calculated to ensure that he will live through it. More hate points for Gary there.

MANDAMUS - a writ to compel the performance of a duty. For example, if a judge is required to order the enforcement of a certain act, but he refuses to do it for some reason, then the party concerned can file a petition for mandamus to compel the judge to enforce that act which he is under duty to do.

CERTIORARI - A writ that nullifies and/or voids the act of a lower court or other tribunal upon finding that it was rendered with what is called "grave abuse of discretion." For example, if a decision of the court of appeals was found to have been wrongly issued, or that it was made with "grave abuse of discretion", then the Supreme Court can issue a writ of certiorari to nullify it.

Day 11: Part Four - The Holiday Season

This time, it IS for real: Gary's attempt to commit suicide was made because of the continued stays on his execution. Again, isn't this the weirdest, funniest thing? A convict insists that he has to be executed, and when the execution is stayed, he attempts to commit suicide. And then he is brought to the hospital, of course, and then when he recovers, he is brought back to Maximum Security and to Death Row. Ironic, in the truest sense of the word.

The questions put forth to Gary by Schiller are quite informative despite his refusal to answer a few. When he was asked why he killed Jensen and Bushnell, he merely replied: “Because I didn't want to kill Nicole.” How twisted can he get?

Gibbs is, truly, the lowest of all creatures. But can anyone expect better from someone like him? What a snitch.

I wonder what Gary meant by what he wrote on the notebook that was given to Nicole: “I mean I wouldn't mind reading a book about Christ the man, Christ the jew, Christ the messiah, but not Christ the Christian.”


Gary commits another suicide. So, I am not sure if he really wants to die ba talaga or hindi?

Ang gulo talaga ng isip ni Gary. He is so complicated. I don't know if it's the result of his having a high IQ, but sometimes he tends to act too oddly. One thing is clear though: he is SANE.

Day 12: Part Five - Pressures

To be honest, this second half of the book wasn't exactly about Gary, but more about the media people who all want a part of the story. And these last chapters bored me silly. :(

But anyway. Schiller and his minions are trying to squeeze everything out of Gary in the interviews they are conducting, but get frustrated because no matter how they manipulate Gary into opening up, it's all futile. Gary doesn't appear to be deliberately skirting the questions; he just thought that there were things that were much too personal to be divulged.

Again, something he said struck me seriously, and this was when he talked about how killing people cannot be considered prolonged torture:

“Well, you could alter somebody's life so that the quality it wouldn't be what it could have been. I mean, you could torture 'em, you could blind 'em, you could maim 'em, you could cripple 'em, you could fuck 'em up so badly that their life would be a misery for the rest of it. And for me, that's worse than killing somebody. Like, if you kill somebody, it's over for them. I- I believe in karma and reincarnation and stuff like that, and if you kill somebody, it could be that you just assume their karmic debts, thereby you might be relieving them of a debt. But I think to make somebody go on living in a lessened state of existence, I think that could be worse than killing 'em."

Kuya, I have two questions for you:

1. Do you think that with that statement, Gary is playing god, and in turn, by executing Gary, the State of Utah and everyone else who believes in the death penalty are also playing god?

2. What is your personal take on the death penalty? Why?


Thanks for your input po. I think that makes perfect sense.

I must agree that the highlight of this chapter was Gary and Mikal somehow coming to terms with each other. Yes, it was touching how Gary appreciated Mikal's efforts to get a stay on his execution.

Stanger is one f the two lawyers working with Schiller. He works with Moody in interviewing Gary.

Time to whip out the tissues? :)

Day 13: Part Six - Into The Light

Before the execution. Credits
The last-ditch, eleventh-hour efforts to get a stay on Gary's execution was nothing but desperate. Imagine, a taxpayers' suit? But, if this had happened in the present time, the suit, I think, would have prospered. So many suits are now brought under that guise, making a mockery of the requirement of legal standing. In the Philippines, the most popular taxpayers' suit to ever prosper is the case of Oposa v. Factoran which was on the environment. :)

Gary's death was quiet, and I felt that it was only at that specific point when he truly, finally surrendered. Remember that, the eve of his execution, during the gathering with Gary and his close relations, he attempted to bribe Ron Stanger and Bob Moody to leave their clothes for him - Gary was planning an escape. It was only at this time that I understood him: he wanted to die only because he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in prison, but if he had the slightest opportunity to get out, he'd take it.

I had fun reading about the US legal system and/or hierarchy of courts, especially about the part when the Attorney General of Utah FLEW all the way to Denver to seek the reversal of Judge Ritter's TRO. I attended a seminar recently and the guest speaker was from the benefactor of the project, an American guy who mentioned that rarely does a case reach the US Supreme Court - they all have to pass through the Circuit Courts first. I will have to Google that when we're done with the book.


Oh I didn't cry either. Maybe because I already knew what would happen anyway, and because the straightforward, reportorial writing did not move me that much. But I will concede that it was sad reading it all the same.

I also like the second quote you mentioned, the one from Vern. That was very touching.

As for me, I was still a teenager when Echegaray was executed, and I was torn between being pro- or anti-death penalty. I always say, where is the justice if you will not execute a person who has killed someone or raped his own child? You know, an eye for an eye. It is so easy to be sympathetic towards the convict kasi kapag nasentensyahan na, lahat yan nagiging mukhang kaawa-awa. But think about their victims, too, and the families of their victims, much like Max Jensen's young wife and baby daughter, and Benny Bushnell's pregnant wife in Gary's case. Nananahimik lang naman sila, pero bakit ganun ang nangyari?

But I do agree that no one is justified from taking another's life. I am happy with our penal laws when Congress lifted the death penalty and instead, made life imprisonment/reclusion perpetua the maximum penalty in our country.

Oh, I didn't catch the homosexual tendencies that you spoke of. Hehe. Mahina ako sa ganyan, haha!

What was your initial perception of Schiller? And, I think Gary included Stanger in the list of witnesses because he trusts him completely, and perhaps because he had already been contemplating on making an escape, and he thought that either Stanger or Moody can help him. Di ba Gary approached both of them?

One last day, hurrah for us! :)

Day 14: Part Seven - The Fading of the Heart

Death by firing squad. Credits

Dominus vobiscum. Gary's last words. I was reminded of Christmas masses when I was a child, when the priest would sing Dominus vobiscum - translated as "The Lord be with you" - and then the people would sing the response, in return. For some reason, reading about them as a convict's last words gave me goosebumps.

So Gary dies as scheduled. The part where he was seated, a sack was put over his head, and the signal was given to the firing squad was sort of morose for him. I imagined it clearly in my head, and I felt really sad. So many lives wasted. But, I didn't cry.

These chapters were sort of a wrapping-up/winding-down of the story. Gary's ashes were scattered, and that was morose, too.


Ah yes, I think I glossed over that part about the boy in the pool. Tama ka Kuya, inaantok na ako nito. Haha! :D

Question ko: So, alin ang song ng executioner? Yong Amazing Grace (eh request nya yon) o yong LA PALOMA BLANCA (yong tinutugtog sa radio noong dead man walking sya) o yong 2 songs na ni-request nila sa radio na di ko alam? O yong poem ni Mailer sa start at end ng book?

I think they all qualify, pero ang nag-stick sa akin yung LA PALOMA BLANCA kasi napaka-eerie ng dating nung lyrics, tapos pinapatugtog pa siya on the eve of the execution.


Astrid (Mrs.B) said…
I've heard of Mailer's book but I never knew it was about this or that it's a true crime novel in the vein of In Cold Blood. It sounds fascinating. Maybe I should pick this up one of these days.
I actually just read another true crime book set in Tokyo, The People Who Eat Darkness (reviewed it recently). It's good. You might like it.
Monique said…
Hi Mrs B! :)

I've heard about In Cold Blood and been wanting to read that for ages, but I never really got around to actually doing it. Sometime this year though, our book club is set to read that, so there. :)

Thank you for the recommendation, I will look that up. :)

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