Short Story

Gruesome Gertie


It was early, that time of night when it’s too late to keep drinking and too early to start breakfast. The only sound was the tapping of keys on the keyboard, the only light from the monitor wrapped itself around his body as he hunched over the keyboard. A pair of white earphones plugged into his ears, the wire ran into his computer as if his brain was connected directly into the network.

Harold Brown was like every other “aspiring” writer, unpublished and going nowhere. As he continued his flurry of words the page counter turned over from three hundred eighty to three hundred eighty-one. His typing slowed, he paused. He sat back in his leather-writing chair and contemplated. His back and neck were sore; hours had gone by since he began this session. He thought a little while longer and began typing again. Then finally… The End.

He removed the ear buds from his ears and sat them on the table. Classical music could be heard escaping the earphones. The joints in his knees and ankles cracked as he took each step. He reached over to the light switch and turned it on. His writing desk was in the corner of his living room. A couch faced an old box television set. A small dinning room table for four pointed its way into a meager kitchen. He walked towards the refrigerator for a drink. He opened the refrigerator door. His fridge was empty except for a couple bottles of water, some orange juice, and bread. He grabbed the orange juice and began drinking out of the carton. He leaned back against the fridge starring at all the empty bottles of liquor that were piled in the sink. He looked up at the clock and it was almost five in the morning. After a couple of gulps the orange juice was gone. He placed the carton in the sink with the rest of the recyclables and walked back to his workstation. There was a letter on the edge of the desk on Scribner letterhead. It began… Dear Mr. Brown. We regretfully are writing to inform you… Yeah regretfully, Harold thought. He walked the letter back into his bedroom and turned on the light.

The bedroom was littered with books, magazines and newspaper clippings; all stacked and organized in a semi-chaotic based on topic. Harold was the kind of writer that believed in keeping every printed piece of information he felt would one day inspire him, even though he knew in the back of his mind he could find just about everything there was to know on the internet. But still it comforted Harry to be surrounded by all that writing talent as if he could soak in their brilliance by osmosis.

The bedroom looked more like a library with a bed. The only spare section of wall was a shrine to his failure. Fourteen rejection letters pinned to the wall at eye level. There were two rows of six and then a new bottom row of two. Harold stood there examining them all as he pinned up the third one to the bottom row, number fifteen of the group. He then pulled out a highlighter from his desk and like he did to the other fourteen letters and highlighted passages that would motivate him: “Your appreciation of the macabre is an asset to your writing.”

Harold lay back onto his bed starring at the rejection letter. His eyelids flickered and then shut.


A faint pounding echoed through the apartment; then again, and again. Harold rolled over and pulled his blanket over his head to drown out the sound. Outside Harold’s best friend Arthur Kennelly was banging on the door as hard as he could. Arthur looked down at his watch; it was five-thirty in the evening. Arthur reached into his pocket and pulled out his keys. He found the key to Harold’s apartment and let himself in. He opened the curtain in the living room and the window. He walked back to the kitchen to find the bottles of booze. The answering machine on the counter blinked the number five in red followed by a subtle beep. Arthur opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water and then walked toward the bedroom.

“Harry. Time to get up.” Arthur walked into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. He grabbed the Advil bottle and shook out four Advil. “Come on Harry. It’s dinner time and I’m hungry.” Arthur walked back into the bedroom and pulled the covers off Harry. He handed him the water and Advil. “Time to get up… whew and shower. What happened last night? Another bender?” Harry sat up and choked down the Advil. He didn’t respond he just pointed at the rejection wall, got up and walked to the shower. Arthur walked over to the new letter and read it; Harry closed the bathroom door and began the shower.


Harry walked out of the bedroom, cleaned, dressed and his hair still a little wet. Arthur was sitting on the couch watching TV.

“Sorry about the letter Harry.” Arthur said in an effort to offer some sort of condolence.

“Shit happens right?” Harry replied. He walked over to the answering machine and clicked play.


“Hello Harold. It’s mom just checking in. Call me.”


“Harry it’s Art. You got to get out of that apartment. I’m coming over after work and we’re going to dinner.”


“It’s mom again still waiting for your call.”


“Are you ignoring me? I hope everything is ok give me a call.”


“Hey Harry its Lexi. Just confirming our appointment for tonight. Same time? See you then.”

Harry deleted the messages and looked back at Arthur.

“So Artie what’s for dinner tonight?” Arthur turned off the TV and stood up.

“You know I hate it when you call me Artie.” Harry patted Art on his back, “Come on buddy we can cry together over dinner.”


The clink and clang of silverware and dishes drowned out the white noise of everyone talking. Harry and Art sat across the table from one another at their favorite Restaurant/Bar: The Green Dragon. It was a small pub that served mainly meat and potatoes and beer of course; lots of different beers. The décor was based on medieval times with coats of armor, shields and swords on the walls. The waitresses all dressed up as wenches from the 18th century and lots of cheering went on. Harry and Arthur raised their pints and toasted one another:

“You can keep your fancy ales
You can drink ’em by the flagon
But the only brew for the brave and true
Comes from The Green Dragon!”

They had their inside-joke chuckle and began eating.

“So I think I found something you will be interested in.” Art began.

“Please tell me this isn’t another website project?” Harry ridiculed.

“No this is for you. You know I love those collector shows right? Well on this one called Profiles in History they auction off Hollywood memorabilia. So get this tomorrow they are auctioning off a genuine Electric Chair.” Harry froze for a moment. Art knew it would capture his attention, for as long as Art could remember Harry has loved horror and the macabre and often talked about owning an Electric Chair.

“You’re kidding?” Harry said.

“No. And the best part is that this isn’t just some Hollywood prop it’s the real deal. You remember that movie the Monster’s Ball? The one with Billy Bob Thorton…”

“Is that the one where Halle Berry first flashed her boobs?” Harry recalled.

“Yup that’s the one. Anyway in the movie they used a famous Electric Chair from the Louisiana State Penitentiary. Inmates in this jail called the chair Gruesome Gertie. Seriously you can’t make this shit up. And this very chair is going up for auction tomorrow afternoon.” Art took a break from his story to eat. Harry was hypnotized with the idea of finally owning an electric chair. After swallowing his bite and washing it down with some ale Art asked,

“So what do you think? You want to give it a go?”

“Do I… but I’ve never done this sort of thing. Where do we begin?” Harry asked.

“Seriously…” Art said confused. “I’ve got an account. I’ve been bidding online on stuff since this show began. I got a number and everything, we just get there sign in and bid when it comes up.”

“How much you think something like this will go for?” Harry asked.

“Hard to say. Five, eight, maybe ten thousand dollars.” Art responded.


“Yeah well think about it, you have movie buffs and people like you who want sick and twisted shit in their house. There will be a bidding war just be prepared. How much can you get your hands on?”

“Maybe six… seven thousand tops.”

“Well let’s do it then. Doesn’t hurt to go down there and try.” Art suggested.


Art pulled into the visitor parking spot at Harry’s apartment complex. Harry climbed out of the car and looked back through the window.

“So are you picking me up at three o’clock tomorrow?” Harry asked.

“Yup. See you then. Harry tapped the car on the hood and walked up the stairs and back into his apartment.

BEEP! Harry sighed and walked to the kitchen counter where his answering machine beckoned him. There were three new messages. He hit play… they were all from his mom checking in. He sat down behind his computer and began researching everything he could find on Gruesome Gertie. Harry lost himself in his research.

KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK. The door startled Harry who had been reading up on the various executions of Eugene Johnson, Elmo Patrick Sonnier and Willie Francis. He clamored out of his writing chair and over to the door. He opened the door. There standing outside was Lexi, a five foot eight buxom brunette wearing a large black trench coat and Stiletto heals that pushed her to six feet.

“Another one of those days huh?” She said in a raspy voice.

“Give me a couple minutes to finish up.” Harry said as he sat back in his writing chair. Lexi set her gym bag down on the coffee table and removed her black coat. She wore work out clothes that hugged her body perfectly to accentuate every curve on her body.

“Where to tonight?” Lexi asked trying to steal a peek of Harry’s monitor. Harry felt her eyes on his computer and quickly directed her…


She grabbed her bag and headed to the bedroom. On the way she saw the conquests of liquor in the sink. Harry’s drinking always concerned her. After everything they had been through and their history she did care for him deeply. She knew he was a brilliant writer and it pained her to see him drown his depression. She believed in alternate forms of eliminating his sadness.

Lexi walked over to the only dresser in the room and turned on the speaker system that rested on top. She then placed her iPod into the system and scrolled through the music library. She laid her gym bag down on the foot of the bed and unzipped it. On top was a black leather suit. She pulled it out and laid it next to the bag. The suit was garnished with chains and shiny metal rivets strategically placed throughout. She undressed and put on the suit that seemed to be handcrafted to match the contour of her body. As she began to take out various whips and other devices of pleasure, music suddenly rang out causing her to flinch. She turned around and saw Harry adjusting the volume of the iPod on the dresser behind her. The music was loud and angry. He searched through the library of songs until he found the right one.

It was going to be one of those nights where Harry’s neighbors would go to the Apartment Office tomorrow and complain about the noise. But Harry didn’t care; he had more important things to erase from his memory.

“The usual?” She asked.

“No. I want to take it up a notch this time.” Harry placed a small stack of money on the dresser.

“Sorry not as much as I like to give but I have my eye on something I need to pick up. I’ll make up for it next time. It was unusual that Harry gave her the money up front. He usually handed it to her after their session was over. She looked back at him as he undressed in front of his closet. The money on the dresser could only mean one thing… he didn’t want to get up after it was over. He pulled a pair of black leather Speedos from the dresser, undressed and put them on.

“Are you’re ready.” Lexi asked.

“I’m ready.” Harry answered. He then lifted the remote to his iPod and pushed play.

Harry stood next to his bed and leaned his head down resting his chin on his chest and shutting his eyes. The music was loading and she knew not to begin until the song had started. He could hear her footsteps walk from the foot of the bed around to him. He heard something slide across the bed, a pleasure weapon, as he liked to call them. The straps of her whip slid up his chest to the top of his left shoulder and then across the back of his neck. A chilling sensation sent a shock wave through his spine. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. A guitar solo came in signaling her to begin. She knew the song; it was his favorite band Tool, the song was Stinkfist. She followed the motion of the guitar across his back in seductive combs of the whip’s leather straps. Then suddenly as the drums were about to dive into the room the straps departed his right shoulder and came crashing down onto his back.


“Come on Harry open the door!” Art shouted outside of Harry’s apartment door. He pounded on the door again with the outside of his palm. Art pounded again. “Shit Harry must I use my key every goddamned time I come over here? You better not be in there jerking off!” He pulled his keys from his pocket and opened the door. “Harry” he called out as he closed the door behind him. He could hear the faint classical music of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. The music was coming from the bedroom.

Art turned the corner of the living room and could see Harry’s feet hanging off the side of the bed. Just then he heard the phone ringing. He picked it up and saw that there were more messages.

“Hello.” Art said.

“Art… is that you? Is he ok?” Asked an old lady’s voice.

“Yes, he’s in the shower. Once he’s dressed I’ll have him call you.” Art responded.

“Artie I think he got another rejection letter. Can you please keep your eye on him?” She asked.

“I sure will, I’m gonna be with him most of the day today. Mrs. Brown I got to go, talk to you later.” Art ended the conversation and walked into the bedroom to get Harry cleaned up.

Turning into the room he instantly saw blood pooled in the swell of Harry’s back. He rushed in. Time floated by as he quickly glanced around the room. Small splatter of blood dressed the ceiling and some on the wall the bed was up against, the iPod continued to orchestrate Beethoven from the dresser. Harry lay silently taking deep methodical breaths. There was some money next to the dresser, and a note:

I only took half.

I worry about you, please call me when you are up.


Harry was alive, if barely. Art stopped at the foot of the bed and watched Harry for a moment. Harry’s back was tortured. The blood had already begun to dry up. His shoulders were turning a purplish hue. Art noticed the lacerations. He still had a scar on his back from his first time. Art pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed Lexi.

“Hello.” Lexi answered.

“What the fuck Lex! How could you leave him like this?” Art demanded.

“Hey don’t scream at me! He wanted me to leave him like that!” Lexi shouted back.

“He’s half dead!” Art shouted.

“I’m not dead you idiot.” Harry said as he slowly pushed himself up from bed. Just then Lexi hung up on Art. Art threw his phone into his pocket and helped Harry up.

“What the hell were you thinking?” Art asked.

“Just get me to the shower.” Harry pleaded.

“You know your mom called again this morning worried about you.”

“She over-dramatizes everything, you know that.”

“Over dramatizes, from the looks of things I guess I know where you get it from. Point is you scare her when you don’t respond. What was she supposed to think when you didn’t answer her last seven calls?” Art pleaded.

“I’m not going to kill myself Artie.” Harry said as he stood under the hot water washing away all the blood.

“Yeah then what do you call all that on the ceiling, new décor?” Art argued.

“So we got a little carried away last night.”

“That’s not what Lexi said… she said you wanted more. So what’s after this?” Art demanded.

“Just shut up Artie it’s not like you don’t have your vices.”

“I don’t try to kill myself.”

“No you just smoke pot and occasionally snort heroine. That’s much safer.” Harry said in a sarcastic voice.

“Just get cleaned up.” Art ordered.


Harry spent most of the drive up leaned forward in the passenger seat of Art’s car. No matter what position he got in, nothing was comfortable. Art knew this and wanted to remind Harry of his idiot decisions but kept his mouth shut.

“Maybe you should take this time to call your mom?” Art suggested.

“I’ll call her this weekend. Lets see the damage I do today first.” Harry responded.

As they drove up Interstate 5, Harry pulled a bunch of papers from his bag and began reading.

“What is all that?” Art asked.

“I downloaded a ton of stuff on this Gruesome Gertie chair. This is going to be the inspiration to my next story. You wouldn’t believe the shit this chair has gone through.” Harry enamored.

“Well let’s here about it. We aren’t going anywhere fast in this traffic.”

“Before Gertie found a home at the Louisiana State Penitentiary it was actually shipped from parish to parish. You pretty much ordered up an electric-chair execution via Gertie and they sent you the chair. Finally after sixteen years of traveling all around Louisiana it came to rest at the State Penitentiary. But that’s not what gained Gertie her popularity. In 1946 a prison guard decided to get drunk on the job and he set the chair up wrong. Eighteen-year old inmate Willie Francis was the first inmate to ever be executed twice. When they pulled the switch the first time he didn’t fry; he was shocked. He screamed out “Take it off! Take it off! Let me breathe!” Can you imagine sitting there with just enough volt’s pulsating through your body that it rips apart your organs but not enough to actually stop your heart? They actually went back to trial after that attempt claiming that the electric chair was cruel and unusual punishment. It took over a year to retry poor Willie Francis who ended up losing his legal battle and getting fried for a second time.”

“Holy shit Harry… are you sure you want this chair?”

“Want it… I have to have it!”

“What’s wrong with you?” Art asked shaking his head in disbelief.

The drive up to Los Angeles took them about an hour and forty-five minutes with the traffic. They arrived at the auction house for Profiles in History with time to spare. After getting checked in they were handed their bid number eighty-eight and a program that showed all of the items up for bid. Harry quickly flipped through to Gertie. There was a nice one-page ad picturing the chair and a little biographical write-up.

Since they had time to kill they decided to walk around the showroom to see what other goodies were available. From the movie they had a signed script by the cast, Heath Ledger’s screen-worn officers uniform, the sketch Sean Combs’ character did in jail of Heath Ledger that was signed by Combs, the notebook of newspaper clippings that Peter Boyle’s character kept, and the piece de resistance: Gruesome Gertie. A couple of admirers circled around the electric chair like vultures, checking it out from every angle.

“It’s absolutely perfect.” Harry said under his breath to Art. An announcement came over a loud speaker that the auction would be starting soon and that everyone would need to make their way to their seats.

In the ballroom chairs lined the floor in rows with a podium up front for the auctioneer and the item up for auction to his left. In the back of the room the Profiles in History staff sat behind computers and phones taking bids.

As the auction unfolded Harry became increasingly nervous. Finally they got to the Monster’s Ball lot and the room began to whisper. It seemed a lot of people were really interested in this lot. Harry gripped his number a little tighter. First up was the script: it was signed by Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry, Heath Ledger and Peter Boyle. The bid started at one thousand dollars and quickly jumped to three. After the final gavel fell it landed at three thousand and four hundred dollars. The Sketch and Sean Combs signature brought in eight hundred dollars, the notebook with newspaper clippings five hundred. But when Heath Ledger’s screen-worn officers uniform came up the room lit up with bids. Five thousand jumped to eight, then jumped to ten. Thousand dollar increments pushed the bid war up to fifteen and then twenty thousand dollars. Two final bidders battled it out around the twenty-five thousand mark until the final bidder chimed in at twenty-eight thousand dollars. As the crowd relaxed the crew rolled in the next and final item… the Gruesome Gertie Electric Chair.

“Lets hang back and see where this goes.” Art suggested in a whisper to Harry.

“This is the screen-used electric chair used in the movie Monster’s Ball. It is aptly called Gruesome Gertie and was retired by the Louisiana State Penitentiary on July 22, 1991. Bidding will begin at five thousand dollars.” Said the auctioneer. Everyone looked around the room waiting to see who would be the first to bid on the piece of movie macabre. “Five thousand is the reserve, we need to start at five. Do I have anyone at five?” baited the auctioneer.

Suddenly someone raised their number and the auction began.

“That’s five thousand do I hear six.” Another number floated into the air.

“The gentleman in the front row has it at six, anyone for seven?” One of the staff on the phones in the back raised their number. “We have someone on the phones at seven, do I hear eight.”

Harry raised his number.

“That’s eight thousand to the gentleman on my right.”

“Nine thousand announced the man managing the phone bidder.” Harry raised his number again.

“Ten thousand!” Harry shouted. There was a pause.

“I have ten thousand over here to my right. Any other bidders in the room?” The auctioneer looked around the room slowly. Harry filled with anticipation. The auctioneer picked up his gavel. “Any more bids from the phone?”

The man holding the phone waved the auctioneer off.

THUD! The gavel came down.

“Bidder 88 wins the Gruesome Gertie Electric Chair for ten thousand dollars.” Harry was smiling from ear to ear. It had been a long time since Art had seen him that happy; it was a good feeling even though Art knew he would be helping pay the balance of what Harry couldn’t afford.

“So how much are you gonna need me to spot you?” Art asked as they exited to close out their purchase.

“Actually I’m good, right on the money at ten.” Harry responded. He handed the clerk two thousand in cash, and three credit cards to cover the remaining balance. Harry closed out his bill and was instructed to pull their vehicle around the back to load the chair.

“I’ll tell you right now… I’m going to be a little more than freaked out driving back to Orange County with that death chair sitting in the back of the SUV.” Art added.

Harry kept looking back at the chair lying down in the back of the SUV.

“It’s beautiful.” Harry said.

“You got to stop that Harry you are seriously starting to freak me out.”

“What can I say, my mind is filling with ideas. How about this for a pitch? Joseph Hillstrom, a famous horror novelist goes out and buys this infamous electric chair at an auction. This chair has been used in hundreds of executions, but we will focus on only two hundred and forty of them all completed by Edwin F. Davis, State Electrician, which is just a fancy title for executioner. After his last execution good ole’ Edwin goes mad and secludes himself. When Edwin reads that his beloved chair is in the hands of a civilian he hunts down Joseph, captures him, and conducts one last electric execution.”

“Sounds like a good start.” Art replied.

“Now quiet I need to think the rest of the way home.” Harry griped.

They pulled into a parking space just outside of Harry’s apartment and began unloading the electric chair. The chair was lighter than Art imagined. Art started walking up the stairs backwards forcing Harry to bear the weight of the chair below him. At the top of the stairs Art turned towards the neighbors door so that Harry could set down his end and unlock the door. Once inside they set the chair down in the center of the living room.

“So where do you want it?” Art asked. Harry looked around the room.

“Bedroom.” They dragged the chair into the bedroom and Harry pushed over a stack of books to create some space in the corner. “This is going to be a perfect reading chair.” Harry ran into the living room and brought a floor lamp into the bedroom and plugged it in next to the electric chair. While Harry was readjusting his bedroom décor Art ran back down to grab the power box and other miscellaneous straps that came with Gruesome Gertie. Harry had cleared some space next to the chair for the other items. “Perfect.” Harry jumped into the chair and grabbed a book, Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean, off the top of his stack of books to be read. “Okay time to go.” Harry ordered.

“What the fuck Harry.” Art said angered that he was being pushed out of the apartment.

“I got inspiration flying at me, time to write. I can’t have you lingering about.”

“A thank you would have sufficed.” Art said as he left the apartment.

“Thanks bro, you’re the best.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Harry shut the front door before Art got down the stairs. Harry grabbed his laptop and ran back into the bedroom. He sat in the chair and opened a new Word document and began typing.

His fingers ached but he couldn’t stop for pain. His ass was raw from the wooden slabs of Gertie, his elbows scratched across the leather straps and chaffed. He played The Mercy Seat by Nice Cave on his computer turning up the volume as loud as his ears could handle.

He stood, holding the laptop with his left hand typing with the index finger on his right as he walked into the kitchen. He set the laptop on the counter the monitor reflected the bottles of liquor still piled in his sink. He opened the freezer and pulled out his favorite American Bourbon, a bottle of Maker’s Mark Whiskey, and began gulping it down.

Back in the chair he continued to type, pages flew by like crashing waves in high tide engulfing the sandy shores of imagination.

The long hand of his kitchen clock chased the short hand as minutes turned into hours: dusk into darkness.

He took an occasional break from typing only to kiss the wet lips of Maker’s Mark and chug down its sweet mana of creativity.

The laptop was possessed screaming through the Nick Cave lyrics: “the mercy seat is waiting, and I think my head is burning, and in a way I’m yearning, to be done with all this measuring of truth.”

The living room door opened as Lexi stepped into the room. She tried to shout through the music but it was useless. She walked into the bedroom where Harry was dancing naked. He spun around, eyes spinning trying to focus on Lexi.

“Hey… do we have an appointment tonight?” Harry slurred.

“You don’t remember calling me?” Lexi responded.

“Ah yes I need your help…”

“Harry can we turn down the music?”

“NO!” Harry screamed back at her throwing his empty bottle of Maker’s Mark Whiskey past Lexi against the wall shattering it. “I’M WORKING!” Lexi was caught off guard she had never seen Harry like this before. “I’m working. I have a story to write, it’s working. Now strap me into Gertie.” Harry asked.

“Who is Gertie?”

“This is Gertie.” Harry announced pointing Lexi to the chair.

“Harry I don’t think this is a good idea.” Lexi pleaded.

“THEN GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE! I pay you to follow directions, have you forgot that you are a WHORE?” Harry sat down in the chair and began strapping his left wrist into the leather shackles.

“Why Harry, why must you do this?”

“I CAN’T FINISH THE STORY! Gertie knows the answer, she wants me. I want to give myself to her. I want her inside my head.” Harry reasoned. “I need to finish the story… you know I need help finishing.” Lexi undressed and helped Harry get strapped into the chair.

The music seemed to scream louder and louder as it played the same song on a loop over and over.

“Pull the bag over my head.” Harry commanded. Lexi looked to the stack of electric equipment there was a gray leather bag. She slowly placed it over Harry’s head. “Now fuck me.” Harry ordered. Lexi mounted his lap and positioned herself. She began to cry. “Choke me.”

“What?” Lexi said in a frail voice.

“CHOKE ME!” Harry screamed. Lexi wrapped her hands around Harry’s throat and tried to squeeze but her heart got in the way. “HARDER!” Harry yelped. Lexi moved like a piston, leaning in to Harry’s chest pushing her weight behind her hands, tightening her fingers. As Harry gasped the song raged on:

And the mercy seat is melting

And I think my blood is boiling

And in a way I’m spoiling

All the fun with all this truth and consequence.


Knock, knock, knock…

Knock, knock, knock…

Art took out his keys and unlocked Harry’s apartment door. It was silent. He walked toward the bedroom and found an empty bottle of Maker’s Mark Whiskey on the floor. He picked it up and set it on the kitchen counter. He entered the bedroom and looked over at the electric chair. Harry was sitting in the chair frozen in time. His left wrist was strapped down to the chair. He held the electric cord from the floor lamp; which was ripped off the lamp and twisted around his neck in a makeshift noose. A gray bag was covering his head. His right hand cradled his flaccid penis. Art grabbed a sheet from the bed and threw it over Harry’s body. The movement disturbed the wind coughing up the scent of death. Art ran into the bathroom to throw up.

The phone rang. Art washed his face and went back into the living room, still in shock he answered the phone.


“Art? This is Lexi is Harry there?” Art didn’t know how to answer; it had only been moments since he saw his best friend dead and the vision already began to haunt him. “Harry called me last night but I was with another client. He sounded bad Art, is Harry okay?” Art noticed the bidder paddle over on the computer workstation. He hung up the phone and dropped it as he walked toward the paddle numbered eighty-eight. He picked up the paddle and noticed the Auction Program opened up on the table. The picture of Gruesome Gertie stared back at him. There was one passage highlighted: During its fifty years, Gruesome Gertie had been used for a total of eighty-seven executions.

Art looked back at the paddle numbered eighty-eight and felt a shiver of electricity run up his spine.

The End

2 thoughts on “Short Story

  1. The ending of this story reaches up and slaps you in the face. Dave has a knack for that in many of his stories. The great thing is when you feel that slap, you can justify it by going back through the story and finding all the clues that led up to it. Almost like you deserve it for not quite paying enough attention, even when the story has you sucked in completely. This story has so many little clues and foreshadowings, and Dave and I talked quite a bit about making sure it was just long enough, but not too long; that the character development was just enough to sound believable but not too much to be cumbersome. You like the characters, even ones so obviously screwed up in the head as Harry (ie. it’s hard not to like Dave too, for much the same reasons 😉 )

    And don’t forget Gertie herself. By the end of this story the chair is as much a character as anyone else. That’s part of the magic of this story. That and that much of what is in this story is actually “googleable”. Try it! See for yourself how much of this horror is actually real life. You might be surprised!

  2. Ahhh, I totally agree with Kenn. The ending really does slap you in the face…Holy crap. At one point you feel like this chair is going to be his saving grace. The one thing that can save him from himself in his own twisted way. But then again it’s all up to ones perspective because as I write this I realize even in the unfortunate twist of events, a person like Harry may still see it as his saving graze… Hmmm…

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