I sent one boy to the gas chamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony. I went up there and visited with him two or three times. Three times. The last time was the day of his execution. I didn't have to go but I did. I sure didn't want to. He'd killed a fourteen year old girl and I can tell you right now I never did have no great desire to visit with him let alone go to his execution but I done it. The papers said it was a crime of passion and he told me there wasn't no passion to it. He'd been datin' this girl, young as she was. He was nineteen. And he told me that he had been plannin' to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was goin' to hell. Told it to me out of his own mouth. I don't know what to make of that. I surely don't. I thought I'd never seen a person like that and it got me to wonderin' if maybe he was some new kind. I watched them strap him into the seat and shut the door. He might of looked a bit nervous about it but that was about all. I really believe that he knew he was goin' to be in hell in fifteen minutes. I believe that. And I've thought about that a lot. He was not hard to talk to. Called me Sheriff. But I didn't know what to say to him. What do you say to a man that by his own admission has no soul? Why would you say anything? I've thought about it a good deal. But he wasn't nothin' compared to what was comin' down the pike.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. I don't know what them eyes was the windows to and I guess I'd as soon not know. But there is another view of the world out there and other eyes to see it and that's where this is goin'. It has done brought me to a place in my life I would not of thought I'd of come to. Somewhere out there is a true and living prophet of destruction and I don't want to confront him. I know he's real. I have seen his work. I walked in front of those eyes once. I wont do it again. I wont push my chips forward and stand up and go out to meet him. It ain't just bein' older. I wish that it was. I cant say that it's even what you are willin' to do. Because I always knew that you had to be willin' to die to even do this job. That was always true. Not to sound glorious about it or nothin' but you do. If you ain't they'll know it. They'll see it in a heartbeat. I think it is more like what you are willin' to become. And I think a man would have to put his soul at hazard. And I wont do that. I think now that maybe I never would.
The deputy left Chigurh standing in the corner of the office with his hands cuffed behind him while he sat in the swivel chair and took off his hat and put his feet up and called Lamar on the mobile.
Just walked in the door. Sheriff he had some sort of thing on him like one of them oxygen tanks for emphysema or whatever. Then he had a hose that run down the inside of his sleeve and went to one of them stun guns like they use at the slaughterhouse. Yessir. Well that's what it looks like. You can see it when you get in. Yessir. I got it covered. Yessir.
When he stood up out of the chair he swung the keys off his belt and opened the locked desk drawer to get the keys to the jail. He was slightly bent over when Chigurh squatted and scooted his manacled hands beneath him to the back of his knees. In the same motion he sat and rocked backward and passed the chain under his feet and then stood instantly and effortlessly. If it looked like a thing he'd practiced many times - it was. He dropped his cuffed hands over the deputy's head and leaped into the air and slammed both knees against the back of the deputy's neck and hauled back on the chain.
Excerpted from No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy. Copyright 2005 by Cormac McCarthy. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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