Black Birds is a dark action comedy novel that finds us in the mind of a female prisoner on death row.
Excerpt (CH 3. p. 15-16):
I remember when I was on trial I had to sit down for a full soul-disclosing conversation with the prison shrink. He was a bonafide nutcracker, guaranteed to give you a full workup, have you reveal your entire life story and then relay his assessment of level of crazy to the judge in front of a jury of your peers. After I disclosed my crime, as detailed as I could, given my state at the time I committed them, he and I sat in silence. I think he was baffled at my lack of justification of the killing or it could have been how fast I had come to terms with whatever punishment could be doled out. He was so baffled in fact that he brought in a female counsellor to consult with, Maggie Days. He had me recount every detail again, word for word in front of Maggie, who then asked for a moment of privacy with me. Without looking up from her keyboard for longer than two seconds at a time she rattled off questions ‘what is the difference between murder and execution’, ‘do you understand that you may be put to death’ and so on and on and on. This went on for over an hour; Maggie asked a question, and I answered. I was so tired by the end of it, when she asked her last question ‘do you regret your crimes’ that I just broke down and started crying uncontrollably. She took the tears to mean that I showed remorse for my crimes. She even said so in open court. Unfortunately those tears were not the tears of a repentful nor remorseful woman. They were the tears of a woman who saw that she had much more to live for. They were tears that represented everything I, then as a nineteen year old had wanted to do. Each tear that fell over the course of the trial, and there were hundreds, was a representative for each and every hope or dream I had had for my future, for my life. I sat remembering those tears, every one I had cried and realized that I had cried myself out. Sitting in my cell on death row wasn’t much different from sitting in my cell on the block. It had four walls, a cot, a pot and a sink. It did, however have one key difference. Death row was quiet. There was no loud gnarls Barkley song, no crying inmates, no quiet moans from masturbating murderesses. It was just silent. I had a hard time figuring out if this silence was a good or a bad thing. I enjoyed the lack of tasteless music and the illusion of privacy, but I hated the solitude. I didn’t know any of the guards on death row, I had seen one or two of them in the cafeteria before but never had a conversation with them. I don’t think now is the time to be trying to make friends, I resolved. My head hit the pillow, which felt like it was made up of a bunch of little decorative pillows, the kind that your grandmother would keep covering every space inch of the couch, the kind that would have random sharp edges that poke you and keep you from getting too comfortable. I smile at this. This sharp, uncomfortable pillow has to be the universe telling me not to get comfortable. This will all be over soon. For my last meal I requested spaghetti bolganase from my favorite family owned italian restaurant. I remember when Burt brought the request form for me to fill out. It was a rainy day, so no yard time for anyone. Tensions were high and Glasshole had no patience with me during our strip search time. I was feeling extra shitty about life so when Burt came to ask me what I wanted to be the last thing that I partially digest, I was less than forth coming.