Ceiling Fan In My Spoon


I’ve been here fourteen years.

Today’s the day.  Sammy brought me a steak.  He’s a pretty good guy, I hope he gets the fuck outta here before this place kills him on the inside.

I deserve to be here. Day in, day out, twenty-three hours in this box, and thirty minutes in the yard.  I did the math once, it added up to a hundred and six days of daylight.  Less than a year of fresh air to show for my adult life.  I never complained though, like I said, I deserve to be here.  I killed a little girl.  A beautiful little eight-year-old girl named Stacy.  I know she was beautiful from her pictures in the paper and the photos they showed in court.  I shot her and her old man point blank with a shotgun loaded with double aught buck.  I don’t remember doing it, but I’ve heard the playback so many times over the past fourteen years of courtroom reenactments that I can recite every detail.

I knew the Animal doctor had dope in his house, but I didn’t think I would find the mother lode.  I broke in looking for Valium, sedatives, maybe some loose cash.  I found a closet full of 100mg morphine tablets.  Didn’t know Vet’s even stocked that shit.  The sheer rush of the find made me stupid.  Every caution melted away.  I sat down in the man’s kitchen, shotgun in my lap, cooked up and tied one off.  I even used one of the Doc’s spoons, my works were outside in the car.

That’s it.  No pain.  The single greatest high of my life.  My lawyers did their best to convince the jury I blacked out.  That it was the sickness that did it, not me.

Fucking idiots.

From what I understand, the Doc and his little girl came home to find my smacked out ass in their kitchen.  Before the Doc could get out a word of protest, I unloaded the shotgun without even lifting my head from the table.

The Doc lived.  Stacy did not.  I woke up in a room like this one and haven’t be out since.  The doc’s testimony saw to that.  I hated myself after hearing what he had to say, so did my twelve peers.  He got a chance to ask me why.  I never gave him my answer.  At least I got that right.

I went with the blackout story my lawyers were peddling, but the truth is I didn’t black out.  I remember the reflection of the ceiling fan in that cooking spoon.  It was beautiful.  I remember never wanting it to stop spinning.  I stared at that while my body went through the motions of silencing the interruption.  I remember that Goddamn fan, but not mowing down a little girl in front of her father.  That’s how a drug addict’s mind works, hold on to the high no matter what, and filter out the rest.

Four years ago the Doc sat on the other side of a steel table and told me he forgave me for what I did, for what I did to his only child.  He said he had to.  He didn’t want to hold on to the hate anymore.  I wonder how tight he’d hold on to it if I told him the truth, that what I did to them just wasn’t important enough to remember, but that ceiling fan was.

Can you believe there are people out there right now waving signs that say I don’t deserve what’s comin’?  That my death will be cruel and unusual. Sammy told me that. Some people got nothing better to do.  To me, it makes perfect sense.  The needle got me here, I think it’s only fitting that the needle puts me down.

Sammy wants the rest of my steak.  I don’t care, I can’t cut it with this spoon anyway. I sit and stare at the ceiling fan spinning in it.  It’s still beautiful.  I can’t remember anything else.

Her father can.

I’m the lucky one.

She would have been twenty-two.

With respect to Evan Dando.

~ fin ~


Brian Panowich is an award winning author, a Georgia firefighter, and a father to four incredible children. His first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN (Putnam Books) topped the best thriller list of 2015 on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books of 2015 on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award (2016) for Best First Novel, as well as the Pat Conroy Award (formally the SIBA Award) (2016) for Best Mystery. The book was also nominated for the Barry Award, the Anthony Award, The Georgia Townsend Book Prize, and was a finalist for the 2016 LA Times Book Prize. BULL MOUNTAIN was also recently selected for the coveted BOOKS ALL GEORGIANS SHOULD READ list by the Georgia Center of the Book, and has been the recepient of several foreign press awards. Brian also placed second for the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Best Debut Catagory. His second novel, LIKE LIONS, is slated for a 2018 release followed by YEAR OF THE ROOSTER due in 2019.