In the presence of the rope, standing on the platform, and in reply to the traditional question, he told the executioners and men of law that his last request was to be washed, so as not to meet his Lord unclean. They’d dragged him from his cell to the place where he would die, and the shit had run out of him uncontrollably, like water. Piss flowing as though a tap had been spun open. By the time they reached the execution chamber his red trousers were soaked through and stained with diarrhoea. The stench filled the heavy air of the room.
The governor, the judge and the prison doctor met the request with silence. Taking him to bathe meant the time it would take to walk him to the prison bathhouse, then the time it would take to wash, and then there was the return journey, and all that, of course, would constitute a waste of time: of government time, and that of the senior officials who there to ensure that the judgement was properly executed.