Kevin Barlow will die on schedule and according to regulations. Harry Parlington, director of the Cantos execution facility, intends to make sure of it. However Barlow chooses to go, be it calmly or fighting violently ...展开to the end, Parlington feels confident that he and his team can deal with the situation. Father Preston is on hand to provide spiritual guidance, if needed. Doctor Lowe can provide pills to relieve the tension. The tie-down crew, all veterans of many executions, work swiftly and efficiently. All angles appear to be covered, until Parlington discovers there are many more angles to Kevin Barlow than he had first imagined.
When Barlow makes a baffling and unusual final request, a strange duel ensues between the condemned man and the prison director. In this struggle there can be no winner or loser, only two men faced with doubts and difficult choices to make. The iron grip Parlington usually maintains on the execution procedure begins to slip as the final hours become a maze of manners of dying.