I need help with a plot from a story ...

Okay, sit back and relax, 'cause this is gonna take a little while to explain.

Many, many moons ago, I had a book called “Thrillers and More Thrillers.” It was a collection of weird/spooky short stories.

One of the stories (no, I don’t remember the title; what, you thought this was gonna be easy?) was about three convicts who were being transported on a train. They discuss the methods of execution in their home countries, and each asserts that his country has the worst method. One guy says his country straps you in a chair and slowly garrotes you. Another says that his country puts you in solitary until you die. And the third one I cannot for the life of me remember.

Anyway, the three convicts escape from the train, and make their way across the desert. All three eventually die, and of course all three die by the way they considered the most horrible. (I had this book when I was about 10; that probably explains why I’m so twisted today.)

For some reason, I started thinking about this story last night, and I wracked my brain trying to remember the third method of execution. It drove me crazy.

So … anyone recognize this story? Anybody know how the third convict died?

But I did a quick look on ABE (Advanced Book Exchange), and a number of dealers have a book by this title, edited by Robert Arthur. If that’s the one, you can always order it. I didn’t check Amazon.com to see whether or not it’s still in pring.

It’s out of print on Amazon (already had e-mailed Sauron privately on this one).
Sounds like a good story, but I too hate forgetting the punchline.

Many thanks, screech-owl, for the efforts. And Mjollnir, as well.

For some reason, I want to say the third guy died by decapitation, but I can’t make that fit into their surroundings (the American West). As info, he was the first guy to die in the story, not the last.

Shoot, maybe I’m remembering the whole thing wrong and there were only two guys. I would swear there were three, though. Dadgummit.

On the off-chance that it’ll help jar somebody’s memory, here are the circumstances of the other two deaths:

One guy was deathly afraid of the garrote-chair. In his country, you were strapped into a chair and a leather thong was placed around your neck. The executioner turned a crank in the back of the chair, slowly tightening that leather thong (or pressing a knob into the back of your neck, which served the same purpose). In the story, he and the third convict killed a rancher, and came up with the idea of a disguise – one convict would pretend to be the rancher when the posse came after them, and send the posse in the wrong direction. The convict who was afraid of death by garroting allowed himself to be tied in a chair on the porch of the rancher’s shack. They didn’t have any rope, so they cut strips of skin off a dead cow to use as the binding. The posse wasn’t as close as they thought, though, and the guy sat on the porch for a day or so. The sun dried the rawhide, tightening it … and garroting the guy.

The final convict, who feared solitary confinement, was making his way along a canyon when he triggered a small landslide. It completely blocked the pathway and closed off one end of the canyon. He was happy about this, figuring he’d completely thrown off any pursuit … until he discovered he was in a box canyon, and there was no way out. He thought about his options for a while, then shot himself with his pistol.

How did that third guy die? And why can I remember everything about this damn story except that one little detail? Grrr.

Ah, memories. I remember that book, it was a favorite of mine. And I DO remember the story. The first guy was French (the guillotine), the second was Spanish (the garrote), and the third was Italian (solitary confinement). You have the plot points correct – the Frenchman tried to escape in an elevator that was malfunctioning – somehow his head got caught outside, and when the doors closed: WHACK!!

Sort of ironic.

Thank you, caircair! I must confess that I don’t remember an elevator being involved, but I kept thinking that the guy was afraid of the guillotine. I thought maybe he’d gotten decapitated by train wheels, or something.

Appreciate the help!