In the meantime, Delacroix’s DOE (date of execution) is moved forward two days, and William Wharton’s trial lasts longer than expected. During Wharton’s trial, the man tries to claim that he suffers from fits of epilepsy and committed his crime while under such spells, but the jury determines these claims to be fake. After the trial, the judge nevertheless sends Wharton to be tested at a hospital, where the doctors find nothing wrong with him.
Once again, death proves omnipresent on E block, as it becomes impossible to ignore that Delacroix, however happy he may currently be, is bound to die soon. The lack of clinical explanation for Wharton’s behavior proves that the man is truly and unusually cruel, even when he is in full control of his mind.
The day Wharton is scheduled to enter E block, Paul wakes up with terrible pain from his urinary infection, which has returned stronger after having seemingly abated. He barely reaches the woodpile outside his house when he is forced to kneel on the ground from pain, letting go of a flow of urine that gives him the worst pain he has ever felt. He tries not to scream, so as not to worry his wife, and is barely able to get back up after finishing. He goes back inside, takes an aspirin, and plans on calling in sick to go see a doctor, but suddenly remembers that this is the day Wharton is supposed to arrive.
Paul’s urinary infection reminds readers that he is just as potentially weak as anyone else and that he, too, could benefit from some physical and psychological relief. The combination of this pain and the scheduled arrival of William Wharton presages a difficult day, marked by tension and difficulties. This creates suspense and a sense of narrative urgency.
Paul decides to go to the prison early and tell warden Moores to put Brutus Howell in charge of Wharton’s reception. When he arrives at the prison around six o’clock, he enters the warden’s office to see Moores in a desperate state, his eyes swollen, his hands pulling at his hair. Paul says he can come back later but Moores asks him to stay. He tells Paul that his wife, Melinda, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor and that she has been given, as most, a couple of months to live. Moores, an extremely reserved man, then begins to cry and sobs against Paul’s stomach.
Death enters Paul’s life once again—this time, not as part of ordinary prison protocol, but via the lives of his friends, the Moores family. Melinda’s tumor, warden Moores’s psychic pain, and Paul’s physical weakness all reveal that, beneath a veneer of strength and professionalism, everyone is vulnerable to emotional and physical harm. Death and violence are just as likely to take place within the prison setting as in the outside world, affecting the guilty and the innocent alike.
A few moments later, after Hal Moores has composed himself. He apologizes, embarrassed at having shown himself so vulnerable. In the emotional chaos of the situation, Paul forgets to tell Moores about his urinary infection and heads to E block, concluding that he could probably make it through the day somehow—not realizing, however, that trouble had only just begun.
Such emotional outbursts are highly unusual in the prison setting, but they reveal the potential for greater understanding and companionship between Paul and warden Moores.