“There comes a point when you realize that you might not have a lot of time left, and there’s a lot of work to be done.” That’s what Lorri Davis told Arkansas Times contributing editor Mara Leveritt in an interview back in 2004, her first-ever public address. At the time, the Arkansas Supreme Court had just rejected Davis’ husband Damien Echols‘ most recent appeal and she felt the situation was dire. Married in 1999, six years after Echols was sent to death row for murder, Davis had insisted on the privacy of the relationship, and only spoke out in hopes that it might serve as a corrective to his still largely negative public image.
Ten years later, Echols and the others are free, and he and Davis have published a collection of their prison correspondence, “Yours For Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row,” out today via Blue Rider Press. They announced the book at their appearance at Reynolds Performance Hall last year, Echols’ first trip back to Arkansas. Leading off with a letter Davis sent in April 1996, before she moved to Arkansas (“I don’t know what your legal situation is,” she writes, before asking where West Memphis is exactly), it ends with a scanned copy of a handwritten letter from New Years Eve, 2008.
In between is an extremely intimate document of their relationship, filled with near-constant declarations of love alongside reading recommendations, stories about how they’re passing time without each other, legal frustrations, childhood memories, Zen tips, updates on the West Memphis Three cause, etc. It’s bound to be interesting to anyone really invested in the case — particularly given Davis’ extensive involvement — and it offers maybe the most unmediated impression of Echols we’ve been given so far.
His own idiosyncratic prose comes through here too, even in minor passages, like song recommendations. Apparently his tastes extended beyond metal even early on: “There’s a ghost in my head tonight, love,” Echols writes at one point. “I’m just glad it’s not in my heart. There’s a song about you by a man named Al Stewart. It’s called ‘Year of the Cat.’ Never has another song been so much about you.”