During the day, Kutche Ghavam Daftar, a dead-end alley about the length of a football field, serves as a soccer ground for the children of the south Tehran slum neighborhood known as Jamshid.
At night it has turned into Tehran's death row, a place where 22 grisly public executions have taken place during the past 10 days.
Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, the Islamic republic's one-man offensive against narcotics and sex crimes, has ordered three mass executions to be held in full view of the residents of this drug-ridden neighborhood to teach people the evils of drugs and sexual offenses.
Apart from the death sentences on morals charges, authorities apparently have launched a new wave of political executions on charges of plotting against the government. Five servicemen, including an officer identified as Brig. Gen. Ayatollah Mohaghegi, were executed early this morning the official news media reported. Of the other four, three were identified as captians and one as an Air Force technician.
They were the first of about 300 suspects to be sentenced. Khomeini has called for the execution of all those involved in plotting a coup.
In the Jamshid alley, pieces of brain fleck a well where most of the sex and drug offenders have been executed. The horrified inhabitants of the area say the executioners first fire their Uzi submachine guns at the heads of the victims then at their hearts and then at their sides.
On Thursday Khalkhali tried a new twist, switching to hanging instead of shooting. Residents pointed out a long pipe with eight hooks lying in the alley. They said it had been welded to two other pipes to form a makeshift gallows. Eight ropes were attached, they said, and the victims were strung up after midnight.
The gallows, however, collapsed under the weight of the prisoners, according to the horrified onlookers. They said the prison staff and that comprised the execution squad then simply opened fire on the convicts.
They were seven victims each in the first two rounds of executions, including two women, one of whom was well advanced in pregnancy, according to the residents of the neighborhood. The last round of executions had eight victims.
According to several persons, Khalkhali decided to "have some fun" during the second executions. He reportedly told the guards to shoot just the first three. The other four then were told they were being released, the witnesses said.
Relieved, they started to run away, according to the story, when Kalkhali ordered the executioners to open fire. The four were shot in the back, unlike the rest, who faced the firing squad blindfolded with their hands tied behing their backs and standing against a wall.
An official who works under Khalkhali confirmed the botched hangings, denied that a pregnant woman had been executed and did not comment to a reporter on a story about the alleged cruel reprives.
The official, who is employed at Kalkhali's office at Qasr Prison in Tehran, told the reporter at that point, "I've been talking to you far too much."
The story was independently reported, however, by an official eyewitness and several residents of the neighborhood.
Khalkhali's aide said in a telephone interview tonight that "if a woman is pregnant one day, the sentence is postponed until the child is born."
For the most part he flaunted the killings proudly, saying "We intend everyone to see the executions to teach them a lesson.
He said that "technical problems" had caused the scaffold to collapse in Thursday's executions, but "we are going to improve it and make sure it will hold up" next time. The next time, he added, would be at 11 p.m. Monday when, "inshallah," (God willing) nine persons are scheduled to be hanged.
He invited reporters to attend.
So far, the bodies have been taken away quickly in ambulances. The aide said the intention in the future hangings is to leave the bodies up for four hours so Jamshid residents can see what happens to drug pushers.
He estimated that half of Jamshid's 30,000 population are drug addicts. He called the problem "a present from Ashraf," the twin sister of the ousted shah, since the government has accused the princess of involvement in drug traffic. "She left us this slum," the official said. Princess Ashraf has consistantly denied any connections with drug traffic.
Asked why the executions were held around midnight if the intention was for the people to see them, he explained that this is a temporary problem caused by Ramadan, the Moslem month of daytime fasting, which delays preparation.
Khalghali's professed purpose in carrying out Iran's first public executions in almost 15 years is to influence people to stop taking or selling drugs. But the residents, many of them addicts, say the killings have had no effect.
"There are still plenty of drugs," one said, "They just cost a lot more." That, in turn, he said, only pushed up the crime rate in the neighborhood.
Although they said they fear retaliation from Khalkhali if they complain to the government, the people of the neighborhood spare few words in criticizing the slaughter.
An aged woman said, "If you've seen how they shoot dogs, that's how they shoot them."
As she spoke she frequently dipped her foot in the water flowing in the sidewalk jube , Tehran's primitive drainage system. After the executions, others said, the water is red with blood.
On one occasion, one resident said guards who were not part of the execution squad joined in the firing from a balcony.
Soccer goals are at both ends of the short alley. The teen-agers who play daily games profess to being upset about competing on a "slaughter ground."
The street used to be a notorious red-light district after the revolution. The Islamic government has removed many of the women, who now are undergoing rehabilitation in a government institution called the Center for the Abolitian of Sin.
To block off the prostitution section, a temporary wall has been thrown up. It is now used for some of the executions.
On the bullet-riddled wall is written, "Seven people were executed here."