Hanging On: Chapter Seven

Luke spent most of the morning torturing himself over a certain secret, and the type of confession he would deliver to the deputy in the form of a testimonial. He liked to think of himself as an honest man. He was raised to believe that honesty was the best policy. But was it? In every case? He was beginning to believe otherwise. The ‘talking to’ he gave himself went something like this: “What harm is there in withholding this kind of information? Besides, if I answer truthfully with a full disclosure, it will only exacerbate the future consequences that shall stem from this particular crime. It wouldn’t diminish the hardships that are sure to follow for all those concerned, namely those two kids. No, on the contrary, it would definitely increase the extent of the damages done for many years to come. Those kids have been through enough. Haven’t they? Why make matters worse? And what about our town? We want folks to move here. We wish ours to be a thriving community. We’re just getting started. On the whole, we simply can’t afford to let this kind of news get out and damage our town’s reputation. It’s not worth it. Well then, the matter is closed. I will not tell all. No way.”

Around 10 o’clock that morning, Luke headed out and made his way to the deputy’s office. The town had yet to build a jail, and they were still waiting for a sheriff to be appointed to their region. The deputy had been sent there as a lawful, temporary keeper of the peace. He was a meek and timid man who’d had an easy go of it, so far. The town was fairly crime-free before he arrived, and had stayed that way since he’d taken on the job. The horrible goings-on of the night before were unlike any he’d ever seen, and he was beside himself as to what he should do next, and how he would go about carrying out the law, given what he had to work with, which wasn’t much. He was expecting Luke that morning, but not the group of men who showed up a few minutes prior to Luke’s appearance. It was Luke’s new boss, Sam was his name, accompanied by a half a dozen of his hired-hands. The deputy knew Sam as the most powerful man in town, and thus showed him all due respect at all times, and at every event.

They’d come to town to shop for food and whatnot. While in the store they heard the news, and now they’d come to see what was being done about it. Sam wasn’t too happy when he saw the deputy sitting there, basically doing nothing. As Luke’s employer, he was doubly impressed to learn that the man he’d just hired was the new hero in town. He was also saddened and troubled when he got word of what all happened. Sam, by the way, was not averse to killing. He’d been out West for a while, and had had to defend himself more than once. The results had been death for his opponents. Being a rich landowner, when it came to taking the law into one’s own hands, he knew the ropes, so to speak. A killer was on the loose, and he therefore intended on doing whatever was necessary to apprehend the criminal. Then he’d mete out justice according to the unspoken rules of the wild.

Luke knew going in there what he would say, and how he would say it. He knew that if he told them he saw the foreigner leaving town just as the fire had gotten started, and that he was the only one he’d seen outside in the vicinity at that time, then obviously they’d have to assume that the stranger was the guilty party. Instinctively, Luke had his doubts about that assumption, but he also looked at the big picture, and by that I mean the future. This was his town, too, and he wanted the best for his family. Someone was going to pay for this, and they only had one suspect. He had to tell them who he’d seen. Whatever happened after that was beyond his control. That he knew. Furthermore, there’d be no more blood on his hands, not if he could help it.

Luke walked in and received a warm reception. Everyone wanted to shake his hand, and tell him what sort of hero he’d been. Luke had no way of knowing his new employer would be there. It threw him for a loop, and knocked him somewhat off balance. Sam was proud of him, no doubt, and told him as much in no uncertain terms. Luke was flattered, but also embarrassed from all the attention. Sam proceeded to take over the whole affair from there, and the deputy shrank back into the corner. “Have a seat, Luke, and tell us what all happened. No need to spare the details. We’re all men here.”

Even though Luke had just been through hell, he was none the worse for wear. He enabled himself to remain calm, and gave an overall coherent account of what he’d seen, and what he’d done. Here and there he’d feel the need to explain himself. Naturally, he got emotional, and as you might expect, a few teary rough spots were encountered. When it was time to skip the unbelievable part of the story, his heart began to race and he stammered a bit. But keep it to himself he did. The secret was his, and his alone. He already felt it’s weight.

Sam thanked Luke for the pertinent information. It was enough, and it was all he needed. There was a suspect, and they had sufficient cause to go after him. The evidence was circumstantial. No motive could be comprehended. That didn’t matter to Sam, he could overlook those things. What they needed was justice, and someone to blame. They already had the latter, and he’d take care of the former. Then Sam put forth his plan.

Sam glared at the deputy, “If my men will help to form a posse, will you swear us in?” The deputy immediately consented. Raising one eyebrow and wearing a smirk, Sam asks, “Will it be legal? Officially, that is?” The deputy replied, “I think so. At least, I’m fairly sure it would be, sir. I know the words, all you’ll have to do is raise your right hands, and repeat after me.” Sam was content with his answer. The law would be on their side. He offered his men a substantial bonus, and asked them if they’d agree to join him in this endeavor. They all nodded in agreement and subtle trepidation. “Good!” Sam continued, “As you know, we have no way to keep this man jailed up and locked away. I say we swap the speedy trial for a speedier delivery of the penalty. It might be months before we could get a court and judge to convene. We haven’t the time nor the patience to wait around, for who knows how long? That foreigner is guilty. Who else could it be? We have a witness.” Sam turns to Luke and smiles. “He is trustworthy, and comes highly recommended.” Luke remained silent, and kept a straight face.

“Now, deputy, answer me this,” says Sam with an imploring tone. “If we catch this vicious, wanted murderer…can we hang ‘em high tonight? Yes, or no, deputy. Answer me at once!”

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17 Responses to “Hanging On: Chapter Seven”

  1. dirtclustit Says:

    Damn! what a horrible position for Luke to be in immediately after his courageous good deeds.

    Just one example of how a situation can play out to leave a good Sumerian forced into a false sense of responsibility for those who will find an excuse to justify their desires which appear to be revenge

    It sucks to be Luke

    To be forced to act out his decision immediately. With frazzled nerves, clouded judgment and what appears to be a desire to do the right thing, make the right choice. He is not responsible for the actions that a mob may take after they force a patchy, blurred testimony. While they may twist/add to/subtract from til it adds up to exactly the sum they desire, they may claim Luke to be souley responsible.

    Manipulating a tragedy by creating the illusion of justice that is their duty to carry out. The illusion of zero responsibility for any mistakes they mob will make to carry this out as they will surely point the finger to Luke and hold him accountable.

    But as I understand accountability,

    I will always be responsible for my actions, I will always be responsible for the words I speak. Carrying out “justice” is a very dangerous job as I believe ignorance, following orders, and being misled in no way guarantees your mistakes will be absolved.

    Unfortunately Luke’s situation could potentially fall to either extreme. I have faith the ultimately all things will be set right eventually, But luke is feeling the results now.

    But I may never know whose souls will have to wait for injustice to be corrected. You are in control Uncle Tree.

    While nothing will change what actually did or did not happen

    The account you are willing to share hear with me will only effect my personal opinion, only my opinion can I conclude.

    11:56 in the am here in organ ;)

    Thank you for sharing these chapters Tree. It is a good story

  2. That’s one helluva review, Dusty! I am amazed,
    and very pleasantly surprised to see you
    taking a stab at my secrets.

    Some of your statements are right on the money. Good job!
    Justice is relative to the eye of the beholder. Karma acts,
    and then your relatives get screwed. It’s stupid math.

    The sins of our fathers trump the good we wood do.
    That law doesn’t apply when it comes to Lucifer, does it?

    It sucks to be me, knot being me. You got that right!
    No, really. I’m actually enjoying this. At my age it’s nice
    to think that I’ve yet to reach my full-bodied potential.
    I am a bona fide novice feeling out some alien territory.

    I can’t wait to play the oak in this one! Yah! Ha,ha,ha,ha!!!

  3. dirtclustit Says:

    Oak?

    They aren’t carting out the peaces from the shed and assembling the gallows?

    There is an old house which has been restored, to this day is a museum of sorts. Furnished with peaces from the era. It is on the same side of the street, but catty corned behind The Sagebrush Cantina. I used to pass it twice a day nearly every day til I was 10 then moved away.

    North

    I was always very intrigued by the remains of a legendary oak cause they still had dangling a properly tied peace of rope. The rope was attached to a limb-like protrusion that looked as if if was custom made to hold the rope. It has been probably 85 years since the tree dangled leaves from it’s branches. But to me it always looked alive and well, just retired. The smoothed wood of the trunk always made me picture the face of Telly Savalas.

    My mother loved the food from the cantina but after a while always pushed to get it as take out because my fascination with the tree left her feeling uneasy.

  4. Yes, Dusty. The old oak “From The Lowest Limb”.
    You didn’t miss that reference, did you? Just in case…

    http://me2watson.wordpress.com/2009/08/24/from-the-lowest-limb/

    Your legendary oak sounds pretty freaky. Perhaps, my oak tree is a
    distant relative. It does come from a long line of
    hangy
    down
    dangly
    things.
    Like “limb-like protrusions”, yeah. I can imagine the protesters.

    No doubt, Telly is one scary looking…balding guy.
    My fascination with leaves and twigs and stuff
    has increased a bit since I’ve portrayed UT.
    Not much need to wonder why there, huh?

  5. dirtclustit Says:

    I’m gonna hafta go back to all the posts I think. Tonight I’m burnt, tired from having to impound cars all weekend.

    But my initial reaction to a quick couple of reads does get me thinking of one possible scenario. (albeit slightly paranoid) Sounds like it would be wise for me to teach Luke some discretion. ;)

    Damn Tree, these stories are awesome. You put a lot of time into them. You’ve shown some serious patience served with a bolus if understanding.

    I think my take on your response to my initial apology (this go around) was right on the money. You truly are excellent person, in every way.

    and that comes from my point of view before I go back and read your comments on Mariana’s posts (which you graciously invited me to join the discussion)

    More to come your Excellent Tree

    I am in debt

  6. It sounds to me like you’re a hard working man, Dusty.

    Question: If there was a person who couldn’t help telling the truth
    at all times and at every event, could they ever use discretion?
    The whole truth, right? Discretion would mean skipping something.

    Yes, a lot of time. 10-12 hours on each post would be my guess.

    Do, please, save your high opinion of me until we meet in person.
    Which probably won’t happen, for better or for worse.

    I am very worried about Mariana. She seems to have disappeared.
    I sent her an e-mail, and I hope I’ll get a response some day.

    The scenario is being made up as I go. I still have options. Too many.

    I am in debt, too. In more ways than one.
    Have a good Monday, and thanks again and again! UT

  7. Interesting experience being in on it, as it were…..will need to read it again in toto to get a handle on my own prejudices, perhaps.

    It’s a bit like a cryptic crossword, I imagine. The many options nevertheless have to co-relate in the grid? I’m sure you’ll come out whole ;)

    Ed? Bias? Toto? We’re not in Kansas anymore, huh?

  8. dirtclustit Says:

    There are way too aspects for this to be explained to all parties involved in an understandable way.

    But no Tree, There is no such thing as a man who tells the whole truth to everyone all the time. I run my mouth and talk like there is nobody more honest than myself.
    To my chosen family (not blood related) I do not hide anything. Nothing to do with you. I was hurt by her.

    To you and everyone else here that I may have made very uncomfortable. For that I am sorry, You have my word you have nothing to fear. Nothing. Living in fear is bullshit, to terrorize is to attempt to control, or if nothing else slap misery into another’s life. I don’t want that for anyone.

    In the past, due to numerous factors I was not emotionally stable. I don’t take psych med or anything, I assure you I am what a doctor would deem sane. But then I am not like most people, so in some ways some would consider me insane.
    For example coming back here. I don’t need to figure anything out regarding her and me. I don’t need to be able to ID you in real life from here. I’m crazy cause I couldn’t leave alone without knowing the insignificant bullshit.

    As in did someone just allude to my activities in their post. The crazy part is I was never trying to ‘figure’ it all out with a goal in mind to punish or payback anyone. I just wanted to know if my intuition or observations were near or far from right. I really was at one time a chemist, puzzles unsolved drive me nuts. And then I did enjoy myself sometimes. The back and forth wit was fun.
    but
    All this nothing (not knowing) put a stress into the rest of my life. Cause there are times when (absolutely nothing to do with you) I need to be watching over my back.
    Stupid Shit, like buying someone’s car that got impounded and they lose possession of the vehicle. A nice fat Fleetwood with every option and I was just driving it around town. Of course the owner is gonna get pissed. Especially since I was the one who towed it.
    My opinion was fuck him, who cares what he thinks or what he’s gonna do about it, The car is legally mine. Anyway if you saw the car most people would never do something so stupid (especially since the guy lives in the same relatively small town)
    But yes, I left posts up saying crap like I’ll break your nose. NO NEVER. None of you ever did me wrong, You have shown me kindness. Living your life is no crime.
    I am sorry cuz I did forget, that some of you may have been unsure whether or not I intended to punch you if I found you. No, You have my word. And just so you know it was never two friends hanging out together. That has nothing to do with me. Was always about my (untrue) belief you were fucking with my head.

    Thank you good tree (again you have my word, all plays on words were nothing more than me being a nut) no meaning , definitely not a threat.

    All of your stories were awesome, from every author I read. Talented

  9. dirtclustit Says:

    Typo meant to say it was never over the women i loved. No wrongs ever committed against me. She always made it clear she was not with me. It was about solving the riddles. wanting to know the accuracy of my thoughts and assumptions. Cause I do have fits of temporary delusions de granduer. I don’t honestly believe I am psychic or have special powers. But some time my gut feelings can predict better than odds dictate. I don’t know I am a little weird friend

  10. i’ve got a bad feeling about this Sam guy. he seems a bit shady.
    he’s just mad about somethin’, maybe an abusive father, but he ‘s out to get someone. he’s also the guy with the money and the charisma to throw a monkey wrench in any good intentioned plan. Luke had better watch his step.

  11. Gosh, Dusty. No need to apologize.
    You’re not as offensive as you think. No one’s had their feelings hurt.
    No one has felt threatened. Everyone has an opinion, and none of us
    were born yesterday. If I fuck with your mind, it’s all in jest. Rest assured.

    So what? You’re a nut. I’m a tree. Your always free to spill in my house.
    And damn, man, stop being so paranoid. You’re scaring me!

  12. Hey, Derek! You know how it goes.

    G/ood/g/uys///B/ad/gu/ys///where do you draw the line?

  13. everyone draws the lines in different places.

  14. I thought you might like Sam, Stuart. He’s a handful.

  15. Yeah…He’s got a lot of my over-bearing side. :-)

  16. It may take me some time ut but I will read all you have written.. This is very poignant and quite real.. Are u and Luke mingled? I only ask because i do that with writing …i like Luke’s inner talk .. His dual nature that wars.. That makes for great stories.. I like the idea of hearing a penalty quick as well.. You are an amazing man and writer Keith! Huggers caro

  17. Thank you so much for checking out my cowboy story, kind lady!
    Our dual natures do seem to wrestle behind the scenes ofttimes.

    I am a conglomerate, Caro. A slight pinch of Matthew, a tad bit of Mark,
    a whole lotta Luke, and a even a hair or two of Big John.

    Instant karma is too rare, I believe, although it does have its place,
    like instant love that tears through the town on the back of Wildfire.

    Have a great weekend, girl! :) Luvz and hugz, Uncle Tree

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