Hanging On Tree’s Every Word: Chapter One

The day had started out quite beautiful and rather warm for that time of year. It was the morning after those damnable occurrences, after the devil-ridden chaos which transpired during that most terrible night in Bedlam. Autumn’s weather had been lovely to begin with, and it remained unusually wonderful on up to October 30th, 1869, when our story begins.

The mighty oak, famous in these parts for the many hangings that took place on its lowest limb over the last 20 years, stood on the outskirts of a small town that had seen its better days. Although the town didn’t officially have a name, the folks from around there called it Bedlam. Lying a few miles off the Oregon Trail, it had been witness to the mass migration of folks who had dropped everything to rush for the gold discovered in California in 1849 and  for many years afterwards. The new transcontinental railroad was not a boon for this little settlement. The track was laid 10 miles northward. Almost all the residents of Bedlam packed up their belongings, and made their way toward the mostly unoccupied lands surrounding the recently built train station. They knew there would be a growing city of significant size there someday. The few poorer families remaining behind planned to do the same once they could afford the costs.

Matthew, a family man, had returned to Bedlam from his future homestead that morning with supplies and the latest news. More than tragic and disturbing were these facts from the night before. A mass murder occurred involving a young pastor, his wife, and the oldest of three children. This most innocent of families lived in a little shack beside the newly built church. The novice preacher only needed to put a few more finishing touches on his place of worship before he could begin holding services. He constructed the two on the southern edge of the city, apart from the rest of the homes and far away from the only saloon for miles around. There was a witness of sorts; a man who stepped out of the saloon a few hours after sunset. His name was Luke. Although he took heroic measures, his valiant efforts were partly in vain. Only the two youngest children survived. The next morning, Luke relayed his story to Matthew and a few other men who gathered together outside the general store.

Luke testified that he went to the saloon the night before because he had a job interview. For good reason, he only allowed himself two glasses of whiskey, and was in no way tipsy when he excused himself from the meeting to go home. As Luke neared his house, he could easily see the church which was just a little ways on down the dirt road. The skies were crystal clear on that cool crisp night with a very nearly Full Moon’s light. All of a sudden, just a ways beyond the pastor’s property, Luke eyed a shadowy figure on horseback casually making his way out-of-town.

The rider appeared to be dressed all in black. He was wearing a cape that floated and flapped in the wind, which was blowing head on and straightaway into his and Luke’s face. This dark and mysterious man rode a shiny black stallion and wore a wide-brimmed hat. Although, from the shape of it, he could tell it wasn’t a cowboy hat at all. It reminded him of the one that stranger had on; the stranger who showed up alone in town that very morning to stock up on supplies. Luke presumed it was the same man. The fact he was leaving town so late seemed more than odd. “That’s plain stupid!” Luke remembered thinking, “and dangerous, too.”  Concluding his account, Luke exclaimed, “No one in their right mind would take that kind of risk, if they had any sense. Ain’t nothing but miles and miles of rugged terrain out there. We all know that. Nothing but a lawless countryside once he rides on out of Bedlam.”

About this suspicious character, Luke knew very little. He saw him leaving the store that morning and, letting his curiosity get the best of him, Luke took the time out of his busy schedule to go inside and ask about the tall handsome stranger in a tailored suit and cloak. This is what he gathered from the clerk. Apparently, the man spoke no English whatsoever, or if he did, he didn’t let on about it. After the clerk had added up the cost of all he brought to the counter, this obvious foreigner pulled a leather string-drawn pouch from his coat pocket. The stranger wanted to settle the deal by way of gold. The clerk didn’t have a problem with that. It was fairly customary in this part of the country. He got out the scale and proceeded to give the man a fair transaction. The sharply dressed man smiled his gesture of satisfaction, and gave the clerk a small nugget as a tip, which made the clerk nervously rejoice, for no one had ever done such a thing in his store before. The man was polite and courteous, so much so that one might think him an aristocrat, or a prince even, one from somewhere far away in another land across the sea.


40 thoughts on “Hanging On Tree’s Every Word: Chapter One

  1. It’s not just you. WordPress has a gremlin. My referers have been disappearing [now you see it now you don’t], and I’m suddenly not allowed to use certain tags I use alot.
    Great beginning story..tall, dark, foreign stranger in a town called Bedlam? And a hangin’ tree? Works for me.
    I shall return.

  2. I’m glad you like it so far, Pearl. I thank you for your support!
    Not just me, eh? Good to know that. My dashboard’s acting funky, too.
    It’s taking me forever to do the editing, and that’s no help at all.

    My mind is put to ease in knowing you’re going to hang around. I feel
    as if I’m trudging through quicksand, or deep, thick, sticky mud. Yikes!

  3. I’m already tasting something like Trevenian’s “Incident at Fourty Mile”. Gah, hope I remembered the title right.
    This might get interesting. Am already wondering how long you might keep us all hostage with this story. You ought to know I can rarely resist the urge to sneak a peak at the ending, then hurry up and backtrack to find out why what happened happened. I know, it’s just wrong. Now what do I do?…….

  4. Why what happened happened…if I could sneak a peek
    at the ending, I’d ruin it for myself, too. If only I knew…

    Boo! Pearl, It’s nice to know someone is following me. Isn’t it? Uh-oh…

    Nah. I don’t read scary books per se, nor do I watch scary movies.
    I once read Frankenstein, but beyond that…no. No Stephen King, either.
    But I imagine he’s really, really good, in a bad sort of way.

    I’ve decided to be easy on myself, so I’m going to post each chapter
    separately. That is…if my dashboard lets me. It’s still acting spooky.

    Chapter Two is ready to go. Hold my hand?

  5. Nice Uncle tree!

    I like your way with words in telling a story. I will definitely be back to read chapter three.
    I appreciate my time listening. Thanks Tree

  6. See, Tree? I’d missed this–you did it without the handholding.
    Never interested in Stephen King either, until I read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. [Dang, again, hope I got that right.] Then I saw I really just liked the way he writes.
    Off to see what’s developed since I checked last!

  7. Yes, I see, Pearl. Forget the hand holding.
    Do you know where I can go to buy some time?
    I should have said, “I hope to be done by Christmas.”
    Every spare moment of each coming day, I’ll be working on it.

  8. Welcome aboard, Cindy!
    Come on into the tree house
    where we show and tell scary stories.

    We’ve missed you, too. You brought popcorn?
    Alright! Now, let’s get you caught up. Where were we?

  9. uncle.
    i am thrilled to start reading it.
    but i cannot read something like this on the computer.
    gonna print it and read most of it together when time finds me.

    blessings and sunshine from the wholly land 😉

  10. Thanks for the rays and the blessings, Dhyan!
    I hope it’s worth your while, and I hope it’s worth the paper you’re
    printing it on. I never meant for it to be like this. I knew it would
    take some time, but I thought, “Oh, 3 or 4 posts at the most.” Uh…
    as you can see, neither I, nor anyone else can see the end of this.
    I feel like a serial killer writer. “Lost” is more like it. Nonstop lost.

    About my use of the English language…you might have to look up
    the definitions of some words. Webster on-line works for me. A lot.
    If you run across some old-time phrases that don’t make any sense,
    I will be here to answer your questions best I can. Okay? Good!

    You’re still over there? Wholly over there? What a perfect place
    to hang out and read scary and mysterious stories. Watch out, though,
    I may be of the devil’s party, but I just don’t know it yet. We’ll see. 😉

    Thanks for supporting me, D! UT

  11. seriously, man… I’ve been ridiculously busy… I’m going to change my work schedule… just for you!!! and then once i get this read, I will send my leafy thoughts!!!! : ) thinking of you though!

  12. Seriously Cindy, me too.
    You’ve plenty of time to catch up. I have a ridiculous amount
    of work cut out for me, not counting my real job, and taxiing kids about.

    I much appreciate any and all feedback, now, and later on down
    the road. Some day even ‘I’ will be able to get out and visit again.
    But for now, I have a purpose. I’m on a mission, just like in the story.
    My nose is to the grind. When I wake up, it still looks squashed.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, girl!
    Keep thinking freely, and abundantly.

  13. I’ve been awfully,awfully busy, M’Lady.
    It wasn’t meant to be like this,
    but it’s a fun kind of work.

    I’d love to hear what you think,
    if you yourself can find the time.

    Good to see ya again, though!
    I’m like in jail right now. 🙂
    Outlaw Tree

  14. I hope your not dying of sadness, Butterfly.
    Oh my,Rhee…how did you lose your feet?
    Are you all on your lonesome? Don’t cry.
    Despair is only for non-believers.
    Believe me just this once.

    Luvz and hugz, UT

  15. My beloved uncle, I just been browsing your new texts, although not as thorough as I would like to, but I found it really exciting and enriching, besides I think that your change of modality is a great thing, because it allows you to explore different ways of saying all the things that you want to, either banal or not, and fundamentally you always manage to be an excellent writer no matter which kind of text you focus on

  16. It is so nice to know that you’re alright, Mariana.
    It’s good to see you out and about, too. I’m not visiting right now,
    but there will come a time…oh, I don’t know if things will ever get
    back to ‘normal’ around here. I’ve forgotten what that means.

    My story is already longer than I thought it would be. ‘Novella’ is
    a very feminine sounding word, but that’s what this has become.
    I’m pushing my limits, and exploring the many different aspects of myself,
    and of men in general. I know I’ve gotten ‘carried away’ a time or two,
    but I am my own editor, and sometimes he’s very difficult to please.

    Beginning a project like this was fairly easy for me. I doubt if endings
    are easy for any author, and I will certainly be no exception. I am
    fighting my own demons here as I go along for the ride, and I can’t
    say if I’m ‘winning’ or not. I doubt myself, and then I lose confidence.

    I wish I were an English major, Mariana. I spend a lot of time researching
    as I go and that puts a crimp in my style, but I wish to be correct. This
    may prove to be a difficult read for you, in more ways than one. Do what
    you will, but please remember what I said to you backstage. Okay?

    Thank you for the compliments! Take good care of yourself, sweet niece.

  17. It’s never too late too start, Dhyan.
    Good to see you! You’re back home now, safe and sound, eh?
    I hope you enjoyed your visit to The Holy Land. I’m jealous.

    The gates of Hell have frozen over.
    Make yourself comfortable.
    Possibly hypnotized, UT

  18. What makes you say that, RR?
    And where did you come from? (other than under the radar)

    You mean…did I hang somebody?
    You bet I did. That’s why I’m writing this
    from the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

    lol: loser on limb :lol

  19. Hey Bro!
    I haven’t been here for a long time. This is freaking awesome!!!
    I’m lovin’ all your stories. I will be back. For sure dude.
    Love you, my brother.

  20. Thanks, bro! 🙂 Really, where ya been?
    Tis good to see you again, and I’m glad I’ve snagged your interest.
    You don’t mean Washington, D.C., do ya? Uh-oh…

  21. Yes indeed I do mean Washington. They will get whats coming to them this November. And you snagged my attention long ago,Bro!!!

  22. Thank you for taking a look-see, Stuart,
    and for expressing your concern!

    If only they made a Viagra for writer’s block…
    I just couldn’t keep it up any longer. As of today,
    my gumption shall remain in the prose of a placid rose.

  23. I definitely liked the way the story was going with the Preacher but how does it relate to the tree? The plot thickens…
    Is this only one of many tales from the tree or is this the main and only tale that brings the tree to its legendary name? Too soon to tell but I like the way chapter one is leading.

  24. Hey Stuart! Thanks for buggin’ me about this. I probably do need the nudge. I appreciate your time and effort, and if you wish to continue…well, that’d be great. But however will I repay you? I’d feel obligated, I know, so let me know somewhere along the line if there’s something I can do to help you.

    At the top of this page you can see the link to “Hanging On: Chapter Two”. At the top of that page you’ll see how to get to Chapter Three, and so on and so forth. That is, if you really do wish to hang around with me on this. I’ll try to give you a little rundown without giving too much of the story away. Okay?

    I can’t tell you how the Preacher relates to the tree, but he does figure in greatly a little later on thanks to our bad guy. This is the last story in the legend of this tree. He is possessed, right? Well, you know what an exorcism is, I figure. In this manner, I’m going to show one way that a ghost town might really come into being. We have a posse and a chase and one last hanging in Bedlam. Spooky stuff, I hope. But, you will have to suspend your disbelief in devils and spirits and such. I was raised to literally believe in these kinds of things, that’s why I can relate and actually write something I know a bit about.

    About these weird goings on, I wrote a little preface to let you know where my head was at, and what the story concerns itself with. I’ll post that again here on the next comment. I took it off the page just to keep things short. Most visitors see a lot of reading on a page and quickly split. I actually chose to write poetry because of people’s short attention spans. Anyway…I wanted to try something else, and this is it. 🙂 Do as you please. I’m cool with it either way. Goin’ country, UT

  25. Hanging On: The Author’s Guidelines

    This particular land of make-believe is based on the spiritual side of man. The beliefs I am exploring within this story include the following: the possibility of intelligence, or a measurable amount of consciousness in all living things; the possibility for communication in the form of an exchange of information between the higher and lower conscious entities; the possibility of immortal souls, personal and unique to each individual, and existing within every human being; the possibility of three co-existing states, or three possible places where a soul might go in order to continue its existence after the material death of it’s host — Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory; the possibility that by some quirk of Nature a soul might get itself stuck, and may have to continue its existence for a certain amount of time in, and/or around the place that was once inhabited by its host, or possibly the actual place where its host gave up the ghost; the possibility of fallen angels, or free-willed evil spirits that can take possession, and therefore control a person’s body, override their psych, and change their personality. Their possessive capabilities may also extend into the plant and animal world. These evil spirits are not the same as human souls, although they are also immortal. They may leave off possessing a person/animal/plant all of their own accord, or they may be exorcised through the use of certain techniques; the possibility of a soul’s karmic responsibility for the actions taken by its host during its lifetime; the possibility of just reward and just punishment over a given period of time, a time during which the soul may progress from darkness into holiness by the means of sincere regret, all-out acceptance, willful resignation, personally directed forgiveness, and graceful redemption; the possibility of an omniscient, omnipresent, and benevolent God, or Force, of which we are all a living part.

  26. An excellent frame of mind and attitude to start with…no wonder I like the nuances so well. Bearing this preface in mind I’ll proceed on the journey to chapter 2.

  27. Thanks, Stuart! Glad you liked this overall explanation.
    Scientific, it is not. I was shooting for the Beatific and the Horrific.
    They’re both horsin’ around in the mud and muck of my soul corral.

  28. Oh, wow. You bumped into my unfinished business:
    “The Hanging Tree Of Bedlam” 35,000 words so far…
    A proper ending still eludes me, or I don’t want to finish it?
    Glad you liked this beginning of a short story that got away from me.
    Thank you for reading me, Caro! 🙂 Have a great Sunday! Hugz, UT

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