Chapter Two

Luke was a God-fearing man, although he didn’t see himself as overly religious. He took The Bible at its Word, and understood the basics, but over and above all that he placed his trust in his instincts. They’d never failed him before in his whole life, as far back as he could remember, so he thought he’d earned the right to see himself as a man of faith. Like most people from rural areas who prize a mule for its stubbornness, he superstitiously maintained his loyalty to family traditions and other meaningless rituals taught to him by his parents. Never before in his life had he taken any kind of quick action perceived by others as something heroic. It wasn’t because he lacked brazen courage, because he had proven himself brave enough by making the move and bringing his family out West. By trade he was a blacksmith, and able to find work wherever he went. He’d gone to the saloon that night to meet up with Sam Hill, one of the wealthier landowners from those parts. This very prosperous man owned a horse ranch; the largest in the territory. He concluded the meeting with Luke by offering him a full-time job. Luke immediately accepted. Thus he was in a state of joy and excitement, feeling fairly secure as he made his way on through the swinging doors into the moonlit street.

At 10 p.m. that Saturday night, Luke hit the road elated. It looked deserted, not a soul in sight, and thus it was eerily quiet. Until, not being able to help himself, he kicked up some dirt with the heel of his boot, clenched his fists, and let out a big old “Yeehaw!” so loud that anyone within listening distance could have easily heard him. Immediately, he felt a smidgen embarrassed for having done such a thing, then walked on with his head hanging low for a ways in a feeble attempt to make himself invisible to anyone who might have gotten up to look out their window to see what’s the matter.

Soon back to his old confident self, Luke carried on at a quicker pace, discretely restraining the merriment on his face, while he continued his walk with head held high. He couldn’t wait to tell his wife the great news, and the grand realized hope of new beginnings. Unfortunately, as things do not always turn out as planned, Luke was destined to play a part in the tragedy that was about to unfold. Needless to say, he didn’t get to do what he was most anxiously waiting and wanting to do right then, even though he was very nearly home.

His attention was soon drawn to the church up ahead. He fell to thinking about the pastor, and how he had volunteered himself more than a few times, and had helped him build his little house. It made Luke to feel somewhat settled in his heart, knowing he had done something intrinsically good, something worthy of his time, for his time he valued highly.

He liked this preacher man. He was very friendly and sociable, as was his young wife, and their kids were well-behaved for their ages. They had a cute little girl of four years, and two boys, aged six and ten. Luke knew them pretty well. Almost every day they’d come over to play in the backyard with his own kids, and they would have happily swung on the swing all day, if allowed. Luke had made the swing himself. It was only a rope that wound through a board. He’d hung it from a low, strong branch that belonged to the large elm tree standing on his property. The swing was sturdy enough that he could enjoy it for himself from time to time.

These and similar type thoughts were going through his mind as he closed in on the threshold of his homey existence. It was at this point that Luke eyed the shadowy figure on horseback who was lazily moseying his way out-of-town. Deciding right then and there it wasn’t really any of his business, he dropped the matter from his mind. The stranger was free to go, and he wasn’t going to run after him. The man certainly wasn’t about to heed his or anyone else’s advice, come what may. Just as Luke was about to reach for the door, he caught a whiff of smoke. As he turned his head to look back at the church, he spied all the signs of a fire. The first few flames had just begun to flicker under and out from the overhang of the roof. Luke involuntarily dropped his jaw and stared in shock and amazement at the scene taking place right before his very eyes. For a moment he just stood there, scared stiff and frozen in place. What aroused him back to his senses was another attention grabber. The pastor’s house was also beginning to catch fire. Luke gathered his wits about him, then took to running in that direction as fast as his legs would allow him to go.

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22 thoughts on “Chapter Two

  1. Very Vivid descriptions of details and actions. Very nice Tree.
    Perfect timing for the intervals posted too (leaving the chapters in just the right places)
    It doesn’t look good for the church and the pastor’s house… fires back then were so much more devastating than nowadays.

  2. The devil’s in the details alright, Dusty.
    He threw a wrench in the works and that makes it slow going.

    Again, I thank you for joining me in this mystery!

  3. okay uncle, you’ve got me hooked on your story. there’s all kinds of swinging from trees in this small western town. i think i would prefer Luke’s swing over the old oaks low branch………

  4. Can you get used to hanging, Bonnie. I hope so.
    I have no direct experience whatsoever with this next
    chapter’s goings on. Emotionally, it is being rather difficult.

    I’m glad you and Derek are going to…hmmm…watch.

  5. count me too uncle big tree

    i am interested if i can believe you have got no map and no compass but i enjoy it any way…

    since i assume not many will come to see my rudeness i will say i am not so sure about that narrator voice in the beginning
    “he superstitiously maintained his loyalty to family traditions and other meaningless rituals taught to him by his parents. ”
    something about it. i will have to read it again, but i might as well never come again to that point. thought i should say

    going to third base..;-)

  6. For some folks, Dhyan, traditions are maintained
    for the sake of tradition alone, as if they were an end unto themselves.
    Some folks don’t question their beliefs for fear of committing
    a blasphemous act. King James and literal interpretations rule their world.

    Rituals are meaningless, unless one does the proper investigation
    to get to the bottom of how things got started in the first place.
    Every event has a story behind it. Superstitions prefer we not ask.

    Why? “Because, I said so.” I remember hearing that often growing up.

    Did I understand your point correctly?

  7. no, i guess not. but that way it is far more interesting.
    “traditions are maintained
    for the sake of tradition alone, ” – this is, to some extant, you could say, my father. and myself i am not so far from it. but that deserves a bigger context than i can give here.
    “Rituals are meaningless, unless one does the proper investigation
    to get to the bottom” – agree and than again, not. as in life, it is more than one colour and shade. there is something in performing a ritual even if not wholly understood, taking to mind it is being conduct in the right way and intention. rituals hold also great social and self affects which can, and do, work for the layman as well.
    i was pointing out to what, i might think, might be a weak pint in the writing itself, not the story as a story which i enjoy..

    keep on bringing pen to paper (or finger to keyboard)

  8. William Blake:
    “If the doors of perception were cleansed
    every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
    For man has closed himself up till he sees all things
    through the narrow chinks of his cavern.”

    I’m going for contrast here, Dyhan.
    Secular, atheistic viewpoints vs. pious, reverent, and spiritual beliefs

    Do you think I need to add that traditional statement to this chapter?

    Rituals can be good for one’s mental health, which in turn affects
    one’s physical attributes. If we add prayer, and we wish for things,
    and those things don’t come forth, then we may see prayer as not
    being all that effective. When folks keep repeating their wants in
    hope that praying will help them, and it doesn’t seem to be working,
    yet they go on doing it anyway, isn’t that how we define neurosis?

    Do you ever ‘knock on wood’? Or throw salt over your shoulder?
    I don’t believe anyone is immune from long-held cultural beliefs.(memes?)

    If I were to explain myself after every bold statement, this book
    would be 1000 pages long. I’ve had to skip and skim over many
    confessions such as these, but I do wish to be understood. Okay?

    Peace, bro!

  9. There is nothing wrong with the writing but there are some proximity issues between the saloon, the church, the preachers house, and Luke’s house that are a little disorienting to me. I get what is being said but the picture should be laid out like a witness at a murder trial. It should paint a picture that is good enough for the reader to begin to draw conclusions ( even false ones).
    I would recommend spending some time setting up these images. Also how would,” going it alone”be better than ‘going it’ with others in the dark help? just something initially hit me odd.
    Excellent chapter one to chapter two transition…seemed fluid until the last paragraph of chapter two.

  10. Thanks for giving this a go, Stuart! 🙂
    I can’t seem to find the “going it alone” to which you refer. (?)
    The unnamed new town is not too well described, I agree.
    I made myself a map of Bedlam and the chase route, so I
    could probably say a couple of lines about the town before Luke
    leaves the bar, or somewhere…last chapter, maybe? Okay.

    Last paragraph, eh? Not sure what you mean by fluid.
    Fire…excitement…suspense…hmmm. No water.

    Gotta go to work now. Talk to ya later. Take care! Keith

  11. Sorry I was reading it all as one book.” going it alone” is talked about in the second paragraph from the end of chapter one.
    You can have two different types of transitions that work really well(out of many types)… one that flows with the story(fluid flows like water) and one that takes you to a different thought that is running parallel but is running though the story in such a way that it is needed to keep the story on track( also known as fluid). Just keeps the motion going well is all that I’m saying. Heading out tell more later!

  12. You’re right, Stuart. That wasn’t necessary to mention.
    Found and fixed, I hope. Thank you! I think I understand
    what you mean by transitions. These chapters were split up as
    such for the sake of my small but ‘live’ blog audience. I was
    trying to keep them hanging, so I needed to keep putting
    something up regularly. I’m sure their are several sections
    that could be put together. I’m also sure there is much
    that could be deleted along the way.

    When I looked in on my blog this morning, I thought,
    “Wow! How cool! He did read a bunch…and comment, too!”
    Thanks, dude! Tonight when I came and looked again,
    I heard these words, “He’s nuts! I can’t believe…”
    Am I now ready to do this? Perhaps, somewhat.
    Last year, I stalled out due to the merry holidays.
    For now, I will take what you say under advisement,
    and any notes along the way will definitely be taken
    into consideration. Can’t let that back-burner go cold,
    ya know. Your call, my friend. That’s all I’m saying.

    Have a great weekend! 🙂 I’m honored. Yes, indeed! UT

  13. As I said before its kinda like whittling. Just a little at a time until its down to what the piece was meant to be. It may take time but what is a little time for a work of art to come together? just an even pace will get you where you want to be. On I go…

  14. Well, well, look at you go! Hot dang!
    I have to work this morning, and then the rest of my Saturday
    will be busy in preparation for my little brother’s 40th birthday party.
    Sunday looks to be a better day as far as my spare time goes.

    Why heck! I’ve only made it to Chapter 8 so far myself.
    I haven’t tried to fix anything. I’m just reading along objectively.
    Anyway, do what you gotta do, and we’ll catch up with you soon.

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