Chapter Ten

Luke could tell right away what sort of mood these men were in. It was a solemn gathering of somber faces. Grave and thoughtful looks were thrown in Luke’s direction. Restrained and quiet greetings were exchanged with subdued handshakes. They were still in a state of shock. Their postures betrayed the show of feelings they willfully withheld, and revealed a composed distress. None of the men were displaying the signs of anger. Some of the men had good reason to be remorseful. They’d refrained from helping to build the church, and it was too late to mend things. A silence fell over the group. They were all gazing at Luke. No one knew what to say or how to start. Matthew, from Bedlam, wasn’t taking this as hard as the rest of the men. He was the man out of place at the moment, even though he was fairly well acquainted with Luke. Matthew had the nerve to take the lead and break the ice. “It’s good to know you’re okay, Luke, after all that you’ve been through. We are all deeply saddened by the news. ” Luke kept his peace and let him talk. ” Could you do us a favor? We’ve so many questions. If you could spare the time, would you tell us what happened last night? We’ve only heard bits and pieces regarding your escapades so far, and it’s just hearsay. We’d like to hear the story straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. We don’t wish to detain you, if you have to be somewhere soon. Do tell us, if you would. We’re dying to hear you speak. Are you busy?”

*

Thus it was that Luke began the second telling of his story. After all was said and done, Matthew was the one who picked up this story and set it on its legs. Much of the information contained in the remainder of our story was supplied by Matt, as we shall call him from here on out. He’d known Luke for a year or so, and they were both 28 years of age. Good friends they would become one day, a little further on down the road. Matt was the kind of man who couldn’t help but to stretch the factual truth whenever the opportunity presented itself. We may say in all likelihood, that he did so in this instance as well. He was a socialite and a gossip, and no doubt the story grew exponentially each and every time he spoke of it. After he relayed this to my great-grandfather, we may assume this growth continued and took on mythical aspects as it came on down from Gramps, who handed it over to me, Uncle Tree. As we are well aware, legends have a tendency to take on a life of their own, and life in its turn tends to unwind the real.

*

Luke goes on to tell the men a shortened version of his adventurous night, minus his terrible secret. He was tired and hungry, and wanted to get on home. They quizzed him here and there, in order to confirm or reject certain aspects of the story that they’d already heard from unreliable sources. Word gets around fast in small towns, and some of the information they’d received was therefore skewed and exaggerated, as are all rumors. They also wanted to know about the meeting from which he’d just left. They’d seen Sam and his men ride into town, and wondered what they were up to over at the deputy’s office. Luke refrained from telling them the whole truth. He said, “They are thinking about forming a posse and going after that foreigner.” They tried to get him to expand on that quick statement, but Luke replied, “That’s all I know. Nothing was settled when I left.” Luke turned to Matt, “That stranger is our only suspect. He took off to the south and headed for Bedlam. Was there any trouble there last night, or did you happen to notice anything strange?”

Matt replied, “Not that I’m aware of, Luke. I’m ready to head back now. I’ll get out and ask around, just in case. You know, there’s only a few of us left down there. It won’t take long. I’ll definitely keep an eye out. A posse, eh? Well, someone needs to go after him. It’s a good thing your new boss has the time for such things. Maybe, I’ll see them ride through later today. I’m sure glad you’re not joining them, whatever the case. You’ve done enough, if you ask me. You did more than anyone could have asked of you. Those two kids owe you their life! Thank God, you were able to save them! You should be grateful for that.”

Once Luke had recaptured the whole bloody scene for Matt and the group, he was once again able to free himself from the grips of all those painful memories. Everyone thoughtfully parted, and Luke went on home to eat. He was starving for some grub, and didn’t really care what his wife put on the table, as long as it was people food. As it turned out, they had leftovers consisting of cold fried chicken and rehashed grits. Luke told her of his thoughts concerning an adoption. She said it was a high-minded gesture on his part. Puzzled by the arrogance of such a thought, he gave her a questioning look. She immediately changed her tune and said it was a good idea. She agreed wholeheartedly, or so it seemed to Luke. After lunch with the two boys, they all sat down and talked it out. The boys were a bit taken back by the proposal, but that’s the way kids are, always wanting to be the center of attention. They soon warmed up to the idea, but frowned at the arrangements. Shortly after their little discussion, both Luke and his wife heard the distinct sound of horses galloping towards their place. Sam and his men pulled up, and stopped the stampede right in their backyard. Luke and his wife were both startled at first, and then Luke said, “It’s probably Sam and his men. Don’t worry. I promise you, I will not go along with them. Let me go see what they want. Stay here.”

In the meanwhile, Matt got on his horse and headed back to Bedlam. He fell to daydreaming on the slow ride home. His memory and imagination together conspired to show him a scene in his mind. He saw that old hanging tree back home with the graveyard close behind. But that’s not all he visualized. He also saw a black stallion grazing around the rustic tombstones. No one was in the saddle. That woke Matt right up. He yelled at his horse, “Giddy-up! Giddy-up! C’mon! Let’s go!”

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15 thoughts on “Chapter Ten

  1. Carries on down the bus, just not as the bus conductor told me! Mumble, mumble, we Brits are so terriblly missed under wood 😉 Ah I see it, onboard toilet! No, please, Uncle….you can call me…..

    ed

  2. lol, I dreamed last night, I was driving a dang bus, official driver gone awol! My main concern was to allow for getting round kerbs on sharp corners…..when I got to our local town and its busy one-way system, I thought best I woke up! True!

    Story’s going well, Unc.

  3. That is kinda funny, ed, especially if you’ve never driven a bus. Honk!

    We kawl and spell them ‘curbs’, silly Brit. See ya ’round the korner, ed.
    It’s going well…easy for you to say. I just had another idea,too.
    If I want to, I can still change the ending. That’s not well,
    that’s swell…or maybe knot. Maybe, I’ll keep it real.
    Not from the oak’s perspective, though.
    Mr. Oak Tree was fictitious from
    the get-go. He stays. 😉
    Two sides to every
    story. I said so.
    Glory be!
    Roots
    UT
    k

  4. ahhh! there is that narrator again…this time he seems pretty natural.
    Sound alright but it leaves a lot hanging loose to be caught up with towards the end.

  5. That narrator is the poetic me attempting to write witty prose.
    It’s like…I had to show off that side of me, too…in the asides…
    the informer…the author who forgot to say something earlier
    so he’s saying it now. Ha-ha! Yes, that happened a few times.

    It would take a lot of work, but I suppose I could whittle it down
    to one omniscient narrator and leave the real me out of it.

  6. The real you should be the narrator…The omniscient one has no personality.
    The personality is what is at the heart of all good story tellers.
    Just shouldn’t be two different personalities is all…makes you look like Cybil.

  7. Cybil? He-he. Not much of a stretch from me2.

    The second paragraph belongs somewhere in this story. It answers the ‘how’ as to how I came about this story originally. Maybe it should be back where I first mention Matt. He may be my main character, btw.

    Well, it was his story in the first place. I blame him for everything. 🙂

  8. Who…Matt? What a character! He’s sort of the extroverted me
    back when I was 28, whereas Luke’s the introverted me and kind
    of thinks the way that I do now. Since I didn’t base my characters
    on any one person (no models), I’m concerned that Matt and Luke
    will be too much alike, and we can throw Mark in there, too. Hope
    it works out otherwise, and you are able to distinguish differences.

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