The Hanging Tree Of Bedlam – 23

Once in a very great while, out of the devil-ridden chaos that dominates our mundane world, order presents itself in the form of seemingly meaningful coincidences. Through the ripped veil of the universal fabric, singularly particular events occur that may cause a person to question the ironclad laws of causality.


Although the northern winds had subsided, a light freezing rain continued to fall as Mark grabbed the ivory-handled dagger. He had no qualms about tampering with the evidence. That idea never crossed his mind. Easily and quickly, Mark pulled the murder weapon from the chosen burial spot. An instant later, they heard a quavering creak, and a tremulous crack. Then resonating through the air came the ripping sound of splintering wood. All eyes were on the lowest limb, as little by little, it began to give way. The feet of the stone-cold stiff touched the ground, and the teetering corpse leaned forward, swaying to the left, and to the right, back and forth. That was more than the limb could bear. With a loud hissing noise, it tore itself away from the trunk, and dropped to the ground. The recently departed man fell flat on his face. With a thump and a bounce, his hands were loosed from their bind, and laid themselves at his sides. Those strange hissing noises quickly became gusty winds. But now they were from the west, as if they were coming from the tree itself. Sam’s hat was blown clean off his head. He ducked and backed away. The horses were spooked by the brush of the branch, and reared back on their hinds, nearly throwing their riders onto the road. Fiercely and frightfully, the steeds pedaled their hooves to fend off the invisible foes around them. From the far side of the graveyard came the scream of the mighty stallion.

The audible release of pressurized air whipping through the icy branches provided the men with the oddest of impressions. Resembling auditory hallucinations, the winds rushed past their ears creating a vast array of timorous wails and reverberating howls. They’d been jolted into hearing a unique choral arrangement of discordant tones and low-pitched moans, as a cacophony of a hundred voices cried aloud in anguish. Heard, but unseen, the ghastly parade of drifters floated by, one after the other, or so it seemed, for about ten seconds. The sounds were dying down as the winds eventually slowed, and came to an utterly silent standstill. After a moment or two, the cold wind picked up once again, but lightly this time, and from a northerly direction. The men’s horses settled down, but the murderer’s black stallion had mysteriously disappeared.

Standing by the tree, shocked and amazed, knife in hand, was a dumbfounded Mark, now dizzier than ever. He was being spellbound by a constant barrage of inarticulate words and jumbled phrases, whilst his inner mind was receiving dim and distorted images of face after tormented face. Flashing before him were the portraits of unknown men, each with a noose around their neck, each hopelessly gasping for one last breath. With a faraway look in his eyes, he fixedly stared at the broken limb. It had straddled the legs of the man when it fell to the ground. Mark was finally shaken from his stupor by the familiar voice of Sam verbalizing his own sense of wonder.

“What in tarnation was that?” asked the boss. No replies came forth, so he answered his own good question. “It was nothing but the wind,” he paused for a moment, searching for more plausible explanations, “and all that added weight from this damn ice storm. That’s all it took. That’s all it was.” Sam looked over at Mark. The young man had turned the lightest shade of pale. “Hey, Kid! Are you alright?” Quickly changing his pained expression, Mark raised his eyes to meet Sam’s, and forced himself to give the boss a rather tentative response. “Yeah! I’m okay! I’m okay!” Sam doubted that straightforward answer. It was fairly obvious to him that Mark wasn’t okay. He let it slide for the time being and firmly said, “Good! Now, give me that knife before you hurt yourself.” Mark commanded his legs to move, and keeping an eye on the face-down corpse, he walked over to Sam and gave him the dagger. Curious as to what their next move might be, he asked, “What are we going to do with him now?” Since Sam had luckily ran into that excuse he was searching for, he didn’t need to hesitate. “Nothing. Leave him be. He can stay right there. I’ll take care of it later. Come on over here. I’ve got something to tell you guys.” Sam headed towards the road, and Mark stayed close behind him. The posse, most of whom were still trying to get their act together, pulled themselves back to the present moment. A little dazed and a bit confused, they cleared the cobwebs from their minds, and gave Sam their somewhat divided attention.

Sam contrived to put a smile on his face, and vocalized a forced laugh, “He-he-he! That wind was something else, eh?” Sam didn’t give them time to answer. “How you men doing? Are you alright?” After a short second of silence, the men sucked it up, and then they all spoke at once. “Oh, yeah!” was heard, and, “Sure we are!” and “Of course!” came along with, “You bet!” They were nothing but white lies, and Sam knew it. Those minor fibs caused him to wear a natural smile, and he replied ingenuously with, “Glad to hear it!” Not wanting to waste a moment, Sam laid down his newfound plan. “Listen up, boys! As you can all see, our mission has been completed.” He paused, and smirked, “Well, almost, that is. There are a couple of other matters to settle, but I’ll take care of those. Lookie here now, this is the end of the line for me tonight. I’ve already made prior arrangements to stay in a vacated house right here in Bedlam. It’s just down the road a ways. A friend of mine used to live there. About this…,” Sam turns his head and looks back at the crime scene, “about this dead guy here, and whatever he buried in that hole, we’ll find out what’s what in the morning. He’s not going anywhere, and I doubt if anyone around here is going to bother him.”

Sam cut to the chase, and summed it all up by laying down the bottom line. “The truth is…we didn’t hang the bastard. We cannot, and will not be accused of having done so, nor will we take credit for the deed. We will not be held accountable, either way. I want you men to go on back to town, and out to the ranch. Go take care of yourselves. We’ve been through Hell tonight! You men did a fine job of sticking with it. I expected nothing less from the lot of you. You’ll get your bonus in cash as soon as I make it back. Hopefully, it’ll be around noon. Now, when you get into town, I want you to stop in at the Deputy’s office. I happen to know he’s been spending his nights there lately. Bang on his door, and wake him up. I don’t care how you do it. Quickly explain the situation, and then tell him to get his sorry ass out here first thing in the morning. Tell him I’m expecting him, and that he better be here, if he knows what’s good for him. I’ll be waiting.” Those relieved and enlightened cowboys could easily see that Sam was dead serious. “Alrighty then. You got that?” Sam asked. The eldest of the bunch took the lead, and speedily replied, “Yeah! Sure, boss. No problem. We’ll get ‘er done!”

Sam opened his saddlebag, and hid the knife away in a safe place. “Okay. Now get on out of here! I’ll deal with the rest of this mess, and…” Mark interrupted Sam in mid speech with a heartfelt plea. ” Hey, Sam! I don’t feel so hot. Would you mind if I stayed here with you?” Sam relented with good reason. He didn’t want to be alone. He couldn’t admit it, nor would he have dared to ask one of those men to keep him company. Mark had been treating him as if he were his own father, and Sam kind of liked that. “Sure, Kid. I don’t feel all that great, either.” We can’t say that Sam was totally unfazed by what he described as ‘nothing but the wind’. Understandably, he didn’t see, nor did he hear what Mark saw and heard. Sam’s experience of ‘the wind’ wasn’t the same as Mark’s experience. All we can say is – when Sam was crouched over, covering his head with his arms, he wasn’t thinking about his safety. He didn’t imagine he was in any real trouble, because he’d forgotten where he was altogether. Sam was having a vivid daydream, and it seemed all too real to him at the time. The only person he was seeing in his mind during those 10 long seconds was his dearly departed mother. The visuals were perfectly clear, as she stood at the door of their old house begging him not to go. “Sam! Sam! Don’t leave! Don’t leave me here alone like this! Sam! Sam! Sam?” He wished he’d never looked back.


29 thoughts on “The Hanging Tree Of Bedlam – 23

  1. Hey, Holmes!
    Sher? Wishes to share. Oh, where is she now?
    Lock-down at the O’ KW Corral will probably never commence.
    Gunfights are for dueling banjos. Deliverance of the twang now begins.


    Yo, Dusty…Howdy pardner! Yer like Quick Draw McGraw, ain’t ya?

    Tell me, do you remember your wonderfully fine comment
    clear back yonder there in Chapter Seven? That was you, wasn’t it?
    If so, let me ask you something. Do you understand what happened here?
    I mean……can you make any sense of it? It’s not spelled out exactly.
    Were the BOO! subtle hints enough to reveal my intentions?

    You know, I’m too close to the trees to see an overall picture.
    Thank you ahead of time! And happy holidays, my friend!

  2. *jumps back clutching my heart*

    Why the hell do you do that!!??

    You know that scares me to death.

    It’s the year end holidays, not haloween

    Are you sassin me again?

  3. What did I do, and what is ‘that’?
    Write place, wrong time. I know all too well.

    My holiday vacation (factory shutdown) runs from Dec. 24 to Jan. 5
    Therefore, I should be able to find the time to finish this ? project.

    A sassin you? Nah, just making a not-so-simple request.
    No need to knock yourself out on my behalf, Dusty.

    Season’s Greetings! (Those I can afford.) From Uncle Tree

  4. To my dear feedback friends:
    Bonnie, Ed, and Derek


    It’s probably too early to jump the gun, so

    Happy Holidays & Season’s Greetings!


    “My Blog”…who came up with that silly word, anyway? ~Blog~
    It doesn’t sound very dignified, if ya ask me…… ~Aristocratic Blather~
    A few unwritten rules have escaped my attention, or so it seems.
    When I’m done with this, I may as well start all over. Good or bad?

    Uncle Tree needs to get out more. I haven’t been visiting anyone
    lately, but I plan to, and hopefully it’ll be before Christmas. An old
    poem came to mind yesterday, and I couldn’t remember if I posted
    it on Intentblog, so I quoted myself on Google, and look what I found:

    I had to laugh at comment #80, and at a few others also. He-he-he! 🙂


    The questions I asked of Dusty in #2?
    If you have any opinions on the matter,
    or if could help me out…I mean, I can’t
    go on until I know that you know what
    went on in this chapter. I can go back
    and fix it, of course. I’m asking a lot, and

    Luv you guys!


  5. that last reply is *almost* as good as this chapter. I must have missed the opening paragraph (either that I just didn’t hear it)

    but everything above that asteric and after the ellipsis is a masterpiece in my mind. (I just didn’t say it)

  6. How do you edit the spelling errors in the comments? What I tried to type was reply. As in your last reply to my comment (it was loaded with nice puns and plays on words)

    to be honest, the link short of pisses me off. It reminds me of someone (i’ll never know) that someone is somebody I really don’t like AT ALL. The person who out of spite pointed me in the direction of similar places on the web about 3 years ago.

    I took the bait and ran with it, because of the choice i made, it cost me dearly. Some of the most negative affects in my life because of the choice i made when presented with that bait. (and i have had some pretty negative things happen in my life)

    Some things do not make me stronger, there is no positive spin to put on it.

    but there are things i can do to stop the negative affect. understanding where he was coming from and why he was such an asshole is one of them

  7. “Once in a very great while, out of the devil-ridden chaos that sustains our mundane world, order presents itself in the form of seemingly meaningful coincidences. Through the ripped veil of the universal fabric, singularly particular events occur that may cause a person to question the ironclad laws of causality.”

    Great preamble, if that’s the word, Keith. It set me up perfectly for what was to follow.
    I have no problems with the credibility….I’ve seen different realities and where they might enfold meaningfully. When the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, then Time can dish up some ‘all in the Now.’ One doesn’t have to be actually dying to have it all flash before one. A certain personal clarity sets in.

    For me, Keith, you’ve done a great job capturing the paradoxical weave of the human psyche, but don’t necessarily take my words for it 😉 I’m nowhere near the focus that you are.

    Yes, brilliant,

    Happy Holidays, Keith

  8. Ellipsis, Dusty? I never knew there was such a word for ‘blanking’.
    Okay, let me get this straight.
    In #7 you’re talking about my reply in #4, right?
    A masterpiece? Uhh…I should know better than to ask questions.
    Although, I’ll take that to be a compliment, and thank you hitherto!

    Get a load of this: I edit your comments with that edit thingamajobber
    that comes after the date and time. You’re joking me, right? 🙂

    I’m pretty sure I know what ‘pissed off’ means.
    The alternative is worse, I know. I had this cat once…

    The Intentblog link reminded you of something and/or somebody?
    You’ve lost me on that one. No need to explain, though. Really…

    There are assholes on the web,
    and there are spiders on my toilet paper.
    When all was said and done, I thought ‘cookies’.

    Okay…sorry ’bout that. I went off on a tangent.

    Was this ‘bait’ you’re talking about a philosophy? Or a fish?
    “Lead me knot into temptation, but…”
    There’s always a ‘but’ around to deal with, huh?

    Uncle Butthead

  9. Thank you so very much
    for that wonderful compliment, Ed!
    (For goodness sakes…I wasn’t asking for high-five praise,
    but thank you, anyway, my well-meaning friend. I hear ya.)

    My questions were meant to be of a more technical nature.

    As in: From Mark’s point of view, what might have possibly
    happened when the limb broke free from the hanging tree?

    Or: Uncle Tree is turning Bedlam into a (two words).

    Perhaps, it is more obvious than I’m imagining it to be. If not,
    then I can have Mark question the possibilities in the next
    chapter. It depends on how long ‘we’ want to make this story.
    If everyone is ready for this (?) project to be over, I could
    just skip over the rest of the night, and jump to the morning
    scene. The only thing left to wonder about is: What’s in that
    hole? Right? Are you wondering about anything else? That’s
    what I’m trying to get at here. Matt’s going to wake up, too.
    Shall we wait for the deputy to show? The thing is…it’s
    all sort of downhill from here, I’m afraid. I have nothing
    specifically in mind for an ending, and that presents a problem.

    I’d hate to bore you guys to death. I don’t want you to be
    disappointed, either. Shall we take a vote on a resolution?
    Leave the matter open, and come back to it next Halloween?

    I’m having the nightmare before Christmas.
    A Scrooge I am, and a Scrooge I will be.
    “God bless you, every one.”

  10. Oh! And a couple more things. 🙂
    I’m really glad you liked the preamble to my untarnished ramble.
    I had a whole page of notes, and whittled it down for brevity’s sake.
    Maybe, it worked. My allusions to synchronicity, Jung’s style, were just
    that. He coined the word in 1951, so I only used it as a ‘tag’, instead
    of an insert. I know you know what I mean, Ed. But…would a teenager
    understand it?

    That particular coincidence didn’t come to mind at the beginning
    of this writing. I didn’t plan on making Bedlam a (two words), either,
    but I thought it would be cool to show how one might possibly
    have been created.

    Luke was never meant to be a main character. Why I took the time
    to elaborate, or to make it several chapters long, I don’t know. “Fire!”

    Mark was also sort of an accident. Sam needed someone to talk to,
    and I wanted to show the story from an ex-believer’s perspective.
    Otherwise, the narrator might sound like a know-it-all, and I’m knot that.

    If I were actually writing a novel, I’d have to introduce the rest of the
    posse. That would lengthen the story tremendously, as would naming
    the wives, and all the kids, and their relationships, etc., etc. But since
    I’m knot writing a novel, I didn’t feel the need to do that. If I were
    really serious about doing something like that, I’d plan on spending at
    least a year in creating it. I can see how it’s done though, so I learned
    something in the process, too. If I ever have a whole lot of extra
    money, I might consider getting this printed, and into book form, just
    for the sake of my kids, and the rest of my family, none of whom read
    stuff on my blog.

    Thanks for lending me an ear, Ed. You, and everyone else. Thanks!


    “Are you ready to rumble?” the evil doer asked the tree.

  11. That’s a lot of info, Ed.
    I’ll take some time and check it out
    when I’m on my Christmas vacation.

    Thanks for trying to shift my shapers.
    You’re already beyond the next event horizon.
    To catch up with you, I’ll need one of those magic sleighs.

    See you at the HO! down, pardner. 🙂

  12. That marc you showin, those books look like some really good reading. I’m going to get a couple.

    Thank you you guys.

    Hope the holidays treat you well


  13. If you do read one of those books, Dusty,
    be sure to let me know the most important thing you learned. OK?

    We had freezing rain again yesterday, and a blizzard
    is on tap for tonight and tomorrow. My parents may not
    be able to drive up here now. We may have to wait until next
    weekend to get together. Oh, well. ‘Eventually’ trumps ‘Not at all’.

    I hope the holidays treat you better than they’re going to treat me.
    If only you knew the trouble I’m going through on the home front.
    You know that Led Zeppelin tune, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”? It’s true.
    If I want peace on earth, I, too, will have to go through Hell to get it.

    Better luck to you, my friend.

  14. 1st sentence…I don’t think I would use the word sustain…infests, engulfs, envelopes, manifests within or similar adjectives but sustains would mean that “devil ridden chaos” is what keeps us in existence. Just a preference not a crucial thing its just that the tone changes with different word choices.
    The rest sounds good!

  15. Dominates, it is! I was trying to think on the opposite side — evil wise.
    Maya, oh, Maya! Good, bad, equal or…indifferent? I’m so Judas.
    Sustains: that which keeps It all together. Does God have a conscience?

    4 Laws — What constitutes a miracle?
    “Breaking the law! Breaking the law!”
    So the devil can’t break the law?
    Well…what the Hell good is he then?

    We should just rid ourselves of that dirty bastard!
    He’s a bit too free methinks. We should be afraid…

  16. About Sam’s mother…and the reference inside your soul —
    I knew you’d eventually get to this part, and all I can say is:
    I’m glad I wrote it before you read it. God bless your heart!

  17. I’ve been thinking on the line of miracles and I’ll publish an answer in a day or so as to my thought on them, I will say this though…in my idea of a miracle evil never wins… or else miracles could never exist as they do. Otherwise, the thought of a miracle would only be …as a common word. Just some boot strap leather to gnaw on.

  18. Lodged in the innards of the hanging tree; suspended,
    or stuck, in sticky, sappy and unworldly animation;
    men’s souls — the evil, the criminal, and the innocent alike,
    are unleashed by an act of Nature in synch with an act of a
    sensitive and innocent cowboy who unwittingly carries out
    the plan of the man in black. You do know what’s in that hole,
    right? Again, making plausible the physically impossible
    constitutes a miracle by any stretch of the imagination.

    Besides a story, can anything good come out of this?
    Will anyone learn something new about themselves?
    Is this a ‘scoff it off’ kind of fairy tale? No questions come to mind?
    What could a ghost do if they did indeed exist? Cause dreams?
    Cause nightmares? Infiltrate another parallel dimension
    and act out a scene for the sake of the vivid dreamer? What else?

    “Keepin’ it real” and down-to-earth whilst toying
    with a world that is sustained by different laws…
    a world where evil wins out, but has nothing to show for it.
    I suppose, when good wins out, life goes on,
    insufferable as it may be at times.


    Thoughts On Philosophy — by Uncle Tree

  19. ‘Death’ not necesarily literal, is a retrenchment. Life boldly goes where none has gone, again not necesarily literal. Where we have been before gets taken for granted but a walking tree seems like a miracle e’en alongside a tumbling tomato. It surely is all a miracle to be realised? Deep down we know the wizard within. He/she oft washes our feet with tears.

  20. “In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  21. Death: As in curtailment, or fortification?

    “Wall him off! Cut him down! And use
    his own psychic scythe against him!”

    I don’t and can’t walk. I just pick up my roots
    and the Earth moves beneath me. 🙂

    My wizzard was wishing and swishing his wand in the wind one day…

    Thanks for the quote, Ed! Ne’er seen that one before.
    I just finished E.A. Poe’s biography. The quote befits him well.

    ‘Tis a pleasure to have you around, my friend. Sincerely, Unc

  22. Thank you so much, Ed, my friend! 🙂
    I was in such a hole…God bless you!

    And Stuart? I just happened to look back…
    after so many months of denial, of sorts…
    you’re such a prodder! And you just responded…
    to my comment to you- just as I was returning to smell
    if 23 was turkey, or chicken – or if it was alive and kickin’.

  23. Pingback: The Hanging Tree Of Bedlam – 23 | Uncle Tree’s House – Br Andrew's Muses

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