Night Lynching: The Saga of Decker Brown

Night Lynching: The Saga of Decker Brown

A Story by R J Fuller

There is to be a lynching tonight.

The darkness was illuminated only by the glowing torches. The land was covered in the night. 
"Bring him over here! Hurry! Who's got Decker Brown?"
"I have him here!" a voice responded. "Charles and I have him! He's tied and ready to meet the noose!"
"Please!" the man between them begged to no avail. He was dragged along between the two of them, with his face looking down, so dripping blood fell to the ground from his lip and cut on his face. 
"Throw the rope over the tree branch! A high enough branch so when we haul him up, everybody can see him!"
The rope was thrown toward one sturdy branch, but the rope and noose became entangled in smaller branches, so it didn't clear the limb. 
"Try again!" 
Same results. 
"Get a rock! We need something heavy to clear the branch to get the rope to the other side!" 
"Here's a good enough stone!" 
"Allright, tie the rope to it and throw it over the branch! Get it over!"
At the moment the rock with the rope attached cleared the branch, the coldest of night winds blew through the valley. Many torches were blown out, extinguished. Very few remained alit. 
In the pale moonlight, the men could see the rock clear the branch they watched and then observed the rock falling back down among them. 
"Allright, now someone make a noose! A good sturdy one!"
"I'm gonna need me some light if I'm supposed to make this noose!"
"Get some of those torches up this way so Jim can see what he is doing! Come on!"
The few remaining torches shuffled about in the crowd, coming forth to just under the tree. While that was going on, another torch began making its way to those that were blown out and re-ignited them. It was a slow process as an occasional wind doused the torches once more. 
All the while, the one figure stood with his torch to make the desired noose. 
"I need my torch lit again!"
"Hang on!"
"You almost got that noose made?"
"Yep! It's ready!"
"Allright. Somebody get Decker up here. Where is he?"
The surrounding were without sight. Nothing could be seen. 
"Abe, didn't you have Decker?" 
"Charles and I did, but I had to relight some torches so we could see. What did you do with him, Charles?"
"I went to give Jim some light and thought you had him!"
"Oh, come on! Don't tell me we've lost Decker! Everybody look about you and see if he is with you or beside you. He couldn't have gotten away from us that fast!"
"I need my torch relit."
"Who is near Sam and can relight his torch? Somebody get these torches relit so we can find Decker again!" 
"Here he is!"
"I'm not Decker Brown, you idiot! I'm Clyde Jenkins!" 
"Oh, sorry. Mr. Jenkins."
"Do I look like a colored boy?"
"No, sir. I guess you don't. I just can't see in this dark."
"Well, get away from me, you fool! Look over that a way where no one is standing!"
"Yes, sir." 
"How are we supposed to see a black boy in the dark, Al?"
"Get those torches lit again, so we can find Decker Brown now!" 
"Decker! Decker!"
"Do you honestly think he'd answer you seein' as we want to hang him?"
"I dunno. He might. He's not that smart."
"Somebody isn't!" 
"Over there! Somebody moved!"
"Is that him? Let's get him!" 
"Come out of there, Decker!" 
"Take your hands off of me, you fool!"
"We got him!" 
"Oh. No we don't. It's Mister Hollis." 
"What were you doin' in the bushes, Mr. Hollis?"
"Never you mind what I was doing! I can tell you now, there was no colored boy in there with me!" 
"Al, don't nobody seem to know where he is!" 
"Well, we can't have lost him! Other than the tree, there's not much out here! Everyone fan out some more to see if you can locate him! I'll stay here at the tree and hold on to the noose!"
"My torch has gone out again!" 
"You need to hold that torch better to keep the wind from blowing it out!"
"There isn't any way to keep it from gettin' blown out, Al! We're in the open!"
"I said we're in the open!"
"I heard that part. What was the first part?"
"I said I heard that part! What was the first part you said. You're too far away!" 
"I can't hear you!" 
"I got him!" 
"No, you don't! Let me go!" 
"My torch has gone out again."
"Didn't anybody bring a gun?"
"Well, we sure don't need anybody out here shootin' what we can't see now, do we?"
Well, why didn't anybody bring some dogs?"
"We thought this one would be easy to do! Decker Brown ain't that smart!"
"Talk about bein' ill-prepared!" 
"I can't see anything."
"Neither can I!" 
"I said neither can I!"
"What was that? I think I heard him! Decker!" 
"He's not going to answer you, you numbskull! You probably heard an owl or something!" 
"I thought I heard it, too!" 
"Well, get a torch over there and see if you can find anything then!"  
"Al! Al! I think we're just going to have to wait until tomorrow! We can't see that darkie at night!"
"His hands were tied! He couldn't have gotten loose!" 
"Well, his feet weren't tied, so all he had to do was run away."
"Hold on! We might have him here! Get around to the other side of this shrub!" 
"I can't see anything without a torch, if he is here! I don't think that was him!"
"Al! Al! Can we do this tomorrow, Al? We can't find him!" 
"Well, if Charles and Abe had held on to him better, he wouldn't have gotten away."
"Well, maybe you should have kept your torch lit better, so the wind didn't blow it out. Charles and I had no problem with our torches remaining lit and we had to hold on to Decker with our other hand!" 
"My torch is out!" 
"I guess we see now who we can rely on to get some old time justice around here, now don't we?" 
"I've had just about enough out of you, and with all of this!" 
"You can't leave. Not until Al tells us we can. He's in charge!"
"Al, can we do this later? Our torches are all nearly out and it's just too dark to see." 
"Al! Hey, Al! Our torches are going out! We're going to have to do this tomorrow!" 
"Al! Al?" 
The men grew silent as the walked toward the same destination. Moving closer to the tree illuminated by the moonlight, those who still had torches could see a familiar form hanging from the tree. 
On the ground at his feet were the gnarled twisted ropes that had bound the hands of Decker Brown. 

© 2020 R J Fuller

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Added on October 23, 2020
Last Updated on October 23, 2020
Tags: lynching, crime, African-American, mob mentality