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Who Could Be For You?

Who Could Be For You?

A Story by R J Fuller

At truly the most tragic time in our lives, how can we truly comprehend who will show us support at such a moment?

The dark was suddenly broken by the sounds of endless murmuring and the intense glow from several upheld torches. Unintelligable shouting and yelling followed through with no clear idea of the night's intention. The haphazard group stopped and began their pointless task. senseless gabbing and cheers persisted with no concept of reason. Then the central figure of tonight's drama was brought forth; bloodied, gasping for air, drenched in perspiration. He was held by about three or four other guys. One of them held him so tight, he knew his arm was fractured, but sadly that was the least of his concerns at the moment. The torches cast eerie shadows leaping and lurching in the darkness. Tears rolled down the cheeks of this man who was the star of this gathering. He gritted his teeth as his head was pulled up and the rough hewn rope was placed around his neck. He closed his eyes and let forth with a growl out of anger, but knew the anger could do nothing for him now. No matter how much he struggled, his arms were pulled behind his back to tie his hands together. A torch was jabbed into his bare side. He winced at the pain, but he was too weak to cry out. A crate was brought forth for him to stand upon. This would be the final step he would ever take. 

"Oh, Lord," he sobbed looking into the leaves of the tree, "have mercy on me." 

The only sound he detected in return was deep laughter. He gasped back from the tears streaming down his face, deep throaty gasps, yet he continued to look up. It was what he wanted to see at that final moment. His final moment. 


His dark eyes looked back and forth, trying to see if he could find what his pummeled ears had heard. Suddenly he was confronted with a new focus. 

"Over here." 

He turned to a dark cluster of leaves toward the base of the branch he was being hung from. His body was exhausted. He knew there were only mere seconds left, but he looked among the leaves for this new voice he was hearing. The insignificant yammer of those standing on the ground grew fainter and fainter. He was staring into the darkness of the leaves. 

"Here I am, Mel."

She emerged from the brush and gave him a smile. His eyes stayed transfixed upon her, unable to see anything else. He began speaking. 

"There's a girl up in dis tree," he stated. He wasn't aware of anyone hearing him, because he was now totally tuned out on everything else. 

"My name is Clarity Division," she said, moving closer to his position. 

"How did you know my name?" Mel asked. 

"I heard the men say it." 

"Why are you here?"

She now straddled the tree branch as she made her way even closer to him standing below her. 

"Aren't you glad to see me?" 

"I don't know who you are." 

"No reason why you should."

She was now right up on the rope. 

"Can you untie me? Can you untie the rope there?"

For some inredulous reason, Mel didn't grasp the young girl he was talking to was white. Why on Earth would she untie the rope? 

"There are other reasons for me to be here," she replied. 

"What reasons?"

"I'm here to see to it your potential transition to the afterlife is a peaceful one." 

"How do you go about doing that?" 

"By letting you know everything will be okay." 

Mel stared at the little girl, practically a child, and finally managed a direct question. 

"What are you doing up there?"

Clarity laughed with a giggle that could be compared to angels. Mel gave a bit of a snicker at the sound of her amusement. 

"You're my good deed." 

"Your good deed?"

"That's right," she replied. "I have to make sure you leave the world a contented figure."

"But what if I don't want to leave."

"That can't be helped." 

"My mother will be devastated to learn I've been hung like this."

"It will be a sorrow she will take to her grave." 

"And you won't help me?"

Clarity leaned forward and propped her head on her hands. 

"I can't do anything, Mel."

"So you've said," he stated. "So again, why are you in this tree?"

She smiled broadly. 

"Oh, Mel," she began, "this was my tree, too!"

Mel turned his head in absolute puzzlement.

"What do you mean, 'your' tree?"

Clarity flitted upright, then sat in a reclining pose. Mel leaned forward to see around the branch. 

"I was hanged from this same tree," she stated and assumed a prone position, then looked at Mel. 

"You?" Mel asked. "You was hanged?"

"I was," she declared. "Brought to this very tree and had a rope put around my neck."

"What was you hung for?"

"I was accused of being a witch," she stated, a little forlorn. 

"So they hung you?"

"They did indeed. From this very tree."

"So now you hauntn the tree?" Seeing a young waif of a white girl sitting perched in a tree when others are threatening his very life gave Mel no reason to truly be scared of the thought of speaking to a spectral image.

"I'm here to keep you content."

Mel stared at her. 

"I guess if that is all you can do." 

"Please, Mel, let me see you at peace with your destiny." 

"My destiny? How you gonna make me at peace with that?" 

"By letting you know you are not alone."

"I'm dying alone."

"No, Mel, I'm with you."

"You're already dead." 

She looked a bit startled and sat back. She turned away from him. 

"Oh, I'm sorry," Mel said. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."

"Clarity is just a might touchy about how her life was taken from her."

Mel looked to the new speaker. It was a rather rough-looking fellow with stubble all on his face. He actually seemed like he had been living in the tree for years. 

"Let me guess," Mel said, suddenly feeling nervy, "you was hung, too, for being a witch?"

"No," the fellow stated matter-of-factly, "I was hung for cattle-rustling."

"Then you didn't die with Clarity?"

"No, I was hung from this tree almost two hundred years after her. She tried talking to me like she's doing you, but I thought I was hallucinating."

Mel began to think he must be hallucinating as well. Maybe none of this was real. The fellow wasn't going to offer up his name, so Mel decided to go on ahead and ask for it. 

"Name's Jix," the cowboy replied. 

Mel looked at the fellow and really didn't perceive him as much different from those who were murdering him now. 

"Say, uh, there, fella," Jix asked. "What year do you make it to be?"

"It's 1924," Mel replied. 

"Oh, I see." 

"Why you wanna know?" 

"Oh, just see where we are now in the state of things." 

Mel looked elsewhere in the tree as if he hoped he would see someone else. 

"So no one is going to do anything to help me?" he asked of the pair. 

"We can't, Mel," Clarity said. "We're not allowed to interfere."

"Unless you were totally innocent of what you are being hung for," Jix added. 

Clarity looked at him, somewhat startled. 

"I wasn't guilty of anything. I wasn't a witch. I was just accused of being one."

"But there was nobody in the afterlife who had been hung from this tree before you. Nobody could intercede on your behalf, darlin'."

"I'm not guilty of anything either," Mel said with declaration. "They're just doing this because I'm colored. They are accusing me of something I don't know anything about." 

"That's all I needed to hear," Jix said, and with that he pulled out his pistol and fired at the rope on the limb, perfect hit and the rope snapped. 

The struggle to gasp for air with dirt being directly in his face was nearly enough to have killed Mel, but it had just the opposite effect and made him struggle for his life. Mel coughed out dirt, trying desperately to gasp in air. He lay on his back and stared up at the night. He couldn't see anything. He didn't hear anything either. Once his breathing was regular, he started looking around. He was all alone. Not a single white man wielding a torch was to be seen. 

Mel tossed about in the grass to sit up, then had to breathe again. His side hurt. Once he built up his capability again, he sat up. His hands were still tied behind his back. He was lurched forward and rested yet again. He knew the effort to get his feet up over the rope on his wrists was going to be excruciating. He began.

When he was done, he rested on the ground again, making sure not to fall asleep. He needed to hurry up and get away. He sat up again and in the darkness, stared at the ropes around his wrists. He began fighting and blindly biting at the rope, pulling, tugging with his teeth. 

Finally, he felt the bind slip and begin to move. The pressure eased up on his wrists. Twisting with his fingers and thumbs, he tugged on strands and managed to finally get the rope free. He immediately pulled his hands out of the restraints and quickly stood to his feet. As he moved off into the cover of the woods, he became aware of the noose still around his neck. He quickly struggled to get it from about his person and tossed it away. Just as he was about to disappear into the foliage, he looked up into the covering branches. 

He had no way of knowing when he was left to hang or why it didn't kill him right off, tho his neck was tremendously sore, or even when the mob dispersed, and rather quickly, it seemed, but he knew there were two persons who had gone his way on this exact same spot before him and there was no one there to look out for them. He watched the soundless coverage for a split second, then decided he had best run, in case any of those white men returned to marvel at their trophy, but he fled into the night as far as he could, possessing the knowledge that there had been others who could relate to the tragedy of senseless murder as he almost endured.         


© 2021 R J Fuller

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Added on February 5, 2021
Last Updated on February 5, 2021
Tags: lynching, racial, witch, hanging, justice