Swinging on the Town Tree

“He did it, I just know it,” someone in the crowd said.

“He is most definitely guilty, no questions about it,” another person said.

“How could he do something like that to someone like her.”

“He dares claim that nothing ever happened.”

“He lies!”

These were the sounds of the worn, old cabin on the left side of the Town Tree. They stood on the opposite side of another worn, old cabin that rests on the right. If one didn’t live there, one would have thought the cabins were one in the same, which they essentially were. They both had similar creaky boards on the sides and roofs, they both had the windows in the same place, and they both had a lamp hanging on the door. The only differences between the cabins were that they were on the other sides of the town and they both hated each other. The left cabin loathed everything about them and the cabin on the right was more than happy to return that, for their hatred for each other was the only thing they could share.

The town was in the middle of a sandy, windy desert with no other settlements as far as the eye could see. During the hot days, the town would be bustling like a dog being misled with fake throws of a ball. There was a dusty pathway that led into town, right in the middle of the two creaky cabins, with people who lived on either side of the pathway. There was only one house that didn’t take a side. This small house stood strong at the end of the pathway, watching, as both sides fight.

A knock was at the door of the left cabin. A knock that the people inside were expecting. One of the members eagerly answered the door to a man with fresh clothes and a blue jeweled ring. He wore a black vest over a blue buttoned-up shirt, along with pressed khaki pants. He appeared a tall, strong man who towered over nearly everyone. His presence contained an air of certainty. He was confident in whatever he said, and would let it spread through the room as if it was absolute truth.

“I have news for all you lovely people,” he said to the people of the old, dirty cabin. He then proceeded to extend his left hand, palm open. “If you may, please.”

A shuffling traveled through the cabin, up to the blue-ringed man. That person made himself visible among the crowd, wearing a worn blue shirt and ripped khaki pants and carrying a tattered, yet full, sack. He proceeded to put the bag into the blue jeweled man’s waiting hand.

“Alright,” the blue-ringed man said, putting the sack in his right vest pocket, “here’s the scoop.” He then took a folded paper and a pair of glasses from his left pocket.

“Let’s see,” the vested man said, unfolding the paper. “A statement has been issued by the Sheriff. He granted me the honor of telling this news. He says, ‘I will consider the event that has taken place and will take action based on the proper procedures tomorrow.’ You know what this means?”

“The Sheriff is only considering this injustice that has taken place‽”

“How could this be? Clearly a crime has taken place in this town!”

“We have to take this injustice into our own hands!”

“Well then,” the vested man said, holding the pocket the cabin’s money was in, “I’ll be off. You clearly look busy, and I hope you have a good evening.”

The man with the blue ring then stepped out of the cabin, while it made more rabble than before. Once he shut the door behind him, he could hear not only the chatter of the cabin behind him but the cabin on the right as well. This cabin then goes quiet as he hears a lone voice arise in the cabin.

“He says, ‘I will consider the event that has taken place and will take action based on the proper procedures tomorrow,’” the muffled voice of the cabin said before its usual constituents erupted into another large rabble.

“She should be hanged! He didn’t do nothing to that girl!” was one voice.

“We have to do something about this!” was another.

The vested man smiled as another vested man emerged from the cabin on the right. The man on the right noticed the man on the left and stood fast before him. The man on the left stepped forward and put his ring in the light of the lamp that hung above him, letting a blue flash travel to the man on the other side. In return, a red flash traveled back to him.

“I see you got the money,” the man on the left said to himself. They both proceeded to walk off, into the night, to let the show begin.

 

When the lamps ran out of oil, the meetings were adjourned, and the footsteps were heard. Soft, muffled cries and hard ropes fell on the deaf ears of the town. Then, there was silence, as two bodies hung from the Tree in the center of town in the morning. The townsfolk woke up to it, but no one was crying. There was no horror, sadness, or even disgust at the sight of the bodies. Just a small hint of pity and then, nothing. Not even the sheriff cared; no one was punished. The day then went on as usual, for the hustle and bustle of the town didn’t break any day, and today was no exception.

There were two men standing under the Town Tree that day. The coins they counted glistened in the sun, outshining the silhouettes of the two bodies hanging above them. They both wore black vests, with red and blue shirts under them, and red and blue rings on their hands that shined almost as bright as the coins they were counting.

“How much have you got?” one man said.

“Forty, how about you?”

“Fifty-six.”

“Welp, you win the bet, congrats. But I’ll win next time.”

“Go ahead and try.”

They both walked down the center of the road, to the house that laid down the middle. The only house that laid down the middle.

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