"I used to be a hardworking, honest man and husband. A man of reputation, yet one who would take care of strangers as if they were his own family. It was a common sight to see me being polite to travelers and townsfolk alike. After all, where I came from it was a custom passed down from our elder's Southern roots. But like all things, it wasn't always as pleasant in my life as I wish I could portray it through this story."
"The name is Andrew Colt. I used to live in the town of Hendrick's Post and I was just one of the locals. I worked as a ranch hand for one of the big cattle ranchers out in the Southwest. He had been a good friend of mine ever since I moved into the town in my early teens looking for some honest work. My friend Daniel Cullen also was a helper at said ranch and we usually teamed up when we had to herd the cattle into the pens for the night."
"Now, you might be wondering why I am telling you this. Well my friend, even considerin’ all the stories told about me, I have a more interesting tale to tell: the complete and total truth. It’s not like ya goin' anywhere anytime soon, tied up like that..."
"I remember the night before my death being a cold night. I suppose it was odd, being in a desert town in what is now Arizona, but it was nearing the winter season out in the Eastern part of the states. I woke up to the sound of someone bangin' on my door, pounding urgently enough that it broke my spell of sleepy haze that I was feeling from being woken up in the middle of the night."
"Amelia, my spouse of four years thus far, was still slumbering besides me as I got out of bed. She was seven months along with our second child; we were surprised to find out about it but still grateful to God for giving us a second child to add to the family. I knew they would make a darlin’ sibling for our four year old daughter Allison Colt. Allison thankfully was staying with my brother-in-law Reverend Gold. Gold was Amelia's older brother and I knew him pretty well ever since they both moved in from North Carolina six or seven years prior to my death."
"I remember going to the door, my hand readying a grip on the revolver strapped to my left side of my hip as I opened it to see Daniel smirking at me."
" 'What do ya want?' I snarled, folding my arms across my chest. At this point in time, Daniel and I were not on the best of terms; he and I had shared a crush on Amelia when she first came to Hendrick's Post and ever since I asked her to be my gal and she accepted, he’d been bitter about the whole ordeal. And well, we went from friends to rivals faster than greased lightning."
" 'Oh, can't an old friend come to visit?' Daniel smirked, shrugging as he said so."
" 'In the middle of the night?!' I grumbled angrily, my brown eyes meeting his blue ones as we stood there in an awkward silence."
" 'Oh, listen, I know it's sudden but I have one favor to ask...' He trailed off, his smirk turning into a sly smile."
" 'What then?' I was confused, as I let my arms fall to my sides. That smile was creepy and I remember shivering slightly despite there being no draft emanating from the cold night desert air surrounding us."
I felt my world spin as I fell to the ground, pain racking my body as I slammed against the wooden boards of my home. I instinctively pull out my revolver, touching my throbbing nose with my other hand gingerly and glanced down to see blood on it. Damn bastard hit me!"
" 'Give me one goddamn good reason I don't shoot ya ass up right now!' I barked, readying my aim."
"Daniel smirked, kicking the revolver away from my hand and pulling out his own as he put a heavy foot on my chest."
" 'Say your goodbyes Andrew.' He chuckled, flipping his revolver so the handle of the gun was facing towards me. "Sweet dreams."
"Those where the last words Daniel said to me as he pistol-whipped me twice in the head with the metal of the handle and my world went black."
* * * * *"....Doc..will he be okay?"
"....He's fine...though he might have a few nasty bumps on the side of his head for a while."
"I blinked a few times as I came too, looking up hazily to see the two voice's owners standing over me."
" 'What the 'ell?' I groaned, shaking my throbbing head."
"My vision sharpened to reveal the good Doctor William Roberson and my brother-in-law Reverend Gold standing beside me as I laid on what seemed to be a sofa."
" 'Doc...where am I..?' I asked, sitting up slowly. William puts a hand on my shoulder, gently yet firmly putting me back in a lying down position."
" 'We found ya out cold Mr. Colt. Right after gunshots were fired inside ya home.' the doctor told me, and my eyes went wide."
" 'Amelia! Is she...?!' My voice trailed off, a look of worry etched onto my face as I see the two men look at each other silently and then look down. 'Where's Allison?!' "
" 'Allison is at my place but...' The preacher said, hesitating to say it."
" 'I'm afraid your wife was murdered.' the doctor said for the preacher."
" 'I'm sorry Andrew. Amy’s dead.' Gold told me, his voice solemn and with grief."
" 'WHAT?!' I bolted up, standing up on my feet. 'Amelia's...been killed?!' I glared at the two men as a feeling of dread crept inside my chest. The doctor sighed, and sat me down."
" 'I'm sorry for your lost Mr. Colt...but we got there too late to save your wife. She's...she had been shot multiple times. Killed instantly.' Doctor William explained carefully, his voice hinting at sympathy and remorse."
"Something broke inside of me as I heard these words and I cried. Cried like a child as I look down in shame."
" 'No..no..why? Why?' I sobbed, tears streaming down as I leaned against the back of the sofa. As I silently sobbed, I felt anger overtake me and I bolted up. I then picked up a chair and threw it against the wall in a fit of rage."
" 'She was with child! Our second! Lord?! Why have you done this?' I cursed to the heavens above, slamming my fist against the wooden boards of the wall."
" 'Do not blame the Lord for the actions of one man. We must find this killer soon, before any more harm can be done. ' the priest said, wringing his hands in a nervous fashion."
" 'I'll go check the body again for wounds, Mr. Gold.' the doctor said as he walked off to examine the corpse, leaving me and my brother in law alone.
" 'FUCKIN' HELL!' I swore, slamming my fists against the wall once more as my anger took over me. I could hear my brother-in-law scolding me under his breath as he put a hand on my trembling shoulders."
" 'Look Andrew. Its not your fault-' he started to say but I cut him off with a combined glare and growl. "
" 'SHE'S DEAD DAMMIT! AMY'S DEAD AND I SHOULD OF BEEN THERE TO SAVE HER!' I roared, twirling around to face him."
" 'I failed her. God damn I should of stopped that bastard. That bastard who I use to call a friend.' I continued, my voice cracking as grief overtook me as my anger faded away."
" '..Do you mean....?' Reverend Gold's eyes went wide. 'Daniel?! Daniel did this?' I nodded, gently touching the bruises on my temples to indicate it was Daniel who had struck me down."
" 'Yep. Same bastard who knocked me out.' His mouth fell open in shock, his eyes searching the room as if the answers to the thoughts in his head would be around. His hands trembled as he clutched the cross around his neck in shock."
" '..My god...Daniel shot my sister. But why? Why would he shoot her?' Gold questioned out loud just as the front door flies open and I was faced with the barrel of a revolver to my chest. "
" 'Deputy Lois!' I exclaimed in confusion, raising my hands up in defense just as the sheriff's assistant raised his gun level to my heart while inching closer."
" 'Don't move' he hissed in anger as he pins me against the wall and sheathed his gun while I pressed my back against the structure of the home. He roughly grabbed me, pinning my arms behind my back as he turned me around to face the wall. He then slammed me into it as he tied my arms up in an uncomfortable position, as I cursed and struggled under the deputy's grip on my form."
"You are under arrest, Andrew Colt. Y’hear me, boy?" Lois growled in my ear as I was swiftly slammed into the floor in one swift motion. I gasped for air, my breath suddenly rushing out of me as I made contact with the wooden floor."
" 'Deputy! What is going on here?!' Gold cried out, who began to rush over but was stopped by a few men who had accompanied Lois into the home. 'Andrew did nothing wrong! Why are you arresting him?!' "
"The Deputy looked at my brother-in-law sternly and lit a foul cigar that he had put in his mouth."
" 'He's a murderer' he simply said as the Deputy's two accomplices let go of Gold and came over to me, subsequently forcing me onto my feet."
" 'Yes Father Gold he is a murderer. He had killed Sheriff John earlier this evening. We found his gun at the scene of the crime and have a witness, reliable of mind, body, and soul, who saw him do the damning deed' the Deputy sniffed in annoyance, motioning his two goons to take me outside."
" 'Now, good night Father Gold.' I heard him say as I was lead into the cold desert night, gasping for breath as I tried to regain my shaken composure. I struggled in the grip of the two assistants that held me firmly, and the next thing I knew was, we were heading to the sheriff's office, and to the jail it shared a building with."
* * * * *
“ 'For the last goddamn time, I’m innocent!' I screamed in anger, shaking the iron bars that kept me trapped in the cell I had been thrown into hours before. By now, it was nearing dawn as the light of the sun was beginning to peek through the small windows of the office, and my throat was burning from all the yelling and protesting I had been doing. I was telling the truth mind you, yet no one seemed to listen!"
"I kicked the bars of my cell, pissed as all hell at the deputy who at this point was ignoring me. I immediately regretting the action as I let out a roar of pain. Pain flared up in my toe as I hit it against the iron pole."
“ 'For Jesus’s sake, someone shut him up' I heard the slurred voice of a town drunk groan in annoyance in the next cell over. As far as I had gathered, he was being detained in one of these cells for disorderly conduct."
"I looked around in my cell and spotted a canteen on the floor which was gathering dust in the corner I had spotted it in. I hunched down and picked it up. Perfect. I went over to the door of my cell and aimed it near the Deputy's head."
“ 'Hey, you!' I shrilled as I threw the half-empty water canteen at the acting sheriff’s head."
"That seemed to get Deputy Lois's attention as the metal made contact with the brick right next to the acting sheriff's head. Indeed, the outburst and the clatter of the metal object bouncing off the exposed brickwork had brought the eyes of everyone in the room on me. Lois inhaled nervously before screaming a jumbled mess of protests and curses"
“ 'WHAT? FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK, WHAT?!' he howled in annoyance. I had apparently…well, to everyone here, at least, been making a royal disturbance ever since I'd been brought in here against my own will. "
“ 'I didn’t do it! I DIDN’T!' I began to yell, hissing each syllable with gritted teeth as I brought my face up to the cold iron bars of my cell.
"The Deputy immediately bolted over to me and before I could react he had grabbed the collar of my white worn shirt and spat full in my face."
. I don’t care at this point whether you’re even guilty, you’ve been making such a racket that I have half a mind to put a bullet in you right now! And on the topic of your ‘innocence’, we’ve got a reliable witness of sound mind and body who SAW you do it! He saw you kill my predecessor in cold blood! What do you have to say to that?' he snarled in my face, practically hissing the last line as I wiped the spit out of my face. "
“I...I told ya! It was Daniel who did it!"
“ 'What?' Lois asked in a curious yet suspicious tone.
“ 'HE’S THE ONE WHO KILLED THE SHERIFF! NOT M-' I began to scream but was interrupted when he threw me back harshly onto the cold stone floor."
"The Deputy turned to his men and says 'Move up the execution and sound the call.' The men nodded and quickly bolted out of sight as Lois turned to me. "
“I’m assembling the town” he sneered. “We’re doing this thing now.”
"W-What?! What thing?!" I cried out, getting up. "
"Justice is gonna be served. Either I put a bullet right in that skull of yours or the rope breaks your neck for me. Your choice cowboy" the acting sheriff smirked as I let out a growl of anger."
" 'I told ya! I'm innocent!' I cried out, a feeling of dread saturating into my very form as I paced back and forth. "May the Lord strike me dead if I'm not telling the truth!"
"Well, you better pray he's on ya side Andrew. Because you are going to meet the Lord himself soon enough."
" 'W-What?!' I paused, my brown eyes widen with fear. Like most western towns such as mine, we had one method of dealing with the scum and criminals of society: the dreaded gallows. "
" 'No! Please! Not the rope! Please!' I fell to my knees, pleading as the image of the bodies of past executions flashed in my mind. "I didn't kill Sheriff John…Please believe me!"
“ 'Right' Lois scoffed in a sarcastic tone. 'Yet we found your gun at the scene of the crime and have a witness who saw you do it. You are a murderer and murderers get the noose.' He paused, just in time for his men to come in with a piece of rope. "
" 'It’s time to do this hanging now. Say your prayers Andrew Colt' he said. The men opened my glorified cage, swiftly approached my kneeling form, and quickly bound my arms behind my back. "
"The church bells rang out, striking the time of four in the morning as the chatter of tired townsfolk rose to a dull roar outside. The remainder of the town gathered in impressive time considering it was now approximately just past four in the morning when the call went out that the execution had been moved up."
"With my arms bound tightly behind my back, I was roughly stood up on my feet and pushed along to the outside world. The sun was barely up, yet the rays gleamed in the sky as I was led to the gallows nearby."
"Down with the murderer!"
"Burn him in hell!"
"I heard these cries of anger and spite from different people in the crowd and each was echoed by others in unison by the others over and over. I finally made it to the platform, only stopping briefly as I stared at one member of the crowd who seemed particularly smug. I gritted my teeth as my eyes met Daniel's jeering blue ones and he smirked, catching my glimpse as he raised his hand and waved at me mockingly as if to say farewell. This brief eye contact was broken as I was pushed roughly under the noose and over the trap door."
"I obediently stood motionless as the noose was brought around my neck and tightened. The executioner rechecked the noose for tautness and stepped back. It seemed to be a model execution. The trap door was released and I felt myself falling before I felt the noose break my fall."
"...And then it happened..."
"I felt the pain of my neck snapping in half with such force that I instinctively jerked upwards, but that didn't end the torture of the hanging. No, that only made my sight go blurry and the rope caused me to gasp and wheeze as I tried and failed to inhale some of the cold morning air. "
"I felt my heart beating against my chest as my eyes and throat burned. I couldn't breathe and I felt some blood ooze out of my mouth from the force of my vertebra snapping like a twig. I felt the rope rub against my skin as I struggled, feeling it burn and slowly work its way in as blood started to seep through the raw cuts on my tender flesh. I let tears form, my lungs burning and crying out for air as I gasped and wheezed once more and the tears streamed down my cheeks. My eyes burned with such pain that I wanted to just break my bonds around my wrists and gouge them out. My vision turned red as I swung on the end of that rope. I felt warm blood trickle down my cheeks, the pressure from my rapid heartbeats burst through my tear ducts and I cried out in agony. Why wouldn't this hell end?!"
"Forty-five minutes passed. For forty-five minutes, more than should have been humanly possible, I kicked, gasped, and writhed like a demented snake coiled around itself. It was such a spectacle for the bored townspeople. No one moved to help me, no one put a slug from a revolver into my aching, throbbing and lolling head, and no one in the crowd gasped in anything but macabre fascination. The dance of a man going through such an excruciating end was nothing but the height of entertainment to these sick people. I sent my prayers skywards one last time before I closed my eyes. The darkness of death took hold and I felt my body go limp. My heart slowed and then stopped and I fell into an abyss of pain and complete darkness...."
* * * * *
"Oh? You're asking how am I still here, eh? Well, just imagine that an innocent man who lost everything was unjustly killed for someone's sick act of revenge. That what happened to me. My last thoughts were of anger, and that stubbornness and anger to “get” the real murderer of my wife and the town's sheriff was strong. Strong enough to bind me to this realm between this earth and the afterlife. As you can see I still bear the wounds to that agonizing end but that's not the end of my tale."
"How I came back to the dead is another tale, that I may tell another time. But like you, the men who sent me to the gallows didn't care who died for the murder and just wanted someone to die, to satisfy the miserable little town that betrayed me. I am a man who serves justice, and that's what those men deserved."
"Deputy Lois and his men were the first to die, and I left them to rot. Just as they left me to rot in a paupers grave under the old hanging tree that was used before the gallows were added. Then came Daniel. Daniel Cullen was a tricky bastard, having fled before I could get to him out of town. I managed to track him down in the East and like he sent me to the gallows, I gave him the same treatment. I strung him up, almost decapitating him with the force I used to break that twiggy neck of his. I left him to hang in that old cabin of his that he was hiding out at. For all these crimes and many more, the folks gave me the name Hangman. The Hangman."
"Now, as for you, my dear sir...I seen you beat ya kids and your wife ever since you dared to move in and live in my town. For several months I’ve watched you drink and then go all out in beating your children and wife black and blue. And this time it will stop. Permanently."
"All I need is to ask you one question....."
What size neck are ya?