The Hanging On the Fifth
The white snow fluttered down softly on the massive jail as the courtyard filled with drum taps from the local prison band. In the distance a cold wind blew from somewhere up in the high mountains and caused the prisoners and guards to shiver uncontrollably. Everyone would be watching the execution today; despite the cold storm closing in on them from the north. People from all over the Tarmac Desert were now gathered around the Wichita Prison compound to witness the death of their former leader and friend.
The fact that Mr. Whitecliff’s immediate family was ordered to witness the whole event spoke volumes about the character of Mr. Smash himself. The whole Whitecliff family were political prisoners which would be shipped off to the east after the day’s proceedings were done. Anyone that was remotely related to the Whitecliffs would get the same treatment. They would live in obscurity the rest of their days and be force to work for their food. This might not sound like much to the common man, but to someone who was given everything their whole life; it would be hell on earth.
“Silence!” yelled Bargo as he flicked the grease off his hands and straightened his vest. Today was one of the most important days of his whole career. Supreme Governor William T. Smash wanted everything to work out perfectly and that is what he was going to get; perfection. The prison band seemed not to hear him as they got louder and more emotional. The guy on the tuba seemed to be in a world of his own making; tears, toots, and everything. There were obviously a few supporters of Mr. Whitecliff left in the world and they wanted everyone to know about it. This attitude would have to change.
“Silence you bunch of Dogtrots!” yelled Bargo again to the prison band as he finished greasing the knot of the hangman’s noose. The thing seemed to shine naturally now, regardless of the clouds and the overcast. As Bargo stared at its tightly woven fibers he almost thought the light was coming from inside the rope. The band went silent as he came off the stool and turned to face the massive crowd standing by the wooden platform. It was amazing how, in just a few hours, the courtyard had gone from destitution to a cornucopia of culture. Everyone had shown up to this execution; even some of the yellow tribe’s men from the Pocum Mountains. Bargo eyed their yellow painted bodies with suspicion. Anybody that would dig up the poisonous yam roots of the tarmac and rub them all over their bodies was bound to be crazy inside. It was never a good sign to have the savages come down to Wichita. How did Whitecliff even know these fools? Probably related somehow.
Bargo lifted his hands and motioned at the congregation, “Silence!”
The crowd kept talking. The Whitecliff family members in the front could be seen crying next to their large escorts. The young girl with the unnaturally tight curls dabbed at her checks. Her stunning blue eyes gazing upon the man who would soon hang.
“Silence!” Bargo yelled even louder.
The crowd slowly began to get quiet.
“This will be a quick, clean, hanging you hear me. I don’t care what you think about the case of former Supreme Governor Whitecliff, whether it was fair or not. I don’t care what your political views on the matter of murder and capital punishment are. If any of you so much as step out of place to riot in this courtyard I will cause the gunners up there” Bargo pointed to the tall Prison walls where his guards were stationed and ready. Black cannons were pointed in at the crowd to ensure order, “to start firing in on you at liberty. I have been given special orders from Supreme Governor William T. Smash himself to do this execution and to do it right. If you try anything like rioting today” Bargo bit his bottom lip, closed his eyes, and shook his head as if repressing the thought, “I will bring the wrath of the Almighty God down on you!”
The crowd was now deathly quiet. Not even a whisper could be heard from the newspaper jockeys stationed strategically in the audience. They all had received the cold message that Bargo was trying to make; no one was going to act out. A chilling wind screamed through the crowd at that moment causing many to shiver. Hats toppled off heads and everyone seemed to stand a little closer. The snow was coming down a little harder and beginning to stick to the ground. This meant that the fog would be rolling out from the cracks in the ground soon.
“I hope I am understood,” Bargo’s voice echoed softly off the walls of the prison, “We will start this execution off with former Supreme Governor Julian Whitecliff heart felt testimony. We will then proceed to hang him on the gallows behind me, after his death I will then take the body and burn it on that their bonfire.” he pointed to the southern side of the lot where a bunch of prison hands were dropping pallets of wood onto a well-lit stack. One prison hand was shoveling in a lumpy brown substance from a rusty old wheelbarrow. The faint sent of open cattle yard filled the air; and the smoke got darker and darker as he heaped it in.
Bargo turned to the men with the shovel and yelled, “Put more horse dung on it!”
The man shoveling from the wheelbarrow picked up the pace. Bargo smiled at his enthusiasm, and turned back to the crowd, “We are going to do this in the most respectful way possible. Once the ashes are done smoldering; we will cast them to the wind.”
How Bargo loved casting ashes to the wind. There was just something so poetic about it that pulled at his heart strings. He turned to the men holding the prisoner and motioned for them to come forward. The prisoner had a black sack over his head and a sign hung about his neck. The sign had the prisoners name etched across it “Whitecliff”. The man struggled frantically as he was brought to the edge of the platform for the crowd to see. Bargo cleared his throat “I want it to be known that we are not barbarians here in Wichita County.” He stated as he eyed the yellow tribesmen standing in the crowd.
“We are a people established on the foundation of laws given to us by our creator. In Wichita County it is a custom to let the convicted give their testimony before the scattering of ashes. Maybe even ask the Almighty for forgiveness before they find themselves at the gates of hell smelling horse shit.”
“Preach it brother!” Came a voice from the crowd.
Bargo pulled the black sack off the head of the prisoner revealing a gray haired man with a handle bar mustache. Seated firmly between his jaws was a wooden gag; which was secured by leather straps to the base of his wide skull. The man thrashed around on the platform and grunted at the crowd, trying desperately to get free. His words were incoherent.
Bargo smiled at this as he pulled Whitecliff closer to him with one arm. The crowed looked on in horror as Bargo continued, “I can see you all don’t speak convict very well. Luckily for you, we have a man here from the city of Ballbaling who does.” He motioned to a bald man sitting on the far side of the platform. He was wearing a top hat and had a monocle in one eye. He stood up and brushed the snowflakes of his suit paints and walked, with all the dignity that a gentleman could muster in such an environment, over to Bargo and Whitecliff. When he got there he took off his opera gloves and threw them over one arm in a single motion. The profession of interpreting incoherent moans from convicted criminals was a dignified profession.
“Have at it Mr. Snidely,” said Bargo eyeballing the little man cautiously.
“I, wisn, framished, gid bitty!” yelled Whitecliff as loud as he could. Drool was now coming down his chin, “I ah invocint! I ah invocint!”
“I am so terribly guilty of the crimes I have committed,” said the Mr. Snidely with a robust and dignified voice, “So terribly guilty and sorry for the crimes I have been convicted of.”
“What the heck is this?” yelled an angry crowed member “they guy is practically drooling on himself!”
“Silence!” yelled Bargo. “Let the man finish!”
Whitecliff thrusted his body forward and pulled against the guards with all his strength. He grunted and thrashed while screaming, “I ah Invocint, I wis frammed!”
“May God, who made the beautiful Pomace Mountains in the distance, have mercy on my immortal soul,” said Mr. Snidely as he gazed into the fulminating heavens, “Long live Supreme Governor William T. Smash! May the years be kind to him and may his days forever be full of success and jubilation! May his legacy be etched upon the hearts of every citizen he touches and may the sun never set on his kingdom. May his grandeur over shadow us and protects us from those who seek power! Long live that beautiful jolly Man; Supreme Governor William T. Smash!” Mr. Snidely placed his white opera glove back onto his hands and walked slowly back to his wooden chair. He was mumbling to himself now so lightly that only the people in the front row could hear him, “anon and on; and so forth!” He crossed one leg over the other and waited for the next prisoner to come forward. Everyone in the crowed had followed him with wide, dumbfounded, eyes. The only sound heard now was just the wind, slightly whistling in everyone’s ears. Even the former governor was looking on in amazement.
“Just sound like a man mumbling to me” said a woman from the crowd “Did, I miss something?”
“All right, thank you Mr. Snidely.” said Bargo as he watched the man dose off to sleep. His monocle was hanging by his side now. Bargo straightened his vest and pulled out a long scroll of paper from his coat pocket. He cleared his throat loudly so that all could hear. “Guardsmen please present the convict.”
The two big guys holding governor Whitecliff began to pull him to the gallows. He kicked and moaned as he was dragged against his will. The young blond girl in the front threw herself at the stage; her eyes streaming with tears. She screamed, “Someone do something! This man is innocent!”
“Silence!” yelled Bargo
“Daddy, I love you”
The men were fitting the noose around his head and getting him to stand on the stool.
“Please!” yelled the young girl. She turned to the crowd trembling, “do something!”
They all back away from her, as if she were a wild dog. The escorts grabbed her and pulled her back toward the stage. Bargo smacked her across the face as hard as he could. She cried out and then went quiet, “Another outburst like that and I will do something!”
Bargo couldn’t afford to lose control of the situation right now. The young girls face began to turn red and swell. She was sobbing now uncontrollably. In the background the sound her enraged father could be heard screaming. Bargo eyed the young girl heavily as he took a standing position in front of the crowd. “Prepare the criminal for execution on my mark!”
Julian Whitecliff struggled to get free as the big guards held him in place on the stool. They were waiting for the signal to kick the stool out from underneath the prisoner. His bloodshot eyes fell upon his daughter. Her face was turned and downcast; almost the mirror image of his wife. She was beautiful and she was innocent.
“By order of Supreme Governor William T. Smash, I hereby sentence former Supreme Governor Julian Whitecliff to death by hanging. May God have mercy on his immortal soul!”
The sobs of the daughter got louder.
Bargo turned to the guards and give them the signal to hang Whitecliff when the tall prison structure located in the middle of the dirt yard lit up in alarm. Loud sirens and lights were screaming out now in protest from the buildings corridors on the top. Men’s voice could be heard from the widows of the thirtieth floor screaming out orders. Bargo looked stunned at the sudden commotion. The whole proceedings being forgotten in the chaos. He walked to the northern end of the stage and watched the whole thing unfold.
“No, No, No, No,” Thought Bargo as the fear began welling up in his chest “Not today!”
The crowd turned all at once and began watching the spectacle now. Bright camera flashes lit up throughout the crowed at the large structure. The newspapers would be writing everything down and all this would get back to Governor Smash. There was no escaping what was coming next.
“What’s happened?” yelled one of the prison guards from behind.
Bargo frowned as he turned to the stupid man. “Maenad, the bloody Outlaw! That’s what’s happening right now!” He pointed to the top of the building. “Send all your forces to cell block 300-B. I want that man killed. Throw everything at him!”