Riding Her On A Rail

Mob justice is never pretty, but sometimes it’s pretty salacious:

Those at the edge of the woods could see the four men moving swiftly toward the kitchen door. Bozo and Pete ran at the door together and crashed into it with their shoulders. It gave way without stopping their charge. Cloyd and Hardy rushed in right behind them.

They heard Ruth Johnson scream and almost immediately they saw the men dragging her outside. Once in the yard two of the men seized her wrists and the other two seized her ankles. They carried her screaming and squirming across the yard.

There was no longer any need to hide. The mob crowded into the Johnson back yard and circled around the men holding the struggling woman.

Bozo and Cloyd stood her on her feet and held her firmly by the arms. The mob parted to let Clarissa through. For a minute she stood facing Ruth, towering ominously over her while Ruth sobbed and cowered.

“Filthy slut,” she hissed, and grabbing Ruth’s dress at the collar, jerked down with all her strength. Miriam pushed in to help her and they soon had the widow naked.

“Quit shoving, you sonofbitches,” Hoyt shouted to those behind him. “It ain’t even started good yet. You gonna get your chance to see plenty before long.”

“Move back, everybody!” Bozo shouted.

When the crowd parted Pete and Hardy came through carrying the rail. They put it on the ground beside Ruth. Hardy took a length of rope from his pocket and tied Ruth’s wrists together at the small of her back, so that she would not be able to reach down and support part of her weight with her hands.

“Step over there,” Bozo said, pushing her. “Stand straddle-leg over it.’ Baby, you don’t know how lucky you are to be getting a free ride like this.”

It sure is the splinteriest-looking rail I ever seen, Hoyt thought. If’n they didn’t have them burlap bags wrapped around the ends they wouldn’t be able to pick it up at all. Them dry brittle splinters is the worst kind.

While Cloyd and Bozo held her in position Hardy and Pete raised the rail to midway between her knees.

“Hold her there a minute,” Bozo said. “Don’t let it touch her legs there. She’s liable to get a splinter.”

Bozo released his hold and picked up a piece of the cord Hardy had dropped on the ground after tying her hands. He tied this around one of her legs just above the knee, ran it under the rail and tied it in the same position on the other leg.

“Let loose of her now, Cloyd,” he said. “She ain’t going no place now, except on the ride. That rope’ll keep her from squirming or bouncing off and hurting her pretty self.”

It sure is palpitating, Hoyt thought. I’ll say one thing, this rail they got tonight’s splinterier than the one we rode Phyllis Howe on. I’d sure give a heap if’n I could help tote it.

Pete and Hardy were still holding the rail at a point between her knees. It had not yet touched her skin. She was standing there just as Bozo and Cloyd had left her, sobbing and choking.

Bozo went to Pete’s end of the rail while Hardy went to help Cloyd.

“Okay, men, I’ll count to three, and then we upsy-daisy on ‘four’, ” Bozo said.

Hoyt drew in a long breath and held it. She don’t know it’s coming, he thought. She’s a-standing there a-straddle of it like she don’t even know what they’re fixing to do. I wouldn’t of missed this for anything in the whole wide world.

“-three-upsy-daisy!” Bozo yelled.

Hoyt saw the rail rise swiftly, scraping and tearing the insides of her thighs, bumping her crotch with a thud, and thrusting her high into the air screaming and writhing.

Hot diggety dog, look at her a-wiggling, Hoyt thought. like a snake in hot coals. Ooooo-eeeee, she’s gonna clean that rail of splinters and have it slicker’n a barber pole. It’s almost more’n I can do to watch her up there and not have no part, of it. It’s like I felt when Phyllis Howe was up there a-squirming on that rail, when they lifted her way high up so everybody could see and grabbed me a leg in each hand and swung my feet up off the ground and just hung there a-dangling by her legs while they carried her along. And when I could not keep aholt no longer and dropped off it started everybody else to doing the same thing, sometimes two of them at a time.

Hoyt trotted alongside the rail so that he could watch her during the march through the woods. He didn’t want to miss a single bump or twist.

It looks like they could jiggle it a little more’n they do, he thought. It ain’t supposed to be no fun ride for her. But I suppose maybe it’s better this way. She’s gonna be screamed out before they start smearing the hot tar on as it is.

They marched a half mile through the woods to a clearing where Arnold Fetnor had a blazing fire going around a twenty gallon garbage can. The smell of tar was strong in the air.

I do believe it’s gonna work just like old Clarissa said it would, Hoyt thought. It seems that when people hear about somebody getting tarred and feathered they just sort of laugh about it a little, specially nowadays when it ain’t done much anymore. I guess most people just ain’t never felt no hot tar on their skins or they wouldn’t think it was funny. A-smearing hot tar on a naked woman is fun; but it ain’t funny. It’s palpitating.

The men carrying the rail put it across two saw-horses which had been brought there for that purpose. Ruth’s feet dangled an inch or two above the ground.

Clarissa again came forward making ugly sounds in her throat and repeated her earlier scene with Ruth. Then she turned and searched the crowd.

“Lorena, child, come here now and bring your whip,” she said. “This vile hussy must be chastised. Show her no mercy, child. She didn’t show any mercy to that poor Griffith boy.”

Clarissa sure knows how. to pick the right ones to do the right things, Hoyt thought. Now take that spitting. It wouldn’t look so nasty if’n it was anybody besides her a-doing it. And she had enough know-how about what men’d want to see to let a purty girl do the whipping.

That Lorena sure is purty, dressed up in that little girl dress so sweet and innocent looking. I wonder if’n old Clarissa told her to dress up like that instead of putting on one of them tight dresses like she’s all the time a-wearing down the streets of Fort MacBee so all the men can watch her butt a-wiggling.

One thing for sure, she ain’t gonna draw no blood with that little bitty whip. She’s a-going to wear herself to a frazzle a-trying to raise a healthy welt or two.

Gee whil-likers, I ought to have my pecker cut plumb off for fussing about that little whip. It don’t have to cut no deeper’n it does to make that woman squirm. Hot diggety dog, look at her a-picking up them splinters. And ain’t that Lorena a sweet sight a-pouting out her purty lip and swinging that little bitty whip like she’s gonna cut somebody right half in two. Hot dang, I bet that hurt the way she cut right down atop both titties like that.

“Whooo-eeee!” Hoyt yelled, unable to constrain himself any longer, and others joined in, some voices thin and shrill, others hoarse and throaty.

From Witch Finder by Ralph Brandon.

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