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  • Writer's picturePaul Hook

The Hangman's Noose

Flash Fiction alert. Here's a 300 word flash fiction based on the 600 word one published by the great people at Fiction.Writ -


The Hangman’s Noose

Nails drove into wood. Jimmy was behind schedule. Sacrificing accuracy, blood seeped into his overalls when nails were missed. Flesh for flesh.

Rollings commissioned the gallows. Paid upfront, but not well, Jimmy drank the rotgut and woke with a hangover.

“Hurry, or you’ll be next.” Rollings walked by. He spat chew next to the carpenter.

“Yes boss.”

The day before, Sheriff Rollings caught the man with five stolen cattle. The judge said guilty before the sheriff rolled a cigarette. Justice was swift. One night in the cell, the next day in hell. The desert was sweltering and brutal; forcing the people to become tough. They could not abide theft.

Hours later, Jimmy tested the completed structure. Good enough. He made the noose. Like a snake, the rope would constrict the victim until death.

A dirge began. Jimmy scurried. The crowds materialized; their mood jubilant yet sombre.

The sheriff waited beside the stairs. His deputy appeared in the middle of the crowd. Onlookers melted away, letting the guilty head towards doom.

The dirge ended as noon struck. The condemned stood ready.

Jimmy stood in the shadows, watching the undertaker and whores placing bets – broken neck or asphyxiation. Wishing he had money, he spit into the dust.

“Citizens. Bear witness to justice. He is no one, but beware. Should you thieve, shall you hang.”


Wood creaked; the noose tightened. Struggling, urine dripped down his pants, darkening the dust.

The men returned to the saloon while the whores collected their winnings. Jimmy cut the rope, dropping the corpse into a heap.

“Two hours, Jimmy.”

Music drifted in the air while he cursed the heat, pried nails and stacked boards until the next hanging.

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