FrayedKnot: The Hangman’s Tale (Chapter 3, first draft.)


“If nobody cares you’re dead, is it murder?”



Hortense grudgingly looked up from her stale glass of stout to see Jack Thrumble, the hangman, scrape the mud off his boots on the stoop of the pub. She noticed he made his way to the bar in a manner that seemed more businesslike than just a morning bloke looking for a liquid breakfast. Not businesslike the way the fancy duffers gathering for a morning libation before heading out to knock their dimpled little white balls around the adjacent St. Mildew’s Golf Course. God knows what deals that would make the devil blush these old coots cooked up between the fairway and the green. But he did seem to have business. Important business, no doubt.


Hortense had been at her usual table for what seemed like days on end now. Nursing a drink and pretending to be in the company of those who cared for her. In the dank pub, the sun coming up through the window looked just like the sun going down through the dull glass pane on the opposite wall. It was all the same to her. Six O’Clock and Six O’Clock both happened twice a day. She had nowhere in particular to be. She watched Jack make his way to a stool next to Wilberforce Crummond, Old Bristle’s excuse for a sheriff. She was certain now, Jack was a bit agitated for sure.


“Not like Jack to hurry so,” she thought. Hortense Liverspott had always had a soft spot in her heart (and other places) for Jack the Hangman. He didn’t blather on like the other sea-sotted barnacles that took up space wasting what good air was left in The Vomiting Hound. He was more direct, purposeful. He seemed concerned only with what was in front of him and had no opinion on any peripheral doings that didn’t concern him directly. For a man accustomed to carrying out such grievous judgments, he seemed to lack any judgmental airs himself. It was this quality that endeared him to Hortense. And it was that quality which made her presence bearable to him.


But Jack hadn’t looked her way at all this morning. Not even a nod.


“Fuck ‘im,” she whispered to her glass.



“Sheriff, you’d best come with me. I have something to show ye.”


“Can’t it wait, Jack? I’m only halfway through this whiskey and pickled egg. I haven’t had time to get my legs under me yet this mornin’.


“Take your time. I suppose the fella swinging from a noose in the middle of the town square won’t be runnin’ off too soon. He’s on a short leash, as we say in the trade.”


“What the bloody hell you goin’ on about, Jack? We haven’t had a hangin’ here in three weeks and ain’t expectin’ another until a week from Friday. Shite, man, you know that better’n me.”


“In a nutshell, Crummond, that’s why I’m here askin’ ye to leave that pickled egg and come with me. You can bring your drink. Might help.”


“Leave a penny for the glass if you go out that door with your whiskey!” Old William, the keeper of the house didn’t let much get by at The Hound without getting his due.


“Aah, here’s your penny. Let’s go see what we can see this morning, Jack.

Lead the way, and it best be a crime worth a penny and a pickled egg or there’ll be hell to pay.”


“Can’t say it’s worth a penny to see, but it’s proper to look into a hanging that wasn’t on the calendar, ain’t it?”


“Depends on who it is that’s hangin’” carped the sheriff. Both men trudged through the early morning muck toward the center of Old Bristle. At least it wasn’t raining. Yet.


Explore posts in the same categories: The Blognella (My Blog Novella)

4 Comments on “FrayedKnot: The Hangman’s Tale (Chapter 3, first draft.)”

  1. Tom Says:

    At our most recent meeting of the Wretching Jackel book club the conversation turned almost entirely to the goings on at the Hound.Tom Shudders our chairman has no explanation and the sight of a man hanging in the town square can’t be good for our already meager tourist industry.Finnaly however the pints began to have there effect and most drifted off to their respective abodes muttering incoherently.

  2. Knowing the members of the Wretching Jackal Book Club as I do, leaving them mumbling incoherently is par for the course.
    I hope they’ll stick with us.

  3. Uncle E Says:

    Really look forward to these posts, Philly. Sounds like there may be a romance a brewin’, eh?
    Very nice job.

  4. A Jones Says:

    Wondering if there was a particular reason for using the name Thrumble and if so, what is it?

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