The Execution of Mary the Elephant: The 13th of September 1916 – Erwin, Tennessee

(found in the mud by the train tracks)

Hayden, my boy!

Well, you see, they’ve gone and strung her up.

It was some kind of sight, to see that cable flung around the poor beast’s neck, to hear the creaking of the great metal crane used to hoist her in the air and to feel the ground shake when she croaked out one last moaning breath.

It was really quite terrible. Terrible indeed.

And the whole crowd cheered. Every damn person here cheered and whooped and hollered. One scruffy looking man raised his hands up, his tattered shirtsleeves hung down at his elbows – not even wearing a jacket! He went carrying on and shouting about justice, about how justice had finally been served.

Justice? They call this – any of this – justice?
There’s no reason for this. There’s no fairness. Man hasn’t served any higher cause here, any ideal. There’s no justice.

Listen, now, I’m no great supporter of the gallows, but I can tolerate it in some respects, certain heinous contexts.

But what were we doing here? Setting an example to all the elephants? String up one of their own to keep them all in line?
Or what? The death of that animal, will it bring back the poor fellow that got trampled? Can we just trade the spirit of one creature for another like that?
No! No!

See, this wasn’t justice. It wasn’t justice in the slightest.

It was punishment, plain and simple. It was cowardly retribution, with no purpose, no goal and no ideal.

It was motivated by anger and frustration, understand? It was the wicked lashing of a cruel carriage driver bringing his whip against the frayed haunches of a tired horse.

But it was fear, too. There was fear in that crowd, fear of death, of the things we can’t control. And when that poor monster groaned one last time, I could feel the relief in all those dirty people, cheering and clapping at a corpse. It was a quiet relaxation that swept over the whole group, like the feeling a little baby gets after mother tucks him in and tells him a sweet little bedtime story.

It was such a shame, a real shame to see. How could men and women and those innocent children behave in such a way?

Hopefully you can write soon with some better news.

Sincerely,

Ethan

 

Find more responses to this week’s Writing Challenge here:

 

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  53. What if we can Travel Through Time. | Free Thinkers Mag.
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  57. Time traveling to my younger self | MindBodyBreath Malaysia – Yoga in Shah Alam
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13 comments

  1. I like the honesty in what you wrote. And the best part, something that I aim at when I try writing is to make reader feel the scene.
    I felt the scene described.

    (Which event are you talking about?)

    1. Thanks!

      I’m not sure where I first heard this story, but it’s always struck me as being cruel and unusual and worth sharing.

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