- Navarro Breach
- Supes Meet
- Tricker Treated
- Taserproof Supe
- Woodhouse Successor
- Greeley Sheet
- Custer's Trials
- FB Money
- Back 40
- Temporary Derangement
- Little Dog
- Hands Up
- Yesterday's Catch
- Populist Savior
- Help Us
- Arbitrary Answers
- Native Lives
- F&G Grants
- Inspector Calls
- Ukiah ShareSpace
- Sacto Protest
- Code Changes
- Owl Creek
FREE AT LAST! Navarro finally breaches!
GRANT of $105k to the Hospitality Center, Fort Bragg, was on Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors consent calendar but not brought up for discussion. The $105k will fund “services,” none of them homeless-specific.
SPEAKING OF THE HOMELESS, the Supes engaged themselves in a lengthy discussion of second units as a strategy for creating housing. Much of the talk had to do with the difficulties of second units in the Coastal Zone. We already know second units are ok. The Board put it off for a few more months.
HALLOWEEN was mostly quiet in the Anderson Valley. The heavy rain prevented the little ones from doing much door-to-door sugar garnering, but a marauding liberal apparently carried off a Trump sign a diehard Trumper had posted among the flurry of miscellaneous advertisements at the junction of 128 and 253. At the Philo Grange, a young man assumed to be under the influence of mind-altering substances caused a post-party ruckus when he had to be physically restrained after he punched a woman and bit a man. Deputies being engaged elsewhere, it was an hour before the professionals arrived to arrange him in a four-point restraint and haul him off.
THREE DEPUTIES & A TASER…
On October 28, 2016 at 8:22 PM Deputies from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to a disturbance at a residence located in the 600 block of Meadow Wood Lane in Willits. Upon arrival Deputies contacted Thomas Woodhouse, 64, of Willits, who had exited the front of the residence and remained outside while verbally expressing his displeasure of the Deputies presence. While engaging Woodhouse in conversation, the Deputies witnessed him push his wife, 63, also of Willits, resulting in the Deputies making a decision to arrest him for misdemeanor domestic violence battery. As two Deputies walked towards Woodhouse he assumed a fighting stance and a struggle ensued as Deputies attempted to place Woodhouse into handcuffs. Woodhouse was able to flee into the inside of the residence where an additional struggle with three Deputies took place resulting in a Deputy deploying a TASER device in an attempt to end the struggle without further violence. The TASER device was ineffective and after a short time Woodhouse was eventually physically controlled by the Deputies and placed into handcuffs. Woodhouse was transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was subsequently released prior to booking because of a medical condition not sustained as a result of the struggle with the Deputies during the arrest.
IT SEEMS CLEAR that Third District supervisor Tom Woodhouse is finished. The next step is an acknowledgement from the Woodhouse camp that his mental illness is too severe to permit his return. The governor would then appoint his successor, which, by rights, ought to be Holly Madrigal, who ran against Woodhouse and only narrowly lost to him. The guv being a Democrat, and Holly being a sister Demo in good standing with main-body Mendolib, the job is probably hers for the taking.
RECOMMENDED READING: Custer's Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles. Definitely a can't-put-down book about a fascinating figure at a fascinating time in American history when the country was part Wild West, part neo-industrial. I've read several books on Custer, none as comprehensive as this one, and none as myth-busting. A prevalent view can be boiled down to "He was kinda effete and he screwed up bad at Little Big Horn. Effete persons don't lead cavalry charges where the fighting is with swords and hand-to-hand, which Custer did repeatedly during the Civil War. This is the first Custer book I've read that gives the reader a comprehensive picture of American life, 1850-1870 as experienced by a young military family. The author also gives the Indians, led by Sitting Bull as eminence grise, and Crazy Horse, field tactician, full credit for winning the famous battle more than Custer lost it, and Custer might not have lost it if he'd been reinforced by his reserve forces in a timely manner, one of them led by a man who hated him, the other by a drunk.
A REVIEW of another Custer book includes this typical writing about Custer: “Even as a young officer, Custer cultivated a flamboyant public persona. He fought at Gettysburg in a black velvet uniform (of his own design) embroidered with gaudy gold lace coils. After the war, when he turned his energies to fighting Indians on the Great Plains, he outfitted himself in fringed white buckskin and wore his hair long. He was a gambler, a probable adulterer, a braggart, a petulant boss and an impulsive blabbermouth. His eccentricity tilted toward stupidity. He once divided up his regiment according to color. Horse color. As you might expect, he wasn’t especially beloved by the troops. ‘I had known General Custer … for a long time,’ one of his officers once testified, ‘and I had no confidence in his ability as a soldier’.”
STILES points out that Custer color-coded his cavalry horses to help distinguish his Civil War troops from the enemy in the dusty swirl of close-up combat, and he was hardly the first flamboyant military officer we’ve seen.
IT’S A GREAT book, as are Stilies other two biographies, one on Jesse James and one called The First Tycoon, on Cornelius Vanderbilt.
TWO MORE MIL FOR FORT BRAGG
City Of Fort Bragg Awarded 2016 Community Development Block Grant
The State Department of Housing & Community Development announced that the City of Fort Bragg has been awarded a $2 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that will fund a number of important community and economic development activities.
The CDBG grant will provide approximately:
$93,000 for two planning studies which include work on the Mill Site Specific Plan and Economic Development strategies;
$1.4 million for a new water tank which will significantly increase our finished water storage capacity and help with drought response;
$155,000 for the Business Assistance Loan Program, which provides business loans for job creation and/or retention;
$216,000 for the Microenterprise Program which provides technical and financial assistance (loans) to qualifying microenterprises (new or existing businesses with 5 or fewer employees; income qualifications apply);
$139,000 for general administration funding to implement activities.
Grant funds are expected to be available in February 2017. The grant application was prepared by the City’s Special Projects Manager, Jennifer Owen.
THE BACK 40, AVA BOONVILLE
THE DEFINITIVE WORD ON POT
Larry Livermore nicely sums up the feeling of non-pot smokers:
I started smoking pot when I was about Bieber’s age. In fact for more than 20 years of my life I would have sworn that marijuana made me smarter, wiser, more moral, and probably even more handsome. In reality, as most people who knew me during that time will happily tell you, it made me an obnoxious dingbat.
That seems to be the effect it has on most of its users. The problem is — a big problem — is that the more stoned you get, the more likely you are to believe the complete opposite.
It’s only logical: why would people spend tons of money and (at least in some jurisdictions) even risk arrest to take a drug that made them look and act dumber than they already were? Unless, of course, one of the chief effects of the drug were to stand reality on its head and translate bleary-eyed dumbfoundedness into a half-assed approximation of cosmic insight and understanding?
Marijuana users hate it when you point out that the “high” they experience is a form of temporary derangement if not clinical insanity. What they’re even less likely to appreciate — or be aware of — is that the derangement isn’t necessarily temporary.
That’s not to say it’s permanent — serious long-term research needs to be done — but the mind-altering effects of marijuana last long after you stop toking down on the joints or bong hits. Days? Weeks? Months? How about years?
I’m not necessarily the ideal guinea pig, but that’s how long it took in my case: somewhere between three or four years before the inverted perceptions of my dope years felt fully restored to their former levels of functionality.
“But wait!” I can hear legions of dopers protest. “Just because you had a problem with marijuana doesn’t mean everybody else does. I mean, look at all the great art and philosophy that came out of the baby boom generation when they started smoking weed en masse in the 1960s!”
To which I can only respond: Yeah, just look at it.
One of the most pernicious impacts of marijuana is the illusion that the universe revolves around the user, and that said user is uniquely qualified to understand and explain this to lesser mortals not under its influence. It’s not hard to see why this could be particularly problematic in the case of a 19 year old, who by dint of age and hormones alone, is already convinced he knows everything.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “How do you like this? It’s about to rain and these people left me tied up out here. Wait 'til my friend the DA hears about it! Heads will roll!”
HANDS UP, TWEEKO!
On Oct. 24, 2016 at about 9:50 PM, Mendocino County Deputies were dispatched to a reported burglary in progress at a business in the 75000 block of north Highway 101 in Piercy, California. Deputies were advised the owner of the business, a 65 year old male from Piercy, was on his way to the business and was armed with a firearm. When Deputies arrived they learned the suspect, Clayton David Southwick, 44, of Willits, was being detained at gunpoint by the owner. Southwick was subsequently placed in handcuffs and detained on burglary charges. Deputies learned Southwick had entered the store's rear door and was taking items when he was confronted by the owner. Southwick was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was to be held in Lieu of $15,000.00 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 1, 2016
GILBERTO CHAN, Fort Bragg. Pot possession for sale.
KEIOTH DRIVER, Ukiah. Burglary, burglary tools, conspiracy.
BRUCE DUCLOZ, Laytonville. Drunk in public.
RAYMOND ELLIS, Ukiah. Drunk in public.
DALLAS EZELL, Laytonville. Petty theft.
RAMIRO FAIRE, Ukiah. DUI, suspended license, controlled substance, court order violation, probation revocation.
ADAM GRIFFEN, Calpella/Ukiah. Domestic battery, probation revocation.
KASEY KIZER, Ukiah. Burglary, burglary tools, conspiracy.
JUAN LOPEZ, Willits. County parole violation, probation revocation.
ELIJAH OMALLEY, Willits. Drunk in public.
IVORY PINOLA, Redwood Valley. Fugitive from justice.
ROGER RUDDOCK, Nice/Ukiah. Drunk in public.
JACQUELINE SHEROSICK, Redwood Valley. Petty theft, controlled substance, paraphernalia, more than an ounce of pot.
CESLEY WILLIAMS, Covelo. Failure to appear.
SHAWN WILSON, Discovery Bay/Ukiah. Domestic battery, protectiver order violation.
IT CAN’T HAPPEN HERE
Eighty years ago, Sinclair Lewis wrote what may be the most prescient political statement of the 20th Century, It Can’t Happen Here. Thank you, Mr. Lewis! For those who do not know the work, or whose memory of it has faded, this is the time to find a copy and read it before November 8th. Why? Because, God Forbid, it could happen here in 2016.
It Can’t Happen Here is a dystopian political novel in which one Berzelius Windrip, self-styled populist succeeds in gaining the nomination in 1936, displacing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and ultimately winning the presidency by a majority vote. Never mind that he made wild promises to, in Donald Trump’s words, Make America Great Again. Never mind that he developed a cadre of silver shirts patterned after the Nazi Black Shirts and Mussolini brown shirts. Never mind that his promises to give every one free money (think tax breaks) and sweep the establishment out of Washington (think “Drain the Swamp”). Dictators always have a way of gathering about them sexist, racist, anti-semite, frustrated with the status quo, Fortress America types.
Of course, violence becomes rampant, concentration camps spring up, citizen is pitted against citizen. A popular tune emerges early on to express the will of the people, “Bring out the old-time musket.” Does the reader in 2016 remember hearing this from a Trump supporter?
Bring out the old-time musket,
Rouse up the old-time fire!
See, all the world is crumbling,
Dreadful and dark and dire.
America! Rise and conquer
The world to our heart’s desire! (p.54)
And don’t think for a moment that Berzelius Windrip has forgotten the press. From Zero Hour, his manifesto, Windrip says, “I know the Press only too well. Almost all editors hide away in spider dens….plotting how they can put over their lies, and advance their own positions and fill their greedy pockets,… It is not too much of a stretch to note that our present (2016) media has obsessed with the likes of Trump (ala Windrip updated)? They are obsessed with ratings, profit, their big salaries as so-called journalists who do little to dig beneath the bombast of Trump to provide real analysis.
“Buzz and buzz and hail the chief,
And his five-pointed star,
The U.S. ne’er can come to grief
With us prepared for war.” (153)
Eighty years ago, Sinclair Lewis saw the storm of tyranny about to engulf the world in a World War. And, he was prophetic in that what was unfolding in Hitler and Mussolini’s Europe was, could, in time just might hit the shores of America in the guise of a savior, a populist who would promise a gullible public to Make America Great Again. Heady stuff for the millions who felt left out of the American dream in the midst of a depression. America in 2016 may not be in a depression, but tell that to millions who feel (justly or unjustly) that they have been given the short end of the stick and you can see why a bombastic liar, cheat, smiley-faced would-be autocrat just might succeed in winning, legitimately, the presidency. Ah, but it can’t happen here!
Franklin Graham, Navarro
When Copernicus realized what he was looking at, that the Sun is the actual center of the system of planets arrayed around it, he waited until he was near death to publish it, to avoid being burned at the stake, with his hands cut off and his tongue cut out to demonstrate the power to silence anyone who might want to consider his findings. Galileo would prove him right, but even then, 100 years further on, he was forced to deny it all. He was old and frightened and he capitulated. All told, it has been around 475 years and even in our time a Saudi fatwa (decree) gives the order: "the earth is fixed, held down by mountains so it cannot move, orbited by the sun, by the will of God and scientific fact." That is the power of Wahhabism, even without all the psychotic ISIS stuff. When slavery was abolished by many countries after the American Civil War, Islamic states agreed to it with the exception of Saudi Arabia, considered the holy land and beyond human changes in the laws. Slavery decreased but didn't end anyway. White slavery increased in the United States.
The Bible and the Quran include a lot of slavery. The Bible goes back and forth about it. Taking over after Mohammed, Uthman the Great had all the existing Qurans burned and published his own. The emperor of Rome, Constantine, 300 years before Mohammed, ordered the Christians to submit to one doctrine, to stop their constant infighting, and published the Bible to establish one religion for the full empire. Moses, Constantine and Mohammed all had the same basic motive: to unify divided factions and tribes. It was not so much a matter of seeking the truth as it was deciding what it is, hit or miss, right or wrong, and it shows. They all wanted no corrections, no arguments, for all time, and as it turned out, no new information. How any worthwhile ideation ever got into it is a mystery, especially the urging to seek the truth, since that would change it, but there are always a few reasonable people around.
Enter the Universe, completely out of reach, more undeniable with every look through those big beautiful lenses. Vast throngs and streams of galaxies, with ourselves out in one arm of one of them, and Jim Updegraff (AVA, October 19) asks, "Where does religion fit in?" Well, religion has been modified so many times, rooted in polytheism, moving gods up in power, eliminating others, dividing and uniting through centuries of alliances and wars, but I think now it depends on whether you call it a serious question or an arbitrary answer, the latter having more power than its qualified for. I saw a pastor saying that if the Scriptures said that two plus two is five, he would believe it.
It's not just a religious problem. When they found a set of hominid bones way out of line from the established pattern for prehistoric migrations, one scientist grumbled: "They should have put them back in the ground."
PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS EXPRESSED EXTREME VIEWS online, but for many years there was no easy way for such opinions to spread. The Internet was a vast landscape dotted with isolated viruses. The rise of social networks was like the advent of air travel: a virus can now conquer the world in a day. Instead of picking up a newspaper or visiting its home page, people can scan their social media accounts where myriad information sources — the Daily Mail, links posted by Steph Curry, a distant relative's rants — compete for their attention.
The term "meme" was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, "The Selfish Gene"; he defined it as any "unit of cultural transmission" that stays alive by "leaping from brain to brain." In a footnote to the 1989 in addition, he wrote, "Computers are increasingly tied together. Many of them are literally wired up together in electronic mail exchange. It is a perfect mileu for self replicating programs to flourish." Dawkins was worried about computer viruses. He couldn't have predicted Guccifer 2.0 or #ZombieHillary. "We may be at a threshold," Dawkins told me recently. "In the past I would have been tempted to say about the Internet that although everybody has a megaphone, in many cases it's a quiet one. You can put up a youtube video but who's going to watch it? Now, however ridiculous what you're saying is, if you make it memetically successful, something really bad can spread through the culture."
— Andrew Marantz
DO NATIVE AMERICAN LIVES MATTER?
From Stephanie Woodard, In These Times:
...Patchy government data collection makes it hard to know the complete tally [of Native Americans killed by police]. The Washington Post and the Guardian (U.K.) have both developed databases to fill in the gaps, but even these sometimes misidentify or omit Native victims.
To get a clearer picture, Mike Males, senior researcher at the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, looked at data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected from medical examiners in 47 states between 1999 and 2011.
When compared to their percentage of the U.S. population, Natives were more likely to be killed by police than any other group, including African Americans. By age, Natives 20-24, 25-34 and 35–44 were three of the five groups most likely to be killed by police. (The other two groups were African Americans 20-24 and 25-34.) Males’ analysis of CDC data from 1999 to 2014 shows that Native Americans are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans.
Yet these killings of Native people go almost entirely unreported by mainstream U.S. media.
In a paper presented in April at a Western Social Science Association meeting, Claremont Graduate University researchers Roger Chin, Jean Schroedel and Lily Rowen reviewed articles about deaths-by-cop published between May 1, 2014, and October 31, 2015, in the top 10 U.S. newspapers by circulation: the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.
Of the 29 Native Americans killed by police during that time, only one received sustained coverage—Paul Castaway, a Rosebud Sioux man shot dead in Denver while threatening suicide. The Denver Post ran six articles, totaling 2,577 words. The killing of Suquamish tribal member Daniel Covarrubias, shot when he reached for his cell phone, received a total of 515 words in the Washington Post and the New York Times (which misidentified him as Latino).
The other 27 deaths received no coverage...
(— Rob Anderson. Courtesy, District5Diary)
FISH & GAME PROJECT GRANTS AVAILABLE
The Mendocino County Fish and Game Commission solicits grant applications that comply with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife guidelines and codes and benefit fish and/or game in Mendocino County. The Commission will submit recommendations to the Board of Supervisors for the awarding of grants. In Fiscal Year 2016/17, the available amount for Grant Allocations is twenty five thousand dollars ($25,000) total. Per the County Supervisor’s request, projects leading to wildlife and habitat restoration and rehabilitation will be prioritized.
Granting guidelines, application forms, and additional information are available on the Commission website: http://www.co.mendocino.ca.us/dfg/
The deadline for receiving proposals is December 31, 2016.
Proposals must be submitted by email as a PDF, .DOC, .DOCX, .TXT, or ZIP file to the Commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants must also mail or hand-deliver eight double-sided copies to the Commission c/o County Planning & Building Services.
Grant applicants are encouraged to attend the Tuesday, January 17, 2017 meeting of the Commission, location to be announced, at 5:00pm to make a brief (5 minute) presentation regarding their proposal.
Applicants without personal computers or internet access to the Commission website can request assistance from County branch libraries in Ukiah, Ft. Bragg, Willits, Coast Community (Pt. Arena), and Round Valley (Covelo) to download and print the application materials. Note: County library personnel can also assist with scanning and emailing completed proposals.
For additional information, please call Fish and Game Commission at (707) 234-6094, or email the Commission at email@example.com.
AN INSPECTOR CALLS opens this week!
The final leg of our 2016 "theatrical road trip" takes us back in time with An Inspector Calls, J.B. Priestley's ever-timely tale about the moral audit of an upper-crust family in 1912 England. The play is directed by Dan Kozloff.
The mysterious Inspector Goole interrupts the wealthy Birling family's dinner party to investigate the suicide of a young, working-class woman earlier that evening. But what has this got to do with the Birlings? One by one, they will find out, as their shattering, dark secrets are revealed.
The production has a decidedly different look. Carolyn Schneider's
brilliantly-colored set--which includes artwork by Bill Yates and Karen Fenley--forms the perfect background for Corrine Riley's <http://www.corrineriley.com/> graphic black and white costumes, giving a claustrophobic, other-worldly edge to this classic drama.
Returning to the stage as the Inspector is long-time MTC favorite Bob Cohen. He is joined by Lorry Lepaule, Raven Deerwater, Lily Fernandez, Nicholas Barrett, Candy Cole and Patrick Gomes, making a strong ensemble cast that will keep you on the edge of your seat!
The show opens with two preview performances on 11/3 and 11/4. Gala opening night is on 11/5, with a special mushroom-themed reception prepared by NYC chef Rilke Witherstine. Tickets can be purchased online
or at the box office, 707-937-4477.
MENDO IDEASHARE. Tuesday, November 15th, 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Ukiah ShareSpace, 205 N. Bush St. Ukiah, Room 255. Got some ideas you’d like to kick around with other folks and see what comes out? Bring a friend and come out to the new co-work Ukiah ShareSpace - for a gathering of creative minds. IdeaShare is for dreaming up big ideas together and an opportunity to practice pitching an idea, get constructive input, meet people who like to make things happen, find potential partners and funders and more. Plus, it's a lot of fun. There’ll be food and drinks.
Economic Development & Financing Corp.
A 501(c)3 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)
205 N Bush St, #252 Ukiah CA 95482
707.234.5705 <707.234.5705>; cell: 707.621.5174
SACRAMENTO PROTEST/PRESS CONFERENCE IN SUPPORT OF STANDING ROCK SIOUX TRIBE SET FOR WEDNESDAY, 3-5 PM
A protest and press conference will be held on Wednesday, November 2, from 3 pm to 5 pm at the Federal Building at 501 I Street in Sacramento in support of the Standing Rock Sioux. This peaceful and indigenous faith-based event is sponsored by the Sacramento Area Friends and Relatives of the Lakota Nation, Sacramento Climate Coalition, Davis Stands With Standing Rock, Veterans For Peace, Raging Grannies, Alianza and 350 Sacramento.
The reason for the protest is to call attention to and support the Standing Rocky Sioux Tribe of North Dakota and all Native American and non-Native American allies who have been assaulted in their struggle to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL would bring Bakken fracked crude oil underneath the Missouri River, endangering the 18 million people who drink from the river, as well as many species of fish and wildlife.
The group’s goal is to bring to light the police brutality, police repression and civil rights violations brought upon the Standing Rock water protectors by Governor Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, North Dakota District Attorney Chris Myers, and the private security force of Energy Transfer Partners, a Dallas-based corporation.
"The situation at Standing Rock has escalated to the point that all people who support human rights, human dignity and the inherent rights of Mother Earth to live and thrive must take a stand,” said Francisco Dominguez (Tarahumara). “The violence perpetuated by the state of North Dakota against the Lakota people and its allies is a moral disgrace."
People are encouraged to bring their signs and voices to this Standing Rock Solidarity event to stop the Black Snake pipeline and to stand with our Sacred Mother Earth.
SIGNIFICANT BUILDING CODE CHANGES
Effective January 1, 2017
The Department of Planning and Building Services, in conjunction with the City of Ukiah and City of Fort Bragg, has scheduled community meetings to discuss the upcoming change to the California Building Code. These code changes will become effective on January 1, 2017 and pertain to the Green Building Code, Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical Codes, Residential Code, Energy Code and Use & Occupancy Classifications: list of significant changes available at the departments website, buildingmendocino.org for immediate review. During these meetings, the Department will explain the various code changes, answer questions, and provide handouts.
Community Meeting Times & Locations:
First: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Planning & Building Services
860 N. Bush Street, Ukiah
Second: Friday, November 18, 2016
Fort Bragg Public Library
499 E. Laurel Street, Fort Bragg
AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE
Set during the American Civil War, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek" is Bierce's most famous short story. It was first published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1890. It then appeared in Bierce's 1891 collection "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians."
* * *
A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man's hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the sleepers supporting the metals of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners--two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain. A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as "support," that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest--a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it. Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground--a gentle acclivity topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway of the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators--a single company of infantry in line, at "parade rest," the butts of the rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock. A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.
The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good--a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well-fitting frock coat. He wore a mustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.
The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace. These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgment as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move, What a sluggish stream!
He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift--all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was a sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality. He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by--it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each stroke with impatience and--he knew not why--apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer, the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the thrust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.
He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. "If I could free my hands," he thought, "I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader's farthest advance."
As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.
Peyton Farquhar was a well-to-do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with the gallant army that had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in war time. Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in aid of the South, no adventure too perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.
One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.
"The Yanks are repairing the railroads," said the man, "and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order."
"How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?" Farquhar asked.
"About thirty miles."
"Is there no force on this side the creek?"
"Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge."
"Suppose a man--a civilian and student of hanging--should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel," said Farquhar, smiling, "what could he accomplish?"
The soldier reflected. "I was there a month ago," he replied. "I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tow."
The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.
As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened--ages later, it seemed to him--by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well-defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity. They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fulness--of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river!--the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible! He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface--knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. "To be hanged and drowned," he thought? "that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair."
He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort!--what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor! Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. "Put it back, put it back!" He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire; his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!
He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck. He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf--saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant-bodied flies, the grey spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass. The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies' wings, the strokes of the water-spiders' legs, like oars which had lifted their boat--all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.
He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.
Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a grey eye and remembered having read that grey eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.
A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking into the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears. Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning's work. How coldly and pitilessly--with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquillity in the men--with what accurately measured intervals fell those cruel words:
"Attention, company! . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready! . . . Aim! . . . Fire!"
Farquhar dived--dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dulled thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.
As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther down stream nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.
The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning.
The officer," he reasoned, "will not make that martinet's error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!"
An appalling splash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, diminuendo, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps!
A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken a hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.
"They will not do that again," he thought; "the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me--the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun."
Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round--spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men--all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color--that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In a few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream--the southern bank--and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange, roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of olian harps. He had no wish to perfect his escape--was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.
A whiz and rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.
All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman's road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.
By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famishing. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great garden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which--once, twice, and again--he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.
His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them. His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue--he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!
Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene--perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forward with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon--then all is darkness and silence!
Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.