Another Tale from the Humboldt Hills
I can’t say if its truth or tale but I’ve heard this one told more than a few times.
Once a city man came to stay with a woman here and, in the way of some men, he thought he owned her. First with words and then with fists, he frightened and hurt her. Secrets like this can be kept but only if both parties are willing and the woman wasn’t.
When the hill folk heard, there was a gathering together. They made a plan. Then, they came to the woman’s house. A rope was drawn out of a car trunk and expertly shaped into a noose by agile hands. Struggling, the man was led to an ancient tree. Begging, the man was hauled onto the tips of his boots. Crying, they let him down again.
The man’s pleas seemed to worry a few of the group. Some argued that killing would bring unwanted attention to certain other illegal activities that were taking place in the area, some argued for hanging him now anyway and be damned with the consequences, but a few urged that the man should be hung someplace else. The later group apparently won. He was forced into the trunk of a car and driven a long, long way.
When the trunk was open, he found himself on the bank of a river with just two others. One was the strongest advocate of hanging and the other, a quiet reasoning man who had almost seemed to take his part at times. They both stared down at him and he stared up at them for a moment stretched long and tight with tension. “You got yourself one chance,” the quiet man said. “Here’s a bus ticket to the city. You come back and you won’t be coming out of those hills again.”
Someone told me that the first thing the man did was go to the sheriff station there in the little town where the bus left for the big city. By this odd action alone, it was clear that he wasn’t a local.
But the sheriff was. I heard tell he advised the man, “If those folks was kind enough to buy you a bus ticket, you ought to be polite enough to use it…Right now.”
I guess the man must have gone because nobody’s seen him since.
Of course, in these hills a body can stay hid a long time.