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February 21 , 2011

Sin and Cinnamon


She likes to watch a man die.

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The Hallucinogenic Rooster

The Hallucinogenic Rooster is a moment captured in time, a dreamlike and nightmarish expansion of one brief moment. In a place called Fairy Tale Town, some years ago, I walked with a girl I was in love with among grimy fantasies; a concrete Pirate ship, a castle and drinking fountains in the form of hippos and tin soldiers. Strange music came over…

People talk, and that’s what they said about her. She likes to watch a man die. Behind her back, of course. No one dared say it to her face lest she overhear them. That slut just might kill us, too, they whispered. She’s just that kind.

After all, she likes to watch a man die.

The way the word spread, they should have just scrawled it on a banner in big red letters and hung it out there on Meeting Street in Downtown Charleston for one and all to see. Of course, it didn’t help that newspapers around the state used those very words as a catchy headline. It did help sell newspapers, couldn’t deny that.
And, like the old saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

And truth be told, she lit a lot of fires.

It was a question even she had to ask – when did her life start to go wrong? Could it be when she was only fourteen years old, at the moment people claimed she killed her first husband? Or was it later, when they claimed she killed her second one, too? Not that she was really responsible for either. Their deaths happened – she couldn’t deny that. But none of it was really her fault. If all those people who condemned her so thoroughly had known everything that had gone on, they would understand that too. What about how what they did to her? What about the rapes? The abuse? Didn’t that matter?

And, besides, if she had really, really had things her way, that would have been the end of the killing, the last of the dying. But as so often happens in real life, it wasn’t to be. Other men would share his fate, others would die. And she wasn’t to blame. And she’d stand right up in court and tell people that – it really wasn’t her fault. But who would believe her?

Fact of the matter, she hadn’t really wanted a husband in the first place, not even the first one, but no one paid attention to what she wanted. And the whole husband thing was, as they say, by hook or by crook, with all kinds of machinations behind her back that she had little control over and anyway didn’t find out until it was too late. And what happened after she got trapped into that unwanted marriage wasn’t her fault either. She rationalized that she didn’t have much choice in the matter.

But there was no way now that this unfortunate young girl could even suspect how bad things would get later. She would never have believed there could possibly be anything worse that where she was at this moment. It was enough for her to know that right now, she was in a world of trouble. Not even she realized at first how bad her situation was.

It all hit home when she found herself sitting on that filthy cot in that nasty jail watching the cockroaches crawl up the walls and the rats creep soundlessly across the cracked and broken floor – that’s when it hit her. If nothing else and she got “lucky,” she was going to jail – for a long time. But lucky was something she had never been, and she knew nothing good was to come. There was a good possibility that she might even be sentencing to hanging. She shivered, contemplating that fate – hung by the neck until dead.

Everyone thought she was guilty. Her money – what little she had – was almost all gone. She knew that all too soon she would be destitute. And the whole town wanted to see her punished. There was no doubt about how people felt, because right now there was a crowd gathered outside the jail, milling around, cat-calling, chanting loudly, in unison, “Hang her! Hang the bitch!”

Hanged. That’s what they all wanted. To see her strung up. The words rang in her head – Hung by the neck until dead. She shivered, had a clear vision of her inert, bloodless body laid out on the filthy, cold, concrete floor, her neck stretched out – broken in half. Dead. Just as dead as THAT man – her last husband. It was coming. She knew it. Death was on the way.

And there would be a whole lot more dying.

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