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A MOMENT (ON THE GALLOWS) • by Bosley Gravel

There is a moment when the kitten pounces on the unsuspecting dragonfly, when the lost cockleshell is found and the little girl in a yellow bathing suit drains the seawater back into the sea… the noose comes tight against his throat. His flesh is stronger than his soul; he grasps for the last few seconds of lucidity and tells himself, “You can’t hang forever, old man.” But his body refuses to give up so easily.

There is a moment of warm flesh, of gorgeous full breasts in his palms, where he can taste the perfume on her neck. The far horizon is curved, sunlight breaks through the nimbus clouds; for a moment he doubts his godlessness. He tries a small prayer; he wants emptiness, coldness, indifference to wash away this moment. He can see them: men, no more or less than he, spitting tobacco juice on the ground. The children stare, the women look away, but the men, the men gossip, as they watch him twist and fight.

There is a moment of boyhood when he remembers how he once stole a peach and ate it hidden in a tree. The fuzzy texture was like new sister’s head, soft and fragile. There was a moment he looked into her glossy eyes and touched the soft dip in her head, and then looked to Mother as new sister’s fever cooked her alive, and she died in Mother’s arm. There was a moment when the peach pit was discarded, somehow it survived the crows and the squirrels, and the next spring a tree was born.

There is a moment where he feels the crude tug of his flesh against his pants–a spasm. There is a moment he thinks of his bastard children, mothered by whores and thieves. He thinks of them in the highlands, the lowlands, the coasts, and the great plains, becoming men and women, living in their moment. “At least those fragments will continue on, old man,” he thinks, and fights for a breath; when he gets it, he suddenly understands those stupid pie-eyed priests and their sacrament. This moment he believes there is something divine in the world when a simple breath can bring a shivering and perfect orgasm to his dying flesh.

There is a moment when the world spins in a great circle, and there is a moment when it runs down, and it must reverse. Between these times is the moment where it is neither one, and the hanged man swings in the breeze, stinking of earthly wastes; his flesh goes slack — stinking and grinning as he shucks off the meat, and moves on.


Bosley Gravel was born in the Midwest and came of age in Texas and southern New Mexico. He has worked numerous dead end jobs, and now makes a living working on computer networks and various related activities. He has been making up stories from an early age, and from time to time they end up on paper.

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A MOMENT (ON THE GALLOWS) • by Bosley Gravel, 3.8 out of 5 based on 60 ratings
Posted on June 16, 2009 in Literary, Stories
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  • http://rumjhumkbiswas.wordpress.com rumjhum

    This is awesome; very strong writing! Loved every word, five of course, count it as ten!:)

  • Bob

    At first I was afraid you were rewriting “An Occurrence on Owl Creek Bridge”, but you didn’t. I liked this one very much – a natural 5.

  • Oscar Windsor-Smith

    Rumjum has already used the word that expresses how I feel about this, Bosley, and it’s not a word I would use lightly: awesome.

    A whole new view of a world, a life, and a death, in so few words. Brilliant.

    This, guys, is writing.

    Respect, Bosley, respect.

    :) scar

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    Gosh gee. I didn’t like this one at all. All it does is drop names except for the final line – that line isn’t yucky.

  • Paul Freeman

    Excellent stuff!

  • Jeff M

    Poetic! Perhaps more poem than prose, but nevertheless, you have a way with words… very nice.

  • http://jfjuzwik.blogspot.com Joyce

    The writing is exceptional, but I found myself needing more. There isn’t enough here.

  • http://www.ripcot.com bosley

    Thanks for reading everybody. :D

  • http://conversationsfromlandsedge.blogspot.com/ Alan W. Davidson

    I think that Oscar said it all…one can only imagine what somebody goes throw in that situation but I think that you may have caught it precisely. Excellent.

  • gay

    Outstanding! You the Bos.

  • karen

    Bosley: Thank you. You share a depth in your writing that I have missed. Please continue to enrich us your readers. Karen

  • Jen

    Very nice imagery. You do a great jobe getting into the hanging man’s head.

  • J.C. Towler

    Well written, engaging read. Those final moments are morbidly facinating…how can someone just stand there while they put a rope around your neck or slide a needle into your arm? Perhaps it is a reflection similiar to this one that helps keep the upper lip stiff until the neck is stretched. Who knows. Not like you can actually ask somebody about it later.

    –John

  • http://www.MadelineMora-Summonte.com Madeline Mora-Summonte

    This was great – the writing, the voice. It was strong and visual and moving.

    I would’ve liked more about what the man had done/the place/the time/something – just a quick line or two to set it up a little better – but that’s just me.

  • Margie

    Absolute perfection! In wold not add or take away from the story in any way. 5 HUGE STARS!!! ;~)

  • Sharon

    There is poetry in this, to be sure. Masterfully written and worthy of the 5.

  • Roberta SchulbergGoro

    Mora – Why does he have to have done something?

    Bosley – Is the “gallows” an abstraction and the meaning “You can’t hang on forever, old man?” Golly, it’s scary. And here I am with a cousin who believes her brother became a cherry tree.

    J.C. – May I call you J.C.? Actually some people you can ask later. My cousin went on to run a T.V. gaming station. But I won’t let on.

  • http://www.russheitz.com Russ Heitz

    I was reminded of the Owl Creek Bridge story, too, but your story is more poetic, smoother, and has far fewer edges. Both are excellent, just different. Another 5 for Bos.

  • http://www.erinmkinch.com Erin

    I like the stream of consciousness. It really flows well.

  • http://www.ripcot.com bosley

    Thanks again to everyone that read. And I’m quite embarrassed to admit wasn’t familiar with The Incident at Owl Creek Bridge story. But I just read, and it doesn’t seem to overlap too much, any similarities are entirely coincidental.

  • http://zxvasdf.wordpress.com Sam Sanders

    Burroughs, right? For some reason he was obsessed with death by gallows asphyxiation, and the sex related to. It seems as if he believed that mode of death would release the soul into another fleshly container. I liked the story.

  • http://teenangel.netfirms.com Jim Hartley

    Too internal, not enough action. Did not care much for it. But then, I generally don’t like pieces that are all thinking, I like things to happen.

  • Rachel Zellers

    Beautiful work, Bosley. Love the imagery, homie.

  • Thomas Seaver

    Awesome.

    I have been in a situation where I was certain I was going to die by violent means, and your work describes very well the sort of mental processes I went through on that occasion – time almost stands still, and your life rushes back at you as a series of images/emotions. Obviously I didn’t die, but it was a powerful experience, the essence of which is captured very well in your work.

    I hope you intend to keep writing.

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