“I think that’s going to be the way I die,” Billy said as he stared at the noose.
“Whys that?” Johnny asked.
“I jess has a feeling about it when I looks up there.”
“Your ma taught you right. Yous wouldn’t steal or kill.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Billy said.
The prisoner, who was accused of raping a young woman, was brought to the platform. Even as they put the noose around his neck he swore his innocence. At high noon he was dead.
Billy looked down from the hangman’s box and saw two small boys, neither of them older than he’d been at his first hanging. Like the man that day, he was pleading his innocence as they put the noose around his neck.
He saw Johnny on the outskirts of the crowd. Billy yelled, “I didn’t do it Johnny. You know I couldn’t a done it.”
Johnny shook his head then turned and walked away. Billy died inside as he felt the noose tighten then the floor dropped.