The Hanging Skull

There are some communities, especially in the mountains of North Carolina, that are wary of law enforcement. They believe in taking care of things themselves. Mountain justice, as it were. Sometimes justice comes in the form of brutality such as lynchings, other times it's more subtle. This is a tale of justice wherein the implement of destruction was a human skull..

Asa Meters and his brother were out tending to their sheep one day. When they came home, the brother was dead. Asa claimed that his brother had fallen on a pair of shears that went through his heart. No one believed Asa, but since there was no witnesses, no trial ever took place.

The brother was buried on the slope behind the house. Asa, the only family member left alive, did not even mark the grave on the hill. That cinched it. Everyone was positive he had killed his brother for the family land. The point was driven home when Asa decided to till that slope for rye to make money off of it. Asa got Henry Holt to plow the field (including the grave). Henry knew that Asa's brother was buried shallow. The soil was only a few feet deep before you hit rock. So as he plowed the area with the grave, Henry hatched a plot.

Henry had heard growing up that one true method of finding a murderer was to hang the victims skull over the accused out of reach and ask him point blank about the crime. It was said he would be powerless to do nothing but confess the truth. This Henry decided, was the way to get Asa. After plowing the field Henry managed to find the skull of Asa's brother and with Asa gone, he hung the skull in the attic of the murderer's cabin just above the fireplace.

As they were talking that evening, Asa went to the fireplace to stoke the logs. It was then that Henry accused him. Trembling and sweating, Asa neither confirmed nor denied the allegations. In the days that followed he lost his appetite to where he would eat nothing. He dropped weight to where he was just skin and bones. Neighbors claimed it was his brothers ghost, taking the food out of Asa's mouth before he could even chew it. Sleeping became impossible for Asa as well. Again, neighbors said it was the spirit, attempting to smother Asa as he slept.

Everyone considered this justice. So no one called the authorities, just like no one called when his brother "fell" on the shears. They just watched justice being served as Asa starved to death. fighting his brothers ghost.

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