Help Wanted

Mary was hung from a train car crane, all six tons of her and the town had come out with their children—with box lunches. It was one of the best states in the country for lynching—though Georgia beat it out by as many again for a total of 500 or so. Of Tennessee’s 250, 50 were white; they were only four-fifths racist, I guess, so what was so odd about hanging an elephant—shoot, she’d stomped a man’s head, yes, squashed it like a squash; no one cared how she came to be in this country’s south all the way from south Asia. Hell, there was nearly a riot when the local sheriff suggested she be poisoned. Hanging. That’s the way to do it, and a six-ton elephant, why that’s better than how many men? But that’s too simple, isn’t it, a nasty slash at a fine state. New Jersey, the one I’m from had one lynching or two depending on what books you read, and some say the fella was black, and some say white, but it wasn’t a Jim Crow state like Tennessee. Still, Jersey didn’t have an elephant, but we had Edison, who killed an elephant to show how AC could be used for capital punishment. New Jersey had a Capital Punishment Museum in Trenton until just a few years ago when the curator died. No one seems to want the job, but I’m not worried, when there’s something awful to be done, someone’s always willing to step forward. When there’s an elephant to be hanged, someone’s always got a crane.

Laura McCullough | Mudlark No. 32
Contents | “‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Starbuck”