The Devil Tree

April 16, 2008 at 8:34 am (Short Story, Writting)

        “Here’s what I don’t get” the swinging body known once as Jeph Lewis said to me, “I have to stay here until someone cuts my body down?”

        “Yes” I sat down to relax on a nice piece of grass.

        “So um… could you just, I don’t know, cut me down?” I looked up at Jeph’s soul which was still inside of the Jephs body, his corpse slightly swung in the wind.


        “I can’t interact with the living world like that, it’s against the rules. We have to wait until some one finds your body so you can be put to rest” Jeph was becoming a pain in the ass, but all souls tend to do that. Haven’t met one yet that wasn’t.


        “But that could take days!” Jeph’s voice had a whiney tone that really isn’t something expected from a man in his twenties and as you guessed, it was awfully irritating. “Why doesn’t my soul just leave the body at death? That’s what my daddy use to tell us and he should know he’s a preacher!”


        “Well, you’re in a world of shock son, the afterlife isn’t exactly what that book o’ yours said and most of the philosophers were wrong, there are no nine circles or paradise. The only religion that came close was Hinduism and even they were far off.”


        “Hinduism? Those heathens we’re right?!” Jeph was in pure shock, I have to admit dropping that bomb shell on the recently departed is my favorite part of this job. That Gorilla Paul must have it in for me because I seem to be getting all the difficult jobs these days. Well not difficult but, annoying.

        “Well you might as well tell me how you got your self at the end of that rope. I have a feeling it’s going to be a while before anyone does anything about your body” I raised my hands to cradle my head.

        “I hung my self” Jeph said so matter of fact it peaked my interest. Suicide wasn’t something I deal with, people who kill them selves… well I’m not going to get into it but lets just say a reaper doesn’t deals with ‘em.

        “Why would you go and do a dumb dip shit thing like that?” I couldn’t help but ask him since curiosity got me hook line and sinker so to say. When I looked up at Jeph I could see tears flying in the wind.


        “Sharon, my wife to be… she… she was taken away from me” I could tell Jeph was trying to keep his poise, minus the tears of course.

        “How’d she die?” I felt like a jerk asking because obviously it was a hard subject for him.

        “Lynched, by a mob of men parading around in white robes. They said something about doing Gods work, that…” He stumbled over his words “That folks like me weren’t to marry folks like her. I told them they were wrong, my daddy said it was okay, he should know he’s a preacher! But they didn’t believe me, they said that no… no nigger knows anything about gods plan!”

        “That’s… I’m sorry”


        “Thanks” Jeph gave me a sincere smile. His smile gave me a hint of déjà vu, a flash of a woman in her wedding dress hanging from this very tree, I had reaped her two weeks back. It hit me.

        “You know Jeph, it seems that I was the one who reaped your bride” Jephs eye’s lit up. I couldn’t really tell if they were lit with fury or joy.

        “You…You were there when she died?”

        “Yes, I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection when you said her name, it was an unusual reaping. You see we get called to this tree a lot, its called the devil tree because of how many people get lynched here and well it was unusual because not many women get killed here especially white women”

        “So you talked to her,” Jeph jumped in “was she okay? Oh god did she go on to a better place?”

        “Yes she was okay and yes she did go to a better place. I’ve never seen some one so accepting of death, she simply looked at me and said Take me… Take me home” This time when I looked back at Jeph I saw his face gleaming, a giant smile on his face and the tears still pouring. I knew his reasoning in killing himself wasn’t out of self pity, the damn fool did it just to make sure that his fiancé had made it to heaven. That’s why his soul wasn’t lost.


        “Oh look here comes my dad, guess he got the note” Jeph said happily now that he knew that Sharon was in a better place.
        Mr. Lewis with tears in his eyes, managed to get Jeph’s body out of the tree to the ground. He knelt over his son and yelled at him.


        “Damn it Jeph, you should have left well enough alone! Why’d you go and do something stupid like this you dip shit!” and with that Mr. Lewis picked up Jeph’s body and carried it down the hill while Jeph’s spirit remained next to me.


        “Well…” I said “Is there anything you with to wrap up here? Any one else you wish to see before we cross you over?”

        “The only person I would want to see just carried my body down the hill, besides I don’t want to listen to him telling me what I should have done. Well Mr. Reaper Take me… Take me home”


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