Crank by Martin Freznell

“Has he stopped moving?”








Deke and Loyd looked at the man they had hung, nearly three hours ago. Hanging someone with a rope is not an exact science, as far as Deke was concerned. There were certain rules, that’s all. If the drop was too short, chances were the neck would not snap. Deke loved that, the desperate kicking, the delicious gargling as they were slowly choked to death. Then again, give a fat one too large a drop and their heads come right off.


This, however, was an entirely new experience for Deke, who’s been Montwerk’s jailor and executioner for nearly thirty years.


When the stranger arrived, his fate was sealed; it was perfectly legal for the sheriff of Montwerk, Texas, to call it as he saw it and indeed the stranger had some dark deeds to his name. In Montwerk, a murderous foreigner, with blood on his hands would hang in jail. He’d never even see a prison cell, nor a judge. No need. Sheriff knew the law and dealt ‘m as he saw ‘m.


Sheriff would look at Deke and say, “We’ve got a live one.” And that would be that.


“See you in hell,” Deke had said, when he pulled the lever to the platform on which the stranger stood, hood covering his face, rope around his neck. The snap that man’s neck made, when he came down? Made Deke all queasy in his belly. Jittery, just like that one time he asked Maude Beuvet to the prom.


But that was three hours ago, and he was still kicking.


And mad.


“Did ya call the doc?” Loyd asked.


Dumb mother humper, Deke thought. What was a doctor going to be any good for if the man in question wouldn’t die?


“Psh, he don’t need no doctor, he needs some shotgun.”


“Are you crazy, Deke? We can’t shoot an unarmed prisoner. Dindja call the doc?”


“Naw, called the sheriff,” Deke spat some chewing tobacco on the floor.




“He ain’t there. Probably off with his misses somewhere.”


“So, what do we do, Deke?”


Deke didn’t answer. Hell, he didn’t know. What in god’s name was he supposed to do?


Loyd stroked his chin, “Maybe he really is dead, you know? And his body don’t knows it yet. Like a chicken.”


Just then, the hanging man kicked and hissed: even though his neck was chocked off, he made an awfully deep grumbling sound.


“Jeezas, he’s pissed!”


“Yeah, don’t look like no chicken to me.”


They looked some more at the furious thing hanging in Montwerk police’s barn from the ceiling and at each other, terrified.


“F it, Loyd, get the shotgun.”


Loyd didn’t protest this time. No, sir, even dim Loyd Assberger finally understood how grim the situation was. This was exactly the type of disorder Deke had sought to prevent his entire Christian life. That’s why you hang criminals: to clean house, keep the rabble out. Now, if those guldarn murderous scumbags wouldn’t stay dead, well, then they had not met Deke Lirebit yet, was what. A shotgun blast to the gut and head would do the trick, of that Deke had no doubt.


“Hey, Loyd, where are you with that shotgun?” Deke shouted.


Lazy bastard. Didn’t he get they were doing god’s work here? How important this was? Just then, the hung stranger made some extra feisty noise.


“Jesas H Chraast, what the hell are you, buddy,” Deke said.


“He’s kindred,” a silky sweet voice softly told him, from just above. Deke looked up and straight into two of the most beautiful eyes of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. Also, she was standing on the ceiling and smiling a bit oddly at him.

Martin Freznell was born on the on the 2nd of January, 1982 in Merksem, Belgium, the second of three brothers.

He’s worked as a development helper (Congo, Philippines, Pelestine), librarian, factory worker, teacher, stage technician and bartender.

Reputedly, he’s also the world’s worst bassist.

Follow Martin on Twitter.