photo prompt©Al Forbes

Oklahoma, 1915

Closest tree, a cemetery cedar ten miles to the east. The team had bellies full of steam heading home. As brothers do, Nick and young Charley jawed side-by-side on the box. Charley stood to deliver a punchline with a flourish. As he waved, a wagonwheel hit a rock, tipping the bed’s heavy load. Charley’s arms pinwheeled.

“Charley!” Nick dropped a line to reach out. The horses veered. Charley tumbled, and the wagon bumped again.

Wildly, Nick yanked to stop the team. “Whoooa…whoooa.”

Leaping from the seat, he ran back, but Charley, head crushed by the wheel, was already dead.


*I like my stories to stand without explanations, but this one merits a note.  The story I tell is a fictional account of a historical incident.  It happened to two great-uncles of mine.  Charley died at age 14, run over by a wagon wheel while hauling a heavy tank of water.  Nick, his senior, witnessed the accident.  Exactly how Charley happened to fall under the wheel, I don’t know, but I do know Nick was deeply troubled afterward.  Two years later, Nick committed a horrific murder, brutally mutilating the man either during the fight or after he was dead, and spent a life sentence in an Oklahoma prison.

Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories