DEAD MAN STANDING (PART 3)
Rick was glad he had ridden with the sheriff.
Indeed, the site of the death was not far from town as the crow might fly. But the accident scene was far up the rugged side of Frye Mountain and required the sheriff to navigate a number of small, winding, steep lumber roads and execute several frighteningly tight hairpin turns.
During the trip up the mountain, the sheriff was, as usual, quiet and nontalkative. He was concentrating on driving and on smoking a cigarette. Rick didn’t bother him.
Finally they pulled up behind another patrol car—which was parked behind an old logging truck. Beyond the truck, Rick could see the crime scene tape, about four feet off the ground and strung from tree to tree, surrounding the logging truck and then going up a small ridge.
Rick and the sheriff got out of the car and walked past the other vehicles. As he crushed out his cigarette, the sheriff lifted up the tape to let Rick walk underneath.
The deputy came walking down the hill toward them.
“You won’t believe this one, Sheriff. Never seen nothin’ like this, I’ll tell ya!”
“What happened?” asked the sheriff.
“You just come look. You gotta see this.” Deputy Rogers turned and began hiking up the hill. The sheriff and Rick followed.
They crossed a small ridge. When Rick saw the scene below him, it stopped him in his tracks. What is this? he thought. His eye squinted as he stared—almost gawking—at one of the strangest sights he had ever seen.
His first impression was that he was seeing a scarecrow. What appeared to be a human body, standing straight up, was dressed in old overalls and a denim shirt—the standard dress of the lumberman in the western North Carolina mountains.
But, Rick wondered to himself, where are his lower legs? The man looked to be standing on his knees—with both arms hanging down at his sides, his gloved hands nearly touching the ground.
“What in tarnation?” muttered the sheriff, who had stopped beside Rick.
“I told you!” the deputy exclaimed. “I done told you! I ain’t never seen nothin’ like this here. Never!”
Rick and the sheriff began to walk forward toward the body. It was standing straight up—leaning against a large poplar tree, but with no other support whatsoever.
In front of the body was the trunk of a recently felled tree. Rick stepped across the log, continuing to stare. This can’t be a body! Rick thought. It’s got to be a fake!
As he slowly walked around it, Rick noticed that the man’s hard hat was nearly crushed flat—almost like a beret—and was resting on his shoulders. But there was no head!
Rick bent down to look more closely. He could not see a head, and the shirt was terribly bloodstained front and back.
“Who is this?” asked the sheriff.
“Clyde Frizzell. Has his home over in Graham County—not far from Robbinsville. Been lumberin’ in the national forests out here his whole life.”
“What happened?” asked Rick.
“His partner is Bobby Burrell. Bobby done said he was usin’ his chain saw to cut down this big ole poplar tree.” Rogers pointed to the tree that lay about three or four feet in front of the body—not far from its freshly cut stump.
The deputy continued. “When that cut tree began to fall, Bobby done yelled, ‘Timber!’ just like he always did. Clyde was standin’ right here leanin’ against this tree. He shoulda been safe here, but he just couldn’t see that the tree Bobby was fellin’ was connected to this one just behind him by one big ole vine.”
The deputy pointed out the vine and continued. “When that vine pulled tight, it snapped off the top of the tree Clyde were leanin’ against, and that trunk crashed down and fell right smack-dab down on top of Clyde’s head. It just bonked him on the head and drove him straight into the ground, just like you see him. He done never seen it comin’!”
“Where’s Bobby?” Rick asked.
“I sent him on to the hospital. He was purty tore up. Figure he needs a serious sedative. The men had been lumbering together the best part of four decades.”
Rick set his black bag on the ground and opened it. He reached in and removed a set of latex gloves. Then he stood and began to walk slowly around the body as he pulled on the gloves.
When he came back to the front of the body, he first reached for the man’s arm. It was still supple and moved easily. He hasn’t been dead that long, Rick thought. He felt for the radial pulse he didn’t expect to feel. There was none.
Then he slowly reached out toward the hard hat. It was driven into the tissues of the shoulder, and it took a bit of wiggling and pulling to remove it. When it slipped up, Rick gasped and fell back. He couldn’t believe his eyes, and an overwhelming sense of nausea overcame him.
PAST STORIES FROM BRYSON CITY TALES
- The Murder (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Arrival (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Hemlock Inn (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Grand Tour (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Interview (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Settling In (Part 1); (Part 2)
- First-Day Jitters (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Emergency (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Delivery (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The “Expert” (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Trial (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Shiitake Sam (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina; (Part 2); (Part 3); (Part 4)
- White Lies
- The Epiphany (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Monuments (Part 1); (Part 2)
- My First Home Victory (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fisher of Men (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
- Something Fishy (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Good Day at the Office
- An Evening to Remember
- Another New Doc Comes to Town
- ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1); (Part 2)
- A Surprising Gift
- The New Year (Part 1); (Part 2)
- The Home Birth (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Showdown (Part1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- The Initiation (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
- Home at Last (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.