It was the day before all the women were hanged. Lucy and others were riding in a van.
Over the centuries many traditions evolved for a hanging. The condemned could choose a last meal. They’d be clothed, and their hands would not be restrained until the last part of the preparations. They'd have a chance to say a few last words to the assembled crowd. If there was more than one hanging in a day, those who would hang later would not have to see those who go ahead of them.
These were honored traditions that were always followed closely. But they applied only to men. None of those traditions applied to women.
For those who volunteer for the Gallows Day, there was supposed to be a bright side. The girls get a shopping trip the day before they go.
The local department store opened early for these shopping sprees – the sales clerks were at their stations, and the girls who are going to hang are allowed to make their purchases.
For those who work at the store, it was a special day. They would usually wear their best clothes – the younger and prettier female employees made it a point to wear their skimpiest outfits and best makeup, each one trying to look sexier than the other. It was a day of fun and excitement.
The girls to be hanged were in the charge of a young deputy, Matt. Lucy suspected this assignment to go shopping was unpopular with the male deputies. So it fell to Matt as the youngest and most junior of all. He was about the same age as Lucy, but seemed younger to her. He seemed young to wear the star pinned on his flannel shirt or to carry the big, old revolver on his hip.
Matt’s girlfriend Andrea had also come along. She was there to help with the shopping – she was there to help carry the packages and help the other girls reach the merchandise they wanted to look at. Lucy couldn’t help staring at the blue cotton dress Andrea was wearing, and the way she would use her hands to gesture as she talked. There was nothing really unusual about Andrea’s dress – except that it brought to mind the simple pleasure of getting dressed in the morning which was just a distant memory to Lucy, along with the great feeling of having her hands free of the hateful handcuffs she had to wear much of the time.
Lucy felt the whole tradition of shopping for a hanging was ridiculous. She didn’t want to shop, and she didn’t want to be out in public with restraints and no clothes. But the other women seemed happy. They chatted among themselves about what they were going to buy. They didn’t act like they minded being nude and they didn’t act like they minded their handcuffs much. Lucy didn’t want to be left out. And in a way she felt glad the other women seemed to be enjoying themselves - after all it was their last day on earth and it's nice if they can have some fun. She didn’t want to diminish the enjoyment of the others. So she listened and talked and tried to act as if it was a big day for her as well.
The ground rules were simple – the women had a budget from the town government to buy whatever they wanted. Women could wear anything to their hanging – as long as it didn’t cover any part of their breasts, shoulder or neck area, or cover any part of the groin or buttocks area.
When they got to the store, the feeling for Lucy was surreal. When they were in the prison together and all kept handcuffed for large blocks of time, it almost started to feel a little "normal" to Lucy since the other girls around her were kept the same way. But now, to walk into a department store, was almost more than Lucy could bear. She never felt so helpless and so exposed – she was extremely conscious of the way her breasts bobbled as she walked in the door and down the center aisle of the store. She tugged as hard as ever at her cuffs hoping for some relief from their grip, but they didn’t give.
On the other hand there were some comforting and familiar feelings as well. She and her friends had come here many times before to shop – if she could close her eyes and imagine, she could almost pretend they had come to pick out a prom dress or clothes for a new year at school as she'd done in the past.
The store was closed to the public, but with all the store employees present at their stations it didn’t feel empty. The men, as usual, were often speechless at the sight of the women as they walked down the aisle. Lucy noticed their slack-jawed, blank expression as they ogled the women walking by, staring mostly at their breasts. Obviously all higher thought processes had vanished from their brains at the sight of naked women. Lucy almost had to giggle to herself at their straight-forward reaction – men were just so simple and direct.
The female store employees were different -- they’d look at the face and eyes and also run their eyes over all the bodies of the naked women, hair, shoulders, breasts, waist, hips, legs and more.
They headed for the first stop, the lingerie department. Jo wanted a pair of black stockings and a garter belt. The other women had their own goals also, like a skimpy, short little corset or some sheer, thigh-high stockings with a black seam up the back. As they walked past the clothing displays Lucy looked longingly at the racks of clothing. A pair of jeans on a shelf looked like heaven. She would have traded anything just to put on some jeans again for an hour. But it was not allowed. Even the tiniest thong panties looked good to Lucy – they just sat there on the shelf and mocked her, making her feel more naked than ever.
The women made their selections. Lucy chose a pair of thigh-high stockings in dark grey, with ruffles at the top. Then they were off to the shoe department.
The women’s shoe department was well stocked. The manager personally brought out various styles to show. All the women talked among themselves about what kind of style they wanted, and how high the heels should be. The more they talked and looked at the options the higher the heels became. By the time they were done, each woman had a pair with such a dangerously high spiked heel it would have been hard to stand or walk if their hands were not tied, and much harder still with no way to use their arms for balance. They all agreed they didn’t have far to walk, and they wanted to look their best tomorrow. Lucy groaned at the idea of having to stand for long or walk far in those shoes. But on the other hand she had to admit they looked fantastic.
They spent awhile at some makeup counters, choosing lipstick and a few other cosmetics. Lucy got talked into a shade of dramatically bright red lipstick. She was almost shocked to find herself agreeing to such an eye-catching shade. But in the end it didn’t take a great deal of persuasion from the other women – Lucy knew when the clerk put it on her that it looked great.
Then it was on to the last stop, the hair stylist. The girls where chatting with more and more excitement. It was becoming quite a turn-on to realize they had whole store to themselves with every staff member focused only for them – it was an ultimate shopping fantasy. Even Lucy had to admit it was fun to be the only customers in the store. Matt looked at his watch, and gamely accompanied all the girls to the next stop.
Andrea was clearly having a great time. She talked with each of the girls, and made suggestions. She admired their selections, and got advice about what she should buy. She was enjoying the trip so much that she bought stockings for herself, and picked out a pair of shoes also when Matt said it was okay to include her items on the city credit card he’d been given. At first it was hard for Lucy to accept Andrea’s presence on the shopping trip – Lucy resented the fact that Andrea was clothed and her hands were free. But Andrea proved to be so bubbly and so pleasant that after a short time it felt like she was "one of the girls" and Lucy was glad she was there.
All five of the girls sat down to have their hair done. Tradition dictated that all the girls have their hair cut short, or at least pinned up, so their neck would be clear and unobstructed. Lucy rebelled at this – there was no way she would allow her long blond hair to be cut. This caused quite a discussion among all the women. In the end the women all reached a compromise. Lucy agreed to have her hair braided into a thick ponytail with a decorative ribbon.
The hair stylists put clear plastic capes over each of the women before starting their work. For Lucy, the cape felt great – it was the first piece of "clothing" she’d worn all week. Even though it was transparent it felt nice around her shoulders, bringing back memories of clothes she’d enjoyed in the past. Pleasant thoughts helped put her more at ease. Next she bent over the sink so the stylist could wash and condition her hair. For Lucy this was the highlight of the trip. She closed her eyes and felt the warm water running through her hair. She felt the hands of the stylists as she worked in the shampoo, then rinsed it thoroughly, and went on to the conditioner. It was heavenly, and she wished it would never end. Lucy kept her eyes shut and felt all the familiar smells and sensations of having her hair done as she’d had it done in the past. For a few minutes she forgot about being naked, and handcuffed, and she forgot about tomorrow.
After their hair was done the last step arrived. The women could ask for whatever trimming or waxing they wanted. Lucy asked to be totally bare – she felt women, including herself, look best that way.
It was over all too soon and they all got up to leave. There were too many packages for Andrea to carry, so she handed some of them off to Matt. The five girls and Matt started walking back to the exit. Andrea was the only female who wasn’t wearing cuffs. But she walked along holding her hands clasped behind her back as if to get the feeling of what it was like to be handcuffed in public, and to show solidarity with the other four.
It was now late morning and the store was getting ready to open to the public. As they exited the front door Lucy saw with a shock that a small crowd had gathered. She just wanted to hurry to their van and get out of sight, but it didn’t work that way. The girls had to wait on the sidewalk while Matt laconically strolled across the parking lot to the van, picked up four sets of leg irons, and slowly strolled back. He started to put one of the hobbles on each of the women.
"Can I help?" Andrea asked cheerfully.
"Sure," Matt said, and handed her two of the hobbles.
Lucy was glad that it was Andrea, not Matt, who bent down in front of her to put the irons on her ankles. Lucy spread her legs a bit, so that Andrea could put the hobbles on her easily.
The irons had only a short length of chain between the two ankle cuffs. A girl could walk, but only slowly, with many short steps. Lucy had heard some men say that the slow, short steps for naked, handcuffed girl gave a very attractive sway to the breasts. "Men!" she thought with a combination of disgust and a chuckle, ". . . always thinking about just one thing."
One by one the girls were slowly escorted to the van, until they were all seated inside, buckled in, and driven back to the jail.
Lucy was glad to be back at the lockup, out of the public eye. It was about noon, and there was not much to do before tomorrow but wait – the preparations were complete. All the girls were led back to their individual cells. All the women got a few hours to be free of their cuffs, but they were warned it would only be for a short time - then they'd be cuffed until the next day. Lucy hated the idea of being cuffed all night, but there was nothing she could do about it. And a few hours later, sure enough, one of the guards put the restraints back on her.
Later that afternoon she thought she heard someone new coming into the jail. But she couldn't be sure.
Not much happened that evening and that night. Lucy tried to lay on her cot and relax. But she was too agitated and too uncomfortable to get more than a little sleep. Her sense of time was confused -- in some ways time seemed to be creeping by very slowly but in other ways she felt like her last night was racing by.
Morning came early.
The guards tapped on the cell doors, then got all the women up.
A few of the female guards were there. Andrea was there also, with her friend Judy, who was a clerk for the Judge.
To Lucy’s pleasant surprise, the handcuffs were removed. All four were led naked to the showers, were they were washed up. Lucy felt like a little child. Judy was with her, washing her down. Lucy didn’t have to do anything but stand there almost limp in the warm water. Judy washed her body, raising each of her arms to wash her better.
When the showers were over, the four women were dried off and led to a bench.
Their hands were tied with rope. Lucy had been wearing handcuffs for a week with only a few breaks. For her, the hemp felt scratchy and unfamiliar, but Judy knew what she was doing and the rope was very snug – it wouldn’t be coming off. Steel handcuffs were quick and effective, especially the female-sized cuffs typically used on the women. But long tradition in the old west dictated their wrists should be tied with hemp for the actual hanging.
Judy helped Lucy put on the stockings and shoes and makeup they had bought the day before. The human touch felt great. Andrea was helping Kate get ready, and a couple of the female guards helped Jo and Sally.
After awhile, the four were led outside to the holding area at the base of the gallows. Each walked slowly and carefully. There was no need to rush and it was hard to walk in their heels with arms tied back. Anyway, the slow walk from the jail to the gallows was part of the overall show for the crowd -- it was a chance for eager spectators go get their first good looks at the women.
To Lucy the gallows looked huge, dark and foreboding. She just tried not to think about it too much.
Someone had used chalk to mark out a small box on the ground, to show their waiting area. It was near the base of the gallows – each girl would have a close-up view of the action until it was her time to walk up the steps.
Some joker had placed a sign near one corner of the box, saying "Please wait behind the line until your name is called."
A crowd had already gathered, and gradually growing.
All the girls were surprised to see that the first hanging was to be someone new – someone from out of town. None of them had known about the new girl. Furthermore, the new girl was wearing a dress. To the others who had been naked for weeks, this caused a real problem. There was anger and agitation. For the first time, it looked like the deputies might have a mutiny on their hands, or some of the four might turn hostile. It took quick thinking on the part of one of the senior deputies to explain that the dress was only temporary – it was simply needed to make this new girl go along with the program, and would be torn away at the first opportunity.
This helped calm the situation, but only a little. The four women remained resentful and agitated that someone else was wearing clothing while they had none, and even though they all remained in place, they were all worked up about this.
A more somber mood returned to the holding box as the lengthy preparations came to an end. The new girl, Penny, didn’t seem very willing. But in the end, Penny went along – they got the noose over her and positioned her on one of the sets of trapdoors.
Lucy knew that the girls in the holding box were required to face the gallows and watch all that happened, from set-up to conclusion. One of the big female guards was standing behind the girls with a switch, ready to deliver a swift "swat" on any girl who looked away. The first stroke might fall on the back of the legs – the second stroke might fall on the belly or the breasts or some place even more sensitive. Lucy watched everything going on.
The actual hanging was very vivid. Lucy could see every gesture and hear every gurgle as the new girl fought the rope. The hangman had tied the rope for slow strangulation. To the girls waiting in the holding box it seemed like hours, as they saw Penny struggle and they got an up-close look at what was in store for them.
A few men gave her a good hard banging while she was helpless. The hardest thrusts were just enough for her to gulp some air, which only prolonged her agony.
Finally the Judge drove his sharpened walking stick up inside Penny to finish her off. Still, her body kept jerking for quite awhile until it was finally still.
While all this was going on, yet another new girl had arrived. Lucy’s feet and calves were already hurting from the shoes she was wearing, and she dreaded the feeling of more time like this. But on the other hand, she really didn’t mind hearing they’d all wait a bit longer while this second new girl, Marsha, took her turn with a noose.
Lucy never really heard the full story about how Marsha came to be there. Evidently she was visiting town with her new boyfriend, and he had been telling her in detail about the town tradition of female hangings that take place one day each summer. Maybe he’d been trying to recruit her to participate. In the end, Marsha said she’d do it, but only if it happened right away – she wouldn’t allow any delays for second thoughts. Faced with this option, the Judge agreed to take her on for a hanging very quickly.
The girls in the holding box were glad to see Marsha was naked like they were, with her hands bound and wearing heels.
Marsha’s hanging proceeded smoothly – as smoothly as one can see the life taken from a gorgeous, healthy strong young woman. Each hanging followed a certain script, yet each one was completely different – the struggles and mannerism of each girl were unique to that person.
The day was getting on and there were still four hangings to go. Lucy wondered if they would all get done that day.
Kate’s name was called next. Kate showed a nervous smile. She turned to the others, saying "Good luck to you all – be brave." She gulped and walked slowly up the stairs.
Kate’s preparation for hanging went smoothly.
When the trap doors first opened on Kate, she didn’t move much. For just an instant, Lucy thought that maybe the hanging wouldn’t work. Maybe Kate was so strong and could stay so still that the noose wouldn’t tighten around her neck, and the hanging wouldn’t work. Didn’t some circus performers hang by their neck in their acts, and live? But at almost the instant this thought came to Lucy, she knew it was nonsense. Kate jerked her body a bit, flexing her legs in an unnatural-looking way, and made a slight jerking motions with her hands. It was just the start of a build-up to a long, intense struggle. And in the end the rope won – it always did. After what seemed like a very long time Kate finally hung limp and lifeless, twisting and swaying slightly as she stayed there for her allotted time.
When time was up her body was dropped on the ground in a heap, then tossed into the waiting wagon next to Marsha's corpse.
By then it was past lunch time. The Judge called an adjournment until the afternoon.
Lucy, Jo and Sally were allowed a short break inside the jail building, then brought back out to the holding box. Lucy was relieved to see that a bench had been placed in the box so they could sit a bit – Lucy’s legs were hurting and she felt she’d fall over if forced to stand much longer.
They didn’t want any food and only a little water.
Andrea and Judy came by to talk with the girls in the holding box.
"You look really tense, sweetheart" Andrea said to Lucy, putting her hand on Lucy's shoulder.
"God, I would be in your situation," said Andrea. "Let me see if I can help you with that."
As Lucy sat on the bench, her hands still tied like Jo and Sally, Andrea gave her a vigorous massage of her shoulders, neck and back. It felt absolutely amazing. Lucy could just close her eyes to feel the warmth of the touch of another person, and feel the immense tension in her body reduced a bit.
Andrea finished the massage by cupping Lucy’s breasts and kneading them roughly. Then she gave a playful, hard pinch on each nipple that made Lucy shudder and yelp, but also made her smile. Then Andrea finished up by stroking her neck and giving a kiss on her neck. The feelings were fantastic for Lucy. She blushed. When Andrea was done she stepped away.
After the lunch break the bench was taken away and it was Sally’s turn for the gallows. Sally turned to Lucy and Jo. "Good luck, girls." she said.
The stress and worry of the day was taking a hard emotional toll on Lucy. She'd known Sally almost all her life - she and Jo had been close friends for many years. Lucy's emotions were roiling inside her and she felt like she might burst out in tears.
Sally could see this. "Don't be sad for me. I made my choice," she said sweetly.
"I'm sure you'll be very brave when it's your turn," she said to Lucy. "You'll look fantastic - I wish I could see it," she said with a smile.
"Thanks - I think," Lucy said. She couldn't help feel a bit better because of Sally's upbeat attitude.
"Now let's have a kiss for luck," Sally said.
They leaned in together to exchange a kiss. It was a bit tough since both had their arms tied back. But they made it work. Lucy closed her eyes. She tried to give a good kiss and she got a big, fun wet kiss on her lips in return. The gesture felt heavenly to her and it helped take away a little of her sadness.
Sally and Jo exchanged a good kiss too. "Be brave -- you'll do great, hon," she said.
"You take care too," said Jo.
Sally turned to make her climb up the gallows stairs.
Again, the process went on with all its horror and fascination for those watching. Again, there was a long, hard struggle with the rope.
After it was over, Lucy could only marvel at Sally’s body as it slowly twisted and hung the full allotted time. One moment she had been so full of warmth and life, and now her body hung limp and lifeless. The nipples on Sally’s breasts were engorged and hard – they stuck out in an obscene way, as if her body was still aroused. This often happened with women who had been hanged - Sally's nipples just seemed to do it more than most. Occasionally her body made a little post-mortem jerk as it slowly twisted. Lucy wondered if her body would do the same things.
Finally the full time had passed – Sally’s body was dropped to the ground, and roughly tossed onto the back of the wagon on top of Marsha and Kate like an old, discarded roll of carpet.
Lucy knew her time was getting short. She braced herself for what she knew was coming.
The hangman called their names.
She gave a nervous smile to Jo. She walked over to the base of the stairs, paused, took a few deep breaths, and started her one-way climb.
(edited July 9, 2017)