A Hanging

It was once the practice in certain nations, in the time when the streets were still lit by coal-gas lamps and traversed by horse-drawn carriages, to make available for a not-inconsiderable fee small rooms in the buildings surrounded the square in which a given city’s executions were carried out, such that the nobility, and other figures of status and position, could, if they so desired, observe the administration of this most important function of the judicial machinery without being forced to mingle with the common masses who so reliably gathered for such events. Although these rooms, which were outfitted with large, unshaded windows and possessed interior dimensions no more spacious than the larger boxes of a respectable opera house, in theory left their occupants quite exposed to the prying eyes of the public, always eager to catch a glimpse of their betters in an unguarded moment, in practice it could be reliably assumed that at such times as any may wish to actually occupy the rooms, such eyes would assuredly be directed towards the spectacle on the gallows before them, and would not consider diverting their attention to survey whatever goings-on could possibly be espied through the open windows high above them.

Such was the quite well-founded belief of, among many others of their class, a certain Lady S. and Count R., two young (the Lady being 19; the Count, 35) but nevertheless quite well-regarded personages who had been carrying on an affair for some time now, an affair which, although rumors had begun to spread in certain libertine circles of high society, had thus far remained successfully hidden from the Count’s wife. It was in these circumstances that they appeared one bright and crisp Spring day, when the heat did not yet hang heavy and lethargic in the air, but rather floated lightly as a lover’s first caress, to witness the hanging of a Mr. Q., an innkeeper who had been convicted of the most vile and ruthless offenses against the virtue of more than a dozen young girls who had had the misfortune to seek shelter under his roof. Capital punishment, it should be noted, would not usually be considered for such offenses, even in cases of such extreme and malevolent brutality as Mr. Q.’s, but the last victim of his cruelty, unbeknownst to him, was the long-lost niece of a powerful barrister, a sweet and humble girl who had made arrangements to meet her uncle for the first time the very next day. When she failed to appear, the barrister, a childless widower who during their correspondance had already begun to think of the girl as akin to his own daughter – a daughter he had never had and always wished for – rallied the full forces of the city’s constabulary to a search effort, which quickly turned her up wandering the streets in a truly pitiable condition, and led in short order to the unravelling of the whole sordid case. It took only one look at the bruises and abrasions which covered the innocent creature’s most sensitive regions, at the merciless way in which she had been bound and shamefully violated, for the barrister to vow that the full force of the Law was brought to bear upon the beast responsible. And so, although it was, as we have already noted, quite an unusual sentence for crimes against virtue, one, in fact, all but unheard of in this particular nation, Mr. Q. was sentenced to death by hanging. The case attracted considerable attention from all levels of society — enough, suffice it to say, that Lady S. and Count R. were far from the only couple to have made arrangements for a room on this particular day.

The Lady and the Count took care to arrive separately, and ensure they were not followed; only the clerk of the particular establishment where they had rented the room knew of the rendezvous, and such men are bound by the nature of their business to maintain the utmost discretion. Were he questioned, one could rest assured, he would deny ever having seen either of them. Thus they soon found themselves alone together. They had chosen a room in what was generally considered the most optimally-situated establishment, a tall building which had once been a sanatarium that sat directly facing the gallows. The room itself was spartan, with plain, whitewashed walls and minimal furnishings: two somewhat small but finely-appointed side chairs upholstered with red velvet, accompanied by a small, well-carved end table. Although the hanging was not itself scheduled for another hour, a substantial crowd was already milling about in the square. Stray shouts and laughter drifted up to the couple through the open window. The executioner, a swarthy man in a dark leather hood, could be seen on the gallows making his preparations.

Being now alone, the Count wasted no time in beginning to undress the Lady. They didn’t speak, for there was no need; the Lady fully understood the Count’s desires and found satisfaction in fulfilling them. She was wearing one of the hopelessly elaborate dresses – the sort which was covered in frills and ruffles and the most intricate needlework, to the point that the eye became exhausted seeking to divine the great purpose of it all – which it was, at that time, expected for women of means to go about in, a convention which the Lady found endlessly tiresome but nonetheless abided by. Although the Count’s hands were quite dextrous, and in any case well-practiced at undoing the many straps and laces of such garments, it nonetheless took the better part of a quarter-hour until the last of these was released, and the Lady could step free, revealing that beneath this her slim body was adorned with nothing but garters, the accompanying belt, and a fine, crimson corset which noticeably accentuated her bust. The Count had asked her to come like this, with minimal undergarments, her cunt secretly bare beneath the layers of her dress like one of the shameless streetwalkers common in the less respectable sections of the city, and he was pleased to see she had obeyed. He stepped forward and kissed her fiercely, running his hand down her back and firmly grasping one of her plump buttocks as he did so. When he finally released her a red handprint was left emblazoned on it, which faded only slowly.

Having thus greeted the Lady, the Count took her hand and, with the exaggerated formality practiced only by those who are on the least formal terms possible, suggested that they take their seats. They had until now been standing at the back of the room, where they were safely hidden from all but the most distant fringe of the crowd, on the far side of the square, where the use of a magnifying lens would have been necessary for even the most eagle-eyed to see them. Sitting before the window, however, was an entirely different affair, and the Lady felt a thrill at the knowledge that a great portion of the growing congregation below would be able to see her nakedness quite clearly if they took the time to look. This was unlikely, however, as the bailiff had just climbed the steps to the gallows platform, which meant that the condemned, that is, Mr. Q., was soon to be brought out. The crowd hummed with anticipation. The Lady sat with her legs spread immodestly apart, and soon felt the Count’s hand on her inner thigh.

The bailiff withdrew a scroll from his shirt and, in a loud, rough voice, announced – quite superfluously, it must be said, for of course everyone gathered there already knew – the nature of what was going to occur today, and advised that it serve as a warning to any who may sometimes wish to make the same trespasses the condemned had. The Lady reached over and began to work, one-handed, at the task of unbuttoning the Count’s trousers. Presently, a cart appeared, driven by two constables, in the back of which was a simple iron cage holding Mr. Q. He was dressed in rags, his hands and feet shackled to the floor, a burlap sack over his head. The Count’s fingers played around the edges of the Lady’s cunt, the increasing emanations of which were causing a growing spot of wetness to form on the upholstery beneath her. Mr. Q. was unfastened from the cage floor and led, trembling, still with the sack over his head, up the gallows steps. He slipped once, then again, and finally had to be dragged bodily to the top by the two constables, his legs having given out beneath him. The Lady, having succeeded in unbuttoning the Count’s trousers, eagerly slid her hand beneath his drawers and around his already-engorged cock, gripping it confidently and slowly beginning to stimulate it. Once on the gallows, the sack was finally removed from Mr. Q.’s head and, propped up by the constables, apparently too weak with fear to stand on his own, he stared blankly forward at the bailiff as the man began to read out his sentence.

It is the nature of legal writing, so necessarily obsessed with absolute precision and the removal of all possible confusion or ambiguity, that such documents are always longer and more tedious than one expects, but in this particular case the vengeful barrister had ensured that every possible charge of which Mr. Q. could be accused, far more than the court would normally concern itself with, was brought against him, and that he was duly convicted of all of them, the result being a sentence whose extraordinary length was exceeded only by the extraordinary graphicness with which it detailed the nature of the offenses which Mr. Q. had committed against each of his victims. Thus, although the Count finally chose to first push his fingers inside the Lady’s aching cunt when Mr. Q.’s head was uncovered, the bailiff was only halfway finished reading when, driven to near-frenzy by the Count’s patient stimulation in combination with the description of the litany of cruelties committed by Mr. Q., she pushed the Count’s hand away and, replacing it with her own to continue pleasuring her throbbing cunt, adjusted herself into a kneeling posture on the chair, pulled out his now fully erect cock, and bent down to take it hungrily into her mouth.

So they carried on until, the sentence finally been read, the bailiff called upon the executioner to begin. At this, the Count abruptly dislodged himself from the Lady’s mouth, grabbed her by the hair, and stood up, forcing her to scramble awkwardly out of her kneeling position to avoid falling. As the executioner checked the sturdiness of the noose one final time, the Count now pushed the chairs back from the window and put the end table in their place. Releasing the Lady’s hair, he pushed her facedown over the table, such that her head actually stuck clearly out the window, visible to anyone who might be looking, which this close to the decisive moment was, of course, no one at all. The executioner led, or more accurately, dragged, Mr. Q. over to the noose, the condemned leaving a trail of urine behind him, and fit his head through it. The Count kicked the Lady’s legs apart, which she had held together not out of any resistance towards him but merely because her head was now so clouded with desire that she lacked the conscientiousness to be properly inviting, and entered her roughly, with enough force to jostle her entire body. The noose was tightened. A solemn priest gave Mr. Q. his last rites, although none of those gathered, to a man, believed this would be a meaningful gesture to a criminal of such all-consuming wickedness. Mr. Q., for his part, had his eyes shut tight; it is doubtful if he had any sensibility at all remaining at this point. Then, finally, a silence fell as the executioner paused, just for a fraction of an instant, then released the hatch. Mr. Q. fell, and then there was a snap, a snap loud and ugly and wet in a way no other sound in our world can ever be, and which no literary description can ever capture but the faintest shadow of, and at the sound of this snap the Lady gasped and spasmed involuntarily, and both she and the Count were simultaneously brought to the very apex of pleasure, that apex at which the most base and the most sublime sensory experience seems to join as one, that apex in which we are perhaps granted, for the barest fraction of an instant – for, were it to last any longer, one would likely have no hope of escaping the encounter with their Reason intact – a glimpse of the Absolute itself. And then, in the very next moment, as Mr. Q.’s body was still twitching on the end of the rope, his head lolling grotesquely to one side, the Lady removed herself from the Count’s cock, turned to face him, withdrew a freshly-sharpened straight razor from where she had concealed it between her breasts, and, in one quick, confident motion, castrated him.