by Henry Young
I had driven toward it for a few seconds before it dawned on me, it was THE tree. I pulled over, got out and just stood, gawping at it, taking it in. I lit a cigarette, we had grown. Large in my memory this was now matched by its physical presence.
I walked behind him dragging the spade as we went to plant it. I jumped and stamped on the earth around it after he had pushed the root ball in. His hand reached out slowly to hold mine as we stood and stared in silence. It was the last time we touched each other, his rough hand holding mine, thirty three years ago give or take.
The tree was planted there on our boundary at my insistence. I could see it from the window of my school room. I knew home was just beyond the tree, sometimes smoke would rise behind it on windless days.
He never explained why, I never asked him; he just looked at me with sorrowful eyes. I knew why though, knew he was protecting me. I saw the newspapers, fleetingly, as they tried to hide them. They said he had lost his mind, mentally deranged, they said he would never get out.
The Bailiff died from the blood loss so the truth never came out. They never found the Bailiff’s hand; my father never told them where it was. They just kind of assumed it was him; I haven’t used an axe since.