Beyond the Western
The Almost Lynching of Toby Hill
Scott A. Gese

There was a lynching taking place. Image source: Roman Akhmerov/Unsplash

The noose was around his neck. A young man from the deep South was about to meet his maker.

Beyond the Western

It was 1933. Small time singer and songwriter, Maxwell Towns packed up his one and only guitar and hit the road to Chicago. The sun sitting low on the horizon. It was a cool evening.

Early evenings make for good travelin’ weather in the South.

Max was just coming up on an old truss bridge that spanned the Tombigbee River when he was forced to come to a stop.

Up ahead were four men blocking the road. A rope had been tossed over one of the bridges trusses and a noose was being draped over the head of one of the men. There was a lynching taking place and Max had drove himself smack dab into the middle of it.

He didn’t like what he was seeing. He reached into the glove box and grabbed the revolver he always carried with him and stuffed it into his waistband behind his back. Stepping out of the car was a risk, but he’s done riskier things.

“Hold on right there mister. Who the hell are you?” Asked one of the men.

“My name’s Maxwell Towns. I’m on my way to Chicago.”

“Well why the hell don’t you just get back in your car and keep on goin’. This ain’t none of your concern.”

“I’d like to,” replied Max. “But you’re blocking the road. Why you hangin’ this man?”

“I heard he whistled at my sister. Ain’t no nigga’ gonna git away with that,” replied the man with the noose.

“Did you see it or just hear about it?”

“Don’t make no difference. This boy is as good as dead.”

Max wasn’t about to let that happen. He pulled the revolver from behind his back. “I say it does make a difference. Why don’t you take the rope off his neck and let him go.”

The startled men stopped what they were doing. The one holding the rope began to protest. “Who the hell do you think you are coming at us like that? Are you a damn nigga’ luva’?”

“I don’t like to see a man get himself hung for no good reason. That’s all.”

“Well we got good reason to hang him. If you don’t want to see it, I suggest you turn your head.” He started to tighten the rope.

Max fired a shot, hitting the man in the lower leg. “I said, let him go.”

One of the other men took the noose off the kids head as he remarked, “You’re both dead men. You know that don’t you?”

Max ignored the comment and motioned to the kid. “Get over here and get in my car.”

The kid didn’t hesitate to do what he was told.

Two more shots rang out and two tires on the men’s car went flat. One could have been changed. Two gave them the assurance they wouldn’t be followed.

“Now git the hell out of my way or I’ll run your asses over,” barked Max.

The men moved to the side of the road as Max and the kid threw gravel.

Once they were out of danger the kid spoke up. “Thank you sir, for savin’ my life.”

“What’s your name kid?”

“Toby, Toby Hill.”

“You got family around here, Toby?”

“No sir, Just me and sunshine.”

“Sunshine? Who’s sunshine?”

Toby pulled a well worn harmonica from his pants pocket. “This here is sunshine. Used to play with my daddy while he strummed his guitar, back when he was alive.”

“Is that so? Are you any good?”

“I’ll show you.” Toby started in and played a couple of fast licks and finished with an easy blues tune .

Max was impressed. “You’re good kid, real good. Tell you what. Me and my guitar are heading up to Chicago. Why don’t you two come along. Maybe between the four of us we can make a few bucks. What do you think?”

The offer surprised Toby. “I’d like that, sir.”

“I’m no sir, Toby. Just call me Max, OK?”

Toby smiled. “Yes sir, Max.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.