He felt the mountain draft cool against his skin and was grateful for it. Spring had come to the small mining town, the melting snow turning most of its thoroughfares to mud, but the occasional alpine wind would still streak down from the peaks, as cold as any January day.
The sun was opposite, but equally elemental, frying him with an intensity he would have thought impossible back in Boston. Only his backside was spared this, the tree bark digging into his skin as it protected him.
He had been told that folks out West preferred to hang people, but the inhabitants of this town were Old Testament, like their Prophet, and so they had tied him to this tree to die, spread eagle like one of the totems the natives of this land had left behind. He had been there for two days so far, better to contemplate his sins (or so he was told). But even with nothing else to do but fry in the sun and freeze at night, reflection on his malfeasances gave him no better understanding.
Remembering the evening that had put him on this tree he recollected stumbling into the wrong room upstairs in the saloon. Three men, the wool-bearded Prophet among them, in various states of undress, stood over a dusky skinned boy. His sin, as far as he could tell, was looking from the murdered boy to those three men and asking, “What happened?”