The Blamed (v3) (Let's Go on an Adventure)

“Father, tell them I didn’t take their girls,” whispered William Washington, III under his breath.

Father Francis shielded William from the angry mob.  William readied himself, blade unsheathed.  While he wasn’t a violent man, he wouldn’t meet an attack with cowering and begging. 

Commonality drove William to leave and he had only come to Hawkinsville seeking to be unattached.  He got the acute sense that melanin, in excess, rendered him unwelcomed.  Hawkinsville was the lingering of a sundown town. 

“We don’t know that this man has done anything.  He needs to be questioned, just like everybody else in this town.”  Ella’s voice was saturated with the ache of loss.

“I got some questions for him, alright.”  Sam’s posturing made William especially uneasy.  He’d been chomping at the bit to let into William since he’d arrived.  “I bet if we strung that ni…”

“Sam!  Don’t!”  Sheriff Donaldson barked.  William could see his cheeks were flushed.  The Sheriff didn’t seem to be like the others.  His eyes were always kind in passing. 

William noticed that strange young man flirting with the edges of the crowd.  With greasy, stringy hair and a hunched over gait, William wondered why no one suspected him.  The boy was timid, but timidity had nothing to do with appetite.

Some spoke calmly of following the law, while others argued William should be strung up from the nearest Sycamore.  The rest hung precariously in between.  William just wanted out alive. 

Sheriff Donaldson took out his handcuffs and walked over to William.  “I’m doing this for your safety.”  In 32 years, William had never been arrested. 

“They comfortable?” Sheriff Donaldson whispered.  William’s nod was almost imperceptible.

“Wait,” A small voice rang out.  “It was me.  I took them.” 

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