Wee small hours of the Morning - November 26, 1919
Reverend Thomas Turner had lost all track of time. He sat dejectedly on the cold concrete floor with his back to the masonry wall. He was bone tired, his bladder ached, and he was much too overwrought to sleep. Blood had clotted on the many scratches and minor wounds in his chocolate colored skin. The panicked flight of the previous two days had given him no time to eat, drink or relieve himself. In spite of his efforts to control it, he felt his urine flowing into his tattered and mud-covered overalls. His moans went unheard, as he was obviously the only person in the Leon County Jail.
Though there were a few barred windows in the second floor, it was pitch dark in his cell. There was no moon tonight and none of the surrounding Centerville businesses had lights on at two o’clock in the morning.
Turner could hear a dog barking far off in the distance. Outside in one of the oak trees, he could hear the chirp of flying squirrels; then a rustling sound he took to be wood rats, searching through the trash cans downstairs. No! That sound came from outside. There it was again, a faint shuffling sound as of many feet treading softly along the crushed gravel pathway. Then there were muffled voices, barely above a whisper, from over in front of the court house.
The side door at the foot of the stairs groaned a little on its hinges. A chill racked Turner’s body as he realized what was about to happen. The soft footsteps on the metal treads rang out like thunder in Turner’s head. He could sense the presence of several men on the upper landing.
“Lord, help me,” he prayed aloud. “They gone hang me fo’ sho’. What’s gone happen to my po’ wife and kids?”