This story is true, names have been changed to protect the innocent, other names are real to allow you to examine the cruelty of a broken system or to allow the reader to examine the actions of real persons.
The Ballad of George Stinney Jr
George Jr wore a grey and white horizontal striped uniform. His legs and arms were shackled. A long chain connected the handcuffs to the leg shackles. The chains were jingling because he was bouncing his right foot up and down as fast as it would go. Although, he didn’t realize it. There was a bright single-source light above his head. He sat at a mid-sized square table, wooden. A chair across from him. The room was made of brick and had no windows. George sat silently hunched over. He knew someone would arrive soon. They would interrogate him. They had no evidence. They would need him to confess. He decided that he wouldn’t, no matter what they did to him. He needed to protect himself as best he could. He was confident he would never see his family again. This made him want to cry, but he didn’t. When he prayed, he asked God to keep his father and mother away. They would kill them dead. He didn’t want them to see him in here, he was ashamed. Even though he’d done nothing. He couldn’t bear the thought of one of them being killed. He tried not to think about what would happen to him. When he did, he felt a huge pit in his stomach, his head would overheat and itch. He had to actively calm himself down. It did not always work. If he could, he’d think about playing catch with his sister. Or lying under the tree in the yard. Or how his Mother used to hold him when he was younger.
The door opened. A huge overweight white man stepped into the room. He seemed to bend down to fit through the doorway. He wore light khakis and a dress shirt tucked in, the shirt was firmly in his pants, despite his huge belly. He had a fat neck and a weak chin. A cigar tucked into the right side of his mouth. He had a large straight nose. His neck was sweating. He was wearing a fedora slightly lighter than the color of his pants. He had a holstered black pistol on his hip.
George’s foot stopped moving and he sat up straight, not out of respect but anxiety. The huge man stood next to the table. He was wearing a hat, so George couldn’t see his eyes. The Sheriff pulled out the chair and sat. He towered over George while sitting, dwarfing the table and chairs as well. He slid his hat toward the back of his head so George could see his eyes. He had a notepad and a pencil. He licked the tip of the pencil.
“Do you know who I am?” The Sheriff said.
“Yes, Sheriff Sir,” George said.
“You were outside when you saw the girls?” The Sheriff asked. George didn’t know if he should answer. He hesitated.
“Boy? Cat got your tongue? Were you outside?” The Sheriff snapped his fingers in front of George’s face.
“Yes, Sir I was.”
“What were you doing?”
“Playing catch with Amie, my little-
“Say you were throwing the ball back and forth.” The Big man took a note. “Was Amie there when Rebecca and Shelly came round?”
“No,” George said.
“No hesitation. ” The Sheriff said, writing it down. “Did you wave them down?” He continued.
“No Sir, they stopped near my yard when they saw me,” George said.
“They stopped to talk with you?” He asked incredulously. “Bout what?”
“They were searching for flowers to pick,” George said.
“Did you tell them of such a place?”
“Yes, there was a bed of flowers not far from the house.”
“Did they invite you to come along?” The Sheriff inquired.
“Would you have gone?” The Sheriff said.
“Why not, two pretty little girls ask you to go someplace, you would say no?” The Sheriff leaned forward.
“Yes, no good comes from black and whites together,” George said
The Sheriff boomed with laughter. But his jovial nature did not reach his eyes.
“At last we agree on something.” He dug in his pocket and pulled out a cigar. He lit it and stared at George.
“So you followed them as they rode away.” The Sheriff continued.
“No, I didn’t,” George said.
“Or you chased them down, pretended to be friendly, so they would allow you to walk beside them as they rode their bikes.”
“No, Sir I did not.”
“What did you bash in their brains with? Hmm? A Baseball bat? A railroad spike?” There was an edge in the Sheriff’s voice. George was going to speak, but he stopped himself before the words came out.
“Did you rape the girl before or after she was dead?” The Sheriff mused as if he was speaking facts.
George was astonished. He was wearing a horrified expression. He didn’t say a word. The Sheriff’s giant hand slapped George’s face. He immediately began to bleed from the nose. Overcome, he began to cry.
“How did you do it, you fucking monkey!”
“I didn’t do nothing!”
The Sheriff slammed George’s face against the table, he held George’s head down.
“Confess, how hard do you want this to go?”
He pulled George up. The Boy gave him a defiant angry expression. The Sheriff put his hand around George’s throat.
“If you confess, I’ll let your brother go.”
“My brother?” George was confused.
“The jury gets one look at Johnnie they will sentence him to death in ten minutes. He don’t look like a boy, what is he? Seventeen? He’s a Man according to the law. Is that what you want? You want your brother to die? Are you that selfish?”
The Sheriff let go of George. The Boy gasped. Tried to catch his breath.
“Johnnie wasn’t there, he never even saw the girls,” George said.
“I’ll testify that he was there, who do you think they will believe?” The Sheriff said.
“I didn’t murder those girls.”
“You’re not as dumb as you look.” The Sheriff smiled cheerfully.