Other People’s Hearts: Chapter 1- Murder in Jones County
“I was leaning over near the bed, looking for something I was after for my small children, and I felt somebody push me near the bed, and I screamed for Wilburn, knowing he was in the front room of my house, and the man holding me in his arms said this is Nick. I said for God sakes turn me loose. I am a frail and delicate woman, I’ve never been strong and from that day to this day my life has been hell on earth!”
Katie King had entered the courtroom clinging to her brother, Sid’s, arm every day. She was pale, sickly, her normally perfectly coiffed hair coming loose from her emphatic proclamations. But she was still pretty, even in her disheveled appearance. Some thought she might be a witch. Some thought she was a good Christian woman.
She collapsed into her chair and wept as people began to speak in the courtroom. All of Macon had turned out for the Trial of the Century in 1913. Katie’s family had been in Jones County for generations. Good country people who farmed their lands, who had named her father after the Marquis de Lafayette when he visited Macon during the Revolutionary War.
Her head swam as she could just barely hear the judge banging his gavel. The prosecutor yelled at her lawyer as she began to collapse to the floor.
The children were all outside or playing with friends.
“Hurry, Nick,” Kate pressed him inside of her as he grabbed her breasts.
Kate moaned into his ears, grabbing his shoulders as he moved her onto her back- thrusting deep inside and pulling her legs around him.
She had become his passion, and he was drunk with love and lust.
Visions of Jim King came to her, all six of their children crying to her.
Papa’s funeral when she was just old enough to remember, being shuffled between siblings taking care of her.
Sister Mattie and brother Sid arguing over what to do about all of the siblings, and Jim King coming to call when she was just 14 years old.
Her brother Sid would demand that Katie stay with his family for at least two more years as Jim King persisted on.
“Katie, you are the most beautiful girl in Jones County- likely in all of Georgia!” Jim would whisper in her ear as he took her on buggy rides. He would bring her flowers he had picked from the ground, running his fingers along her cheek, brushing his lips across her face. Trying for a kiss.
Katie would blush and pull away. “You do me such an honor, Mr. King, but I really should be going back to my family.”
Jim King would huff. He was eight years her senior. There had been rumors as to why he hadn’t been married. But by the time Katie was 16 there was a wedding, just when she was expecting her first child.
“Mrs. King, I haven’t a friend in the world, I sure appreciate you and Mr. King taking me in,” Nick said to her.
Katie recognized the way Nick looked at her. It was the same way Jim would look at her when she was just a girl. The same hungry look every time he stole a glance at her. Every time he came in the home to get a bite of food for himself and Mr. King.
The time he came in when she was feeding the newest baby, not yet weaned, and he could not take his eyes off of her exposed body. Katie knew. It was the same hunger all men had.
He was wild with it that last night. She pushed him off of her, begged him to let her go.
Her lawyer was waiving smelling salts in front of her face as she came to. “You have to keep telling them, Katie, it could save your life.”
Brother Sid was looking down at her, his own face pale. The only family member who had dared to attend. Her children were with Jim’s mother. Her brothers and sisters declared their shame. From between Monticello to Macon they daren’t show their faces in good company. No one would see them.
Even the newspapers in Atlanta splashed their headlines with the story of the murderess in Jones County, Georgia.
His feet stepped carefully onto the leaves below, slowly hunting birds in the land around the King home. There would be an argument, a tussle as he was approached from behind, and a loud bang.
One would be dead, and there was only a black sharecropper as witness.
Molly McWilliams Wilkins
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a Southern culture commentator, web producer, and social media marketing maven. She is also a freelance writer who has worked with a variety of publications and online magazines including Bourbon & Boots, Paste Magazine, Macon Magazine, the 11th Hour, Macon Food & Culture Magazine, and as the Digital Content Editor for The Southern Weekend. Mommy first, fashionista, social media maven, writer, artist, dreamer and poet. Hangs on to her Oxford Commas by force. Addicted to shoes and purses- and lots of coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.