Beneath a Ruthless Sun

Beneath a Ruthless Sun: A True Story of Violence, Race, and Justice Lost and Found

IN OKAHUMPKA he was known as the boy on the bike. Most any afternoon, as soon as he heard the Atlantic Coast Line train blow its whistle on its approach to the depot a few miles south of Leesburg, he would be pedaling his way to pick up the afternoon post. At Fate Merritt’s grocery, Mayo Carlton might grab hold of the store fiddle and play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” for him while postmaster Sallie Reeves sorted the mail in the next room. Buster Beach would be there, too, well before the West Coast Champion arrived, to share the day’s gossip or to tell the boy a corn-fed tale. The men of Okahumpka spoke kindly to him. They’d offer him a wedge of tangerine and tousle his uncombed hair with their meaty, sunbaked hands. They were sure to ask about his daddy.

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