Crime & Punishment & Stones

Don't do it. He's just a kid.Monica thought, frantically hurrying toward her target. She held her gun in front of her. White knuckles. Gripping it tightly.

"He's a stupid kid, is what he is!" The woman shouted. She looked wild. Her hair was a tangled mess of curls that partly obscured her face and went well past her shoulders.

The boy whimpered in her grasp.

Monica slowed to a stop and swallowed, still training her gun on the woman. Well, this isn't how I wanted my weekend to go.

"It's not how I wanted mine to go either. But there you go. Both our weekends are screwed." The woman cackled and with her free hand, brushed her hair back. Her other hand tightened over the boy's chest, pulling him in front of her. A shield. She was using him as a shield.

"Wait. What? Did you just read my thoughts?"

"Why act so surprised? I know you and your redhead have been discussing mind reading. You already knew what I can do when you got here." The woman was rather more astute than Monica had first thought.

Then, tell me this. Why are you hurting him? What did that boy ever do to you?

"I caught him stealing. Broke into my home, he did, and he rooted through my things. Took my purse and my daughter's walkman."

"Okay," Monica said gently. She made a show of putting away her gun and put her hands up, walking slowly forward. "We can do something with that, okay? Do you want to charge him for breaking and entering?"

"I want him punished, so he can't ever do it again."

"We can certainly press charges and he'll get a night in jail, ma'am. We'll do our best to make you feel safe. Just.. let him go."

The woman stared at her as if she'd suggested giving her belongings to the boy. Her nose, bent at the end, seemed to jut out even more and her lips were twisted into an unpleasant frown. "This.. this.. child. This thieving, nasty, smelly child, deserves more than just a sleepover with the cops."

"That's for the police to decide," Monica explained calmly. "Now, if you'll just-"

"Jail is too clean and easy for him. No, this one. He should get chained up naked and stoned."

There is no way I can let her win this.

"I can hear your thoughts, remember?" The woman scowled.

"That's not what I-"

Before she could finish speaking, the woman pulled a knife on the boy. She held the blade against his young, creamy coloured throat.

At once, Monica raised her gun again. "Put the knife down."

The woman ignored her. She seemed wrapped up in pushing the blade as close to the boy's throat without piercing the skin. Until.. a bead of red formed on the boy's neck and he grimaced. A strangled cry escaped his lips.

"I said put the knife down," Monica repeated firmly. Her voice held more confidence than she felt.

"Or what? You'll keep yelling at me?"

Or I'll shoot you.There was seething hatred in her words. It wasn't often she got so worked up about a case. But then, it wasn't often either that she had to rescue boys from crazed women who didn't know the meaning of going way too far.

Though the woman didn't seem to move and didn't remove the knife from the boy's throat, there was a flicker of something in her eyes. Fear, perhaps. Or.. was it gladness? Did she want to die? Was that what this was all about?

We can help you if you give us a chance. Let the boy go and we'll talk.

Nothing. The woman stared at her but didn't move. Didn't let the knife drop or the boy go free. Barely even breathed. She was like a living statue that could either come to life and bring destruction to the lives she came in contact with or crumple and fall.

All at once, the fear disappeared. Something replaced it.

Monica cringed and took aim and... BANG!

The woman fell back to the ground and the boy stumbled forward, hands going to his injured neck. There was more blood now; she'd shot the woman just in time to save the boy's life.

"Hey. Hey, are you all right?" Monica asked him. She hurried over.

Tears in his eyes, the boy shrugged.

"Let's get you some medical attention and find your parents, okay? I'm Monica."

She led him away from the woman's crumpled form. As she did, she radioed in for an ambulance and to report the location of her body for retrieval.

She and the boy sat in her car on the opposite street and waited. At one point, the boy seemed to be trying to speak.

"It's okay. You can talk later. Let's get you fixed up first, all right?"

He nodded and slumped back into the car seat. The ambulance arrived two minutes later, sirens blaring.

The next morning, Monica visited the boy in hospital. Trent was his name. She smiled at him and waved as she entered his room. "Trent, is it? That's a nice name."

The boy simply watched her.

"You were trying to say something yesterday. What was it?"

He seemed afraid then. He glanced around the room and at the door and then back at her. "She read my thoughts," he said. "She isn't going to tell my sister I took her barbie, is she? Mellie'll kill me!"

Monica laughed. "No. Where that woman is going is somewhere far away where she can't hurt little boys like you."

"Do I have to go away someplace too?" he asked timidly.

"No. No, you're good," she said, serious again. "You'll get a severe talk from the police when they come by later this afternoon and a warning, but as long as you behave yourself in future, you'll grow up and turn into a nice young man."

The boy sighed in relief. "Good. I don't want to be like she was. She was scary."

Monica nodded. She scared me, too. Rather than admit that to the boy, she just said, "I'll let you get back to resting," and left him with his parents.