The Squatters (#3)

Ming Zhen Shakya
Ming Zhen Shakya
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The Squatters

by Anthony Wolff (Ming Zhen Shakya)

To see all available chapters of “The Squatters” click here

 

Part 3: The squatters strike back.

 

A good night’s sleep had clarified his objectives which he discussed with Helena over breakfast.

“Naturally, I don’t want to see them suffer.  I am a good and gentle man.  I simply want to see them gone. Let’s not involve any other people unless we have to.  I had wanted to lower a dead animal down their chimney and drive them out with the smell of decomp, but your idea of getting that fart and skunk juice at a party store is a much better idea.  But we shouldn’t buy it around here. I have an idea. We’ve missed the Santa Fe summer opera season but we can spend the night in Santa Fe at the Hotel San Francisco. They serve wonderful Irish oatmeal with dates and nuts and cream for breakfast.  Then we can hop down to Albuquerque and hit the party shops.”

A date?  Helena’s eyes filled with tears. She used her napkin to wipe one away and murmured, “That would be wonderful.  I have just the dress to wear for dinner at a fine hotel.”

“I hope you like to dance,” he said gallantly.  She blushed.

“But first things first.  I have all the documentation that’s required to ask the post office to hold my mail for personal pickup except an Arizona driver’s license.  Let’s do that now.  I’ve got one from Nevada, so it shouldn’t be a problem.  No moving violations whatsoever.”

They drove Helena’s Lexus to the Department of Motor Vehicles and while she waited, Rick took the brief written test and then had his photograph taken.  The license would be mailed to him within 48 hours. “This means,” Rick noted, “that we have to be outside waiting for the mailman when he comes to deliver the mail.”

“He comes by at 11 a.m. faithfully every day.  I know him personally.”

“As soon as I get my license, I’ll go to the P.O. and stop the mail.  Then we’ll steam open their mail and find out things we need to know about them… phone numbers, bank account numbers, rent checks paid to them… things of that sort. Harmless actions.”

Helena agreed to the plan and amplified it. “After we’re finished with their mail, I can take Bruno for a walk and casually stick it in their mailbox along with any other junk mail.   If there’s ever a question, I’ll say it was received by me in error.”

 

On Monday of the following week, Rick took his driver’s license and grant deed to the post office and put a hold on all mail delivered to his address. Every day he picked up his mail, and, after culling it for information and resealing it, Helena would nonchalantly walk past the squatters’ curbside mailbox and casually insert it.

“A kettle and steam,” Rick noted.  “Who needs high tech solutions?”

 

Harry and Pamela Nicholson, the neighbors who lived in the house across the street with their four grade-school children, had not been particularly nice to Helena ever since the squatters moved in.  As the squatters increased their income by renting rooms, the number of cars in the area grew.  There were no concrete sidewalks on the street – passage across the lawns that paralleled the street was effected by flag stones or other spaced brick pavers – but soon the cars and trucks, driven often in drunken carelessness, were knocking down mail boxes and parking on lawns. On many occasions, the Nicholsons found their driveway blocked and had to call the police.  As the offending car was being towed away, always, according to the scheme, the car owners said that they had been given permission to park there by Ms. Maxwell who claimed she owned the property. Having said some ugly things to Ms. Maxwell, the Nicholsons were loathe to admit their mistake when they learned the truth.  And she, considering them an ally of the squatters, made no attempt to be friendly to them.

On one occasion, the squatters called Animal Control to report the Nicholsons for an animal cruelty infraction, leaving Ms. Maxwell’s name as the complainant.  They had secretly opened the Nicholson’s gate, letting their cocker spaniel out.  They immediately replaced it with a sick and emaciated dog one of their renters provided.  Animal Control took the sick animal into custody and since there was no chip in the animal’s scruff, issued a citation.  The Nicholsons sounded moronic when they insisted to the judge that their spaniel was well fed and cared for and missing.  Only a costly appearance by their veterinarian convinced the court that this was not the animal the Nicholsons brought him for routine care. Still, before his testimony could be given, the Nicholsons had directed harsh words at Helena and repeatedly demanded that she tell them what she had done with their dog.

After the July 4th incident, when the police did canvass the neighborhood, asking if anyone was aware of illegal fireworks being used on the street, the Nicholsons, who were aware of such fireworks, spitefully said that they knew nothing.  It was a lie and they knew it, but shame when not overcome by quick apology, has a way of converting into reasonable self-defense. As the troublesome nature of the squatters became more apparent, they automatically forgave themselves for being coerced into committing such an understandable offense.

Despite these difficult circumstances, an incident occurred that gave Rick and Helena an opportunity to convert the Nicholsons into allies.

Harry Nicholson had hired a contractor to build a low brick wall across the front of his property.  He did not extend the wall up the sides of the property and so no right-of-way infringements occurred. The street was exceptionally wide and allowances for traffic and parking were easily observed. A gutter running along his property created a dip in the street surface so that his three foot high brick wall – which met existing building codes – seemed higher.  The new brick wall, completed on the Friday that Rick and Helena left for Santa Fe, had been landscaped with honeysuckle that would have remained green throughout the year.  The wall lasted two days. The Nicholsons awakened on a rainy Sunday morning to discover that an unknown vehicle had backed into the wall, knocking a six foot section of it onto the lawn and walkway.

Harry went across the street and examined the cars and trucks that were parked on the lawn and street.  Just as he found a heavy duty truck that had fresh rear end damage, one of the squatters came to the window holding a rifle and demanded that Harry get off his property.  Harry had a camera with a telephoto lens and ran home to get it so that he could safely photograph the damaged vehicle; but before he could find it and return to get the photos, the truck drove away along with his proof.  Two days later the truck returned, but the damage to its rear had been repaired.  Harry complained to the sheriff who sent a deputy to question the truck’s owner who, as expected, denied any knowledge whatsoever of the collision.

 

Just before they made their New Mexico trip, however, Rick and Helena talked about many instances of squatter criminality as they sipped what had become Helena’s speciality: vodka gimlets.  Helena, wanting to know how they would register – whether as friends in two rooms or man and wife in one – tried to steer their conversation to the planned visit to Santa Fe.  “Let’s talk about pleasant things,”she said. “It’ll be good to see the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest.”  Rick agreed.

The neighborhood had been in a quiescent phase and judging from the information Rick gleaned from opening squatter mail, a funeral plot and casket for one Jay J. Mulroy of Cincinnati, Ohio, had recently been purchased. Rick consulted a calendar. “Some of them may have gone East for the funeral service.  Let’s see. Columbus Day falls on October 8th.  It amazes me to think that I’ve lived with you for only ten days and here we are, preparing to take a long holiday weekend together.”

“Yes,” Helena tried not to sound eager.  “The time does seem opportune.  Only the squatters’ renters seem to be home.”

“Since we’re only going to be gone a few days, let’s leave tomorrow morning,” Rick suggested, “the 6th, and lessen the odds that your property will be damaged. I’ll change our hotel reservations right away.”  He called the hotel.

The subject of how they would register was answered. Rick ordered a suite for two.  It saddened Helena that her self-esteem had become so low that she had ever doubted that he would publicly disown her. “So much will seem new to me,” she confided.  “I hope I remember how to dance and which fork is the salad fork.”

Rick laughed.  “Let’s make a deal,” he said. “I promise not to step on your feet if you promise not to step on mine.” It was meant to be a joke (he said it as a child would say, ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours,’ and the two of them chuckled.

Helena immediately went into Holbrook to an exclusive cosmetics shop and bought herself new heavy-duty make-up.

 

On the road to Santa Fe, Rick told her a sanitized version of his partial castration.  “I vouched for a friend who borrowed a considerable amount of money from the wrong kind of people.  He asked me to vouch for him… co-sign, so to speak… and then he just skipped out without repaying them, and they came to me and collected the full amount plus an exorbitant amount of interest and inflicted physical damage as a special punishment for having vouched for the fellow.  I’ll let you see the results when we get to the hotel,” he said.  “I’m only beginning to be comfortable with exclusivity of the “dress left” tailor’s measurement.  I used to be “dress right.”  Helena did not know what this meant, and he laughed and told her about zippers and the scrotum and penis bulge.  She thought it was adorable that he shared the information with her.  It seemed to confirm that they were, indeed, “a couple.”

Dr. and Mrs. Rick Dubrovsky (he claimed a divinity doctorate) left their room wearing formal clothing.  They frequented a few hotels near the downtown plaza in Santa Fe and returned to spend such a night sating their long-starved lust that it was necessary to stay another day.  On their way home on Wednesday they stopped at a party shop in Albuquerque and bought a supply of the worst “fart and skunk stench-in-a-bottle” the store sold.
When they were finally home, they watched on their monitors the events of the days during their absence.  The truck and wall incident was completely recorded in astonishing clarity.  Rick consulted the manual.  “Now is the time for us to make friends of your neighbors.  The license number of the truck can easily be read.”  He copied the incident onto a DVR.  “Here, my darling Helena,” Rick said, “take this to them as a belated gift. Tell them that after we left for our holiday, I forgot my camera and came back to get it. I had important film on it I wanted to show our friends. To make sure the camera was working properly, I did a test film and happened to catch this action. I immediately started to go outside to confront the driver but he had just driven away. You were waiting for me in Santa Fe – we had a social affair to attend – and I didn’t want to keep you waiting. When we returned we saw that the truck had been repaired.”  He frowned.  “When those sons of bitches could have helped you on the Fourth of July, they stayed quiet.  Make it clear that we won’t testify about the footage because we fear the reprisals of these terrible people. Give them a dose of their own medicine.”

Giddy with the thought of being useful to “her man,” Helena crossed the street and knocked on the Nicholson’s door. She did not see that several of the squatters were watching her and wondering what was contained in the disk she carried in the plastic DVR case.

Pamela answered and saw immediately the plastic case Helena held up and waved teasingly in her hand. “Come in,” she said.  “Is something wrong?”

“I know we haven’t seen eye-to-eye in the past, but my houseguest happened to pick this up on his camera. You may find it useful, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t avail you of the opportunity to see it.  He went out to confront the driver, but the man had already driven away.”

Harry came into the room.  He put the DVR into the TV player and watched in stunning detail as the truck knocked down the wall, with the clearly visible driver who did leave the driver’s seat to examine the rear of his truck, and then simply drove away.  “I don’t know how to thank you,” Harry said.

“It’s nothing.  Rick and I only wish we could have gotten this to you sooner.  But we’re glad to help. I hope you understand that we cannot come forward in court to help you by authenticating the film.  I’ve already sustained enough damage.   Rick will not allow me to expose myself further to their deadly tricks. But this video should ease your mind about who exactly damaged your wall.  I hope you understand our need for anonymity.”

“Of course,” Harry assured her.  “No one understands better than we how vindictive those bums are.  Please convey my thanks to Rick.”  Harry gallantly opened the front door for her and nodded his head as he smiled gratefully and waved in the direction of her house in case Rick was watching.

Helena knew that she had secured two allies.  The squatters saw that she was now empty-handed and judged from the effusive way the Nicholsons stood in the doorway and thanked her as she left, that the silver record she carried was undoubtedly a video.  Don Dawson smirked.  “Is she bringin’ it or returnin’ it? Ain’t no Blue Grass music they’re listening to.  Whatcha’ think is on that record?”

Olvia Dawson offered an explanation.  “You know… one of the renters told me he saw some strange guy up on their roof. I looked through binoculars but I couldn’t see anything. If they’ve got cameras, they’re pretty well hidden. Maybe they got a new kind… one the stores don’t use outside.  Funny they didn’t give them any video of the brick wall being knocked down sooner.”

Dawson smirked.  “How could they? It happened when they was away.”

“Yes, dear.  I know. The whole purpose of the cameras is to record stuff that happens when folks aren’t home.”

Dawson grunted an acknowledgement of his wife’s superior knowledge about such things.
Since Halloween was quickly approaching, Rick and Helena agreed that the general hubbub of the evening would provide the greatest cover for her to “deliver” the stench-liquid.  Pamela Nicholson came to tell Helena that she and several other neighbors had agreed to hold private parties to avoid having the squatters’ children come to their homes.  The front of their houses would, therefore be kept dark.

Rick, unaccustomed to feelings of manly responsibility, was uneasy with the thought that all the houses would be “off limits” to the children next door. His own parents had strictly avoided participating in such pagan celebrations. He recalled how he felt missing out on all the fun.  He bought pumpkins, cut monster faces in them, and placed candles inside.  Helena would be shutting off the electricity so that she could go up onto their rooftop without any record being made of her excursion.  Rick bought several bags of candy bars to give to the children who came to the front door and, draped in a old sheet which was supposed to make him look like a ghost, he sat inside near several lit pumpkins, positioning himself close to the door to be sure that no one entered.  Helena, meanwhile, hopped the fence, hoisted herself up onto an air-conditioning unit, and then onto the roof where she poured the fart and skunk scent down their chimney.

While the four squatter children came to the door, their parents stood on the driveway near the street, waiting for them. After they each got a candy bar of their choice, Rick assumed that all the trick-or-treat children had already come to the house, but he stayed by the front door, waiting for Helena. He blew out all but one of the candles and began to pick through the candy bars stuffing himself with the ones he liked.  He heard a tapping on the front door and opened it to find an eight-year-old girl from the squatters’ house.  She had previously received candy from him and Rick became immediately suspicious.  “Can I use your bathroom?” the girl asked.

“No. I’m sorry,” Rick said, “but you have a bathroom you can use next door where you are staying.”

Suddenly the girl screamed and dropped her trick-or-treat bag scattering candy on the portico’s floor.  She ran to her parents screaming, “He made me do bad things to him!”  Her father, Don Dawson, and two other squatters, Andy and Clive, marched up the driveway towards Rick who quickly shut and locked the door.

The girl’s father pulled a child’s torn and slightly blood-stained panties from his pocket and threw it down amongst the candy.  “You can’t hide, you pervert!” he shouted.  “We’ve already called the police.” With a powerful kick, he smashed in the front door’s stained glass panel, reached through the aperture, and turned the lock. Rick tried to wrestle with him but two other men jumped on him, pinning him down. “Hold his legs so’s I can get his pants and shorts off,” Dawson yelled, and he reached up under the ghost-sheet and clawed at Rick’s thrashing body to get a grip on the underwear and pajama bottom.  In the semi-dark foyer he could not see that he left long scratches on either side of Rick’s waist.

Olivia appeared at the door’s aperture. “We’ve called 9-1-1,” she said.  Dawson handed her Rick’s torn-away garments.  “A unit’s on the way,” she said, secreting them under her coat as she turned and ran back to the street.

Helena had returned to the house and because some of the stench was on her, went directly to the  shower.  She had gone up the rear staircase to her bathroom and had no idea of the events taking place in the front of her house.

While the men continued to subdue Rick, the police arrived.  “We’ve made a citizen’s arrest of this child-molester,” the men said as Rick was transferred into police custody.

The wailing child told her horrific tale of being forced to touch the man who had pulled both his and her pants off and made her fellate him while he touched her “down there,” hurting her badly. Since the sheet might contain evidence of the crime, Rick was read his rights and led away in handcuffs and a tattered bed sheet. Helena came downstairs and saw Rick being led away as the squatter-women shouted “child molester” at him.  She quickly got their supply of bottled stench and the notations they had made of information gotten from the mail and put it in a carry-all bag.  She also got a folder that contained the deed to her house.  She ran down to the garage, opened the garage door, and against the protests of the two remaining deputies who were putting yellow tape across her portico, drove to the bus station and put the evidence in a locker.  She then drove directly to the lawyer who had unsuccessfully represented her previously

Dodge Rosewall, Esq. answered his door with some annoyance.  It was a little late for children to be calling at his home.  Seeing an obviously distraught Helena Maxwell, his attitude changed immediately and, though he was in a dressing gown, he invited her into his study.

“Those squatters are trying to frame my… well… fiancé.. though that is by no means official. He felt sorry for the children because all the other neighbors had private parties for the expressed purpose of excluding those brats.  But Rick, who is the legal owner of that property – and, incidentally, is a former seminary graduate, is a compassionate man and he bought candy bars to give them in case they came trick or treating.” She completed the sordid tale.

“Where were you when all of this was supposedly happening?”

“Uh… Uh… Is that important?”

“Of course it’s important!  It’s your house.”

“You’ll hate me if I tell you the truth.”

“I won’t take your case unless you do.”

“Rick and I went to Santa Fe for the holiday and on our way back we bought some stinky stuff in a Party store and I poured it down their chimney.”

“That was a childish thing to do.  I would have understood it better if you took an AK47 and shot them all.  But you didn’t.  You resorted to ‘self help’ and that is invariably a problem.”

“We had an elaborate security system installed.  Rick paid for it.  We have cameras everywhere, but because we didn’t want the cameras to pick me up climbing up onto their rooftop, we turned the system off.”

“Are you telling me everything?”

“Previously we did toss a few balloons filled with syrup at their lawn and we tossed a dead rabbit we found on the road into their… no… Rick’s swimming pool.”

“Helena, that is kid stuff.  You ought to be ashamed of yourself.  But something tells me that you haven’t finished your litany of dirty tricks…. so let’s have it.”

“Rick, having proof that the address is his, had all the mail held at the post office.  We picked it up and steamed open any mail that might contain information about them… phone numbers from their phone bill, credit card information, letters from Dawson’s grandmother that would yeald an answer to “mother’s maiden name”… that sort of thing.  Then we resealed the envelopes and I put everything in their mailbox.”

“Do you have any idea how serious these charges are?  Sure, if they win a child molestation charge they can get Rick’s house – which they already have, de facto if not de jure.  He’ll go to prison for at least a dozen years.  But you have no home owner’s insurance as I recall.  You’ll lose your house to them, too.  And for tampering with the U.S Mail you may get a little time in the slammer, too.”

“What am I to do?”

“Do you have money enough to pay for a defense?”

“Cash, no.  But I have the deed to my house.”

“Then sign it over to me immediately.” He produced additional papers from a desk drawer. “Sign these, too,” he said.  “Don’t worry about the house.  I’ll refund to you whatever’s left from representing you.  They can’t touch the house as long as it is legitimately given in lieu of cash as my fee.  I’ll use it as collateral to pay Rick’s bond.  We’ve got to get him out of jail.  I don’t trust the sanctity of jailhouse interview rooms.  I’ll talk to him when we get him out. Make sure he has a dollar to give me to make my representation legal.  A dollar,” he explained, “will create an attorney-client relationship, but it will hardly suffice to cover my fee.  Getting him out of trouble will be a major enterprise.   Tell me…” he asked slyly, “does he have ready access to his property’s deed? And, is it unencumbered?” J. Dodge Rosewall, sixty, flat-black dyed white hair, and a lifetime of failures buried in the furrows and creases of his face, saw his clients not as defendants or plaintiffs, but as potential sources of income.  He adjusted his knowledge of the law to fit the task of extracting as much money as he could from the client.  Only “billable hours” and “retainers” determined the merits of a case.
Harry Nicholson had seen the police cars arrive.  He had been watching the house, cursing Rick for being so “soft” as to give candy to the squatting vandals.  He bore witness to the fact that the little girl had knocked at the door and when Rick opened it, she had turned, screaming “rape” to her parents.  He could not account for Helena’s whereabouts.  The trees had not yet completely lost their foliage and she could not be seen as she tiptoed to the chimney.

He called the sheriff’s station and learned of the charges.  “They’re absolutely false charges,” he assured the deputy, a fellow who played on a bowling team at the lanes Harry’s team used.

“Well, if you’ve got something to say about this matter – which is very serious – come on in and give your statement.”

Harry left immediately for the station.  He was ushered into a rear interview room where he sat unattended for half an hour. Not only was it a busy holiday night, but everyone’s interest was focussed on the recently apprehended child molester.

Rick, never without the resources of his mind, had asked the sheriff, an investigating detective, a deputy, and an assistant district attorney to come into the secured interrogation room.  The four men had the demeanor of good men who had caught a bad man in the act.  “Gentlemen,” Rick began, “I’d like to show you something that will immediately give the lie to the charges that child and her parents are making.  But,” he added, “I can’t do this without your cooperation.”  This was certainly a novel approach.  The men brought extra chairs into he room and sat down.

Rick continued.  “The girl says that I made her fellate me and that I put my fingers into her private parts. I was attacked by her father and two other men immediately.  And then I was transferred into your custody.  At no time have I had an opportunity to wash my hands.  So, first I’d like you to have your forensic people swab my hands completely. I never touched that child. Secondly, she has said that I made her fellate me.  I’d like you to show her photographs of a normal men’s penis and scrotum and also pictures of men who have undergone an orchidectomy… one testicle removed without any prosthetic implant.  The difference in appearance between a normal man,” he stood up and lifted his sheet so that they could clearly see the surgical procedure he had recently undergone, “is noticeable to anyone with eyes.  I didn’t touch that child and I did not ask her to touch me in any way.”  It was the first time that he had seen the scratches on his waist. He lifted his T-shirt to see the full length of the scratches.  “Look at this!” he nearly squealed, “these are the marks of wide adult fingernails, not a little girl’s scratches.”  He looked up registering horror that his flesh had been scraped by “a filthy beast like Dawson!”

The onlookers were more interested in Rick semi-castration. “Son of a bitch,” the detective said.  “More trouble from those squatters.  I don’t know what the hell is keeping the owner of that joint from taking legal action against them.”

Rick bowed his head.  “I, sir, am the legal owner.  Your point is well taken.  My negligence is  to blame.  But of this child molestation charge, I am innocent.”

A forensic technician came into the interview room and swabbed Rick’s hands looking for any trace of blood or tissue from the scratch on the girls pubic area.  He also trimmed Rick’s fingernails. ‘I’ll give you a preliminary report asap,” the technician said as he left.

“First,” said the A.D.A., “see what there is to be found under Donald Dawson’s nails. And if you find human tissue, type it precisely and come back and get exemplars from this man’s waist.” He turned to the others to explain, “There’s skin and then there’s skin.”

The photograph library was searched for pictures of male sexual organs.  No one could find a photograph of a scrotum that had only one testicle. When the sheriff regretted this, Rick lost his temper.  “For God’s sake, then take photos of mine.  Put them with the others and see how she reacts!”   Using several different cameras, angles, and backgrounds, Rick’s genital area was photographed.  One was selected for the photo line-up.

Jeffrey Lowe, the Assistant District Attorney, had already summoned, according to procedure, a child psychologist, Dr. Irene Ives, who was regarded as a “stupid opinionated bitch” by the entire department, including the women. When she went into the interview room to question the victim privately, the others watched from the other side of a two-way mirror.  They also listened to the interview.

Holding two dolls, a male doll that wore a loin cloth and a female doll who wore a sun dress and underwear, Dr. Ives began, “Shawna, can you tell the difference between these two dolls?”

“Yes,” sniffed the girl.  “The man has a towel around him and the lady is wearing a dress.”

“Excellent!” Dr. Ives exclaimed.  “Now, let’s pretend that the lady doll is trick-or-treating and comes to the man doll’s door.”  She placed the two dolls into the child’s hands.  “Can you show  me what happened when after she knocked at the door?”

Shawna Dawson was confused.  She had not been rehearsed in the scenario using dolls. “I asked for candy… trick or treat.” She looked away and pursed her lips.

“And then did the bad man tell you that he had candy inside?” Dr. Ives asked.

“My God,” the ADA whispered, “She’s leading this kid. A good defense counsel could get the whole thing thrown out.”

“Let’s get a real doc in here,” the Sheriff said, summoning a deputy. “Get Dr. Ferguson over here to conduct a prelim.”

Shawna Dawson twiddled her thumbs. “He said he had good candy for me inside and that I should come in.  I went in and he shut the door and took my hand and led me into the living room.  He showed me a big bowl of candy bars and said I could have them all if I did something nice for him.  Then… then….  Oh, I don’t want to talk about it.  I want my Daddy.” Shawna pursed her lips again, indicating that she would say no more.

“Daddy’s outside waiting for you.  We’ll see him as soon as we finish talking in here.” She picked up the dolls.  “We don’t have to talk about what he did to you, but these dollies want you to show me what he did to them if they were you when you, as the girl dolly, went into the house and asked the boy dolly for candy.”

Shawna picked up the girl doll and pulled down its panties.  Then she removed the loin cloth from the boy doll and bent the girl doll’s legs so that she was kneeling before him.  She then described the action with flawless detail.  Dr. Ives thanked her and led her from the room to her waiting father who was, at the moment, balking at having his fingernails scraped and cut by the technician.  “You lookin’ for his skin?  You’re gonna find it!  I had to fight the bastard and he’s a big fat guy.”

The ADA privately asked Dr. Ives for her opinion.  “Undoubedly she is telling the truth. No child could relate the event in such detail unless she had, in fact, experienced it.  I’ll have my report on your desk in the morning.” She saw the police surgeon and a registered nurse arrive. “What’s he doing here?  The physical examination should be conducted in a hospital.”

The police surgeon paused to answer her.  “The sheriff asked me to come in and do a preliminary exam,” he said as the sheriff handed him a release form. “I see we have parental permission,” the doctor said.  “Good. Let’s go into the infirmary.”

It was clear that there was a fresh superficial scratch and many old vaginal scars.  He left the girl with the nurse and came out of the infirmary to speak to the Sheriff.  “She’s got a fresh scratch on the inside of her thigh and a lot of old vaginal scars that evidence some serious trauma. Since your suspect has been in the vicinity for less than two weeks, he can’t have caused the damage.  The child’s hymen was not intact.  It had been breached, and,” the physician added, “not recently. I’ll send you a formal report, but in my opinion, he’s not your guy.”

The sheriff called the ADA aside and informed him of the surgeon’s finding.  “Proceed with that photo lineup,” the ADA said.

The forensic tech called to tell the sheriff that under gross examination the material under Dubrovsky’s nails was chocolate and ordinary household dust.  “There’s lots of human tissue under Dawson’s nails.  I’ll get you the DNA results asap.”

As Don Dawson, the complaining parent, signed the official typed document he had just dictated, a photo line-up of male genitalia was spread on an interview table and the girl was asked to pick the one that looked most like the man who had assaulted her.  Fortunately, she picked one that had a small penis and large scrotum, and to Rick’s relief, the sheriff nodded affirmatively to him and Rick’s possessions were returned to him with the request that he not leave town.

To the chagrin of the child psychologist who was soothing the “tormented” child, the ADA informed Dawson that his daughter showed no evidence whatsoever of having recently been molested.  “She isn’t a virgin and she couldn’t correctly pick a photograph of genitalia that even remotely resembled the man she accused,” he said sternly. Meanwhile, a deputy was downloading Dawson’s RAP sheet.

All this was too much for Dawson to comprehend and he began to berate the child viciously for not having told her story properly.  The ADA placed him under arrest for suspicion of having filed a false police report, a charge that would hold him until they could get a complete rundown on his criminal past.  The deputy shouted, “Hold on! There’s a warrant out for him in Ohio!”

“Cuff him,” the ADA said, “And read him his rights!”  A bailiff had entered the room intending to escort Rick to the admission’s room where he’d be given “jailhouse stripes” to wear as his sheet was collected as evidence.  The bailiff was confused.  “We’ve got a different guest to admit,” the ADA said, pointing to Dawson.  He looked at Clive and Andy.  “Three of them.” He looked to the deputy, “Cuff ’em!”

  1. Dodge Rosewall and Helena entered the room just as the ADA said this, and seeing Rick standing there without any restraints on him, assumed that the ADA meant that Rick should be cuffed.  “Just a minute, Counselor,” he shouted  “I represent Dr. Dubrovsky and I’d like a few minutes to confer with my client.”

Rick began to say, “I don’t need–”

Rosewall abruptly cut him off.  “Say nothing and do you have a dollar on you?”

Helena stepped forward and pressed a dollar bill into Rick’s hand. “Give him the dollar… please, Darlng. Please,” she begged. Rick, annoyed by the presence of an attorney he did not need, but wondering if there was something else going on that he did not know about, gave the dollar to Rosewall.

“Good. Now it’s official,” Rosewall whispered.  He turned to the sheriff, “Which interview room should we use?”

“Your client is not under arrest,” the sheriff said simply.  “He’s free to go.”

Rick turned to the Sheriff. “Those three men assaulted me – as your own deputies can attest.  They also smashed the stained glass panel in Ms. Maxwell’s front door which I had just locked. The door will be expensive to repair. Tomorrow my bruises will come out more clearly if you want to photograph them.  But they attacked me, punching and kicking me and pinning me to the ground.  And all of that brutality was part of their scheme to extort money from me by filing false charges.  Am I wrong?”

“They were pretty rough on him,” the deputy said.  “And the door was in fact destroyed… they kicked the stained glass clear through.  Hung there like a broken web.”

Rick signed the complaint and the other two men, Clive and Andy, were also arrested.  Their wives, however, were not and, though Shawna was placed into the care of Child Protective Services, they were free to go pending charges of child abuse and neglect that might possibly follow in another day or two.

Suddenly, everyone stopped to look at Harry Nicholson who ran down the hall and burst into the station’s main room. “This man,” he said, pointing at Rick and waving a DVR, “did not allow that child into the house.  I was watching from across the street.  I saw the parents waiting at the lawn’s edge.  The kid went up to the door, knocked, he opened the door and she started screaming ‘rape’ and ran back to them and the three of them broke in the door to attack him.”

Harry pointed at Dawson who responded by calling him “a nosy bastard,” among other unpleasant names. “You’re just trying to take it out on me… that brick wall business.”

Rick’s case was not the only one being processed in the station.  People who had been waiting began to complain and everyone began shouting for attention.  Aside from the complaints of strangers, Rick insisted that he would sue Dawson for damages and wanted to sign a complaint.  The psychologist decried the police surgeon’s lack of respect for her profession.  The ADA accused the psychologist of incompetence and naivete.  Harry defended Rick as being a good neighbor and again charged the squatters with knocking down his brick wall. Helena wanted her attorney to return the deed to her house.  Another deputy insisted that it was pointless to cuff a man before his fingerprints were taken.  The sheriff required five minutes of shouting before he could get control of the station.

Harry Nicholson and all non-essential persons were ordered to leave the station.  Harry went to a chair in the corner and sat down.

Rick stayed to talk to the ADA about the “break-in and battery” of the three men.  He could hear Helena and Rosewall talking.  He had not paid much attention to what they said, but a note of anxiety had filled Helena’s voice. So he held up a finger to his lips and gestured that the ADA should wait a moment until he finished listening. Helena had asked Rosewall to return her deed to her because, “It was just a mistake… one that followed on several errors.  Rick is not under arrest for anything.  I’ll happily pay you for your consultation this evening; but I’d really like my deed returned.”

Rosewall had taken a “father knows best” attitude towards her.  “Now Helena… you and I have known each other long enough to know that I would never do anything to harm you.  The deed kept in my hands as a retainer is a wise investment on your part.  True, it is not needed for bail… yet.  But you and Rick are not out of danger yet.  Those people can cause you both a great deal of trouble.  I’m asking you to take a few days to think about it and see what develops from your self-help adventures.”

Rick knew that if he could hear Rosewall, so could the ADA. Any normal person would ask, “What self-help adventures?” This was outrageous! Her own attorney was standing in a police station all but charging her with criminal conduct.  Fortunately, Harry, seeing a pause in Rick’s conversation, jumped up and broke into the discussion.  He waved the DVD in front of the ADA and insisted that he at least watch it.

Rick immediately supported the idea.  “Yes, it will give you some idea of what we’re dealing with.”  The three of them went into the sheriff’s office and played the DVD.

“These people are evil,” Harry said. “You cannot continue to sit by and allow our lives to be destroyed.  Your function is to protect and to serve us, the citizens.”

ADA Lowe was trying to be reasonable.  “You can’t hold Dawson responsible for knocking down your wall. We can clearly see the driver and it isn’t Dawson.   But it is proof that the man left the scene of an accident, although the DA will want the video authenticated. So at this stage you need to get your ducks in a row, and decide what you want to do – charging anybody at that house with anything comes with a load of risk.  If you think your brick wall is worth it, I’ll give you all the cooperation I can when you sign the complaint.”

Harry Nicholson looked at Rick who negatively wagged his head, indicating that he would not authenticate the recording. “I can’t give you the source of the video, that’s a promise I had to make,” Harry said,  “and for the same reason – the goddamned reprisals of those lunatics – I’ll let it go… for now. I just wanted you to see what we’re up against.”