The cold night air pierced Ed like an icicle dagger. He hadn't felt this cold since that last night, a long time ago, when he was struggling to make it as a reporter and the station sent him out to cover a blizzard. He had assumed he was working in-studio, but the wife of one of the editors complained about something he had said to her when he was drunk at the holid...Christmas party, and then grabbed her tit.
The hooded figure pointed...
Timmy was crying, sitting in his chair at the kitchen table. Barb was sobbing, practically beside herself, as the two female detectives offered her a handkerchief.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but we have to go over this one more time. Can you tell us precisely what Mr. Hughes did to you last night?"
"I-it's hard for me to tell you. It's so embarassing."
"We understand, Ms. Croce, but please understand that we want to be fair to everyone involved. You said in your statement that he touched you. Where, precisely?"
"T-t-timmy...please go to your room for a while...OK...Ed...he...," and Barb pointed. "He sli-slid his hand up my dress, and tug-tugged away my panties, then f-f-fondled..."
"I'm very sorry, Ms. Croce. Please forgive us for asking these questions. We'll finish this up quickly so you can have some peace."
"Did he do anything else?"
"Y-y-es. He pulled out his...penis...and started telling me to...to....put it in my mouth."
The two detectives didn't need to exchange glances, but they did. This wasn't the first harassment claim against Hughes, altho the records were sealed when the settlement was quietly made, but there had been an arrest, of sorts.
"Thank you, Ms. Croce. That will be all for now. Please accept our apologies again on this."
"Thank you, detectives."
The door closed quietly behind them, and Barb let out a wail, which made Timmy wheel into the room. "Oh, Timmy! I've lost your father! And I've lost my job!" She buried her head into his shoulder as he reached out and hugged her.
"That's alright, momma. We'll get by. Jesus is looking out for us, and we'll make it. Don't be scared."
Ed felt the hand grip his shoulder again, and they rose, settling near a cold street corner.
A young man in a wheelchair, nose dripping, wearing shabby gloves and clothes, sat with a cup in his lap.
"Anyone? It's Christmas. Please. Help me. I can't...I can't take much more!"
"Alright son, you can't stay here. The building management says you're creating a nuisance, blocking their sidewalk," the cop, reluctantly, said.
Ed looked up. It was the building he lived in. Used to live in. Whatever. He stared at the young man. It was Timmy, and it was almost....could he?
As Timmy wheeled himself away, he looked straight at Ed...and his look clearly said "You did this".
"Jesus! Why?!? GOD BLESS US, EVERYONE!" Timmy cried as he wheeled down the block.
To Chapter Thirteen