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The Assault

Introduction to The Guardian

By Calista Marchand-NazzaroPublished 4 months ago 11 min read
The Assault
Photo by m wrona on Unsplash

In the house on the hill, on the other side of the tracks, a card game was underway. This wasn't the sordid poker game that you're probably picturing. This was a classic game of Go Fish - adding to the wholesomeness, it was happening on one of those physically big card sets adorned with an overly-large font and clad in the images of goofy cartoon fish. Sitting around the table, and thoroughly engaged in the game at hand, were a motley assortment of characters. The ones who initiated the game (and were currently in the lead) were two young girls, sitting directly to the left of them, at the head of the table, was Fred, the grandfather of one of the girls - and the Guardian of the household. Filling the remainder of the table were five men between the ages of 35 and 60 - all looking as shady as their pasts. It was a sight, that's for sure, but for this group of misfits, it was a pretty average Friday night - Fred's granddaughter and her best friend come over for game night and all the guys gather 'round to partake in whatever game they choose. About halfway through their third game of Go Fish, they heard a dog bark in the distance. Other than that, the night was filled with contemplative silence and giggles.

At the same time that evening, on the right side of the tracks, a young woman walked briskly along the thoroughfare trying to get back to her apartment before it got too dark out. As she neared the curve to her building, she glanced down to retrieve her keys from her purse. In that instant, she was grabbed from behind and yanked hard toward the nearby shrubbery. Although she stumbled backward, her swift forward momentum worked to her advantage and prevented her from losing control completely and falling. She screamed and pulled forward with all her weight, swinging her arms frantically. She was able to break free from the man's grasp, but in his attempt to hang on, he caught hold of her blouse and it tore like paper. He lunged forward and grabbed at her body, trying desperately to hold on - his fingers sinking into her skin.

A dog relatively close by, hearing the struggle, barked in protest. Luckily, a night worker at the establishment across the street happened to be in the parking lot and also heard the woman’s screams. He started yelling and came running toward the assault unfolding before his eyes, causing the attacker to flee the scene before he could be identified. Neither the terrified woman, nor the shocked night watchman caught a glimpse of the man's face, but they both saw his dirty jeans, his shabby red and gray flannel hoodie, and his beat up used-to-be-white sneakers as he ran away toward the tracks and the woods beyond them.


Knock, knock, knock.

"Town police. Open up."

Annoyed, but not surprised, Fred walked to the door, sighed to prepare himself for what was to come, and opened up.

"Hello officers. To what do I owe the pleasure?"

"Fred, there was an incident down on Route 12 last night and we believe one of your guys was the perp."

Fred said nothing right away, as he was waiting for more details before shutting down the accusation.

"He was seen running in this direction and his description definitely fits as one of yours."

"Who do you think it was?"

"Well we just mean that the guy's description fits with the type you got here - the clothes, that look, you know, you can see they have a past. We don't know who specifically - we were hoping you might be able to tell us."

"Well boys, I can't say I know what you mean. No two of my guys have the same style and I believe we all have a past. One thing I can say with certainty is that none of my boys have done anything in the recent past that would require getting the law involved. They may have a past more colorful than yours and mine, but that doesn't mean they can't show up the best of us with their humanity, kindness, and compassion on a daily basis."

"Alright. Now don't go getting worked up. We know that you think some of your boys have changed, but you can't deny the trouble they get into even being out of prison for years." The more talkative office added with a smug raise of the brows, "Heck, we were here just last week about a different incident."

"If I may remind you, that incident - just like every other crime you show up here trying to pin on my residents - didn't involve any of my people," Fred said as calmly as he could. "Now unless you have anything concrete to discuss with me - or a high-paying job offer for me, I suggest you stop coming to me to solve all your cases."

Fred began closing the door, when one of his residents, Ronny, came out of the den and walked across the dining area toward the back hallway. Ronny was wearing his well-worn favorite outfit comprised of a pair of jeans, a gray and red flannel hoodie, and off-white sneakers.

One of the officers stopped the door with his right hand immediately and called out to Ronny, "Hey, you! We need you to come here right this instant."

Ronny, being as skittish as they come thanks to his sensory processing disorder, pulled his hood up and ran from the room.

Fred stood firm when the cop tried to push through the doorway.

"I don't believe I asked you to come in, officer. Nor do I see a warrant."

"You don't understand, Fred. That was the guy - he fit the description to a T. We need to take him in."

"I believe you just told me all of my men "fit the description" so forgive me for the hesitation. I don't believe Ronny is guilty any more than I believe I called you boys over for some morning tea."

"Whether you believe it or not has no effect on the situation. Either you bring him here or we go in and get him. His clothing matches the description of the guy who fled the scene and he just made a run for it when I called him over here. You go get that boy, Fred."

Fred held up a hand to acknowledge his cooperation and to let the cop know to back down.

"You boys take a seat on the porch and we'll be right out."

Fred went to fetch "that boy" and he returned to the cops' company under five minutes later with the 47-year-old Ronny, who was still gripping his hood at the sides of his face.

Immediately, the cops stood up from their perches and arrested Ronny.

"Hold on now," Fred said instantaneously, "is this really necessary? You can talk to Ronny right here, isn't that right Ronny?"

Ronny nodded frantically.

"He already tried to run once and he matches our description, so unless you want to join him in our custody for obstructing an investigation, I suggest you stop running your mouth," the more brazen cop ran his mouth.

Having already reassured Ronny on their way out of the house that everything would be okay and that he would sort it all out, Fred backed up and just gave Ronny a look of understanding and empathy. Ronny looked back at his guardian with fear and trust as the cops cuffed him and put him in the back of their car.


"Alright, Ronald. Let's look at the facts," said the same smug cop that yelled at him earlier. "You have a history of assault, specifically targeting young women - like what happened Friday night. You are currently wearing the exact same outfit that two witnesses saw on the man who committed this crime - I would recommend changing your clothes at least once a day, but I see you don't do that. The perp was seen running in the direction of the very halfway house that you live in. It's not very hard to put the pieces together. Do you see why we had to arrest you?"

Ronny, looking down and rocking slightly forward and back in his seat, nodded his head. It wasn't hard to see that all the arrows pointed to him - that's why he was so scared. He's been having trouble sleeping and he knows his memory isn't very good when he's tired. He doesn't remember everything that happened that night. Could he have done it? He doesn't think so, but he just can't be sure. He's learned to control those urges. He knows he has his friends - and especially his guardian - in the house to keep him occupied so he doesn't forget how to be who he wants to be.

The officers are watching him and can clearly see he looks nervous. Thinking he will say exactly what they want to hear, the assisting officer asks, "Can you tell us exactly what you were doing on Friday night, Ronny?"

Ronny shakes his head no. And says, "not exactly. But we was playing Go Fish - I was losing - and I went outside to breathe for a while when the girls got too loud. I had purple grape juice with the third game and a dog barked, so I started getting a little restless. I stayed for two more rounds and then I went in my room for some quiet time."

"I'm tired. I don't know. I don't remember all of it."

"Okay, that's good. You said you were playing a game - who was playing with you?"

"We were all playing - we always play. The house plays together. All us five boys, Fred, and his girls."

Seeing the quizzical face of the assisting officer, Ronny added, "his granddaughter and her friend."

"Okay… And how long were you outside during that evening's games? What time was it?"

Ronny's expression became more worried and his rocking sped up as he said, "I don't know. I don't remember. I don't know."

"Alright. No need to get worked up. You're going to stay here with us for a while and soon you're going to tell a judge what you just told us," said the officer who had been asking the questions.

Ronny was left to stew in his uncertainty, while they carried on their business with the air of arrogance they get whenever they think their case is over and done with.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Fred went for a walk.

As Ronny sat in his cell, he became more and more unsure of what happened that night. He couldn't sleep at all from all the worrying and each time he tried to draw it back to his mind, his memory of Friday became more like a blurred and underexposed photograph - the details were all there but he just couldn't make them out with clarity through the overwhelming darkness.

When he was eventually told he was going in front of a judge, he didn't like how he was feeling. They led him down a hallway, then another, and another. To stay calm, he tried to focus on what was happening to him right at that moment, but by the time they reached the courtroom doors, the stress had already made him forget which hallway they came from.

He zoned out, deep in his thoughts until he heard his name called to come up and answer some questions. He told them everything he had already said countless times before, each time with less certainty and more nervousness.

He wondered where Fred was.

As the judge was asking if there was any other evidence, Fred came through the courtroom doors like a wrecking ball, holding a red and gray flannel hoodie. Out of breath, he leaned forward for a moment and held out what was in his hands.

"I would like to submit this jacket and these photographs as evidence."

The snarky officer who had arrested Ronny and told Fred to stop running his mouth at their last meeting stood up and abruptly said, "his clothes are already submitted as evidence; that's how we made it to a courtroom. And I don't know how you even have that right now… I don't think stealing from an evidence bag is going to help free your friend here."

With a smirk, Fred explained, "No. This is the jacket you and your colleagues failed to find in the woods about a mile past my house. I took photos of where it was lying when I found it. They also show that it was on the other side of my fence, meaning that whoever threw the hoodie there was not someone coming on to my property. Being as you yourself couldn't tell the difference between the two jackets, means it isn't as solid of a piece of evidence as you had hoped."

The judge turned to the arresting officers and asked with a tilt of the head, "did you two complete a search of the surrounding area before making the arrest?"

"Well," sputtered the arrogant officer, "we conducted a thorough search of the scene and surrounding stretch of the road, but we didn't feel we needed to search the whole town when we knew where the perpetrator was heading, your honor."

"I would also like to testify as to Ronny's whereabouts on Friday night. I know for a fact he was not out of my view for more than 5 minutes that evening until around 9:00 when he went to his room and from what I hear, the incident in question occurred around 7:45. That was about the time we heard a dog bark over across the way and Ronny wanted me to shut the window."

Fred stood firmly where he was and looked only to the judge.

"We did hear from both of our witnesses that a dog barked nearby during the struggle. If Ronny was in the presence of seven other people at that time, there is absolutely no way he could have been responsible for this assault. Furthermore, you officers have based your accusation largely on what this man was wearing the day after this crime was committed with no thought as to the fact that he likely had changed his clothing from the previous day." The judge, shaking her head, continued, "frankly, I'm surprised at your audacity thinking this evidence would hold up. I wish you luck in finding your perp, but it was clearly not this man. He will be released at once. Case dismissed."

Ronny looked up at Fred and remembered him closing the window that night. He smiled and stood up for the handcuffs to be removed from his wrists. He was free again - saved by this Guardian of souls.


About the Creator

Calista Marchand-Nazzaro

Always learning and always evolving. I’m a creative, an idea person, a thinker, a dreamer, and working on being a doer. Many interests. Varied content. Food. Sustainability. Comedy. Poetry. Music.

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