Justice
Posted on September 21, 2022

“Please don’t!” Joshua begs from his knees. The link chains bound by a lock have bruised his wrists, radiating immense pain throughout his arms. It compares little to his four broken ribs stabbing his torso.

Bill towers over Joshua’s broken frame, scowling at the pitiful sight, holding a baseball bat in his right hand.

“Bill, stop it!” Loraine scolds from atop the basement staircase.

“Ma, this is Joshua Baker.”

“Please,” Joshua holds his hands up in a fold. “I’ll never do it again. I swear—”

Bill kicks Joshua in the gut, and Joshua tumbles onto his side.

“That’s enough, Bill. He is still a human being. You will not hit that man again!”

Each step of the hundred-year-old house creaks as Lorrain makes her way down, gripping the rickety wood rail with both hands as if her life depends on it. “You are not a judge, jury, or executioner, Bill.”

She finally reaches the bottom of the staircase, takes a long exhausting deep breath, and inches closer to him. “You must show compassion if he is truly repentant.”

“Compassion? After what he’s done?”

She places her hand on her son’s arm. “Yes. Even after what he’s done.”

“But Ma, it’s Fiona. She’s just a kid. And he—”

“Yes, I know all the details.” She sighs and swallows hard. After glowering down at Joshua, she looks up at her son and speaks softly. “Remember, we are all God’s children. We all make mistakes. We are all sinful. But we can repent as well. We can all be reformed. You must show him some compassion and give him a chance to repent.”

“But he’s going to get off, just like Kevin Salverson and Jewels McNall. We can’t let that happen.”

“We are not vigilantes, Bill.”

“But—”

“No buts. Now go upstairs, call your uncle Doug, and tell him I have Joshua Baker in the basement. Tell him nothing else, and don’t say a word to anyone. He’s the chief of police; he’ll know what to do.”

After a long, silent few seconds, Bill storms up the stairs and shuts the door to the basement. Lorain performs the sign of the cross, closes her eyes, and whispers a quick prayer.

“Thank you…” Joshua grunts. He rolls onto his back, coughs, and clears his throat. “Thank you for sparing me. I swear, I will never….”

Joshua’s words fade, and Lorrain steps away and recalls the details of the past few weeks. Her niece Fiona went missing a month ago. The community mobilized in searching all corners of Rocky Valley and the neighboring towns. It was all anyone could talk about.

Luckily, Doug and the RVPD officers found Fiona alive. She was chained up in a delivery truck parked along a hidden path off the highway. A bucket of excrement, a bottle of water, and a blanket were all she had. That, and a name—Joshua Baker—a name Fiona heard someone shout outside the truck.

An outdated photo of the repeat child rapist went public, but Bill spotted him at a gas station in Glenwood, over a hundred miles outside of town. He didn’t hesitate to knock him out with a tire iron, tie him up, and bring him home to give him what was coming.

Like Kevin Salverson, the accused child rapist and son of a senator who got off on a technicality, and Jewels McNall, daughter of a congressman who sex-trafficked pre-teen girls but was given a lesser charge, Joshua Baker was also the privileged son of an elitist. A federal judge, no less. There’s no telling what loophole the system will find.

Bill didn’t want to take chances. He wanted justice for his cousin Fiona.

But this isn’t Bill’s justice to deliver.

“I swear on my mother’s grave that I will never touch another living soul,” Joshua says, crying, shaking his head. “Lord, have mercy on me.”

“You know what, Joshua,” Lorain picks up an electric hedge trimmer from the gardening rack. She plugs it in casually, turns it on, lets it run for ten seconds, and then turns it off, finding a sense of calm in the blade’s rapid motion. “The lord forgives all men who are truly repentant.”

“I…I know ma-am, and… and that’s what I am.” Joshua swallows hard. “Repentant.”

A shiver traveled down Lorrain’s spine. She can hear the arrogance in his desperate apology. It takes all her might to keep from killing Joshua, but this is not her justice to deliver either.

After another minute, a car screeches to a halt just outside the house. Footsteps pound on the floor above, and the basement door flies open.

Joshua crouches on his knees and sees a six-foot-four man rushing down the stairs. Lorrain puts up her hand and stops Doug in his tracks. She gives him a knowing gaze, and he nods.

“You are not a man, Joshua.” She says without emotion. “No real man would do what you did.”

“Please, please. I… I am a child of God. I am repentant.”

“You’re a monster.” She hands Doug the hedge trimmer. “And there is nothing in the bible about saving monsters.”

Doug turns on the trimmers.

“No.” Joshua rises to his knees and shuffles back, but the chains stop him. The sound of metal on flesh and bone drown out his screams.

Doug tosses the last bit of dirt on the mound at the base of the new farmhouse past the backyard. He sighs and drops the shovel.

“This is the last one, Lorrain. I’m the Chief of Police. If this ever gets back to me—”

“Out here, no one cares when these people disappear.” Lorrain turns off the flashlight. Her eyes adjust to the pitch black night of rural farmland. “Salverson, McNall, Baker—no one will go looking for them. Not out here. And no one will accuse you of anything.”

“Lorrain, promise me.”

“Fine.” She sighs. “It’s the last one. I promise.”


~ ~ ~

Word Count: 992


Haunted Farm Image Credit: 

Photo by Rıfat Gadimov

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