Dunkirk Estates, Hammer Time

© Copyright 2021, G. M. Lupo

Margot Henson has had enough. She’s grown tired of trying to warn her fellow residents of the threat posed by the crazy lady who keeps stealing people’s welcome mats and lawn ornaments — Minh, Zack calls her. She’s ready to take the matter into her own hands. She stations herself in back of her unit and waits.

She hears a rustling nearby and glances over to see Minh round the corner of the building. She waits until Minh is close, then Margot steps out, confronting Minh, who stops. They stare one another down for several long seconds, before Margot brings a large hammer from behind her back and holds it up.

“It’s hammer time!” Margot screams, then rushes toward Minh.

Mihn turns and runs out toward the sidewalk, yelling something in what sounds like Chinese or Vietnamese, with Margot in hot pursuit. They go about halfway down the street with Minh staying well ahead of Margot. Minh crosses one of the driveways and almost immediately, a DeKalb County police cruiser pulls out behind her with its lights on, cutting off Margot, who nearly runs into it. Officers emerge from both sides and one detains Margot while the other runs to catch Minh. 

“Ma’am, what’s going on here?” the officer with Margot says.

“Protecting my property,” Margot says, as she tries to catch her breath.

The other officer who’s of Asian descent, returns with Minh. 

“This woman says you threatened her with a hammer,” he says. 

The other officer disarms Margot. “What were you planning to do with this?”

“What you should have been doing,” Margot says. “This woman has been vandalizing our community for months. You say there’s nothing you can do about it. Well maybe there’s something I can do.” 

“All right,” the officer says and handcuffs Margot. “Ma’am, you have the right to remain silent.”

“What are you doing?” Margot says. “What about her?”

The officer looks at his partner. “Take her to the side over there and question her about the items this guy up here was complaining about.” He indicates the complex above them. “And call for backup. I don’t think we should transport them in the same car.”

***

Howard Flynn is surprised when he receives a call at his office from the DeKalb Police telling him his client has been arrested.

“I’m in-house counsel for Bickering Plummet,” he tells them. “No one here has been arrested. I’m pretty sure I’d have heard about that ahead of time.”

After the police clarify that Margot Henson listed him as her lawyer, he asks for a list of charges against her.

“Okay, look, I’m her neighbor, not her attorney, but I’ll come over and see what I can do.”

Which is how he now finds himself in an interview room with Margot as she explains what drove her to chase another person through the streets with a hammer. 

“Margot, I’m not going to be able to help you out of this,” Howard tells her.

“Oh, excuse me. I thought you were an attorney.”

“I’m a corporate attorney. I’m not well versed in the criminal justice system. You need someone who knows how to navigate that.”

“Why were the police even there?”

“Mr. Finster in unit three called them when he noticed some items missing in front of his place. He was responding to your last priority dispatch.”

“Oh, that’s just wonderful,” she says. “The one time they actually show up.” She breaks off then shakes her head. “Surely there’s something you can do to get me out of here.”

“It’s not that easy. They say you’re going need a psychiatric evaluation.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Chasing someone down the street with a hammer is a pretty good indicator that a person’s not right in the head. If Minh decides to press charges — and I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why she wouldn’t, even if she’s crazy — then you’re royally screwed.”

“You see what she’s done? I warned everyone she was toxic. Now she’s dragging us all down to her level. Before long, we’ll all be a insane.”

“Margot, she just wanders around stealing lawn gnomes. You’re the one who’s escalated this into violence. Between you and Frank, it’s hard to tell who the crazy people are anymore.”

“Do not mention me in the same breath as that man. We have nothing in common.”

“See? There you go. You, Frank, and Zack have been conducting your separate field operations against Minh without talking to one another. When you thought she was reacting to you by changing her routine, she was actually reacting to Zack.”

“Zack. All he does is point fingers and blame others.”

“And he also figured out Minh’s routine months before you did. He told me that once she was wise to him, she changed and became less predictable.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Well then maybe you should have talked to him. He said he’s been trying to get your attention for months and you wouldn’t give him the time of day.”

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