No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I sat in jail two days, long enough for my public defender to explain the long list of charges against me, before the mayor called me into his office. He wore a dark suit and a red tie. The chief of police wore mirrored sunglasses and had his thumbs hooked into his belt. I wore an orange jumpsuit and a frown.

The mayor picked a list up from his desk. “Breaking and entering. Unlawful city use of city property.” He looked up at me. “Grand theft.”

I glanced uncertainly from face to face. “I didn’t steal them,” I said. “I replaced them.”

“I don’t know,” said the chief of police. “The charges look pretty solid to me.”

The public defender had said the same thing. I swallowed hard and said nothing.

“I’m not sure prison is the right place for you, though,” the mayor said. “Maybe I could arrange for some special community service.”

“What kind of community service?”

“Some of the equipment down at police headquarters is getting pretty old.” He looked up with a twisted smile. “It could stand to be … replaced.”

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