the Innocent Man Chapter 1

the Innocent Man Chapter 1

CHAPTER 1

The innocent man never sees the trouble coming.

A woman approaches him from between parked cars and steps right in front of him.

He’s headed for work on the second shift at Boeing. Just stopping at Wawa for coffee, a doughnut, and the newspaper. Rugged-looking man, lean, fifty-five. Military-style crewcut.

“Hi,” she begins. She’s wearing a low-cut dress, push-up bra, and cheap blonde wig. Twenty-four, twenty-five.

He eyeballs the woman, and stops. Maybe she’s lost.

“Can I help you?” he says.

“Sure can,” she continues. “I’m a Damsel in Distress.” She forces a smile and allows her lips to linger for a moment, suggestively. “I believe we have a date today.”

“You got me mixed up with someone else,” he says, and starts to walk away.

“Wait,” she says as she points to a black Toyota Camry parked nearby. “Your car, right?

“Yeah,” he says, and nods. “So?”

“Then I don’t have you mixed up. You’re Sir Lancelot and we have a date today … The three of us.” She points toward a white Dodge minivan parked a few cars away. “You, me, and Nicole. Remember? My thirteen-year-old daughter?”

He looks toward the minivan and sees a female with long blonde pigtails sitting in the front seat. She’s peering out the window and waving at him.

He looks away from the van. Then turns back to the woman and shrugs his shoulders.

“No idea what you’re talking about.”

“I braided her hair just the way you wanted it.”

“Look, lady. Like I just said … no idea what you’re talking about.”

He backs up a step and loops around her. Starts walking behind a row of parked cars, moving toward the entrance to the store.

She turns her head away from him and nods.

Two men start moving and quickly catch up with the innocent man. With one man on each side of him, they grab him by the wrists and elbows.

“What the fuck!” the man yells as he glances over his shoulder, one way and then the other, and sees two assailants. “Get your fucking hands off!” He tries to pull free. Manages to get loose from one man’s grip, but not the other.

That man swings him around forcefully and smashes the innocent man’s face against the trunk of a parked car.

The blow knocks him onto the ground. Blood’s flowing from a gash over his right eyebrow and oozing from a split lower lip.

 

A steady flow of traffic is moving along Baltimore Pike in the lane closest to the entrance to the parking lot. In the far lane, another black Toyota Camry, its turn signal blinking, is waiting to make a left turn into the lot.

The driver, a middle-aged man, sees the commotion taking place in the parking lot. Instead of turning into the lot, he keeps going straight ahead.

 

Both assailants roll the innocent man over until he’s face down on the blacktop. They handcuff him, roll him back over, and prop him up into a sitting position against a parked car.

The woman sticks a badge in his face.

“I’m a cop. Put two and two together, pervert. You’re under arrest.”

“For what?” the innocent man demands.

The two assailants yank him into a standing position.

“Criminal solicitation,” she begins, “statutory sexual assault, statutory involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of a minor, criminal use of a communication device … and shit … let’s just add resisting arrest.”

“I don’t understand,” the man says.

“See if you can understand this,” she says, and then proceeds to read him his Miranda Rights, one by one. When finished, she says, “Now do you understand your rights?”

“I understand my rights,” he says. “But I don’t understand what the fuck you’re talking about. I’m a law-abiding citizen. Done nothing wrong. What’s your probable cause?”

She looks at him without answering.

“Don’t have any! Do you?”

“Sir,” she says, “every perp I ever busted says the same thing. I’m conditioned to denial. In one ear and out the other. If you didn’t do anything wrong, why’d you resist arrest?”

“Resist arrest?” He laughs. “Lady, look at this logically. You approached me, I didn’t approach you. You said you were a damsel in distress. You called me Sir Lancelot. You said we had a date. You mentioned your thirteen-year-old daughter. You did everything, I didn’t do shit.”

The woman turns her back and takes a few steps away from him. Pulls out a cellphone and makes a call.

 

At this point the blonde in pigtails is standing outside the minivan, leaning against the passenger’s door. She’s not thirteen. She’s at least twice that age and has a gun holstered on her belt.

 

Now being ignored by the woman who arrested him, the innocent man turns his attention to his assailants.

“I felt someone grab me,” he pleads his case. “Turned around and saw you guys. No uniforms. Thought I was getting jumped. No way I know you’re cops.”

They remain stone-faced.

The innocent man turns back to the woman. She’s now off the phone.

“Thought someone was jumping me,” he tells her. “Survival instincts kicked in. Self-defense. Look at my face. Look what they did to me.”

She steps closer until they’re face to face … And still closer until they’re nose to nose.

“Tell it to the judge,” she says.

“You got the wrong man, sweetheart,” he says. “And I’ll prove it.”

“Hope you’re not in a hurry, pervert. We’re gonna lock you up and throw away the key.”