“When was the last time Adrian came to school?”
“It’s been about a week.”
“For seven days you took attendance and never noticed your student was missing. Does that sum it up?”
“I wouldn’t say it’s that simple, I have a class of 32 students and this just got away from me.
If I -”
“That's bullshit, another teacher contacted me about your missing student. This didn’t get away from you, it was carelessness. You’re coming with me.”
Hadiza Wilson rushed to the school exit with 3rd grade teacher Mr. John Alexander in tow.
As the principal of Lawrence Mills Elementary School, Hadiza understood the importance for each child to be given an opportunity to succeed. Becoming the principal of Lawrence Mills was a dream come true.
“Mr. Alexander, have you tried to call his mom?”
“Yes but it just kept ringing, now the line is busy.”
Hadiza jumped into her car to drive towards the apartment complex where Adrian lives. She pulled into a parking spot 3 rows away from the apartment entrance. Mr. Alexander, less than a minute behind, pulled into the next open spot.
She got out of her car and motioned for Mr. Alexander to open his door, where she sat in the passenger seat.
“Something isn’t right.”
“I agree with you John. The lights aren’t on in the apartment.”
Suddenly the door opened and Adrian stuck his head out. He looked around, trying to avoid being seen. It was at least 70 degrees but Adrian stepped out in a hoodie covering his head. The door opened further to accommodate the large trash bag he dragged.
Adrian held his head down as he slowly moved towards the dumpster.
“What the fuck is going on!”, exclaimed Mr. Alexander. “Adrian is limping and holding his side.”
“Lower your voice John, we don’t want to be found out.”
“Why would you bring me here if I wasn’t supposed to do something!”
“We need to observe and follow protocol.”
“You can sit here if you want to but I’m going to go help him. I can’t believe this has been happening, how can I call myself a teacher? How can I sleep at night!”
Mr. Alexander leapt from the driver seat and ran over to Adrian who was trying to lift the bag while holding his side.
“No stop, don’t do this.” Hadiza whispered to herself stoically.
“I’ll help you.” said Mr. Alexander as he took the bag and chucked it into the dumpster.
“Mr. Alexander, what are you doing here?” asked Adrian. Remembering the state of his face he quickly lowered his head.
“Raise your head Adrian.”
“Mr. Alexander I’m fine see.” Adrian pulled his hood further over his eyes and flashed a smile illuminated by the street light.
Mr. Alexander dropped to his knees to be eye level with Adrian then gently removed his hood. He struggled to maintain his composure when he saw the condition of Adrian’s face. One of his eyes was swollen shut and there was a lump on his head.
Adrian looked away ashamed to be viewed by his teacher.
“Well Adrian I can see why you’ve missed school lately. But we’ll get you right as rain in no time.” Mr. Alexander said with a smile.
Adrian sniffled quietly as tears began to fall from his eyes.
“First let’s get some of your clothes then we can go see a doctor friend of mine.”
“No, I can’t let you inside, I can’t go anywhere!”
As Adrian attempted to run away his leg gave out. Mr. Alexander dove to the ground to catch him.
“Look, you don’t have to run and I won’t go into your house. I’ll get you some new clothes after you see the doctor. Deal?”
Adrian stared at his teacher's extended hand.
“I do pinky swears.” Adrian mumbled.
“Pinky swear it is.”
Mr. Alexander cradled Adrian in his arms. He never noticed how small he was, bordering on underweight. As he made his way to his car he noticed Hadiza wasn’t there. Her car was also gone.
“I’ll check in with her later.” Mr. Alexander thought to himself as he placed Adrian in the passenger seat.
Hadiza watched in the shadows as Mr. Alexander drove off. When his tail lights were out of view her attention turned to the apartment Adrian emerged from. The door was ajar.
“This should be easy.”
The door creaked as the gap widened. She turned on a flashlight to view the apartment. There were beer cans, clothes and half eaten food scattered across the floor. In the kitchen a step stool was placed in front of the sink. As she moved closer she saw a set of small gloves on the counter.
“Some bastard had this child washing dishes. This is going to be fun.”
As she stepped out of the kitchen she walked through the rest of the house. The master bedroom was immaculate. The king sized bed was made to perfection. Every surface was polished. The scent of cleanliness in this room was the total opposite from the rest of the home.
Finally she made her way to the last two doors. One was a room with a cheap bare mattress on the floor. A spring jutting out from the side glimmered when the flash light shined on it.
Disgusted, Hadiza stepped out to open the last door. It was a closet packed with clothes and wrapped presents which fell to her feet. As Hadiza moved to push everything back in a faint jingle sound caught her attention.
“What the hell, is that one of these presents?”
She pulled everything out and into the hallway in search of this sound. On the wall she found restraints affixed to the back of the closet in an X formation. Looking on the floor she noticed a toddler sized diaper with dried feces on the floor.
Hadiza’s fury intensified as she remembered her own childhood terrors. She broke down in silent tears as she observed scratch marks in the wall made by small fingernails.
“No, I need to maintain my composure.” Hadiza thought to herself. “So far I’ve counted three violations.”
Suddenly the light’s turned on, allowing Hadiza to absorb the dire condition of the home.
“Adrian you gotdamn piece of shit where the fuck are you?!” a voice roared. “I told you to get this house cleaned up!”
“Violation number four.” Hadiza mentioned to herself.
“Come out here because if I come after you you’re going to regret it.” the voice screamed. “We have a guest so make sure you bring one of the presents.”
Hadiza’s eyes widened as she counted at least six wrapped boxes.
“What is taking you so fucking long?!”
Hadiza made her voice higher to mimic Adrian, “I’m coming.”
She opened a gift and found an electrical cattle prod.
“Well hurry the fuck up an open a good gift you little shit.”
“Violation number 5.” Hadiza whispered. She slowed her breathing to steady her heart and started towards the living room.
“Now remember you have ten minutes with him and you can’t beat him again.”
“Yes ma’am I’ll behave” answered a low male voice.
“Violation number 6.” Hadiza noted as she pulled a stun gun from her pocket. She peered around the corner to see a man and woman standing in the middle of the living room drinking.
She came from around the corner and shot two electrified probes into the males right eye. He dropped to the floor foaming at the mouth.
The woman looked down at the man wrapped around her feet, who was silently pleading through his remaining eye as he convulsed.
“Oh my God Ms. Wilson Thank God you came. This man has been doing bad things to me and Adrian. I tried to stop him but he said he would kill me and make Adrian an orphan.”
The woman ran towards Hadiza, eyes full of tears. Hadiza outstretched her arms, appearing to welcome her into an embrace.
Hadiza closed her eyes, in her mind she said. “Countdown from 4 then move.”
“Ms. Wilson you’re my hero.”
“You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for help.”
“I knew you cared.”
Hadiza extended her arm, thumping her palm with tremendous force into the woman’s chest. She fell to the floor wheezing and gasping for air. Hadiza stood over her, then sat straddling her.
“Do you mind if I call you Jennifer?” Hadiza asked in a patronizing tone. “ You’ve accumulated six violations. Now at this point I would give you a moment to plead your case, then I would decide your punishment and carry it out.
Hadiza leaned in close to Jennifer’s ear. “However, you’re special so I’m sure you won’t mind if we get straight to your punishment.”
Jennifer tried to speak again but only strained breath escaped.
“Now, Jennifer, don't exert yourself. Let me guess you want to swear you’re a good mother and how Adrian is your whole wide world. Sound about right?” Hadiza taunted.
Jennifer gave up on trying to speak and tried to push Hadiza off of her.
“Want to know how I know everything you want to say?” Hadiza asked. “Let’s just say this isn’t the first time I’ve had to deliver justice to an uncivilized bully.”
The moans from the other side of the room diverted Hadiza’s attention. “Oh shit I almost forgot about our guest. How rude of me.” She pulled the trigger of the stun gun delivering another electrified jolt to his eye.
“I have plans for him so I won’t kill him. “
At that moment two burly men and one small scrawny man walked through the door. “I love it when a plan comes together, don’t you Jennifer?”
“What do we have here?”, said the smallest man while kicking the guest in the head.
“Well Caleb he enjoys paying to beat and torture 8 year old's. As Jennifer will see I’m all for a good torture session but a grown man against a child seems unfair somehow.”
“Hadiza, where do you come across these vermin?” as Caleb asked the question he snapped his fingers bringing his team of two to life. The first guy wearing all black and sporting a short haircut proceeded to rip the probe from the eye of the guest. Before he could scream the second man with dark shoulder length hair wearing all white stomped his foot down onto the mouth of the guest knocking out his front teeth.
Caleb stood back as his team dragged the half conscious man to a black Lincoln. “You know something, don't answer that. The less I know the better.”
“I agree.” Hadiza’s mouth curled into a devious grin “Anyway I’ll see you all at Saturday dinner.”
“Hey Lady on the floor, you must have done something unforgivable for Hadiza to deal with you on her own. I’d wish you luck but you may want to find a God to pray to instead.” With that Caleb skipped out of the apartment like a child playing hopscotch closing the door behind him.
“Well Jennifer Camplin I find you guilty of 6 violations in regards to a child’s overall well being and health.”
Jennifer slowed her breathing and began to whisper, “You’re just some meddlesome bitch stuck looking after brats and babysitters all day long.” Her attempts to laugh ended in uncontrollable coughing fits but she still kept trying.
“I’m not someone who does a lot of talking, nor do I have the desire to defend myself to a twisted individual. Seems like a waste of energy.”
Hadiza reached behind to retrieve the cattle prod from the small of her back . “Even though you’re being mean I came with gifts.” She then pulled the soiled diaper from her pocket.
“And you are the consummate hostess. If you got thicker diapers I wouldn’t have been able to put it in my pocket. On top of that you’ve introduced a new weapon to my repertoire. So I thank you.”
Hadiza turned on the prod which buzzed in the air. As she pressed the button a traumatizing snap crackled at the tip. With each button press she leaned closer to Jennifer’s face. Jennifer’s eyes bulged with fear while she attempted to move from the line of fire.
“This seems like a scary toy Jen Jen.” Jennifer snapped back to reality hearing a long forgotten nickname.
“I guess your Father called you Jen Jen because you were too simple-minded to learn your real name. No, that's not what your file said.” Hadiza mused. “No it said your mother who named you abandoned you at 6 years old. After that your father couldn’t say your name without breaking into tears.”
Rage coursed through Jennifer’s eyes. She gathered enough strength to say, “Bitch I’m going to kill you!”
“Tell me would you kill me in the way your father tried to kill you?” Hadiza giggled maniacally. “He couldn’t keep his household together, he failed to kill you, he couldn’t even kill himself properly. Hasn’t he been in a nursing home for the past 30 years because his failed attempt turned him into a vegetable?”
Hadiza began to slap Jennifer in the face with the dirty diaper. “I bet it feels great to have a stranger recount the worst time of your life while the scent of your child's dried feces wafts through your nostrils. But this is boring me.”
Hadiza stuffed the diaper in Jennifer's mouth. “If you spit it out I’ll replace it with the cattle prod.
So be a good girl ok” Jennifer stopped resisting.
“Now where did I leave off. Oh right your veggie brained father. It’s funny how our emotions betray us. Your father tried to kill you and you still love him to this day.” Hadiza paused to take a breath.
“I also tried to appease my abusers hoping they would love me.” Hadiza continued. “When they tried to go after my little brother I knew I had to kill them. Since then I’ve been issuing my own justice to sick bastards like yourself.”
Jennifer rolled her eyes defiantly.
“We’ll see how willful you continue to be.” Hadiza shocked Jennifer in the side with the cattle prod. Her paralyzed muscles twitched as her muffled screams flowed into the diaper. “We’re taking a trip to the couch so follow me.”
Hadiza stood and dragged Jennifer to the front of the couch where she tipped over to her side.
“That’s ok you don’t need to sit up for this show.” she said as she moved to turn on the TV. “Alright I’m going to cast my screen. When you see someone you recognize, give me a blink sweetie.”
Suddenly a bedroom with dated floral wall paper appeared on the screen. The camera then rotated to bring the bed into view. Jennifer tried to yell.
She recognized the elderly person in the bed as her father.
“I think it’s just awful when a person’s weakness is exploited. Every time you visit you beg your father to say “I love you'' then you come home and treat your child like trash.”
As Hadiza continued a nurse appeared in the room.
“Interesting fact there are three drugs used for the death penalty. The first one is a sedative, second on fucks with your breathing and the third stops your heart. Your father is so weak I think the second drug will do the trick.”
The nurse pulled out a syringe, slowly injecting the IV. Jennifer tried to sit up but kept falling over. Her muscle control was returning too slowly.
“Let’s watch how this ends. Will his breath just slow, then stop? Will he thrash about as he gasps for air? It’s like watching a reality show series finale. So exciting”
Jennifer wept silently. Hadiza removed the diaper from her mouth.
“It’s not healthy to in a dirty diaper or tears”
Jennifer sniffled as tears poured from her eyes. She saw her father’s breathing slow down until his chest didn’t rise anymore.
“I’m going to kill you. You took my father, I'm going to take your life.”
“Try it. You should be able to move better now. Before you do I’ll give you a chance at redemption. You can either accept your father’s death then move towards being a better person. Or you can try to attack me and see what you get.”
Jennifer sat for a moment seemingly in deep contemplation. After a few minutes Jennifer suddenly lunged at Hadiza, then she felt a pinprick on her skin.
“You could have had a new start. You could have decided to get help and be a positive force in your son’s life. Now you’ll spend the rest of your life thinking about this moment.”
Jennifer slumped to the floor, clutching her chest.
“I injected you with the drug I gave your father. It’s a lesser dose so it won’t kill you but you’ll be a living vegetable.”
Jennifer’s breathing slowed as she fell into the abyss of her consciousness. The feeling of being there and not present at the same time overcame her mind.
Again Hadiza leaned into Jennifer’s ear, “You see Adrian is going to have a great life with or without you. Don’t you worry we’ll visit you. I happen to know of a nursing home with an newly open bed”
The now familiar devious smile spread across Hadiza’s face, marking Jennifer’s last memory.
6 months later:
“Mr. Alexander, look at me! "Adrian shouted.
“I see you. You’re running so fast!” John Alexander exclaimed as he sat back on the bench.
“He’s doing so well John. I’m glad you took him in.”
“Adrian’s a great kid and he needed someone. Considering his mom was found overdosed in the apartment.”
“Yeah it’s a shame the doctor’s aren’t hopeful of a recovery but at least she can still hear us when we all visit.”