Creative Nonfiction Coming of Age Crime

Her phone rang. Katie grabbed and swiped it. “Hi, this is Katie.” She held it up while continuing to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

“Hi Katie. I’m really worried about Edwin. He’s made some new friends. I’ve seen them. Skinheads. They must want something. Dunno what. I’ve told him they’ll get him into a lot of trouble. He left today, very anxious, but he wouldn’t talk about it.”

“It’s ok, Paul. I’ve been worried too. He told me he’d met a couple of skinheads and said that people judge them because of how they look. One had smiled at him and he now believes they’re his friends. I already told him that a smile doesn’t mean they’re his friends, or even want to be his friends. He really doesn’t understand the concept of friendship. But I wonder what they see in him. It’s a worry. How do you know he was anxious?”

“He barely spoke. He took ages washing his hands, and after he left, he came back twice to get things he’d forgotten. I want you to speak to him. I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face.”

“Get him to ring me when he’s there and I’ll sort him out.”


Later that day . . .

Edwin appealed to his mother, while he choked back sobs. “Mum, I don’t know what to do . . . hold on, someone’s at the door . . . Mum, I gotta run . . .”

His phone receiver clattered.

“Hello, Edwin? What’s going on?” She heard voices but couldn’t work anything out.

She heard the door close, then footsteps . . .

“Hello, Katie. Edwin burst in before and rang you. When he saw through the nets who was at the door, he dashed out the back way. I don’t know what’s going on, but it was . . . the police. I told them Edwin isn’t home. I’m really worried. I imagine it’s no good, whatever it’s about.”

“Wonder why the police want him.”


“Hi, Paul, did you find out what happened?”

“Yes. I rang you back as soon as. The police caught him just around the corner. He wanted to come back here, but they arrested him. He rang me from the police station. Said he got roped into robbing a dairy by those skinheads. It went badly and the police are rounding them up. He’s a mess.”

“Well, I guess we’ll find out the facts later. I’m sure he’ll be ok. It’ll be so obvious he was coerced. The mongrels.”

“Just one look at them and I knew they were trouble. Edwin told me how kind they were.”

“Can’t imagine him robbing a dairy because they kindly asked him!”


Katie turned up at the lawyer’s office in a straight black skirt, white shirt, and black tailored jacket. With her hair slicked back in a high ponytail, makeup, and heels, she knew she presented an illusion of professionalism and, hopefully, experience. Anything casual and she could be mistaken for Edwin’s sister.

“Hello, I’m Edwin’s lawyer, Liz Bolger.” Liz extended a hand and grasped Katie’s in a firm shake.

“Hello, I’m Katie Smith, Edwin’s mother.”

The two women eyed each other carefully. Liz Bolger’s eyes narrowed. Katie looked like a pretzel beside Liz.

They entered an office in which it would be impossible to swing a cat. (of nine tails). Edwin looked subdued. He constantly fidgeted and shrugged in his seat.

Liz cleared her throat and scowled. “Look, I’m going to be honest with you both. Edwin is looking at fourteen years in prison. There is little point in anything other than a guilty plea.”

“What actually happened?”

“I’ve already questioned Edwin. He had a knife and tried to rob a dairy. The dairy owner took him on. They fought, and your son was overcome. Someone else in the family rang the police. In the struggle, the owner unfortunately managed to get Edwin to step out of the shop and into the living room. He escaped and ran away and he’s now up for attempted robbery, attempted assault with a deadly weapon, and home invasion.”

Katie sat, unable to decide what expression to twist her face into. No words escaped her open mouth. All she could hear was the ticking of the clock, the thumping of her heart, and she felt a tightness in her chest making it hard to breathe.

“My two friends said they’d break my kneecaps if I didn’t do it. They told me it would work out if I did as they said. It was a lie. They took off in the car, so I ran back home.”

“Unfortunately, Edwin, they are not your friends. You not only entered the dairy to commit a crime, but you were the one who invaded a home. As your accomplices, they are, thankfully, equally guilty.” Liz stated the facts.

“They told me I had to coz I can’t drive.”

Liz stifled a giggle. “I really can’t work out who of the three of you is more idiotic. Them for choosing you as a side-kick and threatening you, of all people, to do the robbery. You for turning a snatch and run into home invasion, or them for leaving you behind. The whole thing is a mess. I imagine they’re very angry with how things turned out.”

“I can’t understand why they left me behind. Oh, I remember why they got me to do it. We rehearsed and they said I act way scarier.”

Katie slowly shook her head. “Doesn’t it count that they threatened Edwin into doing this?”

“No, it doesn’t. There’s no proof. It’s very bad luck that prosecution escalated this to home invasion. Because the other two have criminal records, they had no hope of pinning it all on Edwin. That’s the way it works. We especially want the other two locked away for a long time. You have no idea how frightened the victims are.”

“I really didn’t mean to scare those people. What if I write a letter to the Judge and say I’m very sorry?” asked Edwin. His face looked cherubic.

Liz fixed her eyes on Edwin and stared.

“I don’t know how Edwin will cope if he ends up in prison for fourteen years,” said Katie.


Katie rang the flat mate, Paul, with a heavy heart.

“Hi, Paul. Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

The line went silent.

“You know how you often said you’d like a less troublesome flat mate? Well, that’s the good news. Your wish will come true . . . The bad news is that Edwin is looking at fourteen years inside.”

“Holy shit! That’s insane. What a price to pay for not listening to me.”

Katie explained the whole sorry setup.

“Crap! That’s awful. He’ll die if he goes away that long. I don’t give him longer than a year. If he survives, it isn’t likely he will ever be rehabilitated. You know how he mirrors other’s behavior.”

“Any suggestions how we can get him out of this mess? I haven’t thought of anything that doesn’t involve breaking the law.”

An eerie quiet, descended. Katie looked at the tranquil surrounds of her lounge. She imagined the view Edwin would be looking at, devoid of color, greenery and comfort. Yet that would be the least of his worries. Paul’s voice broke the silence.

“Since the beginning, when I came to see you after Edwin first moved into my flat and things quickly descended into chaos . . .”

“I remember it well. We weren’t surprised. It concerned us that you had moved out of the flat and back home again. Our son quickly got some low-lives in to help with the rent. One of them stole a heap of stuff and left without paying a cent. The other ran up toll calls galore and wouldn’t pay. You came to the conclusion that Edwin had some serious issues. You were also concerned about things being in your name and the situation you’d been left in financially.”

“After realizing I’d made a big mistake taking him on, I also realized that in many ways he’s an innocent. My leaving didn’t help him or me. I wondered why you let him leave home when he was so young.”

“We explained the whole wretched story. We had three younger children at home and he wanted his freedom. We predicted what would happen and he remembered our warnings. Warnings that included that he could never return home again. It had to get so bad for him.”

“A tough love situation. I admired you for that.”

“We admired you for what you took on. You became his mentor.”

“Minding Edwin gave my life focus. Once he was back on his meds, you set up his money so everything got automatically paid, including the debts. He never looked back. He’s been my case study, my guinea-pig, while I’ve done my studies at Uni. As you know, there isn’t a thing I don’t know or understand about his condition.”

“Trouble is, you don’t have the credentials yet.”

“So that’s where you come in. I want you to find someone who has. Someone the judge will listen to, about Edwin’s problems. He has to fit in with society. In many ways he has done very well. However, we know he was manipulated by those two scumbags. Society needs to protect people like Edwin. Fourteen years in prison, just because he hasn’t a diagnosis of insanity, is insane!”

“I know what you mean. Thanks, Paul. I’ll get onto it. I hope the lawyer thinks an independent specialist can help.”


Katie did some research and found out about a lady in another city, called Stephanie De Fresne, who had the right qualifications. She took the call when Katie rang her office. The specialist was sympathetic and agreed that something needed to be done to ameliorate the potential sentence for Edwin.

Thankfully, the lawyer also agreed. She would ring the specialist to discuss the case and what facts could be brought in to help explain the seemingly out of character, though shocking, crime Edwin had attempted to commit. At the time, she promised to put the cost of the flights, and Stephanie’s personal bill, on the legal aid tab, providing the information could help the case.


“Hi Katie, Liz Bolger here. I’ve spoken to the psychologist and feel quite blown away. I have to apologize. I actually thought Edwin was putting on a sweet child act. I didn’t buy it. And I really wondered where you fitted into all this, as his mother. Your concern for him was inexplicable.”

“It hasn’t been easy. This is the worst trouble he’s been in.”

“Hiring Stephanie is the best way to handle his defense. But he will be sentenced. He did the crime, he’ll do the time.”

“I never want him to get into the hands of unscrupulous criminals again. We warned him. He needs to be punished.”

“I want this lady, Steph, to bring out why he can’t work out when he is being manipulated, the way he crumbles under threats, and doesn’t work out consequences logically.”

“When he experiences bad situations, he avoids similar ones in the future, like the plague. He’ll be bullied and used in prison but it would be overly harsh, and harmful, if this was for a long time. He is so sorry for what he did.”

“I am amazed your family kept a lid on him for so long. He has no criminal record. So many like him get into bad company, and the only way they can live is as criminals.”

“We need to keep him away from that life.”


Katie had picked up Stephanie De Fresne from the airport on the morning of Edward’s court session and there were plenty of hours before her return flight.

Edwin wore smart trousers and had on a shirt and tie. He hadn’t put them on to create a good impression, he felt comfortable in his own clothes. His smart haircut, rather grown out, still looked tidy. Stephanie reassured him she would do her best to explain his specific circumstances. He remained silent and his eyes shone with unshed tears. He handed a letter to his lawyer to give to the judge. A sincere apology and sorrow for frightening the victims of his crime.

As she sat, Katie prayed that the sentence would be a reasonable one. Her lips were pursed and she frowned.

How would Paul be affected? She knew that if he lost his flat mate, he would need a new inmate to help with the rent. The situation of Edwin flatting with Paul had helped these two young men, and had also made life much less stressful for Edwin’s family. Mentoring Edwin had become a part of Paul’s life.

The Judge read Edwin’s letter, listened carefully as the facts were presented, and focused on Stephanie De Fresne.as she answered the questions in a concise and caring way. He raised his eyebrows when she spoke essential facts to explain the reasoning behind Edwin’s actions. Was he enlightened, sympathetic? It remained to be seen.

Finally, everything had been covered. The Judge deliberated for a time.

To Katie it felt like eternity. Her stomach felt like it had screwed itself up into an uncomfortable ball. Would the money spent on Stephanie’s flights be worth it? Edwin sat with his shoulders hunched, his eyes downcast, while his legs jiggled.

“This is the case of Edwin Smith versus the owners of a Dairy, which took place on the 5th May 2011. The owners do not want their family name, or the location of their business revealed. On this day, Edwin Smith did enter the Dairy and unlawfully threatened the shopkeeper with a knife. He demanded the contents of the till. Two other persons of interest have pled guilty. One outside the door and another in the car, which vehicle was to carry the three away from the scene of the crime. It is alleged that Edwin Smith committed this crime to initiate himself into the group. Edwin claims to have been coerced. The three are equally responsible. Two drove away while Edwin Smith ran away. No one was injured, but Edwin Smith is guilty of intended robbery and assault, also home invasion. These are serious crimes. The victim defended himself, but Edwin Smith is the perpetrator. It matters not that the endeavor failed. The victim and his family have been traumatized by this unlawful act.”

The Judge stared at Edwin as if to bore holes in him. Edwin looked at the Judge, clenched his hands, and held his breath. The details of the scenario sounded awful when expressed so starkly.

The Judge continued. “After carefully weighing all of these factors, I rule that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. I have also considered that up until the 5th May, Mr. Smith had no prior instances of unlawful behavior. As has been explained by the Psychologist Ms. De Fresne, I believe that no malice was intended by Smith towards the victim or his family. As Smith’s attempt was unsuccessful, this can serve as a lesson to never do anything so vile again. From the sorrow he has expressed, I believe this is the case. Under section 232 of the Crimes Act, I am charging Edwin Smith with the crime of aggravated robbery and home invasion . . . He is sentenced to 12 months imprisonment with 6 months of this being transferred to home detention, conditional on a good report at the end of the first six months. Young man.” His eyebrows creased and his eyes bored into Edwin again, “I never want to see you in my court again!”

The judge rapped on top of the table with his gavel as Edwin nodded.

A huge smile spread over Liz Bolger’s face, Katie almost fell off her seat, while Edwin stared at the Judge in wonder.


Katie gave her son a hug in the foyer on their way out of court. He had tears rolling down his face.

“You’ve got this. Six months in prison isn’t long,” said Katie. It would be a long year, but it was unprecedented to have such a light sentence.

 Liz thanked Stephanie for her input.


Katie couldn’t wait to share the great outcome with Paul.

He called her back later with a suggestion. “Katie, I’ve done some thinking. As Edwin will need somewhere to stay for his home detention, I wondered how you’d feel about paying his rent for six months? I’m sure he’ll have the other six transferred to home detention. It’ll be hard, but it will be the best thing for Edwin.”

“Oh, goodness. I hadn’t thought about that. I think we can help you. You are a lifesaver, Paul. Also, when I come into the city several times a week, I’ll drop in meals for you. It’ll help with your expenses. Another thing, Edwin will pay back every cent we pay you for the rent. It’s only right for all we’ve been through. An added penalty for his felony.”

“When you visit him, could you also take him anything he needs? Six months will go quickly. I hope he copes ok.”

“After the Judge’s stern words, I can scarcely believe he only got a year, all up.”

“I think the Judge realized that Edwin wouldn’t survive with a longer sentence. He’s also less likely to reoffend with a shorter sentence.”

Katie found out later, that the other two young men had been sentenced to seven years each and sent to a different prison. On the surface, it seemed unfair, but it was better for Edwin.

It also disappointed her that the lawyer Ms. Bolger hadn’t included the cost of the psychologist’s flights in the amount she asked from the legal aid fund. In her defense, she had been concerned that her extra case hours wouldn’t be covered.

November 01, 2023 07:42

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Zavier M. Ames
00:40 Mar 28, 2024

Kaitlyn, You've written a different type of story from what I've read this time, not your usual fare. I loved it. Well-written and exactly the best way to write a legal drama in short story form. This story reminds me of Andy Dufresne's character (the psychologist's name sounded similar to me) in Shawshank Redemption when he said "The funny thing is - on the outside, I was an honest man, straight as an arrow. I had to come to prison to be a crook..." Wonderful. Fantastic character development.


03:23 Mar 28, 2024

Thanks for enjoying, Zavier. In case you wondered exactly what is wrong with Edwin. I portrayed a character under the spectrum. He has Asperger's Syndrome. He is great at acting. Unfortunately, he's been roped into 'acting' the wrong sort of parts, at times.


Zavier M. Ames
03:25 Mar 28, 2024

Ah I was thinking about this being a possibility after you had mentioned Edwin likes to mirror others and he didn't get an insanity plea.


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Graham Kinross
06:51 Nov 18, 2023

This was rejected? I write sequels all the time. I’ve given up on the competition. I like the Reedsy community though.


19:55 Nov 18, 2023

Thanks for the read. I have read the guidelines and it states they don't want bits from larger works and as I had titled it with the same title but Part 2 - despite it being written as a stand alone, yes they rejected it and stood their ground even when I emailed and pointed out it actually wasn't really part of a series and is a stand alone. Anyway, they didn't reject it with a different title and it fitted the prompt ok. Which is why Mary thought she read it again. Jo Malgeri is no longer with Reedsy and removed herself and all her comment...


Graham Kinross
21:50 Nov 18, 2023

I never number my sequels. Not in the title anyway but I’m my profile I lost them all. Hopefully they’re not going to get rid of sequels. That would seem a bit counterproductive since people who are writing sequels are putting a lot of time into reedsy. I wish a story was judged on its merit as a stand-alone and not just discounted because it’s part of something else.


22:48 Nov 19, 2023

I only recently found out. I believe that if you do it as a stand alone, title it as a stand alone, and it makes enough sense (As in, not too random or lacking in backstory) No judges would be any the wiser. Any comments afterward happen after the submission anyway, hee hee!


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Mary Bendickson
19:09 Nov 01, 2023

This sounded familiar. Had you shared this before?


19:47 Nov 01, 2023

Hi Mary. Yes it was rejected because they didn't see it as a stand alone story!? I changed the title, tweaked it, and believe that this time it fits the prompts much better. I thought the story itself was very good (maybe not the writing but the story itself.) Sorry if you had a deja vu moment. Do you think it works this time?


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