Jemie the Victim
Jemie Gibbs had been working at Harmon’s Bar and Grill two towns over from Broke. It was a nice place to make a fresh start. The former police officer who owned the joint had taken a liking to Jemie and hired her as a hostess. Besides, after her humiliating loss in Broke, there was no going back.
The first week, Jemie found a nice one bedroom apartment above a beauty salon within walking distance to the restaurant. She had also scoped out the best looking bar regulars and wait staff.
Of course, they had all noticed her back.
By that day, Jemie had her eye on one particular customer, Drew Bowersox. He was a late dinner customer — always dressed smartly in a jacket and tie. He was a hair taller than most men with a full head of long blonde hair tied in a ponytail. Drew was also a friend of the owner and, best of all, he was a big tipper.
The lunch crowd was just dying down when Drew appeared at the door.
Today, he had a badge and a gun prominently displayed.
“Hi,” he said coming up to the hostess stand.
“Hey, Mr. Bowersox, you’re early today. You just missed the owner, he should be back soon if you want to wait. I could set you up with some ice tea and something to eat.”
“Today, its Officer Bowersox, and no doll, I’m here to see you.”
A swarm of butterflies crept into Jemie’s stomach and her eyes got wide. “You are?”
“Uh-huh,” he answered with a smile that revealed a perfect set of bright white teeth. “I was hoping you could come down to the station with me and talk about Tommy Stout.”
Jemie just stared at him for a minute. The butterflies were turning on her now, chewing away at her stomach lining. “Tommy Stout?”
“Yes, Tommy Stout,” he remarked now dangling his handcuffs in front of her.
“I’m a bit confused. I haven’t seen Tommy since my lawsuit. That was over a year ago.”
“Well, more like ten months, but we need to clear some things up. So, why don’t you sashay over to the car and we’ll head to the station.”
Most of the wait staff was out front now when Jemie left. As Drew drove her to the police department she sat behind him willing herself not to cry. Her hand fidgeting, her arms shaking, her toes curled tight in her shoes.
Jemie wished, as she had several times before, that she had never chased after Tommy Stout. He was bad news. That was all she seemed to be able to attract nowadays.
Once they got the station, Drew showed her into a small room. It was like every room she had ever seen on television — white, confined, with a table, chair and giant mirror. There was a small brown box on the floor under the table with her name on it.
He pulled out a chair for her to sit down and then took a seat across from her. Drew picked up the box and laid it on the table.
“So, Jemie Gibbs.”
“The youngest of three girls. Your sisters have ethnic sounding names, but you got Jemie. How did that happen?”
“My mom had seen it in a newspaper article and liked it.” Jemie smiled proudly even though his question sounded more antagonistic then compliment.
“Interesting. You called out of work two nights ago, how come?”
“It’s my time a month and I wasn’t feeling well. I get really bad cramps. What does that have to do with Tommy Stout?”
“Right, you had quite the relationship with Mr. Tommy Stout didn’t you?”
“You sued him recently for pain and suffering due to an altercation that occurred a couple of years ago, right?”
“And you lost in court.”
Drew nodded and rummaged through the box occasionally looking over at her. He pulled out a long legal note pad, flipped open to the front page and leaned back in his chair.
“Says here, you went to school with Tommy Stout.”
“Yes, I did.”
“You come from a big ethnic family, right? Your parents wanted you to marry a nice boy and raise a family, but you ended up with Tommy.”
Jemie eyes got wide and she nodded.
“Your sisters, the ones with ethnic names, they got married, they both live in Broke, and they have kids. Your one brother-in-law, he has a big truck, a Hemi, real nice, black right?”
Jemie thought a moment and then nodded again.
“He ever let you borrow that truck?”
“Just once, when I moved here.”
“Really, that was nice of him.”
“Now, my notes here say, you were a bit spoiled in your family. You got everything you wanted. You think that’s true.”
“Well, you were something in high school, right. You dated all the boys. I mean, you stole your best friend Maggie Little’s boyfriend Jimmie. You even slept around with your sister’s boyfriend before they were married. Well, oops, both sisters.”
Jemie leaned forward and glared at him.
“You were known to steal boyfriends at school functions, after school activities, even the prom. And, yet, you settled on Tommy Stout. Why him?”
Jemie continued to glower at him. He was talking about her life like it wasn’t real. It was real to her. She didn’t steal anything. Boys, men, came willingly. “You can’t shame me like this, you have no right.”
Drew looked up from his notepad at her. “I’m not shaming anyone. If you did this, then say yes, if you didn’t then say no.” He picked up the notepad again a flipped some pages.
Given the strength of Jemie’s stare, Drew’s face should have melted off by now. “No, I didn’t steal anything. I liked Tommy because he was always nice to me. ”
“Right, until he wasn’t. Tommy has quite the problem with girls. Yet, you would stalk his bedroom window, drive past his house nightly.”
“I don’t have a car.”
“My bad, you would get Maggie Little to drive her car past his house. She would wait for you while you went to his window. That girl even carted you back and forth to Betty’s Bar so you could buy him a drink. All while you’re banging her boyfriend Jimmie on the sly.”
“Tommy bought me drinks, I never buy drinks.”
“Exactly, but, you would get mad and make threats toward the women he slept around with too.” Drew flipped more pages. “There is a list of some ten women here who complained about you.”
“They were just jealous. Tommy would sleep with them, but he would always come back to me.” Jemie started to cry then. “How do you know all this?”
“I’m the police, honey, I know everything.”
“Why do you know anything about me? I haven’t committed a crime.”
“I’ll get to that. What I want to know is what happened that made you sue him? Why wasn’t it reported to the police in Broke?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, I will. Tommy beat you up severely. According to the staff at the hospital, you suffered a broken jaw, wrist, and foot. You also had lacerations. They tell us you spent two months in the hospital recouping from your injuries. Does that sum it up?”
“Why didn’t you report this to the police?”
“I was scared. Tommy’s parents are wealthy. His brother is lawyer. His father plays golf with the police chief Swenson. I mean, look at all the other girls he did this to and he is still out walking around.”
“The girls you got to testify?”
Jemie nodded again as the tears streamed down her face.
“Those girls were fake, most didn’t know who Tommy Stout was. You convinced them to do it for money. Since you lost, who paid them?”
“My brother in law did.”
“The one with the truck?”
“No, the other one.”
“I see, so you thought you would have better luck if you hired a lawyer yourself and sought justice that way?”
“Okay, let us talk about Wendella.”
Jemie rolled her eyes and wiped the tears off her face. “She’s a witch.”
“That is what I hear. Why is she a witch?”
“For one, I know that her baby doesn’t belong to Tommy. He would never be so careless. If he was it is because she tricked him.”
“You aren’t glad that she might have tricked him?”
“You still care for him. You love Tommy.”
“And I always will.”
Drew nodded and flipped some more pages.
“You know Wendy is a cat burglar. Everyone knows she broke into houses and stole money,” Jemie told him.
“Strange how everyone knows, but she was never arrested.”
“Because she’s a witch. Tommy and his family bought her all these nice things, put her up in a house, gave her a car, and now she’s pregnant. He doesn’t even like her.”
“Not as much as he likes you, right? It says here that you and Wendy weren’t friends at all. You tried to date her younger brother Warren and she nixed that for you. Wow that must have made you mad?”
“No, I was just being nice to Warren. I didn’t try to date him. I felt bad for him because his sister — “
“… is a witch, yup, got it.”
“Warren actually dated Maggie Little, not me.”
“So, if she is a cat burglar, wouldn’t being in a committed relationship and having a baby cramp her style?”
“She’s up to something. I don’t know what, but she’s up to something.”
“Yeah, she’s up to testifying against you, right? And her baby’s father loosing his hand the other night, what’s that all about?”
Jemie gave a startled jump. “Lost his hand?”
“Yes, someone, a woman by Tommy’s account, in a large black Hemi pickup dragged him through the woods and cut off his hand just below the elbow with an axe.”
“Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me that? I have to see him!”
“You’ll see him soon, don’t worry.”
“I will? Is he coming here?”
The door opened then and Broke’s police chief, Mathis Swenson, stepped inside. He was dressed in regular blue uniform, not like the white shirt and black pants she normally saw him in around town. He calmly stepped over and placed both hands on the table. “I think you’ve had enough fun, Drew. Time for me to get this one back to Broke.”
“What? Why?” Jemie frantically asked.
“Jemie, I need you to stand up and place your hands behind your back,” Mathis instructed.
“Wait, you think I did this to Tommy?”
“I’m going to read you your rights, young lady,” Mathis told her as he placed hand cuffs on her tiny wrists.
Jemie begged and pleaded as they lead her out to the awaiting squad car. She told them over and over again, it wasn’t her, she would never hurt a fly, she didn’t want revenge, and she was innocent.
The ride back to Broke was short and as they pulled up to the police station in Broke, she caught a glimpse of Maggie Little coming out the front doors. Had her only friend betrayed her?
That night, laying on the hard, thin mattress, she stared up at the ceiling and wept quietly. No matter what she said or did, the evidence was insurmountable. The years of making threats, conniving and manipulating would now haunt her for the rest of her life.