Short Story: Baseless Accusation
I was born with one brown eye and one black one. The brown eye sees things as they are, and although the black one does not always see the things in front of me, it can see much more.
It sees the past.
Some people might consider that omniscience. It’s not. I can see everything that has ever happened, but I don’t know the context, and I can’t hear anything when I’m pasting so hard to collect new clues if I don’t already know what’s going on.
But I don’t need background context to know that this woman is flat out bonkers if she thinks that Dad would want to rape her.
For one thing, Dad’s not that kind of person. For another, this woman does not look attractive at all. Patchy hair, scratched up hands, screechy voice. Mum is a hundred times better.
The woman screams accusations at Dad for anyone who will listen. A crowd starts to form, phones come out of their pockets, but everyone seems content to just watch the show. Good. Don’t want any misguided do-gooders to attack Dad. But it’ll be better if people just leave us alone completely.
I look for Uncle James.
Uncle James picked up a jar of honey from a stall. The owner said something, and Uncle James threw his head back in laughter.
I push through the ring of people that have formed around us and dash towards the honey stall. Uncle James takes one look at my face and drops his smile.
“What happened?” he asks.
“A crazy woman’s accusing Dad of raping her,” I say.
Uncle James puts the honey down. “I’ll be back.”
We push through the crowd to get back to my family. The crazy woman is still screaming at Dad. I clench my fists. Uncle James is here. My eye is ready. It’s time to set this woman straight.
“Ah. Miss Mary,” Uncle James says.
As if talking to a frightened child, uncle James pulls out his badge and gently assures the crazy woman that he’s a police officer, that he has things under control, and where’s Aunty?
‘Aunty’ turns out to be the woman’s mother. And while Mary’s attention is on Aunty, Uncle James shifts to block Dad from Mary’s sight and whispers for us to leave.
And I watch as Uncle James pulls Mary aside and gently talk her down from her frantic screaming. Finally, she calms down and docilely follows Aunty away.
“Who was that?” I ask, fists still clenched by my side.
“She was raped many years ago and never recovered. We have a special file for her because she has a tendency to misidentify innocent people as her rapist.”
“And that makes it ok for her to go around ruining innocent people’s lives?”
“We do what we can, but we can’t lock her up like a criminal either.”
“Then what about the rapist?”
“Dead. He messed with the wrong target.”
“Then…” A familiar fire burns in my chest, but it has nowhere to go. “Then…”
Uncles James rests a hand on my head and ruffles my hair. It is a familiar and comforting weight. While it doesn’t solve anything, it helps me pull my thoughts to another topic.
“Why don’t I know about her?” I ask
“As much as you help us, you’re still a civilian, and our little baby. We want to keep the dirty side of the world away from you for as long as possible. So don’t look for this. It’s not a pretty story and you already know how it ends. You hear me?”
I nod. “Crystal clear.”
He ruffles my hair once more then slings his arm over my shoulder.
“Let’s go find your dad.”