by Channie Greenberg
Precious stuck her snout in the air and sniffed. Vinegar. Tyrell was cleaning up more blood. She’d never tell him that hydrogen peroxide worked better than vinegar in getting rid of plasma stains since the blood he was cleaning up was from their beloved Granny, the elderly hedgehog that was their mother’s mother.
Shaking her head, Precious sidled to her computer. She had almost enough evidence to bring in that expensive solicitor. It was a good thing she had had those cameras installed when Tyrell was socializing at a streamside tavern. On balance, it was a bad thing, that according to the law, the burden of proof remained on the victim.
To wit, Precious had also planted microphones. She meant to record Tyrell’s threats as well as to take pictures of his harmful doings. Soon, Police Chief Sally would be able to haul away that violent furze pig. Grandma and Precious would be safe, again.
Being an unemployed hedgehog was one thing. Abusing an elder was something else. Whereas members of their prickle might look suspiciously at a bush rodent that lazed about instead of utilizing his training as a carpenter, it was troubling that those other hedgehogs’ fear of litigious entanglement kept them from punishing the beast that beat up their old, infirm matron.
“It’s community taxes,” Tyrell had claimed as he drank elderberry wine at the most recent family gathering. “They’re killing me.”
“So, use your carpenter training. Folks have big litters these days and would buy those nifty, multi-level bunk beds you know how to make.”
“People want ’em, but don’t want to pay full price for ’em.”
“So, provide discounts. Also, give up scarab bugs and Japanese beetle larva. Unemployment checks only go so far. You shouldn’t buy such things.”
“Since I live with Granny, I have money to spare. She’s the best. She adores me. She buys me so much regular chow that I can use my checks for those delicacies.”
“You need to move out. We know you’re pummeling that old hedgehog. So what if living on your own means you can’t have expensive yummies? You’re hurting her. That’s wrong. Besides, she’s not rich. You’re impoverishing her, too. Marry a young, prosperous sow if you want luxuries.”
“The leftover girls are all ugly. Grubs are too delicious to give up. You eat them, so don’t lecture me. Also, don’t bad-mouth my relationship with Granny. She’s all I have, except for my no-goodnik littermate, Precious.”
At the same reunion, in a different chamber, Precious, too, was trying to rally the family. “The mail carrier and the fellow who delivers bottled milk know that Granny has, courtesy of Tyrell, sores around her eyes, a broken paw, a chunk missing from her already abbreviated tail, and many, many sections of skin without quills. Since they won’t testify, it’s up to us to protect her!”
“Against Tyrell? What law’s going to back us up? I thought you said he found and destroyed all of your cameras. Which police are going to take him away?”
“I’ll move into Granny’s room.”
“Granny won’t bear witness against him. She’s too afraid. Anyway, upon release, he’ll go back to his machinations. Most similar cases never see the docket.”
“I’ll learn martial arts and defend her. I’ll form a patrol and we’ll defend all of the old hedgehogs. I’ll even knit berets for us vigilantes to wear”
“I still have audio recordings. Tyrell never found those machines. He’ll get put away.”
The evidence provided by the tape recorders proved inadequate. Until the embezzlement charges came up, Tyrell received only a small fine and a month of community service. His crime was rubricked as merely “misconduct.”
Between his first and later sentencing, however, he picked the new locks that Precious had installed on Granny’s bedroom door. Once more, he drew blood. That second round, though, he also battered his sister.
In the end, none of Precious’ efforts sufficed. Rather, it was the paper trail generated by the hedgehogs’ bank in addition to the one generated by Granny’s Internet provider that sent Tyrell away for ten years.
Granny lived out her life in peace and passed on in peace. The courts hadn’t cared about her or Precious’ suffering; they had intervened only when two important businesses made a lot of noise about losing revenues that were due.
Copyright © 2017 by Channie Greenberg