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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
by Bill Tope

"Here, let me help you," I said, bending to
lift the old lady from the pavement, where
she'd fallen.  Assisting her onto the park
bench, I said reassuringly, "That's better;
you'll be alright now, Granny." I smiled.
"Granny, hell!" she snarled and struck me
sharply across the forearm with the old
wooden cane she carried.  "You little shit!"
she added crossly.
i jumped backwards, felt my arm tenderly.
Her own smile crinkled her eyes.  "You
leaned something there, didn't you, Young
Man?" she remarked brightly.  I stared at her.
"Always let a sleeping dog lie," she continued
"But, I thought you were hurt," I began
defensively and she cocked the arm carrying
the cane and was about to crack me across my
shins when I backed up some more. "An' never
interrupt a seasoned citizen when's she's
talkin'," she admonished hatefully.
"Sorry," I muttered.  She cocked her head to
indicate that she couldn't hear. I edged closer
and she whacked me smartly on my forehead
with her damned stick. It sounded like the
thump a piece of wood makes when it strikes
a hollow log and it echoed through the trees.
I fled back out of range again. "Youse be learnin'
all kinda' lessons today." And she cackled
unpleasantly.  "Look," I said, gingerly touching the
growing knot on my forehead, "I'm going to leave;
if you don't need any help or anything, then..."
"I need five dolla' for tape to fix my cane," she told
me. Furrowing my brow, I leaned in a little to
observe the cane; indeed it had a sliver of a crack
running from the curved handle down the length
of the stick. I frowned, considered telling her that's
what she gets, but then told myself, I'll be old and
feeble--and crazy--one day. I handed her the five.
Next she began shouting, "Hep', hep', I'm being
bothered!" A cop materialized out of nowhere and
approached the two of us.  He looked at me dubiously
and asked the old woman what the problem was. 
She explained that I had tried to proposition her for
sexual favors and to prove it, held up the five spot.
"Prevert!" she spat spitefully. But her eyes were
The cop turned to me, said what about it? i was
speechless.  I lifted my hands, then dropped them
helplessly back to my sides.  Go on, beat it, he ordered.
Imagine, preying on a sweet old lady.  I slunk away,
mortified. Then I heard the cop ask the woman, "You
okay now, Granny?" As I stepped off the pavement
into the street I could hear the sound made by a piece
of wood striking a hollow log.