Snakes and Pills

123 - come up

The cop car lurched to a halt at the side of the road. "This the place?" the driver asked. His partner glanced down at the read-out on the computer screen in the center console. "Yep. There she is."

The two officers peered out the windshield. Their view was a rather ordinary park with a rather ordinary playground. Both the park and the playground were deserted, save for one woman on the playground, by the swings.

The woman was gently pushing an empty swing, by the chains, as if someone were occupying the strip of black rubber that comprised the swing's seat. The swing rocked slowly back and forth, and the woman was careful about never allowing it to get out of control.

"The call came in about thirty minutes ago, and the person who reported her said she had been out here for at least an hour already. Just like this, she's been standing here pushing an empty swing the whole time," the police officer in the passenger seat said.

"So? What exactly is the crime?" the driver asked.

"No crime. The person who called it in was just some concerned parent. She said her kids were getting kind of creeped out by the 'strange lady,' so they left. But the mother was worried that maybe something was really wrong with this lady, and thus the report which we're now investigating."

The driver nodded, and then asked, "So what are we thinking, just another crazy hobo?"

His partner scoffed. "Come on, rookie. How many 'hobos' have you seen that are as well kept and dressed as nicely as this woman?"

"Well, none, I guess. So what do you think, then?"

"It is definitely a case of crazy. But, not one that I would say is her fault. See, this lady had a kid a couple of years back. Father wasn't involved, I'm not sure exactly why. Anyhow, the boy was three years old or so, when he just dies of heart failure. It's a freak thing, nobody, not even the doctors, saw it coming. But it happened."

The officer paused to take a sip of his coffee, with his partner listening intently. He then continued, "So, that's rough shit, you know. It's gonna hit anyone hard. Any parent, I mean. But this boy was her whole world, and she just kind of went off the deep end. Refused to accept it, refused to let go. That, rookie, that's what you and I are witnessing right now."

"How do you know all of this?" the cop behind the wheel asked.

"This isn't the first time she's been the subject of a call. Three months ago, it was almost the exact same deal, but at one of those fast food restaurants' little playpen things. I remember McDougal talking about it back at the station, and when we got this report, I pulled up the case file. Sure enough, it's a complete match."

"So what did they do that time?"

"Well, McDougal actually had to bring her in. Suppose it was because she was on private property, and she refused to leave. They referred her to get a full psych analysis, but she was ultimately released because she was deemed to not be a risk to anyone."

"So what are we gonna do this time?"

"A park is a public place, and you said it yourself, rookie. She's not breaking any laws. But it couldn't hurt to at least go check in with her and make sure everything's alright."

The driver switched the engine off, and both officers swung their doors open. The woman, still at the swing set, completely failed to notice their approach.


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