Big Bertha
By Wakefield Mahon

Big Bertha, that’s what the boys called her in school.  I thought she had moved out of Folmun.  I certainly didn’t expect to see her in line at First National Bank.

“Hello Lupe.”  Her lips never moved.

So she knew.  All those years in school, I could read her mind; I knew what the boys did to Beatrice after school. I never stood up for her.

A gunshot interrupted my guilty pity party.  I’d been so focused on her, I hadn’t noticed the man, but now his anxiety hit me like a wall.

A teller triggered an audible alarm and the robber panicked.  He shot the teller and a guard who was fumbling for his sidearm.  Then he started shooting customers at random.

Beatrice glanced at me and transmitted a single thought.  “The quality of mercy is not strained.”  Before I understood what she meant, she launched herself forward, tackling the gunman and taking several shots to the chest in the process.

Spurred by her action, I wrestled the gun away and subdued the stunned attacker with the help of a few other customers.

The police and paramedics were on their way but by the silence in my head, I knew she was already gone.  The peaceful look on her face still haunts my nightmares.

I guess you could say that’s why I joined the force.  I won’t, I can’t let her example, her sacrifice, go unanswered.  I will never stand by and let an innocent person get hurt again.

250 Words from the world of Full Moon City

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