"Hey, Stump," Ron called out as he and Moses ran Gina down. It hadn’t taken long after Ron got out of prison to find Gina.
"Hey, Stump. Wait up," he called to Gina.
Ron and Moses quickly backed twelve-year-old Gina up against a chain-link fence.
"You got me two years in the slammer," Ron slapped Gina across the face, "You should have never called the cops." Ron angrily spat out the words. Slapping her across the face again, and again, he grabbed her by the throat, lifting her onto her toes. He then ripped open her blouse and pulled up her skirt.
The sudden pain of his little finger breaking caused him to release his prisoner. Turning, he faced a very tall, thin twelve-year-old Dana.
"What the fuck?" he yelled.
Moses grabbed Dana by her hair. Dana's well-placed stomp broke three critical bones. He quickly lost the use of his left foot as he let Dana's hair go with a loud, "Fuck!"
Gina had fallen to the ground when Ron turned to take a swing at Dana; she easily avoided the blow. Before Ron could complete the swing, he felt his sixth rib on his right-side break.
Moses pulled his gun from the back of his pants. Dana kicked in his right knee, breaking it at the joint. His 9mm automatic flew across the street as he hit the ground. He was not going to stand for quite a while.
Ron tried to kick Dana. She pushed his leg even higher, dropping him on his back. As he hit the ground, Dana dropped a knee in his chest, breaking his ninth rib.
With both men down, Dana turned to help Gina up off the ground. Seeing Gina's eyes grow wide, Dana quickly pivoted to react to Ron pointing a gun at her head. She turned the gun backward toward the ground, breaking more of Ron's fingers in the process. She then threw a palm at his jaw, breaking it, and followed up with a blow to the side of Ron's head; his eyes rolled back as he hit the ground.
With the men down, Dana turned to Gina, who was still leaning against the fence, her blouse torn open. Dana pulled her blouse over her small chest. Dana asked, "Are you okay? You're bleeding," Dana saw blood coming out of her nose and lip.
"No. No, I'm okay," Gina's eyes, which were rolling around in her head, told Dana a different story.
"I'm Dana. They call me Godzilla at school, and you're Stump, right?" Dana said, putting her arm around Gina's shoulders. She walked her down the street, turning their backs on the two men lying on the sidewalk. "So, Stump, what's your real name?" Dana asked calmly.
"Gina," she said, looking up at her protector.
"I've seen you around school." Dana was talking to her in a calm voice as if nothing had happened. Gina’s whole body was still trembling. As they rounded the corner two blocks down the street, they heard sirens announcing the arrival of the police.
“There they are,” the crossing guard announced, pointing the police in the direction of the fight. The police approached the men with drawn guns. Ron was lying on his back on the sidewalk, out cold with his gun still in his hand. Moses was crawling across the street.
Standing over Moses, the officer asked, "Where are you going, buddy?"
"To get my gun and shoot that fucking kid who did this to me," was Moses's answer.
"No worries. I'll get it." The officer said with a chuckle. He had never got a confession so fast.
"Where do you live, Gina?" Dana asked as they walked along. "Over off Piedmont. Those apartments. You know."
"Oh. That's like ten blocks. My house is just over a few blocks. Let's go there and fix you up." Dana guided Gina toward her house.
Eve was leaving home for her shift at the hospital when she saw the girls walking up the sidewalk. The minute she saw the way her daughter was protecting the little girl, she knew something was very wrong. When she noticed the torn blouse and blood on the little girl's face, Eve rushed to meet them on the sidewalk. “What happened?”
"Mom, this is Gina. She goes to my school." Eve had gotten down on one knee and was examining Gina's bloody lip and nose. The wounds had stopped bleeding, but there was plenty of dried blood on her face. The bruises on her face and neck were just starting to get an ugly purple color. Eve then stopped to look at Dana and do a quick inspection. She didn’t expect to see any blood or bruises.
"Come with me, honey," Eve said, taking Gina by the hand. "We'll fix you up." As they started walking toward the house, Eve ordered, "Dana, talk!"
Dana began to tell her story as they entered the house. With Gina in the middle, they headed to the kitchen.
"I was coming home from school when I saw these two men. One was beating Gina up," Dana started.
Gina was quiet as Eve sat her in a chair and carefully wiped the blood from her face with a wet towel. Eve carefully checked Gina’s eyes, ears, and nose. Looking at the bruising on her throat, she stopped Dana and asked Gina a few questions. Eve was listening to her voice and breathing to determine if there was any other damage.
"Go on, Dana. Describe what happened," Eve said, as Dana continued her description, Eve opened the refrigerator door, taking out an ever-present ice pack, used for moves gone wrong on the martial arts mat outback. She put the ice pack on the side of Gina’s bruised face. “Honey, hold this, it will keep the swelling down. OK, Dana, stay with Gina. I'll get her a new blouse,” Eve said, on the way upstairs, she stopped and called the police, asking that they bring an EMS with them. Then a quick call to the hospital, telling her supervisor she had a family emergency and wouldn't be in today. Back with the girls, Eve explained that the police had to talk with them.
“Everything will be alright. Just tell the truth. Also, I asked for a nurse to give you a check-up," Eve took her hand, “Gina, I'm a nurse. So, when I tell you that there is no damage and you will heal, you know I'm telling you the truth."
Gina nodded in agreement. "Gina, I need to call your mom.”
"I live with my aunt. She's a flight attendant. She won't be home till the day after tomorrow. I can't always call her. My sitter won't be at my house till five," Gina explained.
"We should call the sitter then," Eve said.
"Her name is Alice, and she’s new. I don't know her number," Gina answered.
"Okay, what's your phone number? We'll call your sitter at five." Eve wrote down the number as Gina called it out.
Dana and Gina were still sitting in the kitchen when a plainclothes detective, a uniformed officer, and the EMS nurse showed up at the door.
Eve led everyone into the kitchen. The detective directed the nurse to check out Gina and document her wounds.
Stepping around the men, the nurse noticed Eve, "Oh, Hi, Eve. These your kids?"
"Just the tall one, Susan. I think Gina, the shorter one, doesn't have any long-term trauma. Other than bruises and a split lip. But you make sure," Eve said.
"So, you're a doctor?" The detective asked Eve.
"No, just a nurse. Susan and I work out of the same hospital…You're Detective Lawrence," Eve said, recognizing him, "You got shot in the left leg, maybe two years ago. I took care of you at the hospital."
The detective gave Eve a half-smile and shrugged. He had been too doped up to remember. "Okay, where is the guy who beat up those other guys? The ones we found on the sidewalk, over near the high school?" he asked.
"Oh, that was me," Dana said, her eyes wide.
"No, the tall one who beat up the bad guys?" The detective asked again.
"That was me," Dana stood up, showing off her five-foot eight- inch, still growing thin frame.
Detective Lawrence was shaking his head. He began again. "The crossing guard saw a tall kid beating up those bad guys. So, who was it?"
"That was Dana," Gina said, grabbing Dana's arm.
"Come on. Who was it?" the detective asked again, pointing his finger at Gina.
"I believe that was my daughter, Dana," Eve stepped in. "She's well capable of beating those men up."
"Come on, they had guns. Who was it?" The detective said, looking around.
"Dana, explain to the detective, please, what you did, move by move," Eve said to Dana.
Dana put her hands up in Karate attack pose, "No, Dana.” Eve said, “Tell in detail. Do not demonstrate. Now sit down, please."
"Well, I was across the street when I saw this guy slapping Gina really hard," Dana started.
"Can you describe him? Was his partner with the guy attacking Gina?"
The nurse had finished up with Gina. She handed a report on a clipboard to the detective, who signed it. The nurse took off the top copy and gave it to him. "It is just like you said, Eve. There's nothing that won't heal. See you at the hospital." The nurse gathered her things and made her way out the door.
"Okay, where were we?" Detective Lawrence folded the report and put it in his pocket.
Dana went on to describe, move by move, what she did and what the bad guys did. A lot of her descriptions used martial arts terms.
Eve would come in and give a more generic description of her moves. After a few more questions, Detective Lawrence was finally convinced. He had to believe the unbelievable. This young girl took on two dangerous men, on purpose, and beat the hell out of them.
“Okay, I guess you’re the man. Sorry, you’re what? A tough, dangerous little girl,” the detective said, looking for a description.
“They call me Godzilla at school because I’m so tall,” Dana said. “I guess now I’ll never live that name down.”
“They call me Stump because I’m so short,” Gina said, extending her hand to shake the detectives.
“Well, I’m delighted to meet you brave girls.” Detective Lawrence said. “If I ever need help, I’ll give you a call.”
The girls giggled.
“No, really,” he said with his eyes wide.
The girls giggled again.
The detective stood, wrapping up his most unbelievable interview ever. Under his breath, he said, “They’re never going to believe this at the station house.”
“Detective, would it be okay if Gina stays with us tonight?” Eve asked.
“Yes, can she, Mom?” Dana asked.
“Can I stay with Dana?” Gina asked Eve, taking Dana’s arm.
“That would be great,” the detective said. “I’ll send a car around to talk to the sitter. But I’m sure it will be okay. I guess the sitter can tell us how and when we can contact your aunt.”
“Can I call my husband now?” Eve asked.
“Sure, Mind if I finish up a few notes before I go. I might have another question or two.”
Christopher was home in less than fifteen minutes.
Detective Lawrence met Christopher outside on the sidewalk. “You have an amazing and brave little girl there. Have her describe how she took down two thugs with guns. She probably saved Gina from rape and death. Amazing.” Shaking Christopher’s hand, the detective instructed the other patrol car, telling them, “wait here and to go to Gina’s house around five, tell.” Signaling the uniform officer that they were leaving, the detective handed Christopher his card. “Call me anytime.”
As the detective and the uniformed officer got into their patrol car, the detective said, “I hope the press goes easy on them.”
Dana met her dad at the door. She got a great big hug. “Are you okay?” he asked and then turned to Eve. “She’s okay, right?”
“Yes. And this is Gina,” Eve waved her hand toward Gina.
Christopher, with his arm still around Dana, led them all into the library. Eve poured two glasses of wine and handed one to Christopher before taking her seat.
“Okay, Dana, what happened?” Christopher asked, looking at Dana and Gina on the sofa. Before Dana could get beyond, “I was across the street,” Lars came crashing in.
“What happened?” Lars was confused. “That cop out there, gave me the third degree, patted me down, and asked for my driver’s license.”
“Lars, this is Gina. Gina, this is my son Lars. Lars, Gina’s going to be our houseguest tonight.” Eve said.
“Hi, Lars,” Gina said. Lars gave her a little wave.
“Okay, Dana. Start over,” Christopher said as Lars took his seat.
Almost an hour later, Dana finished up by saying, “I don’t see I had a choice.”
Eve had been going back and forth, preparing dinner. Before Christopher could voice his opinion, Eve announced, “Dinner’s on the table. Come on.”
At the table, Christopher said, “I don’t see you had much choice, either.” He took a big spoon of rice and passed the bowl on, “But if there ever is a next time, please look for alternatives,” He picked out a piece of chicken, from the plate on the table. “It could have turned out much worse.”
With a little smile, Eve said, “You did good, Dana.”
Dana dressed Gina in one of her nighties. It fell off her shoulders. She then gave her an old t-shirt. It came to Gina's knees. Gina joined Dana in her bed. Dana fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow. Gina looked at the back of Dana's head, and then put her arm on Dana's shoulder, and fell into a quiet sleep.
“Who the hell is that at this time in the morning,” Lars looked over at the clock, it was just after six am. He threw off his covers. He was wearing just his flannel pajama bottoms, barefoot, and bare-chested, he stomped his way to the front door, opening the door, to a mike shoved in his face and a foot in the door. “I’m Tim Slaid. This is NBC, can you...” Was all the reporter could get out before his mic went flying, and his wrist bent back as he was forced out the door.
“You shouldn’t do that. You don’t come into my home unless you’re invited,” Lars said, his attention drawn to the front yard. His mouth dropped open as he saw three cameras filming him, then a dozen people in the yard trampling down the hedges and flower beds, digging up the grass. Television trucks with three different logos were blocking the street.
Lars slammed the door putting his back up against the door and his eyes wide, he yelled, “Mom, Dad!” as he ran up the stairs. Bursting through their door, he found Christopher and Eve already awake from the commotion.
Lars stood there, just waving his hands and arms. Words were not coming out of his mouth. Pointing at the window, he squeaked, “News.”
Christopher and Eve were looking out the window as Lars came in, “Shit. They’re digging up the yard. Trampling the bushes and flower beds.” Eve grabbed her robe and headed for the door.
“Hold on,” a sleepy Christopher said, slowing Eve down. “First, go get Dana and what’s her name. We’ll all meet in the hall.”
Dana and Gina were still asleep when Eve entered. Dana was on her side, and Gina’s arm was draped across her shoulder. “Girls, up,” Eve ordered, shaking Dana’s shoulder.
Two minutes later, they all gathered in the hall. Christopher had been looking out the window, summing up the situation.
“Okay, here’s what we do. First, we all get dressed. I’ll call the detective right now and find out what we should do and what we can or can’t say.” They just stood looking at him. “Move!” he ordered.
Ten minutes later, they were all gathered in the kitchen. Eve had started the coffee. Christopher came in just as the phone rang.
“This is NBC news. Can you—" Christopher hung up. The news called every thirty seconds or so until Christopher shouted into the phone, “Quit calling,” Before he could hang up, he heard, “This is Detective Lawrence,” The phone was already a few inches from his ear.
“Oh. Thank you. It’s chaotic around here,” Christopher said.
“So, I’ve been told. A patrol car is on its way. They’ll back them out of your yard and have them park properly. Now, what?” the detective asked.
“What do we do? What do we say?” Christopher asked.
“Give it a half hour. We’ll get everything in order. The press won’t be easy on you.” The detective was warming up. “Do not take the girls out there. Don’t say anything about them. Don’t answer any questions directly.”
“They won’t like that,” Christopher pressed.
“I know,” the detective said. “Just say please respect our privacy, da, da, da.”
“Okay, we’ll try. Anything else?”
“No. Those newsmen are experts at digging things out of you. Just don’t give in.” The detective had no other advice.
“Thanks.” Christopher hung up the phone and turned to the group and said, “So, here’s what we do.”
Thirty minutes later, Christopher, Eve, and Lars stepped in front of the cameras and mics at the end of the driveway near the sidewalk. Three newsmen shouted out the same question three different ways, all at once. Ten minutes later, Christopher, Eve, and Lars retreated into the house.
That day, the morning, noon, and evening news on every station had the same thing, just with a different newsman’s name.
Tim Slaid said it best. “I’m Tim Slaid. This is your exclusive news.” NBC had him standing in front of the Perssons’ house. They then cut away to Lars, opening the door, tossing the mic away and forcing Tim Slaid out the door. They then cut to a closeup of Lars standing open- mouthed in the doorway in only his pajama bottoms, his bare, muscular chest fully exposed.
After a short explanation about how the twelve-year-old girl took on the brutal bad guys and won, Tim Slaid finished with, “This is one family you don’t want to fool with.”