Here is the latest story in my “Josie In Trouble” series.
Sometimes Leniency Hurts More Than Severity
Josie feels horribly guilty after failing to prevent a crime in this story set six years after Another World went off the air.
Characters are the property of Procter and Gamble Productions.
Joe and Josie were in Joe’s office, discussing a case Josie was working on, when the phone rang.
“That was the comic book store,” Joe said when the phone call ended. “Dante is going to be disappointed. An old comic book he was saving for has been stolen.”
Josie didn’t say anything. She knew she should tell Joe that she knew who had taken the comic, that she had seen him and hadn’t done anything about it. But how could she tell him that she had let someone…that she had let Dante…steal?
When Joe got home that evening, Dante ran to him.
“Dad,” Dante said, “there’s something I have to tell you.”
“What is it, Son?” Joe asked.
“I stole a comic book! I’m a thief, Dad! I’m a thief! You should put me in jail!”
Joe held Dante close.
“Nobody is going to put you in jail, but you know what has to be done, don’t you?”
“I have to take it back and apologize, right, Dad?”
“That’s right. We can go right now, before supper, and have it over with.”
“And then I guess I’m going to be punished.”
“Your Mom and I will have to talk about that.”
“I saw Josie when I came out of the store, but I guess she didn’t see me take the comic, or she would have stopped me.”
“No, I guess she didn’t see you take it.”
But Joe was troubled. He didn’t want to believe that his best cop… but then he remembered seeing a strange look on Josie’s face. But it had lasted for less than a fraction of a split second.
The next morning, Joe said, “Josie, come into my office. We need to talk.”
Josie followed Joe into his office. Joe locked the door and closed the blinds.
“I know who took that comic. It was Dante. He confessed freely, and then he said, ‘I saw Josie when I came out of the store, but I guess she didn’t see me take the comic, or she would have stopped me‘. Dante was right, wasn’t he? You didn’t see him take that comic.”
Josie looked at Joe. Her lips trembled.
“Wait a minute. Am I supposed to believe that you saw Dante… you saw my son take that comic and you did nothing to stop him?”
Joe gave a deep sigh.
“Josie, I want you to go home now. It’s for your own good. I’ll call you when I’m ready to deal with you.”
“Am I fired?”
“No, you’re not fired, Josie. I’m sending you home now because I don’t want to do or say anything we’ll both regret later.”
Josie gave a deep sigh. Just then she wanted Joe to punish her, punish her severely. But she dared not say so.
But perhaps Joe understood, because he said, “You can consider having to wait to find out what your punishment is going to be as part of your punishment.”
A few hours later, Joe got a call.
“Joe, it’s Gary.”
“Is this about Josie?”
“Yes. She’s not eating. She barely touched her breakfast this morning, and just now she just picked at her lunch. Joe, this thing is killing her.”
“I told her she wasn’t fired.”
“I know. She’s hurting because she knows she let you down.”
“Okay. I’ll call her in a little while.”
Ten minutes later, Joe called Josie.
“Josie, it’s Joe. Meet me at the restaurant…now.”
Josie wondered why Joe wanted her to go to CARLINO’S instead of to the station house.
When she got to the restaurant, Joe led her to a table and told her to sit down. Then he brought her a bowl of minestrone soup.
“Gary called and told me you’ve hardly eaten anything. Now, you are to eat, and then we’ll discuss your punishment.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Josie, you need to eat or you’ll be sick.”
“I’m not hungry.”
Joe spoke coaxingly, as if Josie were a little girl. “Just take a few spoonfuls of this soup.”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Josie,” Joe said firmly, “you are going to eat if I have to spoon feed you.”
Josie knew that Joe would spoon feed her if he had to. She gave him a very small smile, which he was relieved to see, and began to eat her soup.
When she finished, Joe brought her a small serving of baked ziti with beef.
“Now, eat this.”
“Now can we please” Josie began after she had eaten.
“All right, Josie, we can discuss your punishment now.”
Joe had intended to have Josie write a report on what she had done, or rather, not done, as her punishment. He decided against it. No sense in having her brood over it any more than she already had. Besides, hadn’t her conscience punished her enough?
“Joe, I’m so sorry! I should have stopped Dante! Whatever you and Paulina did to him,” Josie burst out, “do it to me! Do it to me twice as much!”
“Whatever we did?”
“Yes, even if…” Josie barely whispered, “even if you spanked him.”
“Dante didn’t get spanked. Besides, there’s a difference between a nine-year-old boy acting on an impulse,” Joe said, “and an officer of the law allowing a crime to be committed.”
Josie looked down.
Joe continued, “The only punishment we gave Dante, because he confessed freely, was no dessert last night. So you can go without your doughnut today and tomorrow,” Joe said. “We’ll consider that your punishment.”
“That’s not much of a punishment for,” and Josie quoted Joe’s words of a minute before, ‘an officer of the law allowing a crime to be committed.’
“What are you trying to say, Josie?”
“If Dante hadn’t confessed freely, and you had found out in some other way, would you have spanked him?”
“For something as serious as stealing, yes. I’m just glad I didn’t have to.”
“Well,” Josie admitted, “I don’t know if I would have told you I didn’t stop him if you hadn’t found out, so…”
“Josie,” Joe said, “I understand what you mean, but… that’s not a departmental option.”
“Neither is having me go without my doughnut for two days, but that’s nothing, Joe. Nothing!”
She looked at him with woe, with anguish, in her eyes.
And then it occurred to Joe that sometimes leniency hurts more than severity.
“Okay, Josie, come with me.”
He took her into a large storage closet which, fortunately, could be locked and unlocked from the inside, and locked the door.
“Now, are you sure about this?”
“Yes, sir. And… like I said before… give me twice as much you would give Dante.”
“Dante would get ten spanks, Josie, and that’s all I’m going to give you. I’m still in charge, remember?”
“Okay, turn around and bend over.”
Joe put his left arm around Josie’s waist and said, “This is for your own good.”
Joe began to spank her, but not very hard. The first eight were no harder than he would have given Dante. Still, they were hard enough to sting.
Joe knew that he had to make the last two count, so that Josie would feel really punished.
“These last two will be really hard, Josie.”
“Okay, it’s over,” Joe said.
And then Josie was in her captain’s…her friend’s... arms, with her head on his shoulder, crying softly. Her tears were partly because of her stinging bottom, but mostly, they were tears of relief. Joe stroked her hair until she stopped crying. It didn’t take long.
“Now let’s get over to the 2-3 for what’s left of your shift.”
When they got to the station house, Josie went to her desk and sat down… a bit carefully.
Joe went into his office and called Gary.
“Gary? It’s Joe. I’ve dealt with Josie. She’s okay now.”