Nadia Bhagg Manages the System


Nadia Bhagg pulled on her winter jacket, grabbed her purse, and went outside to her car. She walked cautiously across the driveway, icy from freezing rain.


She reckoned with a little luck and a prayer, it was an ideal time to draw out the rogue who was stalking her and her family during ice and freezing rain storms. It had all began in December during the first ice storm of the season. Her son Joe had been forced off the road into a ditch. Then it had been daughter Tam. Each had described a red Dodge truck appearing suddenly behind them, bumping their car until they lost control of the vehicle and it went off the road. Fortunately for the Bhagg's no-one had been seriously injured  thus far.


As she suspected, the back road to the PC Market was covered with black ice. Nadia choked up on the wheel and adjusted the speed of the Subaru to twenty miles an hour.


Suddenly a red truck appeared and rammed the rear bumper of her Subaru. With her heart racing, Nadia raised her eyes to the rear view mirror and exchanged looks with a blood-curdling, defiant stare.


The truck struck the bumper repeated. The Subaru spun, left the road and struck a tree.

                                                            *  

Sergeant Patsy Dibbs stared at Nadia Bhagg’s swollen, black and blue eyes. Gauze bandages swathed her bruised hands and arms.


“Why not spot the person now?” the tall and slender policewoman asked. Her silken blond hair was twisted into a tousled knot at the nape of her neck.


“Later,” Nadia said, grim-faced, her brown eyes looking even darker beneath the bruises.


“Okay, then, I’ll read your statement back to you, Mrs. Bhagg.”


Patsy accepted a printed form from Nick Barnes. The EMS technician had transported Nadia to her home from the ER at St. Theresa’s hospital. “If this is correct, please sign your name by the X.”


“On the way to the Price Chopper Market in Bennington, Vermont, I, Nadia Bhagg, while driving along roads where black ice frequently appeared, was tailgated by a red pick-up truck. I slowed to less than twenty miles per hour due to the hazardous conditions and the truck rammed the rear bumper of my Suburu. My car was repeatedly struck until it spun out of control, left the road and crashed into a tree.”


“Is this statement correct?”


Nadia winced as she nodded her head. “Yes.”

                                                            *

As she signed her name, several family members crowded into the small, spice-scented kitchen.


"Ma, what happened?" Joe Bhaggs removed his hat and slammed it down on the counter. "You know better than to drive  in weather like this." His dark eyes stared at his mother behind his glasses. "You're aware of the situation we're dealing with."


“I’m fine, Joe. Please don’t fuss.” Nadia's split lips turned down reflexively.


Grandson Joe Junior, a slump-shouldered youth, scuffed over to the counter and helped himself to a chocolate chip square from the cookie jar.


Slack-faced Jacob, another grandson, widened his stance and cracked his knuckles.

Nadia considered the police officer and said, “Families are complicated, aren't they, Sergeant?"


Patsy Dibbs eyes widened.


Nadia went on in an exhausted voice.  "You cannot conceive of my agony, my despair when I looked into the rear view mirror and saw the devil behind the wheel of the truck manifested as one of my kin.” She lowered her voice. “The family calls 911 every time he terrorizes one of us.”


Joe Bhagg, braced against the faded counter, cleared his throat. “Ma, we’re private folks. We’ll deal with our own.”


Pushing back gray tendrils of loose hair, Nadia said sternly, “This kin ends up in jail and the evaluators send him to rehab where a calming medication is administered. Within a week, he’s released because he acts normal.” She folded her bandaged hands across her bosom. “I don’t want to repeat this scenario, Sergeant Dibbs. I want this latest incident treated as a medical emergency and not as a crime scene.”


Joe Junior darted toward the door. The tech tackled him and pinned him down. With an assist from Junior's father and brother, Barnes gave him a sedation injection to stabilize him.


“Sorry, Jacob,” Patsy Dibbs said moments later, “I had you pegged for the car basher and not your brother.” She shifted her gaze back to Nadia. “I’ll facilitate Joe Junior's treatment through my captain’s recommendations and those of the head psychiatrist at the psychiatric ward. I guarantee he will remain in the clinic for as long as it takes to treat his illness. Thereafter, he’ll have the proper follow-up and drug therapy.” She looked solemnly at Nadia. “In the meantime, Joe Junior will be charged for this crime but it’s likely to be tossed due to his illness.”


After everyone left, Nadia collapsed in her favorite chair and blessed herself. It was hard managing a futile system, one that forced her to stage an accident. If she had managed well, Joe Junior would get the remedial assistance he so badly needed for schizophrenia and the family would begin to heal.


Copyright © Patricia Crandall

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