Mister and Mrs. Fédée lived close to where Ma Douse lived. Like other New Village residents, they kept a mental, compartmentalized dossier on every person within the community—to use when the occasion arose. And they never had any trouble with the law. Except for that one incident with Kasilda one Christmas Eve morning. Kasilda had lodged a complaint against them or one of their daughters at the Police Station on Jeremie Street and a police officer had been dispatched to investigate. When the policeman invited Kasilda into Mister and Mrs. Fédée’s yard so he could get both sides of the story, Mister Fédée protested and demanded that the girl remain at the roadside. The policeman, bristling at the blatant affront to his authority, insisted that Kasilda come into the yard. She complied, and the community got a Christmas Eve to remember.
Already incensed that Kasilda had lodged what he considered a “false complaint” against him at the police station, Mister Fédée lunged at the girl. Kasilda was plucky, but not stupid; she fled the scene, leaving the policeman to restrain the enraged man. Rather than spell the end of the matter, Kasilda’s forced flight only served to add fuel to a fire growing hotter by the minute—till it became a raging inferno. It was now the policeman’s turn to feel incensed. There were onlookers who, until Kasilda fled, were taking in the situation quietly and respectfully; now they were laughing. The policeman wasn’t amused. He was an officer of the law, with all the power and authority vested in him by none other than the Queen of Great Britain to execute his duties without let or hindrance. And this man was making him look like a fool in the presence of these people. He was having none of that; he needed to reassert his authority.
Grabbing hold of Mister Fédée to prevent him from going after Kasilda, who was now nowhere in sight, the policeman began shouting at and shaking him violently to show him who was boss. Mister Fédée wasn’t in the least bit awed. In fact, he was of the opinion that he was being abused by the policeman and protested. The uniformed officer’s response was to shake him even harder while screaming at him to shut up. That did it! Mister Fédée tore himself loose and shoved the policeman away from him. Recovering from the shock of an ordinary civilian daring to treat a uniformed policeman in that manner, the officer declared Mister Fédée under arrest for assaulting a police officer. He then put his silver policeman’s whistle to his lips and proceeded to summon help from other officers who might be within earshot by drawing long, sharp, intermittent blasts from the metal instrument.
Mister Fédée panicked. It was Christmas Eve, and he had no intention of getting arrested the day before Christmas; he was afraid that if he did get arrested, he would spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day in a cell at the Station before being charged and released. He was confident that this lone policeman did not have the capability to arrest him all by himself, but if help came he would be manhandled all the way to the Station. The whistle’s message had to be curtailed. Mister Fédée made a desperate grab for the pernicious instrument, and the next minute he and the policeman were scuffling on the ground in his front yard. Mrs. Fédée, who, until then, hovered nearby saying very little, put her hands to her head and began screaming her husband’s name. Suddenly, inexplicably, she took up a small wooden bench in her yard and went to her husband’s aid.
Author’s note: The preceding is an excerpt from the novella, “New Village”, now available on Amazon Kindle.