Hansel and Gretel: The Teenage Years
by J. M. Vogel
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
Detective Wilhelm glared through the one-way glass into the interrogation room. Two pairs of fearful eyes stared back. “Is it just me, or do they seem to get younger and younger?”
The sergeant nodded. “They’re babies, I know. It’s sad.”
The hows and whys of the bizarre case hung in the air between them. “Any word on Mrs. Witchley’s condition?” the detective asked.
“She’s covered in third-degree burns over most of her body. If she makes it, it’s going to be a long road.”
Wilhelm sighed, his shoulders slumped. “Well, I guess I’d better go in there and review their statements.” The pit of his stomach clenched at the thought. “Those fifteen-year old children ought to be at home and in bed at this hour, not being questioned at the police station.”
The sergeant patted him on the shoulder as he left the room. “Good luck, Detective.”
Wilhelm paused, took a deep breath, and entered the interrogation room. Two sets of wide eyes followed him as he approached the table. “I’m Detective Wilhelm. I’m going to be asking you a few questions. Just so you know, your parents have given us permission to speak with you and have refused our request that they be present.”
The young girl nodded, her eyes the size of dinner plates. She wore a black, skin-tight shirt that was cut too low and jean shorts that were cut too high. Ripped fishnet stockings rounded out her oh-so-classy ensemble.
Her partner-in-crime wore a v-neck t-shirt and low slung jeans that showcased the waistband of his red flannel boxer shorts. The young man, nearly catatonic, wrung his hands as he rocked back and forth mechanically. The agitation was completely understandable; they’d quite possibly killed a woman.
“Can I please have your names?” Wilhem asked.
The young girl nodded. “I’m Meredith.” She looked to the boy who just continued his rhythmic motion. “And this is Matthew.”
The detective fought the urge to roll his eyes. “Last names?”
She hooked a thumb at the boy. “He’s Hansel. I’m Gretel.”
The detective scribbled the names down on his legal pad. “You’re siblings? Why the different last names?”
She shook her head. “He’s my stepbrother.” she clarified.
“Okay, Miss Gretel. Can you tell me what happened?”
The young woman shook with fear. “I’m honestly not sure...”
The detective crossed his arms over his chest. “I’m waiting, Miss Gretel,” the detective prodded.
Meredith sighed dramatically. “All I know is that one minute we’re leaving a party and the next minute some old lady is poisoning my brother and threatening to eat us.”
Wilhelm raised an eyebrow. “She threatened to eat you,” he said doubtfully.
“I told the other officer to check the soup in the pot. Do all that CSI stuff they’re always talking about on TV. You’ll see. Those bones are from some other poor lost soul I’m sure of it. She all but admitted it.”
The detective shook his head. “Are you or your brother on any drugs, Miss Gretel?”
The young girl looked offended... a little too offended. “Definitely not. Now that old lady, you might want to check with her. There’s something very wrong about her.”
Wilhelm clenched his fists. Disparaging a poor little elderly woman to keep yourself out of trouble was wrong. Almost killing her because of it was even worse. “You don’t even understand what you did, do you?” the detective asked.
“Damn straight I do. I saved my brother. And I’d do it again,” she answered, defiant. Matthew Hansel continued rocking back and forth, his eyes focused on the table. She threw her arm over his shoulder.
“You, singlehandedly...” the detective began, but was interrupted by a knock at the door. He sighed. “I’ll be right back. Sit tight.” He left the interrogation room, slamming the door shut behind him.
A uniformed officer was standing in the hall, a file folder in hand.
“You have something?” Wilhelm asked.
“The old lady woke up.” The officer handed Detective Wilhelm the folder.
Wilhelm sighed in relief. “Her name is Mrs. Witchley, not ‘the old lady,’” he corrected.
“Those kids don’t know how lucky they are. What did she have to say?”
“She said she called the cops when she saw the kids eating her flowers out front.”
The detective rolled his eyes. “We know that. It’s the reason we sent the medics and officers. What happened after that?”
The officer reached into his pocket and removed a small notepad. “She said she was trying to stall until the police got there because she was afraid they’d end up with hypothermia in the woods if she let them go. And then the boy began vomiting, probably from the flowers he ingested.
“She was trying to keep the girl engaged, but she kept looking like she was about to have a fit. She was hostile and her eyes were hugely dilated. She made Mrs. Witchley very uncomfortable.
“Mrs. Witchley said when she tried to move away from the girl, the girl followed her and shoved her into the fireplace. She didn’t remember anything else until waking up in the hospital.”
“What about the bones by the fireplace?”
“Her son hunts and brings leftover bones so she can make soup.”
Detective Wilhelm pursed his lips while stroking his chin. “Poor woman. She tried to help out these poor kids and got third-degree burns for her trouble.”
“So what’s with these kids?” the officer asked.
Wilhelm shrugged. “If I had to guess, I’d say drugs. Hallucinogens, I’d assume. The girl swears they didn’t take any drugs, but she and her brother were picked up on possession about three weeks ago. Their mom gave us permission for a drug screen, and that’s our next step. She wants to know what they’re on just as much as we do.”
“I think I can help you with that,” Detective Wilhelm’s partner, Jacob, said as he swung around the corner. “We received a noise complaint from Drury Lane. Apparently, the homeowners were out of town, leaving their eighteen-year old son home alone for the weekend. You can imagine what happened from there.”
“Any drugs on the premises?” Wilhem asked hopefully.
“You betcha. Marijuana, heroin, and pills of about every color. The lab is analyzing what they are. Oh, and enough alcohol to inebriate the entire tri-city area. I’d bet you this week’s paycheck that your kiddos there will test positive for something.”
Wilhelm smirked. “Not a bet I’m willing to make. We’ll get on that drug screen to see what they were on. At least we have an answer as to why two kids would push a kind old lady into a fireplace after eating her plants.”
Jacob shook his head. “If only life were like a fairy tale. You know, justice is served, and everyone lives happily ever after.”
Wilhelm chuckled. “If only...”
Copyright © 2016 by J. M. Vogel