No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

The two detectives in front of me looked at each other, as if having a private conversation, and then back at me. The detective on the left, Detective Dowdy, leaned back in his seat and squinted. The disbelief in his eyes is clear.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished
Photo by Martin Grincevschi / Unsplash

by Shay Shabazz

“For the last time,” I said, my patience leaving my body, “ I was trying to help him.”

“Why not call the police? Let them handle it?”

“Because fuck the police, that’s why.” I snapped.

The two detectives in front of me looked at each other, as if having a private conversation, and then back at me. The detective on the left, Detective Dowdy, leaned back in his seat and squinted. The disbelief in his eyes is clear. I squint my eyes back, not liking his accusing body language.

Detective Dowdy was an overweight, middle-aged man, with a mustache so thick, I was wondering if it was hard for him to breathe. His partner to the right , Detective Michelson, looked like he was still in high school. He was a skinny white boy, with big black glasses, and a clean buzz haircut, causing him to look kind of goofy.

“Ms. Stanley please-”

“Look, how long are you gonna keep me here? I have a dog that needs to be fed.” I lied. I didn’t have a dog. There was no way a dog would fit in my tiny apartment. I could barely fit in it by myself.

“We can’t let you go. Not until the man you harmed wakes up and confirms your story.” Detective mustache said with the most accusing tone I’ve ever heard.

“That’s a load of crap. I’ve seen Law & Order thousands of times. You can’t hold me unless you charge me with something!”

Detective Michelson then took a small notepad out from inside of his jacket, and flipped it open .

“You’re currently being held on charges of tresspassing, assault, and possibly, attempted murder.”

I leaned back in my chair and rolled my eyes.

“You got all that… from a phone call? From a so-called ‘witness’? Not only was that lady crazy but it’s just my word against hers! I was trying to save that man, not kill him!”

“Actually,” Detective Michelson replied, “we also have eyewitness statements.”

“Are you even old enough to be a Detective?” I questioned him, getting irritated by his quick rebutales. “You look younger than me. This your first night on the job?” I was joking — kinda — but the way he blushed and looked away let me know I wasn’t far off.

“Actually, my second week,” he mumbled under his breath, confirming what I already assumed.

You gotta be kidding me. They have this rookie trainee interrogating me?

“Just tell us the story one more time, Ms. Stanley. Cause in all honesty, well, it doesn’t really sound believable does it?” Detective mustache must have seen my irritation, because he was trying his best to keep me composed. It wasn’t working.

“With all due respect, Detective mustache, I could give a rats ass how it sounds. It’s the truth.”

“Did you just call me Detective mustache?” He asked me with a raised eyebrow . I cleared my throat awkwardly and straightened my posture. I have a habit of saying my rude thoughts out loud.

“It was an accident. Look, Detective mus-Dowdy,” I stumbled over my words, fighting the urge to call him mustache, “I told you the story over and over. I’m gonna tell it one more time. This time listen good, cause I’m not saying it again.”

I let out an audible sigh as soon as I sank into my recliner. Leaning back, I pulled the lever on the side that extended the chair. I let out another sigh when my feet left the ground. In one hand I had the TV remote, in the other, a bottle of wine that I couldn’t stop thinking about at work. I had a long day, so I didn’t even bother grabbing a wine glass. I decided I was downing the entire bottle as soon as I clocked out.

Turning the television on, I placed the remote on the arm of my chair. As I was about to open my sweet relief, I realized I left the wine bottle opener on my window frame behind the television. I rolled my eyes. Dammit, I was comfortable.

Sighing and getting out of the chair, I walked across the room to the window. As I bent down to grab the bottle opener, something caught the corner of my eye. I looked up. As always my window was dirty as hell, so initially I couldn’t see anything but a foggy image of the window from the apartment building across from mine, and the huge item hanging from it. I squinted my eyes to see what was hanging clearer, but I couldn’t make anything out.

I picked up the closest thing to me on the floor. It was a t-shirt that I threw on the floor a week ago. I wiped the window with it, and the image cleared up slightly. I could now see that the small figure hanging…was a person.

“Oh shit.” My heart dropped to what could only be described as the bottom of my ass.

I opened my window, a rush of air hitting me.

“Hey! Hey are you okay?!”

Now that my window was open I could see it was a man that was hanging, and that he was very close to falling. He was hanging with his back to the wall, his hoodie caught on to a piece of the railing that was dangerously sticking out. The irony of it. That thing looked like it could kill somebody, yet now it was saving that man’s life.

He was thrashing, it looked like he was trying to get free. “Agghhhh!” He groaned. “I’m stuck!” He screamed out, his voice carrying clearly across the quiet street.

I looked down. It was 3 am on a Friday. I lived on the poor side of the city, and even here it was oddly quiet and empty. Not even the usual homeless people that I’d actually learned by name were cluttered in the streets . The only person in sight other than the dangling man was a teenage girl scrolling through her phone with earphones on, smoking a cigarette. Her balcony was almost right under the flailing man, not even realizing that someone above her was close to falling to their death. She had to be damaging her eardrums with how loud her music was, because she didn’t seem to hear his screams either.

My heart started beating so fast I was scared I would have a heart attack.

“Okay um, hold on!”

My mind started racing. I paid closer attention to where he was hanging. Pointing with my finger I counted six across, and seven up. I had to remember the apartment he was in and make sure I was right.

I stood straight up, my legs wobbling with fear. I ran towards my front door and grabbed my jacket off of the coat hanger. I didn’t even bother locking my door, I’m not even sure if I closed it.

My shitty elevator would’ve taken what feels like years to work, so I decided to take the stairs. My legs were moving so fast I almost tripped twice, but I managed to keep my balance. Bursting out of the side of my building I did a quick spin around. Where was he, where was he?

I realized my apartment window faces the front of the building and not the side of it. I ran around to the front. Sure enough, there he was hanging. I sprinted across the street.

A small memory of my track years in high school flashed through my mind. I was fucking garbage. However, in that moment, I was proud of my speed. Never before have my legs moved so fast. As I was reaching the front of the apartment building door I mentally cursed, this building required you to be buzzed in by a resident of the apartment.

By some miracle, a woman was exiting the building seconds after I got to the door.

“Excuse me,” I said in a hurry, trying to slide past her. She moved in front of me so I couldn’t.

“Do you live here?” She asked, raising her eyebrows. She was an older woman, maybe around 50 or 60. She had glasses on, and another pair on top of her head. I looked down and realized she had a cat, and it was on a leash.

“Um, yeah. Excuse me.” I tried again to move past her, but she stepped in front of me for the second time. This lady is really starting to piss me off.

“No offense but, you look a little…. off to me. Do you have your key with you?” She looked me up and down.

“I look off? You’re about to walk a cat and have on two pairs of glasses, but it’s me who’s off? Lady, if you don’t get the hell out my way…” I managed to push past her, this time using force.

“Rude!” I heard her yell from behind me. I didn’t have time to care about that now, and even if I did have the time, something tells me I still wouldn’t have cared.

The building was only slightly less shitty than mine. It was dirty inside, with peeling wallpaper and a floor with too many chipped tile pieces to count. From the lobby alone I could point out about five things that desperately needed to be repaired. The elevator was to the left of the entrance door where I was standing, the stairs located right in front of me.

I knew I had to go up seven flights and that I ran up stairs like a turtle, so wouldn’t it be faster to take the elevator? Yet, I hesitated. What if it’s just like my elevator? Extremely slow and a tester of patience? Or worse, what if it didn’t work at all? I realized shortly after thinking about which option to take that I was wasting time. I took off for the stairs.

With each flight I counted out loud. By the time I got to five, I was out of breath and my legs were beginning to burn, but I refused to slow down. I made a mental note to get back in the gym.I was so out of shape it was depressing.

After what I’m sure couldn’t be more than minutes, I got to the 7th floor. I didn’t even stop and do that thing I always do where I bend over holding my knee with one hand, and my chest in the other hand, in a sad attempt to catch my breath. I just ran 6 doors down.

Once I got to the right room I knocked on the door out of habit. No one answered so I tried again, knocking hard and rapidly. Then I mentally face palmed myself.

“I’m a dumb-ass,” I said aloud.

If there was someone else in the apartment surely they would have helped the man out right? I backed up and raised my leg, ready to use all the training I’ve seen in action movies to kick the door down.

Just as I was kicking my leg forward with all of my force, as hard as I could, the door opened. Time started moving in slow motion.

The door creaked, and a small face appeared. This was followed by an adorable missing toothed smile and a tiny body in dinosaur pajamas as the door got wider and wider. It was a little boy, no more than 5 years old, or however old kids are when they are only an inch taller than the door knob. My eyes widened in horror and his smile dropped, the milliseconds moving like minutes.

In a deep, dramatic slow motion voice, I heard myself say , “Ohhhhh shiiiittttt,” as my leg and foot was doing something that was now too late to stop. I saw the little boy's eyes widen as well. He knew what was coming; we both knew.

There was only enough time for him to let out a high, dramatic slow motion scream, “AAAAHHHHH!”.

The last thing he saw before getting the absolute hell kicked out of him, was a size 7 slip-resistant work shoe. My foot connected with his face in a ruthless manner. His neck and head both went back before his body went flying. The slow motion effect my eyes were stuck on didn’t help. It seemed like it took him forever to make the loud THUD, before screaming again.

As soon as his little body touched the floor, time proceeded in regular motion, and I felt like the worst person on the planet. The door was now wide open, so I could see into the apartment. I put both hands over my opened my mouth in shock.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay?”

I wanted to run to him but my legs were basically rooted in place. The boy started crying loudly, holding his face.

“Hey, what happened?!” A woman came from out of one of the rooms and into the living room I had kicked him into.

“Sh-she kicked m-me,” he stuttered and through his tears. I shook my head quickly. Even though I 100% kicked him in the face, I found myself denying it ,the liar instinct taking over for a second. It was an accident! I wanted to say.

The woman transformed into mama bear mode as she looked at me for the first time, completely enraged. I didn’t blame her at all. This wasn’t a ‘accidentally kick somebody as you walk by them’ kick, or even a ‘cup winning soccer player’ kick. This was a ‘trying your absolute hardest to kick a door down’ kick. To the face. Her child’s face. As I saw her stomp her way towards the spot I felt stuck in, I began to apologize.

“I am so sorry ma’m! This is all just a big misunderstanding, I just really needed to get in, I- I thought this was someone else’s apartment and-”

“WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?! WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM,HUH?!” She had a thick Spanish accent.

“I-I wanted to um,” not much terrified me, but nothing is more frightening than a pissed off mother. This lady was scaring the hell out of me. I could barely talk. I didn’t even know how to explain myself.

“You wanted to um, what bitch?!” She continued to cuss me out. “ If you waited for two seconds the door was opening!”

“I know but it’s an emergency, I must have the wrong apartment I am so sorry I-”

“AND..” She cut me off, “The door was fucking unlocked! If it was a damn emergency, you would have checked that before trying to kick the door down and kicking my son!”

I didn’t want to look back in the apartment where the child was still on the ground screaming in pain and holding his face. My eyes wandered to him anyway. I truly did feel bad, but in the back of my mind I knew that all of this was wasting time. There was a man about to fall to his death.

Just then, I smiled. Of course!

“Oh, so you think this shit is funny?!” The woman yelled.

I was right about counting seven levels up, but I forgot to include the lobby as one of the levels. He was on the 6th floor, not the 7th.

“No no, not at all. Um, I gotta go. Sorry about.. you know,” and I took off, the woman yelling behind me in Spanish. Now I never passed Spanish , but I did learn all the cuss words one summer in high school for fun. Mama bear used almost every single one.

When I got to the correct floor, and what I’m sure was the correct door, something the woman said ran through my mind. Her door was unlocked before I tried to do that one thing, and did that terrible thing instead ( I didn’t want to think of the embarrassing specifics) . So maybe…

By some miracle, the door was unlocked. As soon as I opened it, I saw the opened window. This is the one!

It was the cleanest apartment I had ever seen. The room looked like it belonged in a much fancier apartment complex. He had got new floors, and it was decorated beautifully. There were lots of plants and fancy pictures hanging on the wall. The apartment was just as small as mine, but it looked so much more spacious somehow.

Running to the window I looked down. The railing on this floor broke years ago, so there was no balcony for him. But a piece of metal hung out, and was holding on to his now tearing hoodie. He was still swinging about like a crazy person.

“Hey, I’m here to help you ,” I said down to him, causing him to pause his flailing. He wasn’t that far down from the window. In fact, with my help, he’ll be close enough to reach his arms above his head and do a reverse pull up. If he has the arm strength. However, from this point of view, he looked quite muscular.

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. He was a handsome man. He needed a haircut and a good shave, and his clothes looked like he basically lived in them, but I could still see his sharp jawline, his full lips, and crazy long lashes that were now wet. I shook my head. Admire the fine man after you save him from his death, girl.

“I can’t hannggonn anymore, I’m gonna fall,” he said to me, his voice filled with so much sadness it broke my heart. Now that I was hearing him closer, I was willing to bet that this man was drunk out of his mind. His big brown eyes, which I’m sure are normally dreamy, were bloodshot red, and he was slurring his words together a bit . I would be scared if I had been hanging here this high up, especially if I was drunk.

“It’s okay, I’m going to help you.” I tried to sound certain. I definitely wasn’t strong enough to pull him up, this I knew, but if he could just give me his hand , maybe both of our strengths combined could do it.

“Really?” He said, sounding kind of shocked. “Well.. okay then. Thankksyyou.

“Just reach up and grab my hand, that way you can get loose off the metal piece.”

He nodded a drunken nod and raised his left arm as I lowered my right one. I tried to ignore how nice and big his hand felt as I tightly held it. I also tried to ignore the now intense smell of alcohol. Whew, it smells like he bathed in it.

“Use your other hand to pull your hood off of the thingy,” I said. Thingy? Am I 11? I cleared my throat and continued, “I’ll hold you up, and help you pull yourself up once you're free.”

“How do I dooothat?”

Just then flashing lights of red and blue came around the corner. Usually irritated by the police, at this moment I couldn’t be happier to see them. I didn’t have the best eyesight, and we were pretty high up, but below I saw the weird cat lady from earlier running towards them with swinging arms. She looked crazier than before.

I was paying so much attention to the arriving police car that I didn’t even notice the man got his hood free until I felt his weight on my arm.I didn’t think this through. He was extremely heavy. My feet automatically started sliding. I would have flown over the railing with him if I didn’t plant my feet on the wall only inches below the window, my knees bent helping me lean back. I gritted my teeth and attempted to form a sentence through the pain of my arm feeling like it was being ripped out the socket.

“Ughhh, use your… other hand to… grab the window frame!” I yelled, hoping he could hear me. It was hard to talk.

“I can’t!”

I tried to pull him up so that he was closer to the window, but he barely moved an inch.

“Are you…even trying!?” I was lurching forward, his weight too much for my one arm. I took a deep breath and used my other hand to hold him up as well, giving me a little more strength to hold him, but less strength to hold myself. My legs were now supporting both of our weight.

“I’m trying my absolute bestest!”  Another drunken grammatical error, but I knew what he meant. Using my entire body, I bent back, trying to straighten my legs against the wall and pull the man up. My face now pointed at the ceiling.

Then, as if he weren’t heavy enough, the crazy bastard started flailing around again with his one free arm. What is he doing?!

“Uuuggghhhh!!” It was the natural sound to make as I tried with all my might to not let this man fall. My body started moving forward and out the window. How could I hold him up when he wouldn’t help me support his weight by grabbing the window, which I know he could reach if he wasn’t completely wasted?

Suddenly a loud voice boomed up from what sounded like a bull horn, “SIR! WE’RE COMING UP!”

Thank God, the police are here to help. I almost laughed. I’ve never thought I’d ever feel like that.

“MA’M, LET THE MAN GO!” The voice boomed again.

Wait, what? Did they think I was somehow responsible for this drunk, yet fine ass man being out this window?

My hands started slipping. My arms were getting so weak.

“No..” I said through clenched teeth. I tried to straighten my legs against the wall again and get him closer to the window. He then started wiggling the arm I was holding.

“Stop!” I yelled out to him. “Don’t…” but it was too late. He slipped through my hands causing me to fall flat on my ass.


Devastation coursed through my veins as I sat on his floor. I instantly felt cold. I didn’t know the man, but I tried to save him. I failed.

A second passed and  I heard a loud thud followed by a girlish scream, “Ahhh, what the hell?!”

Confused, I stood up and looked out the window. It was the teenage girl from earlier who was smoking the cigarette and listening to music. The man landed on her balcony. I smiled. He’s okay! Knocked the fuck out from what I could tell, but that wasn’t a bad fall. Maybe I helped swing him in that direction, guess I didn’t fail after all.

I didn’t feel good for long.

“Freeze!” A voice yelled from behind me. Just like what was asked, I froze.

Slowly, I moved my head from outside the window. With both arms up I very cautiously turned around. There was a cop pointing his gun at me in a very NCIS like manner. He looked like an actor playing a cop instead of a real one.

“Get to the ground!” He yelled.

“Look, this isn’t at all what it looks like,” I said, kneeling. He rushed over to me, put my hands behind my back and handcuffed me, standing me on my feet. Admittedly this wasn’t my first time getting arrested, but this was my first time getting arrested for trying to help someone.

“ I didn’t do anything!”

The male cop ignored me and forced me to walk as he started reading my rights.

I looked at the detectives after I told the story to them yet again, and just like the previous times, they didn’t look like they fully believed my story.

“Look. All I know is we get a call from a woman that says you pushed her to get inside of an apartment building that you already admitted you are not a resident of,” Detective Dowdy started, but I didn’t let him finish.

“I barely touched her! Charged with assault? For that?”

“Well, no actually,” Detective Michelson interjected, “for that you are charged with trespassing. We charged you with assault because of the call we got directly after for kicking a minor, which you have also admitted to.”

I rolled my eyes. I should have just minded my damn business and let that beautiful man die in peace. Now I’m being held by these two morons all because of a cat lady and an overreacted mom. Okay, so the mom maybe not so much overreacted but fuck that cat lady for real.

“Trespassing. That’s what I get for my heroism. I went in there to save a man who was about to fall! So in no way should I be charged with attempted murder, I mean what kind of shit is that. As for the assault charge, fine, that was kind of messed up so I’ll take that but like I said 100 times, it was an accident!”

It had to be almost morning now, I was there for so long I was beginning to get sleepy, and worse, hungry.

Suddenly the door opened and a woman dressed in a very professional pants suit walked in. I saw enough shows to know she was the boss lady, and she was pissed. She glared at the two detectives before turning to me.

“Ms. Stanley, your story checks out. You are free to go.”

I felt like a child that just woke up on Christmas morning.

“Was it because those charges were bullshit and have been dropped?” I was asking her, but I was looking smugly at the now embarrassed detectives.

“That’s right,” she said, her voice wasn’t as amused as mine. I raised my eyebrows and finally made eye contact with her.

“Even the assault?”

“Even the assault. The man you saved is now conscious, and said you were trying to save him. He’s actually waiting for you right outside. Apparently he knows the woman in his building whose child you kicked, and explained the situation. She dropped the charges.”

I stood and hugged her so tight I’m sure it made her uncomfortable.

“Thank you , thank you so much!” I said happily. I then turned to the two detectives in the room, and gave them both the finger. “And fuck you guys.”

Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I’m pretty sure I saw the boss lady smile at that one.

As I walked outside of the police station I saw that I was right about it being morning, the sun was now rising. Just as the woman said, the man I had helped was sitting on a bench right in front of the station. He stood when he saw me, a shy smile on his face.


It looked like he sobered up, and sounded like it too. He still smelled of alcohol but was no longer slurring his words, revealing a sultry deep voice. His eyes were also no longer red and glossy. He was taller than I thought, now that he was standing in front of me and not hanging out of a window.

“We haven’t formally met,” He stuck his hand out before saying, “I’m Rick.”

“Hey, Rick,” I said back, shaking his hand, “Sasha.”

“Well, Sasha, I wanted to say thank you for helping me. I also wanted to apologize. I don’t drink often. I just went through a pretty bad break up and, well, you know how that goes,” he said, scratching the back of his head. He was so obviously embarrassed, but so insanely attractive that I couldn’t help but smile at him. I waved my hand through the air to gesture it was all good.

“Yeah we’ve all been there. Don’t worry about it.”

“I know we’ve both had a pretty long night, but I’d like to thank you with some coffee maybe. Are you free?” He asked.

“Oh, I don’t drink coffee.” I wanted to slap myself as soon as I said it. Idiot, who cares if you drink coffee? This man is fine.

“That’s cool, me neither. How’s dinner sound instead?”

I raised my eyebrows at that. Smooth son of a bitch.

“Yeah. I’d like that.” I couldn’t stop smiling.

“Great. Need a ride? We’re going to the same place. Well uh-” He paused, again acting embarrassed, “not the same exact place, like not to insinuate you coming over, but you know. The same street and stuff.”

I laughed, “It’s cool, Rick. I know what you meant. Maybe on the way you can tell me how the hell you fell out that window.”

He laughed at that. “Yeah, that’s a funny story.”

As we walked side by side in the parking lot I secretly thought of how just moments ago I was in an interrogation room, wishing I just minded my business by not saving Rick. Now, I felt the complete opposite.

“So,” I said, our arms brushing against each other slightly as we walked, “recent break up, huh?” Again he smiled at me before answering.

“That’s right.”

I nodded to that. Hallelujah.

Shahada Shabazz is a mouthful, so for everyone’s sake, including my own, I go by Shay. I am a 24-year-old aspiring writer with a B.A in Journalism and Mass Communications, and an M.A in English and Creative Writing. Having recently graduated in May,  I am actively looking to change that "aspiring writer" title, to "published writer". Currently I working in Atlanta, Ga, as a floating teacher at a Montessori pre-school. While I love teaching, writing is my passion. I am hoping I can one day make this passion a career.