Wednesday, August 31, 2011
In this episode I discuss the ten worst celebrity tippers, a Dude What The Fuck with a guy stealing a jackoff doll and another guy getting road head, a Bitches Be Crazy that involves a baby in a flatbed, and I go on a tirade during a Kids These Days segment about a kid going to jail for robbing an old man and two assholes suing their mom. Click here to download this episode and here to download past Rosscast Shows. Enjoy!
Monday, August 29, 2011
|"They Called Him 'Hood'"|
By Mitch Harris
Lewis sat quietly for a minute. He appears to smile and pokes at what is left of his food before continuing. Since we started talking I can tell you that “Hood” is an actual sweet guy. I know that’s not a good word to use for a guy who uses swords, knives, and arrows against criminals. He doesn’t look threatening at all. He looks like the guy who’d let you cut ahead in line or hold a door open for your mother. Maybe that’s why he was so good at what he did.
LR: How did I start? I was being robbed.
LR: Robbed. Some guy pulled a gun on me.
MH: And you thought to yourself “I’m gonna fight crime”?
LR: No. I thought “I’m about to die on my own street!”
MH: So what did you do? I have been robbed before and the last thing I thought about was fighting back.
LR: Neither did I. He put a gun in my face and I just reacted. He asked for my wallet and I could feel myself smiling. This isn’t the first time I’ve been robbed. Even if I had been shot the look on his face when I kicked his kneecap lose was worth it.
LR: Yeah. He started dropping and I kicked him in the face.
MH: That’s incredible. Then what happened?
LR: I stole his money.
That’s right. Lewis Roberts robbed from the “rich” and gave to the poor. This is how he got the name “Hood.” After five successful “missions” Lewis began handing the money he took from various criminals to the lower income families in his neighborhood. “It seems to make sense to me” he says. “Been the other way ‘round for too long.”
MH: You seemed to get the attention of local law enforcement pretty quickly. And the public. How did that make you feel?
LR: Good. It felt real good, you know? I have a day job like everybody else. It don’t pay much but it’s a job. I know the police have a job too. “Protect and serve.” They weren’t protecting us that much but they sure as (censored) were serving us. I saw good people in my neighborhood getting beat, robbed, and killed. The least I could do was hand out some money.
MH: Did you ever keep any of the money?
LR: Not a dime, man. It wasn’t for me to keep.
MH: Just take?
LR: Now you’re getting it. I already know that later tonight while you in bed I’ll be out in the streets doing for free what thousands of other (censored) are supposed to be doing.
MH: Are you worried about people copying you?
LR: The more the merrier. I wish more people would get off their asses and make a difference. I’m not talking about running a marathon for cancer or some (censored) or sending five dollars to some kid in Africa. Do something here. Do something where you live. See some trash, pick it up. Its not hard.
MH: What do you say to those who believe your methods are “harsh”?
LR: I would say if they know of a better way to take five dudes with guns down high on crack then please tell me. I would love to know. The same people that don’t like the way I do things are the same ones that live where (censored) like me aren’t needed. They don’t need bars on their windows. Their kids don’t even know anyone that has been shot. My ways are what it takes to get things done properly.
MH: Statistics show that crime within five miles of where you are active has dropped 73% over the last two weeks. Does that make you feel accomplished?
LR: Not at all, man. That just means that there are 27% of (censored) that don’t know the danger they are in when they cross me.
MH: Besides the public and law enforcements attention you’ve gotten some from local gangs.
MH: It would be silly for me to ask if you’re worried about being in danger. What about your friends and family?
LR: Believe me. The last thing they’d want to do is (censored) with someone I know.
(editors note: two days after this article was published Lewis Roberts mother was assaulted and his cousins house was burned; no arrests have been made)
Thursday, August 25, 2011
|"They Called Him 'Hood'"|
By Mitch Harris
For three weeks solid it was all the media could talk about. A man who decided that he had seen enough and decided to do something about it. The public was on his side. The media was on his side. The online community was on his side. According to polls 70% of law enforcement was on his side. Depending on who you ask he started when he was a child. There are a few that believe it was more than one person. Some believe he does not even exist.
But he did.
And thank God that he did.
I had the opportunity to interview Lewis Roberts, better known to the public as “Hood”, two weeks into his campaign against crime. After placing ads in this very paper requesting a sit-down discussing who he was and why he began doing what many had considered but never attempted.
(editors note: writer Mitch Harris will be represented by “MH” and Lewis Roberts aka Hood will be LR)
I could barely contain my excitement the night before the meeting. My wife told me that she had not seen me this excited since the birth of our twin boys. My inner geek felt as if I were meeting Batman in the flesh. At 8am (odd crime fighting time if you ask me) a medium built but in shape Black male walks in. Short cut hair, a goatee, and a small diamond earring in his ear. Wearing a gray sweater and dark blue jeans with white sneakers he did not look like a man who instilled fear in the hearts of evil doers. He sat down and shook my hand as we ordered bacon and eggs with coffee for me and orange juice for him.
“Coffee makes me feel nervous” he told me. “Yeah, I know” he laughed. “Fighting some of the most dangerous people in the city doesn’t bug me at all but coffee makes me jittery. The irony isn’t lost on me.”
We both get our meals, eat, and begin talking. Most of the time he cast his eyes away from me and looked out of the window. I assumed it was for crime. Maybe he didn’t like my tie.
MH: Thank you very much for meeting with me. I have to say this is a very strange choice of locations.
LR: Were you expecting a cave or something?
MH: (laughs) Maybe.
LR: I’m just as normal as you.
MH: I’d beg to differ.
LR: I’m for real. I do everything you do. Maybe not as fancy but I’m just a normal guy.
MH: No super powers?
LR: No super powers. I’m no Johnny Panic.
(editors note: Walter Toner better known to the world as Johnny Panic the world’s only superhero)
MH: Have you been hurt? I mean, in your line of work injuries have to be a part of the job.
LR: I wouldn’t call it a “job.” I don’t get paid for this (censored). I just suit up and do what needs to be done. I think more people would do this if they…I don’t know. I would like to think that more people would do this but I haven’t met any of them yet. But, yeah, I’ve been hurt. (rolls up sweater sleeve exposing a large scar on his forearm) Happened when I was starting out. I didn’t know what the (censored) I was doing. Fun trying to explain this to my girlfriend.
MH: You have a girlfriend?
LR: “Behind every great man…” (laughs) I’m kidding.
MH: You are nothing like what I expected. I thought you’d be…
LR: Taller? Bigger? Darker?
MH: No. Meaner. When I heard about you I figured you were an ex-con that had enough. Or madman that needed to be stopped as soon as possible lest you inspire more likeminded sociopaths. No offense.
LR: None taken. I mean, on paper it does sound pretty crazy. Hell, out loud it sounds crazy.
MH: Are you crazy?
LR: If I were I wouldn’t know, right?
MH: Touché. So how did you begin a life of crime fighting?
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
In this crazy ass episode (I had too much coffee!) I talk about the earthquakes on the East coast, bull sperm on the road, and a kid thinking he’s a 500 year old vampire sent by Day-Day, Brian asks me a question, and in a We Going To Hell segment featuring a news article Njeeeri mentioned about a guy getting his penis amputated. Click here to download this episode and here to download past Rosscast Shows. Enjoy!
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
She grabs the kid and rushes inside. He smiles at me and whatever he does next, it knocks me out cold. I wake up tied to a chair for the second time in a twenty four hours. I look across this room. It looks like a basement. He’s standing in the corner smiling at me. He’s wearing sweatpants and a tank top. I never noticed how built this guy was. He looks like a cop.
“How did you find me?”
I stare at him.
“You can talk. This isn’t like last time. You can say whatever you want. Just don’t make noise. My wife and son are upstairs. Now tell me: How did you find me?”
I stare at him.
“Okay. Now this happens.”
“That was a really good sandwich. You made me waste it. What to do?”
He covers my eyes and I hear him stop out of the room. Joyce and Gerry scream and I hear something crash to the ground near my feet.
Its Gerry. Why is this happening?! I struggle in my seat. I hear a laugh and a sound before I am out. I wake up and the room is darker. Wait. My eyes aren’t covered! Joyce is sitting across from me. She is tied up and unconscious.
“Joyce!” my mouth isn’t gagged! “Joyce!” I hear her moan.
“What…?” she says and then slumps over.
“This is the best part. You get to look into the eyes of the woman you love and have her destroy you. I am going to try something I have done only twice before.”
He goes over to Joyce and places a gun in her hand. Its strapped down to the arm of the chair. My favorite chair. I look down and I too am holding a gun. I couldn’t aim it at him if I wanted. Its pointed at Joyce. I cant drop it. Its taped to me. Only my index finger is free.
Monday, August 22, 2011
I cant open my eyes. Something is covering them.
“Let me get that for you."
I can see.
"If you struggle I will kill you. If you scream I will kill you. If you attempt to memorize my face in the hopes of having me arrested at a future date I will kill you. If you attempt to remove your blindfold while I'm away I will kill you.”
“If you ask where your lovely girlfriend is I will kill you. If you begin to cry I will kill you. If you so much as piss I will kill you. If you do anything other than what I tell you to do I will kill you. Nod if you understand me?”
I nod. As if I have a choice. Where is Joyce?!
“Good. Now, I’m going to blindfold you again. Do not panic. We both know what will happen if you do, right?”
Nick heard a thump. The thing was opening his window! Did he lock the windows before he went to bed? He could not remember! He wanted to look, make sure he had, but if he looked the thing would be right there and he would see its face for sure. He heard the thing slam against the window. Not hard enough for it to shatter but hard enough to wake the house.
“What are you doing in there?!” his mother shouted.
“The thing is out there!” Nick shouted back. He heard his mother groan with pure annoyance. “Come look!” He heard his mother climb from her bed. He heard her slide down the hall in her slippers. He heard her open his door. He heard her sigh. “Is it still there?”
“Keep this up and see what happens, Nicholas” his mother said as she closed the door. Nick listened as she climbed back into her bed. Nick stood and walked to his window. It was locked. He made a mental note to always check before going to bed. Where did it go? he wondered.
“Stones!” it shouted as it slammed its hand against the window. Nick felt his underwear get suddenly wet. He sunk into his bed and threw the blankets over his head. “Can not hide from me you may try it amuses me your game the games you play one day my stones will be mine and so will your skin!”
“Nicholas!” his mother shouted. “Get into your bed and leave that damned window alone!”
Nick began to say something but stopped himself. She cant see him he thought. The thing slapped the window a few more times and hissed. Nick heard his mother jump from her bed and rush towards his room. He pulled the blankets tight over his head but they were no match for a mother set on mad.
“What did I tell you?!” she screamed as she tore the blankets from the bed. She grabbed Nick and shoved him to the floor and closer to the window. Nick had three choices now.
One. He could take a beating from his mother and think of new ways to cover up his bruises.
Two. He could run outside and deal with the thing that wanted his stones.
Three. He could fight back.
Nick found a forth option he was unaware existed when his mother grabbed him in a headlock and slammed his face to the window bringing him face to face with the thing.
“There is nothing out there!” she shouted as he was less than half an inch and face to face with pure evil.
Nick has watched lots of horror movies. Every time someone was being chased or a killer was coming at them he always wondered why they didn’t scream. Why didn’t they run? Why didn’t they fight back? Why not do something? Now he understood why.
The thing looked Nick directly in the eyes. Nick had imagined what it looked like. He imagined it had long hair or fur. Big, yellow eyes. Rows of teeth and a long snake tongue. He had drew a few sketches. He was so off.
First, there was no fur on its face. It looked as if someone took an alligator’s face and turned it inside out and then painted it black. It had teeth. Lots of teeth. But not rows. Its smallest teeth looked to be four inches high. The biggest, its fangs, were maybe nine inches long and curved near the top. Perfect for grabbing Nick thought. Its tongue looked like a tube of packaged meat flattened near the tip. Its eyes were not yellow but bright green with a purple center. Nick went limp. Spots formed before his eyes. He remembered this feeling.
When he was 4 his parents had taken him to a local swimming pool. While his mother left for the restroom and his father spoke with the lifeguard he had jumped into the deep end. He had dropped his favorite toy. The toy his mother told him not to bring but his father allowed. He made it to the bottom, happy he had not lost his toy. But he could not reach the top. He could see the bright noon time sun shining above the surface. He could feel the ice cold bottom of the pool. He panicked. He woke up laying on his back, wet, and eyes burning. His mother was shouting and his father was rubbing his cheek. Two months later his father moved out. He always wondered if that day caused the split.
The thing licked the window but left no slime or saliva. A light scrapping sound, like sandpaper being rubbed across a mirror, made Nick shudder before everything went black. Before he fainted he heard the thing speak.
“Now you know my face and I already knew yours will soon be mine will wear it like mask will then have my stones your mother does not believe you she can not see me mind closed yours open will see you later will get my stones.”
Nick woke up laying underneath his window. She could’ve at least put me back in bed Nick thought to himself. He got to his feet, using the window frame to steady himself. His underwear dried but he knew they were a mess. He walked to the bathroom, his stomach rumbling with hunger, and turned on the shower. He tried not to close his eyes. Not even to blink. Every time he did the things’ face would appear. Most people think about a monsters teeth and eyes. Its tongue was what kept Nick’s mind occupied.
“How long are you going to be in there?!” his mother shouted from the hallway. Nick had not realized that he had been in a trance. He turned the water off and stood, letting the steam wash over him. “Now get dressed. Your father is coming to pick you up.
That’s weird Nick thought. It was Thursday. His father only came on weekends. He dried himself quickly and ran to his room to get dressed. He made a conscious effort to keep his eyes off of the window. He knew the thing was not out there. But still…
He was dressed and sat in the living room waiting for his dad to arrive. He had to ask his dad about the stones. He had to ask him about the thing. He had to ask if he could stay with him from now on. Anything would be better than staying with his mother.
“Sounds rough” his dad said as he drove down the highway. “Has it touched you yet?”
Nick sat buckled in the passenger seat. His mother never let him sit in the front seat. He had told his dad everything that had happened. How since he was given the stones less than two weeks ago the thing has been chasing him during the night. His dad drove and listened.
“Can you beat it for me?” Nick asked.
“No” his father said sadly. Nick hated seeing his father sad.
“Why not?” Nick asked. He knew he couldn’t beat the thing. He was too small. His dad was huge. He had to be at least six feet tall! Nick hoped that one day he would be that big.
“I’m sorry, Nick” his dad said. “But this is a fight for you to have. And if not you then maybe your son.” His father reached a red light and sighed. He turned to look at Nick, who had his head hanging to the point his chin touched his chest. His father placed his hand on Nick’s head. His hand so huge (or Nick so small) that it covered from the top of his scalp to the back of his neck. “Let me tell you a story.”
Hundreds of yours ago a creature was born. No one knows where it came from and no one asked. It just came at the right time. The village was overrun with attackers. Men arrived on boats. Some say from the skies. They killed and fought with the villagers. There was no hope. Until one day a beast came. The beast killed the attackers leaving just a few to survive. Those who survived told the tale of the beast.
The villagers asked the beast what they could do to repay it. The beast told them nothing. It stood at the gates to the village for generations. Never moving. Never eating. Never speaking. Until the stones arrived.
A villager found three beautifully smooth stones. All small and shiny but unknown in origin. The villager showed them to everyone. Suddenly they gasped. The beast stood at the doorway. The villager placed the stones into his pocket.
“Stones…” the beast hissed. “Give them to me.”
The villager refused. He knew that the stones or whatever they were would feed the village for at least a year. The beast stepped into the room, seeming to absorb all light. It held his hand out, waiting to have the stones placed in his hands.
“These are not yours” the man told the beast. It would not leave. “We thank you for protecting us but you are no longer welcome. Leave.” The beast arched its back, enormous spikes growing from its back, claws extending, and howled.
“Cursed” it said. “Cursed until my stones are mine in my hands inside of me my stones forever cursed you will give me stones.”
Nick sat shaking. His father had pulled into the driveway but had yet to leave the vehicle. For years he had kept that story inside. He thought he would feel better getting it out. Letting his son know the truth. His father could not beat the beast. He could not beat the beast. Maybe his son could. He felt worse that horrible for giving this burden to his only child. But there was no other way. The longer you held the stones the stronger the beast got. He figured that his son would have at least 20 years and then one day beat the beast.
“What now?” Nick asked his father.
“You tell me” he replied.
Nick spent the day with his father. They barely spoke. They just waited for the sun to disappear for the night. They hoped that it would not be the last sunset they saw. Nick fell asleep on the couch with his father. The TV blaring a commercial for a new product that promised to literally fizz away fat. Nick heard tapping at the window. It was here.
“Dad…” Nick whispered. He had not noticed that his father was already looking.
“I see it, Nick” his father said. Nick had never seen his fathers face like this before. His father was furious.
“Cowards young and old have not seen you in while time flies older coward pass burden to child bad father wonder what father will do when son has no face I will rip off both faces give me stones!” Nick opened his hand and held the stones out for the thing to see. The thing slammed against the window but did not break it.
“Why cant it get in?” Nick asked his father.
“Your grandpa said that it has to be let in” his father said. “He thinks a villager invited the creature, or prayed for it, allowing it to come into the village and protect them.”
“I’m not letting it in” Nick said.
The thing left. Nick sighed. The door slammed. Hard. Father jumped up and stood still. Nick did the same. The door slammed again, harder than the first time. A small crack appeared in the center. It cant come in Nick thought to himself. The door banged once more before splitting completely. Claws reached inside pulling the door in two. The thing pulled its top half through before bringing its legs through. Its tail followed. It stood up and its spiked back scratched the ceiling.
“Thank mother prayed that I real made me welcome hates son hates older coward more sent me here now stones!” it shouted.
“Bitch…” Nick’s father whispered. He took a step towards the thing and with one motion, as if it were clearing the table, he was thrown across the room landing on the dinner table. The thing turned to Nick and hissed. It let its tongue hang out. Again, no saliva. It was at least three feet long.
“You next” the thing said as it snapped back quickly, its neck cracking loudly. Nick did not move. He did not flinch.
Nick was tired of running.
His father always told him that as long as he kept the three stones in his pocket he would be safe. As he ran through the backyard a few houses from his own breathing hard enough to set his lungs on fire he prayed that his father had not lied. At the age of 9 he already knew that most things he believed in were lies. Santa. The Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy. He prayed God would not be shortly added to the list.
Nick stopped for a moment as he crossed another yard to feel the stones in his pocket. Yeah, still there he said to himself. As long as he knew they were there he knew he was safe. He didn’t feel safe but still…
A crash and a growl snapped Nick out of a small trance he was in. How could I be daydreaming now? He asked himself. He began running again and decided that a straight line was a bad idea. Maybe whatever was chasing him would think his path was what anyone would take. He turned right and headed to the side of his neighbors, the Robertson’s, house and headed towards the street. The sun had not risen yet. Nick didn’t even have time to change.
In his pajama pants and t-shirt adorned with his favorite Saturday morning cartoon character, he ran for his life. I could have at least grabbed some shoes he thought to himself. He reached the street and could not decide which way to go. He could run back home, assuming the thing would think he would not be stupid enough to do that. Or that’s exactly what the thing would think. A quick snarl made the decision for him as he ran away from his home.
As he ran he heard something fall to the ground. He immediately knew what it was and stopped. The stones! he thought. He turned and began running back to where he heard it fall. He saw it near the storm drain and images of it falling down and floating to the ocean never to be seen again. As he neared it something whipped past the corner of his eye. The thing!
“Bad…” the thing hissed.
Nick had only caught glimpses of the thing. He refused to look at it directly. From what he knows its well over ten feet tall, has a tail, spikes along his its back, and clawed feet. Nick never wants to see its face.
“Just let me go” Nick said slowly. He wished he could put more brave his in his voice. “I just want my stone…”
“Not your stone my stone you sick little beast this is not yours none of them are yours where did you get them answer me or I will rip your face off and wear it for a mask die give me my stones!” it screeched. Nick believed that it would rip his face off. It sounded so sure of itself. “Give me the stones this one is mine as well as others why did you take them give them to me I will kill you where you stand don’t make me hurt you!”
It sounded to Nick like the creature had grew up watching bad action movies and remembered every cliché it heard. Suddenly the thing gasped and ran away not making a sound. Before it rounded the corner of a neighbors house it turned to face Nick. He put his head down and squeezed his eyes tight as the thing growled once more. After a minute or so he opened his eyes and the sun was peaking over the horizon.
Eight nights in a row of this. Nick needed to rest. He had a test today.
Nick sat in the principal’s office again. He had fallen asleep in class. He waited for his mother to arrive and dreaded it. He tried explaining that he was trying to keep the stones safe and away from that thing. She yelled at his dad for filling his head with nonsense. But it wasn’t nonsense. That thing was real and it wanted his stones. Bad.
“Again?” his mother asked as she dropped her purse on the floor in front of him. “This is the last time I’m coming in for this.” Nick felt her looking at him and raised his head to speak. “Don’t” she said. “If you say one word about a ‘thing’ chasing you for those stupid rocks you wont see your videogames for a month.”
“But…” he began but was interrupted as his principal entered.
“Hello, Mrs. Castles” Miss David said.
“Its Ms. Rockwell now” his mother corrected. “Been that way for almost a year. How long will this take?”
“As long as it needs to” Miss David said. Miss David had very little respect for Nick’s mother. They had known each other since high school and even back then she always behaved that every moment of her time you used was a moment she could be spending doing something far more interesting. “This is your child we’re here to talk about.”
“Sure” she sighed as they headed into the office. Nick rose slowly and followed. Miss David closed the door lightly as they all sat down.
“Now as you know” Miss David began, “Nick is a very bright student.” Ms. Rockwell rolled her eyes and checked her watch. “But for the past week he has been sleeping in class. He keeps mentioning…”
“Rocks” Ms. Rockwell finished. “I know the story. What am I supposed to do?”
“Have you talked to him?” Miss David asked.
“Yeah” Ms. Rockwell said. “I have. And I’m sick of hearing about those damned rocks. I told his father to stop filling his head with that crap but you know how men are.”
“Not really, no” Miss David said. Ms. Rockwell smiled. She had known since school that Sandra David was a lesbian. “Nick’s behavior can not be allowed to continue this way. Perhaps I could recommend a therapist.”
“You could but I wont be taking Nicholas there” Ms. Rockwell said as she picked up her purse. “If that’s it I’ll be leaving. I have something to do.” And with that she left without so much as a word to Nick.
“Is everything okay at home, Nick?” Miss David asked. Nick liked Miss David and hated that the most he ever saw or spoke to her was when he was in trouble. She was different than most adults he talked to. She actually seemed to listen.
“Everything is fine except for…well, you know” Nick said. “The thing.”
“I am sending you back to class but I want you to promise that you wont fall asleep” Miss David said. Nick nodded. “Okay. I will talk to you later.”
Nick walked back to class into a chorus of hooting from his classmates. His teacher, Mr. Soon, shushed them and they giggled. Nick sat at his desk and lay his head on the table. Falling asleep immediately.
“My stones you son of a bitch gonna cut you open and watch you bleed you have no right no right those are mine why do you have what’s mine you need to give them to me not too late may let you live may but no promises give me my stones!” it screamed.
Nick lay in his bed watching as the thing stood at his window. Nick had actually fallen asleep. Normally he could feel when the thing was getting close to his house and would begin running before it arrived. But not this time.
“Too late to run may as well give me the stones no place to go child no one believes you should give me my stones otherwise your face will be mine have you decided to give me my stones I think you should” it hissed. Nick knew that the thing had its face pressed against the window and refused to look. He heard a small click and knew that it was tapping at his window. “Look at me and it will all be clear you should not turn away face your destiny cowardly child no challenge should give me my stones otherwise I will hurt you more pain than you have ever felt pain not known in years…”
“I’m not afraid of you…” Nick said. The thing tapped his window harder. “I’m not afraid of you.” The thing hissed through the glass. “If you’re so tough why cant you come in?” Nick asked. Why did I do that? he asked himself.
“Brave boy now but I smell your soul your mouth and heart not at one you talk what you do not feel deceptive as many are but I know your lies and they will be your end” it said with almost a laugh in its voice. It knew Nick was afraid. “Want me inside I come inside this is what you asked for challenge me I do not back away I meet your challenge child.”
Sunday, August 21, 2011
"My girl, my girl, where will you go? I'm going where the cold wind blows in the pines, in the pines where the sun don't ever shine. I would shiver the whole night through. Her husband was a hard working man just about a mile from here. His head was found in a driving wheel. But his body never was found." - Lead Belly.
"Let me tell you a story" Lux told Nicholas as they sat at the bar, far away from the entourage that seemed to gravitate to him. "It's a sad, sad story. But it's not the story that really counts in life; it's the end. You can tell the most heart wrenching tale, just as long as someone is kissed at the end. Or not alone. That's the most important thing, Nicky Boy. Not being alone." Lux waved the bartender over. Placing his towel over his shoulder the bartender puts his elbow on the bar and sighed heavily.
"What now, Lux?" he asked.
"A drink for me and my friend here, if you please" Lux says with a smile on his face.
"I'm good" Nicholas says.
"Aren't we all?" Lux asks while turning to Nicholas. Nicholas turns away and takes the drink handed to him by the bartender. He has no idea what it is and no longer cares. Nothing is making sense to him. Is his wife dead or not? What did he do that caused him to be fired? What happened to time? "I mean, on the inside we are all born perfect. Barring the children born with deformities we're all brought into this world perfect. What happened to us, Nicky?"
"I don't know."
"I do, Nicky. I do" Lux says while lightly tapping the side of his glass. "Did you know that thousands of years ago we all lived to be hundreds or years old? Imagine that."
"I don't believe that" Nicholas says while wiping his chin. "It's impossible."
"Oh, I believe it" Lux says with a smile on his face. "The problem is that since you live for such a short amount of time, you attempt to squeeze as much as you can into such a small amount of time. Look at marriage." Nicholas visibly flinches when Lux speaks of marriage. "Say you live to be, oh, say, 75. Say that you never divorce after getting married at, mmm, 30. More than half or your life is spent with one person. The same face every morning. The same conversations over and over and over again. Back when people lived longer you'd have maybe one hundred years to get your shit together. But now? Please. Now you spend the first eighteen years being taught what you should be. Add maybe ten more if you go to school. The next ten are spent making sure you made the right decisions. The next ten hopefully you found the answer. Now that you're close to 50 it's time to start planning for retirement. Hopefully. Around 60 your body just ain't working the way it used to. The old Wedding Tackle doesn't work the way it used to. You know? Those good years you spent in school and married to the same old ball and chain. Now you're in your 70's and nothing makes sense to you. 'What did I do with my life?' you ask yourself. What's your biggest fear, Nicky?"
"Stop calling me 'Nicky'" Nicholas says. His nearly slides from his stool. Lux catches him. "Thanks."
"No problem, Nicholas" Lux says. "I'm always here to help."
"My biggest fear is eternity" Nicholas says.
"That's silly" the bartender chimes in. "I'd love to live forever!"
"Who asked you?" Nicholas slurs.
"Easy there, pal" Lux tells Nicholas. "This guy here is my friend. Aren't we?"
"I'm everyone's friend" the bartender replies as he walks away to help out an attractive blond at the other end of the bar. "We're all friends here!"
"Mnemophobia" Lux says as he sips from his glass. He leans back and smiles.
"What are you talking about?" Nicholas asks.
"It's the fear of memories" Lux replies. "Everyone has fears, Nicholas. Even I."
"What are you afraid of?" Nicholas asks. "It sure as hell isn't tattoos!" Nicholas laughs loud enough to cause dirty looks from many at the bar.
"Oh, you know" Lux says. "The usual. Heights. Falling. Things like that."
"That's funny" Nicholas says while slowly sliding from his stool. This time Lux does not attempt to help. Nicholas crashes to the ground and smashes his head. "I think I need to use the bathroom."
"Let me help you" Lux says as he throws Nicholas' arm over his shoulder. As they enter the restroom Lux releases Nicholas. He sees the filthy tile rushing towards his face but can do nothing to stop it.
Waking up in the center of a park Nicholas quickly gets to his feet, flinching in anticipation of hitting another chandelier. Sitting at a bench Lux feeds a group of ducks. The smile on his face in broad daylight is disturbing to Nicholas. He walks over to Lux and sits next to him. Lux looks over to him and nods.
"Good morning" Lux says. "Nice day, isn't it?"
"What day is it?" Nicholas asks. "Weren't we just at the bar?"
"Know what your problem is?" Lux asks. Nicholas shrugs. "You ask too many questions. But at the same time you don't look for any answers. You haven't mentioned your wife in years."
"Years?" Nicholas asks, sobering immediately. "What are you talking about, years?"
"I'd say, maybe, 208" Lux says. Nicholas laughs. Lux does not. "You really don't remember what happened to Nattie, do you? I swear I thought I'd get you by your 50th year, but, damn it. You just don't remember."
"Please tell me what you're talking about?" Nicholas pleaded. The ducks flew away as Lux finished speaking. The sky was a beautiful blue. A light wind blew causing a slight ripple in the lake that sat near.
"Ever hear the term 'The Devil is in the details?'" Lux asked. "Try to remember. Every single time you walked through a door something bad happened. Think, Nicholas. Think." Nicholas covered his face with his hands and tried to.
"I can't" Nicholas said as tears flowed down his cheeks.
"You don't want to" Lux replied. "Fine. Let me fill in the blanks. One night you came home drunk. Your wife was speaking to your brother James about your marriage which had been on the rocks for the past ten years. You got mad. You attacked your brother. Badly. You went after your wife but your brother tackled you to the ground. You fought him until your wife tried to break you up. You struck her. Hard. She hit her head on the coffee table. Ironically enough, the same coffee table you bought for her birthday that year. As she convulsed from the trauma to her brain you continued to fight your brother. He held you down until the police arrived after neighbors heard all the commotion. James lied for you. Said that you two found her dead on the floor when you two got home. The police believed you. But, man. Guilt can be a son of a bitch. You started showing up to work drunk. Fighting with your co-workers. You even attacked one because he asked how your wife was doing. He had been out on injury leave for two months and knew nothing about what had happened. Your were fired. Spent the next five years living off of your wife's life insurance. One day you wandered into traffic, drunk off your ass. You were killed instantly. And now here we are."
"And where is 'here'?" Nicholas asked.
"Where else would a wife killer end up, Nicky Boy?" Lux asked as his smiled grew until his skin tore at the cheeks. "Disneyland?"
"Well no one told me about her. The way she lies. Well no one told me about her. How many people cried. But it's too late to say you're sorry. How would I know? Why should I care? Please don't bother to find her she's not there." - Malcolm McLaren
Standing in the men's room of a club he knows he's about five years too old to be in, Nicholas Solstice tries in vain to remove his wedding band. Scrubbing his hands in a generous amount of liquid soap he tugs at his finger and feels his ring slip slightly. He tries using his teeth forgetting the soap and gags.
"Must be some hot number" a stranger says to Nicholas as he passes on his way to the stalls. Nicholas ignores him and continues in vain to remove his ring.
"Come on" he mutters to himself as his finger pops from the effort being used. He sighs and observes his reflection in the mirror. His wife has been missing for six months. The police waited three weeks before finally giving up on the search for her. There's no Amber Alert for adults. When you go missing the closest thing you have are news reports squeezed in between stories of the next mating panda or some hot chick making another song about the presidential nominees. He spits into the sink and drags himself back into the club.
The loud, bass heavy music gives him a headache he knows he'll feel in the morning. The three vodka shots won't help either. Never one to imbibe in liquor except on special occasions, Nicholas has yet to master the art of being a good drinker. He stumbles back to the booth he believes to be his before looking to his left and seeing a very unfamiliar face.
"You lost?" a young man with greasy black hair and a lip piercing long enough to skewer passerby's with asks him.
"Oh, no, sorry" Nicholas sputters as he nearly trips leaving the booth. He looks over one booth down and sees his jacket laying half on the table. He picks it up and feels the sleeve which is now soaked with alcohol. "Perfect" he tells himself as his new friend sits down next to him.
"What's wrong, daddy?" she asks him. He hopes he is able to hide his disgust at being called "daddy" by a woman who, if his guess is correct, is actually young enough to be his daughter. "Getting sleepy?" Her name is Collette. 5'9" of sex in a tight grey dress with black three inch heels. Her long black hair hangs over half of her face as she wipes it away and tucks it behind her ears to reveal her diamond earrings. A move she's surely practiced in the mirror for hours until it became a reflex.
"No" Nicholas tells her. "I think I've had just a bit too much to drink." He yawns and rubs his neck. Collette takes this as a cue to move even closer. She begins to rub his shoulders while breathing down the back of his collar. She smells like lust.
"Do you want to head back to my place?" she asks him while planting light kisses on the back of his neck. "I do this much better in…private settings."
Six months. How long is he supposed to wait? There are no rule books on this matter. It took him over a month to work up the nerve to even come here tonight. The last thing he expected was to meet such an attractive woman like Collette, let alone have the possibility of going home with her. He knows he cannot go back to his house. Except for the lack of his wife's physical presence, the house is still arranged as if she is still there. He turns to face Collette and clears his throat.
"I'm not sure if I'm ready for that" he tells her. "My wife…"
"You're married?" she asks him. "That's just great. I sure know how to pick 'em, don't I? Why'd you even waste my time?" All of the sexiness has left her voice revealing the real Collette. A childish woman looking for a way up with the least amount of effort possible. "Loser." With that she grabs her coat, knocking her unfinished drink into Nicholas' lap. Nicholas grabs her arm and she looks at him as if he has just asked her to come home with him.
"Yes, I'm married, but not really" he manages to say to her.
"What in the hell is that even supposed to mean?" she asks him. "Either you are or you aren't."
"Not always" he tells her. Exhausted with the conversation, Collette grabs her drink and attempts to splash it into his face. Realizing that it is empty, she throws the glass at his forehead. The pierced man at the next booth over applauds as Collette walks over to the bar and begins talking to another man. Nicholas feels a trail of blood running down his brow and wipes it away.
Standing in front of the club waiting for a cab to arrive Nicholas leans against the wall to balance himself. He realizes that he is far more drunk than he originally thought. A cab arrives but before he can move towards it Collette and the new guy she met, plus two of his friends, jump in. Collette waves to him as the cab pulls away.
"Rough night?" someone asks him. He looks over and sees the pierced man standing a few feet away from him. He lights a cigarette and inhales deeply before exhaling.
"I don't want any trouble" Nicholas tells him.
"But I bet you always manage to find it, huh?" the guy asks Nicholas. "Be glad it didn't work out with Collette. She's seen more miles than a Goodyear."
"You know her?" Nicholas asks. He notices the large demon tattoo on the guys neck.
"Everyone with male genitalia knows her here" he replies. "The name's Lux." He reaches towards Nicholas to shake his hand. Nicholas reaches hesitantly. Lux suddenly grabs Nicholas by the hand and pulls him towards him. "Nice to meet you" he says an inch away from his face. "Now what are you doing here?"
"I just came for a date" Nicholas says, his eyes wide with fear.
"And…?" Lux asks, smiling wide enough that it looks painful.
"I don't know" Nicholas says as he pulls free from Lux. "It was nice to meet you, Lux. I need to go home now."
"Okay, Nicholas" he says as a cab arrives. Nicholas does not wait for the cab to come to a complete stop before climbing in. As the cab turns the corner Nicholas sinks into the seat as he sees Lux waving to him. A wave of nausea hit Nicholas as he realized something.
How did Lux know his name?
"You try to tell her what to do and all she does is stare at you. Her stare is louder than your voice because truth doesn't make a noise." - The White Stripes.
The urge to get home had never been so strong. Afraid to enter through the front of the house Nicholas ran through the side causing his neighbors dog to bark at him. Stumbling over an old lawn gnome he crashes to the ground. Slowly rising to his feet he listens for the sound of any approaching footsteps.
"This is insane" he mumbles to himself as he makes his way to his back entrance.
While fumbling for his keys he notices that the door is already slightly open. He pushes it open and sticks just his head into the kitchen. The smell of cinnamon greets him. His wife loved the smell and made sure that all candles, incense, and room deodorizers were cinnamon. For some reason the smell made him uneasy. Closing the door behind him as quietly as possible he eases into the breakfast nook.
"Welcome home" she said to him. He jumps and slips on the area rug near the doorway. Landing hard on his back he loses consciousness as the image of a woman drifts into his line of sight.
"Nattie…?" he says before slipping away.
"Solstice, wake up!" Mr. Flanger shouts into Nicholas' ear. He almost falls from his chair. He begins shuffling papers and placing loose pens into its appropriate holder.
"Sorry, sir" he says as Mr. Flanger shakes his head in disgust.
"I wanna see you in my office in two minutes" he says before leaving.
Nicholas is so concerned with what he has done to upset his boss that a few important details have slipped his mind. He opens the door and straightens his tie. Mr. Flanger sits with his arms folded. His secretary Diane sits in a chair placed in the corner. The office is uncomfortably small. Diane is less than two feet to his rear and his face is perhaps a foot and a half from Mr. Flanger. Clearing his throat and scratching his chin, Mr. Flanger begins to speak.
"Care to explain yourself?" he asks Nicholas.
"Sir?" Nicholas asks confused.
"Nicholas. We understand that you are under a lot of stress what with your wife being dead and all." Nicholas flinches at the mention of his wife Natalie being dead.
"She isn't dead, sir" he says. "She's missing."
Mr. Flanger looks at Diane who only responds with a shrug. Nicholas looks over his shoulder at Diane and she quickly averts her gaze to an interesting spot on the floor.
"Okay now, Solstice" Mr. Flanger says, looking uncomfortable. "We allowed you almost a month to recover from her funeral…"
"…and we hoped that you would come back better. But your little display this morning was too much. We're gonna have to ask you to clear your desk."
"Funeral? What the hell are you talking about?!" Nicholas shouted. "I didn't take a month off. I was just at home and…"
Pieces began to collect in Nicholas' mind. The last clear thought he had was of himself laying on the floor of his kitchen. Suddenly it was as if the world was closing in around him. He had trouble breathing and could barely make out what Mr. Flanger and Diane were saying.
"…soon…some air! Give him some…hold his arms down…no…well where is security…"
Nicholas jumped to his feet and hit his head on a low hanging chandelier. A group of young people surrounded him at a table in what appeared to be the same club he was at the other night. Or according to Mr. Flanger over a month ago. They laughed at his pain which made him angry.
"Who are you people?" Nicholas asked which only caused more laughter. "I'm serious! Who the hell are you people?!"
"Calm down, Nicky" Lux says as he places another drink in front of him. Nicholas slaps the drink from the table silencing everyone. Even the music stops. "Now that wasn't very nice."
"Who the hell are you?" he asks Lux. "Ever since I met you nothing's been right!"
"Don't blame me for your shitty life" Lux says which makes everyone laugh. "I'm just trying to help you out."
"Help me out?"
"Sure!" Lux says as a young blond throws her leg over Nicholas' thigh. "Nicky! What would Natalie say about this behavior?"
"She's dead" Nicholas moaned which drew an exaggerated "Aww…" from the table. "Fuck off."
"Who told you she was dead?' Lux asks. Nicholas looks at him and shakes his head. "Natalie isn't dead, man. She's missing."
"No, she's dead" Nicholas replied. His head was beginning to hurt and it wasn't just from the chandelier. "What are you doing to me?"
"Trying to enjoy your company but you're making it very difficult."
Marcus had a terrible dream. In it he was pulling Angelo from underneath his car while Lonnie watched while holding hands with Officer Perez. They were drinking from huge glasses of wine. Whenever he pulled at Angelo he removed a body part. First his arms then his legs. Finally his head. Angelo's head smiled and winked at him. He woke up shouting. Looking around the room he noticed that Lonnie was not in bed. He wiped his face and rose from the bed.
He entered the bathroom and closed the door. Angelo stood in the shower writing all over the tiles. Marcus closed his eyes hard wishing him away. When he opened them the entire room was covered in bloody letters. Angelo was standing next to him smiling.
"What do you think, dad?' Angelo asked. "I got bored." Angelo walked around to the mirror and looked at his reflection. His lips had a blue tint to them. He was no longer bloody but looked as he had at the morgue. "I look weird, huh?"
"Why are you doing this, Angelo?" Marcus asked.
"Mom always said you were funny!" Angelo laughed. It was not Angelo's normal childlike life. This laugh was full of a hatred that was made through years of pain. "What else am I supposed to do? Just disappear? Nah, I think I'll stick around for a while and see what happens."
"I didn't mean to hurt you" Marcus whimpered.
"You didn't hurt me, dad" Angelo said as the color began to rush back into his face. "You killed me. Big difference, dad." As the color returned so did the original wounds and scars. "This looks way better! I wonder what mom'll do when she finds out what you did."
"She wont find out!" Marcus hissed. "I loved you, son. But I will not rot in prison for the rest of my life over an accident." Marcus used the restroom as Angelo smiled at him. After flushing Marcus walked into the kitchen. Angelo followed close behind. "Lonnie!" Marcus shouted. "Where are you?"
"Maybe she was so overcome with grief she killed herself" Angelo giggled.
"Shut up" Marcus said. "Lonnie!" Marcus walked around the house. He checked the living room, guest room, and even looked outside. He looked at Angelo who stood there smiling. Phantom blood dripped all over the floors.
"You know where she is, dad" Angelo said as he ran to his room. Marcus followed and swung the door open. Lonnie lay in Angelo's bed curled up with his favorite jacket.
"Honey, what are you doing?" Marcus asked.
"I miss him" Lonnie replied. "I always wished he would leave me alone when he was alive. Now that he's gone all I can do is think about how much I wish he'd run into the house looking for something to eat."
"I miss him, too" Marcus asked. Angelo jumped on his bed. His phantom limbs going through Lonnie. Marcus tried not to see Angelo who smiled gleefully as he stuck his thumbs in his ears and his tongue out of his mouth. "Let's go in the room. I can make breakfast."
"I'm not hungry" Lonnie said.
"Honey, you cant become one of those mothers that go crazy and just stop eating when something bad happens" Marcus said. Angelo's jumping around and laughing was making Marcus' patience run short.
"'Something bad happens'?" Lonnie asked. "Our son was murdered yesterday! His body is still warm!"
"No, it isn't!" Angelo shouted as he laughed and continued jumping around his bed.
"He wasn't murdered" Marcus said.
"What are you talking about?" Lonnie asked. "What would you call it?"
"Maybe it was an accident" Marcus muttered. Lonnie eyed him suspiciously.
"Marcus, what aren't you telling me?" Lonnie asked as she slowly sat up.
"You're gonna get it now, dad!" Angelo said. He jumped from the bed and stood next to Marcus.
"Nothing" Marcus said as he began licking his lips. "Its just that we shouldn't jump to conclusions yet."
"Sometimes I don't know about you, Marcus" Lonnie said. The phone rang from the hallway. Marcus walked over to it and answered.
"Hello?" he said.
"Good morning, Mr. Reynolds. This is Chief Riggs from the station." It was Chief Riggs covering for Perez. "I have some news that you may find very good."
"Okay…" Marcus said hesitantly.
"We believe we have found the man who killed your child" Riggs said proudly.
"Really?" Marcus asked. Panic and relief washed over him in equal waves.
"Yes" Riggs said. "If you wouldn't mind coming down to the station soon and checking the guy out we would appreciate it."
"Sure" Marcus said. "I'll be down."
"Thank you so much, sir" Riggs said. "And sorry for your loss." The line went dead.
"Who was it?" Lonnie asked.
"They found the guy that killed Angelo" Marcus said. Lonnie jumped from the bed and hugged Marcus as tears ran down her cheeks.
"Thank God!" Lonnie said. "I knew they would!"
"Yeah…" Marcus said as he watched Angelo standing on his bed and baring his teeth. "They found him."
Officer Perez sat at his kitchen table looking at a photo of his son that sat above the sink. His wife had already left for work. He wished he could do the same. Chief Riggs had suspended him with pay for a week after his outburst. As he turned on the radio his phone rang. He picked it up.
"Come to work" Riggs said.
"Are you serious?" Perez asked. "You miss me already?"
"Just your ass" Riggs said.
"I knew it!" Perez said. "But seriously, why so fast?"
"I spoke to the Reynolds this morning" Riggs said.
"And?" Perez asked.
"Like you said, there is something strange about that father" Riggs said. "He sounded more scared or relieved than happy."
"Happy about what?" Perez asked.
"Oh, damn it" Riggs said. "I forgot. I believe we found the asshole that hit the Reynolds kid."
"That fast?" Perez asked. He was genuinely surprised. "That's great! I guess that takes the father off the list of suspects."
"Hmph" Riggs grunted.
"No?" Perez asked.
"I don't know" Riggs said. "There is still something up with this Reynolds fella. I don't want to let him off the hook too fast."
"I understand" Perez said. "I'll be in about half an hour from now."
"Wear your civvies" Riggs said.
"Sure" Perez said. "And thank you, Chief."
"Not even a full day and already you're getting soft" Riggs said. "See ya soon."
Perez ran to his closet and threw on a pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt. He could not find his boots so he put on a pair of black and white Converse All Stars. After grabbing his black sweater from the back of the front door he headed to the station.
Back at the station Riggs sat at his desk looking at the mug shot of the guy they arrested. A young Latino male named Ernesto Garcia. After an APB was sent out in regards to a hit and run an officer spotted a brown Monte Carlo with a large dent on the front bumper and partially on the hood. There was also some blood.
"I didn't hit anybody!" Garcia screamed as they finger printed him and placed him in a holding cell. It did not help his case that he had been arrested two previous times for driving under the influence. He had also been in and out of juvenile centers since he was 11. His last arrest was in 2005 for felony evading and drug possession. This would be his third strike.
Riggs felt bad for the guy for the fact that when he was convicted he would be in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole. The he saw the photos of Angelo Reynolds and any remorse or pity he felt was replaced with anger. They used a little extra "force" when arresting Garcia. The story of Angelo's hit and run had spread quickly. The news had already run a story about it. They showed a picture of Angelo from his last class picture day. He was so full of life. Riggs placed the photos into a file and threw them in a drawer.
Another officer walked over and told him that the Reynolds has arrived. Riggs wiped his face with a napkin and went to meet with them. He was very curious to meet Mr. Reynolds in particular. At the end of the hallway he saw them. They both looked fine enough. He shook each of their hands and led them into another room. It was a small office with three chairs, two on one side and one on the other. He motioned for them to sit down.
Another door opened and two officers led Ernesto Garcia into the room. His hands and feet were shackled. He wore a dark blue jumpsuit. Just above his collar various tattoos were visible. He sat down and nodded to the Reynolds. Lonnie just stared at him. Marcus could not bring himself to look at him.
"Hey" Garcia said to them.
"You monster!" Lonnie shouted as she jumped up and dove over the table. She slapped Garcia across the face and scratched his eyes. He placed his head on the table to protect himself. The two officers pulled Lonnie away. Riggs watched as Marcus kept his eyes on the table. "I will fucking kill you!" Lonnie screamed as tears streamed down her cheeks.
"I didn't do anything!" Garcia shouted. "I feel bad that your kid is dead but I didn't do it!"
"Look at you!" Lonnie hissed. "You look like a criminal. You disgust me" she said as she spit in his face.
"Get him outta here" Riggs said as the officers pulled Garcia to his feet and dragged him from the room.
"I didn't do anything!" Garcia continued to shout as he was pulled down the hallway. "Why wont anybody listen to me?!"
"I am sorry about that" Riggs said. "It usually gives family a sense of closure to confront the one who did them wrong." He sat in the chair that was previously occupied by Garcia.
"Are you okay, sir?" he asked Marcus.
"Yeah" Marcus lied as he licked his eyes and blinked so hard it hurt Riggs' eyes. "Just had a bad nights sleep."
"I understand" Riggs said. "I too have lost a child."
"Sorry" Marcus said.
"I can't wait until they get around to arresting you" Angelo said to Marcus. He sat in the middle of the table. "You're gonna let an innocent guy go to jail for you?" Marcus sighed and buried his hands in his face.
"Do you mind if I use the restroom?" Lonnie asked.
"Not at all" Riggs said. "Down the hall, third door on the left." Lonnie left and closed the door behind. "You like fables, Mr. Reynolds?"
"Sure" Marcus replied.
"There's this old Japanese story about some guys that get put in a cell together. Some farmer said that a guy stole one of his animals. The two guys keep saying that they're innocent, you know?" Riggs said. "So the guards put them in a cell together."
"Okay" Marcus said while licking his lips.
"But before they locked the guys up they covered the walls with charcoal. Then the night before they went to sleep they told the guys that this gargoyle statue in the middle of the room would find whoever had actually stole the farmer's animal." Riggs smiled at Marcus.
"That's crazy" Marcus said nervously.
"Yeah" Riggs said. "So the next morning they arrest one of the guys and kill him."
"Wait" Marcus said. "How'd they know which one of them did it?"
"The innocent guy wouldn't have anything to fear from the gargoyle so he slept peacefully in his innocence. The other guy, terrified by the gargoyle sat against the wall all night afraid. The next morning all the guards had to do was check for the one with the charcoal all over his back." Riggs scratched his chin and leaned forward.
"Crazy story" Marcus said. "I'm going to find my wife now. Thank you for everything" Marcus said as he exited the room quickly, almost tripping on his chair. Just as he left Perez arrived.
"How'd it go?" he asked Riggs.
"That guy's back is covered in charcoal" Riggs said.
Perez watched as Marcus grabbed his wife and ran out of the station. Perez had to fight his way through the front entrance on account of all the media that were stationed outside. Riggs motioned for him to have a seat. He sat down and slid a cup of coffee over.
"Thanks" Riggs said.
"So how'd it go?" Perez asked.
"Kinda how I was expecting it to" Riggs said a moment before taking a sip of the coffee. He sat back and rubbed the back of his neck.
"And?" Perez asked while raising his eyebrows.
"And exactly like I hoped it wouldn't" Riggs said. "That fucking guy knows something he isn't telling."
"Told you" Perez said. "So what do we do? We don't have any evidence against him other than strange behavior. And if we arrested people based off of that Hollywood Blvd. would be empty."
"I know, I know" Riggs said. "You shoulda seen the guy! He couldn't even look that Garcia fella in the eye! His wife, well, she was the one that did all the talking. She even attacked him!"
"No shit?" Perez asked. He did not take Mrs. Reynolds as they "attacking" type. "What did the husband do then?"
"Absolutely nothing!" Riggs said. "He just sat there with his head down. At one point he was staring at me, but not really staring at me, you know?"
"Actually, I do" Perez said. "He did it in the viewing room. He just stared off in the corner like he was looking at someone. Or listening to them."
"Every bone in my body is telling me to drag his ass back in here and beat a confession out of him!" Riggs said. "I want you to take a field trip."
"Where to?" Perez said.
"First I want you to head on over to forensics pathology. Find out how far along they are on the blood sample they got from Garcia's car. That could damn well be squirrel blood for all we know. In all the excitement of thinking we got the guy we all lost it, you know?"
"No, I understand you, Chief" Perez said. "If I were here I'm sure I would have been right there with you looking for needle for a lethal injection."
"That's another thing I am worried about" Riggs said. "The media is turning this into some sorta racial issue. 'Poor Latino gang member kills young Black child.' Makes me sick. The community will want to see blood. It being election time and all. We have to nip this in the bud before we have a damned riot on our hands."
"I didn't even look at it that way" Perez said. "Jesus."
"After you find out about the blood come back here" Riggs said. "I will get you a warrant to search the Reynolds' house. Especially their cars. I want to be 100% sure we do this right."
"Will do, sir" Perez said as he ran out of the room. Riggs finished the rest of the coffee in one long gulp. He went to the front entrance and watched as Perez fought his way through microphones, boom mics, and notepads.
"Disgusting" Riggs said as he noticed a few officers surrounding a television. He walked over and turned the volume up. "What are the vultures saying today?" On the screen he could see Perez trapped in between reporters. Two of them finally had him stuck with microphones in his face.
"Hello, officer!" a blond with horn rimmed glasses you don't see anymore except on chubby gothic girls or people who don't know better was practically shouting in Perez's face. "How long before Ernesto Garcia is arraigned in court?" More questions came from all around.
"How does it feel to be on such a potentially explosive case?"
"How is the family holding up?"
"Does this give you some form of closure seeing as how your son was killed by a reckless driver?"
"How does it feel to arrest one of your own people?"
"Is the Latino community supporting you?"
Perez fought his way through the horde and jumped into his car and sped off. He looked in his rear view and saw reporters chasing him with their microphones aimed at his car. He wiped sweat from his brow and as he phoned forensics. They answered on the third ring.
"Hey, this is Officer Perez" he said.
"Good news or bad news?" someone on the other end asked.
"Excuse me?" Perez asked.
"We were just about to call you and Chief Riggs when we saw you doing your best impersonation of Carl Lewis on the news!" the voice said.
"Bad news first" Perez said. He listened for a few moments. "Jesus." He stopped at a red light and switched the phone to his other ear. "And the good news?" He listened again and slammed his fist on the steering wheel. "Fucking shit!" he shouted as he made a u-turn in traffic almost hitting two cars.
On their way home Marcus and Lonnie sat in silence and holding hands. They passed a memorial that had been set up in honor of Angelo. Lonnie motioned for Marcus to slow down. As they passed more and more people were arriving and placing flowers on a small photo someone had gotten of Angelo. Lonnie began to climb out of the car when suddenly three reporters appeared in front of their car screaming questions at them.
"How do you feel?"
"What do you want to happen to the killer?"
"Can you sleep at night?"
"Do you miss young Angelo?"
"Does the Black community support you?"
Lonnie slammed the door as Marcus drove off leaving them behind. Lonnie turned in her seat and watched as the reporters became smaller and smaller. Marcus kept his eyes straight ahead and licked his lips until they were dry.
"I know what I want to happen to the killer" Angelo said from the backseat. "I want him to turn this car around and drive back to the police station. Then I want him to tell them that he killed his own son." Angelo began to climb into the front seat in between Marcus and Lonnie. "Then I want him to die." Angelo smiled as blood ran down his face and onto Marcus' lap.
"Slow down, honey" Lonnie said. Marcus drove through a stop sign and hit a dip in the road sending the car flying and crashing down hard. He screeched to a halt breathing hard. "What's wrong with you?" Lonnie asked. "You've been acting crazy since we left that police station.
"Oh, nothing" Angelo said. "He just killed me and is doing a bad job of covering it up is all." Marcus climbed out of the car and looked at the front bumper. "Bet you forgot about that" Angelo said as Marcus looked at the dent. "You hit me that hard."
"What is it?" Lonnie asked.
"I dented the car…" Marcus said. "When I hit…that dip."
"Oh, that's a good one!" Angelo said as he began to clap obnoxiously in Marcus' ear. "But what about the blood?"
"There's no blood" Marcus said aloud.
"No blood where?" Lonnie asked.
"On the bumper" Marcus said. "I thought I hit a cat or something."
"I didn't see anything" Lonnie said. "Lets get home. I think we both need to rest." Marcus nodded and climbed back into the car.
"Hey, dad" Angelo said. "Am I going to Heaven?" Angelo smiled as he slowly began to transform into his bluish self from the morgue. Suddenly he was in front of the car running and stopping just as they car passed through him. Next he was riding his bike next to Marcus' window and waving.
"Sleep sounds good" Marcus said as he rolled up his window.
Officer Perez sped through traffic as he headed back towards the police station. Since he was in his personal car he could not just blare the sirens and clear traffic. He weaved in and out of traffic barely missing cars. He quickly dialed the station.
"Put the chief on the phone!" Perez shouted. "Come on, come on" he repeated as he was on hold.
"Yeah" Chief Riggs said.
"This is Perez" he said as he honked his horn.
"What you got?" Riggs asked.
"Pathology just told me that the blood doesn't even belong to a human!" Perez said. "You gotta let the news people know!"
"Slow down, there" Riggs said. "They are on the other line" Riggs said as he put Perez on hold. Perez tapped the steering wheel as he waited at a stoplight. "Fuck."
"What?" Perez said.
"It's dog blood" Riggs said. "Fucking dogs blood. Where are you at?"
"Heading back to the station" Perez said.
"Don't" Riggs said. "I am gonna send a warrant to the midtown station. I'll fax it and I'll have them hand it to you in your car."
"Okay" Perez said. "I'm on my way."
"I want you to bring the two of them in" Riggs said. "Especially the father. Bring them in round the back to avoid the media out front. Also, some protesters are arriving."
"Already?" Perez said. "Jesus Christ."
"Yeah, this is getting really ugly really fast" Riggs said. "I'll send some backup for you when you let me know you've got the warrant."
"Thanks" Perez said as he closed his cell phone. "You son of a bitch!" Perez said as he headed towards the midtown station. "Your own son."
Lonnie sat in Angelo's bedroom holding his favorite jacket. The phone continued to ring in the living room. Marcus sat in the bedroom watching Angelo walking back and forth in front of him and laughing. Marcus gave up on closing his eyes and covering his ears to block out the laughter.
"When are you going to leave me alone?" Marcus asked.
"I'm not sure yet" Angelo said. "Not like I've been dead for that long."
"I'm not turning myself in" Marcus said. "I don't care what you say or do."
"Who are you talking to?" Lonnie asked. She was standing at the doorway still holding Angelo's jacket. "Turn yourself in? What are you talking about?"
"Nothing" Marcus said as he licked his lips.
"What are you hiding?" Lonnie asked. "You've been licking your lips ever since that cop showed up yesterday."
"I haven't been licking my lips" Marcus lied as he licked his lips once again.
"You just did!" Lonnie shouted. "What's going on?" Lonnie sat down next to Marcus and put her hand in his. "Talk to me." Marcus stood and leaned on the dresser. "Marcus?"
"Tell her, dad" Angelo said.
"Shut up" Marcus muttered.
"What?" Lonnie said.
"I wasn't talking to you!" Marcus shouted. Lonnie looked around the bedroom.
"Marcus, I am the only one here" Lonnie said.
"You're losing it, dad" Angelo taunted. Suddenly Marcus and Lonnie looked towards the living room as tires screeched to a halt in front of their house. "Uh-oh…"
"Marcus?" Lonnie asked. "What's going on?"
There was pounding at the door that made Marcus jump. He ran into the living room and peaked through the curtain. More pounding at the door made him jump again. Lonnie was watching him from the hallways.
"This is the LAPD! Open the door!" Officer Perez shouted through the door. As Riggs had promised the warrant was ready by the time he reached the midtown station. He did not even have to stop his car to receive it. His backup waited near Marcus' house well before Perez had arrived at the station.
"Marcus, what the hell is going on?" Lonnie asked as she headed towards the door to open it. Marcus stepped in front of her.
"Open the door!" Perez shouted.
"Don't believe anything they say!" Marcus said to Lonnie as he held her by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. Lonnie's eyes began to fill with tears.
"You…" Lonnie said as she broke free from Marcus' grip. "I knew something was wrong" she said as she backed away from Marcus. "Tell me you didn't do…"
"No!" Marcus said. "You don't think I…" he said as he licked his lips. "Lonnie." Marcus took a step towards her and she took one back. Lonnie held her hands up.
"Don't come near me" Lonnie said just as the door exploded. A dozen officers rushed into the house and tackled Marcus to the ground. He smashed his head against the coffee table as he went down. Two other officers handcuffed Lonnie as they read her rights. Lonnie continued to stare at Marcus as he began to struggle.
Neighbors watched in the street as Marcus and Lonnie were lead out of their house and shoved into police cruisers. Media began to trickle in as the cars pulled off. Marcus sat in the back of a cruiser with Perez sitting in the back with him. Marcus sobbed silently.
"I didn't do it" Marcus said. "You have to believe me."
"You have the right to remain silent" Perez said while looking out of the window. "I suggest you use it."
"You've gotta believe me!" Marcus said as he licked his lips.
"Your own son" Perez said. "How did you even sleep last night?" Perez asked.
"You are so screwed" Angelo said. He was sitting in the front passenger seat with his fingers laced between the steel grids that separated the driver from the arrested.
"What are you looking at?" Perez asked.
"Nothing" Marcus said.
"Liar" Perez spat. "Its your son, isn't? Its Angelo." Marcus bowed his head and began to cry again. "The same thing happened to me after my son was killed. I saw him everywhere I looked. When I heard a kid laughing down the street I would run towards him thinking he was my boy." Perez pulled out his wallet and held a photo of his son up for Marcus to see.
"He looks like you" Marcus said between sniffles.
"He looked like me" Perez said. "After he was killed, he didn't look human." Perez placed the photo back into his pocket. "Does your wife know?"
"I didn't do it" Marcus said.
"Deny it till the end, huh?" Perez said. "It doesn't matter, Reynolds. Turns out the blood on your car will be more than enough evidence."
"There's no blood on my car" Marcus said.
"That's not what pathology says" Perez said as he smiled at Marcus.
"Impossible" Marcus said. "I washed it afterwards…" Marcus said as he quickly shut his mouth.
"Oops!" Angelo said as he began to laugh.
"I can't wait to see you go down" Perez said. "I know I'm not supposed to take this personally, but I can't help it. I wanna see you go down hard. Have you been watching the news? This case was gonna damn near start a riot? You were gonna let the city possibly burn just to keep out of jail? You were gonna let an innocent man die just to keep out of prison?"
"No" Marcus whispered.
"You make me sick" Perez said as the cruiser neared the station. The cruiser with Lonnie had already arrived and was having trouble getting through the crowd of protesters and media gathered. They beat the cruiser and shouted at Lonnie. Marcus closed his eyes as the cruiser rocked with the amount of people hitting it. The back window shattered as a brick flew through sending shards, hitting Perez in the back of the head. Officers were on the man who threw it immediately.
"Hurry the fuck up!" Perez said as he ducked pulling Marcus down with him. "Drive, drive, drive!" The cruiser sped up and pulled into the back entrance. Perez pulled Marcus from the cruiser and dragged him into the station. Riggs was waiting for them and slammed the door shut.
"Shit!" Riggs said as he saw the blood running down Perez's neck. "What the hell happened?"
"Someone threw a damned brick at me!" Perez said. "Get this asshole in a cell!" Two officers led Marcus away. In the holding area someone spit in Marcus' face as he passed. He looked up and saw whom it was.
"You son of a bitch" Lonnie hissed at Marcus. "You killed Angelo."
"No, I didn't" Marcus did.
"Marcus…" Lonnie said as she sat back down in her cell. "You're going to rot in Hell."
"I didn't do it" Marcus said. He was thrown into a cell and landed hard on his back. He looked up and saw Angelo sitting in a corner.
"I think I'll stick around for a while" Angelo said as he walked over to Marcus and placed his hand on his shoulder. Marcus shivered. Perez stood in front of the cell shaking his head.
"Tell Angelo I said hello" Perez said.
Marcus looked at Lonnie for a long time before putting his arms around her. She cringed a bit when he touched her and he noticed. He let go and sank into the couch. He did not know what to say to Lonnie. He felt as if he should cry but he got most of that out of his system when he dropped Angelo's body in the street.
"Is there something I should say?" Marcus asked. "Something we should do?"
"I'll call my mother and my sisters" Lonnie said as she slowly got up. "You should do the same." Lonnie went into the bedroom and closed the door. Marcus could hear her sobbing softly behind the door. Marcus did not know what he was supposed to do. He felt as if he should go and comfort her for their loss. But he was the cause of their loss. He felt as if he should hug her; kiss her, do anything to make her feel better. But just less than half an hour ago he planned on leaving her. Instead he picked up the phone and called his mother.
Lonnie sat on the bed with her head buried in her hands. "This is what guilt really feels like" she thought to herself. The last time her son tried to speak to her she pretended to be asleep so she would not have to deal with him. She just a while ago planned on announcing her divorce to Marcus. She picked up the phone and heard Marcus crying with his mother. She listened for a moment longer and then softly hung the phone up.
She did not know what she should do. She wanted to be comforted but not by Marcus. She actually did not want her husband to make her feel better. There was a knock on the door. Lonnie stood and opened it. Marcus was standing there with tears rolling down his cheek. He threw his arms around Lonnie.
"I am so sorry!" Marcus screamed as he buried his face in Lonnie's shoulder. "I don't know what happened to us but I still love you!"
"Marcus, I think we should…" Lonnie began.
"Our baby is gone!" Marcus shouted. He moved away from Lonnie and stormed into the bedroom. He flipped the mattress over. He grabbed the nightstand and threw it across the room. Lonnie flinched as bit of wood flew near her face. Marcus looked at her and fell to his knees. "I am so sorry…"
"It's going to be okay, honey" she said as she sat down on the floor next to him. "The police will find who ever did this and send them to rot in Hell where they belong." She kissed Marcus on his head.
"I know they will, baby" Marcus said. "But it still doesn't make me feel any better." Marcus stood and helped Lonnie to her feet. They held each other for minutes until the phone rang. Marcus kissed Lonnie on the lips and picked up the phone.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Hello, Mr. Reynolds" Officer Perez said. "Sorry to disturb you right now but there is the matter of you or your wife identifying the body." Officer Perez sat at his desk looking over a bag of Angelo's possessions. "There is no rush but it would be best if best if we handled this as soon as possible. To help with the grieving process, you understand?"
"Yes" Marcus said. "I'll be there in about half an hour."
"Thank you, sir" Officer Perez said as they both hung up.
"Who was it?" Lonnie asked.
"Officer Perez" Marcus replied. "He needs me to go identify…Angelo's body."
"Oh, God" Lonnie said as she sat on the overturned mattress. "I'll get dressed."
"No, honey" Marcus said. "You don't have to do this."
"He's my son, too!" Lonnie said as she began crying. "I have to do this! I have to!"
"Okay" Marcus said. "I'll wait for you."
About twenty minutes later Lonnie was ready to leave. They both walked to the car and headed towards the hospital. They rode silently but held hands as each of their hearts beat faster and faster for completely different reasons.
At the hospitals morgue Officer Perez stood just outside the door. He hated morgues. He hated the smell of the dead. A smell that once you knew it you could never forget it. He thought about his visit with the Reynolds'. Something about the way they reacted to the news of their sons' death didn't sit right with him. One of the morgue technicians walked up to him and placed his hand on his shoulder. His name was William Nagata. He and Perez had been friends for over ten years. Nagata was the one who had to sit with Officer Perez while he cried over the body of his son who was killed by a drunk driver. After that experience Perez and Nagata became very close friends.
"You okay?" Nagata asked.
"It's been over ten years now and it doesn't get any easier, man" Officer Perez said to Nagata. "This kid was just probably walking around enjoying the fact that he had the summer off, you know?"
"I know" Nagata said. "You sure you wanna do this?" he asked.
"It's my job" Officer Perez said while tapping his gun. "I'll be good, Will. Thanks for asking though."
"You meet the parents?" Nagata asked.
"Yeah" Officer Perez said. "Something about them is strange. I have seen tons of reactions to the news of a child's death. Tons. But these people, I don't know."
"You're looking into it too much" Nagata said. "Just do your job and go home. Get some rest."
"I will" Officer Perez said. "Whoever hit that kid is going down. I don't care how long it takes, I am gonna find the person that did this and drag them into prison. I will be there for the trial. I will be there for the sentencing. I will be there when they strap him into the chair and fry his ass straight to Hell!" Officer Perez was breathing hard and had to lean against the cool steel door to settle down.
"Don't turn this into a vendetta, Raul" Nagata said.
"I wont. Don't worry" Officer Perez said. "And the name is Officer Perez when I am on the clock. I don't become Raul until after 11pm."
"Sorry 'Officer'" Nagata said as he smacked Officer Perez on the shoulder.
"That's assault of an officer" he said as Nagata pretended to run out of the room. Officer Perez loved that Nagata could make him feel better. In his line of work you take laughter no matter where you can get it. Same for Nagata's job. He dealt with death all day. At least with Perez's job he could save a life. With Nagata's it was far too late to do anything. There was a light rap on the door. Officer Perez walked out of the room and opened another steel door. It was the Reynolds'. Nagata was standing close behind them.
"Sorry for your loss" he said as he closed the door behind him.
Officer Perez watched Marcus and Lonnie enter the room as Nagata left. He smiled at them and bowed his head. He still felt like they were hiding something. Marcus was holding Lonnie's hand as they walked over and shook Officer Perez's hand.
"I am so sorry about all of this" he said. "This is never an easy thing to do." Marcus nodded. Lonnie stared at the floor. Officer Perez could smell liquor on the both of them. "Would you like to be left alone?"
"No!" Marcus said. "I mean, I would prefer if you were in there with us."
"I want to be alone with him" Lonnie said.
"No, baby" Marcus said.
"I would prefer the two of you go together" Officer Perez said, speaking to Lonnie. "I mean, your son looks…" he said before stopping himself. "It would just be better for both of you if you did this together." Lonnie sighed as Officer Perez motioned towards the door.
He opened the steel door and the smell of dead wafted out. Marcus held his nose and Lonnie covered her mouth. They walked over to a large table with Angelo's body. A white sheet covered him. The only thing visible was a tag attached to his large right toe. Marcus no longer walked forward but Lonnie walked right to the body and threw the sheet off. Officer Perez braced himself to grab her if need be. He had seen people faint, scream, and even attack the bodies of loved ones. The way these two behaved he was not sure of what to expect.
Lonnie looked at Angelo's face. He had been cleaned as best as they could. But there were large scars visible all over his face and chest. His legs and arms were bent at awkward angles. Marcus covered his eyes and wept silently. When he removed his hands Angelo was standing over his own body. Marcus mouthed
"Not now" to himself. Officer Perez noticed.
"You really did a number on me, dad" Angelo said. "Did you know that I wanted to be a football player like you in high school?" Angelo walked over to his mother and placed his hand on her shoulder. Of course she could not feel it. "She isn't even crying, dad" Angelo said. "Look at her." Marcus wanted to cover his ears even though he knew that he would not be able to block out the sound of Angelo's words. "I look bad, huh?"
"Cover him back up, honey" Marcus said to Lonnie.
"I am not done" Lonnie replied. "This is the last time I will see him before they pump him full of chemicals and he doesn't even look like my son anymore" she mumbled.
"Cover him up" Marcus said while wiping his brow. Officer Perez looked at Marcus. He could see that he was ready to blow any second.
"Maybe you should at least cover his body" Officer Perez said as he began to place the sheet back on before Lonnie grabbed his hand.
"I said I am not done" she said as she pulled the blanket back down completely uncovering Angelo. "Now let me…"
"Cover him the fuck up!" Marcus shouted. Officer Perez instinctively reached for his gun. "This is just fucking sick, Lonnie! Sick!" Marcus rushed over and threw the sheet back onto Angelo. In the corner Angelo was doubled over with laughter. "And you shut up!" Marcus shouted at Angelo. Officer Perez raised his eyebrows as Marcus shouted at what appeared to be an empty corner.
"Perhaps we should leave" Officer Perez said as he motioned towards the door. "I will have you sign some release forms and have you speak to someone to make arrangements."
They all left the room. As the door closed Marcus took one last glance at his son. Angelo was standing behind the door as it closed waving excitedly. His face had blood all over it once again. Marcus waved as Lonnie placed her hand on his shoulder. Officer Perez locked the door and picked up a nearby phone letting Nagata know that they were done.
As they drove back home Marcus kept looking in his rear view mirror. He was waiting for another performance by the phantom Angelo. Lonnie sat quietly humming to herself. This usually drove Marcus crazy but considering the circumstances he let her hum to her hearts content.
"Do you miss him?" Lonnie asked.
"What do you mean?" Marcus replied.
"Do you feel different?" she asked. "I mean, I was his mother so I feel a strange kind of loss that I only read about or saw in movies. But as his father how do you feel?"
"I had a part in his birth, you know?" Marcus said defensively. "It's not like he just magically appeared out of thin air!"
"I know that" Lonnie said calmly. "I just want to know how you feel."
"I feel like shit, okay?" Marcus said. "I feel guilty as fuck, alright?!"
"Guilty?" Lonnie asked. "Why guilty?" Marcus began licking his lips.
"Because I wasn't there to protect him" Marcus said. "That's the one thing I am supposed to do as his father and I couldn't do that." Marcus became aware of his lips and stopped. "I haven't given you the life you wanted. I couldn't provide for my family the way I wanted. I couldn't protect my son the way I was supposed to." Marcus pulled over to the side of the road. "I have failed the two of you in every way possible. I have failed myself."
"No, you haven't" Lonnie lied. She had always thought these things to herself but hearing Marcus say them aloud made her feel terrible. "Look at me, Marcus" Lonnie said while taking hold of his chin and forcing him to look her in the eye. "We're going to get through this, okay? It may take some time but we'll do it."
"Are you sure?" Marcus asked.
"Yeah" Lonnie said trying to convince herself as much as Marcus. "We'll be fine." Marcus began driving again. He looked in the rear view and Angelo was sitting in the back seat holding one of Marcus' whiskey bottles and smiling as he dumped the last few drops into his bloody mouth.
"Hey, dad" Angelo said as Marcus squinted his eyes. He wanted to close them but he was driving. "Do you know where I'll be later tonight?" he asked. "In the morgue." He stuck his finger in the bottle and licked it dry. "Know where I'll be tomorrow? The morgue. Hey, dad" Angelo said as he leaned forward placing his cheek against Marcus'. "Do you know where I'll be next week? Next month? How about next year? Do you know, dad?"
"Dead" Marcus said softly.
"What was that?" Lonnie asked.
"Nothing" Marcus replied. "Nothing."
The next morning Officer Perez sat at his desk going over the reports for the hit and run case involving Angelo Reynolds. Something about it made him uneasy. It was not just the strange reactions from Angelo's parents. It was the way the body laid on the ground. He had seen countless hit and run victims, including his own son. But this one seemed odd.
The way the arms and legs were placed appeared to be maneuvered. His arms lay at his side. His legs were straightforward. His head lay facing up. Officer Perez mulled over pictures of other hit and run victims and compared the positions. Most were contorted. Legs bent behind themselves. Arms outwards. Heads spun sideways or completely around.
Angelo looked like he had been hit but not hit and then ran over. There was no trail of blood on the ground near his body. It looked like he had been dropped where he lay. The way Angelo's body was positioned he would have had to have jumped a few feet in the air and then hit. His legs had the trauma of a bike rider. Knees destroyed. Trauma mostly on one side of the body where it would have hit the hood of a car before falling underneath it. In the picture Angelo was on his back.
Officer Perez placed all of the photos on his desk and sighed heavily. His chief, Riggs, walked over and placed a cup of coffee on his desk. Officer Perez looked up and nodded to him. After taking a few sips he wiped his chin with the back of his hand.
"You look like shit" Riggs said.
"I feel like shit" Officer Perez replied.
"Have you been here all night?" Riggs asked.
"Yeah" Officer Perez said. "This case is really bugging me."
"I don't need to state the obvious, do I, Perez?" Riggs asked.
"No" Perez said while neatly stacking the photos leaving the picture of Angelo on top. "When I met the parents yesterday they acted strange, you know?"
"You of all people know that everyone reacts differently to traumatic situation" Riggs stated matter of factly. "You can't fault them."
"I think I can with this one" Perez said. "I was with them when they saw this kids body" Perez said while holding the photo for Riggs to see. "Something about the father wasn't right."
"Like what?" Riggs asked.
"He was talking to himself" Perez said. "And the two of them reeked of alcohol."
"They probably were very upset about what happened" Riggs said. "What are you going to do? Write them a ticket for a DUI?"
"No" Perez said. He was beginning to lose his patience with Riggs. He knew his chief meant well and was trying to help. But he felt as if the longer he waited the harder it would be to solve this case. He knew that he would not be able to rest until the person responsible for Angelo's death was behind bars.
"So let it go" Riggs said. "I can hand this over to someone else if this bothers you this much. I have plenty of other crimes for you to solve." Riggs took a sip of his own coffee. "You're a beat cop, Perez. I hate seeing you behind a desk." He took another sip and grimaced. "This tastes like crap."
"Yeah, it does" Perez said. "I didn't want to hurt your feelings."
"Go home and get some sleep" Riggs said while pulling Perez's chair back. Perez placed his hands on his desk causing the stacks of photos to slide to the ground. One of them landed image side up near his feet. Riggs picked it up and sighed. "Raul…"
"I know" Perez said as he took the photo from Riggs.
"Why are you doing this to yourself?" Riggs asked.
"Drop it, chief" Perez said while stacking the photos once again.
"Go home now" Riggs said.
"No" Perez muttered. "I'm not done."
"Well, I say you're done" Riggs said while placing his coffee on the desk. "Now get your ass home."
"I said that I am not done!" Perez shouted causing many of the other officers and visitors to look. "I'm not done, okay?"
"Looking at pictures of your sons mangled corpse has nothing to do with finding the guy that hit this other kid" Riggs whispered to Perez. He leaned closer and placed his hand on his shoulder. "You're beating yourself to death. I understand you're still upset. My son Louis died a few years back, remember? So I get…"
"No, you don't!" Perez screamed. He stood and placed his finger in Riggs' chest. "Your kid died from a drug overdose in college! My son was hit and drug over one hundred yards before being scrapped from underneath a car when it hit a curb! There are pieces of my son that were never recovered! Do you know what it was like to explain to my wife that there wasn't enough of him left to merit a casket funeral? Do you know what it was like to tell my mother, his grandmother that he died playing with a new basketball she had just bought him for his 8th birthday? You 'get it'? Fuck you. You don't 'get it'."
"Get the fuck out of here" Riggs said in a low voice. "Get your shit and go home. Go and take care of your wife. Take care of yourself." Riggs walked away and turned back and faced Perez. "I loved my son, okay? Yeah, he died doing drugs. He died knowing he was a disappointment to his mother and me. But he was my son. My only son. So I get it. Any parent that loses a child gets it. And the next time you ever question me or my personal life I swear the next form you fill out will be an unemployment form."
"Sorry, sir" Perez said. "I got a little carried away. I didn't mean to…"
"Go home" Riggs said. "Just…go home."