by Linera Lucas
I get a call from dispatch that there's an incident, a kid left alone in a car seat in a minivan in downtown Menlo Park. We none of us like that beat, too dull, but it's mine and I take it. Of course, by the time I pull up there's no minivan with no kid in it. So I go to the Starbucks on Mercado for a latte, then on to Dolorosa, because there's nothing doing in East Palo Alto as long as Yoshi and Sue have it on their line. I'm hunkered down behind the shrubs at my favorite spot, waiting to catch somebody making an illegal left turn, when I see this kid lying on the ground. Juvenile Hispanic male eight or nine years of age. And boy, is he alone. Nobody called about this one. Dolorosa's different from Menlo. He's got me worried so I get on the horn and call up to home and get a squawk back that I can take it. That's when it happens.
Damn, I was one kind of fool, but at least I give the coordinates before I got out. I left the squad car parked a little way back, door open, engine running, and as I look up from the kid, who winks at me, the little bugger, I hear the sound I do not like. My squad
car taking off without me. It's zooming away with two kids at the front seat. Juvenile Hispanic males, probably twelve or thirteen years of age.
Man, they are haulin' it down the street and I remember it is fully loaded. See, after that trouble in LA we don't carry shotguns; now we got these Colt 9 millimeter submachine guns because the bad guys were getting the good guys by being better armed. So these kids have got the car and a really good shooter can go a long way with the amount of ammo between what's in the clip and all. So I'm sweating. Of course right away I'm on the cell and my shoulder radio back to dispatch and then I look up and see Yoshi and Sue coming over the hill and it looks like they are gonna play chicken with the kids in my car.
I've got the first kid, the bait, cuffed, and I ask him nice and slow to tell me everything or there will be real trouble. But he don't know nothing. He's just the bait; somebody's little brother and they made him do it. Maybe.
Then the kids swerve by and as they pass Yoshi and Sue's car the kid riding shotgun hauls out the submachine gun and he's pointing it all around, swinging it at the trees and sky and right at Yoshi. I see his face, Yoshi's, and he's frozen.
Then the kid says to Yoshi, "Bang. You're dead." And the kids drive on.
Another squad car pulls up and I jump in and put my bait kid in the back and off we go. By the time we hit the freeway there are four cars in hot pursuit and I'm calling it. Yoshi and Sue, they've got all they can do to keep up with the stolen car. See, normally we wouldn't be allowed to go pursuit but on account of the kid waving the gun at Yoshi we can consider it real serious, intent to kill, and then we get jurisdiction to pursue. Those damn kids lead us up and down the peninsula, on and off the freeway, and every time they take an exit and squeal around in some quiet neighborhood my heart gives another lurch but I keep on calling it and then I hear Glen is hiding out for 'em, waiting pretty by the side of the freeway up to Woodside Road and I know we can get them now. We'll run them over to Glen and let him pick out their tires.
I never figured for it to end the way it did. We none of us did. But those kids when they see the squad car with Glen in it and they must know the ride's over, they gun it straight for him and he's got all he can do to fly out the other side and into the bushes before they slam into the side of his car.
So much blood. And all this time the kid in the back seat is quiet, until the crash. Then he screams, a little sound, more like the breath coming back inside his body instead of out. I take him to the hospital and on the way I take off the cuffs and I walk up nice and slow and when the nurses come I make sure he's not near the other boys, the ones from the crash. Soon everyone is there in the hospital. Yoshi looks at me and nods and I stay with the boy. See, he won't let go my hand.
It's ten years ago and we keep in touch. He's mostly out of prison; just does some light time now and then. I had real hopes for him. Still do. Yup. I still do.
About the author:
Linera Lucas lives in Portland, Oregon, and holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her work has appeared in Pipes & Timbrels, Bede's Journal, R-KV-RY, VerbSap, and in the anthology In the Yard. Her site is at http://www.lineralucas.blogspot.com/