Justice

posted in: Flash Fiction | 0

Swift feet pounded on pavement. The blue, then red, then blue, and blinding, bright white, lights flashed, closer with each bound. Behind her, she left a gaping hole, her car door hung open, slightly crooked on rusty hinges. Cell phone, almost too deep in her pocket. She got it, slippery in her sweaty hand. Frantic fingers mashed at buttons to flip on the video recorder. Something felt electric. Her eyes darted from the uneven terrain beneath her feet to the teeny tiny screen that seemed an ocean away in her hand. What were they doing with him? He was already dead. The savage nature of the attack, just down the street, just before she followed them. What was that? retaliation? From the police? Kenny was a good kid.
Rushing to the curb, it was a beachside park, the scene was circled in uniforms and people shouting. The gathering crowd pushed back away from the unfolding drama. She saw Kenny, his body lurching forward.
Then a gun shot, just one, suffocating the air from all other noise. The burst of noise cancelled the shouts, screams and bellows of emotional pain around the chaotic scene.
“No, no!” Was that her voice. “What is this!?” Charlotte looked down at her brother. His large, strong body splayed in an unnatural position on the cold ground, desperation locked in his dead eyes.
Her knees buckled, the smell of iron filled her nose. Blood, deep and dark, pooled around her downed brother while MTs attended to hurt officers.
“What the fuck? Somebody help him!”
An MT looked over at her. An officer, on the perimeter, like a dog hearing a high pitch squeal nodded. MTs, three of them, each with the snakes slithering up winged staffs adorning their uniforms, embroidered, permanent, descended on the body. Pronounced him dead. Lowering his lids, they summoned a stretcher.
“We’ll need to wait for the coroner.” She heard one of them say.
There were arms around her, carrying her away. She fought, pummeling the arms and chests of the unknown people dragging her from the scene. Her flip flops scraped the pavement, then came off her feet. She was shoved into a car. The door slammed shut. It was her father, there, with her. A tear streamed down his anguished face. They hugged sobbing into each other’s shoulders.
Outcries of anger burst from the frustrated people of the neighborhood. Riots, and violence, fighting in the streets, this dominated the news, all while mourning the loss of Kenny. This brutality will not stand. With our downed brothers and sisters from Los Angeles to Ferguson, this one will not pass. A grand jury was imminent. Justice wasn’t just for whites.
Until that day. They wanted to question Charlotte. Clear the air.
“So what can you tell us about that evening young lady?” Pink-skinned, Irish man, big crusty alcoholic nose. He sat casually on the edge of the desk, on the same side as Charlotte and her father. The officer’s hands were folded in front of him, a plastic grin. The three stiff men, standing in the corners of the small office made her more nervous. Ominous and full of angst, she was sure they would pounce with even the slightest provocation. And the recording device, video and audio, trained on her. This wasn’t real. Her father patted her hand.
“Just tell them what you saw.”
“I, well, um I was going home, and when I got to the corner, of, which is it?” She looked out of the glassed room office. A young male, about her age, white, stood looking in, pretending not to.
The pink officer stood up and flipped a chart showing a diagram where her brother was gunned down, complete with a satellite map of the area.
“Corner of Franklin and Third.” He tried to sound friendly, but ended up sounding tired and beat.
“Yes, that would be my usual way home, but I was coming from a friend’s that night, not work. I drove this way, corner of Oak and fifth.”
“Ok, if you’re sure. So what happened?”
After all was said and done, they crafted a story from the video they confiscated from her phone. Her words of no consequence. Of course, they had asked nicely, only the pink man’s skin turned a deeper shade, almost crimson. He held his hand out, blue, watery eyes, bulging. Sighs, almost audible, shared by every person in the room as they viewed the broken, gut-wrenching scene play out on the miniature screen. Every person but Charlotte and her father. In the video, Kenny clearly had a gun and was coming towards Officer Banks. But Kenny didn’t own a gun!
They were shuffled out. She saw Officer Banks, the murderer, with the young boy who was watching. She heard him call the officer dad.
At home, too quiet, her brother and his friends always filled the space. The friends didn’t come anymore.
“Dad.” Charlotte rounded the corner into the kitchen.
“Yes.” Newspaper crinkling being set aside.
“This isn’t right.”
“No. It isn’t.”
“What do we do?”
Her father folded up the paper, stuffed it in the cubby next to his desk.
“Nothing.”
“They beat him papa. I don’t know why. But they did.”
“If they say it happened that way, that’s the way it happened. Can’t do nothing about it.” More crinkling her father disappeared behind the news.
Charlotte couldn’t stop feeling bad. Tears, a lot of them, fell in grief, then in anger, and at the end in deep frustration.
They buried her brother that day. Charlotte was leaving the grave site, the last one, lingering, murmuring final goodbyes. A figure approached. Her swollen eyes and cloudy mind had her confused.
He passed, and pressed a small metal stick in her hand. Hanging on, he pulled her close.
“This is what you do.”
He released her, and was gone. By the time the strangeness of the encounter settled and she turned to see who had approached her, the figure was gone. All she knew was he was white and male.
Late at night, the house was still. She crept across her bedroom with careful steps to avoid the creaks in the floor. A tight switch snapped, her desk light illuminated a cone of light in the corner. She fumbled through her jacket pockets, and dug out the metal stick, a USB. She shoved it into the laptop port, double clicked the file. Chills went through her spine. The contents of the video file made the night long with uncertainty.
***
“Ready for school? You can stay home again if you need to.” Charlotte’s father was pouring his morning coffee from the percolator on the stove while the Mr. Coffee in the corner stood idle.
“I’ll go today.” Her eyes darted. Should she tell him?
“I gotta get an early start honey. See you tonight.” The lid snapped on his travel coffee mug. He grabbed his paper, slid it under his arm, and the door banged shut behind him.
Charlotte couldn’t eat a bite. There would be no school today. She spent the night researching. Today she would go to the press.
***
Justice was served in the end. Officer Banks was brought up on charges, the others were being investigated. The headline, “They killed Kenny! – New Video Evidence Exonerates.”
Weeks later the press was still around wanting to hear from the brave black girl that brought down the police department. Charlotte exited a large downtown building from an interview.
“Funny how things work out.” A voice behind her, she turned. He was white and male.
“Aren’t you that cop’s kid?” The white, male at the department when she was questioned, Officer Banks’ son.
“Guilty.”
She knew. It was him at her brother’s gravesite. He was the purveyor of the final smoking gun.
“Why?”
“You think he was just violent on the job? You saved me too.”
“Thank you.” They stood close, their breaths steaming, intermingling, in the cool morning air.
“No, Thank you.” The white male turned on his heel and headed down the street.

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