Posted by BigWords on November 19, 2009
“Did you enjoy yourself?”
Charlie thought about the question. “Yeah. I liked the shiny.”
“That’s all you ever think about. Money, money, money…”
“I think about you as well.”
Lara took his hand. “Riiight, and I suppose that you didn’t even give that blonde in the short black skirt a second look.”
“Which blonde?” Charlie played along.
“Yeah, like I really believe you,” She joked back.
Across the road three men slipped into the alley, out of sight. Charlie pulled Lara closer to him, quickening his pace. “Believe this. The street is about to get very dangerous.”
At the end of the street an enforcer quietly watched, moving away only when Charlie made eye contact with him. More people rushed from the sidewalk to the relative safety of the buildings on the ground level roadway, looking up to the sky and at the ends of the street. A lurching feeling deep in his stomach gripped Charlie, wishing all the time that his knowledge of the street gangs was better.
A black hov appeared from where the enforcer disappeared, flaring burnished orange neon lighting from under the vehicle, lighting its’ path. The three men reappeared from their hiding place across the street, wielding rifles and carrying grenades.
Charlie stopped in his tracks, pulled Lara close to him and moved to the doorway of a bar. The door was locked, leaving him no options. He shielded her from the street with his body, holding her as tightly as he could.
“Keep your head low.”
A flash of light from the street heralded the exchange of gunfire. An EMP grenade slid near the hov, bounced, exploding near the row of parked hov’s, oldtime wheels, and Charlie. Pieces of plastiglass and metal flew from the vehicles, showering the sidewalk. The hov slowed enough so that Charlie could see clearly the passengers. He could see the windows slide open, and see the firearms emerge from within. The men on the opposite side of the road were attacking the hov with every weapon at their disposal, and Charlie knew that there were always civilian casualties when turf wars spilled out on to the streets.
The Hov sped off as an explosion brought down a wall onto the men who were firing at them, Their enemies dead, the hov rose two feet in the air and sped off as fast as it could, leaving the scene of the battle without a second glance at Charlie.
An astonished tone in his voice, he asked Lara if she was all right. Her arms limp around him, he lifted her chin to see into her eyes, already knowing, even before her head was tilted back so that he could see, that she was dead. His heart pounded.
“Lara, we have to get out of here.”
She didn’t respond.
Cradling her, blood seeped through his fingers. She made a whimpering sound, then the world was so much lonelier than before. Lara was dead.
Charlie stood in the rain of dust and debris, holding her.
“I swear. The people who did this will die by my hands.”
Connell looked out at the street. Three weeks on the job, he thought, and they stick me in the middle of this shit. The crowd of news reporters at the ends of the street, with their hov cams above the throng for the clearest pictures, made him sick to his stomach. Vultures, he silently cursed them, you’re a bunch of fucking vultures, preying on the dead.
The scene had been left more or less intact, and even though he knew – evidence or not – that the devastation was due to the Kings asserting their dominance of the streets, there was little that would bring out more experienced officers to the scene. Connell, third lowest placed in the police academy’s year, was the best that victims of the massacre could hope for to investigate their deaths.
“What’s a second-rate cop like you doing at a major crime scene like this?” The voice belonged to a woman Connell recognized from the last investigation into the Kings.
“Move along before I arrest you for loitering at the scene of a crime.”
“You can’t arrest me for being here.”
“No, but I can’t arrest you, but I can shoot you.”
“I’m not carrying a weapon.”
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Would you mind showing me your ID card, ma’am.”
“And when I put my hand into my coat you’ll shoot me. Your statement will claim that you thought I was going for a weapon and you’ll be exonerated.”
“You’re a lot smarter than your jacket would have a person believe.”
“And you’re a lot dumber than a cop ought to be.”