Black Lives Matter Less
He looked at the body. He looked some more at the body as if it were some expensive work of art. He stared at it from every conceivable angle in search of something. In search of a reason. In search of a real reason why that fourteen year old black child was sprawled out on the sidewalk bleeding out. Detective Nathan Chambers wondered who made the decision that the teenager there had to die. Who was the genius that decided that the poor soul needed to be murdered, or the fact that he provoked someone into shooting him three times in the chest and once in the neck. There was no way that the shooter fired in self defense, or his gun went off accidentally, four times. That dead teenager was no more than eighty pounds soaked and wet, he was very thin and couldn't have been a threat to anyone.
Upon arriving at the scene, Detective Laura Kimber and Peter O'Brien were sharp enough to grab anyone within sight and send them downtown with the uniforms for questioning.
Chambers acknowledged their thoroughness. He was proud to serve with them. Questioning was a big part of an investigation. He then realized that if the dead was an adult he could have used his street smarts at the people who discovered the body. Then he would find the people who knew him and ask the routine questions. For example, how did you know him, where did he work, where did he live, and who rented him that place, who hung out with him, fought with him, fucked him and did drugs with him? These questions would tell a detective a great deal about the dead. However, he wasn't an adult, and the questions would not have applied here.
A young teenage black boy from a drug plagued neighborhood would probably get lost in the shuffle. Chambers wanted to give that boy a voice. He was hoping something would turn up, or someone who gave a shit would point him in the right direction. If ballistics failed and the lab work came up empty, there would be little to no hope for the dead child, and Chambers knew that a piece of himself would die too.
A crowd started gathering around, but were kept away from the body by the uniforms. Chambers knew he wasn't gifted with the uncanny powers to solve a crime within seconds. He also realized that the detectives will always get to the crime scenes after the bodies fall.
Kimber walked around the edges of the crime scene looking for spent bullets, casings, and footprints. O'Brien started to canvass the houses and businesses nearby asking the questions that he knew the uniforms weren't train to ask. It was all part of the grind.
Chambers stood up and took a step back. He gazed at all the sea of black faces. There was confusion and anger in their eyes.
“Why don't you get that kid off the sidewalk?” Someone shouted from the forming crowd.
The uniforms moved forward slowly and with careful steps toward the gatherers. The crowd consisted of many young and a few old, mostly black, but there were a scattering of Latinos.
Chambers looked at the crowd and less recognizable faces lined both sides of the street. These were the people he was paid to serve and protect, but he didn't recognize anyone. That thought alone stained his mind.
He then looked at a rundown tenement and an old brick row house. There were a number of busted bricks jetting out, edges sharp enough to draw blood, and low enough to injure small children. It was a rough and dangerous neighborhood which included the buildings.
“At least cover him up,” shouted a heavy set black woman with red hair curlers and purple lipstick. “He's just another dead nigger to you, right?”
Chambers listened as the crowd started shouting out black lives matter too. He just couldn't come up with a reasonable reply. He knew arguing with that comment goes beyond academic degrees. He was standing over a dead black teenager in a poverty stricken neighborhood with a crowd that appeared to be getting larger by the minute.
“Riot control?” Kimber asked.
Chambers knew that in their eyes, he was one of many plagues that ravished their neighborhood, drugs, poverty, crime, lack of work, death and police.
“No,” he replied and Kimber nodded.
“What are you going to do with him?” someone else shouted from the crowd. “His mama is too poor to pay for a funeral. Hell, she couldn't even pay her electric bill. They shut the shit off four months ago. Death did her a favor, one less mouth to feed.”
Laura Kimber stopped and looked around the crowded street, the chants and the chatter blending together, and it was the first time that she felt the summer heat bringing in a chill.
Suddenly there was a face that Chambers recognized immediately. It was his old friend Deacon Mike Brandon. The deacon cut through the crowd like a shark through the ocean. He stopped in front of the detective and then stared at the dead teenager.
“Can you help me with the crowd?” Chambers asked.
“I would Nate, but please have someone cover the boy up.”
“That chant, spooky huh?”
“Yeah, it is,” replied Chambers. “But to me all lives matter.”
“I believe you Nate,” said the deacon as a uniform covered the dead with a white blanket.”But tell me the truth. Deep in your heart I know you believe that all lives matter, but tell me you don't think black lives matter less.”
That was a question he had been anticipating for a few months now, only he expected it to come from someone he didn't know as well as he knew the deacon. Also not asked on a packed street
“I'm sorry you even feel the need to ask me such a question,” he said.
“And I hate having to ask,” the deacon replied with equal passion.
“I have no idea how to answer that question Mike,” Chambers said.
“I didn't think you could with a straight face.”
“Mike, I have no idea where this day will lead me and how violent it will get. But I am honestly telling you that I never expected to see a teenage boy shot to death for no apparent reason. That's not an image I will ever be able to erase, and that's a fact,” Chambers said. “And if you don't believe me, get the fuck out of my face!”
The deacon smiled and turned to the crowd. “Okay everybody, lets let the police do their job and break this up. Anybody don't hear me and listen, Jesus Christ and I would kick your ass!”
The crowd started breaking up and Chambers smiled.
© 2016 Frank Atanacio
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