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Autumn Sky Fade to Black
He had a full conversation with his reflection in the mirror. It was the sense of paranoia setting in. He could almost feel the entire city rustling nervously. The chatter started as it filtered through the chains of command. It was a Pandora’s Box waiting only for the right activist or famed preacher to grab hold of it and scream out racism or police brutality. His image would be plastered over every news reel long enough and hard enough that the mayor and the police commissioner would be looking for heads to fall. It hasn’t happened yet, but he was still waiting for it.
The detective was thinking about the young man’s face. It was smooth and unworn and he probably just graduated high school, or was one of the many who dropped out. He was a black kid who lived in the P.T. Barnum Housing Projects over on the west-end. Their eyes locked and the young man had an empty stare. It seemed cold and unfeeling, but the fact was still the same. He was a young person.
It all happened so fast that the detective couldn’t remember the shooting. The young man was rolled to one side as another detective with white gloves pointed to the gunshot hole in the back of his jacket and the exit wound coming out the young man’s chest. Above the young man’s eye was a bloody contusion caused by his fall to the concrete. The bullet that killed that young man fully penetrated the heart causing it to explode. The bullet entered from the back and had a slightly downward angle.
He died instantly, and it didn’t take much for the pathologists to determine that the young man was shot in the back while fleeing.
Looking out his office window the detective watched the autumn sky fade to black. He kept hearing the police cover-up words streaming in the back of his head. It was such an odd guilt tugging at his heart. He felt guilty because if the shooting had been someone else, the reports would have been different. The shooter would have been labeled a murderer. The young man who died would have been labeled a homicide victim. The case was regarded not as a murder but a police-involved shooting. The word crime appeared nowhere.
He glanced at his reflection in the mirror which was enhanced by the lighting. He stood silently, waiting. He just stared at his reflection as he went over the shooting again in his mind. His reflection’s expression was passionless, almost cold. He tried to force himself to remain calm Yet, with each moment that ticked by, he felt hope fading. He didn’t know what to hope for, but nevertheless it was fading. His imagination was playing tricks on him and he couldn’t stop it. He had always been a fighter and a man that stood for truth, but that failed him. He was watching his truth shatter to pieces.
He then remembered what happened. It all came crashing back. It was going to be a foot chase. He radioed into command explaining his position and requesting back up. He stumbled and fired one shot from his service revolver. It was a wayward shot fired when he lost his footing while staggering from the stumble. He thought his service revolver was pointed down, and the bullet struck the cement. That wasn’t what the bullet hit. It struck the fleeing suspect in the back killing him instantly. He couldn’t believe he fired one shot as he then blacked out.
When he came to he heard his radio chatter. The sergeant was making corrections. He was telling back-up that it was indeed a police involved shooting, the suspect and a police officer was down. The suspect fired at the police officer and missed. The stray bullet hit the building which caused the police officer to fire his first round killing the suspect immediately.
That was how the story remained except for one critical fact: The suspect did not shoot at the detective giving chase.
Other Quick Flash Crime fictions by Frank F. Atanacio:
© 2012 Frank Atanacio