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The Ghetto Stratum

Updated on November 3, 2013

The chase was on. Ten yards quickly became five, and the big man was slowing considerably with each step. With a final effort, the detective launched himself into the air and tackled the fugitive with a resounding grunt, a spirited thrust. He had used everything that he could muster. The two tangled on the ground like a couple of school boys in a playground brawl.

Kicking up dust, pebbles and brush. The detective could not sense back-up as the brawl continued.

There was kicking and punching, but the detective was doing neither. The fugitive rose to his feet and started running. Suddenly there was a loud crack that split the air. Then the man shuddered, fell and he would lay still. The detective crouched behind the still form and was looking over his shoulder. Three members of his unit arrived huffing and puffing with their weapons drawn.

"Who shot him?" shouted the detective.

No one from his unit replied.

The detective stood up slowly and started looking around, but saw nothing but roof tops and windows cracked open. There was no movement coming from the alley all except fleeing pigeons that were frightened away from the area by the loud sound. After a minute of silence, the unit walked toward the body and looked at the bullet hole at the back of his head.

"Dead," said the only female member of that unit. The detective, sore from the brawl already knew that. The blood slowly seeped out from the wound into the brush and dirt. The tallest member of that unit bent down, carefully examining the body, while the third member holstered his weapon and released a heavy sigh.

The detective puffed releasing tension and was trying to gather his wits.

The examining member stood up slowly and turned to the detective. "It’s the wrong guy."


"It’s Parker, that homeless guy that always hangs around this community garden begging for tomatoes."

"Why did he run?"

"You were chasing him."

"Who shot him?"

"I don’t know," said the female unit member. "But it’s going to look real bad for us."

The detective nodded slowly.

The unit members moved around the body carefully so not to get blood on their boots. The surrounding dirt was already turning dark red from the growing pool.

The tallest member of the unit turned toward the fire escapes and said,"The shot came from above. I’m thinking it came from a fire escape. Or perhaps a window."

The detective remained silent for a moment considering the fire escapes and the windows. He had no idea that the chase was going to be a fatal one.

"Boss, we’re just gonna have to knock on doors and investigate," said the female member of the unit. "I just know that once this gets downtown, the fan will be spitting. A needless death to a poor homeless man."

"Only in the ghetto," whispered the detective. "Only on the streets that reek of sadness and despair."

"The Ghetto Stratum," the examining member of the unit commented absently, and continued looking over the body.

The detective looked toward the windows with torn curtains and studied them for a few moments. He sensed an odd sensation running through his body. He knew that it was trouble brewing. Worse yet, only he and the members of his unit were the only ones in the alley. Ballistics could prove that neither one of the guns were fired, but the public would immediately cry cover-up.

The female member of the unit removed a bright red and white mint from her pocket. As she popped it into her mouth she realized that there was nothing anyone could do to stop what was heading toward them. And there was also no way they could cover-up the situation. She paused briefly, and worst part of her pause was that the mint was really good.

The Ghetto Stratum, whispered the detective as he slowly walked away.



© 2012 Frank Atanacio


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    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you Audrey :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      No one does this genre better than you my friend! No one!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      thank you Flourish :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Frank, you're a master. Gripping and twisting.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Im so sorry PHDAST my prayers go out to your family and you of course..

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Been gone quite awhile because of family illness. What a great police vignette to come back to. As I know you know, you are really good at this. :) Hope all is well with you and yours. ~~Theresa

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Thanks for reading X-man no not a series.. just a quick flash crime.. and again thanks for reading my shorts :)

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Great story Frank! Looks like a series maybe? That kind of thing can happen, but sometimes police are really quick on the trigger too. Portlland, Oregon just went through a major investigation about deadly force involving mentally ill people.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you Alastar for visiting my neck of the woods..LOL trying my hand in Flash Crime..LOL I kind of like it.. and Faith in this type of writing I try not to give anyone a name... except for the homeless guy LOL thanks Gypsy for stopping by bless you all :)

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Wonderful story. The ghetto will get them every time. Passing this on.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Very interesting write Frank. The title is unique as well. Why doesn't the "female member of the unit" have a name? I guess it is not relevant here. Ha. What a different ending . . . Ah, you left us hanging . . .

      God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Nicely written story, Frank. Tricky and unfair situation for the cops there. Used to be around here the city police were quick on the trigger and exonerated real fast. Doubt they ever had anything like this to contend with though.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks for stopping by eddy :)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      Oh thank you Frank for sharing this great read.

      So clever and gripping;you arte indeed a great writer my friend.

      I vote up and across the board.

      Have a great day.


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      Thanks Our Ms Brooks and Valleypoet for stopping by my quick fiction.. and thanks for the comments.. and welcome wingedcentaur for your comment and visit I will repay the visit :) thank you

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 5 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Hi Frank Atanacio!

      This is really good "flash fiction," I think its called, a pure, tense, dramatic moment distilled down to its most intense essenc.

      Well done. I'll be back to read more. Voted up for awesome and interesting!

    • profile image

      Valleypoet 5 years ago

      A very unfortunate case of mistaken identity. A very bad day for this detective Frank...kept me gripped to the end:-))

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Great ending.. is there going to be a sequel? another great one Frank.

      hugs and blessings


    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 5 years ago from Shelton

      thanks Joyce good to see you and not to sure about the twist? LOL me neither LOL just brushing up on my shorts LOL :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Amazing one Frank, but too sure about the twist.

      Voted up and very interesting, Joyce.