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The detective was walking through a boarded up tenement on Brooklyn’s lower eastside. Most of the other buildings were boarded up as well. There were several homeless families living in the condemned dwellings, but the detective wasn’t going to ask them to vacate. He was just looking for a young girl, Lisa Rodriguez. She was reported missing several weeks ago and someone said they saw her here on Whalley Avenue.
One of the families came out onto the crippled concrete steps and watched as the detective walked over to them. He showed the picture of the missing girl to them and they had not seen her. The woman was much older than the two young boys as they hugged her legs as an act of shyness. She appeared to be in her late 60’s. Perhaps she was their grandmother.
“Are these your grandchildren?” the detective asked out of curiosity mostly.
“Yea, they my babies.”
“Dumped on you?”
“Can’t turn my back on family no matter what,” she replied.
“State can’t help?”
“State doesn’t want to, they looking for the momma.”
The detective nodded.
“You ain’t gonna call them?”
“No,” he quickly replied as he headed toward an old condemned laundry mat next to a bodega with bars all over the windows.
He continued canvassing the neighboring streets, while the homeless watched on. Their eyes were burning into the back of his head, but he continued looking for Lisa Rodriguez.
The detective came across a teenage boy eating spoils from a corner garbage can. The boy looked up and his eyes were soaked with innocence.
“Sometimes people throw good stuff away,” said the boy.
The have and the have nots was the phrase that quickly filled the detective’s head. Living normal was like a fantasy for the people here on Whalley Avenue. Life was an illusion for them. The effect of that illusion was really profound. It was distorting as it does the natural way of life between the rich and the poor. Transforming it until it resembled a relationship more symbiotic than adversarial. The rich expects the poor to remain poor, and the poor expects to be poor and live hand to mouth. It was completely mystifying, but the boy eating out of the garbage can illustrated the position.
“Are you a cop?” asked the boy as tried to pocket a molded piece of cake.
The detective’s mouth opened to speak, but nothing came out. He just smiled and slowly turned away from the boy. Deep down inside the detective knew that someday that boy would make ends meet by selling drugs, or stealing. There was no happy ending for that kid. Ignoring that statement didn’t make him feel any better.
There was an old Cadillac Brougham parked in an empty factory parking lot. No front wheels, and the back just had rusting rims. That parking lot was once protected by a ten-foot chain link fence which has rusted and had fallen to the ground. He walked over to the parked car and looked in. At first it was difficult to get a clear view because of the clutter and filth. There he saw a child’s white print pants. There were blood smudges on it. He took out the photo of Lisa Rodriguez and noticed that the pants were hers. The detective quickly opened the door as he had to pry it open with force, and there he found the missing child. The girl was beaten to death with a tire iron. She had bite marks on her neck and was probably sexually abused. He wouldn’t know until he got back a full chemistry report.
The detective looked back at the tired, worn out looking families living like cave dwellers, and then back to the child’s body. The killer deposited the body there because misery needed company, death. The detective could not envision a murderer, carrying a child in his arms, wandering across several blocks of plight and condemnation just to find the final resting place for Lisa Rodriguez.
Placing the body here wasn’t strange or illogical. It made sense to leave it where no one wanted to be noticed. Whalley Avenue.
Other Quick Flash Crime fictions by Frank F. Atanacio:
© 2012 Frank Atanacio