Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ballgame v2.0 (Blogophilia 17.11)

What if there are no superheroes?No hopeJust dumb luck.Against the machinations of life?
What if there are?Someone to take the responsibility away,Benevolent and all seeing. Willing to protect and take the blameA scapegoat chased out of the city.
I don’t take drugsI am drugsBlowing visions across the skyConfusing the flockGuiding them to be sheared.
Best Friend Park hadn’t changed much in twenty years. The copper infield was smooth as glass and the emerald turf immaculate thanks to Old Man Johnson. Life was simpler back then. Lt. Walter Murray was here to see his grandson play T-ball for the first time this season. The first three Saturday mornings he had to work. He was happy not to think of dead people and grieving victims. Robbery and Major Crimes, the shifts were consistent. Coaching ball and playing with his kids was possible.
Homicide was another animal. No two cases were the same. Dealing in death was a 24/7 on call position. When Friday night’s damage was found early Saturday morning, his world stopped and he had to deal with everyone else’s issues. It was like being Batman, but without the cool tools. Mornings like this reminded him of what was missing in the civilized world.
Coaching fundamentals made him think of the street kids with on patrol. Trouble always found the bored, lonely kids. Most needed strong adults and there just weren’t any for them. He managed to get a few interested in the Police Athletic League but he couldn’t save them all. Faces, both white and black, reflected in the faces of the children here on the field. The sun blinked over the trees in right field. Murray rubbed his thighs. One thing hasn't changed. Damn bleachers are hot. Swiping a stained handkerchief across his shaved head, he looked around.
One group of parents sat to his left. The parents for the opposing team sat on the other side of the backstop. A gaggle of girls had gathered behind the fence on the first base side to play zoo with some toy animals. They took turns playing shepherd. One would march the flock up one side, while another would bring them down the other. One deliberately put a zebra high into a bush and screamed it was lost. All the other animals rushed into the imaginary forest to help the shepherd girl find it.
A smile came. Such drama. A small bit of string found and was used as a rope to pull it to safety. Hooray!
Little Wally was his grandson. Sitting at the end of the bench playing with a blade of grass, his mind didn't look like it was in the game. He looked so much like his father at that age,sandy blonde curls and not an ounce of fat. A bundle of energy bounding from place to place, his red streaked uniform hanging off thin shoulders. The kid didn’t always pay attention, but he did seem to have fun. A little brown kid kept hitting him in the arm, but Wally just kept at the blade. He put the end in his mouth and began to chew. The other kid made a face and slid down the bench.
There was a clink from the field. The kid batting flied out. It was almost Wally's time to bat.
“Hey, Superman.” Murray yelled out, “It’s almost your turn. Go get ‘em!”
The little boy turned toward him and smiled. Tossing the chewed blade away, he walked to the end of the bench. Big Wally double checked his helmet with quick tug. The small gray and orange bat felt good in his hands. He waited at the edge of the dugout for the kid at bat to finish.
Swing...Miss...
A shout for the kid to buckle down.
Swing...Miss...
Another parent yells to try again.
Swing…CLINK!!
Cheers and exhortations for the kid to run fast. With absolutely no speed, the ball dribbled towards first and was grabbed by the opposing fielder. The out was made. The parents groaned and the kid slouched dejectedly back to the bench.
It was Wally’s turn.
The little man strode confidently to the edge of the batter's box. Mimicking the older boys on the adjacent field, he swung the bat through a couple of time, testing the feel. Murray tensed with anticipation, wondering what dreams were going through the little mind. Satisfied, Wally stepped up to the silver stick.
With one swing, the ball flew high over the second basement and past the right fielder. It came to rest at the fence about 150 feet away.The crowd cheered. Afternoons with Grandpa paid off again. Little Wally rounded the bases with ease and was met with the high fives of his team mates. The game ended and everyone went to the parking lot for snacks.
Ms. Scalini was the team Mom. Everyone gathered next to her Suburban to be served. An invisible woman handed out juice boxes and cookies to the suddenly hungry team. Murray smiled at the little brother in Spider-man pajamas with the leaking box. Mom's got a clean up job.
Wally ran up with a juice box and asked excitedly if he’d seen the big hit. Murray took a sip and rubbed the curly head. He assured him he had.
"Grandpa, can we play catch later?"
His cell phone buzzed.
They both shrugged. Another case to deal with.
At least it wasn’t a completely ruined Saturday.
Murray slouched to the black Crown Vic opened the door. With an involuntary duck, he felt the blast of air go over the top of his head. Wincing as he slid on the hot vinyl, he dialed back to headquarters to get the location.
Let me guess, he thought. It’s here in Norcross. He thought about going home and changing into more professional clothes, but that would take too long. Baseball shirt and shorts will have to do.
“Gwinnett Homicide. Jackson.” Even after all these years the donkey voice still grated at his nerves.
“Murray. What’s up?”
“Sorry to bust up the ballgame Lieutenant, but we just got a call out of the Graves. I knew you were in the neighborhood and I figured you could field this.” Murray heard a suppressed bray from his partner.
There are some days I think I'll die from an overdose of satisfaction, Jackson. But, the game is over. What do we know so far?”
“Not much. Male. Latin. No age or I.D. yet, but pretty young. Found by one of the residents at the bottom of the hill a little while ago. Patrol has secured the scene, so you should be ready to roll when you get there. Crime Scene is also en route and may beat you there. I’m finishing up a report, so I'll be down about 20 minutes.
“Take your time. I doubt you’ll miss much. See you there.”
As he clicked off, Little Wally came running up, curls flowing in the breeze.
“You going to work, Grandpa?”
“Yeah. Somebody is hurt and needs my help.”
The little boy nodded and grinned, flinging his sticky arms around his neck.
“I love you. Maybe you’ll get home in time to play some catch.”
“We’ll see, Superman.”, He patted him on the shoulder. “Now get on back to Mom. She’s waiting.”
As the little boy ran to his parents, Murray sighed. Did his deceased had left anyone behind? Probably a Mama, maybe a girl and kids. Living a “Fuck the Future” life, with no plans for the future past Friday. They are surprised when Universe fucks them back and leaves their corpses littering the landscape.
He cranked the car and turned the air conditioning up to full. It didn't make a difference.
Turning on to Jimmy Carter, he frowned. While Three miles to the cesspit of sin. A distance made longer by worst designed road in the State of Georgia. Five hundred yards later came gridlock, drivers cursing in ten languages. Things sure have changed the last twenty years, Murray thought as the sweat poured down his face. He wondered what was at the scene.
Was this the third or fourth case from there this year? He had worked a domestic and Jackson had drawn a bad drug deal. Both of those closed pretty quickly. The folks involved were known and there was enough physical evidence not to need much testimony. Last he had heard, both were negotiating plea deals. This was helpful since this was a neighborhood where snitches got stitches.
One case was still open. A young girl was found naked in one of the dumpsters with her throat slit. Two months later they didn’t have a good I.D, just her tattoo, Bella Paloma. The ME report stated the deceased was 18-20 and had had a hard life. Cold words for what looked like a warm woman. Murray had seen her once or twice working one of the busy corners for tricks, but never had any reason to talk. The other hookers knew nothing other than she had shown up maybe a month or six weeks before she was found. Now she was just another used up piece of trash.
Working the scene was tough. She had been killed somewhere else, very little blood anywhere around. The dumpster itself was out of the direct line of sight from the other buildings, so when the neighbors said they didn’t see anything, they may have been right. But the detectives didn’t even get that. Everybody claimed they were inside and it wasn’t their business. Nobody wanted the attention of some SureƱo Trece pimp.
The only lead was a tire tread in the clay next to the dumpster and a beige Toyota seen leaving about the time she was found. Of course, no one had a description of the driver.
So, would this new body be connected to that one? Jackson said he was Latin. Nah. Nobody promised me magic in this job. Almost everyone else in the complex was.

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