Friday, April 9, 2010

Chapter 32 The Dreamers

Chapter 32

The alarm went off right on the dot and I gathered my basketball gear, dressed, and headed out for Beaupre. As I headed through the old neighborhoods the sounds of ethnic music filled the night air. Children were out playing on the sidewalk.

Boys were playing stickball in the middle of the street. Chalk marked their bases. It reminded me of my countless hours of waffle-ball games in the back yard, countless games of homerun derby played until darkness robbed us of another inning. I thought that even these children are oblivious to all that is going on. Or, maybe they are just numb to it all. Who knows what how they really deal with the poverty and the violence that surrounds them, I thought.

I arrived at Beaupre with the second half of the game before ours just starting. Some of the Knight players were sitting with Coach McKay across the way at the bleachers' end. I go over. I glanced around and see a white BMW pull up within 100 feet of the court. The driver's window was powered down and a black hand came out flicking cigarette ashes to the ground.

The Knight players greeted me. I did likewise and took a seat next to Coach McKay.

"How you doin, Coach," I ask?

"O.K.," said Dave. "I hate these late games, though. It makes 6 AM come awful soon. It should be our last late game of the season. I guess I'll make it."

"This game seems to be moving along pretty quickly," I state. We may get started before nine."

"That would be all right with me," Said McKay. "I'd like to get home early."

Coach asked the Knights to start loosening up behind the bleachers with some passing drills he had been working on. They obliged.

As I got up I noticed two other cars, big Lincolns, pulled up behind Motown's Beemer. Eight big men got out; four had long trench coats on and moved to the side of the vehicles closest to the court. I began to sense that something was wrong. This did not look good.

I looked across the street and saw Ben's car with the window partially rolled down. No sooner did I turn around than I heard the sound of what appeared to be fire crackers. Crack, Crack, Crack, Crack. The sound of screams filled the night air as people began running in every direction. Crack, crack, crack, crack. There appeared to by hundreds of shot by now filling the court.

I turned to see the four men in long coats with automatic rifles, M16's I thought. Two had dropped their magazines to the ground and were inserting new clips.

People were littering the court, lying in pain, screaming, blood seemed to be everywhere. Six players were down as well as fifteen to twenty spectators. I spotted Esther and Dwight trying frantically to get Dwight's tricycle unstuck from the bleacher corner rail. I ran toward them.

"Esther," I shouted at the top of my lungs! Leave it! Get down," I yelled! "Get down!"

Within a split second I felt sharp pains in both of my legs as I crumpled to the pavement. On my way down sharp pains entered both shoulder blades and my lower back. I hit the asphalt hard, like I had been tackled by a 300 pound lineman from behind, breaking the cheekbone to the right of my nose. The pain was immense. God, did it hurt. I tried to raise myself up, but I couldn't. My thigh bones had to be shattered by the 5.62mm rounds that sped through my legs. I tried to drag myself with my arms but the pain from my shoulders was too great. I just laid there with my left cheek against to pavement watching people still running for their lives. The level of screaming seemed loud or louder than any cheering crowd I had ever heard at any big game.

The pain was getting even more unbearable and then I saw two feet walk right up to my side. I looked up to barely make out a shape on some man with a long coat.

"Tough luck, Whitey," said a Husky, scratchy, bass voice. "You shoulda stayed in your own neighborhood."

I saw the man raise his arm; his hand held what looked like a military .45. I never thought I would be dying this way. I only heard the first shots that ripped threw my skull.

Within forth-five seconds 25 people were dead and the attackers sped off into the night. Two unmarked police cars sped off in pursuit. Five minutes later the street was blocked off by Metro Police cars. Sergeant Jenkins arrived, got out of his car and began scanning the basketball court. He spotted Bob lying at the far side of center court. He ran as fast as he could.

"Bob, Bob," he shouted. "Get me a paramedic over here, now," he shouted, turning as he ran! "Now," he said!

He got to Bob's body, kneeled down, but saw the blood from the two head wounds he suffered and knew it was too late. He felt his neck, anyway, just in case there was still some pulse. He knew from experience that there would be none. He could still hope, he thought. He took off his rain coat and draped it over Bob's upper body. Tears began flowing down his face. His greatest fear had become reality. He really admired Bob. Thought he could protect him. Reality was there was no way he really could. Not from these thugs who strike so indiscriminately.

Jenkins wiped the tears from his eyes, raised his head and scanned the entire Beaupre court area. Bodies everywhere. Moans of pain, occasional screams, and crying fill the air. Sirens filled the background with shouts of directions coming from police and EMT personnel who seemed to be everywhere.

Jenkins sat cross legged against Bob's body, still not wanting to believe what had happened. He spotted Ben walking slowly over to where Jenkins was. Ben stopped next to Jenkins, kneeled down and put his hand on Jenkins' shoulder.

He made the sign of the cross on his chest and began to pray. "Dear Father in Heaven," began Ben, as tears began streaming down his face. His voice began cracking as each word crossed lips.

"Take this life you so graciously blessed us with for such a short time," he continued. "He loved you and your Son more than his own life. Please grant him a special place at your side. He will be greatly missed."

Ben and Sergeant Jenkins remained at Bob's side, still numb from what had happened. What a senseless death they both thought. What a great potential lost in Bob's death. What a senseless tragedy.

"I will get these guys who did this," announced Jenkins in an angry voice. "If I have to kill them with my own bear hands, I swear I will get them. Motown’s' days are numbered now."

Sergeant Jenkins rose to his feet. Paramedics came over and placed bob's body on a stretcher and rolled him over to one of the 6 ambulances that lined the street. Jenkins pulled his business card from his breast pocket and handed it to a young, female attendant.

See that the Coroner calls before he does anything with this body, understand," said Jenkins sternly. "Can you do that for me?"

"No problem," she replied. "I'll take care of it myself."

They rolled the body to the ambulance, pushed the cart passed the doors, slammed them, climbed in, and took off toward the morgue. No siren was needed on this run.

"Ben," said Jenkins. "Follow me back to the campus. I'll call your Uncle from my car and we can tell him the bad news together. O.K.?"

"No problem," answered Ben. "I'll meet you there."

They went to their cars and sped off into the night. This was a visit Jenkins did not want to make. Never thought he would have to. He kept thinking of what he would say. What could he say? How could he even bring himself to do it? Even with all of his years of Police work, all his experience, planning, attention to details, he hated this part of the job the most. Who wouldn’t?

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