Blood on Sunset
Kevin James had two loves, but they couldn’t coexist. Life with his Ex had been one continuous party, until their daughter Claire was born. Kevin adapted to new responsibilities, but his Ex couldn’t. She left one night without so much as a note. Kevin and Claire were on their own.
Kevin worked most days at Trader Joe’s, while Claire was in school. The parties scene faded in his memories, but Kevin held on to one last vestige of his former life. Thursday Night. Every Thursday night; Claire was with a sitter and Kevin hit Sunset with his friends. Every Thursday night, the party returned for just a few hours.
His friends teased him for how much he loved Thursdays, but it was his one freedom night. Besides, no one teases a 6 foot 3 monster like Kevin unless he allowed it.
Kevin waited in line for a trending club “The Silver Bar.” It was Thursday and his night of glory was just beginning. While smiling up into the lights outside the bar he heard one of his friends object, “Hey!” As three Hispanic guys shouldered past her through the line.
What was this, high school? Kevin decided to intercede. “Come on, homies, why not wait in line like everyone else?”
The smallest of the three spun towards Kevin, framed by his larger friends. They were dressed out like stereotypical gangsters. Kevin wondered if this is why stereotypes existed.
“The fuck you say? ‘Homie’? I’ll end you right now!” Tiny pulled a pistol from his pants and flourished it at Kevin.
Kevin knew what was important. Claire. Kevin fled. He ditched his friends, the bar, and even the sidewalk. He pounded down the center of Sunset, cars whizzing by on either side of him hoping against hope he could run home and end this sudden nightmare.
Distantly he heard the gangsters shouting encouragement to each other.
“Kill that mother!”
“Yeah! Get him!”
Kevin played basketball before joining the Trader Joe’s team, and it started to show. He could feel the gangsters getting further behind and ran as fast as he could, his brain screaming, “Claire!” As his muscles burned.
Then everything went from “nightmare” to “confusion.” Kevin was running, but now he was on the ground. He had been breathing hard, but now it was hard to breathe. He tried to move his legs, and nothing happened. Nothing worked.
“Oh my Gawd! He’s shot!” A group of four College Sweater wearing strangers crowded around Kevin. Kevin groaned and tried to speak, but it was too hard to breathe.
Distantly Kevin heard a heated argument start just inches from his head.
“We need to get out of here, George!”
“We can’t Stacy! We are Med Students. If someone finds out we were here and didn’t help him, we could lose our licenses! We will never be doctors!”
“What should we do?”
“I don’t know but we can’t leave.”
“Is that a cop car? Get it! Get it, Stacy!”
While my partner Don drove I looked lazily through the windshield. “Man there is NOTHING going on on Thursday nights. I wonder why they even bother to staff patrol on these night.”
Don chuckled, then screeched as a wild looking Stacy college sweater threw herself across the hood of our cop car.
I exploded out of the car and onto Sunset ready for war, only to see three more College Sweaters charging in a state of panic. There was a man laying on the ground behind them, blood coagulating underneath him.
Viscous blood is always a good clue that the call just got serious.
“Hurry! Get an ambulance! He’s gonna die! He’s gonna die!”
I yelled “Put it out!” to Don and crouched over Kevin as my radio began squawking and the College Sweater Crew crowded around.
“Help him! Help him! He’s going to die!” They chorused. One helpfully told me, “We are med students, we know this stuff.”
In a searingly macabre scene Kevin fought to keep conscious and muttered weakly, “no. I’m not going to die. stop saying that.”
“Get back!” I told the med students. Bedside Manner apparently wasn’t taught in the first few years.
I looked at Kevin. The Marine Corps wasn’t Med School, but it did cover First Aid. Airway clear? Check. Breathing? Kind of: Check. Circulation? Heavy bleeding from Torso. I grabbed a sweater from one of the mad med students and applied pressure. Now that my medical assessment was done, it was time to do my cop thing.
“Who did this?” I asked.
“I’m not going to die.”
“That’s right. Who did this?”
“Save my daughter.”
Kevin lost consciousness.
Daughter? What the hell? I fixed the Sweater Crew with a glare. “Where is his daughter?”
Now Sweater-less George said, “we don’t know, man. He was running in the street and someone shot him. We didn’t have anything to do with this but we can’t leave because we are…”
“Med-students. I get it. Geez.”
The Fire Department guys landed and scooped Kevin up. They stuffed Kevin and my partner Don into the back and took off, leaving me alone on Sunset, surrounded by blood and questions as the patrol division closed in on the scene from all across El Castillo.
I was at the center of the storm. Citizens raged at the street closures. Cops raged at the interrupted dinner. Sergeants from North Side raged at El Castillo Sergeants. Sunset is the dividing line between the divisions and no one wanted a shooting reflected on their numbers.
I collected names, statements, and facts like a small squirrel in a nut storm.
I wish I could report a happy ending for Kevin, but this is life in Big City. He fought back to consciousness in the ambulance long enough to give Don his last words: “I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
When they arrived at the hospital, the doctors cracked open his chest and massaged his heart.
Back on Sunset, I called detectives and listed off the collected facts: an argument at a bar, single gunshot wound to the chest while fleeing, suspects in the wind.
This is El Castillo, not “Law and Order”, the homicide detective grunted “call us when he dies” and hung up.
Kevin died 12 hours later.