Were he still alive, Lester Young’s father would not have been proud of his boy, anything but that, he would’ve told him, and Lester would’ve seen in his eyes how he meant every goddam word of it.
Lester Young; shanghaied by officers Hendricks and Stone, in lieu of not booking him for the pound of dope he weren’t even holding. They knew all about his father’s failing ticker; said who’s gonna look after your mother now, son?
Lester: single child, black, vulnerable, seventeen years young - a prime six feet of cute-looking. After eight years of beers, barbeques, and banter, somehow the past gets forgotten. And forgiven.
Officers Lester Young and Gerry Stone patrol downtown on a quiet night. Stone’s at the wheel. He’s edgy, sweaty-browed, keeps stroking his silver goatee and checking his wristwatch. Gives Lester some old BS when asked what’s up, mumbles something about funky Mexican street food.
Suddenly slows at a corner. A man staggers out from behind the dumpsters in the pitch-dark ally. Wears the uniform, bent double, clutching at his stomach, Hendricks. Screams he’s been hit real bad, white guy, armed, kite-high on crack, got a twenty seconds start, jabs his finger down the alleyway.
Stone spins the car round, screeches a donut, says let’s cut the fucker off. Knows exactly where it leads.
TV chopper circles overhead. Lester reaches for the radio, Stone’s hand blocks him, no time for back up, he yells, Hendrick’s looks done, check your weapon. Stone seals off the alley, tells the rookie, get the fuck out the car. Lester sees nothing in the dark. Gun hand is shaking, won’t stop, can’t stop. A shaft of light from the chopper shows their man, arms waving above his head, maybe packing, maybe not, impossible to tell.
Sees Lester, sees his gun, turns and runs back into the dark. Lester gives chase. Screams drop your weapon three times. The chopper’s light comes and goes. Stone’s caught Lester up, sees a shadow up ahead, take him down now, man, for fucks sake. Lester raises his arm, steadies it with the other, fires once. Boom. Once is enough to drop him.
They stand over the dead body of a young man – looks more like a boy. There’s nothing in his hands. There never was.
Hendricks appears out of nowhere. No blood, no wound, says good shot Young, slaps him locker-room hard across the back, tells him it was self-defence, that he’s sure he saw the guy waving a piece, whispers in his ear he’ll make one appear easy enough. Says that the TV’s on their side, that the chopper caught what it needs for the eleven o’clock news. Announces that Lester Young’s now become a hero.
Winks at Stone, says job well done, buddy.
Lee is a short fiction writer. He has had stories published on-line in STORGY, The Red Line, The Londonist, and was shortlisted for the BBC's 2015 Opening Lines competition. Originally from London, he now lives in Greece.