I hate these heat migraines. I’ve had them since I moved from Oakland. Figures. One hot weather to another, I never learn. Just like the idiots running this outfit. It’s almost ten years to the day since the Watts Riots and we still have the tact of a nightstick to the face. González and McMillan got 86ed the other day near Figueroa. Word on the street is that the Chapules wanted a piece of the action. They all want their crumbs from the American dream. You could walk on their hands, out from their pockets, palms to the skies and eyes to the ground.
This Fairmount ain’t what it used to be, but it’s what Chief Johnson gave us. ‘I’m not pushing back’, I said to Martínez at the desk, because I can’t test my luck anymore. Been licking wounds lately. It’s all about ‘Nam and all the people we lost. All the friends I lost. For what? I ended up in uniform; they’d hate me if they were still alive.
Even my best friend, Kenny, who once said I shone in all the types of red there are, but now he says I’m ‘somewhere grey’. Damn, son, all that LSD makes you drone like a babbling fool, disconnected from reality, repeating all the words several times and having conversations with yourself.
Not a bad taco, this. It beats this stakeout. Why am I here again? I only joined the force to avoid the draft and although I felt like a sellout, I thought the police academy would be a heckuva lot easier than going to boot camp. Craso error, as my gramps would say. Police Academy is just another stupid ‘stagnant re-enactment’ of gym class, only this time, the bullies will be the ones riding shotgun. I did ok must of the time, but I did best on the driving test, with a 1:48 time on the lap. It was one of the best!
Oh, man, gotta stop slapping my own back; I’m working. This neighborhood has seen better times. Not economically, but in a crime basis. It was so bad after the riots that people were scrounging water from wherever they could. The hospital had to deal a lot of people poisoned by ‘firewater drinking’ incidents. Symptoms were similar to LSD overdoses, God knows how much were those people tripping.
It’s hard being a flatfoot in this town, this unforgiving beast. I keep getting told “You don’t know what you’re looking for” but let’s be honest: no one knows. I see a group of people, 7 of them, walking on the street. I don’t want to assume anything of their race, I just don’t want to witness another riot like the one we had when Salazar got killed in ’71. God knows we don’t want that fucking junkie from Rolling Stone around here anymore. Didn’t he die in Cambodia?
One of the guys in the street…he seems to recognize me? By jove…is it? I look through the rearview mirror and I can recognize him, ‘backwards smiling’ and all. It is him. He knows him seeing him, gives me a gang signal and he then slaps his friends on his back.
Fuck! I get the radio and yell to Smith and Schultz: ‘Targets’! We’re ‘targets’!
Two Chapules run towards their car, fire several shots and throw a molotov cocktail. I don’t know when but I’m already out, already firing my shotgun towards them. I blast one and the other one won’t be running too far now. Instead of giving chase, I get to my colleagues’ car. Schultz is dead and Smith is unresponsive.
I’m filling up with rage. I try to revive Smith several times after calling for back up. Dispatch says they’ve got 5 Latinos running towards Immaculate Conception in Grattan Street. ‘I can’t find your pulse’ I whimper to Smith, as I close his eyes.
Two hours gone since the incident and Decker is around with I.A. The meat wagon has taken two cops and one perp. I do have a war of words with Decker, as he is still suspicious of me. It’s a race thing. It will always be a race thing. No matter how fucking hard I try, I’ll never be one in this force and no way will the other side would take me. I get back home at 11 pm, still stinking of ash, gasoline and gunpowder. I slam a couple of Wild Turkeys, throw some water to my face and I look at the bathroom mirror, with the pounding, repetitive question that has been droning in my head since I joined the police: ‘Who’s side are you taking on?’
Tomorrow’s another day.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López.