Authors: Sydney Arrison
The governor turned and applauded as his family walked out onto the stage, waved to the crowd and stood behind the governor.
He continued his speech, “So tonight I would like to say, I’m seeking a second term, so that we may carry on and finish the work we started. Also, there’s something else I must do before I go on….” He gestured for Lydia to join him at center stage. “Lydia, we first met at a charity event quite some time ago…And the rest is history…”
The crowd’s laughter quickly turned to sounds of shushing and whispers as the crowd listened intently.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today, if it weren’t for you.” He reached in his suit pocket and pulled out a little white box. Brooklyn grabbed Jules hand and her eyes filled with tears. Lydia stood with her mouth agape.
The governor knelt down and said,” Will you make me happiest man in the world, by becoming my wife?”
Lydia nodded her head and without hesitation said, “Yes!”
He slipped the ring on Lydia’s finger and kissed her. They stood locked in a passionate embrace. When they finally broke apart, he motioned for his daughters and son in-law to come over. The sincerity of emotional outpouring was unmistakable.
“Dad, I’m so happy for you,” Brooklyn whispered against his ear.
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
The governor and his family raised their hands in the air as a sign of victory. They watched and absorbed the energy from the cheering crowd. The music began to play as a net of colorful balloons and confetti descended from the ceiling. The ballroom erupted with applause. The governor took Lydia by the hand and made his way down the stairs. Brooklyn, Jules and Dan followed behind him. They began shaking hands with eager supporters; some had their cell phones in hand snapping pictures of the family.
Brooklyn shook hands and leaned in for a few selfies. A couple handed their crying baby over to her and quickly snapped a picture. While skillfully handing the unhappy baby back to his father, Brooklyn looked over his shoulder and noticed a guy wearing sunglasses, a plaid shirt and a baseball cap. He looked out of place, she thought. The guy had a blank expression on his face and he was frantically pushing his way through the crowd. Brooklyn glanced over and saw her father and Lydia posing for a picture. She knew she had to try and reach her father to let him know.
Her eyes scanned the crowd. Dan and Jules were walking up the stairs that led to the stage. They soon disappeared behind a curtain. Brooklyn began to yell for security, but the music was too loud. She called to her father, but he was still working his way down the rope line. He must have heard her screams because he turned and saw the panicked look on Brooklyn’s face. His smile disappeared. Brooklyn watched in horror as the guy with the baseball cap stretched his hand out and pointed a gun. She saw a flash of light. Lydia fell back into the governor’s arms. People began to scream and force their way to the exit. Brooklyn was knocked to the floor. A security guard standing nearby rushed over and covered her with his body.
She tried to get from beneath him as she yelled, “Dad, Dad!”
After a minute or two, the security guard sprang to his feet and helped Brooklyn up. He yelled “Stay back!” Brooklyn was frozen in place. She stood and watched as wait staff, police officers and emergency personnel attended to her father and Lydia.
Brooklyn heard a guttural, piercing scream and then realized it was coming from her mouth. It was as if she was moving in slow motion when she ran over to her father. He lay there motionless with blood dripping from his temple. Lydia was lying a few feet away; beneath her, a scarlet pool was starting to form. An officer rushed over and tried to console Brooklyn as she screamed, “No! No!”
“Song, the TV has gone out again,” Mrs. Kai called.
Song rushed into the room and dried his hands on the blue apron he was wearing and then picked the remote up from his grandmother’s TV tray. He pressed a few buttons and Vanna White appeared on the screen.
“Grandmother, you must remember to look at the channel list I taped to your tray. You can only watch the channels we actually have.” He reached in his apron pocket and took out a pill and handed it to her. “It’s time to take your medicine.”
Mrs. Kai took a sip of the water from the glass that was sitting on top of the taped channel list and swallowed her pill. Her eyes were riveted to the screen as a contestant picked a letter trying to solve the puzzle.
“Buy a vowel!” Mrs. Kai shouted, still staring at the TV.
Song smiled to himself as he watched his grandmother. Seven months ago, while going to the laundry room, she missed a step, fell and fractured her hip. After the surgery, the doctor advised that she stay off her feet as much as possible until she healed. Although she was 78 years old, less than five feet tall and weighed about 100 pounds, she was a force to be reckoned with. Song pleaded with her to heed the doctor’s advice.
He told her in the most respectful way: either she followed the doctor’s orders or she would have to be moved to a rehabilitation center…Where there was no TV and she wouldn’t be able to watch Wheel of Fortune. He hired a nurse’s aide part time which was all he could afford on a detective's salary. Sometimes his neighbor, Bernice Williamson from across the street, would sit with his grandmother when he had to work late nights. Tonight was one of those nights. He received a call from the police chief that they needed “all hands on deck”; there was a shooting at a fundraiser for Governor Sage Pierce.
Song went into his bedroom, checked and holstered his weapon and slipped his sports coat on. He kissed the gold wedding band that he wore on a long chain around his neck, closed his eyes and muttered, “I’ll make it home tonight.”
“Yo, Song!’ his partner Mattice called, rushing over to him as he got out of his Ford Taurus.
“So here’s what we know: the governor and his fiancée were working the rope line, shaking hands and kissing babies and shit, when shots rang out. We heard unofficially that Lydia Carmen, his fiancée, was hit once in the left shoulder and once in the thigh. As of now we are unsure if and where the governor was struck, we’re still awaiting updates from his doctors. During the shooting all hell broke loose and people were running for cover, we don’t know if anyone saw the assailant.”
”Let’s keep our fingers crossed that someone saw something.” He looked over at Mattice while they approached the entrance to the ER. What’s with the snazzy duds?” Song said, with a grin.
Mattice Blake was a stocky African American man. He carried around a few extra pounds, but that didn’t stop him from being a ladies’ man.” In his late 40’s, he wore his hair in dreads. Mattice had a face that looked as though it had been lived in. A former boxer, his nose had been broken more times than he could count. He often said, “I like fine wine and my women even finer.” Tonight he was dressed in a burnt orange colored suit with a black tie and crushed velvet loafers. He looked at 30-year-old Song as more of a little brother rather than a partner.
“I knew it! I knew you were going to give me some shit about the suit!” he said, with a chuckle. “I was waiting in line to see the Broadway production of the Lion King when I got the call to get to the ER ASAP. I was on a date; you should try it sometime, you just might like it!”
After Song’s wife was killed by a drunk driver six years ago, he had one steady girlfriend for about ten months, but after being pressured to commit, he walked away.
“I’ll take that under advisement,” Song quipped.
A police officer led the two detectives through a swarm of reporters and into the ER.
“Detectives, here are a few preliminary findings,” the officer said, handing Song the report.
Song scanned over the pages and then passed the report to Mattice.
“Who are they?” he asked, as he looked over at two very attractive women trying to console each other.
Song couldn’t help but notice the diamond choker around the neck of the pregnant woman; it sparkled when the light hit it. He thought the woman in yellow was absolutely beautiful. She was tall and thin, but she had curves in just the right places. Her body was tight and well toned. He could tell she worked out. Her smooth dark brown skin had radiant copper undertones. She reminded him of an exquisite Egyptian statue.
An officer approached Song and said, “The woman dressed in black is Jules Price; she’s the governor’s oldest daughter. The other woman is her sister Brooklyn. The guy on the phone is Jules’s husband Dan. And I’m sure you know Terry, the governor’s aide.”
“Thanks,” Song replied.
“I have to get back outside, sir; there are some reporters trying to break through the lines. Is there anything else you need, Detective Kai?”
“No, thanks for everything.”
Mattice had just finished looking over the report when he noticed Brooklyn and Jules. He smiled and said, “What do we have here? And you thought it was a bad idea to come here dressed up…Damn.” His eyes started at Brooklyn’s feet and worked their way up.
“Cool your jets…What we have here is the governor’s family, and one of us needs to interview them. Why don’t you go outside and interview some of the officers that were in attendance.”
“How about I interview the family and you go interview the boys in blue,” Mattice said.
Usually Song would have gone along with Mattice’s request, but tonight, something told him otherwise. “Let’s flip for it.”
Mattice looked surprised. “Fine, I got heads,” he said, and then pulled a coin out of his pocket. With complete confidence, Mattice tossed it, caught it, and slapped it down on the back of his hand. He stared blankly for a moment in disbelief. “Shit,” was all he could muster.
Song smiled and patted Mattice on the shoulder, “I’ll meet up with you in a few and we can compare notes.”
“Alright,” Mattice replied, “I’ll be outside shooting the shit with the uniforms.” As he headed out the door, he smiled to himself staring at the coin one more time… Both sides were heads.
Brooklyn held one of Jules’ hands while her husband held the other. “Jules, you have to sit down…Come on”, Brooklyn said. They walked Jules over to a wing backed love seat. When Dan sat down beside her, Jules rested her head against his shoulder and silently wept. He rubbed the side of her face and whispered confronting words.
“I’m going to get some water; would you guys like a coffee or something?” Brooklyn asked.
“Thanks, water is fine,” Dan replied.
Brooklyn heard a male voice from behind, “Excuse me,” he said.
Brooklyn turned and saw a strikingly handsome Asian man dressed in a tan sports coat and black slacks. He had a chiseled jaw line, well defined cheekbones and broad shoulders. He wore his jet black hair cut into a short spiky pompadour. He was statuesque with an athletic build.
“May I help you?” she asked.
Her eyes were red and puffy; Song could tell she’d been crying.
He showed her his badge. Terry quickly rushed over and stepped between Brooklyn and Song.
“It’s detective,” Song said, keeping his tone cordial as he corrected Terry.
“Right!” Terry said, dismissively, “I realize you’re just doing your job, but the governor’s daughters will not be giving any statements tonight. This is a very stressful time and we’re just-“
Brooklyn respectfully held her hand up to quiet Terry’s tirade.
“Terry, it’s fine. I’ll talk to him, if it will help find the guy that-“
A doctor dressed in scrubs interrupted, “Good evening folks, I’m Dr. Larson. May I please see the family?”
Brooklyn turned to face Song, “Please excuse me,” she said, hesitantly, “I would like to make a statement after meeting with the doctor.”
“Of course, I’ll be waiting out here.”
“Thanks,” Brooklyn replied, before she turned and walked away.
Brooklyn felt fear wash over her as she tried to read the doctors face; his expression was stoic and unreadable. Dan helped Jules to her feet.
“Please follow me,” the doctor said, as he escorted them through the swinging doors.
Realizing that he would have to wait to interview the family, Song decided to go catch up with Mattice. Seeing Terry up-close and in action, he now knew why the press had nicknamed her the “steamroller.”
Once through the doors, Brooklyn, along with Jules, Dan and Terry, were ushered into an empty waiting room. As everyone took a seat, Doctor Larson filled them in on the condition of the governor and Lydia.
“Luckily the gunshot wound wasn’t penetrating; it was a longitudinal furrow; what we like to call a bullet slap or graze. Right now the governor is resting comfortably. He did receive a mild concussion from the fall, so we would like to keep him overnight for observation. Miss Carmen is stable in the ICU. We went in and removed both bullets. Thankfully, there was no major tissue or muscle damage. She’s heavily sedated and should receive no visitors at this time.
There were audible sighs of relief throughout the room. Terry held Brooklyn's hand as she began to cry. Throughout the night, Brooklyn was trying to put on a brave face for Jules, but the depth of terror and joy was too much for her to bear.
“May the governor’s daughters go in to see him?” Terry asked.
“He’s resting, but I’ll give them a few moments alone with him.”
Brooklyn and Jules followed behind as the doctor led the way to their father’s room. Only one of them could go in at a time, so Jules’s insisted that Brooklyn go in first. Brooklyn stood beside the bed and looked down at her father as he lay still. His head was wrapped in a bandage and he had an IV line in his arm. Brooklyn closed her eyes tight as images of her mother’s lifeless body lying in the hospital bed flashed through her mind. She knelt down beside the bed and brought his hand to her lips and kissed it. She could still smell the scent of his favorite cologne on his skin. It was a brand that she and Jules’s had given him for father’s day years ago.
She reached and gently stroked his cheek, “Dad, I love you so much. Lydia is going to be fine too, I just know it. You rest, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Brooklyn walked out of the room and gently closed the door. Jules was standing against the wall; she looked exhausted.
Jules nervously twisted a tissue in her hand and asked, “How is he?”
“Dad looks good, “Brooklyn replied. She quickly wrapped her arms around her sister. Thank God,” she cried, “Just pray for Dad and Lydia..." Her voice broke.
Jules spoke softly and gently held her sister. “It’s okay, Brook, it’s okay.”
Brooklyn began to cry. “Jules, I saw him.”
Jules looked confused for a second. “What do you mean? “
“I saw the guy who shot Dad and Lydia. I was standing a few feet away; he looked out of place; I knew something was wrong. I tried...I tried to let security know...I even tried to let Dad know, but I was too late; I just couldn’t get to him, I-”
“Brook, stop!’ This isn’t your fault. You hear me?” Jules lifted Brooklyn’s chin up and stared into her eyes, “This is not your fault.”
Brooklyn slowly nodded her head, as if she were trying to let Jules words sink in.
She dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. “Look, I’m going to go talk to that detective, I want to make a statement while things are fresh in my mind. Are you going to be okay?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine. Go give your statement,” Jules said.