Shuttered Pt. 2

SWAT Headquarters- Afternoon –

In a matter of months everything had changed.  An invisible monster had crossed borders and time zones wreaking havoc and playing no favorites.  People had died; people were still dying with no cure in sight.  Hondo felt the weight on his shoulders to make sense of it all and to protect the ones he loved and who he was sworn to keep safe but he knew that nothing he had been trained for would help him do anything that would make a difference.  The crime rate was up, and the city’s citizens were in survival mode struggling to survive while waiting for the word that help was on the way.

He felt the fatigue hit him as he killed the engine and wondered silently how he would find the strength to pull his body from the car.  The rest of his team had already returned from their assignments and he had to put on a brave face before joining them in the command center.

Even as he entered the room, he saw the weariness on their faces, and he was sure they could see it on his as well. None of them spoke of it; there was no time for that; crime was still happening, and evil had not stopped nor heeded the pleas to stay at home.  The weak and vulnerable were still at risk and still needed to know that someone would come when they called for help. So, all of them pushed on and ignored the pain, the fear and the evil, that had not given them a pass.

Commander Hicks and Detective Hornsby from Homicide joined them for the debrief.  All of the monitors were flooded with information giving them a 360-degree view of everything both departments had on the case.

“I wanted to come and personally thank you all for your help.”

“We’re all on the same side detective.” Hicks responded. “Let’s get started.”

“We’ve run an analysis on all robberies in the city over the last six months.  Then we narrowed that list down to pull out all the cases that shared similarities.”

“That’s still a big number.” Chris noticed.

“You’re right officer Alonzo.”

The screens shifted to show fresh search results and the detective began speaking again.

“After several rounds of narrowing and filtering our list, we were able to come up with a list of ten.”

“But this list consists of homes and businesses.” Hondo noted.

“Yes, and in fact, our analyst ran this particular list again three times. Keep looking. Do you see it, Sergeant?”

“Damn, all of these business and homeowners died of the Coronavirus days before they were robbed.”

Hondo ran his hand over his head. He didn’t want to believe what he was seeing.  Evil continued to level up. Deacon saw it too.

“This has to be an inside job; someone with access to information on people who’ve died from the virus.”

“They even knew that their homes or businesses would be unoccupied for a period of time.” Added Luca.

“Except last night they were wrong; someone was home.” Said Tan.

Briarwood Apartments – Evening –

Dr. Kennedy pulled into an empty space; he hated coming down to this part of town it held too many memories of his childhood when he was just like the inhabitants of the old worn-down apartments.  He’d worked hard to escape, and he’d left the memories of his past circumstances behind. But he had business to take care of and now was not the time to let the past delay him. So, without lingering he got out of the car and headed toward the entrance.

Jericho Garner threw the last few pieces into an already overstuffed duffel bag and then quickly surveyed the bedroom.  Just before he stepped into the hall the doorbell rang and he knew who it was.  Luis had already been by to get his cut and Marcus was the last to pick up his share of last night’s take.  The job had only netted them twelve thousand dollars after their greedy broker had taken his percentage.  Garner wasn’t in the mood to hear Marcus complain about the fact that he should have gotten at least that much for the old coin collection alone. No, he wasn’t in the mood, the dead man’s life was worth more too. In fact, the brains behind this whole mess didn’t deserve a cut after his major screw up that most likely would eventually send them all to jail or worse.

“You weren’t going to leave without giving me my share were you J?”

Jericho stepped aside to let the man in. He watched as the older man eyed the place with his nose turned up as if he had never seen such squalor.

“What took you so long, man? I told you I wanted to leave town! Maybe I should have dropped by the hospital on my way out.”

“Look I’m here now, so let’s get this over with.”

Then, Marcus saw the ring on his friend’s right-hand pinky finger. Rushing toward him he grabbed his hand.

“What the hell is this?”

“It’s…don’t worry about it! Besides, I deserve it after last night!”

“Are you crazy! I told you, we don’t keep anything! What if someone recognized this!”

“Who’s going to recognize it, Doc? The old man is dead, and the girl is barely hanging on! I’ll be out of town before anyone even knows it’s been stolen! Just chill!”

Jericho huffed and headed toward the small kitchen.  Marcus nervously paced the room. He could hear his partner open and close a drawer before returning.

“Here, now we’re done. Don’t call me and I won’t call you! Got it?”

“Is this all? It should be at least twice…”

“Look, we killed a man last night and if that girl dies it will be two people we’ve killed because of you! Take your share and get the hell out!”

“Yeah, okay then.”

Marcus slowly turned and headed toward the door.  Without counting the money, he knew it wouldn’t be enough; not nearly enough.

“Hey, can I ask you something?” Jericho began.

“What’s that?”

“How do you sleep at night? You’re supposed to save lives! Every day you’re surrounded by doctors and nurses sacrificing everything to save these people’s lives and you’re stealing off their dead bodies!”

“Oh, now you have a conscious. It’s a little late for that don’t you think?”

“It’s not the same!”

“No? Remember, I didn’t pull the trigger last night; you did!”

Then with a wicked smile, Dr. Marcus Kennedy left the apartment.

Home of Charice Harrelson – Evening –

Hondo had tried calling his mother several times and even though he was dog-tired he wanted to check on her before heading home.  It wasn’t like her to not answer his calls or at least call him back.  He worried about both of his parents, they weren’t getting any younger and with her living alone he didn’t want to take any chances.

Charice had tried everything to distract herself from thinking about her test earlier.  She still wasn’t feeling any better and she needed it to be anything other than that virus.  Too many people had died already, and Los Angeles had the highest death rate in the state.  She had put herself at risk, volunteering and taking too many chances being out and away from home. Even though she was afraid she didn’t regret doing all she could to help others.

The doorbell rang; she checked her watch as she slowly made her way to the door.  Looking through the peephole she exhaled.  Instantly, she regretted not talking to him earlier. He knew she’d be home and so she opened the door.

“Ma?”

“Hey, baby.”

He couldn’t help but notice how she looked, and his heart sunk. He didn’t want to think that his world was about to come to an end.

“I called you three times today; are you okay?”

She watched him push past her into the house. What would she say, how could she tell him what she couldn’t bear to say to herself.

“Ma, answer me, what’s wrong?”