“I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.” Ani DiFranco
S.W.A.T. Headquarters – Morning –
Luca burst through the locker room door with his arms filled with old worn out athletic equipment. He was even humming something that vaguely sounded like, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” He’d never claimed to be a singer, but it didn’t matter, not today. He hadn’t been this excited since passing his PFQ and rejoining his team on active duty. With a thud he dropped his load in the far corner of the room away from his teammates who now were watching him curiously.
“I think you’re about six months late; we lost the final game to 50-David, remember?” Street began.
“…buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks…I don’t care if…”
“No, really Luca, what’s all this…this stuff?” Street continued.
“I’m going to start coaching a little league baseball team. I’m hoping to get some of the kids on my street to join; you know give them something else to do besides joining a gang.”
“That’s pretty noble of you Luca.”
Hondo was the last to arrive tossing his bag on the floor near his locker.
“You sure you know what you’re getting yourself into?” Hondo continued.
“I have to do something, Hondo. I mean that’s the reason I moved there in the first place. I want to give back.”
“First the food truck now this, just don’t let your duties to SWAT slip.”
“I hear you, Hondo. By the way I heard you played a mean game of baseball when you were coming up; I could use an assistant coach.”
“Don’t even think about it.”
The squad continued to get ready for the day as they teased both Hondo and Luca. To the younger members of the team, the prospect of Luca and Hondo running around a baseball field with a bunch of kids seemed comical while Luca, Hondo and Deacon defended themselves against the accusations of old age and worn out bodies; their worn out bodies.
The Baker’s Dozen – Afternoon –
A crowd of nosy onlookers had already formed around the small bakery. Uniformed officers had set up a perimeter keeping the growing crowd from interfering and getting in the way. Nearly a dozen units were parked out front and many wondered if their presence along with SWAT was an over-reaction to what was going on inside.
The business had only been open for three months and already had become the target of vandalism, and two break-ins: the community’s reaction to their presence. It wasn’t about taking from the business it was more of an expression of frustration from many who had lived in the area for generations. Outsiders who didn’t even know their way to the corner store were coming in and buying up the real estate in an area where the people who lived there couldn’t get a bank loan for a happy meal. What once was considered a wasteland was now reclassified as prime making it impossible for the citizens of the community to reclaim the land and rebuild.
Young Matthew Stone had simply wanted a donut nothing more. It had been a tough few months for the owner and manager so some would later jump to his defense and try to justify his action of calling the police when Matthew came through the door armed with nothing but his debit card, and a craving for sweets after a long night of cramming for high school finals. None of this would have happened if only Matthew had not questioned the man’s refusal of service; was it his decision to grow out his hair or perhaps it was the black sweatshirt with the hood placed vicariously over his head that confirmed him as a threat? He just wanted a donut. The honor student who had been selected to be his school’s valedictorian didn’t even know that the police had been called until he was just about to step outside; fearing for his life he quickly stepped back inside the bakery to face another threat to his life. Now he would become a segment in the evening news perhaps, he didn’t know. All he wanted was to go home.
Hondo was angry. The only thing that he could be thankful for was that his fellow officers in blue had not stormed the bakery and taken the young man by force. Los Angeles was already on edge like the rest of the nation and it was times like these that he felt the most torn and conflicted as to where he belonged. The body count was rising, he’d witnessed it for too long; yet he still believed that most of his brothers in blue were good and had signed up for this out of a real desire to serve and protect. He needed to save Matthew because he as a boy had been Matthew and things had not gone well.
Luca listened intently to instructions as Hondo sent them all in different directions as they quickly assumed control of the situation. They’d learned that the manager had armed himself and now was holding Matthew at gunpoint preventing him from leaving. He wondered if things would ever change and he wondered if what he and the others did each day really mattered; they seemed to keep fighting the same wars, for the same reasons and after so many years nothing had gotten better.
Hondo had ordered Luca to reposition Black Betty so that it would be easier to respond should things go south with the crowd that was slowly getting more and more vocal. Luca noticed the tall dark-skinned man; it had been the third time he’d seen him in as many weeks. He seemed to be studying the crowd, the team…Hondo.
Most of their calls had been in close proximity to each other perhaps he was just being paranoid and maybe the man just liked to be in the middle of the action. Still Luca couldn’t shake the fact that the man seemed focused on Hondo. Maybe he was a reporter, a blogger looking for the next big story, either way Luca felt uneasy and he had learned early in the game to trust his gut.
Maurice stepped out from the bushes to get a better view of the action. The crowd had grown to nearly a hundred people, several capturing the event live on their cell phones. Maurice wondered how long he would have to continue following Hondo and his team before Herman gave the order to end things. His friend and boss was nothing if not thorough and he understood but Maurice loved the bloodier side of his job and he was getting restless. Perhaps he would need to step things up on his own. After all, if it wasn’t for him, none of Herman’s plans would have ever become a reality.
Office of Herman Lauder –
Herman knew his friend was growing impatient and so he was not surprised when the phone rang. He would have to loosen his leash a bit in order to satisfy his blood lust. Herman had that same lust for carnage and devastation, but he hid behind a façade of decorum and decency leaving the dirty work to his childhood friend.
“He’s here and I have the perfect shot!”
“Not yet; it’s too soon.”
“Come on, just let me wing him…”
“No! Patience my friend. Trust me, when it’s time you can do whatever you want, I promise.”
Maurice exhaled in frustration, but he knew Herman was right. Still he was antsy and in need of something more than following Hondo around the city.
“I’ll make a deal with you.”
“That DA has been snooping around how about you pay her a visit?”
“You mean the pretty little sister with the tight body?”
“Assistant District Attorney, Nia Wells, that’s her.”
“Can I kill her?”
“No, no, no…just have some fun, show her and Sgt. Hondo Harrelson what happens when you poke around in other people’s business.”
“Yeah, I can do that! I can definitely do that! Thanks boss!”
(photo credit: popculture.com)