OFFICER DOWN/ICE CUBE
MAY. FRIDAY NIGHT.
The jet-black BMW 525i rolled across the lonely four-lane 181st Street Bridge, heading into the Bronx. Sitting off in the distance, a jagged line of tenement buildings stretch into the darkened skyline. Thomas Bail, early thirties, glanced at the half moon overlooking the city that never sleeps.
The amber turn signal flickered to life, and he pulled off the highway at the first exit. Pulling up to a stop sign, the car barely slowed down before making a right turn onto University Avenue. The driver’s dark eyes scanned the lonely commercial strip. Not a soul in sight. The street was deserted except for one or two passing cars.
The time on the BMW’s digital clock read 11:45 p.m.
Drumming his dark fingers on the steering wheel, Thomas, known to his friends as Tee, pressed further into the soft peanut butter leather.
Tee grabbed his cell phone and hit speed dial. “Hey, baby, don’t bother waiting up. I’m putting in overtime tonight,” he lied soon as his wife answered. Pausing to listen, he nodded as if his wife could actually see him. “Love you too.” He ended the call and slid the razor thin cell back onto the clip on his belt.
“Ahh, ain’t that sweet,” snickered the sexy, voluptuous broad sitting beside him.
Tee glanced over at her, not missing the sarcasm dripping in her voice. An image of her sucking him off in the BMW popped into his mind. The steamy blowjob had taken place minutes earlier, in the rear parking lot of a strip club in Manhattan. He couldn’t wait to get her back to her apartment and get between those thick thighs.
Anticipating the wild night ahead, Tee fingered the black Glock 19 tucked between the driver’s seat and the center console of the car. He always removed the gun from his waist belt whenever he drove because the metal clip from the leather holster dug into his flesh.
“When you leaving ya lil’ wife and move in wit’ me like you promised, Tee?” the woman asked, eyeing him, expecting an immediate answer.
The sideways comment pulled Tee from his lustful thoughts, quickly souring his mood. “We already discussed this shit, Spice,” Tee snapped and shifted gears, causing the engine to roar as the BMW charged forward. “Soon as I can afford to.”
Little did Spice know, Tee was actually laughing on the inside. Bitch crazy thinking I’m leaving my wife for her ass, he thought.
“Damn, you don’t hafta bite my ear off. Was just asking…”
“Well, don’t ask,” he snapped, never taking his eyes off the road. He made a quick right onto a narrow one-way street.
The two had met three months ago at a strip club over in Washington Heights where Spice stripped. They’d been hitting the sack ever since.
Tee had picked her up thirty minutes ago even though her regular shift wasn’t supposed to end until two o’clock in the morning. In all actuality, at this time of night, he should have been at home with his wife.
The BMW rolled to a stop and idled just short of the faded stop sign. The car’s powerful engine growled for action. Suddenly, a station wagon slammed into the rear of the BMW. The hard impact propelled the Beemer forward a foot or two.
The two occupants’ heads snapped back, their bodies jolting forward in their seats. The only thing that stopped them from hitting the dashboard was the seat belts they had on.
Recovering from a slight case of whiplash, Tee and Spice were still somewhat shaken up. “Ahh,” Spice groaned in a low voice, rubbing her sore neck.
“What the fuck?” Tee snapped, his temper rising as he glared into the rearview mirror. He threw the gearshift in neutral, pulled the emergency brake up, and unbuckled his seat belt. He hopped out the BMW, cursing the world at the top of his lungs. Standing a little over six feet, his muscular frame weighed in at about a hundred and eighty pounds.
His eyes locked on the old station wagon that had crashed into his prized possession. Reaching the rear of his car, he glanced down and surveyed the damage. The station wagon’s chrome-plated bumper had left the BMW’s thin fiberglass bumper pushed in and cracked, exposing the hard foam encased inside.
Gritting his teeth, Tee approached the station wagon, ready to give the driver an earful.
As Tee closed in, the driver’s door swung open and the driver stepped out of the station wagon. A black baseball cap pulled low hid most of the man’s face.
“Fuck's your problem?!” Tee shouted, spit spraying the air as a guy wearing a hooded sweatshirt emerged from the passenger side while another hooded guy hopped out from the back seat. “You drunk or something, asshole?”
Tee scanned the three black men glaring right back at him. Realizing the two men standing on the passenger side of the station wagon wore camouflage paint on their faces, he immediately knew something wasn’t right. A set-up.
Instinctively reaching for his waistline, Tee’s hand found nothing but the cell phone clipped on his leather belt. No Gun. Tee quickly realized his mistake. He had left his service weapon back in the car. Fear gripped him and he froze up for only a second before quickly backpedaling toward the front of the BMW.
Without saying a word, the driver of the station wagon pulled out a .45 with a silencer and started firing at the retreating man. The continuous shots lit up the block like lightning flashes.
Tee’s eyes practically popped out his sockets as he dove in front of the BMW and out of the way of the whistling slugs aimed at him. Crouching down with his hands propped on the bumper, he lifted his face just above the car grill. Peering through the car window, he caught a glimpse of the shooter slowly advancing toward the rear of the BMW and knew he had to make a move right then and there. Or die right on that spot.
Scared-to-death, Tee darted out from the limited protection the car had offered and broke left, bolting down the block. He ran for his very life, zigzagging from left to right along the sidewalk. This was his way of making sure the shooters didn’t have a steady target to aim at.
Pursuing him, the driver and shooter in the black hoodie fired non-stop as they gave chase. Neither of the two shooters ran at full speed. Both men fell into a quick jog, pacing themselves as they hunted their fleeing prey. It seemed the two gunmen were toying with him. Taking their time.
The thug in the gray hoodie headed for the BMW, where Spice sat, jaw gaping and terrified. She couldn’t believe her eyes as she watched the two gun-toting men pursuing Tee with bullets flying.
Running fast as humanly possible down the dark deserted block, Tee yelled into his cell phone, “Officer needs assistance! Someone's trying to kill me...I...I don't know what street I'm on! Just send¾” A slug grazed his hand. The sudden explosion of pain registered instantly in his brain. Reflectively his grip loosened and he dropped the phone.
The cell phone hit the pavement and the battery popped off, flying under one of the cars parked at the curb.
The corner of the short block was only a few more feet away. Tee shot a quick glance back over his shoulder to gage the distance between him and the two trigger-happy pursuers. He saw the split-second flashes of the two gun muzzles illuminating the darkness behind him like fireflies. The two shooters were closing in. They seemed to only be a few car-lengths back.
If he could just make it to the corner without being shot again, maybe he’d have a chance of losing them. There still wasn’t a soul in sight on the dark street. “Shit!” he yelled as bullets whizzed by, barely missing him.
The continuous session of muffled gunshots echoed off the brick and concrete walls of the looming tenement buildings lining the sidewalk. Shell casings bounced off the concrete, finally finding resting spots along the cracked pavement. Still gunning recklessly, the two pursuers continued gaining more ground on Tee.
Finally reaching the corner of the one-way street, Tee dipped around the building just as a slug slammed into the edge of the building wall, ripping off a chuck of concrete. His chest heaved for much-needed air with every step he took. His lungs were on fire, but he had to keep moving. Death was breathing down his back and life seemed to be fleeing right before his eyes.
“Shit,” Tee murmured as soon as he realized there was nowhere to go. Up ahead a dead end awaited him. An eight-foot cement wall with a four-foot fence at the top wrapped with razor wire separated him from the promise of a long, prosperous life. Out of all the blocks in the world, he had to choose a dead end street. Not having much of a choice, Tee continued running up the block anyway.
With his hand bleeding profusely, Tee left a trail of blood along the concrete as his long strides carried him closer to the dead end. A bullet tore through his calf, sending him sprawling to the sidewalk. Throwing out both hands, he tried to break his fall as he skidded along the pavement. Wounded and bleeding with nowhere to go, he turned over to face his approaching attackers.
With both their faces still hidden, the two gunmen jogged up with both guns trained on Tee's head and upper torso.
Removing the empty clip from the automatic, the man wearing the fitted cap slapped another clip into the handle and racked the slide. His partner in the hoodie did the same.
Trembling, Tee slowly pulled out his wallet, flipping it open to reveal a shiny badge. “I’m a fucking cop, man. Y-yo-you can’t kill me, I'm a cop,” he pleaded, his wide eyes revealing the fear that was inflicting him.
“Then you definitely deserve what's comin',” the driver replied, pulling up the brim to reveal his chiseled face. The celluloid scar over his left brow was the only blemish on his otherwise clear, copper skin. His black eyes had a determined coldness to them Tee couldn’t help but notice. The gunman standing over him could pass for a baby faced GQ model. But that’s where the innocent looks ended. There was nothing harmless about him. Those chilly eyes exposed him for the killer he truly was.
“Capone.” Tee recognized him, his grief-stricken face turning pale as all the blood drained from it. Gazing into the dark barrel staring him dead in the eyes, his mouth hung open in shock.
“Surprise, surprise,” Capone snickered, unable to hide the devilish grin fighting its way across his lips when Tee called him by his street name.
The other shooter stepped forward and pulled back the hoodie that had been hiding his face, revealing a head full of locks twisted in cornrows. Tee couldn’t make out the slim face hidden behind the layer of army paint, but now he was sure the man was actually a woman. A consuming fire that seemed to hinge on madness burned in her coal eyes, sending a shudder through his body.
With outstretched, bloody hands, Tee pleaded, his voice weak and shaky. “Capone, man, please you don’t hafta do this. We can work this out, brother.” His eyes darted between Capone and the woman.
Smirking, Capone studied the trembling man lying at his feet. He fought the urge to kick him.
“So now we brothas,” Capone snickered, quickly glancing up and down the block before returning his gaze back on Tee. “You should know the law ain’t no brotha of mines.”
“What about my son Malik, huh? Too bad you and that white partner of yours didn’t see him as your brother,” the black woman injected, her gun hand shaking badly as a single tear rolled down her cheek. “Maybe he’d still be alive.”
The mere mention of Malik made Tee freeze for a second. The name always brought back the same flashback: the fatal gunshot, followed by Tee, dressed in his police uniform, and his white partner standing over a dying Malik in the project lobby. Blood was everywhere—pooled on the floor, soaking the black teen’s white shirt. Everywhere.
“You…you’re Malik’s mother?”
“Don’t recognize me outside court?” the woman asked, now standing abreast with Capone.
Excuses began pouring out of Tee like a broken water faucet. “It…it was an accident. Things happened so fast, I couldn’t stop it,” he pleaded sweat drenching his brow. “You gotta believe me, I wouldn’t shit you, lady.”
“The name’s Faith,” the woman said, speaking low enough so that her voice wouldn’t carry and only the two men would hear.
“Accidents happen, right?” Capone said with an eerie smile, then his face turned stone serious. “Well, what’s comin’ your way ain’t no accident.”
With that, Faith and Capone squeezed the trigger at the same time.
At that moment time seemed to stand still for Tee as his life flashed before his eyes. From his first arrest after he joined the police force right up to the moment he dropped off his children at school earlier that morning.
The last thing Tee ever saw were the flames leaping from both barrels. The last thing he heard was the muffled gunshots, resonating in his ears. He never saw the two bullets that tore through his forehead and lower cheek, although he definitely felt them, if only for a brief moment. The slugs left pieces of his brain and blood spattered all over the sidewalk.
With gunshots still resonating in his head, Capone woke up dripping in cold sweat, glancing around the darken bedroom. His eyes stopped on the alarm clock: 3:46 AM. A slither of light from the streetlamp cut through the window at the other corner of the room. His side of the silk sheets was soaked through from his perspiration.
He sat up on the edge of the bed, wiping of his sweaty forehead with his hand. He looked at the burning candles sitting on a table at the far side of the room. All the moving around roused Jasmine Raye from her sleep.