White Shadow by Jesse Gonzales

Who ever thought I’d be a cop? I’m driving down Arizona Avenue, letting my fingers caress the wind. Crazy! I come from these same streets. Houses with barred windows and front yards infested with trash and half-drunk beer bottles. Gang members in saggy red shirts and bandanas share broke-down houses with stray dogs and addicts.

I see an old friend, Joe’s Liquor Store. I remember…

Beep.

I fumble the radio off the dashboard. “This is Officer Sanchez.”

“Sanchez, this is call control. A male at Sunshine Apartments has reported a missing tenant.”

“10-4. En route.” My siren is a screamer that makes everyone get out of my way. I rush to the Apartments, pull into a parking spot, and am greeted by a caveman in pink socks who reeks of weed. As he leads me upstairs, I start to sweat. Drops of fear and worry smack the pavement.

“We’re here, sir.”

“Thanks, you can leave.”

Knock! Knock! “This is James Sanchez with the Metro Police. You have three seconds to open the door.” One. Two. I ram the door with my shoulder. Whuff. Death and rotten flesh punch my nostrils. My body shakes.

I draw my gun. It’s quiet. A half-eaten turkey sandwich on a kitchen counter. An ashtray with cigarette butts and a stack of Playboy Magazines. To my left is a hallway. There, a cracked door calls me. I nudge it open.

Hog-tied on the bed is a familiar face. Josh Campos drenched in blood that has puddled on brown carpet.

“This is Sanchez. Notify homicide. I got a DOA and a possible 2-11.”

“10-4, Sanchez. Backup is on the way.”

I lean in close to check the pillow and rumpled sheets. I crouch to peer under the bed. Nothing. I sigh with relief, then freeze. Shit, I mutter aloud, he left a strand of red hair on the nightstand.

Fuck! I told that smartass to be careful.

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