"Profiled." A short work of fiction.
I don't remember why I was out driving around that night. Maybe I wanted to get a few smokes or rent a Redbox video. Maybe I just had a feeling something wasn't right. I've had that feeling a lot lately. More kids have been hanging out under lampposts, smoking weed and mouthing off to their elders. More graffiti has been showing up on street signs.
The cops who used to patrol around here don't drive by as much as they used to. Staff cuts. Yeah, I voted against that tax to hire more officers. If the ones they had would do a better job, we wouldn't need 'em, anyway.
So, I'm out driving around when I see this kid in a leather jacket and Nikes walking down the street. Looks suspicious. How many kids in this neighborhood can afford a leather jacket? And the Nikes - probably stolen from some other kid. Punks. That's what they call them today. In my day, they called 'em juvenile delinquents. "Where are those damned cops when you need them?" I thought to myself. "Like Papa said, 'if you want a job done right ..."
I start following the kid in my Accord, just to keep an eye on him. Kind of skinny - a runt. But you never know. Those kind are often the worst. Act all big and bad, just to scare people. Well, I am big and bad. Sometimes, it takes someone like me to knock them down a few pegs. Take that chip off their shoulder and break it in two just to show 'em who's boss. No wannabe gang-banger's gonna be messing around in my neighborhood.
He turns the corner, so I turn the corner. Where's he going? His hands are tucked into his pockets. What does he have in there? A knife, probably. No, this guy is too suspicious.
Shit. He's seen me. I see him glance over his shoulder, and then he starts walking faster. That's what they all do when they're guilty of something. He's wearing a baseball cap, too: the kind of in-your-face gangster cap all the hoodlums wear these days. Los Angeles Dodgers. I hate the Dodgers.
Now, he's started running, so I know he's guilty. The 7-Eleven down the street got robbed just a few days ago, and right about this time. This guy was probably the one who did it. Or maybe he and his pals tagged my neighbor's car. Looks like something he would do. I wish I could see under that ball cap he's got pulled down over his eyes. Probably some tattoos he's trying to hide. Only punks get tattoos.
I'm gonna have to speed up to stay with him. Yeah, the cops pulled me over and gave me a warning about going too fast in residential areas, but fuck 'em. They always speed through this neighborhood, anyway, and they're not around now. I am. Someone's gotta do something, right? I tried to form a Neighborhood Watch group, but no one else was interested. They're all scared of these hoodlums. Someone's gotta teach 'em.
I'm only going 40 in a 25 zone, and I'm chasing a criminal. I'll have a talk with that fuckin' punk. ...
Wait. Now he's turned toward me and is running out into the street. He's coming straight at me, like he's gonna bash in my window or something. Holy shit, I just got this car. Maybe if I rev the engine a little, that'll scare him off.
I don't think I can avoid ... Fuck it ...
So when it's all over, I get out of the car and I go up to the kid. She looks up at me, and she's shaking, but most of her body isn't moving. Some of her body isn't there. Yeah, it's a she. No more than than 14. I couldn't tell that before. ... She's saying something about how she wanted to stop me from following her. About being scared. About hoping that if she ran into the street I'd stop and go away. About how her brother was gonna kill her because she ruined his leather jacket ... she'd taken it to stay warm. Guess that's why she had her hands in her pocket.
No tattoos. Just tears and a voice so soft I could barely hear it. Then she stops speaking. Her eyes aren't looking at me anymore. They're not looking at anything. Guess I was wrong about her, but hell, I gotta look on the bright side. No witnesses. And she's the one who's at fault for running into the street, not to mention being out after dark in this shitty neighborhood. Stupid kid. Stupid parents for not keeping an eye on her. They obviously didn't give a shit, so why should I?
Gotta keep looking out for Number 1 ... and trying to forget the look in her dead eyes staring past me into hell.