Too Depraved to Be Indifferent

Story of the week in Georgia is the shooting of a one-year-old in his stroller when mysterious daçoits accost his mother and demand money.

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A pair of teenagers was arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll through a leafy, historic neighborhood in southeast Georgia.

Sherry West had just been to the post office a few blocks from her apartment Thursday morning and was pushing her son, Antonio, in his stroller as they walked past gnarled oak trees and blooming azaleas in the coastal city of Brunswick.

West said a tall, skinny teenager, accompanied by a smaller boy, asked her for money.

“He asked me for money and I said I didn’t have it,” she told The Associated Press Friday from her apartment, which was scattered with her son’s toys and movies.

“When you have a baby, you spend all your money on babies. They’re expensive. And he kept asking and I just said ‘I don’t have it.’ And he said, ‘Do you want me to kill your baby?’ And I said, ‘No, don’t kill my baby!'”

Authorities said one of the teens fired four shots, grazing West’s ear and striking her in the leg, before he walked around to the stroller and shot the baby in the face.

If true, this is one of the most depraved things I’ve ever heard of. But the writer in me has to wonder. No eyewitnesses, a town like Brunswick where Jim Crow ain’t even past, white victim and black kids… it all seems too pat. I’m reminded of the story 20 years or so ago when a guy in Boston claimed that random black people had killed his wife, when in fact he’d done it himself.

The behavior of the mom is curious as well. Granted, people do all kinds of odd things when they grieve—but the day after the baby was shot, she was giving his things away to Goodwill. She gave a lot of interviews that day, too.

Also, the mom lost a teenage son to street crime five years ago: her son was dealing drugs, a dispute arose, the son went after the customer with a knife, the customer took the knife away and stabbed the son. It was ruled self-defense.

So at some point, you have to wonder if the story she told is the real story. She herself was wounded, but only superficially. One boy’s family swears up and down that he was at home when the killing happened, but of course they would. Stay tuned.

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Stalkers, Zealots and Sentries (4)

This is a novella I’ve been working on for rather awhile. Here’s the second part of the intro. Part one is here.

Alice was indeed the ex-wife. Her clothes hung loose on her; she wore running shoes; her hair was the color of a fresh copper penny. She made an effort not to look relieved. “Cleaning his gun? I told him a thousand times those things would be the death of him. You better come in and have tea.” When they were served, she continued. “You’ll find a whole list of suits, countersuits, custody battles, and then a restraining order, just from typing our names into your computers. So I figure you’ll be suspicious–” She heard a thump from upstairs and lowered her voice. “But even if you’re not sure it was an accident, I was at Grady High School all afternoon and evening. Just walked in the door when you all called. My son’s school play. Bye Bye Birdie, can you believe they still put that one on?” She sighed. “I’m going to have to tell him. Talk about mixed emotions.”

Mustapha put his teacup aside. “Ms. Smith, do you think there’s any reason your husband–”

“Ex-husband.”

“–would take his own life?”

“I thought you said it was an accident. Well, I always figured if Al was going to kill himself, he’d do it about thirty seconds after he shot me. For a few months after I got the restraining order, he seemed to calm down. Then, he joined this awful group of men who are even worse than he was. They egged him on to start claiming that I was abusing the legal system–” More thumps from upstairs, then feet coming down. Two boys, late teens, a matched pair of a type that hadn’t existed when Diana was young. Nice, trim, pretty, buff, gay, had never even heard of the closet. The sort that made Diana’s own daughter sigh at the unfairness of it all.

“What’s up?” said the taller one.

“Roger, these are the police–”

“Oh, not Dad again.” The other boy inched closer to him.

“It’s complicated,” said his mother. “I’ll explain later. David, are you spending the night?”

“No, ma’am,” said the other boy. “My mom has a conference call; I have to get my sisters ready for school.”

“We just came down for snacks,” said Roger.

After they were safely back upstairs, Alice shook her head. “I’m going to have to tell him. You see, Roger was what started it all. He used to like dresses, as a little boy. Alvin couldn’t handle it. I came back early from a business trip and caught Alvin beating Roger with a belt for being a sissy. Filed for divorce the next day.” She finished her tea. “As if anything could have beaten the sissy out of Roger.”

Clown Phone (4)

Life imitates art. Here’s a scene from the Clown Phone story (see earlier iterations here, here and here):

Inspector Mustapha Alawi looked around the parking lot of the dilapidated apartment complex. “Didn’t we catch one here last fall? Two guys had a beef about the one’s babymamma?”

Detective Diana Siddal looked around, shook her head. “Next block over.”

“Same damn place.” He walked over to the sergeant, who had three women in the back of a patrol car. Even the one who was a little thugged out was way too classy for this neighborhood. “You want to walk me through this?”

As the sergeant did, Mustapha could see Diana’s jaw drop. Nice to see something could still shock her. Finally, she said, “You mean this was some kind of planned vigilante killing? Over a phone?”

“Ask them, ma’am,” said the sergeant.

They did. “Killing was not our objective,” said the one who made sure they knew she was an ex-Marine. “We only brought firearms for self-defense.”

“Which is what this was,” said the yuppie. “Then the dude drew down on us. And don’t give us grief about taking matters into our own hands.”

“Y’all sure wouldn’t help us,” said the Marine.

“Hang on,” said Mustapha. He said to the sergeant, “Is this true, that they talked to officers in Midtown? Yeah? Okay, ladies, let’s pretend it makes sense to do a home invasion instead of just calling us. How the hell did you find these guys? Did you know them from before?”

“Track My Phone,” said the nerdy one and Diana simultaneously. “It’s a website,” said Diana. “Remember when I left my phone in Duane’s personal ride, and I used the terminal to track it down?”

“Oh, yeah. Right to his ex-boyfriend’s place. Boy, was he embarrassed. Okay, so now let’s move onto why busting in on them seemed like the right course of action.”

“I think we’re done talking,” said the yuppie. “They took our phones as evidence, but we want to contact legal representation.”

“Yeah? Well, that’s your right.” Mustapha addressed the sergeant. “You want to hold them at the—no, take’em to Midtown, will you? They’ll wreck the ambience at your precinct. Put them in separate rooms after they make calls. We’ll sort out what the forensics say before we interview them again.”

On the ride back to Midtown, Kathy tried as hard as she could to make herself care that another young black man was dead in a senseless crime. But Laura and Mary on either side of her work clearly enjoying themselves and the vibrations were too strong. They were going to get through this, but then what? She could split all her free time between the gym and dating sites, but the odds were still against her. Maybe she could just live with a woman, for the companionship… No. Even if something like that could work, she’d still be bringing men in, and they’d be players, and it would mess things up. Maybe she should hang out with Mary more, get to meet some of these white nerdy boys. Maybe she’d get to like that. Maybe being lonely was her lot in life. Maybe having standards was the problem.

Dumb criminals, pretty much dumber victims here. But they use technology to track the theft, which is the point. Now take a look at this story from Columbus GA:

Columbus police say the burglars did the same thing every time.  They looked for houses with a car in the driveway and knocked to see if anyone was home. With no answer, they forced their way inside and looked for car keys.  Then they’d use the victim’s own car to haul away everything inside their house.  It was happening again and again, and always as the day was beginning…

Later that same morning, a woman on Valencia Drive called police to say her front door was busted down and over four thousand dollars worth of televisions and electronics were taken, including an iPad.  With the help of a tracking app, she was able to tell police her iPad was in a room at the Best Western motel on Macon road where the suspects were staying.

Police arrived immediately afterward to arrest at least two more people.  Officers found most of the stolen items inside both the hotel room and the stolen car pursued from Phenix City.

The trouble with satire in our world is that the real world catches up too quickly.