Lost Scene: Dark Clouds

November 30th, 2017

"Can you believe this?" Dan asked no one in particular, as he folded the newspaper aside. "25 shootings, 4 stabbings, 3 homicides on thanksgiving day," he paused for affect before going on, "and that doesn't count more over the whole weekend!"

The grizzled man sat his coffee cup down on the worn countertop at the diner. He spoke with a hint of Texas drawl as he responded, “When I was a little kid we could leave the front door open and everything, better not now. Just shows us the people of the generations have changed,”

"Have you lived here a long time? Dan asked.

"Yup, came here in the 60's when my dad came for a job at the airplane factory." The man said. " I was just a kid, barely in school."

"Things have gotten pretty tough around here since then?" It was more of a question than a statement.

"A buddy of mine, down in the south side of the city tells me that later in the evening, a killing in his neighborhood left a man dead after police found him with a bullet wound in his head." The old timer added with a tone of sadness in his voice. "This craziness is everywhere man. I tell you what."

"That was on Thanksgiving?" Dan asked.

"Yup." The man replied. "That's not the end of it. Folks just can't stop. Right around the block from here, on the following day, a fight broke out. Left one man dead."

"That's a shame," was all Dan could say. "What could be so important to fight over, or kill someone over for that matter."

"Who knows.," came the reply. 'In this neighborhood? Probably drugs. It could be anything. Maybe he ate the last turkey wing, or stepped on his toe... who knows."

"You're not kidding me are you?" Dan asked, but could see the eyes of the man who just shook his head slowly in shame at what his town had become.

The old Texan went on, "That was on Friday. On Saturday another man was shot and killed just across town, down by Baden's hardware store. Cops are still looking for the killer. Then there's that young gal who got herself shot. What a shame."

"A young girl?" Dan asked. "Do you mean that little girl?" He paused to think of what her name was. "Was it that little Washington girl?"

"Huh?" The old man had to jog his memory. "Yeah, I think that was the name. A friend of mine lives over there. I think that's who he said it was." He ruffled the whiskers on his jaw, and continued, "Can't think of the girls name. Just that the last was Washington.
I tell you what. It's just getting so bad in town. More of these young bucks carry guns more than they carry wallets now. And that little girl's mom all caught up in that gang."

The old man's final words weren't lost on Dan as he thanked the man for his insights to the crime problem in the neighborhood, paid his check, and bought the pot of coffee the old timer was nursing. Outside, he didn't get far when he saw officer Howard, his friend and contact with the police force. The officer was pulled over, but seemed to be alone as he sat in his patrol car, with lights flashing. As Dan approached, the big cop smiled,, waved him over, and shut his lights off.

"What brings you to these parts? The cop asked.

"Just grabbing a little breakfast." Dan replied. "I've been hearing about the crime rate around town. I'm guessing that's what brought you here this morning?"

"Sort of, but this was just a false alarm." Howard said. "An employee accidentally tripped the alarm , but we gotta check it out any way."

"Just routine," Dan responded automatically. "Glad it wasn't part of the growing crime spree around here. Or is it always as bad as the past week or so?"

"I'd like to say it's just a fluke. A spike in the normal life in town," Howard began, "but, in some of our more challenged neighborhoods, conflicts are resolved with gun violence. Crime is expected and accepted."

"Is there anything behind it, or something that people can do to help?" Dan asked.

"Well, there's Ferris Day Industries," Howard said with a tone of disgust. "At least they claim to hold the reins on helping."

"You don't sound too enthusiastic," observed Dan.

"He claims to be setting up civic centers, but if you ask me, they're more like centers for gangs to hang out, and set up their territorial boundaries." Howard said. "In fact, that little church I dropped you off at does more to serve in the community around it than all the Ferris
Day centers combined. They provide social services to kids in the neighborhood, by opening up their kitchen after school, and giving a place for kids to come whose parents work. Some of the ladies volunteer to help with homework, and just be there to help them make good life choices."

"Like steering clear of drugs," Dan offered.

"That, and away from using guns." Howard added. "You'd be surprised. In some areas of town guns are as common as a cigarette lighter, you find them all over the place."

"So it's the abundance of guns that lead to the crime rate?" Dan asked.

"Well, there does seem to be a rising homicide rate," Howard began, "It's probably a compilation of several things.
Easy access to firearms is one, but so is the lack of jobs and education.

"And you think it's because of having an unemployment problem?" Dan asked.

"Sure," Howard said, "Think about it. You go to school, you learn, it gives you the ability to think with a little better thought process. You learn how to reason and deal with things."

"And that gets a person in the door to a respectable job," Dan finished the thought.

"At least something entry level, and something with room to improve on." Howard suggested.

"So, with a rising crime problem, you think the way to go is more church or community involvement."
Dan stated.

"We gotta get churches, gotta get families, gotta get the whole group of people. All of us have to get involved," Howard said.

"Isn't the Ferris Day projects good enough? Asked Dan.

"Not just one organization is gonna do it. It's gonna take all of us in the community, and all over town to do it." Howard said.

"Teamwork." Dan commented.

"Teamwork," confirmed Howard.

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