Friday, May 29, 2009

Wired for Sound

She was sitting on the porch when the bullet passed through her chest, shredded the walls of her heart, and lodged in her spine.

After, they remembered that the sounds were almost simultaneous: the gunshot and Estralita's soft moan before she crumpled and fell to lay on the faded paint and splintery wood.

Then, the sound of a car accelerating very fast through darkened streets.

When the police arrived on the scene, no one knew exactly what had happened. It was twilight, the air was too dim to show the gray car creeping slowly, soundlessly down the street. And, it happened too fast...the shot, the moan, the fall, and the way that Estralita hardly bled, because her blood all spilled on the inside of her chest. No one saw a license plate, and no one could even give an accurate description of the car.

"Who would want to shoot her?" the police asked. No one knew, or if they did, they weren't saying. Her mom's sobs filled the background behind the detectives' questions.

The detectives followed up the next day. Was it rivals from another gang? Was it someone from her gang? Her friends weren't sure. "Maybe," they answered, to every question. "Maybe. Maybe not. We don't know."

The case folder filled with up with interview forms, witness statements, and autopsy photos, but there were no suspects, no leads, and an increasing amount of pressure from the media and the mayor's office for some kind of action. The shell, dug out of one of her vertebrae, was run through drug fire in hopes of matching it with a known gun with no hits. Her picture was flashed on the nightly news on all three channels for three nights in a row. She was smiling like an angel. A reward was offered for information.

But, nothing came of it. The case was a black hole, with no light and no leads.

No one in the department found it acceptable that a sixteen-year-old girl could be killed on her front porch on a summer evening without an arrest being made. The fact that she was beautiful made it even more difficult to contemplate. Such things shouldn't matter, but they do.

Finally, one of the detectives went to the lieutenant with a suggestion.

"What if we bugged her, L.T.? We could maybe hear something that would give us something to go on, anything that might break some possibilities open for us."

The lieutenant thought it over. "Ask her family," he told them. "If it's okay with the family, then do it."

The detectives met with the victim's mother. She agreed. Anything to get the person who had killed her daughter.

Estrelita's body was prepared at the funeral home. There was no obvious trauma, nothing to show that she'd died violently, so unlike many shootings, her casket would be open for the funeral. Her mother dressed her in a white dress, with lace, sleeping beauty in a satin-lined coffin.

The female crime tech wired the bug into her dark hair, and wound the wires down beneath her body to hide them. She sound-checked the microphone until it broadcast clearly.

Estrelita was wired for sound. She was the trap to catch a shooter.

The viewing was on a Thursday evening. By five, the parking lot was full. Three detectives loitered by the front door, in the lobby, watching. Sometimes, they spoke, when kids passed by that they knew. A few times, they traded conversations with one or two of the older members of QVO. Two other detectives walked through the parking lot, photographing cars and writing down license numbers.

To the accompaniment of soft organ music, a parade of gang members passed through the doors of the funeral home to pay their respects. Several, both boys and girls, wore custom made shirts with "RIP Shy Girl" (Estralita's nickname) in olde English letters.

As they passed through the viewing line, they left offerings: brown brown bandannas and rosaries and flowers and notes that lined the inside of the coffin, next to Estralita's body.

Several of the teenagers and young adults leaned close and whispered words to Estralita, or kissed her face or hands.

All the while, the spindles in the recorder under the coffin circled, quietly, so quietly that no one even heard.

(to be continued later)


Mongoliangirl said...

Wow! Sad and such a mystery.
They say the dead speak for themselves via criminalistics all the time, but this is a different kind of 'speaking' entirely.
Can't wait for the finish.

SciFi Dad said...

Woah... definitely one of your better cliffhangers so far.

Gwen said...

When I saw the "to be continued" I audibly sighed. WHAT HAPPENED? Did they catch her killer?

scotty66 said...

what happened next?

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