Friday, January 15, 2010


By Rex Weiner

Willie stepped out of the shower soaking wet. Donna handed him a towel. He stood still while she taped a fresh bandage to the bullet wound in his left buttock. He wasn’t looking out the window or he might have seen a figure in a lopsided wig standing by the driveway with a pistol. The bullet crashed through the glass and entered Willie’s skull (as the coroner would later note) by way of his left nostril, ricocheting inside the cranium until it came to rest in the frontal lobe.

Donna looked up at Willie. She thought she’d heard kids on the street blowing off an M-80. Willie was holding his face, blood seeping through his fingers. He motioned her to get down on the floor. She crawled towards the kitchen. She looked back once to see Willie kneeling on the floor.

In the kitchen she dialed 9-1-1.

“He’s been shot again!” said Donna.

Sheriff’s Deputy Skull Snyder forced his car off the Harbor Freeway over the city line into a neighborhood he didn’t like. The map was covered with neighborhoods he didn’t like. This one, about fifty square blocks stretching from a concrete trough wishfully called Compton Creek East to the dry cement ditch marked the Los Angeles River, he liked least.

He drove by lots where children poked through piles of garbage. Window-high weeds surrounded bankrupt stores. Freight cars rusted on side spurs beside the blackened ribs of arsoned warehouses. Spray-canned wall writing claimed turf in the names of gangs, subgroups and splinters of Crips and Bloods, MS13 and other crews, whose members lurked in houses pressed close together on streets where lawns and trees had long ago given up and died.

On one of these streets, three black-and-whites stood parked at odd angles, lights blinking. People clustered by the curb, released from morning routines by the spectacle of a neighbor’s misfortune. From the yellow-tape cordon they stared at the crew-cut cop in the Brooks Brothers suit as he left his car and walked slowly to the house. He imagined they would have been entertained to know that he had a headache…

[for the rest of the story, please order the complete collection]

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