by Zhimin Sun ‘19
The room was dark when Gabe woke up screaming from a nightmare. He was in an abandoned shipyard, and there was a dead man in front of him but he could not make out the face. He was sweating, and his heart was thumping hard. He felt like he was running a fever. He checked out his gun, and it was there just as he left it last night after coming home from the police station. In the midst of darkness, he got off the bed, and checked on his 15-year-old son Miguel in his room. Only the two of them lived together since Gabe’s wife died a few years ago. Miguel was sleeping on his stomach, and he seemed fine.
Lt. Col. Gabriel Cruz woke up when he heard his son preparing breakfast downstairs. It was a big house with many rooms but there was just the two of them in it. It was a peaceful village in Houston, where the whole neighborhood could feel safe because they knew that Gabe was with them. As the Chief of Police in Houston, he was assigned a tough job – as the head of the anti-drug unit and the anti-terrorist unit. His son Miguel was proud of him.
There were so many drug dealers operating in Houston, just outside his village. The villages outside Gabe’s were filled with poor families, many of whom were illegal immigrants from Mexico, and the Americans said that they were the ones who brought drugs to America. However, the Mexicans, who often fought against the police in demonstrations, always said that it was the Americans themselves who bought drugs.
“Miguelito, finish your food, and I will take you to school,” said Gabe.
“It’s OK, Dad. My friends are gonna pick me up here!”
“Which friends? I can’t remember you telling me about them.”
“That’s the problem, Dad, because you’re always busy! Oh, here they are!”
Miguel opened the door and let his friend Carlos in while the rest waited outside. Carlos looked like a 16-year-old boy dressed in shabby clothes, a large tattoo on his left arm, and some piercings on his upper lip. This made Gabe very suspicious of him.
Carlos said to Gabe, “Buenos dias, Sir!”
Gabe did not answer, grabbed Miguel and dragged him to the corner. Gabe asked Miguel seriously, “Do you trust him? He looks like a bad guy to me.” Miguel then told his father that Carlos was just a friend, and that he has nothing to worry about. “Very well, then, hey Carlos, you take care of my kid! Sorry I still don’t trust you at this point but I know you understand,” said Gabe.
Carlos told him, “I understand, Sir, but I assure you that I’m a good person.” To that, Gabe only answered, “Well, you’d better be,” and he left the group of boys as he got into the police car.
As the head of the anti-drug unit in Houston, Gabe had to speak in a conference early that morning, and this was to be attended by many police officers. Gabe was a staunch defender against drugs. In the middle of the program, he stood up, and was applauded as he approached the podium to make his speech inside the police compound. The mayor and other city officials were there too. The last part of Gabe’s speech was the loudest and was something that he himself had heard: “The Houston Police Force is doing its best to eliminate drugs in and out of the city. The task is difficult, but it begins with all of us – so I challenge each one of us to look into our hearts, and ask ourselves sincerely, “How much do I want to let these evil people destroy our lives and those of our children, and the good young people of Houston? I, for one, could only think about protecting my only son, and I would not let drugs take him away from me. May our mission then come from the deep love we have for our wives, our husbands, and most of all, our children. Thus, we, the police, should show no mercy to all these drug dealers and runners! Let us kill all of them!” After Gabe’s speech, a very long resounding applause was heard, and camera lights were popping everywhere.
Late in the afternoon, before Gabe headed home, he was seen talking to someone on the phone, and smiling strangely. It was raining hard, and he was not dressed in a policeman’s uniform anymore but a red shirt with a rather a large black overcoat on. He was not driving any car but only walking in the rain with no umbrella. He walked briskly along a series of roads, and often stopping for a few seconds and looking back to see if someone was following him. Finally, he reached a dark alley, from which there were many more turns until a man with a beard saw him.
“Sir, they are here. The new recruits.”
Without a word, Gabe rushed inside, and walked to the farthest room at the corner. It was all dark except for the small light that peeped from an occasional fluorescent light bulb. “How long have they been here?” asked Gabe. The man with the beard answered, “Just a couple of days ago.” Gabe only replied, “Well, they’d better be good. After all, my wife was raped and killed by the cops of Houston years ago, and these recruits should carry out my plan.” As soon as he and Gabe reached the last door, the man with the beard opened it, and Gabe was surprised to see something. He saw Carlos.
“Hello, Sir, these are the new recruits. I have already trained them how to take drugs from here and how to take them outside the city gates without getting detected,” said a bald guy. “Wait, Sir, you seem to know Carlos already.”
“Yes, I know him, and I know he can do the job well, and I know he would not put anyone in danger, even his friends. Am I right, Carlos?”
“Yes, Sir,” Carlos answered with his voice shaking a bit.
“My wife was killed by these asshole cops when we migrated here from Mexico. She was a good woman, but she was raped and killed for no reason. Now, I am here to have my revenge by spreading the drugs around while I give you protection with my jurisdiction, and you’ll get paid in no time,” says Gabe.
It was 4:40 in the morning, when Gabe was sweating as he saw himself in his dream walking through the abandoned shipyard, and seeing a dead man, and he could still barely make out who it was because it was blurry. He woke up screaming, and saw 18 missed calls in his phone. He called the first number, and found out it was from Sgt. Jones. “Sir, yes, we have found the hideout of the drug dealers and we are on our way now!” Gabe could only say, “What? Ok, hold on, I will be right there!”
He then rushed to phone someone, but it was just ringing. He dialed another number, and someone answered on the other line. “Sir, the police are here, we are escaping to the docks where the drugs still are! We don’t have any more place to hide! Sir, Carlos is here and...” The line was cut off, and Gabe did not know what to do. He dialed Sgt. Jones number again, and he was told to go to a shipyard because that’s where everyone was headed.
After getting into his police uniform, he checked on Miguel in his room, but could not find him. “Miguel! Miguelito! Where are you!” Gabe could only faintly remember Miguel telling him he would go out with his friends the night before but Gabe can’t remember Miguel telling him where he would go, or which friends. Gabe drove off while dialing his son’s number. There was no answer. His head was spinning. “Miguel, please, I hope you’re not where I think you are...” Still, there was no answer.
Meanwhile, the police gunned down one of the recruits already. As his friend saw him lying in a pool of blood, he stood up shot back at him hitting one police officer right in the head. He shot one more at the left but this officer dodged the bullet and returned fire with his shot gun hitting the recruit’s young torso. The officer with the shotgun was also hit in the chest with another young recruit’s magnum pistol. One more officer went down as the magnum guy fired at him but he was shot in the back by a female officer. The exchange of gunfire went on as three more recruits went down and one more officer. As the police gunned down many of the new recruits, only Carlos and Miguel were left. Carlos shot three officers in a row with his AK-47 previously while the rest pursued them. He and Miguel hid behind large crates as the officers searched the area. As they were both waiting and breathing heavily, one police officer was able to sneak behind them. As he was about to shoot Carlos in the back, Miguel shielded him with his body and he received the bullet right through his chest. Carlos returned fire with his AK-47 killing the officer in the same way. However, as the rest of the officer moved in on him, he shouted, “I will surrender! Don’t shoot!” Then he slid his AK-47 to them.
When Gabe arrived at the scene, the shootout between the police and the drug runners was over. Gabe looked around, and thought that it was a familiar place, like he had been there himself. “Sir, we need to talk to you, Sir...” Sgt. Jones approached Gabe, and at that moment, Gabe made a sign that Sgt. Jones should stop talking. As Gabe followed him, he saw a dead man on the ground along with the others. It was then that Gabe remembered his dream, and the dead man was Miguel. Carlos was captured. Both Carlos and Gabe looked sharply at each other as Carlos was dragged to the police car. Gabe’s heart hardened as he saw his son’s dead body, and no tears came out of his eyes.
That night, Gabe was sitting at the dining table, and at Miguel’s empty place at the table. Gabe could only think of one person to blame for Miguel’s death – he himself. He harbored the pain of his wife’s death, and now he blamed himself for both her death and their son’s. He only realized the captured men would only point out to him as the big boss behind all these. Still, he had no tears, and he looked tough and angry.
The next day, the police were knocking on the door of Gabe’s house. They had a warrant of arrest. No one answered the door so they forced it open only to find Gabe lying in a pool of blood at the foot of the dining table, with a picture of his son and wife in his right hand, with tears in his eyes, and a smile on his face.