I was weaving my way through traffic and eyeing my wallet when the cell phone rang. ‘There goes lunch’ I thought as I read the station’s number on the phone’s bright blue screen.
“Hey - I’m gonna need to send you to Broad Avenue in Greensboro. Not sure what’s goin’ on there - but if my codes are right we got a dead kid…”
Cursing under my breath, I pulled a sharp u-turn and gunned the Ford Explorer back toward downtown.
Twelve minutes later, I caught sight of red flashing lights by the corner of Broad and MLK. Parking behind an unmarked Crown Vic, I grabbed my gear and walked toward the scattered police cars. A cluster of uniformed officers milled about on the porch of a small house as an ambulance idled in the sloped driveway. Across the street another cop sat on the stoop and questioned a heavy young woman in a pink housecoat. As the officer scribbled details on a metallic clipboard, I could make out bits and pieces of the woman’s halted, hitching voice.
“ And I said ‘Come on home now! Keysha’s BLUE!’”
I watched the sad passage through the concentrated pixels of my camera’s viewfinder. As the woman blubbered to the cops, I twisted my focal tube a fraction of a millimeter, sharpening the edges of the woman’s pain. Cold-hearted? Perhaps, but its why I hauled ass there in the first place. Rest assured I took no pleasure from my unfettered view, especially when a faded blue sedan pulled up with a screech and parked a few feet in front of me.
Out from the driver’s seat door bounded a large man in a factory gray jumpsuit, his deep voice cracking as he ran toward the woman on the porch.
“Dee, Dee - What Happened Dee?”
Leaping off the porch, the woman sprinted toward the man, leaving the officers on the porch stretching their necks and fingering their holstered weapons. When the man and woman met in the middle of the yard, they collapsed into each other’s arms and sunk to the ground. As they slid downward, their voices heightened in pitch and volume until overwhelming despair rubbed the hard edges off syllables and only the sound of guttural grief remained. On the porch and across the street, the unsmiling uniforms went back to their quiet conversations, leaving the long sad passion play to finish out its latest act.
That’s when I realized I wasn’t shooting anymore.
Keysha was twelve when she died today. I know precious else about the case, only the scant details the detective shared with me by the corner of Broad and MLK.
“Dead twelve year old, doesn’t look hinky. Family’s all hyped up you bein’ here…”
That was all I needed to hear. Before the mustachioed investigator could turn to walk back to his car, I was collapsing tripod legs and dialing my cell phone.
“I’d can the live truck. This looks to be natural causes. I got VO just in case..”
Walking back to my news unit, I could hear new voices wailing in despair. The footage I shot would never make it to air, and I’ll have forgotten about it myself in a couple of days. But chances are that man and woman will always recall the silent TV cameraman standing at the edge of the yard on the worst day of their lives.
So how was your day?