This is a short story, in 960 words.
It was prompted by the above photo, seen on one of Fraggle’s blogs.
Shanice noticed a small crowd of people up ahead, standing near the fence of the basketball court. Pulling up the hood of the pram to protect baby Krystelle from the drizzle, she walked a bit faster. Bikey Darren was there. He seemed to be glued to that bike, and she couldn’t remember ever seeing him when he wasn’t riding it or sitting on it.
“What’s going on, Darren?” He didn’t turn to face her. “Dead body over there, Shan. Cops are setting up a tent round it, and lights. Nobody’s allowed in”. Alan was standing next to him, headphones on as always, and staring at his phone. “Who is it, Dal, do you know?” He grinned. “Terry reckons he zoomed in with his phone camera and saw bright red trainers and a blue BMX. Only know one kid around here wears those. S’pose it must be Little Luke”.
Yellow Coat Terry was staring into his phone. Shanice guessed he would have already posted his photos or video onto Facebook. His coat was filthy, as it usually was. He was given it to wear for his job in the warehouse and never took it off, whatever the weather. She was a bit wary of him. Still lived with his mum, and didn’t say much. He always came across a bit simple, and liked to make a fuss of Krystelle.
After what Darren had said, she wondered about Little Luke’s mum. Sandra was a grumpy cow, and she had lots of kids by different dads. But Luke was her youngest. He couldn’t be more than ten or eleven. “So you reckon it’s Luke? What do you think happened, Dal?” He still didn’t turn, the slack mouth half open in a vacant grin. “Might have been Curtis and his lot. Luke was doing runs for them on his bike, everyone knows that”. Shanice nodded. “Best keep that to yourself mate. I’m off to get fish and chips, see ya later”.
The tall young policeman was rolling out blue and white tape all round the basketball court as the news crew turned up with their camera and a shivering reporter. Inside the fence, figures moved around in white paper suits, hoods, and masks. The flash of a camera kept going off, briefly illuminating the scene. Darren, Terry, and Alan were going nowhere. This passed for great entertainment on the estate. Some other people stood further down, and those walking past glanced across without stopping. They wanted to get home. Get inside in the warm, have their dinner.
By the van, the reporter was waiting for a senior officer to arrive to make a statement. He wasn’t interested in talking to the gormless bunch hanging around the fence. Regretting not wearing his puffa jacket, he did some run-throughs and sound checks, trying to stop himself looking like he was shivering on camera.
A police minibus turned up, and lots of cops wearing blue overalls got out and walked across into the court. Someone wearing a white suit switched on a row of lights, and the men in blue began to search in a line, crouched down close to the tarmac surface.
By the time the senior officer showed up, a girl from the local paper had arrived, and a national news crew too. They had a big satellite dish on their van, and seemed better organised than the cold young man who was already there. The officer looked smart in his pristine uniform, which was covered in all sorts of braid, medal ribbons, and badges. After a brief chat inside the fence, he reappeared to make his statement.
Darren took the opportunity to get behind him on his bike, grinning stupidly at the cameras, and sticking two fingers up behind the cop’s head.
“The body of a young boy was discovered at five-forty this evening. He appears to have been killed by a single stab wound. Investigations are ongoing, and I will not be releasing any more details at the moment. Please allow my officers to do their work. If anyone has information concerning this incident, they can telephone one-one-one”. As the reporters started to shout out questions, he raised a hand. “I am not taking any questions at the moment. There will be a further statement once we know more”.
Two streets away, a plainclothes policeman approached the house, accompanied by a female colleague in uniform. In the overgrown front garden stood a battered and soaking wet sofa, with an old-fashioned television set dumped on it. The net curtains looked like they had never been washed, hanging stiff against the window.
The volume on the television in the house was so loud, they had to knock very hard before anyone answered. Sandra was unimpressed. The police had been to her house many times before over the years. She took a big puff on her hand-rolled cigarette, and made sure to blow the smoke into their faces. “What now? What have they done this time?” His face was serious, and as he looked at the woman with her leggings and top straining against a body containing too many years of take-away food, he actually felt sorry for her.
“We need to come in, Sandra. Something bad has happened”.
Something in the way he was talking, and the look on his face, made her stomach turn over and her knees start to sag. The policewoman stepped forward to support her before she could fall to her knees.
The queue at the chippy had been so long, Shanice had decided to go to the kebab shop instead.
By the time she was walking past the basketball court again, there was already a small bunch of flowers propped against the wire.