Long Beach Noir

I became a murderer at 16. I shot my best friend in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. I’d seen action movies, but bodies don’t act the same way when they’re shot in real life. Instead of being blown off the pier and into the water, Danny just crumpled; the back of his head not so much exploding as popping and hanging in place like a large pimple. The rest of the Locos standing behind me whooped and clapped. I fought back the urge to vomit. Danny’s face was turned toward me, his eyes half open. If it wasn’t for the growing puddle of blood, he would have looked like the kid I used to play GI Joes with after school. But he snitched. And the Locos weren’t sure that I wasn’t a snitch, too. The only way to clear my name was to pop Danny. It was him or both of us.

I came back to Long Beach for the first time in twelve years to see my brother. I had to stop by Danny’s pier. It had to be a trick of the light, but it looked like his blood still stained the wood. I sat and stared at the sea. I thought I heard him calling my name, “Cheo! Cheo!”, like he did when he swam too far out. I looked down.

There he was. Danny. Drowning.

I dove in to save him, but landed in lonesome water. No Danny. I tried to swim to the surface, but I was caught in thick seaweed. Just before my vision went black I thought I heard Danny call my name again.


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