KTLA Evening News: A San Francisco Giants fan was attacked last night at Chavez Ravine by two men in LA Dodger gear. The victim, 40 year old father Bryan Stow from Santa Cruz, is in critical condition with brain damage. Witnesses saw the men escape in a white sedan driven by an Hispanic woman around twenty with a young boy.
The report crackles above the chaos of an E.R. waiting room at LA County Medical, while drifting like white noise through a small house in the eastside barrio. In the former, the wife of the victim holds her children awaiting a report from ICU. In the later, an Hispanic mother sits down for dinner with her children.
The hospital mother closes her eyes, still clutching her husband’s blood soaked Giants jersey. Please let me awake from this nightmare.
In the waiting room the children have cried themselves to sleep. A doctor whispers, “He’s in a coma. He may not come back. We’re removing part of his skull.”
Anger trumps shock for a moment as she hisses, “What kind of animals would do this?”
The doctor sighs. “Humankind. We see the cycle.”
In the barrio house a grown daughter brings coffee from the kitchen to her mother who puts sugar in it, stirs in cream with a spoon, and gazes out the window at June bugs flying in the porch light.
“That’s unbelievable. What monsters would do this? I can’t believe you two were in that stadium last night.”
“He had it coming,” her young son mutters. “Giant fans are like that. We hate ‘em.”
His mother bristles. “There’ll be no talk like that in this house.”
Ignoring her he continues, “Like that guy in the parking lot last night who argued with Uncle Red.”
Leaning forward she probes, “What argument?”
The girl’s eyes lock with his, fearful and sad.
“It was nothing,” he murmurs. “When can we go again?”
“Not ‘til it’s safe,” their mother responds, “and you learn some respect.”
Two weeks later the phone rings in the barrio house.
“This is Jose’s principal. His behavior has changed for the worse. Are things alright at home?”
“We’re fine, I think,” the mother responds. “What kind of behavior?”
“He’s aggressive, especially toward other students. Violent even.”
She sinks to the couch. “I don’t know what to say. I’m terribly sorry. Has anyone been hurt?”
“Not badly. But, we have zero tolerance for bullies. Another incident and Jose will be removed.”
Her hands trembling, “Removed?”
“My God, expelled. Let me talk to him, please.”
From the bedroom her daughter has overheard. She slips out the back door to a waiting car. A white one.
“What took so long?” Red growls.
She relates the conversation. “This can’t go on. They’re going to throw him out of school.”
“Look,” he snarls, “you’re in this up to your neck. You’d better find a way to shut the kid up.”
“He’s only 10,” she cries.
He slaps her across the faces and pushes her into the floorboard, “You heard me!”
“Don’t! The baby!”, she shrieks.
Too late. The damage is done.
Sunrise silhouettes the white brick of LA County Medical. As the night shift filters out, a lone figure in dark glasses, great with child, limps in.
A nurse points down the red hallway. “The emergency room’s that way, honey.”
She heads instead toward ICU.
There the receptionist winces as she looks up at the young woman’s bruised face. “This is not the E.R. Sit down. I’ll call for a doctor.”
Bracing herself against the desk the daughter whispers, “That’s OK. I’m not here for me. I’m a visitor.”
From behind an arm steadies her. It’s the Hispanic mother and her son. “So are we.”
Malcolm D. Gibson
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