"Bluesuits had to shoot him in self-defense, Doc."
Rogers sighed. "Listen, I'm only telling you what the report says."
Skeet roused himself, laughing. "Rogers, I'm telling you, you've got it wrong. It can't be that kid, must be some other one."
"It's him, all right," Rogers said and shook his head.
"Come off it!" Irritated, Skeet approached the door. "Where is he? Let me see for myself."
"Aw, you don't want to see this one, Doc. Kid just came in but we've already done him. You know -- the police involvement."
Skeet heard the low trill of his beeper and ignored it. "I said where is he?"
"Come down to the other end, where they're not working."
Skeet followed as Rogers backed through the doors and walked across the room, his rubber-heeled morgue shoes squeaking on the tiles. He didn't try to imagine what he might see, because Rogers was wrong. Just wrong. Only yesterday, Skeet had stopped at the east side's Frederick Douglas Park to toss a baseball with Randy. He'd shown Skeet his report card, more A's than anything else. How, today, could he be laid out on a slab? It couldn't be Randy -- his sister a crackhead, his parents dead. No cop would have shot him when Randy had tried over and over to help them. He'd already seen his cousin killed last year. Cops weren't supposed to use kids as informants. Still, some slipped him money out of their own pockets for school clothes or for food, just because he was such a great kid. In the year since they'd met at the Youth Center, Skeet had helped him many times. Particularly in the last two weeks, Skeet had given Randy Wilkins the kind of care and attention many east side kids never got. In the past two weeks, Skeet decided Randy would be his son. He'd been trying to tell Shirley just now. Tomorrow he'd tell her the rest. Skeet would have known, would have felt it if Randy died. It couldn't be him.
Rogers grabbed hold of a cart with a pitifully small lump under an ice-white sheet. He wheeled it into an anteroom, uncovered the small body a few inches, and stepped aside so Skeet could get close enough to see.
Copyright © J. R. Lankford February 2, 2001, Xlibris Corporation used by permission. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce this excerpt, please visit www.NovelDoc.com/Lankford.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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