ATL LAND (repost)
The small fan in the corner swayed from one side to the other as it blew cool air. It was a Tuesday evening in the Cascade shopping plaza. The busy nail shop was next to the grocery store where the Vietnamese women sat at their stations, and chatted amongst themselves while filing nails. The only other voice was the small TV propped in the corner of the wall with the news on repeat.
Reporter -The protest continues as the mayor plans to speak out tomorrow about the latest police brutality surging through the city. In other news, a total of six girls have been missing within the past two weeks...
It was an unspoken beauty ritual amongst black women. Some sat down with bonnets, waiting to get their hair done next by a home girl or the salon next door. Others were full face, hair laid, and wanting to get their nails right. Amaya Simmons was here to celebrate getting accepted into Georgia State. It was a last minute decision since she had to meet her sister for dinner, but she was hoping they would be able to squeeze her in for an appointment.
Nail lady - You have boyfriend?
Amaya looked up from her phone, taken back by the sudden intrusion of her thoughts. Youthful eyes bright against her deep brown complexion, she smiled at the nosey asian woman staring at her before she shook her head.
Nail lady - (greedily smiles) Very pretty girl. You have pretty face, no boyfriend?
Amaya - (softly laughs) no boyfriend.
Nail lady - How old are you?
Amaya - I just turned 18.
Nail lady - ohhhhh (nods her head slowly) pretty girl. Very pretty girl and so young. (playfully winks at her) You have boyfriend.
Amaya - (laughs it off with a wave of her hand) I’m not even thinking about boys right now. No boyfriend. (tucks hair behind early in a shy manner) Just me, myself, and I.
Customer - I know that’s right, girl.
Amaya turned her attention to the black woman across from her, getting her toes filed as she tapped the air with her pointer finger and rolled her neck. The woman had a FENDI bag beside her, thick waves of hair down her backside with a small wrap around her edges to keep it in place, and dark lips that chewed at her gum. She couldn’t quite make out if it was a distorted tattoo on the side of her thigh or a bruise, but she was sure the woman had stories for days about her life.
Customer - These niggas out here ain’t about nothing anyway. You going to school?
Amaya - Yes ma’am. I just got accepted into Georgia State.
Customer - Oooo congrats girl...look at you... (smiling as she chewed on the thin gum) you look like you got a good head on your shoulders. Keep it up. Don’t let no nigga distract you. Always go for the bag. Bag over the bum, or you’ll end up like me.
Amaya didn’t know whether to smile or not at the advice as the woman focused back on her phone that was strangely pointed in Amaya’s direction. She stared for a moment until the woman pulled it up close to her face to see better through her shades before going back to texting.
The rest of the ladies talked amongst themselves in their language as Amaya continued to look through her phone, scrolling through Instagram at the different models and outfits. She didn’t notice the side glances the nail ladies shared amongst themselves or the strange man walking out of the back room with a flip of the hanging curtain. He pinched his nose twice with a hard sniff as he looked around at the customers before settling on Amaya with hidden uncertainty in his eyes.
Man - (gruff heavy accent) You make ’pointment?
Amaya stood up, grabbing her purse and keys as she walked towards the counter. She didn’t think it would be such a long wait, especially with hardly anybody in here but since they weren’t able to see her until later, she decided to make an appointment. Maybe she would just find another salon closer to home.
Nail lady - You come back tuh-morrow, okay?! I do your nails real nice, real nice for pretty girl! Make boyfriend pay!
Amaya - (grabbing the door to push open)Thank you!
The animated bells chimed as Amaya stepped out into the shopping plaza with the thick evening heat wrapping around her. She stood for a moment in the middle of the street, distracted by her ringing phone as two boys walked by her hollered out to their friends across the way. Both were carrying large carts of water bottles on their shoulders. One struggled as he yanked his pants up while the other already pierced a hole in the plastic to grab a bottle for himself.
Boy - Miss lady? Scuze’ me miss lady? We got that water for a dollar?
Amaya felt the tap on her arm as she turned back to see one of them holding out a bottle to her. Amaya shook her head while placing the phone up against her ear.
Boy - (sucks teeth) It’s just a dollar, you can’t spare a dollar?
Amaya - I’m sorry–––
Sydney - Hello?
Amaya turned her attention to the phone at the sound of her big sister’s voice as she quickly tried to walk off from the boy who looked no older than her. He sucked his teeth again with irritation as he grabbed the rest of the box of bottles to carry with him towards the intersection.
Amaya - Hey sissy. (keys jingling in hand) I’m on my way now but I may be late for dinner tonight. I tried to get my nails done at the last minute.
Sydney - Well we’re all here now waiting to be seated so you have time. The line is crazy outside.
Jada - Heeeey Mayuhhhhh! (Screaming from the background) Hurry up and bring yo ass!
Nicole - (cuts into the phone conversation) Congrats girly on finishing high school! Such a huge accomplishment!
Jada - Be even more proud if we can sit down and eat! (yells away from the phone) The fuck is taking so long?!
Amaya smiled. These girls have been here since the beginning and although they were Sydney’s closest friends, Amaya felt like she could call on Jada and Nicole for anything and everything.
Sydney - Ok! (heavily sighs) Now that I got my phone back, we’re here at Romanos Lounge. Traffic is probably going to be a nightmare for you to get out here. I told you to get an Uber so you don’t have to worry about parking, and I don’t even know why you went all the way out there in the first place for nails.
Amaya - (helpless shrug) It was on Instagram as the best one to go to.
Sydney - (mocking tone turns dry) ‘It was on Instagram.’ Of course, it was on Instagram.
Amaya laughed at her big sister as she walked towards her red Ford Focus. She was in such a good mood tonight that the inconvenience of the salon didn’t matter as much. She was going to celebrate her milestone into adulthood. With her mother passing and her father nowhere to be found since birth, it had always been her, and her sister Sydney who put up with her. Sacrificed everything for Amaya to be where she is now and she couldn’t be more grateful. Yeah, tonight was the night where Queens all around were going to celebrate.
Amaya - I feel like this is the start of a brand new me...a new era in my life...I’m finally grown and if Mom were here to see this, (glancing at the charm bracelet on her wrist) she would be ready to party.
Sydney - She would be proud of you, as am I and yes. You are grown now, but you will always be my little sister. Even when you get a husband, have kids that have kids...you will always be little to me. Do you remember...
Her sister’s voice trailed off as Amaya’s attention turned towards a woman cutting through the cars in the parking lot wearing shorts and a sports bra. Her lips looked swollen and her hair scattered into a blended ponytail. She kept looking around before ducking between cars like she was hiding. Amaya stopped just in front of her car and watched with concern.
Sydney - Are you listening to me Maya? We’re about to be seated now. We just walked inside. Do you want me to order for you?
Amaya - (distracted tone) There’s a girl walking around...I think something is wrong with her, like she needs help.
Sydney - (Confused) Huh? What are you talking about? I can barely hear you.
Amaya - A girl...she’s…
The woman suddenly crossed over the parking lot with pure fear in her eyes as she walked directly over to a bewildered Amaya.
Amaya - Do you need help?
Sydney - (Demanding tone) What’s going on? Amaya?
The woman wiped around her sunken eyes before rubbing her hands together.
Woman - (raspy nervous tone) C-can I use your phone real quick? I just need to call my home girl to come get me before this man finds me…
Amaya - (Unable to speak) I’m sorry, I–––
Woman - I just need to borrow it real quick. I promise I won’t–––
Sydney - (Commanding) Amaya you need to get in the car, now. Get in your car and go.
Amaya unintentionally tunes out her sister’s voice after becoming so distracted by this distraught woman in front of her.
Woman - I just need to get a way. I don’t want to keep doing this shit anymore...Can I use your phone and call my home girl? She’ll meet me––
Sydney - (yells) Amaya?! Are you listening to me?! You... (quiets down to a hushed whisper) Amaya, what is going on? Don’t give anybody your phone.
Before Amaya could respond, the woman reaches to take her phone just as a thick oily hand clasps around her mouth from behind, muffling her screams as her keys drop to the ground. She felt the sweat through the thin shirt against her back as the smell of motor oil and weed covered her nose. She tried gripping the fingers, picking and scratching away at the hand before they brought her body down to the ground. The woman who was crying and distraught suddenly turned cold as she popped open the keys to Amaya’s car.
The evening had turned into night. Hardly anyone else in the shopping plaza noticed what was happening. Mothers pushed their shopping carts along with their children by their side. A family cackled as they made their way into the grocery store. A cop was parked on the other side eating in his car. Cars continued on, desperately looking for a space to park after a long day of work. The infamous waterboys held their bottles in the air for quick and easy money. It would be their last run before the cops were called to move them along for the night.
Nobody noticed the two men shoved Amaya’s body in the back seat of her own car. They moved aside the graduation gifts, the deflated balloons and acceptance envelope with Georgia State printed on the front. None of those things mattered anymore. The tears and fear rushed through her body as she started to kick and wiggle her way out of their hold until a dirty white wash cloth was shoved against her face, suffocating her senses until she became still and her vision blurred into darkness.
The red Ford Focus started up with a rumble of the engine as the two men in the front cranked the AC on and backed out of the spot, undetected. The driver reached down to yank the seat back as he glanced at the two girls in the back. He smiled. She didn’t return it as she held onto the girl’s limp body with an attitude while going through her purse. Scratching at his neck, he let his decorated arm hang out the window as he gripped the side of the door with a casual knock of his rough knuckles.
The water boys were at the top of the intersection holding out bottles of water in the heat as one in particular walked with one foot crossing over the other in a sway like motion towards the car. The sweat beads coated his face as he leaned into the window with a wide grin.
Water boy - You got me on the water big bro? (holding the bottle in his hand with shifty nervous eyes)
The water boy glanced at the back seat before looking away, showing no guilt or remorse for his role in this. He was there for one thing, and one thing only. The driver smirked, understanding the hidden meaning behind the question as he handed the boy a few extra bills.
Water boy - Preciate that (tossing the bottle in the driver’s lap) Aye yo!? (stands up right with a yank of his jeans, yells across the way) toss me another one! (walks off with hands in the air, catching a stray bottle from his partner)
The driver reached to turn the radio on as he waited for the light to turn green, just in time for a new song to start.
“Welcome to Atlanta, jacking hammers and vogues. Back to the macking and jackin’ the clothes…adolescence packing a foh’….a knock on the doh’...”
The Uber sticker in the window of his windshield was finally beginning to peel as Desmond Jones sat comfortably in the driver seat of his car and checked his surroundings out of habit.
It was Tuesday night in Atlanta, ain’t shit happening but people trying to get home.
Radio - Two major corporations are expected to arrive this week as Metro Atlanta continues to expand its economy for the state of Georgia. Many companies are looking to move their headquarters down south as the Mayor hopes it will bring on more jobs…
Desmond glanced at the screen with a twisted expression as he pushed forward, cruising Downtown Atlanta. He gripped the wheel with one hand, and coolly leaned back into the seat as his eyes dragged from one side of the street to the other before deciding to change stations. He was searching for something that felt more familiar to him.
Interviewer - It’s been going on for decades, we just have social media now to bring light to the situation and justice. We demand justice. We don’t want peace, we want justice. Why aren’t we protecting our black men?
Desmond chucked a crooked smile as he pulled at his goatee in thought. People began crossing the street from students running towards the train station to the homeless looking for a new spot to squat. Lights in every building began to flick on or off as the city came to life at night around him.
Interview - That’s a good question, why aren’t we protecting our black men? Our head of our household, the ones who guide our black sons?
Desmond - (brooding tone deep) Niggas don’t want or need saving. We already in the street, ain’t shit to save but yourselves…(looking off into the distance with a cold stare) especially from the next nigga…
Interview - The problem is (uppity tone) When the black man falls, the rest collapse with him. We are the head and tail, we are the foundation. Without us getting right, everything else will fall apart and they know that. They know to attack us first–––
Woman - (soft feminine like) I actually disagree. Black women have been on our own for years and we’ve been handling our business without y’all. We’re not exactly helpless.
Desmond came to a red-light as he reached to turn the volume down to the radio. Leaning against the door, he looks out the window, watching a group of women walk along the sidewalk, dressed in their finest as he smiles. He would never get tired of seeing a sea of black beautiful faces everywhere he went. He’d moved to Atlanta for a fresh start after realizing he was either going to end up in prison or dead if he kept going down the path he was going. Now after purchasing his first knock around car to push, Desmond was finally starting to make progress.
He didn’t fuck with anybody but a few out here and preferred to keep it that way. At thirty-one, Desmond was old enough to realize everybody ain’t tryna be your friend, and everyone don’t have the same intentions as you. Gone were the gang affiliated days. If it didn’t have shit to do with making honest money, it was none of his business. The only code he follows now.
Red-light switches to green.
Desmond pushed forward in the quiet car as he reached down to cut the volume back up on the radio.
Radio - Greg Street with V-103! We turning up tonight in the A! Let’s gooooo!
The radio begins to fade into the background as Desmond tapped his finger on the wheel to the song. Just up ahead he noticed a line of people wrapping around the corner of a building as he ducked his head to peer out the passenger window, curious for the wait. He didn’t notice the three women rushing out towards the street, flagging what they assumed was an Uber driver until it was too late.
Jada runs towards the end of the curb with her arm waving as she managed to frantically bang the side of his door. Desmond slammed on brakes just as the other two girls clamored around his car.
Desmond - (sticks neck out the driver window) AYE WHAT THE FUCK ARE YALL DOING?! (hand mashes on the horn) MOVE!
Jada - We need a ride! (yanks passenger door open) It’s an emergency!
Desmond - This ain’t no fucking Uber! (grips his locs in panic) Yo yoooo! YO WHAT YOU DOING?!
The light skinned girl who might have been mixed upon first sight, shoved her friend into the front seat of the car while reaching to pop the lock open for the back seats. Desmond was speechless, watching these women force their way into his car.
Jada - (leans forward between the two seats) Sid, show him the address so we can get moving. Amaya is probably held up at the store because the bitch probably made off with her phone and car. Ugh! (throws hands in the air) I’m so sick of Atlanta! (falls back into the seat) All these niggas move out here and bring their bullshit with them!
Nicole - Hi (leans forward between the two seats to stare at Desmond) Sir, we’ll pay you extra, we just need to get to this address. Hurry and put your seatbelt on Jada–––
Desmond - (calm tone forced through his teeth) I don’t know what the fuck is going on but, this isn’t Uber. (glares at the quiet one in the passenger seat) I don’t drive nobody around for money. I’m on my way home–––
Jada - We’ll pay you cash (slams a few hundred-dollar bills on the arm rest)
Silence in the car becomes tense for a few moments…
Nicole - (whispers) you don’t think that’s a bit much?
Jada - This was part of her graduation money. (looks to Desmond with a challenging tone) Bet you’ll drive for that though…
Desmond looked at the cash with hesitation before sliding the money off the arm rest and looking at the woman beside him. She was quiet. Dark complexion had a glow to it, and her curvy frame was obvious in the way her dress inched up her thighs spilling over in his seat. He didn’t mean to look her over but when she held her phone up to him, it showed the address was about 20 minutes away with traffic.
Desmond - (looks back) all I gotta do is drive yall here, and that’s it, right? (looks at the passenger) Nothing else?
Jada - Nothing else.
Desmond - I’m talking to ya mute home girl (nodding towards her)
Sydney Simmons looked at Desmond, making eye contact for the first time before looking away.
Desmond - You speak? (ducking his head to meet her gaze) huh? Yo girls got so much to say, what about you?
Jada - (leaning forward with agitation) Nigga do it matter?!
Desmond - Yeah it do! (bass added to his brooding tone) I don’t want to get involved in no bullshit. Yall don’t know me, I don’t know yall–––
Nicole - Please, act like you have some sense Jada like damn… Excuse me, sir? (tapping Desmond’s shoulder with an uppity tone) we’re not crazy. We’re very much sane college educated women in need of assistance. My name is Nicole, I’m engaged (boastfully smiling as she waved her ring finger in his face) This is Jada, she’s a closest stud––
Jada - Bitch, I will knock you into the next––
Nicole - (cuts her off) and this is our Sydney. Very shy but we’re looking for her younger sister. Basically, our baby sister. We were supposed to celebrate a graduation dinner with her tonight and we believed she might have gotten robbed. We tried tracking her phone but the location was turned off. So if you can be so kind as to take us…my fiancee will pick us up from there.
Desmond stared at the one named Nicole as she sat back in the seat. She was shade between the two with a pink dress on, long braids and a Spelman keychain.
Desmond looked back at the cars piling behind him as he gripped the gear to shift into drive. He took the phone to prop up against the air vents as he sat upright, flicking the signal lights on.
Nicole - (whispers to Jada) I told Jared to be on standby but he’s already heading out there.
Jada - Good. We can all finally go home. (groans out loud) Ughh, I’ve been standing in these heels for hours.
Sydney - (surprisingly soft and delicate tone) you always look good in heels J…(gently laughs) I never understood why you won’t embrace that side of you.
Desmond glanced over towards Sydney to steal another look at her while he whipped the car around, spinning the steering wheel for the smooth U turn.
Jada - Because fuck that side of me, that’s why…
Nicole - That’s why she ain’t got a man Sid…
Jada - And why is that McBitch?
Desmond cracked a crooked grin, listening to the two argue until they were on the clogged interstate full of blurry red lights at a standstill. He ignored the smell of their perfume. He ignored the fact that ol girl took her shoes off in the back seat to replace em with Nikes and he ignored thick chocolate beside him thumping her thighs together in the seat out of nerves. They didn’t ask him questions and he wasn’t planning on saying shit. Just listened as they interacted with one another, getting a glimpse into their world.
Nicole - (reaches forward) this is my song! Turn this up!
Desmond sat up at attention, ready to say something until the song was blaring from his speakers, drowning out his words.
Girl the way you move it….got me in a trannnnce…DJ turn me upppp! Ladies this ya jammmm
Jada/Nicole - COME ONNNNNNNNNNN!
I’ma sip Moscatooooo, you gone do yo dannnnce!
Jada/ Nicole - (lean in together) - Oooooooooooooo!
I’ma throw this money while you do it with no hands!
Jada - GO! (clapping to the beat) Sydney, how they do?!
The car began to shake as Nicole gripped the back of my head rest, attempting to bounce in the back seat. Sydney remained still, smiling at her two friends while Jada stuck her neck out the window, hollering out.
Jada - STOP MOVING TO ATLANTAAA! WE’RE FULL! WE DON’T WANT YALL IN OUR CITY!
Nicole - Would you get back in the car!? (yanking her friend back into the seat) You’re from fucking Marietta, sit down!
Desmond reached to turn the song down as he merged off the exit. He looked back at the rearview mirror to the two girls behind him.
Desmond - Aye (getting their attention through the mirror) don’t fuck with my radio again.
The two said nothing as they remained quiet only to whisper amongst themselves.
Jada - Don’t fuck with my radio (mocking tone)
Nicole - Stop it (giggles underneath her breath)
Desmond looked to Sydney who shoved both hands between her thighs and anxiously kept her gaze out the window.
Desmond - You cold? (reaching to cut the AC off)
Startled, Sydney turned to look at him as if she just realized he was sitting there driving before shaking her head.
Sydney - No, I'm fine. Thank you.
Desmond could hear hushed whispers and laughter from the back as he refrained from saying something.
Jada - (mocking deep voice) Baby you cold? I can warm you up
Nicole - (bursts into a snotty childish laugh)
The ride became eerily quiet as they drove down the quiet back roads of Cascade. Nicole was busy texting her finance, the bright screen reflecting against her face was the only light in the car for a while. Jada was picking at her nails while Sydney watched the roads carefully. The driver said little to nothing the entire way as we came up on a small busy intersection.
GPS - Your destination is on the left.
Everyone sat up at attention as he slowly turned into the shopping plaza. They could see the neon bright lights of the nail salon still blinking OPEN just up ahead. Sydney grabbed her phone and attempted to try her sister’s number again, searching for her location or anything to give a clue as to what happened after the phone call.
Jada - This is fine right here. You can stop right here (grabbing her things) Sid, keep trying to call her phone. (hand on the door) Nicole and I are going to ask around.
Nicole - I’m going to go inside the nail salon (unclicking her seat belt) maybe someone remembers seeing her.
Desmond came to a stop in front of the blinking neon sign saying OPEN as he watched the girls step out of his car. Nicole walked up to the door, attempting to open it with a tug.
Nicole - Excuse me! (tapping the glass window) helloooooo!? The sign says open!
A petite Asian woman came to the door with a shake of her head as she turned the sign off.
Nicole - I’m not looking to get my nails done!
Lady - We closed! (shaking her head) No more! We closed!
Nicole - I don’t want my nails done ma’am! I’m looking for someone!
Lady - We closed! Come back tomorrow! (pointing to the hourly sign on the door)
Jada walked up to the door with her fist banging on the glass.
Jada - Ming Lee!? We not tryna get our nails done! We’re looking for someone! (looks back at Sydney) pull up a picture of–––
Nicole - I got it (pressing her phone against the window) we’re looking for this girl, was she here earlier?
The woman squints her eyes, peering at the photo only to shake her head, clueless. She reached up, tugging at the string before blinds were drawn over the door, shutting us out altogether.
Jada - Well fuck you too then (walks off) I’m going to check Publix.
Nicole - I’m coming with. Jared should be here soon. Sid, check the parking lot.
Sydney stepped back onto the street as she crossed over to the lot in her heels, ignoring the men staring at her bare legs. She didn’t even notice someone running up towards her until she saw her black purse dangling in the hands of the driver.
Desmond - You left your stuff in my car! (holding her purse up) I almost pulled off with it.
Sydney - Oh I’m so sorry! (embarrassed) I’m not even thinking––(grabbing her bag) thank you so much.
He was a lot taller than she realized. The driver stood well over 6ft with his loc pulled back, and his shoulders stretched wide in the basic white tee. Even in her heels, she still felt the need to look up as he began to slowly walk beside her.
Driver - I’m Desmond by the way (he looking directly into her eyes with a locked jaw) Desmond Jones.
Sydney - Sydney Simmons…Nice to meet you and thank you for the ride.
Desmond - Nah no problem. (looks around the parking lot) no luck at the nail spot?
Sydney - (heavy sigh of the chest) no, she uh…(staring off into the distance) they haven’t seen her…and they refuse to talk to us. Now I’m just trying to search for her car, praying to God the worst hasn’t happen to her. I keep trying to remain calm.
Desmond - What she drive? I can help you look.
Sydney - A red Ford Focus (looks helplessly around at the sea of cars parked) She would be parked here in front of the salon, right? This is the area she would be parked in.
Desmond didn’t say anything, just began to walk in between cars, looking down each row with Sydney not too far behind. They stood up under a tall light post that shined over the nearby cars. Seeing nothing until they saw Jada and Nicole walking back out of the store.
Sydney - Anything?! (yelling across the way)
Jada shook her head before lightly jogging towards us while Nicole took her sweet time in her heels. Desmond shoved his hands in his pockets no longer feeling comfortable with all three girls in his space. He saw this as his chance to exit but as soon as he stepped forward, he heard a loud crunch underneath his foot. Sydney looked down just as he picked his foot up to see part of the charm bracelet piece crumbled together on the pavement.
Sydney - No (murmuring to herself in panic) This isn’t…(bends down…)
Sydney’s heart began to thump against her chest as she sees the rest of the charm bracelet her mother got for Amaya when she was young underneath the car, scattered about like it snapped. Sydney looked up at Jada with panic in her eyes and she knew.
Jada - Nicole!? (yells out with a commanding tone) call the police! NOW!
Nicole - What?! (rushes over) what happened?!
Jada - Somebody took Amaya…
Sydney grabbed the charmed pieces with a trembling hand while Desmond began to look around on high alert.
Desmond - Somebody had to see something. Ain’t no way its this many people out here and nobody saw a thing–––
Nicole - (terrified but hesitant) Are we sure–––
Jada - (snaps over her shoulder) CALL THE POLICE! NOW!
Nicole immediately pulled out her phone, and turned away to call the police. Jada began looking underneath cars while Sydney stared helplessly at the broken charmed bracelet in her hand.
Sydney - This can’t be happening (breath becoming labored as she looks around) This can’t be real…
Nicole - I want to report a kidnapping over on Cascade….
Jada - Did you hear anything besides the girl asking to use her phone? Did you hear anything else?
Sydney’s senses became numb and her vision blurred around her. She was no longer hearing voices, and seeing faces. Only thing she could hear is the confusion in her sister’s voice, the last few seconds of their phone call, replaying it over and over in her head. Even with Jada standing before her screaming for her attention, Desmond stepping in wanting her to back up, and the single cop car pulling into the parking lot, nothing mattered in that moment but the last few seconds of that phone call.
Sydney - This can’t be happening (muttering to herself)
The piggy white male cop stood flat footed before the three girls with a notepad in his hand, a haggard tired look and disheveled brunet hair and mustache, he tilted his head to the side to stare at Sydney.
Officer Banks - Ma’am? Ma’am? (dry tone, uninterested) Ma’am, I can’t help you if you don’t speak–––
Jada - That’s why I’m fucking telling you what happened! Our sister was taken! She was taken from this very spot! (pointing to the ground)
Officer - Does your sister have a history of running away from home? Anything going on at the household to where–––
Jada - This nigga isn’t hearing me (throws her hands up in the air) I’m telling you! (clapping repeatedly) she isn’t missing! She didn’t run away! She was snatched up! You know what’s going on in this city, she was taken!
Officer Banks - We like to wait until a reasonable amount of time has passed before someone is considered missing unless the circumstances warrant that. The usual time is 24 to 48 hours–––
Nicole/ Jada - (shouts together) 48 hours?!
Officer Banks - Unless your mute friend can tell me the story directly from her mouth (sarcastic tone)
His pen tapped the notepad as Sydney wiped and smeared away her silent tears.
Sydney - I spoke… (voice cracking)
She looks away for a moment, staring at the ground where the charmed was found before looking up.
Sydney - (clears throat) I spoke to her on the phone just before someone approached her, asking to use her phone…
The officer stared tiredly at her before looking around at the nosey shoppers standing by.
Desmond - Aye nigga, (sharp direct tone) pay the fuck attention! You asked her to talk, now listen when she speaks!
The officer looked Desmond up and down and decided to zone in.
Officer Banks - And your name is what? What’s your relation to–––
Nicole - He doesn’t have to answer that (stepping in) can we get another officer or a detective on scene! It’s like you’re taking this as a joke! We’re telling you a woman, a young woman, a child! (sticks her neck out for emphasis) has been taken from this parking lot! Someone walks up to her wanting to use her phone and now her and her car are gone! Call who you need to call! Do something!
Officer Banks - As I said before, unless we–––
Sydney - My sister isn’t missing (voice becoming clearer) she didn’t run away. She just graduated high school and got accepted into Georgia State. She wouldn’t just take off!
The officer studied the three girls, refusing to look Desmond in the eye before nodding with a sigh.
Officer Banks - Alright. Let’s file a missing person’s report and get the word out.