Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Last Assignment.

My photographer grunted in frustration as he forced the lever into second gear, "This old car fallin' apart! Ah tell them it can't make these kinda drives!"

To me, he always seemed apologetic about the condition of his old Nissan. At least, that's how he came across to me. The car was old - I'll give him that - but I didn't see the need for him to offer any explanations. This was the same car that got us to and from assignments in the Diego Martin hills and around the hairpin turns of the North Coast Road leading to Maracas. Now, we were weaving our way through the hills of Belmont on our way to a murder scene.

"Hmph..." was all I replied to his complaint. This was... IS my usual response to any statement I didn't feel warranted me actually thinking of something to say. Instead I focused my attention on the view outside my window. I had never been this far inside Belmont before and I wanted to take it in.

In most places, on either side of the road, the land sloped gently upward. There were few areas that were more built-up than others, but other than that, it was your typical hillside community with houses nestled against the sloping landscape, surrounded by trees and tall grass. It was still the dry season then and the sun was making it's presence felt, but since the season wasn't as harsh this year, there was still a lot of green everywhere. Many of the properties were unfenced, which I assume was mostly because they were squatter homes that had been regularized by some government or the other. Others either saw no need or didn't have the funds to put up fences.

Eventually, we managed to find our assignment, despite the crude directions the officer at the Belmont police station gave me. Of course, the row of police vehicles and the yellow tape cordoning the street where the shooting took place helped.

The entire street was taped off. About halfway in - I estimate about 20 feet - forensics officers were standing over something in the tall grass on the side of the road. That was our body. It was hard to make out, even through the zoomed-in view of my photographer's camera.

There were other reporters already on the scene and I asked one of them, Cee, a reporter I knew from previous assignments, what they found out. She nodded and shrugged and she pulled another cigarette from her bag. I wasn't actually expecting her to share any juicy info she might have picked up. I was new to the reporting gig but I wasn't an idiot. Fortunately, I knew one of the officers on the scene, so I waited until his superiors had moved off a bit and approached him.

"I already told Cee everything we know," he said.

"Yeah, okay, but just give me the short version. In case she "forgets" to tell me something. I prefer to get my info first hand anyway."

He looked at me for a few seconds and I, in turn, raised my eyebrows expectantly and put my pen to my notebook. He sighed...

The victim's identity wasn't verified but it look as if it was a gang-style execution. That, he assured me, was all they knew at that time. After I thanked him, I went over to my photographer to see what luck he was having in getting a good photo. He told me that unless they were done and ready to move the body he wasn't going to get a decent shot from our distance. So all we could do was wait.

Not good news. The day was hot and we had to rely on the what little shade an overhanging tree could provide us.
It wasn't much, but it was better than nothing.
It wasn't long before Cee and most of the others decided they'd had enough and it was time to leave. It didn't look like they planned on moving the body anytime soon so we left as well.

Not long after we pulled off, my photographer began groaning in frustration again as he struggled with his old Nissan's manual transmission and we talked about the problems he was having with the finance company to get a loan for his new car. Maybe it was because I was so new to journalism, but I found that even these morbid and seemingly wasted trips were still a little exhilarating.

Too bad they were already planning on firing me the next day...
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  1. Awesome! And it could be fiction or non fiction... Loved this and you should show it to them so they'll want to un-fire you and lure you back in with increased pay and a public apology!

    1. I only wish this was fiction. That would I would still be employed.

      ...and creative...

    2. :/ it sucks doesn't it? I'm in the same boat and the hardest part is to not allow it to make you drop in a feeling of defeat. Bleh.

    3. I've done the feeling of defeat bit. I'm over it (mostly).

  2. One day you will have your moment and then you can go back to these idiots and give them the finger.

  3. Very captivating. You could be the main character in your own novel.

    1. No doubt it would be a comedy. The joke always seems to be on me.

  4. Hmph...
    I can't believe they let you go. You've had some really stupid employers.

    1. In my experience, "stupid" is one of the primary prerequisites for one to be considered for management.

  5. There are many stupid employers are, well so I have heard not that I have any job other being a mother and grandmother


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