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Man  Down  

 
Detective  Luis  Romero  sat  on  the  curb  looking  down  at  the  pool  of  blood  slowly  
growing  on  the  sidewalk  beside  him.  He  had  been  shot  and  was  going  into  shock.  
This  was  the  first  time  for  him  and  the  pain  in  his  shoulder  was  excruciating.  He  
thought  about  his  sister  as  a  child  in  Mexico  and  the  smell  of  grilled  paellas  filled  his  
nose  before  he  passed  out.    
He  was  a  little  more  than  10  years  old  when  he  saw  his  first  dead  body  up  
close,  bullet  ridden  and  rotting,  reeking  of  a  weeks  worth  of  decay.  The  eyes  of  the  
friendly  fat  man  that  lived  down  the  end  of  his  dirt  road  were  staring  up  at  him  and  
his  cousin.  Bernado  lurched  his  guts  out  but  Luis  stood  strong  and  ran  quickly  back  
to  tell  his  grandfather,  leaving  the  other  young  boy  under  a  tree  sweating  the  hot  
august  day.  1990  was  a  violent  year  for  his  little  town.  The  drug  trade  in  full  swing  
and  the  ease  of  American  dollars  and  high  top  sneakers  made  being  a  teenager  on  
that  side  of  the  border  a  dangerous  thing.  Bernado  would  be  a  casualty  only  two  
years  later  and  Bernado’s  sister  Elizabeth  a  widow  at  17  with  a  baby  on  the  way  
shortly  after.  It  was  at  his  grandfathers  funeral,  the  old  man  shot  dead  on  his  
birthday,  that  Luis  Romero  decided  that  he  was  going  to  make  a  difference  for  his  
remaining  family  anyway  that  he  could  and  that  meant  getting  on  the  right  side  of  
the  law.  He  was  a  naïve  boy  but  his  heart  was  strong.      
On  his  18th  birthday  Luis  joined  the  Mexican  state  police  and  within  two  days  
of  being  there  realized  that  the  problem  might  never  be  solved,  though  he  was  smart  
enough  to  keep  his  opinions  to  himself.  He  quickly  learned  how  the  system  worked  
and  that  not  taking  a  bribe  could  be  harmful  to  those  he  loved.  Within  5  years  he  had  
made  his  way  up  the  ranks  with  20  men  under  him.  With  influential  connections  he  
started  thinking  about  America  and  a  safe  and  legal  way  out  for  his  family.  When  he  
was  25  he  put  together  a  case  that  connected  a  senior  official  in  the  Mexican  
government  with  a  gang  in  Los  Angeles,  the  bust  made  the  national  paper  and  the  
worldwide  evening  news.  He  now  had  a  target  on  his  head  and  jumped  at  the  offer  
to  come  to  California  and  work  with  the  DEA.  His  remaining  family  went  into  
witness  protection  in  Nevada.  A  few  years  later  his  citizenship  went  through  and  he  

was  fast  tracked  through  the  academy  and  joined  the  L.A.P.D.’s  gang  task  force  as  a  
detective  2nd  class.    
It  was  on  this  September  morning  the  first  day  of  school  and  a  packed  car  of  
kids  with  new  clothes  and  backpacks,  riding  the  metro  rail  into  work  coffee  in  hand,  
that  he  spotted  the  two  gang  bangers.  The  colors  were  self  evident  but  the  bulge  of  
the  handgun  against  white  T  made  it  clear.  If  he  called  them  out  in  here  between  
stops  someone  was  going  to  get  killed  most  likely  a  child.  At  the  next  stop,  the  two  
youths  exited  the  train  and  just  before  the  doors  closed  Romero  slipped  out.  The  
bustle  of  the  congested  business  class  gave  him  enough  cover  not  to  be  noticed.  
While  keeping  his  distance,  he  was  able  to  send  a  text  to  his  partner.  Nick  Soleras  
another  Mexican  American  and  a  ten  year  veteran  of  the  L.A.P.D.,  was  waiting  a  few  
stops  from  where  Romero  jumped  off.  He  responded  back  with  “meet  you  at  
Starbucks  corner  with  Calvary”.  Romero  shot  back  quickly  “Advise  Calvary  lay  back,  
no  uniforms.”    
This  situation  would  have  to  be  handled  quietly,  he  wanted  no  one  to  die  
today,  he  didn’t  like  death.    
At  8:50  the  two  gang  members  sat  themselves  on  a  bench  a  couple  of  doors  
down  from  Grandpoint  Bank  on  Grand  Avenue.  Romero  fingered  another  text  with  
location  and  circumstance.  Holy  shit,  they  were  waiting  for  the  doors  to  open,  a  
fucking  early  morning  bank  robbery.  The  smell  of  something  most  foul  caused  him  
to  almost  drop  his  phone.  A  homeless  man  with  a  sign  around  his  neck  swayed  back  
and  forth  kneeling  under  a  blanket  on  the  sidewalk.  The  sign  read  “THE  END  IS  AT  
HAND  GET  WITH  JESUS  OR  LET  THE  DEVIL  BE  YOUR  SAVIOR”,  he  just  about  
chuckled  to  himself,  why  can’t  prophets  find  good  housing.    
Soleras  was  now  leaning  against  the  shell  of  what  used  to  be  a  phone  booth.  If  
they  did  it  right  they  could  take  the  bangers  from  both  sides.    
“Spare  some  change….”    Luis  looked  down  and  the  waif  of  hideous  breath  hit  him,  
the  coffee  in  his  belly  buckling.    
When  the  shot  rang    out,  Nick  almost  in  slow  motion  flipped  backwards.  
Within  seconds  Romero  cut  the  duo  in  half  and  the  other  punk  bolted  into  the  bank.  
Alarms  were  going  off  everywhere.    

“Officer  Down,  Officer  Down  355  South  Grand  Avenue”  Luis  Romero  yelled  into  his  
phone.    
   

In  a  matter  of  minutes,  10  squad  cars  had  corralled  the  bank  doors.  What  

happened  next  scarily  reminded  him  of  home.  It  was  something  he  had  heard  one  of  
the  Columbian  cartels  pull  off  against  a  team  of  corrupt  Mexican  Federales  when  he  
was  still  a  rookie.    Its  like  they  were  working  from  the  same  play  book  now.  Roughly  
over  a  hundred  or  so  boys,  no  older  than  18  wearing  the  same  colors  the  same  
bandanas,  started  appearing  from  all  directions  walking  up  the  street  with  high  
powered  machine  guns  in  hand.    The  police  were  outnumbered  5  to  1.    
When  the  shooting  started  Romero  yelled  into  his  phone  again.  “SEND  
EVERYONE  THEY  ARE  GOING  TO  MASSACRE  US….”  
The  fire  fight  lasted  over  an  hour.  In  the  end  15  officers  were  killed  and  50  
bangers  were  banged  with  60  more  in  custody.  It  was  the  boldest  move  a  gang  ever  
took  against  the  L.A.P.D.  The  bank  heist  it  turns  out  was  a  rouse  and  the  cops  were  
the  real  target.  So  it  was  here  on  the  sidewalk  with  his  blood  spilling  out  and  the  
smell  of  Mexican  food  hitting  him  that  Luis  Romero  started  thinking  twice  about  
whether  he  would  ever  be  able  to  pick  up  a  gun  again,  the  violence  of  it  all.  Humans  
are  animals  he  said  to  himself  and  then  the  street  went  black.    

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