"... And as a great man once said... United we Stand, and divided we fall... Thank You." Charlie backed away from the podium to an eruption of cheers and applause.
Charlie Grin was a prominent member of the community. His face almost instantly recognizable to everyone in the city. This is because of his first career. He was in broadcast as the nightly local news anchor. The people trusted him. Especially the African-Americans, he was their representation in this city. And now, his city needed his words of wisdom more than ever.
No one had to say it, but it was felt. Racial tension had made a home in this city. And the newspapers and TV news weren't doing anything except amplifying the emotions. It was a kettle about to burst. Neither side was budging. The whites were feeling threatened to live in their own town with such violent people. And the blacks were the brunt of racism and what they felt was an unfair blame in the whole ordeal. This is where Charlie was needed. A man of mixed race and high community status would be the anointed savior working to help calm the waters in the city. Plus, there was talk of a run for Mayor in the future for Charlie. Helping his city out in time of need would certainty win him the office.
But he was scared. He knew people didn't like to be told what to think but this was getting out of control. He had to make a statement. He had to set an example. So he planned a rally for peace. He invited both sides and there would be speeches and entertainment for all. This was Charlie's master plan. Just to get the ball rolling on relations between the two sides. But it wasn't going to be easy.
"Yes, but damn it! I LOVED HIM TOO!" shouted Arnold to his daughter.
"I know father, but you are just USING HIM! He isn't a figure head for your PARADES!" Alicia shouted back, retorting what seems to be a recurring line in these never ending battles.
"His name must be honored and respected. People have given hundreds of thousands of their dollars for his cause. There are men out there who are willing to DIE FOR HIM!"
"HIS CAUSE!?! HIS CAUSE!?! HE WAS JUST A BOY! THIS IS YOUR CAUSE, NOT HIS!"
Alicia turned her back and looked out the window. Arnold gave a deep breath and hugged her from behind. Softly whispering in her ear,
"What happened with Thomas was just a catalyst for bigger things to come. People will look back on him and hail him as a martyr. I hope one day you will understand this."
Just then !CRACK! went the door. Mrs. Murray, the next door neighbor, came bolting in as if there were nothing in her path. She had to stop and catch her breath but still couldn't get it out.
"What?" panicked Alicia.
"Charlie's been shot"
The seconds after felt like hours to Alicia. She saw nothing but more death and chaos in the future. Her boy's murder had sparked such sorrow all throughout both communities, and it was getting worse by the day.
Arnold pulled up to the hospital where Charlie was taken, but he immediately knew he was getting nowhere fast. The crowds had already parked all down the street and were massing in front of the doors to the hospital. The shouts could be heard all the way down the street and many patients were disturbed that night, as they were all being very boisterous and honking their horns in the parking lot.
Arnold pushed his way through the crowd. Some recognized him, but it was a microcosm of the entire community. Whites and the blacks were there and they were both angry. A little shouting and pushing and shoving, but everyone was more or less just posturing at that moment. That's when Arnold noticed the door to the hospital opening up and a doctor in a white coat emerging. He hadn't noticed it before but the media had set up a makeshift podium with their microphones and it appeared the doctor was about to make a statement. Finally, the crowd fell silent.
"Ladies and Gentlemen... it is with great sadness and regret that I must inform you that Charlie Grin was brought here... at approximately 5:07pm this evening due to gun shot wounds he received in the abdomen....
he was pronounced dead on arrival."
Screams... cries... these were different noises than this large crowd were shouting before. Some even remained silent, as if this wasn't real. But quickly it reverted back to the same violent shouts, this time louder. The shoves turned to elbows, the elbows turned to punches, the punches led to headbutts. It was an all out brawl. The women and children fled, but for those who stayed there was work to be done. At first it was small, then the entire group of men joined in. It set of a large stampede, everyone was going in each direction, running into each other, mortally wounding one another. Absolute chaos.
Then... Smoke... smoke everywhere. No one can breathe. More people running in and out of the smoke, running into each other. Arnold, who was helping the wounded ran blindly through the smoke until he came upon the edge. There they were, the riot gear cops had finally shown up. Some dispersed, but those who stayed were locked in battle with each other. The police just moved in, took them down and arrested them.
After the rioters had cleared out, the commanding officer looked over the hospital yard and still saw wounded lying strewn about. As if it were a battleground.
"God damn it" he said. "Alright... whats the body count?"