The Haunting in Belltown
by Robin Ray
The clubs were beginning to fill up. It was Friday night. Time to let the games begin. Soon, Belltown would be filled with revelers, hot dog carts, the sound of car horns crashing against each other like a cacophonous symphony awash over the masses, and the occasional drug dealer.
Marnie and her new boyfriend, Alden, was club hopping when it happened. Alden only smoked herb when he’d been out drinking, and tonight was no exception. Before continuing to their next dance hall, he had to obtain some bud come rain or high water.
With Marnie in tow, they walked to seedy, darkened areas in the nooks of Belltown. She was a little scared and protested outright, but since there was a slight bump in police presence, she decided to just go along with him. All of the unsavory characters he ran into were selling crack, a drug he had no interest in.
“Come on,” she pleaded. “We’re wasting time.”
“It’s around here somewhere,” he promised. “I’ve never been unlucky.”
“Well, there must be a dry spell.”
Alden, himself, was beginning to give up hope until they passed an alley. The distinctive whiff of marijuana emanated from the narrow passageway. Looking over, they noticed five youths standing between dumpsters. Puffs of smoke hovered above their heads like mist on a lake.
“What d’ya think?” Alden asked Marnie rhetorically. “Should I go ask them?”
“It’s kinda dark down there,” she answered. “Just signal ‘em or something.”
“It’ll be all right,” he hoped as he walked towards the smokers.
Just then, they started walking towards the club-hopping couple. The five young black men – Yung Prez, Dru’wan, Lil Jeep, The Future, and Run E. Gunz – had a sway and a swagger that belied their inner city upbringing. Marnie could feel the lump in her throat get bigger.
“What y’all want?” Yung Prez asked.
“Bud,” Alden answered.
“Like this?” Dru’wan wondered, holding up a fist-sized baggie half-filled with herb.
“What you looking to spend?” Yung Prez queried.
Alden removed a crumpled $50 bill from his pocket. Yung Prez took it and put it in his pocket.
All five young men then turned to walk back down the alley.
“Hey!” Alden yelled. “That’s a fifty!”
Lil Jeep turned around.
“Get lost, punk!” he shouted.
Alden, however, was already seething with fury from the slight.
“You motherfucker!” he shouted at Yung Prez.
Like a pack of feral wolves, the boys turned and set upon the couple. Marnie screamed as punches and kicks flew. Alden got in a few licks of his own, but the youths were just too strong, too powerful, and too angry.
The beating lasted about a minute. Though no metal weapons were used, Marnie and Alden sustained contusions, black eyes, bruises, broken ribs, torn ear lobes from earrings being yanked out, fat lips, bloody gums, scratches and several spots of hematoma throughout their bodies. And they were still out of $50. The paramedics thought the two were lucky to be alive. It could’ve been a lot worse.
About one hour later, the thugs were walking around Yesler Way near downtown Seattle when a squad car came rolling up the street. The young men kept walking, acting as casual as possible. When the car’s lights finally came on, they scattered. One officer jumped out and chased after Yung Prez, the other after Dru’wan. Run E. Gunz and The Future disappeared between the buildings. Lil Jeep ran down a nearby flight of stairs, cut through a park, and hopped over a railing. On his way over, his shoe laces got caught on some nettles from a spindly bush. When he fell, the audible “crack” of his right arm could be heard for a block.
Screaming, he carefully took off his jacket. Rolling up his sweater’s right sleeve, he moaned when he saw his broken right ulna protruding through his skin near the wrist. Painfully, he got to his feet where he also soon realized his left ankle was sprained. Carefully, he limped towards a friend’s house. No one was home. Still in pain, he walked the few blocks to Harborview Medical Center.
Two hours later, he was lying in a recovery room with a splint on his right arm, a bandage around his left ankle, and an IV stuck in his left forearm. Although he’d been sedated, he could still overhear the hospital staff talking among themselves.
“What is this city coming to?” one asked.
“It’s time to get that gun permit I’ve been putting off,” added another.
“Where are there fathers?” a third asked. “There’s no discipline, no love, no guidance.”
Unable to sleep, Lil Jeep got up, stood near the entrance of his room and looked down the hall. He saw a crying little girl sitting in a wheelchair near the nurse’s station. A CNA was comforting her. Just then, a woman in her 50’s came walking around the corner.
“Mommy!” the girl shouted, hugging the woman.
“It’s okay, Marianne,” her mother said. “Your sister and her boyfriend are fine. They’re in surgery now.”
“But she promised this city was safe!” the girl bawled.
“It is, dear,” the woman reassured her.
“So why did they do that? Why did they beat them up like that?”
“I don’t know, Marianne,” she sighed. “They love it here. They think it’s vibrant, full of energy, but some people just don’t see it that way.”
“It’s not fair!”
“Yes, dear, I know. Let’s wait inside.”
The woman and the little girl went down the hall and walked into a room where a police officer was sitting just outside. Lil Jeep tried getting the image of Marianne out of his mind. He started to walk back to bed, shook his head then limped towards the nursing station.
“You should be resting,” a nurse cautioned him. “You lost a lot of blood tonight.”
“I’ll go lie down,” he admitted then looked down the hall, “but first, I have to make a confession.”
BIO: Robin Ray is a musician and author who lives in Seattle, Washington. He is the proud author of six screenplays and several short stories, poems, fairy tales and songs.