This is just a little story starter that came into my head when I saw a challenge to write a story about a police scanner. I thought you all would like it. It sparked a much bigger idea into my head. Someday, when my current works are laid to rest, I will pick this one back up. So without further ado, read, enjoy, and comment what you thought of it. I write it all in about an hour. (Not yet fully edited.)
The Invisible Scanner
“What is that?” Tamara asks me as I picked up the odd device. I’d spotted an oddly not gross looking object hidden beneath the dumpster. I had found good electronics before that sold well on the internet.
“Not sure.” I reply, brushing the leaves away from the object. “It looks like one of those old radios, like in the movies.”
Tamara swore and came closer. “You know what that is?” She asks.
“So far… a walkie-talkie.” I give her a scathing look. Of course, I didn’t know or I wouldn’t have said so.
“It’s a police scanner.” She said excitedly. “And you know, you could get those guys off your back at school if you gave it to them.”
“What? Why?” I ask. Of course, I’d heard of a police scanner, but I wasn’t sure what it did exactly. Why would Deante and Shay want one? “Can’t they just buy one?”
“Really? They spend money on drugs, Trisha. They’d like that to know if they’re going to get busted or not.” Tamara rolls her eyes at me. “They keep hounding you. Why not? Maybe it will make those fools back off.”
I bite my lip. That would be good. To have them stop asking for favors, trying to get me to do drugs with them and get into bed. Yet, I really didn’t want to help them. Someone had helped my brother Dom and he was gone because of it. I didn’t want to help more people make the same horrible choices.
“So… explain to me how this works.” I ask Tamara.
“Well, it connects to the radio communication.” She explains. “You just need to know what frequency they use and you easily can connect to radios the cops use to talk to each other across town.”
“So, if I find that. I can just listen to them communicate?” I make sure.
“Yep.” Tamara smiles. “See, then if your dealer is getting busted you can hear they’re coming.”
“Are they really that dumb?” I am a bit surprised. Cops are horrible and rude, but they didn’t seem that stupid to me. At least Officer Daniels wasn’t. He was a different cop. To me, he was the only real cop. He was what a cop should be. I wish more cops were like him. From what I knew from friends, the rest were want-a-bes who’d pull you over just to feel cool.
“Yeah, don’t you see it on TV and on the news?” Tamara rolls her eyes. “Really girl, you need to get out of those books and into the real world for a change, girl.”
“I know.” I roll my eyes. She’s told me this a million times. “Well, either way it’s too late, and I ain’t goin’ over there while they’re on the pot. If I do, I’ll do it at school.”
“If.” Tamara frowns.
“Well, school might take it.” I point out. “So maybe another time, but I will not go over there when they’re high. I had enough of that with Dom, thanks.”
“Oh, sorry, forgot.” Tamara shrugged. We start going back.
I don’t feel much like talking as we walk. I was looking at the radio in my hand. What harm could it do? Well, it would let the gangs keep running my hood while I hid in my room, hoping a drive by bullet didn’t find me. I was tired of it. I had lost enough family, friends and of my own life to them. That was what harm it could do.
“So, does this thing tell me where crimes are happening?” I ask Tamara.
“Yeah, if the cops are on their way there.” She nods. “And you have to know the codes to know what type of crime. They use code, so it’s harder for us to know what’s going on, but cake to find it on the net.”
I study the radio for another moment, then put it into my backpack as we walk. I could do that. If I knew that, I’d know where the crimes were. How could that help? Likely not at all. Not if I could tell them I saw someone do something. Then they’d know and not know it was me. I wasn’t having what happened to Dom happen to me. I thought another moment. “Can you talk to the cops back?”
“I don’t think so.” Tamara shook her head. I frowned. “Like you’d want to talk to cops.” Tamara laughed.
“You can send them the wrong way.” I argued.
“Oh, good one.” Tamara nodded. We reached her place. “Later.” She nodded at me and swaggered into her house. I sigh and walk home.
The next day, I act as if nothing is wrong. I eat my breakfast, alone as always, while mama is at work. She always leaves before I get up and is so tired when she gets home at night, I mostly just get to say goodnight to her. So I have plenty of time.
On the walk with Tamara, I pretended I was going to stay later at school to give the guys the police radio. I lied. I went to the library and got onto the computer. I found where I could learn the police call codes. I take out a notebook and write them all down. Now I can memorize them at home.
I just finish when I feel a buzz in my jeans pocket. My phone almost falls out. Curse the small pockets of ladies’ jeans! I pull out my phone. It’s a text from my mom.
Where are you?
I sigh and text back. Finishing home work. Do you need me home now?
After a few minutes, I get a text back. No, I just can’t get into our building. There was another shooting, just want to be sure you’re ok.
I sigh heavily. Another one, I wonder who got it this time. Was it another drive by? How I wish I could find some way to tell the cops without their knowing it was me. I don’t want trouble, not again. I wasn’t going to fall for that. I just wished there was a way to tell otherwise. Then I wouldn’t live in fear of the gangs touching me or hurting me too.
I put my notebook in my backpack. Well, it will be at least a few hours before I can get into my building. I know a good place to hide.
Without a word to anyone, I erase the browser history and head to the beat up park nearby. The city tried to fix it up a few years ago, but the gangs wouldn’t let it stay nice long. Graffiti covers the green play equipment. Though normally all types of graffiti are disliked, I rather like it. It has a unique style and beauty. I just wished it stood for something less horrible.
I climb up onto the tallest structure. Here is the only bit of graffiti that isn’t a gang marker covered over by other gangs taking over, or lovers expressing love, or ex-lovers spewing their hatred for each other. This one is beautiful. It matches the ocean theme of the park. It’s a dolphin, covered with a few tattoos and leaping into the sunset. The sun is bright and elegant. The waves detailed for such a work. It filled the whole plastic wall it was sprayed on.
I love this one. Though the poor dolphin has been marked by the people who own this place, it still swims unrestricted. Yes, someone got a hold of it and tattooed the poor thing, but it ignores the marks. It swims free. I want to be like the dolphin. I want to swim free in the ocean that is mine, not the gang’s.
I want to walk down the street and not be tense to duck if a dark car drives by. I want to laugh freely at jokes with the other kids. I want to watch the news, or go onto Twitter and not see harsh and vulgar words thrown at everyone. I am tired of having all the boys look at me and see only a ‘score’ on their board. I want them to see who I am and not what I am, to value my heart and not my sexuality.
I sigh deeply. This is not the safe spot yet. I had to leave my precious dolphin behind and keep going. I look around, to be sure no one is around. I then climb onto the wall around the enclosure and onto the decorative sail. This has the worst graffiti of all. The gangs that took over the park over time have sprayed over the old signs so many times it’s hard to tell how many times it’s been redone. My area is border territory, so it and this park have been traded between the three warring gangs for years.
I pull myself up onto the very tip of the sail. I reach up and grab onto a tree limb about seven feet above this. I have to jump to do it, but I’ve done it so many times it’s not a challenge. Finding this spot wasn’t easy, I found it after Dom was shot.
Mom was at work, so I’d been alone that night. I shudder as I recall his last words to me, yelling at me to leave, go out the window and run. So I had. I ran to this park. It was dark and no one was around. I had decided I’d be safer if I climbed. I always climbed to find safe places. Above was safe, below the rats could find you. I choose the sail to climb on and saw the branch. I didn’t have to jump at all back then. I hid there until I saw the car pull up and heard the shootout. I shudder and tears tease my eyes. I push them away. This is not the time.
I finally make it up into the tree and climb to the very top. No one can see me up here. It is my favorite place. Best of all, no one can hear me either. It’s about a five minute climb up and I’m so high up, I can see almost for at least a mile around.
I can see the stores that often gets robbed. From here, I can see five or six different drug trading posts. I can see the back half of the apartment buildings I live in. I can hear the noise of the cops on the other side. I also realize, for the first time, I can see almost every door into every apartment from way up here.
A fall from this height would kill me. I once wondered what would happen if I did slip and die. What would they think happened? In this part of town, I assume they’d assume I killed myself. That would at least let me make the news, though it wouldn’t be true. I’d just slip, but no one knows I come up here. No one. I guard my hiding place with my life. So no one will know I was just hiding from the world.
I let out a deep sigh, then sit back. I turn on my new police scanner. It takes me a bit of playing, but after about twenty minutes, I hear the chatter of the police talking. I study the radio as I listen, looking up each code in my notebook. I hear them ask for a clean-up crew to help clean up the shooting in front of my house.
I adjust how I sit and the radio slips. I catch it before it falls. It beeps and I can’t hear them talking anymore. I let go of a button I’d mistakenly pressed. I hear the voices again. My eyebrows draw together and I do it again. The sound stops again.
I gasp. “It’s not just a scanner.” I breathe to myself. “You’re an actual radio.” Some cop must have dropped it. He lost it and I found it.
A light goes on in my head. I can call in crimes. From this tree, I can see lots of things. I can get some binoculars and see even more. I can see names and faces of the drug dealers. I can see who comes and goes from those spots. I can see where the gangsters run after they rob one of the often picked on shops. I can see all kind of trouble and no one will ever know.
I can right the wrong done to my brother without getting mom or me into trouble! I can see the wrongdoings, even name names, and they will never know who gave them the tips. Radios are not like cell phones. You can’t track their signal. I can use this to send the stupid cops after the people who have made my life hell. They’ll get locked up and never know it was because of me.
I smile widely to myself. This was it. This was the answer to my burning question. I was going to clean up my neighborhood.