Virgilio Albay

“Gerry, where’s your Papa?” “Not here,” Gerry said.

Shot dead in a sting at a vacant lot.

It was his youngest, 12-year-old Gerry, who picked his way into the crime scene at 4:16 am, a little more than two hours after his father was killed. The yellow tape had been lowered. The bodies had been loaded. The cops had ridden off in their mobile, and neighbors were slowly leaving their homes to gossip on the street. Gerry didn’t live with his father. He stayed with his grandmother Amada instead, sleeping inside a jeep with his two older siblings. It was the way it had always been ever since Gerry’s mother abandoned the family and Junior spiraled into drugs and depression.

Gerry was at the street corner when he heard the seven gunshots. He was told someone had died. He came back to see what happened, and to pick up the bicycle he had left the last time he visited. He slipped inside the room barely big enough for a bed.

A man’s voice cut through the quiet. Junior’s neighbor down the alley was calling out from the second floor.

“Gerry, where’s your Papa?”

“Not here,” Gerry said.

“Where is he?”

“I don’t know.”

So Gerry stepped out, stood on the pitted courtyard, and looked down at the blood spattered on the broken stone.

His father’s upstairs neighbor came stomping down.

“Gerry, where’s your Papa?”

“He’s not here. He’s supposed to be sleeping here.”

“Then your Papa must have been the one they shot.” The man was matter-of-fact. “You better tell your grandma.”

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