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Officer Gabriel Hugo pressed his back hard against the cinder block wall of the apartment breezeway, Glock pointing down between his size thirteens. Sweat dripped from his forehead and off the end of his nose, trickled down his neck and chest and soaked through his shirt. The humid night air amplified the stink of garbage, piss and marijuana smoke.
Please, God, I don't want to shoot this kid.
Kevin Brewer was sixteen at best, raised in a shit hole a lot like this one and lacking a single reasonable bone in his skinny, filthy body. If he would put his fucking gun down for one minute and hear Gabe out they wouldn't be in this standoff. But the kid was forcing his hand. If Gabe dropped his gun the punk would off him without a second thought. Not only did Kevin have a poor excuse for a conscience, he had something to prove, making him the most dangerous kind of adversary.
"You won't get out of this alive, Kevin," Gabe called. "You know there's backup coming. Even if you shoot me you won't get out of this building without a shitload of holes in you. Is that what you want your mama to see when she comes down to identify you? Her baby boy's brains coming out the back of his head? Is it worth it to make your first cop kill so your homeboys'll be proud of you?"
"I told you," Kevin called back, his voice shaky and a little breathless, like he was hyperventilating. "Throw me your piece and you walk. Otherwise you shut the fuck up."
Gabe blinked sweat out of his eyes and counted to three. "Drop the fucking gun, Kevin. Put your hands on top of your head and kneel on the floor, and nobody will hurt you. You hear me? Prove that you have a fucking brain in your head."
"You got a death wish, Kevin? What are you, twelve? You want to die at fucking twelve years old?"
Finally, sirens in the distance. Gabe clutched his gun with both hands as he slid closer to the corner of the wall, imagining Kevin moving away from him and toward the steps leading down to the alley. Praying Kevin was moving away.
Please, God, don't make me shoot this kid.
He pictured Jeremy back at his apartment, asleep in his crib while his brother and his girlfriend kept watch. Or, more likely, while Steve worked on his computer and Kate snuggled Jeremy in her arms.
The sirens were loud, closing in. Gabe risked a glance around the corner. Kevin was coming at him, gun raised, panic and determination in his dark eyes.
No, don't let this be happening.
"Drop it!" Gabe shouted. But Kevin took aim and was about to squeeze the trigger.
No choice, no choice, no choice.
They fired at the same time, but Gabe's aim was truer and the boy dropped to his knees, then pitched forward on to his face. Gabe lowered his gun slowly, went to Kevin's side and felt for a pulse. Outside doors slammed and footsteps rang up the cement steps.
And rang, and rang, and rang...