It’s mid-afternoon when I coast into the dingy parking lot behind Peacock Alley on the west side of Western Avenue south of Hollywood Boulevard, way too early for the musicians to be there. I intend to question them tonight. My bad thoughts remain as I check the area. I look for anything, shell casings, even blood drops that will substantiate the shots-fired call. I have an idea what three-week-old blood might look like, and figure it would’ve dried to an ugly brown.
When a panging gut grabs my attention, I know it’s not my gunshot wounds whining, it’s my empty tummy saying time to eat. But I’ve come this far so my food bag must wait until I finish my search.
By the time I’ve covered most of the parking lot my stomach has given up ever feeling the weight of nourishing food. Maybe it’s from the recent wounds, but my low-back muscles now ache. I pause and flex my arms to ease my tension, but getting loose doesn’t work.
I ease out a breath and give the lot a last glance. A chill climbs up my spine when I spot what I’ve been looking for: a shell casing.
With mixed feelings, I bend down to take a closer look. Nearby are rubble and scraps of an old newspaper. I dig through the litter and spy another brass casing. What also catches my attention is a smattering of spots on the paper and the faded asphalt beside it.
I gasp. Maybe they’re from brown paint, but I doubt it.
Eddie Allan, were you shot? Are you alive?
My heart skips a beat, and then sinks.
I take time to suck in deep breaths while telling myself to think positively. Negative thoughts won’t help me find my horn-blowing friend since our high school days.
I trod back to my pickup and retrieve my Brownie Hawkeye flash camera to photograph the scene, the slugs, and the newspaper. And what do I tell my old bud’s mother. She’s the reason I’m even looking for Eddie.