Amidst her ranting and raving, the sound of sirens were heard. I couldn’t tell if they were coming from the phone or directly from outside, but it really didn’t matter. The cops were here which meant they’d put a stop to the insanity. Through my phone, I heard the voice of Detective Bradley shouting for Shannon to put down her weapon. Shannon screamed, but did not indicate whether or not she was going to comply. Her phone cut off, so hopefully the detectives had winged the bitch. I poked my head around the corner into the living room and was relieved when no shots flew by—or at my head. After ascertaining that she wasn’t shooting any longer, I glanced down and saw my father on the floor, slumped against the couch, holding his arm. Blood was flowing freely, and his face was white.
“Shit,” I cursed, flying to his side, trying to stay low as I did. I hung up my cell and called 911, ordering them to send an ambulance. “Dad, hang on,” I said, after explaining the crisis to the operator. I was still on the line, but I wanted to reassure my father that help was on the way.
“Someone shot me,” Dad said, his eyes dulled with shock. “Trish, someone shot me.” There was knocking at the door, but I ignored it. Someone else would have to answer as I was not leaving my father.
“Oh my God! Bob!” My mother cried from the entryway of the living room. Heedless of possible danger to herself, she ran to my father. “You’re hurt. I shouldn’t have left without you. What was I thinking?” She started crying as she stared at the blood running down Dad’s arm. “I have to get you help.” She jumped to her feet, but I stopped her.
“I called 911, Mom,” I said, indicating the phone. “Did someone get the door? I think it was the cops.”
“Ramona did,” Mom said distractedly, checking Dad over. By now, the others were filtering back into the room, expressing their dismay at my father being shot. The guys looked ashamed that they had run without ensuring his safety. Beth and Sidney looked as if they didn’t quite know what hit them, while Michele was missing from the happy crowd. She must be with Mona and the cops. Speaking of which, they entered the living room. Detective Bradley looked tired but triumphant.
“We got her,” he said, nodding at us. “You’re lucky we were close by. We’re going to need to take your statements.”
“Later,” my mother said firmly. “My husband is hurt.”
“It has to be done now,” Detective Bradley said, not unkindly. “Why don’t I talk to your husband first, then you, then I can talk to the rest while you go with your husband to the hospital?” Without waiting for an answer, he crossed to my father who was ominously silent. “Sir, can you hear me?”
“Yes, I can hear you,” Dad responded. His voice was thin, but steady.
“Will the rest of you please leave the room?” Detective Bradley said politely. It wasn’t a question, however, and we all followed his command—except for my mother. She wasn’t going anywhere and she was prepared to fight. Detective Bradley wisely remained silent and allowed her to stay.
“This is your fault, isn’t it Dodo?” Mona said angrily once we were in the kitchen. It was a tight squeeze with the eight of us, but we managed to fit. “Whoever shot Dad was mad at you, right?”
“Yes, Mona, that’s right,” I said wearily, leaning against the fridge. Rafe put his arm around my waist and squeezed. His eyes were sympathetic as he held me to him. “I fucked up and Dad got shot because of it. I feel bad enough so lay off, ok?”
“No, it’s not ok,” Mona said, shaking off Michele’s hand. Mona also ignored the warning look Michele was giving her. “You know what your problem is? You’re always thinking of yourself. That’s what gets you in so much fucking trouble. You tangled with this crazy person without even thinking what might happen. You really piss me off.”
The others were studiously not paying attention to the confrontation, which was pretty impressive in so small a space. I winced at my sister’s anger, but I couldn’t disagree with her. I might not like what she had to say, but she was right. It was my fault for fucking around with Aaron, and I hurt not only Shannon, but more importantly, Rafe. Now, because of my thoughtlessness, my father was hurt as well. Nothing Mona could say would be any worse than what I’d already been telling myself. Mona must have said all she wanted because she fell silent. Rafe kissed my forehead before cuddling me, and I felt good in his arms. It was nice to have someone hold me. I was tired of being the strong one, the oldest one; it was a relief to relinquish the power for once.
The doorbell rang, startling us. It was the EMT workers, and I led them to the living room. Detective Bradley be damned, I wasn’t going to further risk my father’s health. He wasn’t a young man, and he had high blood pressure. I didn’t want him going into shock or having a heart attack or something. If that made Detective Bradley mad, well, then, so be it. Mom was seated on the floor, her eyes glued to the still figure of my father. Detective Bradley looked up in annoyance as the EMTs rushed over to my father. It was clear that he hadn’t finished interviewing Dad, but there was little he could do as he was morally obligated to allow the EMTs to do their job unimpeded. With that in mind, he turned to my mother. She was loath to talk to him, however, as her attention was focused on what the EMTs were doing to my father.
“You can leave now,” Detective Bradley said pointedly to me. I took his hint and returned to the kitchen. I wanted to know the prognosis on my father, but I didn’t have the strength to do battle with the detective.
“Well?” Mona asked when I returned. She was always the impatient one and only grew more so as she aged.
“The EMT are here,” I said simply, returning to the comforting arms of my lover. “They’re going to take Dad to the hospital.”
“How is he?” Hank asked, breaking off his whispered confab with Beth. “I mean, it’s nothing serious, right?”
“I didn’t get a chance to ask,” I admitted, feeling as if I’d failed again. “The detective gave me the boot as soon as I brought the EMT into the living room.” That seemed to satisfy the masses for a bit and we fell into a reflective silence. Eight pairs of eyes looked up five minutes later when my mother came into the kitchen.
“How is Dad?” Mona asked, first again. “He’s going to be ok, isn’t he? I mean, it was just a flesh wound.”
“It was more than a flesh wound,” Mom said, her voice breaking. Seeing the look on our faces, she hastened to add, “It’s not too serious, though. I just came in to tell you that I’m going to the hospital with your father, but the detective needs to talk to each of you so you have to stay here.” Sensing our dissatisfaction with that answer, my mother promised that she would keep us informed by calling us from her cell every half hour. We had to be satisfied with that as the cops were implacable. They even stationed one of their own in the kitchen and wouldn’t let us talk to each other. Any time we tried, the cop would shush us with a frown on his face. He looked young, which meant he was probably the lowest on the totem pole. By the look on his face, he wasn’t happy to be missing out on the action. At least he wasn’t one of those sadistic suckers who took it out on the victims; I was grateful for small favors.
One by one, my siblings and their partners were called into the living room by the detective. I didn’t know if he did it on purpose or not, but he left Rafe and me until the last. In fact, I was the last person he interviewed, and I wasn’t sure if I should be happy or worried to be the last. By the time it was my turn, I no longer cared if it was a good or bad thing to be last. I just wanted the interview to be over so I could get on with my life. I had no doubt that Shannon was behind the unpleasantness of the past few weeks, and it was a load off my shoulders to know that she’d be locked up very soon.
“Ms. Chen,” Detective Bradley said as I entered the room. He was sitting in a hardback chair, and he gestured for me to sit on the couch. I did and waited for him to speak. He studied me carefully but didn’t say a word. He was beginning to make me nervous.
“Did she confess?” I asked, breaking the silence.
“She hasn’t said anything,” Detective Bradley sighed, rubbing his face wearily. “She’s insisting she wants her lawyer, and well, we’re taking her to the station and seeing what we can do about it. My guess would be she’s behind it. She mistook Ms. Rodriguez for you and flipped when she realized she had shot the wrong person.”
“What about Eddie?” I demanded, not convinced of his theory though I wanted to be. “Why did she kill him?”
“We don’t have all the pieces yet,” Detective Bradley said evasively. “We will certainly let you know when we do.” With that non-answer, he clammed up and refused to tell me anything more no matter how hard I cajoled. He didn’t want to give away the show. While I understood his need for caution, I also wanted to know where I stood. Was I safe? Could I return to my apartment? The detective refused to commit himself one way or the other, repeating over and over again that I should err on the side of caution. When I wouldn’t stop pressing, he finally allowed that he thought I’d be better off staying at my parents’ at least until they had thoroughly questioned Shannon. With that I had to be satisfied. The detective wrapped up the questioning, telling me that he’d call me when he had further news, then left. I found the rest of the group in the kitchen, chomping at the bit.
“Uh, huh,” Mona said into her cell phone as the cop in the kitchen left. “Right. But is he—” She was silent for several seconds before starting up again. “Well, shouldn’t we—” She fell silent again. “Ok, Mom. If you’re sure.” She clicked off the phone and turned, disconcerted to see seven pairs of eyes staring back at her. “That was Mom,” she said needlessly. “Dad’s in surgery, but it doesn’t appear too serious. She doesn’t want us to go to the hospital as there’s nothing to do but wait.” My siblings and I looked at each other before heading out of the kitchen. Our partners looked at us in surprise.
“Where are you going?” Sidney asked the question looming in the mind of all the partners.
“To the hospital,” Owen explained. The rest of us nodded as if it were obvious.
“But Van said not to go,” Rafe pointed out. The other partners bobbed their head in agreement.
“We know,” Owen shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. We’re going. You guys don’t have to if you don’t want to.” It was as if there was an invisible line drawn with the siblings on one side and the partners on the other. Rafe joined the siblings without hesitation as did Michele. Sidney and Beth came a bit more slowly which made sense as they were fairly new to the Chen clan.
“We’ll take two cars,” Hank said impatiently, striding towards the door. “Beth, Mona and Michele come with me. Dodo, Rafe and Sidney can ride with Owen.”
“I’m driving,” Mona said stubbornly, jutting out her chin. She hated it when Hank broke things up by gender and would go out of her way to protest. I knew that even in this grave situation, she would argue until Hank gave in.
“Oh for god’s sake,” I said in exasperation. I could tell by the set of Hank’s jaw that he was about to argue, so I did what I had to do to expedite the process. I was the eldest, after all. “Rafe and I will ride with Mona and Michelle. Owen, you and Sidney ride with Hank and Beth.” My tone brooked no argument, and for once, my fractious siblings fell into line.
“Thanks for backing me up, Dodo,” Mona said as she slid into the driver’s seat of her red Honda Accord.
“I only did it because I knew you’d never give in,” I retorted. I was a feminist, but I didn’t give a shit about things like driving equity. In fact, I’d be more than willing to be chauffeured for the rest of my life as I didn’t like to drive. You’d never catch me complaining if someone offered me a ride. We were silent the rest of the way to Unity.