Episode 17 Shots
JC drove Caitlin to the festival ground the next morning. He had slept contentedly beside her all night without even laying a hand on her beautiful body. Without her suggestion too. As he awoke, driving down the freeway toward the grounds, he watched her from the corner of his eye, she was tired too. They had spent most of the previous night talking and cuddling before finally sleep had overtaken them both. Her blue eyes were tinged with redness and the shadows that formed like light bruises beneath her eyes gave away the lack of sleep. Cory and Emily hadn’t even arose yet and looking at his fake Rolex, JC knew why.
“Why do you gotta be there so early, baby girl?” He inquired, stopping at a stop light as they turned off of the free way. “Because they’re setting up some equipment that requires more time than usual,” She responded, her throat croaky with sleep. “Can we grab a starbucks?” She turned and looked at him hopefully. “Whatever you want, baby,” He sighed sleepily, hating the early hour. The sun was rising still, well above the horizon but not over head yet. Shadows trailed everywhere like sly monsters on the prowl for human legs. He was not used to being up this early, especially on a Sunday. He turned into the drive through starbucks and ordered himself a double expresso while Caitlin wanted a cafe Latte. Pulling away, handing her the drinks, he heard callie moan a soft growl.
“What’s with her?” He laughed amused by the dog’s actions. “She’s tired too,” Caitlin replied, wiping her eyes free of sleep. Silence reigned over them but it was the type of silence you could handle. There was no awkwardness between them, it was purely contented silence.
Emily awoke in a state of emergency to which she had no idea what the source was. Cory slept peacefully beside her as she crawled out of bed and headed into the bathroom. The familiar sight of the Californian sun pleased her unexpectedly as she looked at the clock on their bathroom wall. it read seven forty five. “ugh!” Emily groaned but knew herself well enough to realise that there was no going back to sleep now. She’d have to stay awake and just take her time with her morning tasks. The living room needed clearing up. God only knows what Alexia had been doing the previous night. In truth, Emily didn’t want to know what her roommate had been up too. There were towels strewn across the kitchen floor, a pizza box left on the coffee table, crumbs everywhere and empty cans of beer laying all over the place. Outside there were cigarette butts and ash while the trash can was over flowing. The dirty, unkempt house didn’t feel like Emily lived in it. Her general attitude toward cleaning was impeccable. Caitlin had gone ballistic at the sight of everything and vowed to rip Lexie a new asshole. both girls had been too exhausted to start clearing up the previous night and the guys told them to rest. Emily knew Caitlin wouldn’t have time and so as she walked from the bathroom she made a conscious decision to clean up herself. Everyone knew Lexie well enough not to even ask her to clean up her own mess, that would just start another fight.
Assembling all of her cleaning aids, Emily got to work. First bagging all of the trash and dumping it into the dumpster. Then sweeping both the living room and kitchen floors. Then she mopped and polished. Wiping down all of the counters too with extra disinfectant. As she proceeded outside, Cory awoke.
“Wow!” he smiled sleepily, his eyes crinkling with a gentle yawn as he wiped his face with the back of his hand. “It doesn’t look like the same place.” “I know,” Emily took the broom outside and began to sweep furiously. “I’m going to kill Lexie for this!” She growled through gritted teeth. The resentment Emily currently felt toward Lexie was completely out of character for her. Normally she was understanding and quite often defended her friends even if they didn’t deserve her support. But Lexie was stepping over the line more and more these days. Her attitude toward em and Caitlin stunk and the stunt she pulled on Kiara still irked Emily deeply. Bringing Dan home all of the time, when she knew he was married, getting drunk, eating fast food, having sex at all times of the day, never cleaning up; it was just getting too much for Em to handle. “Well,” Cory brought her back from her reverie then, standing in the doorway smiling his boyish smile. “While you’re doing that, I’ll make us both some breakfast.” Emily’s face lifted from dull to light in an instant. a guy that offered to make you breakfast was definitely a keeper right? “Thanks, Cory,” Emily grinned readopting her sweeping as he turned with a glance and re-entered the house.
The first performance was just taking place as Emily and Cory found JC standing by the lemonade stand. “Where’s Caitlin?” Em asked as he looked up beneath his dark glasses, a smile spreading across his dark, thick lips. He was dressed in different clothes and Emily suspected he had gone home to change. “she’s just ensuring stuff’s working right, she’ll be right out. How was your morning?” His thick tone conveyed truthfully his morning blunt that he had smoked in his room while he showered and changed two hours previously. His long eyelashes more alert and his hands shoved into his pockets as he watched the Latino rapper mess up big time on stage. JC’s low rumble of a laugh made Emily and Cory look around. The guy was being booed profusely by the crowd nearest to the stage. “Yall better watch,” JC said, more to himself than to anyone else. “He might just cry!” Emily erupted into giggles as she looked and saw Caitlin’s expression upon her sweet face that resembled anything but pleasure. “What is he doing?” Caitlin look at JC. “Entiendo?” She asked him in Spanish. “Es bien ou no?” Her accent was becoming more authentic by the day as he privately tutored her in their spare time.
“No! ¡él es tremendo! ¡él necesita ser reservado! He oído un mejor sonido de una caldera!” “Verdad?” She asked with a grin on her face. “Tu es entiende?” He asked, cocking a thick eyebrow at the pleasure he felt that she may understand his ramblings in Spanish. “Si, Tu es dijo that he was awful and he needs to be quiet and that you’ve heard better sounds from a kettle.” pulling her tightly into his arms and kissing the top of her golden head that always reminded him of an angel’s halo, pride soared through his body. “Muy bien me chica bonita,” his kiss was full to her lips now as he whispered the congratulatory words. “I’m proud of you!” She smiled and looked across the grassed area with seeingless eyes. She smiled at the performer’s lack of ability and hoped that everyone would love the next act. It was Battle. he was doing two shows this weekend. his first had gone down really well the previous day and Caitlin was excited to see him perform again.
Standing before JC, Caitlin smiled at Emily. “What were you up to this morning?” She asked care free filling her face. “Cleaning,” Emily responded in a huff. “I haven’t seen Lexie but she’s definitely home. We heard Dan snoring.” Emily screwed up her face with sheer revulsion written upon its usually calm features. “Thanks, Em,” Caitlin responded as the performer was finally booed off of the stage and Battle took up his place. some teenage girls screamed while others waited with anticipation.
The steady beat boomed throughout the park and Caitlin and Emily danced excitedly as Cory and JC watched them with smiling faces. The day was pleasant, not as hot as it had been the previous one. A cool breeze was soothing the southern California heat from the mountains. JC laughed as Caitlin tripped clumsily over Callie’s lead and the golden dog jumped up from her shady patch beneath a tree and wagged her tail excitedly at the two friends dancing. “Come here you!” JC pulled Caitlin into his arms and kissed her tenderly. His lips caressing hers in a way he wasn’t sure he’d ever kissed before. Looking into her eyes he realised this wasn’t going to be a short term thing. In truth, he had always known that but as he stood, holding this girl, he saw a future. “This is fun!” Caitlin giggled into his chest. “I love my job!” ‘I wish I could say the same thing!’ He thought to himself as his lips turned up into a smile at her. She was happy and that in turn made him happy. Happier than he had ever been before in his life. Glancing up, a glimpse of something shiny caught his eye. “not here!’ He thought in the split second the chaos erupted in.
BANG!!! A gun shot rang out. Most of the crowd initially thought it was something on the beat that flowed from the speakers. JC knew differently and as the radio crackled around Caitlin’s neck, and she stiffened in his arms, he knew it was all going to go down.
“Caitlin!” An urgent voice called before the rest of the crowd realised what was happening. Caitlin knew as JC did what had just happened and slowly the truth was dawning on everyone else as they looked toward the stage and saw blood and the body of someone laying still. “Cut the music,” She was saying into the microphone. “Medics, stand by. Security, find the gunman!” Caitlin was picking up Callie’s lead now, ready to jump into action. “No!” JC pulled her to his side. His trained eyes were darting around to search for some sign of the culprit. “JC, it’s my job!” She pulled away from him and stalked knowledgeably toward the stage area. He watched on with a sense of tension within himself. The girl he was caring more and more for each day had just stepped into the possible line of a shooter. And he wanted to do everything he could to protect her. He would have happily unstrapped his own vest to put onto her at that very moment but then that would have shown to everyone close by that he had a gun on him. Swallowing hard he then remembered the second reason why he was standing still, not streaking after the beautiful blonde that was with each step coming closer to a possible ill fate. The rag tied to Battle’s jeans was blue. JC had a rag just like it but for one factor, the colour. It was red! Gulping again he looked up to see Emily screaming at him. ‘Go after her!” “She’s right, em,” He said with a croak in his throat. “It’s her job. security are with her now.” His face flushed a little, turning his dark skin a shade of pinkish brown as he felt the guilt writhe up inside of him. “Well I’m going after her,” Emily pushed her way through the crowds, her blue eyes frantic with fear and worry. JC glared at his red chucks as he prayed the ground would swallow him up.
“I gotta bounce,” He mumbled to Cory and stepping onto the sidewalk left the festival, jumped into his car and began driving home. Half way there he pulled over, unable to continue to drive with the tears clouding his vision.
“Battle, Battle! It’s Caitlin, Miss Dawson the organiser, can you hear me?” She was crouching over him, checking his rapid pulse every few seconds. “What happened?” A police officer stood over her now. Caitlin groaned as it seemed apparently obvious to her what had happened. Looking around she realised people were panicking and among them were her own team. “Hold on,” A medic was helping the paramedics load Battle’s body onto a stretcher. Emily was suddenly by her side. “Em,” Emily was panicking as everyone else was while Caitlin remained super calm. “Listen to me! Take the microphone on the far right of the stage and calm people down. We don’t want any more injuries. Cliff?” She turned to head of security who was waiting for the ass ripping to begin. “Get a team of your boys and start escorting people out. Em, make sure you tell them the facts. Battle has been shot, we have to shut down.” Looking up at the police officer she smiled weakly. “I’m sure I could do with some of your uniforms out there too.” Nodding the police officer radioed through to some of his colleagues. Standing, pulling Callie to her side. She began to round up team members.
“Don’t clean anything Esmeralda,” She told the head of cleaning. “Not until the police tell you you can do so. Nick, none of the equipment is to be moved in case there is evidence. This is a criminal investigation now. I will go backstage and talk to the remaining artists.” Walking confidently with Callie beside her, Caitlin felt ill. Who would want to hurt battle?
Cory stood bewildered. The shooting had been so completely unexpected and he had never been that close to any kind of severe violence before that it totally caught him off guard. He wasn’t normally a nervous person but Emily’s loud echoing voice, magnified around the grassed area made him jump. “Everyone remain calm!” She kept her voice steady and unwavering as she spoke. “Battle was shot and the festival is being shut down. we do apologise but hope you understand.” People were in several different kinds of emotions. Cory saw a woman clutching to her child frightened by the incident. Two men laughed nervously about what had happened, commenting on how maybe a rival rapper had him shot because they were fearful of his potential. A small group of girls stood crying together, sobs mixed with fear and sorrow. Cory felt numb! This wasn’t meant to happen! They were having fun! This wasn’t meant to go down today.
As Emily stepped away from the microphone, her heart pounded once again. The previous calm she had ensured herself to feel was gone, replaced by the raging fear that trickled down her spine like icy fingers. The coldness of her fear contrasted greatly with the hot summer’s day. Walking toward the back stage area, searching in vane for her best friend, Emily wondered why someone would want to hurt an artist at a festival? He was just an artist, wasn’t he?
“Where you going?” A gruff man’s voice inquired as she turned down a passage way between lots of trailers. “My best friend is Caitlin Dawson, i need to find her.” “She’s fine,” his scratchy voice replied. “She’s in a meeting. Wait here and I’ll tell her when she’s done you’re looking for her.” Emily nodded, too afraid to argue with the man that looked as though he may eat a dozen eggs for breakfast alone. He stalked away and Emily leaned against the cool metal of a trailer, listening to the chaos ensuing out in the park. ‘Cory!’ She thought in terror now. Cory and JC were still out there. but JC seemed to know how to handle himself so Emily guessed they’d be all right. Screams, yells and cries of people looking for their friends or family rang all around her. As she stood, she marvelled how she’d got out of that chaos to only stand here in a private corner alone amidst the internal chaos of her head.
“I’m sorry,” Caitlin was apologising professionally to a group of artists that still had to perform. some of them famous names that were headlining. “I have no idea how this happened but I will assure you, I will find out. How anyone got in here with a weapon is beyond me. I’m just sorry someone got hurt and you guys are now unable to perform.” her eyes were moist from fallen tears and her hands crossed across her lap as she spoke. No one was angry. If anything the women and men assembled in the small stifling hot trailer were merely thankful it hadn’t been them.
Standing and excusing herself, Caitlin walked out into the air that was increasingly becoming hotter. Taking deep breaths and attempting to prevent the on flow of tears, she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s get to the hospital,” It was Emily. Nodding and pulling Callie alongside her as she linked Emily’s arm, the girls walked silently toward Emily’s blue Mustang.