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The Last Resort

Elsa Romero, a college professor, is attending a demonstration in New York City to protest the government's immigration policies. Karl Reinhardt, a white nationalist, is standing across the street from her, displaying a sign that says MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN. In response she displays a sign that says LOVE WILL PREVAIL. When a girl is suddenly killed by a gun shot, Elsa and Karl are brought together by this tragedy.

 

EXCERPT:

 

A guy wearing a red baseball cap was standing across the street from her, holding a sign that said make America white again and staring at her with a look of hatred. It aroused a feeling that Elsa thought she had gotten over a long time ago, and though she didn't show it, she reciprocated his hatred, contradicting her sign that said love will prevail.

 

At that moment a shot rang out and people to her right screamed. As she turned to see what had happened she heard a metallic clunk on the street, and turning back, she saw a gun lying on the pavement in front of the guy.

 

When he stooped and picked it up she somehow knew he didn't intend to use it, he only wanted to prevent anyone else from using it, but suddenly from behind him a cop grabbed his arm and made him drop the gun while another cop put him into a chokehold. A third cop moved deliberately to collect the gun in a plastic bag.

 

It didn't take them long to haul the guy away, clearing a path through the crowd while other cops attended to someone who had evidently been hit by the shot.

 

"Are you okay?" Sister Solana asked her, rushing over from where she had been standing with the core of their group.

 

"Yeah, I'm okay," Elsa said, catching her breath.

 

"Did you see what happened?"

 

"No. I only saw the guy across from me pick up a gun, but he didn't fire it. Someone else fired it and threw it on the street in front of him."

 

"Well, don't move," the sister told her. "I'll be right back."

 

Sister Solana made her way toward the ring of cops where people had screamed. She stood back while a team of paramedics arrived with a stretcher. Elsa prayed that whoever had been hit, it wasn't a serious injury. 

 

As she waited for the sister to return, the cop who had made the guy drop the gun approached her and asked: "Did you see what that guy did?"

 

"Yeah. I saw him pick up the gun."

 

"Did you see him fire it?"

 

"He didn't fire it. Whoever fired it threw it on the street in front of him."

 

"Are you sure?" the cop said skeptically.

 

"I'm positive. We were staring at each other across the street, and I didn't take my eyes off him for even a second."

 

The cop, who looked about her age, took out a pad and pen and asked: "What's your name?"

 

"Elsa Romero."

 

"Which group are you with today?"

 

"Students for Peace and Justice at St. Catherine College."

 

"Are you a student?"

 

"No, I'm a professor."

 

The cop looked at her as if he didn't believe she was old enough to be a professor. "Can I see your driver's license?"

 

She got her wallet out of her pocketbook and removed her license and handed it to him, feeling as if she had been pulled over for a traffic violation.

 

"So you're twenty-eight, and you live in Yonkers," the cop said, looking at her license. "Are you the leader of your group?"

 

"No. Sister Solana is our leader."

 

"Why are you here?"

 

"To protest against the government's immigration policies."

 

The cop nodded as if he understood. He looked Irish, so it had been a long time since his people were persecuted as immigrants, but he may have heard family stories about it. "Will you go with me to the precinct and make a statement? On the face of things, it looks like we caught that guy red-handed, so your statement would be helpful to him."

 

"Of course I will," Elsa said without hesitation. "I just need to let the sister know I won't be going back with her."

 

"Where is she?"

 

"She's over there."

 

After rolling up her sign she went with the cop toward the paramedics who were carrying someone on their stretcher, gliding rapidly toward the ambulance that had parted the crowd. They met Sister Solana returning from that area.

 

"It's a high school student from a group like ours," the sister said sadly. "The bullet hit her in the head."

 

"Oh, my God," Elsa said. "Did it kill her?"

 

"No, but it could kill her. We have to pray for her."

 

"Sister," the cop said respectfully, "I've asked Ms. Romero to go with me to the precinct and make a statement. She says the guy we caught didn't fire the gun."

 

"Yes, go with him," the sister told her. "You have my blessing. I have to round up our students and get them out of here."

 

"That's a good idea," the cop said.

 

"I'll let you know when I get home," Elsa said before going with the cop.

 

They walked in silence to Madison Avenue, where another cop was waiting with a car. The  cop she was with politely opened the back door, made sure that she was settled, closed the door, got into the passenger seat, and explained to his partner: "We need to take her to the precinct so she can make a statement."

 

Unable to follow their conversation, Elsa sat back and prayed for the wounded girl and prepared herself for making a statement. She recalled clearly the way the guy had stared at her―it was a look of cold hatred, a look that could have killed. But it hadn't killed her, and the guy hadn't fired the gun that might have killed that poor girl. He had picked up the gun as if he wanted to prevent anyone else from using it. Though she couldn't be sure that this was his reason for picking up the gun, it was the only reason she could imagine that would have justified the risk of getting caught with the gun in his hand.

 

The car turned right and went to Third Avenue, where it turned left and went to 67th Street, where it turned left and finally stopped. The cop let her out of the car and led her up the steps of an old building with gray stone facing on the first story and brick facing on the upper stories, with arches over the windows.

 

Inside, after checking at a desk, the cop put her in an interview room, where he asked her to wait, telling her that a detective would be with her in a few minutes.

 

It was a lot longer than a few minutes, and while she waited Elsa couldn't help becoming anxious. With all the things that the government was doing to persecute immigrants, she began to wonder if they could deport her because she was born in the Dominican Republic. But she was a U.S. citizen, and she had never committed a crime, so there wasn't any reason for deporting her. Was there?