There's Been a Shooting
by Daniel A. Olivas

Your day is chugging
along pretty well:
You got your nine-year-old
son to camp on time and
now you click away
on your computer
drafting an opposition
to a motion for a
new trial in a nasty case
you’ve just won.

Most of your co-workers
sit in the Ronald Reagan
State Building’s cafeteria
eating lunch and tossing
loving barbs at each other
in the way only litigators
can appreciate.

You didn’t join them
because you had lunch
plans at 1:00 with a former
law clerk who was now a
young attorney in a boutique
Beverly Hills firm.

As you type, you decide
that you could use a little
jazz so you turn on your
RCA clock radio. After
a few moments of music,
the disc jockey breaks in
and says words that don’t
quite register:



"North Valley Jewish Community Center"


"at least three children wounded"


"there may be more than one shooter."

These words
(these words)
finally seep into your
consciousness and you yell,
"Oh my God!"
and start to call your wife
at work.

No answer.
Just voicemail.
You leave a
message telling her what you’ve

You try her parents’ house
because they live near the Center.

Your own parents live too far.

You finally reach your mother-in-law
and tell her to get to the camp to
find your son. Now!

You run
out the door
and head to
the parking

You arrive at the car
and your legs start to
buckle so you lean into
the cool metal of your
Honda Accord. You realize
that you had not taken a
breath since you left the
building so you concentrate
on breathing


while repeating to yourself,

"I have to get to him."

You feel in control again
and get into the car to start
your drive from downtown
L.A. to Granada Hills

not knowing.

As you break the speed limit
and listen to the news, you
remember when you studied
for your conversion to Judaism.

One day, your Rabbi asked you,
"Why do you want to take on
the mantle of a people who have
been hated and slaughtered
throughout history?"

It was a good question but you
offered a snappy answer:

I am Chicano. I know prejudice.

But now you wonder how you
would answer the Rabbi’s question.

Your mind is bouncing to
unspeakable thoughts,

Is he dead?

You shake your head to clear
your mind and you think of
a song your son learned at camp
last month, sung to the tune of
"Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen:

Pharaoh, Pharaoh.
Whoa baby, let my people go!
Yeah, yeah, yeah!

And you try to conjure up the smell
of your son’s hair as you wonder
if you and your wife have been
made childless this hot August day

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