The Four Black Loyola High School Grads: (left to right) Victor Thomas, Ralph Moore, Chris Foreman and Erich March. (Photo by Megan Shook)

By Ralph E. Moore Jr.,
Special to the AFRO,
rmoore@afro.com

This is the final entry for The SEARCH, a brilliant fictional series for our readers. Read all four parts online at AFRO.com.

“Victor!” Erich shouted into the air. “Vic! Where are you?” 

“Victor Thomas!… we’re looking for you. Come out. Come out, wherever you are!”

“Shut up that noise before I shoot you,” someone shouted from one of the high rise windows. Erich looked startled but recovered fast enough to shout. “Kiss my a—” but Chris jumped from behind and put his hand over Erich’s mouth.  

“Thanks, Chris.  I’m not ready to be target practice for someone on a humble,” I said.  Suddenly we heard a blast, “BLAM.”

Someone threw a cherry bomb out a window to send us on our way.  Chris, the track star, got to the precinct first.  Bent over with his hands on his knees he muttered his motto half to himself, “curro ergo sudo!” Latin for “I think, therefore I sweat.” 

I wasn’t too far behind and Erich wasn’t too far behind me. “I should have drove the Camaro up here,” he said out of breath.  “We tried to tell you that!” Chris and I said at the same time.

At the desk in the precinct, I made introductions. 

“This is Chris Foreman, Erich March and I’m Ralph Moore,” I said. “We are here in town looking for a friend, classmate of ours by the name of Victor Thomas.” 

“Wait here just a second. I think I might have something for you,”  Sergeant Harold Johnson said to us as he slid out of his elevated desk chair and stepped to the back office for a second.

“Wow!” Chris said. “This might be a lucky break.” And just as he said that Erich said, “Turn around, guys. Something’s up.”

Three officers were standing behind us with handcuffs for us. “What’s this?,” I asked. “You’re under arrest!” Sergeant Johnson told us.  “When you knocked off that liquor store last night, you dropped your identification card during your get away.  Read them their rights, Harry!”

The sergeant then said, “before you cuff ‘em, you boys wanna show us some ID?” Erich and Chris whipped out their wallets faster than Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke on TV.  I reached for my back pocket only to remember it was in my duffle bag, the one that was stolen the night before.  “Officer, I can explain.”

It worked for Erich and Chris, they had I.D.s on them. Mine was the one found on the floor of the liquor store and I couldn’t prove I hadn’t dropped it there.

For my one phone call I called a lawyer friend, Larry Gibson, back in Baltimore.  He promised he’d get back to me, but he never did. 

Six hours after they let me out, the officer said, “Thank your friend, Mr. Gibson. He paid your bail and negotiated your court appearance.  Collect your paperwork at the front desk.  I think you’re due in court on Oct. 4.”

“Did you say Oct. 4?” 

“Yeah, why?”

“That’s Victor Thomas’s birthday (and my baby sister, Emily’s too, matter of fact).”

Erich and Chris were upstairs in the lobby, listening to the radio. “We heard some great jams, while we were waiting,” said Erich. “‘Soul Man’ by Sam and Dave, ‘Do You Love Me?’ by the Contours and ‘Tears of a Clown.’”

Ralph E. Moore Jr.

“We thought of you when that last one came on,” said Chris. “You’re always trying to be funny, but stuck downstairs in that cell.  Did they feed you bread and water, son?”

I was in no mood for prison humor.  

I went to the desk, signed some stuff, got my belongings and pretended to be listening to the desk sergeant as he proceeded to lecture me on the need for me to make my court appearance in October. 

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