Queens Hospital Center July 13, 1993
The smell of a hospital is one that nearly anyone can recognize. That smell of disinfectant, plastics, effluvia, even blood. But to a certain young boy sitting in the waiting room of Queens Hospital's ER, it was all completely strange. He had never had the pleasure of sitting for hours in a room as stark as the face of an egg. Waiting...just waiting. For what, he wondered. A doctor? He'd seen a lot of them walking around. Nurses too. He was here because his mother had wakened him in the dead of night, and told him they had to go to a hospital for some reason. He'd asked her why, but she'd already hurried out of the room, leaving him to his curiosity and to get into his shorts and a t-shirt.
The drive there had been traveled at nearly breakneck speed. If his grandfather had seen the way his mother was driving, he'd have a stroke. He knew his dad would've just laughed. He was always laughing. Where was Dad anyway? He never saw his father come home at night. His mother had told him that he always came home late because he had to make sure everybody in New York was safe, but she always said that with a hint of annoyance in her voice. And that kind of confused him. He worshipped his dad. He was a cop. And cops were the most awesome people in the world. What could she possibly not like about Dad keeping New York safe?
All these questions made his head swim. Mom had left about fifteen minutes earlier to "go check on something." When she left, a nurse got up from the desk and brought him a blanket. He thanked her, and covered himself up. He wanted to be awake when Mom came back, but fatigue always seems to win out when you're eight years old.
He woke up to his mom kneeling beside him, gently shaking his shoulder.
He snapped to. All drowsiness was immediately gone. His curiosity might finally be satisfied here. But then, looking at his mother's ghostly white face and tear-streaked cheeks, maybe he didn't want it satisfied anymore. Kathryn Young opened her mouth and began telling the hardest news she would ever give.
"Jimmy...you know how Daddy works to keep people safe?" The boy nodded. "Well, there are some people in this city that policemen like Dad have to make sure don't really hurt someone bad." She paused. "One of those people shot Dad tonight when he was walking home."
The boy's mouth fell open. "But how could he shoot Dad? Dad's got a gun. Why couldn't he shoot the bad guy first?"
His mother shook her head, her lips quivering. "I don't know honey," Her voice caught. "But...Daddy didn't make it."
James Young's heart shattered at that very moment. He threw himself into his mother's arms, and did the only thing he could. He cried. His father, the man he loved, admired, adored, more than any other in the world, was dead. He felt empty. And in the worst heat wave that New York City had seen in a decade, James Young felt nothing but cold.