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DC Diamondopolous [Fiction]


A black cloud of smoke near the intersection of Florence and Normandie drifted toward Mrs.

Kim’s California Dry Cleaning store in South Central Los Angeles. She turned the sign to

closed and locked the door. Her husband phoned telling her to come home. The jury had

acquitted the four white police officers accused of beating Rodney King. Trouble had begun.

She’d seen the video of the policemen clubbing the man when he was down. Didn’t

seem right.

The Kims, in their 50s, socialized with and hired only other Koreans. With their two

daughters, they lived the American Dream in a Korean cocoon.

A year before, Soon Ja Du shot Latasha Harlins, a black teenager, in the back of the

head in Du’s convenience store and spent no time in jail. Since then, Mrs. Kim’s black

customers would grab their clothes and leave without saying good-bye. She didn’t kill the

girl, but she felt guilty.

Mrs. Kim hurried as she took the money out of the cash register and put it in a bag with

the day’s receipts. She wanted to leave before Mrs. Johnson came for her 6:00 Wednesday

pick-up. She was a good customer, and they used to make friendly chitchat about their

children. But an awkwardness had grown between her and the tall black woman with dark-

red hair and pretty fingernails.

Mrs. Kim grabbed her keys. She remembered the folding security gate had to be

closed, but when she got to the door, she saw Mrs. Johnson park her car. Mrs. Kim rushed to