A Lesson Learned

December 14, 2009
By , Benevides, Brazil
As Devon woke up that rainy morning, with the unceasing rain pounding on the window, he was decided to do anything needed to be part of the Northridge Boys. The Northridge Boys was a small gang of rowdy neighborhood boys, many of which had dropped out of school and loved the life of total freedom and pleasure. Devon had thought it over for some days now and finally set his mind on wanting to be accepted by the rough kids. No one is going to stop me he thought, not even Mom or Kevin. Kevin was his only brother and was a few years older than he was. He had just started his freshman year in college, and often acted like Devon’s father ever since he lost him. Devon hated it. He also hated how he was always being treated like a child. “Be careful with this, Devon. Be careful with that,” they’d say, “Remember to clean up your room and do your chores.” Not anymore though, he thought, as he walked out into the dreary rain. They’ll know who the real Devon is. From now on I’ll be respected.

During lunch hour, Devon made his way towards the tall, sturdy gang leader of the Northridge Boys, Carl. Across the street, two blocks away from Oakdale High, where Devon studied, stood a few of the gang members all huddled in front of an old abandoned lot. As he walked up to Carl, they all stood staring blankly at Devon as though there were something wrong with him. Carl stood motionless with a cigarette in his mouth. His view fixed into Devon’s pale green eyes. “Who are you?” Carl asked with an evil tone of voice. “My name is Devon,” he answered nervously, “I live around here.” “Oh yeah, I’ve seen you before. You’re always walking around with that short, blonde kid, right?” “Yeah, that’s right,” Devon answered, “his name is Blake”. “So, why are you here, Devon? What would you possibly want with us, anyways?” Carl demanded. “Well, I came here to know if there is some way I could join you guys. Because the truth is that I’ve always wanted to be a hood. My father used to be a hood and loved the life in the streets,” Devon replied. Carl turned his head to the side. “I don’t know Devon,” Carl shook his head lightly. “You sure don’t look like you could be one of us,” he murmured, as he blew some smoke rings into the chilly air. “Come on, I’ll do anything,” Devon insisted. Silence broke out. “Okay, fine,” Carl finally agreed, “I guess I can make a deal with you. How about this: If you snitch a hundred dollars from the convenience store down the street you’re one of us.” “And that’s it?” Devon asked surprised. “Yep,” Carl grinned. “Are you sure?” Devon went on. “I’m positive,” Carl answered. “Then it’s a deal,” Devon stretched out his hand. “You got it,” Carl said as he reached out for Devon’s hand, “How about you come meet us again here after school, tomorrow?” “Sure,” Devon called out, as he turned away and headed back to school.

The following day, as he walked alone to school, Devon was awfully nervous and uptight. For some reason, he wasn’t at all nervous when he agreed on the idea of robbing the store, yesterday. But as he thought over it, he found it more and more risky. It was what Devon wanted but at the same time he was unsure about the whole situation. When he arrived at school, he couldn’t stand still. “What’s wrong with you Devon?” Blake asked, as they waited for their Physics teacher to begin class. “Nothing,” Devon answered in a tremulous voice, “I’m fine.” “I know you’re not fine, man,” Blake protested, “Come on, tell me what’s wrong.” Devon sat in silence, while his right foot shook restlessly. Devon eventually gave in and went on telling Blake everything that was going on with him, and his decision in joining the Northridge Boys. “I can’t stand being the way I am today, man,” Devon went on, after he finished telling his story. “You can’t just do that,” Blake said, “Things aren’t simply going to change and altogether get better if you become one of them, Devon. You can’t even guarantee you’ll enter the gang. They might just be fooling with you.” “Yeah, I don’t know,” Devon muttered and then paused, “but I’ve got to at least try, you know. We can still be friends and all.” “Yeah, sure,” Blake said in a gloomy voice, as his head stooped, “but that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m worried with you getting into trouble over some stupid thing.” “Don’t worry,” Devon patted his back, “you just chill, alright?”

That afternoon, in front of the empty lot, the Northridge Boys were all gathered in full number. Carl sat on a rusty barrel, smoking a cigar. “Are you ready, boy?” Carl called out to Devon, as he headed towards them. “I sure am,” Devon replied, as he smiled. “I’ve made a plan that I’m sure will work perfectly!” Carl began with excitement. Devon perked up as he began: “Four of our boys, plus me, will head over to the store with you. When we arrive, you’ll get something off one of the shelves and head to the cashier to pay for it, while the rest of us start fooling around, making a big mess out of the place. When the cashier opens the cash register while attending you, he’ll see the mess and run over to us. That’s when you rush to the cash register, grab a fistful of money, and run off. Does it sound okay?” “Sounds great,” Devon replied as they started walking towards the store.

Everything went as planned when they arrived. Devon went to pay for a Coke while the other boys began making a mess out of the place. Chips and candy were being thrown everywhere. The cashier stared furiously at the rowdy boys and headed over to them with a baseball bat. “That’s enough boys,” he yelled, “or I’ll call the cops.” That’s when Devon went for the cash register. He quickly stuck his hands in the pile of cash. But he all of sudden felt a strong hand come down on his shoulder, giving him no chance to even stick the cash in his pocket. The man was another employee who had been working at the back part of the store when he heard the racket. “What do you think you’re doing, kid,” the man said in a low voice. “I’m so sorry,” Devon replied as he glanced to see the rest of the boys all run out of the store. “I’ll be nice to you this time, but I’m going to hand you over to the cops next time I catch you,” he said, “Do you understand?” “Yes, sir,” Devon replied as he was released from the man’s firm grasp.

“Well, I guess you learned your lesson, man,” Blake smiled as Devon finished telling him everything that had happened. “Oh, I sure did,” Devon went on as they walked home.

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