Brothers of MacArthur Park

April 19, 2011
“Yo Karon…time to get up bro, we’re gonna be late for school”. All I wanted was five for minutes but my older brother, Desmond, wouldn’t have it. “Come on Bro”. I put on my faded Coogi brand blue jeans that, according to me, still had swagger. My brother and I were inseparable since birth; especially after my father abandoned me just last year. This left me, my brother, and my mother to fend for ourselves in the gang-filled, steel cage of MacArthur Park just inside of Southside Chicago.

“Man hurry your ass up Karon, we still got two blocks left and school’s about to start.” I was still sleepy but listened to my brother and caught up with him. Desmond and I barely made it but we took our seats in homeroom. We both excelled in school, but kept it quiet. We didn’t like attention, and we were more worried about getting out of the hood, than being labeled as nerds.

After school we went to basketball practice. I always dread the upcoming suicides as much as I love the scrimmaging. Desmond was the best player in the state of Illinois, but he surprised everyone by signing with Princeton because he wanted to play for a good program. He really wanted to become a high class lawyer. I was on varsity, but everyone thought I was too young to judge on where I will go in the future. Regardless, my mother was extremely proud us. After practice, then we went home and chilled on the couch. We ate our usual supper of Fruit Loops, and went to bed. Our mother tried to bring as much as she could home from the diner but we saved it for her and ate the only things they had lying around. She worked down at Salley’s, which was twelve blocks away, but she walked anyway. She always wanted to save money but there was still never enough.

I always told my family that I had to study with some friends. Actually, I was that he was part of one of the biggest gangs of all Chicago. My brother would have us set financially but our bills kept piling up and I had to do something. The gang was called the 45’s simply because they were based on 45th street. They recruited me a few months ago, but I only joined the gang because they promised to help me family with their money problems. Of course I hated it but I was tired of my mom working double shifts and nobody would hire a 16 year old in that neighborhood. I was new and I was pushed around by the other gang members. I always thought about quitting, but it wasn’t easy and my family really needed the money. It was difficult; I barely had time between school, basketball, and gang life.

It was Saturday and I woke up knowing that today was different because I got a call from one my fellow gang members and he told me to bring my gun. “Aye Karon, you got to bring yo pistol…we gotta fire somebody up”. I took out my 9mm Glock given to all members by the leader. When he got to the corner of 67th street on Pierce Avenue, he saw Desmond. I walked over to the sidewalk, shocked, where Desmond was standing. “Dez… What are you doing here Bro?” Desmond was shocked to see me, but he was scared that everyone would hear them so he started to whisper” Karon, you can’t be here, go home”. You know I love you bro, but I am so mad at you right now. Do you know what kinda stuff happens here bro? I’ll explain all this when we get home, but I have to take care of this right now. Go home Karon.” I started to feel queasy, but didn’t know why. I had no choice but to listen to my brother. Then, just when I started to walk, he heard some shouting and then he saw that this was no regular robbery or carjack. He was called here to help claim new territory. Then to my horror, Desmond went to the other side of the street and joined the 78’s. The 78’s were the 45’s rival gang, and I knew that this was not going to be good.

When all the 45’s took position at their post, the gang leader said “Tonight we gotta grind for 45th street. The only way you get respect is to earn it. That’s why our rookie is gonna take care of one of their strongest members, Desmond Lewis”. I was horrified, but I had to keep my composure. I took my gun out and walked across 67th street. At this point, Desmond saw me walking toward him and left his crowd. Desmond’s gang had a house right there, so it was safe for Desmond to talk me because the rest of his gang went inside. “Bro I thought I told you to go home, I can’t let anything happen to you” Desmond whispered sharply. I could hardly say the next part…“Dez, they want me to kill you.” Desmond didn’t understand until he saw all the 45’s emerge out of the shadows. “Bro, how do we get home? I wanna go home” I started sobbing. Desmond had tears in his eyes, but calmly told me” You gotta do it bro.” “Gotta do what Dez?” I was bawling my eyes out. “You gotta shoot me, Karon. You know they’ll kill us both if we try to escape, and they’ll kill you if you don’t kill me. Someone has to take care of mama, and I love you too much to see you die so young”. So after a few moments passed, I raised my gun but then threw it down and hugged my brother. Desmond looked at me and said” Who knew I would die in my guardian angel’s arms”. They both grabbed each other tight and then a shower of bullets covered 67th street.

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