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Loss of an Innocence
I thought I lived in a safe neighborhood in Los Angeles. There is a variety of people, all sorts of people old people, young people, babies you name it .It was pretty safe around there. There’s a mini-market, a place to buy ice cream, and a donut shop. It was a safe place you don’t really see bad things happen there. People usually hang out outside of their houses and just talk and gossip about random things. I’ve lived there my whole life so I should know.
It felt like a typical hot spring morning in May 2010. I woke up, ate a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, and then my 11-year old cousin, Bryan, came to my house to hang out and play some video games. He's three years younger than me, and still immature. He can be as wild as a squirrel running with a nut.
In the middle of playing FIFA, Bryan said, “Let’s go buy ice cream!”
“Fine, but I’m going by myself,” I replied.We’ve gone together once or twice and never again. He’s always running around in the streets like a crazy man and that's dangerous.
I walked out of my building and crossed the street. About thirty seconds later I heard some car wheels screech. It caused me to turn and look. I saw two guys running out of a car and they each took out a gun and fired at a man walking with a little boy. The BOOM! of the gunshots hit my ears and I instinctively ducked.
As I hid, one shooter went running up the hill and the other one ran down the street as fast as a cat being chased by a dog. Three cop cars came seconds later. The victim walked like two to three steps and fell on his back into a pool of his own blood. The little boy that was with him, a four-year old with a buzz cut and a backpack, just ran across the street without even looking. Fortunately, nothing happened to him.
After hearing the sound of the gunshots, the streets suddenly filled with witnesses, mothers and young people, who were scared and worried. The shooters looked like gang-bangers, but the victim didn’t. People at first thought it was a random shooting. Later on, rumors quickly spread that the victim used to be affiliated with a gang. In a weird way people were relieved by this.
While I looked around for the shooters, to make sure they were gone, I heard my phone ringing in the midst of the cop car sirens, helicopters, and people yelling. I answered it, still scared of what would happen next. I heard my mom.
“Raul, are you okay?” she asked. I could hear the worry in her voice. “Where are you?”
I stared at the red and blue cop lights still shocked of the situation and answered, “Yes I'm okay. I'm outside." I watched the sun going down and my body started tingling. I imagined them coming back and I started to get worried and scared.
“Stay there,” she answered. “I’m coming out.”
Afterwards, me and my mom stayed outside for like an hour and we saw the the man that got shot on the pavement laying down on the floor and the police covered him with a white blanket. The man died with three shots to the chest and one to the arm. We also saw the little boy, with three cops surrounding him, walking up the street. I guess the police were going to take him home and telling the victim’s family what had happened. Looking back, I wonder how he got through this. I still remember the little boy’s round head with the buzz-cut, as he pointed all over the place, looking confused.
After that day I felt scared to go outside for days. I felt paranoid that the same shooters were going to come back and start shooting again. Four days later, my mom and I went out side and we could still see the blood stains on the sidewalk, and drops of blood leading to a dark stain on the street where he died. The red color, still bright as if the blood was fresh out of his body. We walked by and I just remembered all that I saw. I was still scared because I had never witnessed a killing before in real life. On TV you see it coming; you know what’s going to happen. On the street it happens as fast as lightning.
Eight months after the accident, I walk the same street. I still have the flashbacks, but I try to ignore them. Sounds, like fireworks or screeching wheels or even a trashcan falling on the street make me suddenly stop and look around. Sometimes I can forget, but it’s always in the back of my head. My neighborhood doesn’t feel as safe as before. Now, I’m more aware of who’s around me and who I hang out with. I feel more aware of what I do and when I see something strange outside.