Twice Like Thirst

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My father who was 43, and getting even older at the time, managed to get his family a home on Pasco’s eastside, an epicenter for gangs and vandalism. After the first two months some new found friends and I joined in on its reputation. Law enforcement was all around the blocks too, adding to the thrill and suspense of running amuck, not getting caught and feeling the excitement. If somebody ever did get caught, it was up to them how they dealt with the arrest, but they always had to remember to not say a word about anything they knew.
Our house was one of two green ones right in the middle of our street. It was an okay house; I tried getting accustomed to it as soon as we started unpacking our belongings. The first night I got high with some neighbors, who tried to get to know me and my brothers. The neighbor’s name was Junior and had two other roommates living with him. That summer of 2009 was very hot. I remember it because my hair had begun to grow longer and it was around the first time I started feeling the scorching heat bounce from my dark warm hair to my whole head and neck. I looked up and down our street multiple times, every day to see if I could spot something or someone interesting. This is where I would spend the next three years and learn a lot about myself through the mistakes I hadn’t made yet.
I met various gangsters on the eastside who would visit in groups of two, three, and even up to six people. Other times they would visit alone. The reason they could always see me was because one of their close friends was living right across the street from my house, so when they tried to see if he was home and he wasn’t, they would go knock on my door to see what’s up. Nothing much was ever on their minds other than crime, drugs, money and sometimes women. That’s all we ever really talked about. As we would talk, I began thinking of all the interesting conversations I’ve had in the past with my friends back in Oregon, and I related them to ones I started having here. We used to talk about life in general, and how we had to live to die, how somebody can’t control their destiny and succumb to their defeat in the end. This is why we understood whenever we heard, “live your life to the fullest.” Religion was also a topic of which was met with various belief systems. We were only teens then, but I still loved how we could come up with interesting conversations. Multiple events in the past two years had molded my mind from a ruthless thug back to the interesting kid I really am.
After work on a Friday, I, my brother and my father were greeted at our house by one of my mother’s brothers named Alex; he lived in Central Oregon at the time. He was visiting us for my cousins’ birthday party the next night, and decided to stay at our house. Both my brothers Tony and Lee had been out most the day leaving me at home to chill, hang out with the family and watch television together. Inevitably, night had fallen. It was already dark and getting even darker by the minute from which I could easily read on a clock top a T.V. [12:22am] in bright red digital numbers. The date was a Friday in 2011, I can’t remember what month it was but it was before Thanksgiving. More of my family was inside our house than there usually was. Alex brought his wife and 3 kids with them, one of which Alex was not the biological father, but rather a step.
I was trying to make my way toward the restroom when I saw my younger brother Lee walk in the house from hanging outside with some of his friends. He grabbed a bat and said something to my older brother Tony, who was lying down in his room trying to sleep. I guess he knew what would happen if he’d still been outside and got noticed by the people he’d helped mug. “Hey dog, the white fools are coming back!” my younger brother said to him. I could over hear his deep voice down the hall. Tony got out of bed and followed him outside in some white basketball shorts, white tank-top and walking in sandals on top of short white socks. Before they closed the door after stepping outside, a cool breeze crept through the opening of the door for it was pretty chili that night. I suspected something was going to happen and curiosity made me take a look outside.
I saw about six people -eight with my brothers- dressed in dark and holding things like bats and knives in their hands. I decided to ignore this whole situation for some reason, which turned out to be a mistake. I stepped into the restroom to beat some dust off my socks that had accumulated on them from hanging sheetrock earlier that day. They felt all dry and powdery causing my feet to itch annoyingly. I then began taking my shirt off to step into the shower and clean all the other fiberglass powder that had landed all over my arms and face.
As soon as I got my shirt off, I heard a loud crashing followed by a horrible scream from the living room. Immediately I thought something outside went wrong as the image of Lee walking with a metal bat couldn’t escape my mind. Startled I rushed out of the bathroom without a shirt and found shattered window glass all over a sofa I slept on, the living room floor, and there was a broken truck window parked in the driveway. There was no sign of Lee or the rest of the others. I walked outside to examine the damage done to our house which was not too bad, two broken windows that would cost $300 to repair. Apparently Tony had foreseen what would happen if he stayed outside, so he made an attempt to slide back in the house. There was a very thin line that could have made the difference between Tony living and dying, that thin line was a locked front door. If Tony hadn’t made it inside we would have left him in the mercy of an angry drunk batter that was anxious to viciously strike someone on their cranium.
Luckily my Uncle Alex was also suspicious of what was happening, and kept his eyes on Tony from inside. Alex opened the door in time for Tony to make a safe entrance before both of them slammed the already heavy door on a guy’s hand.
Outside, my friend Syros, who I’ve known for about two years, was trying to catch his breath after falling repeatedly. He was attempting to walk towards me and my family from down the street where he’d been hit by a glass bottle. Syros was bleeding heavily from his head. Blood was squirting from areas around his temple and back crown of his head, some of which landed on my shirt and fingers, causing me to change shirts and wash my hands.
My sister Nye called the police who got there about five minutes later and attended to my friend’s wounds. I did not hear the full story until later that day, which to me sounded pitiful and unbelievable. It was all over a mere fifteen dollars. Apparently, there had been a house party up a couple of streets from my house that was filled with young, light skinned teenagers and adults who were making a lot of drunken noise. The party eventually got raided and shut down. A large group of about ten to fifteen men were searching to take their energy out on someone, when one of its youngest got mugged causing the victim to alert the rest of “the party.” As ridiculous as this sounds, it forever left an imprint in my mind so that I will think three times about my own actions.
The next morning, my family awoke to a broken living room window covered up with taped cardboard and a broken Chevy window with plastic wrapping. My parents still couldn’t believe what happened and wanted to fix the house window as soon as possible, however, my father was fairly broke that week. This incident, as well as another one that I had been a part of started to mark the end of this “new broken lifestyle” and help me focus on the important things in life like family, a career and prosperity.
I can’t believe I made it two years from hanging in the streets and not been blown or torn away from my family, which could have easily happened at any second. I still thank God every now and then when I think of the past two years and see the same, old, yet troublesome faces I’ve learned to avoid. I had broken a code of loyalty. Those faces do not need me to be able and run the streets, but I still show them respect, letting them know I haven’t forgotten about them or their capabilities. A nice meet and greet is enough to keep everyone calm. I don’t see myself fitting into the thugged out seen anymore. as I did when I was a part of it. Not a day goes by when crime does not cross my mind, but I do my best to overcome that feeling. I fear one day it’ll all come back to me and I will be forced back into the gutter I had recently climbed out of with lashed hands and many flaws, a man.





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