Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Friend the Monster

I was 16 when I woke up on that particular evening. Faint rays of light from the setting sun managed to partially seep in through the black curtains and heavy pale blinds to ease the normally dark shadow of my room. I did not immediately get up from the bed. Instead I remained lying on my back staring at a ceiling. I was still annoyed and disappointed by a sudden turn of events that had been transpiring.

A close friend, a girl named Eurydice, started dating another very close friend, Argus a few months earlier. Despite my outward smiles and support I felt little happiness about any of it. Secretly, every night when I was alone, I was having fist fights with a green-eyed monster. My true feelings about the situation invited this new and terribly alien opponent to a rematch again and again no matter how hard I tried to feel differently.

The first time I saw Eurydice I immediately caught feelings for her. She was a pretty, olive skinned girl with curly, raven hair. When looking into her large brown eyes it was easy to see mysteries and dreams that made every smile seem secretive. She was a witty type of spirit that loved to create, laugh and question. Unfortunately Argus saw her through the same lenses at the same time. He was also much quicker and braver about approaching her.

Worse, Eurydice was completely smitten by his arrogance, dim-wits, and good looks. Yet, to be honest it was those same dim-wits, plus his ability not to take most things serious, that made him one of my best friends at the time. He was fair-skinned with a mop of curly brown hair, and defiant gray eyes that accompanied his constant smirk. Though I was taller than Argus, he was more muscular due to his constant years of football. Despite the jealousy I felt over Eurydice, part of me looked up to him because Argus was the type of person that was completely comfortable in his skin.

No matter. I was his friend and he was mine. So, even though I did not want to hang out that particular evening, I promised earlier that day I would show up to meet him. No one was home when I left my room, went down stairs, and exited through the front door. The sun was all but gone as I walked down the street towards the agreed upon place. The railroad tracks were a shortcut to the bridge. On hot summer days those dusty, rocky passages would bake beneath the sun and then regurgitate that heat back into the evening air.
Argus was nowhere to be found when I reached the bridge so I learned over the railing and stared down into the waters of the creek. I noticed my boots were slightly dusty and scuffed from the walk, so I made a mental note to wipe them off later. While waiting I listened to the impromptu choir of crickets and frogs against the distant sounds of children playing somewhere amongst the quiet suburb.

My boy, Walt.” Argus called out as he reached the start of the bridge. He seemed genuinely happy we were hanging out. Such made me smile a little despite my earlier feelings.

What’s up?” I looked up from the water towards him.

Nothing much.” Argus replied. He seemed almost sad and that confused me. “What’s been up with you today?”

Nothing really. I have been asleep most of the day because I had a really bad headache.” I stood up straight from the railing and slipped my hands into my pockets. “Did you stay home all day too?”

No. I went and hung out with Eurydice for a little while.” He shrugged.

Is everything alright?” I asked with some internal hesitation. I really did not want to get on the subject but I did not want to leave him hanging if something was wrong.

Yeah, I guess. Just-” Argus shook his head and that time I definitely could tell something was bothering him. “But fuck it, you know?”

Fighting again?” I asked curiously.

Yeah, something like that.” Argus looked around once before sliding his hands into the pockets of his oversized, gray jeans. “She was being a stupid so things happened, but fuck her, I don’t feel like talking about it right now.”

Cool.” I shrugged not wanting to force the issues. “Want to walk or something? You look pretty bummed about it.”

Yeah,” Argus nodded then motioned for me to follow him down the tracks. “I was thinking about going to the store to grab a soda or something. You up for it?”

Sounds like a plan to me.” I turned in the direction that would lead towards the liquor store.

I didn’t mean that store, Walt. Besides, they charge way too much for, like, everything. Trying to buy a pack of gum from them would probably cost $2.” Argus shook his head.

Then where?” I asked with some confusion.

Let’s walk to that supermarket over near the Drive-In. They have all sorts of cheap shit.” Argus said before taking a step back.

Sure, if you want to.” I said as I began following him. “Not like there is much else to do. It might be kind of nice to walk a little further anyway.”

Oh yeah?” Argus asked curiously while we walked down the tracks.

Yeah, haven’t been out and about in about two days. To be honest it feels good to be out right now.” I explained.

Dude, you should get out more.” He replied simply.

Says you.” I quipped.

Pft, that is good enough. I’m like some sort of expert on this sort of stuff.” Argus said with a brief laugh.

Our conversation jumped several topics as we made our way towards our destination. We talked about college, the future, movies, video games, music, clothes, etc. Finally leaving the hot, dusty trail of the railroad tracks, we crossed a lush green landscape newly created by the city for a beautifying effort. Admittedly, all the flowers and trees were really working. After jay-walking the rather busy street, Argus and I crossed the big asphalt parking lot and walked through the doors of the supermarket.

The pale lights of the store were an artificial afternoon stuffed inside of a building. To say I found it uncomfortable would be an understatement. We did not immediately go for the goal that brought us to the store. We wandered about looking at whatever caught our attention for a brief moment. At some point we arrived at the magazine aisle where we killed time by flipping through the pages concerning video games or music.

Goddamn Mace and Puffy.” Argus fumed about an article featuring both artists with a shake of his head. “Why do people listen to this fake shit?”

Not a clue.” A shrugged while flipping through a copy of the same magazine to find what article he was annoyed with. “Can’t say I’m a fan.”

Isn’t it enough they keep playing his crap on the radio and TV?” Argus glanced up from the magazine. “And what’s up with dudes dressing like him and those other ass clowns on his label? They look stupid as hell wearing all that shiny, bright, foil looking shit.”

They can’t help themselves. Their idiots.” I replied causing Argus to laugh.

Don’t lie, Walt. You know you hide a couple of his CD’s in your room.” Argus joked while sitting the magazine down.

You are only saying that to see how I feel about your dreams of becoming one of his back up dancers.” I did the same with my magazine as we laughed and began moving towards what we had walked all that way for. Eventually we found our way out and wandered back towards are neighborhood. Despite his occasionally laughter Argus still seemed morose during the walk back. We eventually arrived at the bridge. He finished most of his soda before tossing the bottle into the waters below.

Hey, don’t litter, asshole.” I joked from where I stood on the opposite side. “Hasn’t the wisdom of Captain Planet taught you anything?”

Dude, there are three shopping carts down there already.” Argus replied with a smirk.

Don’t mean you have to add to it.” I countered. “Thanks to you an entire family dolphins are going to die in about 10 minutes from now.”

You’re right, Walt.” Argus added with mock sincerity and lowered his head in shame. “I don’t think I can live with myself.”

Right.” I laughed causing him to do the same.

And yeah, I went to Eurydice’s house today.” Argus suddenly said as he glanced over at me then turned back to the water.

Oh.” I was not really sure how to respond because I had forgotten about the earlier topic and it seemed odd he would bring it up again so suddenly. “Is everything alright? Did something happen?”

We were fuckin around, you know? Just kissing, touching, and that sort of stuff.” Argus explained while still staring down into the water.

And that bothered you?” There was a small pang of jealousy but such did not out weight my concern to why he seemed so sad and distant.

No. No.” Argus hesitated for a moment and glanced over at me.

Dude, seriously, what’s wrong?” I asked with building concern.

Nothing.” Argus turned his eyes back to the water appearing more distressed. “Just, well, I got her shirt and bra off, you know? So we kept kissing. Then she started acting all funny and shit. I had unzipped her jeans and slid my hand down into her pants-

Whoa,” I stopped Argus with a nervous laugh. “I’m not sure she would want me hearing the details to all this, besides-

Walt, just—just listen.” Argus tone suddenly became irritated as he looked over at me.

Yeah, ok. Sorry…” I rubbed the back of my neck becoming concerned again.

No, it’s cool. Just,” Argus shook his head and concentrated on the water again. “, she kept grabbing all over my dick, and stuff. You know? But when I got her pants off she started acting all funny, Walt, like she suddenly didn’t want to anymore.” He shook his head. “She was just playing goddamn games like always.”

Ah, so that is what the argument was about I take it?” I asked curiously. “Look, maybe you should call her and-

We didn’t have a fight, Walt. She just kept fucking with me.” Argus said angrily as he turned his eyes to me again and stood up straight from the railing. “I got tired of that shit finally. Know what I mean?”

Don’t tell me the two of you broke up?” I asked in disbelief. I was not totally innocent in that situation. Yes, I sincerely wanted Argus and Eurydice to be happy, but that jealousy poisoned some of my intentions. The moment I felt that small spark of hope I instantly regretted it. I desperately wanted to be a better person than that.

Yeah, we kind of broke up I guess or something.” Argus glanced down and found a rock on the bridge. Picking it up, he easily chucked it to the water below.

Do you want me to talk to her for you?” I asked surprising even myself. “Maybe there was some sort of misunderstanding, you know?”

Like I said, I got tired of her fucking with me, man. She thinks just because she looks good, I have to take her shit all the time.” Argus chucked another rock into the water below. “So, I was like fuck it.”

Wait, I don’t understand. What happened?” I asked in confusion.

I pulled her fucking panties off anyway.” Argus began again with noticeable agitation. “So she started whining and telling me to stop. I told her she shouldn’t been grabbing all over my dick all afternoon like a cock tease.”

Argus?” I asked with a voice quieted by a sudden dread that slithered from the back of my skull, down my neck, and over my spine, thick and icy. The end of the story already seemed apparent but I was in denial.

She was a cock tease, right?” Argus continued on angrily but still was not looking at me. “Eurydice, that bitch, just kept playing with me every day. Acting like she wanted to go all the way, I show up and she changes her mind. What kind of shit is that? How is that right?” He finally looked over at me seeming to search my face. What was he searching for? To this day I am not really sure. “So, I took off those panties and got what I wanted.”

Argus?” I asked once more without being sure exactly what it was I was questioning.

Things went quiet between us for a while. That tense silence was filled by the flowing water and a train passing in the distance. Argus kept staring down at the creek, concentrating, and focusing on it far too hard. I was surprised by a sudden and bitter laugh of seeming contempt that that rose from him.

Eurydice screamed but I didn’t give a shit. I just kept fucking her even when she told me it hurt without lubrication.” Argus was still laughing but it was a sound without any humor. “I was fucking pissed by then so I told her ‘oh, here comes your lube.’ And I busted a nut in her and just kept going. Fucking cock tease started crying, dude. Started to say some shit about how she loved me and wouldn’t tell if I stopped. I told her stupid ass I would stop when I wanted to.”

Wait.” I laughed as I suddenly caught on and some small relief washed over me. “You’re just fuckin with me, right?”

Nope.” Argus said flatly as he looked me in the face once more. “I fucked her right there in her living room, on the floor, by the couch. She got what was coming to her. After we finished she started blubbering about how she felt like she couldn’t walk or some bullshit like that. Whatever, she enjoyed that shit and just didn’t want to say it.”

Dude, seriously, enough now. Stop playing.” I wanted to hear him suddenly burst out in laughter at me for having believed him. Deep down I was praying he would. I needed him to laugh. I knew it was coming at any moment and I was waiting for it with all my heart. I stared at him waiting for it. “Argus-

I’m not fucking playing!” Argus nearly yelled at me in sudden anger that caught me by surprise. “I told you I fucked her and that is what happened. It’s not my fault. She wanted it anyway.” He stood up from the railing again and turned to face me as he grew more irate. “What the fuck you trippin so hard for? I don’t give a shit so why do you?”

What did you do?” I asked a question that had already been answered. I stared at him in continued disbelief. The full understanding of what he had said was slowly dawning on me, and I just could not believe Argus, careless, funny Argus, who I looked up to, would do something to Eurydice. That he would do anything so horrible to anyone. I saw this kid return a wallet full of money. I heard the ugly words clearly but they just made absolutely no sense coming from him. “You raped, Eurydice…” I trailed off as the words touched the air between us for the first time.

What are you talking about? I didn’t rape anyone!” Argus snapped angrily. “Eurydice wanted it. Why the fuck else would she let me take all her clothes off? Huh?” The question seemed to be aimed at both of us as there was a look of confusion added with his anger.

Dude, she was crying. You even fuckin said she told you to stop. You raped her!” The words were an incantation that razed and salted our friendship with a curse that could never be broken. “What the hell is wrong with you? You raped, Eurydice!”

Shut up!” Argus ordered furiously as he took a step towards me. “I didn’t rape goddamn, Eurydice. Why are you going ballistic over this? I’m supposed to be your boy, remember?”

You don’t get it. You raped Eurydice. What the fuck is wrong with you?” I looked him over trying to understand what the hell had just happened to my friend. “What are you going to do? How could you do that to Eurydice? She’s our friend. She trusted you.” I wanted an answer and at the same time I felt selfish for some reason. Argus stared at me for a while as if he did not quite get what I was saying. It was the look of a deer trapped by the oncoming glare of headlights. For the briefest moment of time I felt sorry for him.

Fuck you, Walt.” Argus suddenly said viciously with a mixture of anger and hurt. “You can go and kiss her ass if you want then. Maybe you just have a hard on hearing about Eurydice getting fucked? Is that it? You liked hearing about that cock tease getting what she wanted!” He laughed bitterly and the sound was hideous to my ears. It managed to both hurt and repulse me at the same time. I did like Eurydice. I had feelings for her that tittered between that uncomfortable place of friendship and romance.

I am not completely sure what happened during those few seconds. The sudden explosion of hatred and anger took me across the short distance between us with an uncontrolled scream, before I snatched him by the throat and threw Argus with as much strength as I could gather. He tumbled hard when he hit the ground several feet away.

Scooting backwards when I took a few steps towards him, he watched me with disbelieving, wide eyes. I caught myself somehow. For a moment, for a split second in time I truly understood the urge to kill. I thought about wrapping my hands around Argus throat, and just squeezing until the life was milked from his lungs.

Fuck you!” I yelled furiously at Argus while trying hard to restrain all the dark, ugly things suddenly poisoning my every thought. “I should kill you!” I took a step towards him as my fist tightened, begging relentlessly to be introduced into the equation. “I should kill you where you are sitting you worthless, fuckin bastard! Eurydice was our fuckin friend! She trusted you!”

I felt enraged and saddened at the same time. I was not sure what else to do. Part of me wanted to continue the fight but another part of me was yelling not to. I looked between Argus and the way home. I hated him for hurting Eurydice and for ruining our friendship. Those were the last words I ever spoke to Argus. I turned walking away as quickly as I could.

I was some distance away from the track when I suddenly felt nauseated. Maybe it was all the strong emotions exploding inside of me or maybe it was the thought of Eurydice being violated. Whatever it was it caused me to stop and become sick near the track wall when my stomach lurched forward. It might have lasted less than a minute but I felt as if I was throwing up for an hour. By the time it was done I needed to lean on the wall to remain standing.

Raising my face to the sky, I closed my eyes and began trying to control my breathing. I still felt so much hatred and anger. Reason ignited and burned under the mixture, and suddenly I was angry at both Eurydice and Argus. There was a vicious stab of jealousy lodged in my heart, green and fiery, spurting and churning like an insane lime fissure.

Eurydice should have choose me!” I suddenly reasoned inside of my head. If she had been with me none of this would have happened. I respected her. I supported her. I looked out for her and that clearly made me the better choice. Eurydice went with someone more popular and such was her undoing. It was a poor goddamn decision and she was paying dearly for it.

Then as suddenly as it had begun the pure hatred that corrupted my thoughts were gone, and the green-eyed monster won a definitive victory. Though no one was there to judge me for those private thoughts, I felt terribly guilty and partially sickened with myself. Who was I to be hurt in all this? How could I think that way about someone I loved?

It was dark on the tracks and nothing but a few distant, orange-yellow lights stood as sentinels against the night. Some belonged to the isolated factory across the field and others surrounded an expensive, gated community across the creek. I decided to walk to the corner store Argus did not want to go to earlier. There is no poetic way to describe how I felt while walking to my new destination. I felt like a monster.

It seemed like I was floating as I left the railway and began down the silent street. My thoughts kept drifting back to Eurydice. I wanted to go see her. To tell her I was sorry for everything that happened. The thoughts constantly repeated themselves over, and over even as I arrived at the liquor store. I stepped through the entrance and out of the night.

I found a lime soda.

I paid the man.

Then walked back out into darkness.

I washed my mouth out with the drink, spitting into the grass beside the store before beginning the walk home. I thought about going down the street to visit my cousins or back across the creek to see my friend Brandon. Then I decided I wanted to be alone so I walked back down the tracks and hopped the fence leading to my backyard.
For the first time ever that brick wall felt like a challenge but I still managed. I stepped onto the cement of the basketball court and stared ahead at my own home. Most of the lights were out except for the upstairs light in my mother’s room. It pitched a faint, pale glow into the backyard like a weak spotlight to an opening play. Instead I went over to the Gazebo and walked inside before sitting on one of the large white wood chairs.

Leaning my head on the back, I closed my eyes, feeling guilty, bitter and lonely. I seriously contemplated calling the cops to report what happened but I wondered if that would have been what Eurydice wanted. What if she denied the whole thing? What if it made the situation worse somehow? I did not want to try and carry the weight of that decision. So out of fear and uncertainty I remained inactive. It stayed that way until the dawn began chasing away the darkness of the night.

I ended my staring into nothing and silently slipped into the house through the side entrance. It was early but I already knew I was going to spend the day alone. After entering my room, closing and locking the door, I fell onto the bed. While lying there my thoughts eventually drifted to Eurydice again. I still wished I could tell her I was sorry. I wanted to hug her and let her cry into my shoulder if it helped any. I wanted to make everything better. I wanted nothing more than to make everything right.

However this was not a situation from a story book or sitcom. There would be no final dramatic moment. No quick resolve to clear up the entire problem before the next adventure. There was nothing but pain and suffering with no real resolution.

My room always felt like a haven from the world but it was no sanctuary from my thoughts and conscience. I lie there until the thin black veil of sleep fell over my face and a monster far worse than the green beast arrived to make sleep a nightmare.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Laugh With Me

Chaos is destructive, callous and indiscriminate but never personal. However that is the reality of existence. The universe is not in a state of peaceful stasis. Stars erupt into unimaginable conflagrations that engulf everything within millions of miles. Others suddenly collapse with such tremendous force they begin voraciously consuming everything in their path. Massive rocks the size of continents hurdle through space until slamming into another celestial body, and even as all this, and much more is constantly happening, some barely understood force hurdles entire galaxies through the incomprehensible void.

Wait. This is all far too grand and expansive. Let’s start over and perhaps zoom in.

Chaos never announces itself before it arrives. Its presence is only realized when it is much too late. It rushes in as a wildfire that suddenly banks right with a hard wind, or the massive fist of an earthquake laying everything low.

Forgive me. This is not right either. We are closer to the heart of this story but the lens is still out of focus, still much too broad, and impersonal, taking any weight and meaning away from these words. It must be filtered through humanity for this to truly begin taking shape.

What exactly changes when the human element is added to chaos? It is no longer a formless or victimless event. It becomes audacious, personal and offensive. Chaos is no longer pure once humanity is involved. It is now summoned as the sudden BLAST of an explosion in a quiet suburb, the gunshot in a crowded place, or a growing riot through an enraged city street. Yet, despite the obvious contempt for the order we humans try so hard to build, you know what also makes chaos so goddamn attractive?

It has a way of singing, and despite that song being shrill, unintelligible, and frightening, it is also beautiful in the way anyone listening can pick up an instrument and join the orchestra. All it requires is letting go, giving in and accepting the nihilistic truth that everything caught in its wake, including you, will doubtlessly be consumed. It is why Nero played a lyre as Rome was swallowed by an inferno. He could hear and feel the fatalistic joy of the song. If anything Nero was just singing along.

There are some places in the world where chaos brims closer to the surface then others, always threatening to erupt as sudden violence at any given moment. Growing up in East Oakland definitely felt like one of those places. A misunderstanding, an impolite word, a misinterpreted glance, or just a perceived challenge is all it took to cause fissures.

When I was around 12 years old, my Second Oldest Brother somehow managed to get his hands onto a VHS tape that had “Faces of Death” volumes 1 through 5 recorded on it. I watched that VHS daily for weeks until my mother happened to catch wind of what “Faces of Death” actually was, found the entire thing terribly morbid, and demanded I stop watching it. I did of course…for a time.

“Faces of Death” was not some sort of eyes and mind deflowering for me. By that age I had witnessed a great many acts of real life violence. There were a number fights, stabbings, shootings, etc. To this day two of my most vivid memories from childhood are of watching a man knock his wife down, climb on top of her, then begin repeatedly punching her in the face until people were forced to pull him off. And the second is of seeing a young man shot through the back of the skull while he was talking to friends.

So, why would I watch such a grim and ridiculous mixture of faked and real acts of violent deaths so much? The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that I was significantly desensitized. Up until that age all the violence and chaos was simply what defined reality to me. I had never lived anywhere else outside of that tumultuous little microcosm. I knew other places existed, read all about many faraway places but they all almost seemed like fantasies. I found the entire concept of “Faces of Death” more fascinating than anything else. Each time someone died during one of the segments I often wondered what happened to their soul. I always hoped they were able to go to a better place.

The second reason is because I often had a chance to sit with my two oldest brothers, and some of their friends while they were watching the tape. Back then it always felt like such an honor and privilege like I was privy to some secret conclave discussing forbidden knowledge. So, we would all sit together laughing and joking away about those movies. It was gallows humor.

On one such late night, much like any others before it, my two brothers, a family friend, and I were all watching “Faces of Death” once more while laughing and joking around, when a commotion of several running footsteps rapidly approached from out of the night towards the house.

The television and lights were swiftly turned off with almost rehearsed efficiency and darkness filled the entire front room. I could hear my brothers, and our friend snatching hold of the weapons they had concealed for such a possible event. These were bad times. It was the sort of bad times where it is best to keep a gun close by because you and those you had problems with, like it or not, were going to exchange far more than crossed words.

“Stay down.” My Oldest Brother ordered to me through the darkness.

This was not my first time. I was already doing so next to the couch. Though, perhaps disturbing, I remember desperately wishing they would give me a gun so I could help. I was more than aware of the reality and such a desire was not born of romanticized fantasies akin to children imagining themselves as supposedly heroic cowboys fighting off ‘Injuns”. I fully understood that people, including myself, could easily die.

However, they were my brothers and I desired to fight by their side out of love. At 12 years old I was much happier at the thought of dying while fighting to defend my family, than dying while uselessly hiding. I often wondered who could ask for a better death? Thankfully, my brothers would have never been so irresponsible or monstrous to place a gun in my hands.

The commotion outside was drawing closer even as my Second Oldest Brother braved moving across the front room before using the wall partially for cover then cautiously looking out the window. I can still vividly recall his silhouette holding a shotgun in that dim orange-yellow haze of the street lights.

For a seemingly ungodly amount of time there were just the sounds of those approaching footsteps and that heavy silence born of anticipation. The small crowd gathered out in front of the house. Stopped for several seconds then continued own their way.

“What the fuck was that all about?” My Second Oldest Brother asked.

“Whatever it was I’m just glad it kept going.” The Family Friend replied with a laugh of relief that we all began to share.

“I’m not going to lie. I was going to peel the cap of the first person that got here.” My Second Oldest Brother joked as we continued laughing.

“I thought it was those fucks about to try something. Trying to pull something in the middle of the night seems like the cowardly shit they would try.” My Oldest Brother politely referred to a group they had been fighting with for some time.

The sounds of gunfire erupted from outside causing us all to partially duck our heads. Just down the street it sounded like an all-out assault was being waged. It was a mixture of handguns, shotguns and automatics. It was a series of instruments being played in a chaotic symphony of violence that resounded into the night.

“Goddamn.” The Friend said with evident surprise. “Sounds like a war down there.”
Whoever the first group was shooting at was not volunteering to be defenseless victims. The enviable retort came swiftly leading to nearly a minute of exchange. The rush of footsteps was suddenly approaching the front of the house once more even as the shooting continued. The first group was sprinting in full retreat. There came a scream from outside the house. It was the human animal’s howl of agony and fear.

There were a few more shots before each side withdrew in their respective directions. All the while this young man continued screaming in constant pain. It was an odd thing to listen to. My second Oldest Brother carefully peered through the curtains of the window, searching the night outside.

“Can you see anything?” My Oldest Brother asked as he crossed the room to also look out.

“Yeah, I can see him.” The Second Oldest replied simply. “He’s out in the middle of the street.”

The young man was still yelling in pain, for help, and even for God as we all moved to look out the window now that the shooting was done. I could see him writhing and suffering beneath the street lights, nearly next door in the middle of the street. None of us spoke for a while as we stood by watching him lie there as the folly of conflict.

“So,” the Friend finally spoke up. “, do you think he was hit?”

There was a series of exchanged looks before we all started laughing at such a terrible remark.

“That’s pretty fucked up.” My Second Oldest Brother shook his head.

“What?” The Friend asked incredulously. “I’m supposed to feel sorry for that muthafucka after he was out there shooting all willy-nilly? If anything he brought it on himself.”

“That was pretty goddamn stupid.” My Oldest Brother remarked with continued laughter. “First off, why in hell were they doing this on foot? And why was he running in the middle of the street?”

“Well. Whatever he was thinking I’m sure he regrets it now.” My Second Oldest brother shook his head. “Fuckin idiot. He’s lucky he didn’t catch one to the head or back. It looks like he is holding his leg.”

“Well, looks like a bad night for him.” My Oldest Brother turned from the window and began leaving the front room. “Good night.”

“Should we call the police or something?” I asked my Second Oldest Brother as he turned away from the window.

“No.” He replied simply.

“Not even the fire department?” I asked as I followed after him. The Friend remained by the window watching the scene.

“No.” My Second Oldest Brother replied again simply. “We are not getting involved. Especially since that means the corrupt ass police is going to show up. Before you know it they may start blaming us for all this bullshit.”

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.” I acknowledged grimly.

Even as a child I had learned time and time again that OPD could not be trusted. If anything they were to be feared and regarded with suspicion. Perhaps it was not true for every cop stationed in Oakland. However, when trying to pick the honest from the deceitful badges, it was a lot like a game of Russian Roulette.

“Someone will call.” My second oldest brother said as he also prepared to turn in for the night. “But it just won’t be us.”

“Well, damn.” The Friend began preparing the couch to sleep on. “I hope someone does something soon. I don’t want to lie here listening to his silly ass all night.”

“But at least he is under the street light.” I added as my brother paused in the doorway leading out into the hall.

“How is that good?” My Second Oldest Brother asked curiously.

“The ambulance will be able to find him a lot easier now.” I said. The Friend and my brother were both quiet for a moment and I wondered if I said something wrong until they laughed shaking their heads.