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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

For 18 year-old college bound Darwin Charles, West Oakland, California is without question, a sure death sentence. Licks (robberies) occur throughout the day, break-ins often happen within the outskirts of the city and shootouts against your own kind are never too far from reach; And all because young black males constantly plot among themselves for money, power, and respect. These dreams are pursued heavily by Darwin's friends simply known as "the crew" who travel throughout West Oakland pulling off licks all while bolstering their machismo in the process. However, when an old friend comes back into the fold, the crew is then pressured to participate in a heist that will pay them more money than their individual households can make within a single year. When it is all said and done, Darwin must make a choice. He either can follow his life-long aspirations of becoming a screenwriter or continue to succumb to the pressures of the crew while losing himself in the process.

"PEn, PAd, or PeeRs, gUn? cHooSe oNe, goOd fUn"

“No, no, no, hell naw! Ain’t no way we’re doin’ that. Is he crazy?” asked J-LAX in disbelief.

“That’s what we were saying folk. That’s why we told him we’d think about it so that we could possibly decide against it the closer the date came,” said Supreme as he scratched his chin.

“I would have said no, anyway,” said J-LAX as he grabbed a dusty glass from his kitchen cabinet and went to the sink to pour himself a cup of water.

“I mean, the shit’s too risky,” said Boog who was sitting on the chair with his back turned to them as he played Call of Duty.

“Obviously,” said Supreme.

“So is that a no?” asked Prince as he broke his silence.

“When did you get here nephew?” asked Supreme as he turned to face Darwin and Prince.

“We just came in about a minute ago,” he replied.

“Wassup D.C.? You aight lil’ homie?” asked Supreme curiously as he surveyed him up and down like a fax scanner.

“Yeah, I’m good,” replied Darwin.


  Internally, he wasn't good. Darwin felt as if all of their violent as well as felonious tendencies were swiftly catching up to them. However, he couldn't find it within himself to tell the others how he truly felt. The summer prior to his senior year, he remembered taking a free intro-to-screenplay writing course at Samuel Merritt University for college credit. It was there where his screenplay professor once said to his class, "When developing a story, whether it's a screenplay, teleplay, short-story, Shakespearean tragedy, novella, or novel, it is best to remember that every heinous act or terrible deed pays a price, and before that price is paid, there will be signs that there is major peril to come. Class, you can all take this and apply this to your everyday lives. If something doesn't feel right, and you know that it isn't right, chances are, it isn't right!"


"The only way we should consider this is if the vato is going to abide by my rules. If not, him and I can both run the lick. But he sure ain't gonna do it by himself. Not on my watch," said J-LAX as he drained the glass of water in his hand.

"Homie barely has been out a week and he already wanna do a lick? Shit is wild I tell you," said Boog as he had just put down the controller.

"I just have my feelings about him. I heard he was trying to pitch the same heist to the Los Santos crew out in Francisco," said J-LAX.

"You talkin' about Rex and Mook's crew?" asked Supreme.

"Yeah, those guys," he replied.

"Those are some shady dudes bro. I grew up with them clowns for a bit back in San Francisco until I came here and dropped out of junior high. Ever since we were little kids, they’ve always had bad intentions…Maybe we shouldn't do this," said Boog as he surveyed all of the crew with his beady little eyes.

"Aight, here's what it is! I'll meet up with Fuego in the morning and hear out his plans myself. If the shit sounds legit, let's go for it. I mean, twenty-five chalupas?! Why not?!! That's more money than we've ever had in a lifetime. Shit, my mom doesn't even make that much in a single year, and y'all see how hard she grinds. She barely gets by. The only reason why we’re maintaining is because I contribute to her income. She knows the money that helps her ain't clean money, but what can she say? It's helping us get by," said J-LAX candidly.

The rest of the crew remained tight-lipped on the couch as they let every word which came out of J-LAX's mouth trickle down their spines. It was obvious by the look of their dubious faces that the potential amount of money involved was what kept them intrigued. It was money that none of them had ever seen in a lifetime; either individually or collectively.

"Sounds like a plan, so let us know by Wednesday, the latest, if we’re doin' this shit or not," said Supreme.

"Looks like we got this shit kinda-sorta figured out. Well, if y’all will excuse me, I'mma holla at you guys later. My momma is cooking," said Prince as he made movements to head for the door.

"Word? Damn, my sister doesn’t tell me shit," said Supreme as he followed suit with a look of hunger upon his face.

"Yeah, I'm hungry too," added Boog as he ran as fast as his fat feet could carry him.

"One plate my nigga, my mom’s is gettin' tired of feeding your tubby ass," said Prince as their voices began to subside.

"I can't help it, I got a condition," said Boog.

"Yeah, your condition is that you outta condition my nigga," retorted Supreme as they all cackled in the distance.

"What's on your mind D.C.?" asked J-LAX as he surveyed Darwin from top to bottom.

"I just wanted to return this," he said.

In that precise moment, he pulled out the 357 handgun that was given to him by J-LAX himself, in which J-LAX refused to accept.

"Nope, that's yours, now."

"I just don't see—"

"Listen, if we actually go through with all of this shit, there's a chance that you might need it. Look...let's make a deal. Once Thursday has come and gone I'll take it back from you, understand? We've noticed that your future is brighter than all of this D.C. and I don't think it would be fair at all if we hinder you from it. Shit, I think we all know that by now..."

Darwin couldn't find the right words to explain how he felt, but he was amazed to know that the crew wouldn't let their personal as well as collective desires conflict with his future, and for that and that reason alone, he felt as if he owed it to his brothers...just one heist and he was done for good.


"tHuRsDaY" (VI)























"Wooooooo! Fuck yeah, that's what I'm talkin' bout!" yelled Boog as he rolled up a blunt from inside J-LAX's speeding Toyota.

"We pulled it off my niggas, we did that shit. The world ain't ready for us! Do y'all fucking hear me?? THE WORLD AIN'T READY FOR US!! What's next?!?! I'm ready. I said I'm fucking ready for what's next!!" yelled Supreme as he cranked up the radio inside J-LAX's car.

"Aww, hell yeah. This is my shit!" screamed Prince as he leaned into the front seat and hit the equalizer button on the car stereo until the vehicle was soon thumping to a very abrasive bass.

As he did this, Kendrick Lamar's "Backseat Freestyle" was now knocking in every direction of the car’s speakers.

"All my life I want money and power/

respect my mind or die from lead shower/

I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel Tower/

so I can fuck the world for seventy-two hours/

Goddamn I feel amazing, damn I feel amazing/

My mind is living on cloud nine/

and this 9 is never on vacation/

start up the Maserati and vroom-vroom, I'm racing/

Popping pills in the lobby and

I pray they don't find her naked/

And I pray you niggas is hating,

shooters go after Judas/

Jesus Christ if I live life on my knees

ain't no need to do this."


"That nigga, Kendrick, cold cuz," said Boog who was now blazed in the back seat in between Prince and Darwin.

"Yeah, that nigga really put the west coast back on the map. Now if only some of these young Oakland niggas out here can start makin' some noise," said J-LAX as he made a left turn at a red traffic light.

"That good kid, m.A.A.d city album K. Dot put out was a classic though. He really understands the shit we go through in the hood. Also, I fucks with this track, this shit's a standout," declared Supreme as he nodded his head to the beat.

Darwin sat in silence as he pondered upon the song's true meaning. He listened to a lot of hip-hop and Kendrick Lamar was definitely one of his favorite artists at that current point in time. What he liked about Kendrick was that he depicted life as he saw it. Not to harm, but to articulate the ills and troubles that he thought society passively, but purposely, inflicted upon African-American communities with on a daily basis. He knew that was what precisely separated Kendrick from the other mainstream so-called “artists”. And so, within that moment, Darwin couldn't help thinking that his friends had gotten it all wrong. Kendrick wasn't rapping from a glorifying perspective. Instead, he was rapping from the mentality of an adolescent navigating himself through the choices that he made and thought were good for him, such as the mindset that his friends were in now...

"You got the scratch Prince?" asked J-LAX.

"Yeah, it's right here," he said enthusiastically as he patted the bag down firmly which contained the stacks of currency.

"Where's Fuego gonna meet us at to get his cut?" asked Supreme.

"I told him to be at my crib by nine," said J-LAX as their latest turn found them within the familiarity of their neighborhood.

"Why didn't he come with us?" asked Darwin.

"He said that he had to go meet a few niggas," said J-LAX as he took a blunt that was passed down to him from Boog.

The car abruptly came to a complete halt as they made their way excitedly into the house. Darwin, in particular, was extremely thrilled because for one, he didn't think he'd make it through the night's events alive and two, only a week remained until he and Prince graduated. That night became a time for celebration, as he decided that he would ultimately wait until later on in the week when he'd announce his departure from the crew for good.

"Everybody go into the bathroom and change up your gear, and when you're done, put them in that big plastic bag that’s sitting under the bed,” directed J-LAX.

And so, over the course of the next hour, the crew then took turns in the shower before changing their clothes.

It was around 9:15 and apparently the party had just begun. The crew all took turns on the Playstation while smoking blunts. Even Darwin who hadn't burned a day in his life took a hit.

"Oh shit, that nigga D.C. is actually doin' it son!" said Prince as he coughed out a big billow of smoke.

"My nilla, it's that peer pressure, I tell you," said Boog as he too rolled an L that was the size of his fat thumb.

"Just make sure you ain't lit when you leave here my nigga. I don't want your mom to be like, “what are you guys doing to my son?" said Supreme in an impersonation of Darwin's mother.

J-LAX had just gotten up when he made his way over to the radio and tuned into the 106 KEML Hip-Hop frequency. At once, Tyga's "Dope" record came on as all of the crew began reciting his lyrics.

"Damn, I'm hungry," said Boog as he rubbed his belly.

"We’re all hungry, huh?" asked Supreme.

"Okay, well, just go to the corner store and buy us all sandwiches," said Prince as he gave Boog a twenty.

Boog had gotten up to make his way to the basement door when a large red vase suddenly crashed onto the floor with a loud thud.

Without warning, bullets from gunfire began to penetrate the interior of J-LAX's basement.

"EVERYBODY DOWN, NOW!" bellowed J-LAX as all of the men crouched low and swiftly made their way to the nearest exit.

Upon reaching the staircase, they all crawled out of a broken window which led them out of the lower level of the house.

Five masked gun men had then emerged into the street and started shooting at everyone in sight.

"Duck, behind the car, quick!" screamed Supreme.

"Everybody grab their piece!” screamed Prince.

“And shoot, my niggas, SHOOT!" yelled J-LAX.

They all obeyed orders and immediately brandished their guns as they began to shoot back at their unknown targets.

As Darwin got up on one occasion and took aim, he managed to strike one of them in the leg. Upon the intended target stumbling upon the ground and clutching his leg in pain, he suddenly realized that he had shot at someone and actually used a gun for the first time in his life.

"Damn, we need more ammo," said Supreme as he crouched behind the car and rummaged through his pockets.

"I've got some two blocks away at a mailbox on Hoover-Foster," screamed J-LAX from behind the trunk.

"I'll go get it," said Prince.

"Me too, just to make sure he's straight," added Boog.

"Aight, y'all, we'll cover for you. Just be careful on your way back in," said Supreme.

"My shit is in a blood red mailbox, you can’t miss it. That's my boy's crib, be quick," added J-LAX as he squeezed off two more shots towards the men attempting to kill them.

"D.C. help me cover them!" screamed Supreme as he got up to better his aim.

"Go!" he then shouted as the two young men ran down the block and disappeared out of sight.

The group that had broken into J-LAX's basement had suddenly begun running.

"Let's go," said J-LAX as they got up to chase them.

Their unexpected visitors who had shot at them speedily ran to a parked car on 27th street and pulled off.

"Shit, Prince and Boog! They’re going after them!" yelled Supreme.

"Let's go," said J-LAX.

"Why can't we take your car bruh?" asked Supreme as they all ran the two blocks to Hoover.

"My nigga, ain't you seen what they done did to my ride?" asked J-LAX in disbelief.


It was then that an engine roared to life and a car screeched and turned a corner from the right end of the street.

"Prince, Boog, run!" screamed Darwin as he, Supreme, and J-LAX attempted to catch up to them.

As quickly as they could, the boys dropped their sacks and ran as fast as they could towards the others.

Then instantly, and without warning, two of the gunmen poked their torsos out from the backseat of an old red Cadillac and pulled out assault rifles...

The last image that Darwin would ever see of his friends was one of desperation as they attempted to escape the inevitable as fast as they could. He knew that there was always a possibility that this day would come, but never did he think it would happen in such an abrupt fashion.

But when Prince and Boog couldn't run any further, they slowly met the pavement in increments. The first thing to go was their legs as they totally succumbed to the pressures of the impact, then it was their torsos..and finally it was their heads as everything reunited upon reaching the ground.

And as for Darwin and his remaining friends, they watched it all like a cinematic taping...but as they witnessed, they fully came to the realization that there weren't any camera men or directors around to call for 'cut' or a re-shoot. This was what really happened in the underprivileged neighborhoods of America. Everything was live and direct as two young men who were products of an American plight forever ceased to exist...

As fast as it all occurred, a red liquid wasted no time in spilling and seeping onto the pavement. Not a single one of them had doubts as to who had set up the tragedy, while the Cadillac, in its dark red frame, sped into the opposite direction and out of sight into the starless night...




"No! My NEPHEW!!" screamed Supreme as he, Darwin and J-LAX went to the aid of their wounded friends.

Boog was breathing heavily as he held a red stained hand over his heart and looked on in horror.

"Just keep breathing my nigga, we got you," said J-LAX as he held his hands.

"C'mon Jarvis, just hold on kid!" yelled Supreme as he hugged his nephew with tenderness and care.

A bullet had pierced him in the left lung as he struggled to breathe with every gaping breath.

It was then that Darwin picked him up and held him like a new born.

"Fue, Fue, Fue--" he struggled.

"What?! What?! What is it?! Man, tell me!!"

"Fue...go," he managed to say before his eyes shut.

And with a final exhale, Prince looked at Darwin with a hard desperate longing. One that told him there was more to the world than the daily pressures experienced in West Oakland. Prince, badly wanted to tell Darwin something, but due to the given circumstances, he couldn't.

Slowly, his eyes began to reverse as they went behind his skull, and what came in its place were scleras, also known as the white of the eyes.

"Jarvis, JARVIS DANIEL McKAY!!! Don't do this shit to me baby! Please, I need you. The world needs you, your intelligence, your talent, this isn't the end, it just can't be!!" cried Supreme in hysteric fashion as he repetitively shook his lifeless nephew.

As Darwin observed the blood that had smeared his hands, he then looked over at Boog. He was dead too. These were his childhood friends…the people he grew up with…he couldn't come to terms with this feeling…the feeling of hurt…he suddenly had the yearning for vindication…someone had to suffer…someone had to pay…they all had to pay…he had to pay…

"Fuego," he said in a voice of sheer menace as Supreme continued to sob beside him.

"We're going to San Francisco," said J-LAX in a composed manner as he rose up off the ground and wiped his right eye clean from what seemed to be a tiny unmistaken tear.



















"FriDaY" (VII)




















"iS iT woRtH iT?"


An hour later around midnight, Darwin found himself alongside J-LAX and Supreme in a stolen jeep headed across Dwight D. Eisenhower highway.

"I don't care if we gotta drive around Francisco the whole damn night into the morning, we gon’ find these niggas," assured J-LAX as he scoured the streets for a dark red Cadillac while keeping his foot on the gas.

As Darwin heard nothing but the sound of the car's growl mixed with Supreme's overbearing sobs, he came to the notion that he suddenly didn't care about what tomorrow held. He didn't care about his dreams of being a screenwriter. He didn't care about getting out of his impoverished neighborhood. He didn't care about what was real or not. He no longer cared whether he lived or died. All he cared about was getting back at the masked gunmen that had killed two of his best friends...

"There they go, right there! They bout' to pay toll to cross the bridge," said J-LAX.

"Let me out of this fuckin' car," said Supreme as he wrestled with his locked passenger door.

"Hold up for just a sec, my nigga. Let's see where they're headed. You'll get your chance," said J-LAX with smooth tonality to his voice.

Twenty minutes later, they followed the murderers into a gas station when the driver, who they recognized to be the Los Santos gang leader Rex, exited the vehicle in order to pump gas.

Lock and load y'all," said J-LAX as he passed around bullets to both Supreme and Darwin.

"On my count," he said. "One...two..."

J-LAX speedily pulled up beside the Cadillac. He and Supreme then ejected bullets from their guns as if the inevitability of tomorrow had always been a myth.

All was quiet except for the loud thoughts of the young men who had pulled the triggers. They had committed their first murders and subconsciously, the thought of foreseeing restlessness forever haunted them...

The opposing set of young men, that were just as confused, just as lost and just as naive, no longer existed and were now all dead within a red Cadillac...Well, almost all of them...

Fuego somehow managed to crawl out of the rear window and began to slither upon the ground like a snake, leaving a bloody heap behind him as he did.

As the crew exited the car and inched closer toward him, they noticed patches scattered throughout his clothing. He had been shot in multiple places.

Darwin turned him over and looked him dead in the eye. He wasn't sure who, he, as a person, was anymore…at least, he thought he didn't…

The look that manifested upon Fuego's face was one of fright and terror.

"Please man, show me mercy. Don't kill me. I'm sorry it went down this way. I had no choice because I want to live. And so, they made me go through with it."

Darwin couldn't hear him. He cocked his gun and pointed it at Fuego's heart. All that he had to do was pull the trigger and it would have all been over. However, halfway into pulling the trigger, something flooded his inner conscience like a typhoon headed for the shore.

Was it really worth it? he thought. Taking another person's life for those that could not be returned? If he killed Fuego, could he possibly make it out of West Oakland alive? As the thoughts came in and out of his brain in what seemed like a vortex, he wasn't prepared for what then happened next. Without warning, Supreme suddenly snatched the 357 magnum from Darwin's grasp and coolly plugged Fuego five times in the head. After doing so, he dropped the weapon upon the ground and said,

"Let's go."

With no other reason to stick around, they quickly clamored into the jeep and made their way back onto the highway. They were halfway home when Supreme suddenly came to a realization.

"There were five of them," he said. "One of them was missing."

And as the car roared into the darkness and dissolved into the heavy San Francisco morning traffic, it did so with uncertainty as they rode back to Oakland in silence.















"tHe begiNNiNg" (VIII)




















"teLL yOur sToRy"



It was two weeks after graduation when Darwin had received word that J-LAX was being hospitalized at Alameda County Medical Center with multiple gun wounds to the chest. Supreme, on the other hand, had been murdered. Amazingly enough, Darwin wasn't surprised at all. As he looked on towards the approaching sunset, Darwin threw his 357 magnum into the deep waters of Oakland's Outer Harbor and followed the act by enjoying a nice long walk home. He wasn't sure of what his future held, but he knew that it didn't involve the pressures and ills of West Oakland.

The moment he reached home, his mother from within the depths of their basement informed him that a college admissions representative had called asking for him. After running up the stairs and listening to the voicemail, Darwin redialed the number immediately which picked up after two rings.


"Hello?" said the nasally voice of a woman.

"Hi, this is Darwin Charles. I think you may have called my house earlier."

"Yes, I did. Hello, Darwin, how are you?" she asked in a jubilant manner.

"I'm fine," he replied pleasantly.

"Glad to hear that," she said. "Well, I called because I'm an admissions counselor from UCLA. My name is Colleen Crawford and we were blown away by your high school transcript and personal college essay. Therefore, if it isn’t too late, we'd love to have you enrolled in our screenwriting program at the university starting this fall."

"I'm very sorry, but I'm leaning more so to U.C. Berkeley at this point in time. I'm going to send them my admissions deposit soon," he said in a regretful tone.

"We certainly understand, but if you don't mind me asking, how will you be accommodated in terms of books and such by UCB?" she asked.

"I received some financial aid. And so, I guess I'm just going to look for a job, and take out a few loans once I get there," he said matter-of-factly.

"Well, here’s an offer for you Darwin. We here at the university are so thrilled about your talents and extremely high on your potential, that we are willing to offer you a full ride if you commit to us," she said in an airy cool voice.

"Seriously?" he asked in amazement while trying to contain his excitement.

"Once again, Darwin, your grades are more than exceptional and your father is well known among the campus community. In addition to what has already been said, he also vouched for you."

"Well, that sounds, great!" he said heartily.

"The only thing we ask of you since this is very short notice and due to our failure of screening you is a twenty page screenplay script of a real life experience relating to how you grew up or what you may currently be going through in a third person narrative perspective," said Ms. Crawford.

"When do you want it by?" he asked her immediately.

"Let's say within a week, because we're really running out of time," she told him with a sense of urgency.

"I'll get right to it then," he assured.

"Great, well, congratulations and welcome to UCLA-School of Film, Theater & Television, Darwin. We look forward to seeing you on campus this fall."

"Likewise, thanks again," he responded.

Darwin finally hung up the phone and let out a long, exasperated, but yet, relieved whistle. Not only would he be leaving West Oakland in a few months time, but also, he would be leaving a life that stagnated him from what was really out there. For the first time in his existence, he was receiving a full-blown opportunity with the hopes of eventually becoming everything that he wanted to be.

And so, as he found a pen lying upon his computer desk, he quickly rummaged through a battered, weary, drawer to find a notepad that would enable him to embark upon his forthcoming journey. After carefully using a few hours to devise some concepts, Darwin’s pen finally hit the pad as he then proceeded to write…

- Ext. The outside of a high school named McClymonds. It is hot, sunny and students are rapidly spilling onto the sidewalk from all angles.

 Not long after, two teenagers in particular on the verge of manhood, exit the building as they each carry schoolbags strapped over their right shoulders. The barely turned eighteen year-old boys that make their way out of McClymonds high are none other than Jarvis McKay, also known as Prince, and Darwin Charles, who goes by the initials of D.C. for short. The boys have finished their last day of classes for the week and in the midst of the moment, are thrilled to be headed home...

Submitted: June 26, 2014

© Copyright 2023 Kevin11. All rights reserved.

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