Mama said she'd raised me better. I spent my short life proving her wrong.
When I was 13, my older buddy joined a street gang. It consisted of 14-16 year old's banding together because they were convinced they needed to protect themselves from gangs. The schools were prime targets for gang members. Both for recruiting and drug sales. The gangs would give out free samples of their product. Before you knew it, you wanted more. The more you tried it, the more you wanted it, the more you were hooked. Finally it was not free. You had to pay for it.
So he could pay for the all-consuming drugs, my buddy joined the gang and sold drugs to his class mates. A never ending cycle. One day he was scooped up in a police raid. At age 16 he was sent away to serve time. He was never the same after that. Prison did something terrible to him. Oh, he came back to the ‘hood but changed somehow. Always looking over his shoulder as if sensing danger from that direction. Stopping to look around before crossing an open alley. He was always trying to get something for very little effort. To survive, he was doing purse snatching's and robbing people at night for pocket money. Drugs were a big part of his life. The only part that mattered. His family turned him out of their lives. He was only 19 yrs old at the time. One day he no longer was around. Rumor had it he was shot and killed across the state line while robbing a home where the home owner had weapons for defense. No-one has seen him since. He never even got a space in the obit’s.
I swore to Mama to never do the same. She said she raised me better than my buddy. Looking back, I believe she did. I was able to stay away from drugs. I took a different route to fame. I bought and sold stolen goods including guns. I was an asset to the gangs without actually joining them. That’s how I knew my buddy was doing the things he was doing. I bought the things he stole and re-sold them. I also provided him with the gun he used to rob people. You see, at 14 I got a job down at the local garage/car wash. I lied to get the job. No one checked my age. I was big enough and willing to work. The garage needed bodies to stay in business. That gave me seed money to buy what other people had to sell. And to re-sell. It was a great cover. My Mama never suspected I was a little on the wild side. A whole lot on the wild side.
I am now 16. It’s three AM. I am sitting in a large, brick building run by and full of, government people. In and out of uniform. Waiting for my Mama. I am scared. I am dirty. I am afraid. The place is dirty and smells to high heaven of blood, sweat and tears. Some of which is mine. It is full of other kids, big and small, in different stages of fear. Some afraid they will never get another drug fix. Or another whiskey drink. Finally some adults come in, latch onto a kid and drag them out. Whether a parent or not, I do not know nor care. I am in jail. I am waiting for my Mama. What will she do when she finds out I am soon to be tried and sent to prison? I broke her heart. She raised me better.
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