Tuesday 9 April 2013

A little chapter from my book 'Ghetto Kids'


It was a dark night. No ray of light anywhere near his home. He could hear the twigs breaking in the jungle just past the house. But all he could see was stark darkness. He shut his eyelids forcefully and then opened it to see if his eyes were still working. His horrors were reduced a little as he saw the dim but noticeable light in his porch. He had to stay late at his friend's house to complete an assignment, but the assignment wasn't all he compiled.
As he approached the porch, Johnny knew something bad was going to happen to him. He stood with goose bumps behind his neck and terror running through his veins, and then he was knocked unconscious.

He woke up to a familiar voice. "How many times have I told you not to stand too close to the door?" "I'm sorry, mom.” came the dull reply of Johnny. He and his mother were very close. They were so close that his mother would call Johnny horrendous names and he didn't once think of calling child services. "I wouldn't have to tell you to sleep now since you are already as woozy as a heroin addict" was the mother's call for nap time.

He climbed up from his sofa where he lay disoriented with icepack over his head, and made his way to the room.
He shared the room with two brothers. One was attending local college and pursuing a degree in literature. But it seemed more like the degree was pursuing him as he regularly flunked classes and failed semesters. His name was Gabriel but his friends and brothers all called him Gabby, like the girl's name.
He always dreamed of getting his poems published for a great deal of money just because he rhymed 'orange' with 'door hinge' in one of his poems. That's the kind of stupid he was.

The other brother was a part of the earning hand. He knew the ways of the world and had street smarts. He was young too; just twenty five and he already learnt the slick trade of carpentry and made his way into the infamous Gambino family as a connected guy. But the mob tie was due to his name, Tony.
Sharing the room with two guys, he still got the room to himself. Tony usually slept at the shop and Gabby usually slept in the toilet after ten as he passes out after nine in the toilet due to chronic case of irritable bowel syndrome. So Johnny had the whole room to himself.
First, he turned down the framed photo of Gabby’s ugly girlfriend who looked like Chucky from the Child's play. Then he rested himself on the big bed and slept like a baby.

The next morning was school and he had something special planned for the day. He got up, felt his breath and since it was not that stinky, he decided to skip brushing the teeth and just ate a mint. Then he doused his body with the oils of perfume and pulled an XXL white T shirt from under his bed.
Suddenly, the Playboy magazine stuffed under his bed also dropped on the floor. He was fortunate that Tony wasn't around and Gabby was sleeping because the Corizone were really stern in these matters. They would smack him around like a rat in the neighborhood and won't even care to bury him.
He also put on a pair of loose jeans and put on a dog tag with his name inscribed on it, just Johnny C. He descended downstairs to find the house empty. His mother was sleeping, so he kissed her on the cheek, took a beer bottle from the fridge and made his way to school. That's our Johnny C. The world isn't sober to him, so he returns the gracious favor. On seeing Johnny walking out of his house, the school bus stopped near his porch but he just walked the other way. Come on! Build on the description of the character. A guy like Johnny wouldn't take the bus.

After a mile of walk and a brew of a beer, he reached his friend Abidal's house.
Abidal was a lean guy from Afghanistan who was picked up by a US army private from Torah Bora. And since he was adopted when he was ten, he was wise enough to experience the hardcore life of Afghan terrains and the transition in his life that came when he moved to US. Due to the budget cuts in the salary funds of soldiers for army research, Abidal works as a butcher in a meat shop near his house. He earns enough to spoil himself with a car, or just an engine and two pairs of wheels.
The ride's body is that of a 1967 Camaro but it looked more like 1867 Camaro with dents all around the car. At least it was his.

Johnny greeted Abidal with a nod and they both hopped in the Camaro simultaneously. The next stop was Prima night club. One would think, why nightclub during school hours? The reason was to increase the tag to trio. Because behind Prima, was the house of James the Baptist's house.
His real name was James Bollinger but he called himself Liz Bo. He wasn't gay but since he was sleek like a lizard, and had prison tattoos of lizard on either shoulder, he took the name that came with it. He was the real mean thug that Tupac and NWA wrote songs about.
His background was all mixed up but had only one thing in common; they all served jail time, including him.
He served a month in Juvenile facility charged with helping a guy break out of the same facility. And then two days after the incarceration, he broke out from that same juvenile facility.
As James jumped in the backseat of Abidal's Camaro, his phone rang. He answered "Bark! When's the show? How much? I'll see to it! Peace!"He hung up. "What was that about?" Abidal stole the question right from Johnny's lips. "I made the news on channel five. They will give a telecast piece on my novel at five in the evening." That was our Liz. Though he was all about bone, thugs and bullets, he also wrote touching poetry and recently sent a novel he completed compiling just yesterday. They also happened to conclude James' final verses on his novel and drove to news station to drop a copy for publicity.
Then Johnny slid a hundred dollar bill in the book to make sure his novel received magnanimous publicity. 

And only one more was left from the pack, The Don. They had to drive long to get to his humble abode. It wasn't humble at all. It was uptight and conservative. It was like the houses you see in the start of most Taylor Swift music videos. His real name was Donald Squash, but he hated that name. He preferred to be called Don. His friends pulled out near his house and blew the horn for a while.
He would always waste time with unnecessary attention to his looks like an upscale metro-sexual. He would treat himself with the finest of hair products and the best of cosmetics, though nobody ever raised a finger on his manhood.
He signaled from the first floor window that he would be down in a minute, but Johnny and the others thought the finger stood for an hour. Finally after endless waiting, the Don finally graced the others with his presence. And the four were on their way to school in their burned out ride. It is their junior years of high school.

And just because they come from a rough background, doesn't mean they can't afford good education. They attended high school at Jefferson High. As they made their way towards the big gate of the school, Johnny's eyes hawked upon the group of jocks standing in their parking place.
Without blowing the horn, he ran over the group who broke like a swarm of bees from the impact. The four guys laughed but didn't realize the trouble they were under.
The leader of the jocks was the star quarterback Josh Nathaniel. As the name suggests, he was a heavily built guy with muscles just ripping out of his jersey.
But he knew Johnny and his guys was no stranger to bloody brawls in the mean streets. So he tried to keep his calm, but seeing as how Josh was seizing Johnny and Liz, his entourage of jocks hounded on the four guys.  
The jocks were eight and ten inch muscles over every bone in their body, but Johnny and his pack of wild-hogs were dumb and had heart.
And in the first chapter of my book, a fight broke out. Blows were thrown and Abidal was the first to get his wind knocked out and kicked to the curb. Seeing that, James aka Liz Bo went crazy and bombed punches aimlessly like King Kong. The fight was big. Everybody was staring but nobody was trying to stop. Some even pulled out their cell phones and started recording.
Johnny took off his dog collar from his neck and used it to strangle Josh with all his might. Seeing that, Josh's two friends came to his rescue but Abidal got up by then and knocked both of them out with a swift swing of his arm.
Then Liz caught two guys between his lean arms and Don unleashed hell on them with a baseball bat.
Amidst, all this fight, Don was impulsively looking for a weapon to charge with. It was his style.
To quote Machiavelli, before all, be arms ready.

This was just the day’s start in the lives of our four leading characters. They try to do everything they can, to possibly get into trouble. And when they get in one, they find the most gruesome way out of it. For now, they heaved a sigh of relief as the sport-stars lay lifeless on the school driveway like road kill.
But many thanks to God that they managed to get their jockstraps up the streets before the principal arrived.

Though Johnny might seem an outlaw and an underage drunk, he was pure of heart, and liver. And so were his buddies. They never wished ill on anybody, at least not anyone that didn't have it coming to them. "Abby, you alright?" asked Johnny in an obligatory sense. Abidal nodded. No one dared to call him Abby and no one else needed to. It was Johnny's wise guy accent because of which he couldn't pronounce Abidal. Four of them made their way to their locker.

The walk to the school locker at the beginning of the day is like taking the daily poll. As you walk towards the locker passing the hallway, you know your status in the school. Popular guys are rained with 'wassups' and heys'. Cute girls are beamed with glances, of lust by the boys and envy by the girls. And if you are a hustler like Johnny and his friends, all they do is part the hallway and make way for you. It was the respect that came with the territory, the charms of being the bad guys of school. But one thing they never did was they never bullied anyone. They would play some pranks on 'weaker sections of student society' but it was consensual. They earned much of their reputation from turf fights, fights like the one from earlier today.
All Johnny had in his locker were false hall passes and cobwebs. Meanwhile, Liz's locker flooded with papers containing his articles, poems and other books by titan writers like Dostoevsky, Cicero, Kafka and other such great names. Everyone thought he rented his locker to teachers seeing all that junk.

Abidal's locker had his best friend, a mean stiletto knife. He also had a picture of holy Mecca taped to the locker door. He was a religious man, and that's why he had no friends other than Johnny.

And finally anyone would guess what Don had in his locker. A big mirror attached to his locker door, a whole shop of creams and gels, a set of combs, a bottle of perfume and a can of deodorant.
So basically, not one of them had anything nearly to do with education, except Liz, but when you are a tattooed black guy with a rap sheet, you are not likely to pass as 'the literary type'. And this is not me saying it; it's the world, so please rule out the possibility that I am a racist person.

All the four friends had the same class first, English. Judging how good they are in studies is like judging a book by its cover. But you can judge this book by its cover, because all they did in English class was ogle cute girls. And when you are studying in an American high school, you are studying in a garden with pretty roses anywhere your eyes go.  Johnny's school was no different, although, his friends didn't share the same curiousness.
On the other hand, Don was the one ogled on by the cheerleaders and other bimbos. And he certainly liked the attention. He was the king of the school. Girls wanted him and guys wanted to be him.

Liz also had his share of popularity, but as a mean thug. Apart from gang fights, he would himself get into many beefs and quarrels and it would mostly be Abidal and Johnny who would save him. Liz was also in touch with his sensitive side and took part in many school dramas, and even bagged the lead role. But he was rather unfortunate in the women's department as no girl could keep up with his notorious lifestyle and still understand his sensitive side.

Abidal's story was entirely different. He would chase off any girl he liked just because his name and the color of his skin. And overtime, he started to lose concern for it. And by the time he was in high school, he was all hard-boiled and no love.

And so, out of all our friends, only Johnny was the one who was between relationships.
Don was much more inclined to being famous and most women were intimidated by his fame. And all the girls could do was have teenage crush on him, hanging pictures of him in their locker, doodling 'I heart Don' artistically, and you know the rest. Everyone had their own lives, but they were still friends. They were the best of friends. They achieved many feats as a gang, one they were going to achieve just now after English class.

A girl named Sterling in English class was sick and tired of Johnny's grotesque glances. She was new so she didn't knew who he was friends with. The English teacher was asking about contemporary poetry, and so Sterling thought she could fix Johnny up in a situation.
Sterling was a point Dexter, but she was pretty too. She was more graceful than pretty.
So, in mere minutes, she panned out a minute long satirist poem on Johnny. Then she rose from her seat and asked the teacher if she could present her piece of contemporary poetry.

Then she began her page long spoof on Johnny that displayed all his antics for the whole class to see. Now Johnny was no rapper nor did he have poetry skills, and being diced by a girl, nosy as Sterling wasn't feasible for his reputation. She even went to the extent of saying "Your reputation is nothing but a hoax, made by those who start the day with your coax". That was way out of the line, even for a guy like Johnny.

And seeing as how Johnny went cold, Liz got out of his seat, and approached the teacher's table and said "Now I'd like to say something" and started to say his poem, or better put, he started to rap acapella. And he left her, the teacher and the class speechless. He ended saying "Be careful who you mess with in, your sway, better hide now, the library’s that-a-way"
And then Don rose up and clapped for Liz. And seeing Don support Liz, everyone was on Liz and Johnny's side. It was an open threat to Sterling from the big boys of the school. He went to her place shaking like a leaf caught in the cold breeze.

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