Friday, October 14, 2022

From the Iowa Prison Writing Project






With many of my Avalon Gangsta Crip Tribesmen in California Youth Authority, in hiding, or running from LAPD, dodging capital crimes and other felonies, while others dropped out of school to hustle illicitly, I arrived at John C. Fremont High solo; an individual, something I didn’t know how to be. I had been in a gang too long, starting as a Baby Ace in the infamous Imperial Courts Projects, known as ‘PJ Watts,’ before Crips and Bloods emerged, merging hundreds of random gangs into two enemy Nations. A plethora of Crips were present at Fremont, but other than Main Street Mafia, Broadway Gangsta, Kitchen, and Six-Nine East Coast Crips, I socialized minimally with other Crips. 


Fremont High was once at the northern end of Mad Swan Blood Hood, until the 84th Street Mad Swans annexed it into their territory. But here I was, one of the many Crips at a Blood school, in a Blood hood. It was a bit unnerving, but it was also time to become an individual and evolve into my ‘own man,’ rather than into an alleged ‘robotically impulsive Blood killing Crip’; an armed ‘limb’ of the Crip Nation. Besides, Crips were doing too much set-tripping (infighting) for me to trust most of them, especially after co-founder Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams was framed for multiple murders and co-founder Raymond Washington was mysteriously murdered on San Pedro Boulevard months later. The absence of their charismatic leadership allowed the old wars ––that existed prior to random enemy gangs uniting under the Crip Crest––to surface. Mother Bessie would say, “it’s the government; both leaders gone in a matter of months is no coincidence; Afro-Americans capable of galvanizing the grassroots’ masses are always neutralized.”


After checking in with Fremont’s administration, receiving my homeroom and locker numbers, I headed to homeroom to get my class itinerary––wearing all ‘true’ (blue). In homeroom I got glares of disbelief and disdain, which actually began the moment I stepped out of OG Devil’s pearl-white ’63 Chevy. Most of the students in homeroom seemed to know who I was and, of course, thought I was a crazy rabble-rouser. They began hurling questions like, “Are you asking for trouble? You know the Swans aren’t going to allow you to wear those colors without challenging you or doing something to you; maybe even killing you.” But, knowing that I was part of a ‘pact’––due to one of the Mad Swans’ bosses, Donnell “Red-Eyed” More, having a child by my sister––I’d audibly say, “I’ll ‘C’ ok,” acting like I was just too hard for Swans to try me. My Crip lingo caused the entire class to inhale and earned me a few ‘thousand-yard glares’ from Mad Swans sharing homeroom with me. I had known them since the third grade; they attended South Park Elementary. Those in the ‘know’ knew that, in order for Red-Eyed to visit his daughter in Avalonia and not be murdered, I was untouchable at Fremont, just as he was on 88th Place when inside the Avalon Gardens. The Swans in homeroom were in the ‘know.’


(Note: Crips don’t use strong ‘B’s; Bloods don’t use strong ‘C’s.)


Leaving homeroom, owners of the ‘thousand-yard glares’ accosted me; they convinced me to be less of an irritant and to show respect and appreciation to the Rodans (serial Crip-killing Mad Swans) for their restraint; I began wearing all black and other inoffensive colors. I even toned down my Crip lingo. In response, many Mad Swans turned up their hospitality, almost embarrassingly. Swans and 8-9 Family members, particularly childhood friends, would overwhelmingly greet me with “what’s up Lil Bob, you cool,” checking on my welfare. When I responded affirmatively, they’d say something like “let us know if motherfuckers get to acting up; we got some ‘ackrite’ for them, even our own.” Other, non-childhood, friends––Mad Swans who disliked my immunity––would constantly hit me with vicious ‘thousand-yard glares’ and Mad Swan hand signs. I would ‘mad dog’ them back, but I wouldn’t throw up the ‘Avalon’ hand sign; part of the arrangement included not representing (hoodriding) on their turf. It was difficult, but I pulled it off; otherwise, being armed, I’d definitely kill one or some of them on campus and end up in CYA (California Youth Authority) with many of my homeboys and enemies, if the Swans didn’t kill me on campus.


One childhood friend, Tommy Bridges, a devout 89th Street Neighborhood Family Blood, greeted me, but his vibe depended on his mood. There were times that I felt like he wanted to kick my ass, which he could have likely done, but of course, I would have shot him on campus before I even tried fighting his ‘built-for-brawling-man-child-ass.’ I am glad that he never forced my hand because I loved Tommy. After all, we were childhood friends, until Crip and Blood ‘politics’ warped our minds, turning us into a miniscule precursor of Africa’s Hutus and Tutsis in South Central LA’s civil war.


Tommy’s endearing childhood sentiments toward me began waning around the eighth grade. Such were the power politics of ‘Crippin’ and ‘Bleedin,’ especially once the well-oiled machine of murder and vengeance began. My sentiments toward Tommy depended on his toward me, but he’d have to try to hurt me before I harmed him; I was passive aggressive, but assertive enough to strike first, at times prematurely. There was an OG 87th Street Kitchen Criplette, Denise, who noticed our sentiments. She always told me, “the time will come when sentiment won’t save you from him nor him from you; one day you’ll have to kill him or him you, Crip. So stay ready. Can’t stop, won’t stop, cuz.” In the late 1970s, at Charles Drew Junior High, then a Crip school, she said the same thing, when we checked Crips for Tommy, though Tommy didn’t need it; Tommy would ‘kill on campus,’ just as I would. After all, we were raised together. Tommy’s grandma, Mrs. Williams, lived in the Avalon Gardens, with Tommy’s cousin Berry “Big Time” Williams, the founder of 89th Street Neighborhood Family Bloods, whose headquarters were literally a stone’s throw around the corner from the Avalon Gardens, between McKinley and Central Avenue, expanding southeastwardly, away from Avalonia into the core of Watts.


Crips at Fremont regularly asked me why Mad Swans and other Bloods always checked on my welfare; they weren’t in the know and didn’t understand that the Mad Swans were assuring that none of their new members fucked with me and revoked Red-Eyed’s immunity. An immunity that, at times, extended to checking set-tripping Crips, especially Walnut Crips, if they flexed on me while in Mad Swan territory. If not Avalonians, especially my brother Bobby “Bosco” Ranking, Michael “Turtoe” Mike Stewart and their platoon, already the arch-nemesis of the majority of Mad Swans, could impulsively think “Mad Swans harmed me” before discovering the truth––as if the truth mattered. The mistake would lead to Red-Eyed’s death on his next visit to Avalonia, if he didn’t get a timely memo; cell phones didn’t exist. The situation was extremely complicated and seemingly haphazard, but more organized than outsiders thought.


One time, a Crip asked me, “so if we (other Crips) got into it with Mad Swans, what would you do?” It was a legitimate question, but offensive, it questioned my Crippin, so I ‘stole-on-him’ (punched him in his mouth) and we fought. This guy was a clown who thought he had an easy one, because of my size; after my unexpected punch, followed by more, he couldn’t turn the tide. He was a Five-Duce (52nd Street Neighborhood Crip), not a 52nd Street Broadway Gangsta Crip. Afterward, the Swans ran him off campus, concerned about Red-Eyed’s immunity. Students were confused; they couldn’t understand how Bloods would check Crips, set-tripping-Crips or not, for me. It was extremely dangerous, because now Crips and Bloods that hated the anomaly wanted to do bad things to me. I stayed armed and the streets, during my preteen years and afterward, had already ‘talked,’ notifying potential antagonists that I’d let my ‘flame throwers’ (guns) go.


For a month I struggled with lessons, due to ditching most of the ninth grade, so I began ditching at Fremont; I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. I didn’t like the stress of high school; expectations were too high and now, though we were all still kids, we were bigger, definitely more emotional and in possession of more hormones than intellect, especially males in reference to intellect. The majority of girls were, as always, even in junior high, more intelligent than the boys, though they gravitated to ‘bad boys.’ I believe it’s a ‘breeding drive’; most women, even when young, want alpha males, because it equates to security, physical or financial. In the jungle, security depends on brutality, colorful plumages, or which animal puffs up his chest the largest or smacks the water hardest. And we, though human, are still animals driven to secure and perpetuate posterity. So, prior to intellect overcoming estrogen, girls, most of them, embraced brutes, even ones as pseudo-cultured and passive aggressive as I.


After a week of ditching, I returned to Fremont, searching for this nerdy Lapita N’yango-Cushitic-Nubian-chocolate-complexioned-Angela-Bassett-built girl; she was good for my eyes. When I first laid eyes on her, her complexion alone was addictive. I was hooked on her, though afraid to talk to her, so I didn’t. I wanted to but lacked the courage. She was ultra-Cal-Tech-Ivy-League-nerdy, so I figured she was already intelligent enough to avoid brutes and pair up with another nerd, due to commonality; that nerd would be blessed. Me, I was happy playing the precursor role of ‘Sam’ and having her as my ‘Mikaela’ from the subsequent Transformers movie, which, of course, was a cartoon when I was a child.


During homeroom, this beauty and her girlfriends giggled when I entered, as if I was the ‘court jester’ there to entertain them. Nevertheless, I enjoyed looking at her to a degree that would be considered rude and where she might be uncomfortable if she knew. I was so intimidated by her overall beauty that when I found out we were locker neighbors, I’d wait until she left her locker before going to mine. I would literally freeze and turn around if I turned the corner too fast and noticed her at her locker, until one day, she boldly waited ambush. We were the only ones in the hallway, because she had intentionally ‘camped out’ with the intent of forcing private proximity, which meant that she knew my schedule; I had a stalker. Sometimes, boys don’t know that girls are interested, but also shy.


“So that’s how you’re going to play me, Danny––I mean, you avoid your locker when I’m here. I want to know why you’re intentionally avoiding me.” I thought, “what, how does she know my name? I’ve never talked to her.” Then I thought “homeroom, she heard other people call me by my government name. But avoiding her; why does she want to meet and talk to me. I don’t know what to say to her.” Then, surprisingly, I spoke.


“How am I playing you, what are you talking about; I don’t remember doing anything offensive to you, but you talk as if I have, but I’m unfamiliar with you. You have mixed me up with someone else.” Then, I lied. “But you’re right, I’m avoiding you because I don’t want your boyfriend tripping.”


“First of all, if I was confused, I wouldn’t have called you by your name. And that’s what I’m talking about when I say ‘playing me.’ You act like you don’t know me. What, I’m not prestigious enough for Avalons; you can’t talk to me now that you’ve crossed over into a full-fledged 187 gangbanger. Where’s your ‘tear drop’ (a tattoo symbolizing eternal tears associated with homicide and doing time)?” I didn’t know what to say to her after she referenced CA Code 187, attaching it to me, but she continued. 


“Danny, I see you looking at me all the time, so do others, but you ignore me and hunch your shoulders at others when they ask you ‘if you’re interested in me.’ You also avoid coming to your locker whenever I’m at mine. And, no guy here is stupid enough to test you over me. I have always been nice to you, so why avoid me now, man. Have I done something to you that I’m unaware of?”


“What! Listen, when and where did we meet? What do you want to talk to me about and why? And if you’ve observed me ‘scoping you,’ why didn’t you ask me to stop sneak-peeking? Anyway, you haven’t done anything to me, but watch how you reference ‘Avalonia.’ Some of my homies have died behind the Avalonian brand, so kill the jeering; it’s an instant ‘deal breaker,’ regardless of how pretty you are. And I’m sure you meant to say ‘alleged 187 gangbanger.’ I was never even charged for that.”


“I haven’t told you to stop, because I don’t mind you looking at me, but you could at least say ‘hi.’ I mean, I’m not a ‘choice cut’ piece of meat. And damn, man, stop gangbanging on me; I wasn’t disrespecting Avalon. Surely, I’m not stupid, Danny; you guys are Yosemite Sam maniacs.” “Alright, I’m sorry about that; it’s reactionary. You might as well be talking bad about the Lakers, Rams, Raiders, Dodgers, USC or UCLA; scoffing in the same sentence with Avalon; it quickly changes the ambience.” “You don’t have to apologize. I understand, but you could talk to me, rather than just look. I’ll talk back. Though I can’t believe you don’t remember me. Are you serious, or have I really changed that much? Anyway, my girlfriends in class don’t believe that I know you and here you are, not remembering me. I’m glad they didn’t see this encounter; I’d be molded (embarrassed), green, as if I’m representing Avalonia.” “Is that what the giggling in class is about?” “Yeah. They keep daring me to talk to you, since I told them that I know you. But as all Avalonians, even yawls women, you don’t have an approachable nimbus; you’ve already gangbanged on me. And everyone’s aware of the term ‘bucket list’ but Avalon Crips, like Rollin 60 Crips, have ‘fuck-it lists’ and ‘hair triggers.’ So I’m smart enough to be careful.” Though surprised at her description of my exterior, I was just happy we were talking, and continued.

“Well I’m definitely not trying to embarrass you, but why haven’t you spoken to me, since you know me? And what do you know about Avalonian colors; you do know that you got to earn the right to wear ‘Money Green’?” “I know and I told you why I don’t approach you; your nimbus and I didn’t want this to happen, my having to make you remember me in front of people; modestly, I’d like to think I’m unforgettable. Also something else could’ve occurred that I couldn’t overcome psychologically or physically survive.” “Now what could possibly happen that you couldn’t overcome psychologically or survive physically? And what’s a nimbus?”


“Come on, Danny, or should I say ‘El Loco Puppet’ or Lil Bob from Avalon––many of you guys are unbelievably dangerous; other than Rollin 60s, yawl are the only other Crips surrounded by Bloods, but yawl continuously attack them, as if it’s more of yawl than them; it’s beyond intrepid; it’s voodoo-like, as if, yawl are daring landlocked pirates, religiously attacking Royal Navy Ships. It’s like death is immaterial to Avalonians. You guys are spooky unpredictable gangbangers, who have become ‘urban celebrities’ and ‘real time folklore.’ Are yawl trying to die young? Because it’s like the Avalon Gardens are filled with patients that escaped Soledad Prison for the Criminally Insane. Yawl scoff at death. So, rightfully, I was intimated by your persona, and afraid to take my girlfriend’s dare.” 


“Listen, we haven’t been accused of killing anyone who wasn’t trying to kill us or who hadn’t done something worthy of death by our hands, according to Crip and Blood politics and the Avalonian Vengeance Creed. And the last time I checked, I’m sure we haven’t been accused of killing any women or children, so I wouldn’t physically hurt you just because you spoke to me; I would return the courtesy, even if I didn’t like you or know you. I’m courteous. But what’s the psychological issue you may’ve not been able to overcome?” “I hate being embarrassed in the presence of an audience; it’s hard to overcome. It makes me feel ugly. But that hurdle has been cleared; we’re talking and you think I’m pretty.” “You could actually think that you aren’t fine, that’s crazy. And that being said, now you got to help me out; where and when did we meet?” She inhaled in frustration, disappointed that I didn’t remember her. Hurriedly, before she could verbalize her frustration, I continued.


“Look, first of all, I want you to know right now that you are definitely better than ‘good enough’ for me, whoever you are; if anything, I’m not good enough for you. Also my mom would kill me if I got a tattoo.” She just looked at inquisitively, becoming noticeably relaxed. Her gestures, voice and face were, now, have déjà vu effects upon me. Then she ‘snapped-out.’


Man please. Stop smoking ‘sherm’ (liquid PCP; wet), Danny. We did more than just meet, man, we hung out. It’s me, ReRe; Earnestine’s lil home girl! We used to come into the Avalon Gardens with her, until she felt that Avalonian women wouldn’t hurt or kill her out of envy or jealousy, before visiting you solo.” “What! You’re little ‘chocolate ReRe.’ I don’t believe it; I mean, you sound like ReRe, you even resemble her facially, now that I’ve really looked at you. Especially those cheekbones; I’ve always liked your cheeks, both pair. But the ReRe I knew had a cartoon booty that didn’t fit her body and she was flat-chested; nothing, except breast-buds and nipples. We would tease her saying ‘she had fingers sticking out of her chest.’ Now if you are that girl it appears that a scientist has injected you with steroids in all the right places. Or the scientist has taken ReRe’s face and put it on a wannabe ReRe. Where did you get those ‘theme-park-rollar-coaster-grown-woman’ curves? And how did it happen so fast? I mean you have beautiful Six-Flags’ hips; how did that happen? You can’t be ReRe. Some weird science shit has definitely taken place in Mad Swan Hood.”


Damn! That was boldly descriptive, Danny. How are you able to say that without a pause? I mean, if that was a compliment, I’ll take it. I forgot, Avalonians are intrepidly unfiltered. And you think I’m pretty.” “Listen, I don’t know the definition of the words nimbus or intrepidly; you’ve always been smarter than me and I ditched a lot, especially my senior year of junior high (9th grade). But I said it like that because there is no way that ‘little-itty-bitty-ass-juicy-booty-flat-chested-bird-legged-coochie-stingy’ ReRe morphed into the womanly teenager I’m looking at; you look like the female track starts at USC, Cal, UCLA, San Diego State, Pepperdine, Cal Poly, and Stanford. I understand the perfect ass; you always had a ‘voluptuous bubble booty,’ but the rest is mysterious, ReRe. If you’re ReRe.


Damn. Man. That’s how you remember me; itty bitty, coochie stingy, flat-chested and bird-legged,” she responded laughingly. Adding, “that was true, but my underdevelopment didn’t stop your younger homies, who thought I was their age, from pursuing me and trying to get into my panties. So I don’t know what you’re talking about; I was cute, even then. Even with finger tits. That’s why you’ve always thought I was and am pretty. Don’t front, Danny. It’s too late now.”


“Of course you were and I’m sorry; I shouldn’t have said that. But seriously, ReRe, you’ve womaned-up well (WUW); you look like a grown woman, if that’s really you. I mean, that booty of yours has always been unrealistically well-shape, not to mention attractive, in the way a hen’s plumped tail-feathers cause roosters to fight for her in the wild.” 


“If you don’t quit it man, talking about if it’s really me. You can’t be serious, man. It’s me and growth spurts during late puberty is how ‘it’ happened; you missed my development ditching school.”


“How ‘what’ happened?”  “Growth spurts, man; didn’t you just ask me how it happened.” “Oh, yep, I’m sorry but I can’t focus, looking at you––you distract me.” “Well, growth spurts is how the rest of my figure caught up to my, as you say, cartoon booty. And by the way, nimbus just means persona; intrepid means fearless.” “Thanks for educating me. But let’s get back to your figure. That’s a whole lot of damn growth, ReRe; you’re very pretty and well-shaped. Is it over? I mean, shit, your figure is perfect, like a Marvel heroine. It looks like you jumped off an artist’s canvas. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone as pretty as you or shaped like you, ReRe, especially not a high school freshman.” When I said that, she blushed, giggled, gathered herself, then responded like a sage, trying to guard her excitement.


Mm hmm, I knew you were checking me out; I knew I wasn’t tripping. And, damn, you’re blunt; there’s no screen at all; you definitely say what you think. And I have to admit your compliments are comically cute, I’m just unsure if they’re virtuous.” “Listen, you’re going to have to tone down your language if you want me to understand you. I told you I ditched a lot; you’re smarter than I am.” “See what I mean; who would say that so casually; that’s a ‘hard truth,’ Danny. Most would be embarrassed to admit that. Anyway, virtuous is just a prettier word for ‘righteous,’ ‘ethical,’ or ‘moral.’” “Oh, I see. But if you recognized it as a compliment, how is it not virtuous? Besides, I have my own ‘moral compass’ and my virtue depends upon the moment’s ambience and the politics involved; I believe that everything that feels ‘unrighteous’ isn’t; it’s not a carnal urge, it’s your essence. We like what we like, but if we’re governed by someone else’s prescribed social morals, biblical, political, or otherwise, are we really being us’? At some point, you got to throw caution to the wind and activate your ‘fuck it list,’ even if risky, ReRe. Live according to your moral code, hold fast to ‘your commandments.’ If not, you’ll live constantly depriving yourself of what you desire and long for, which isn’t really living. So to the best of my ability I consciously live outside the ethical margins of others, or I don’t feel free. I try not to be cruel to others, but if I can do it, it must be virtuous, otherwise my essence would stop me. So who’s really moral, the thieves casting verbal stones, bitter because their hands are missing, or the adulterer who refuses to leave his lover in the lurch and escapes with her, even if it means killing the stone-throwers to do so. Ultimately, do what you want; you know what you want.” ReRe just peered at me, studiously, as if confused, before snapping out of her swoon.


“Well I feel that it’s unethical, because you are my homegirl’s guy, so you shouldn’t notice me like that and I shouldn’t blush about it. But I see why she is crazy about you. And you’ve always been just as funny as you are unpredictably dangerous, and I see that you’re wickedly intelligent, maybe even crafty when you want to be. I caught the gist of your ‘ethics,’ ‘ambiance,’ and ‘moral code’ pitch. It was very interesting, almost persuasive. Luckily, I gathered myself after its initial shock; I see now that I’ve got to watch myself around you. Anyway, are you going to make it here?”


“Yeah, why wouldn’t I make it here?” “Because you were here, then you were gone, and school has just started. I knew you hadn’t got killed or your guys would act up noticeably. It’s kind of like watching the Lakers play the Celtics; people, even police, wait on the ‘get-back-ackrite-event’ of Avalonian and 8-9 Family’s retaliation on foes, praying for those in their line of fire. Plus you’ve already had a fight here. So I was just wondering had you switched to Locke High or dropped out.”


“Well, I’m struggling with the assignments and I’ve been told that I have to go to the alternative section of the school, near the botany classes. I don’t think I can cut it; I hate school.” “Well, would you like a nerd for a tutor? I can help you make the cut if you let me.” Now she had me peering at her.


“Seriously? I mean, just like that, you’d volunteer to help me pick up my grades? Are you sure my pitch didn’t work?” “Yeah, I’m sure your pitch hasn’t worked.” And why not tutor you? It’s not like I don’t know you. Don’t act so surprised about it and don’t read off into it anything further than tutoring.” “I won’t read into it, but damn, you’re giving me orders already, ReRe; I mean at least wait until we get married and you give me some loving.” Her mouth dropped open in shock. Hurriedly, I calmed her.


“I was just kidding, ReRe, don’t tap out on me already; we’re just getting reacquainted. But how are we going to pull it off? We’ll be in separate parts of the school. Not to mention, it may be dangerous hanging around me, due to my alleged murderous repertoire.” “I can tutor you after school and there’s no maybe; it will be dangerous hanging around you. But so what, South Central is dangerous everywhere.” I couldn’t believe her response, but I agreed, accepting her as my tutor.


“Ok, ReRe. At school or my house.” “Man, don’t try it, Danny; I’m definitely not going into the Avalon Gardens. I’m not ready for that altered world of yours. It feels like another planet south of Manchester Avenue, up to El Segundo Boulevard, even when my mom and I just drive by, looking at the projects on 88th; it’s eerie, almost like we’re breaking Avalonian law peering between the housing units. Both of us are still astonished at how clean the projects are compared to other projects and in contrast to the horrors that occur at its core or when someone forces yawl to leave it like army ants. Last week my mom said one of yawl shot at the police, she also said that yawl can be isolationist and not let anything, people or information, in or out; though the streets may be inquiring or waiting on yawl’s response to a situation. So it’ll definitely be at my house or the campus. Shoot, man, I could go into Avalonia and never be heard from again. Avalonia’s a place of voodoo, witches and warlocks, Danny.”


“If your mom feels that way, she’s not going to allow me to enter her house. Hell, she’s not going to want me around you. I mean, even you know that you could get hurt or even killed being with me; it’s a danger close situation, ReRe, so I’m confused; because you don’t mind me looking at you, which is the equivalent of condoning my lust for you. You joke about me thinking you’re cute and complimenting you, but feel that’s immoral, then you say ‘don’t read off into your eagerness to tutor me,’ and that my pitch nearly worked. Yet you’re willing to be in constant close proximity with me, knowing how I feel about you. Oh, and that was my brother that shot at LAPD. After he shot up the bus.” “What? For real?” “Yep.” ReRe froze in motion, then found her voice.


“See what I mean? You guys are lawless, psychotic land pirates. Yawl just don’t give a damn. And my mom definitely can’t know I’m tutoring anyone from Avalonia; we’ll be done before she comes home. And if someone kills me while I’m in my own house tutoring you, I’m supposed to die. Besides, you’ve managed to keep yourself alive; I’m certain you can keep me alive too. And I don’t have an answer for the inconsistency of my statements and actions that seem to go against my ethics. Nor do I have an answer for my willingness to tutor you, especially when being in your presence is dangerous for me. Maybe I’m just nice. But why did he shoot up the bus, then at the police?”


“Damn, ReRe, the way you’re talking, you sound like an intrepid Criplette, unafraid of death. But what were yawl going to do?” “What was who going to do? What are you referring to, now? And why didn’t you answer me?” “You and your homegirls, who initially chaperoned Earnestine when she visited me in Avalonia; did yawl intend to fight my homegirls? Are you an undercover Lady Blood, ReRe, setting me up for a ‘do low’? In fact, why don’t we just call this tutor thing off, while we’re ahead of the game.” 


There he is, the real Danny, AKA El Loco Puppet, AKA Lil Bob. Damn it. Yawl change like someone flipped a switch. I had forgotten all about that part of our conversation. But to answer your question, we definitely weren’t trying to fight Avalonian Criplettes. How did your mind conceive that? This is what I mean in reference to Avalonia and yawl’s ‘high-piston minds.’ I could be in danger not even know it; I would have never expected your mind to arrive at that conclusion from such historically harmless statements, referring to excitingly dangerous tours into Avalonia. That’s why I’m not going into the Avalon Gardens; yawl have dangerously quirky minds Danny. But I’m not calling it off; I’m tutoring you. I think it’s phenomenally eerie that everyone shares frequency thought, like bees. I even heard that yawl have a Queen by the name of Mother Bessie.”


What? Who told you that? With the statement you just made, she could get arrested and charged for what we do––if I answer affirmatively. I don’t want to talk to you anymore; I’ll find another tutor. It was nice getting reacquainted, have a nice day, I’m bouncing.” “What? No, you didn’t just dismiss me––damn, calm down man. I’m not one-time (LAPD) junior cop, a spy for Bloods in my neighborhood, or anything close; you guys are infamous, like yawl’s neighbors, 8-9 Family Bloods. No one understands how 8-8 Avalon Gangsta Crips and 8-9 Neighborhood Family Bloods are so geographically close and are from enemy nations but don’t fight each other, though yawl kill Bloods at an alarming rate, just as they kill Crips. So the streets told me about Mother Bessie, as it told everyone else. Are we cool now? I want to be cool with you, Danny, even though you are warlock shifty.”


“Yeah, we’re cool; we’ve always been cool, if you’re really ReRe; but let’s not talk of Mother Bessie anymore. Let’s discuss our predicament––and I want you to know that I can’t get over your development, so if you see me peeking don’t be alarmed. And what’s your boyfriend going to say? How is going to feel about you tutoring me? He may even be a slob (Blood) from your neighborhood. I’m sure you’re courting now. As a matter of fact, we can’t do this; I may have to kill someone over you.”


“Man please. I told you that no one’ll challenge you about me. And quit fishing; you’re not slick. I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m still, as you say, stingy with my peach cobbler. That’s what you really want to know, isn’t it––my status.” “No way! For real, you’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t believe that.” “What! I can’t be a virgin, Danny? Now I’m too square for you; I got to ‘give it up’ to be ‘down.’ Or just to get reacquainted as your friend and tutor.” Now she had me flustered.


“I didn’t say that; that’s not in our verbal contract. Listen, you’ve always been ‘little-girl-cute,’ but now you’re ‘grown-woman-gorgeous.’ You’re just so intelligent, pretty and 36-24-36 ‘brick-house-built,’ like the Commodores song. So it’s hard to believe that you don’t have a boyfriend and that you’re still a virgin. I mean, aren’t you feeling sexual urges with those womanly tools? Hormones have to be taking you through it. The guys in your neighborhood got to be interested. Or are they gay?” “They are interested, I’m not; at least, not in them. I know what they’re after and I’m not ready for that yet. Besides, I don’t want to be the ‘common girl’ in the neighborhood that guys gossip about because they’re too immature to respect my virtue or understand the power of privacy.  The act of sex is intimate, but they already gossip about me being ‘stuck-up’ for ‘not giving it up.’ Imagine what they’ll say if I give, even one of them, my ‘peach cobbler.’ No, I don’t want to be the ‘rite of passage’ topic in a conversation between male juveniles, where I’m the crowning achievement ingenue conquest of another ignorant braggart guy, him telling other childish guys how he fucked me; I saw Cooley High. And I wish you would stop slipping in compliments. I’m really flattered, Danny, but Earnestine’s my big homegirl.”


The bell rang; we had talked our entire lunch period. I walked off and she grabbed my hand, saying “you’re going the wrong way; we have history now.” I had forgotten the schedule, but she knew it; we had three classes together and she’d meet me after every class that separated us. We would eat lunch together and meet again after school. In homeroom the next day she reserved a seat for me next to her. Her girlfriends giggled and said things like “Mm hmm, it’s about time, go ahead ReRe, we see ya girl. Yawl look good together; a nerd and a gangsta. I guess what they say about opposites isn’t cliché.”


I felt like a prize. ReRe was all teeth, blushing with embarrassment. Individualism was working. I took a moment and whispered to her, “so what are you going to dare them to do, now that you’ve won via locker-ambushed?” “But, I didn’t…” she began trying to explain that the dare was figurative. I told her that it was ok to let them view her as the winner she was, as long as I was her prize, then I looked her in her eyes and told her, “you can always bet on me, ReRe. I’ll never let you lose.”