Friday, May 15, 2009

Ghost, Part 2

Ghost, Part 1

Ghost and I settled into a routine. About every week or so, I'd go by his house and check on him. I'd chat with him and the Diamond Street (DST) boys while they played basketball or lounged on the front steps. I'd give them well-intended advice about baby mamas, homework, and dealing with parents. I'd tell them that I could help them find a jobs. I'd occasionally chat with Danny, his dad. Those conversations gave new meaning to futility.

Ghost was not particularly receptive to these attempts at intervention. He liked being in a gang, it was exciting and fun, and it gave his life meaning and purpose. He was a loc in the truest sense of the word. Loc, short for loco, means "crazy" on the streets. In Ghost's case, this crazy translated into shooting at rivals, having your own house shot up in response, fighting whenever there was an opportunity, and provoking a response whenever he could, wherever he went.

When at school, he was a huge pain in the ass for school administrators. He could always be counted on to do the most fucking stupid thing possible. While walking down a hallway, he'd give his rivals "hard looks," staring them down, and trying to provoke them in non-verbal ways. He might tip his head at them in a demeaning way, or make arm gestures while puffing out his chest, or throw up the distinctive DST handsign (a diamond, of course). He'd mutter insults under his breath at them: "Sewer rats," (a derogatory reference to Surenos, or "Levas" (an insult directed at the Avenues gang members, that means "lame"). He was also a prolific graffiti writer in the school, throwing up his gang's initials and his nickname EVERYWHERE.

When he wasn't at school, which was a high percentage of the time, he was similarly occupied in his neighborhood. He lived to fuck with rival gang members. That was the one activity that seemed to give him nearly constant joy.

By doing so, he also built his status in the gang..."He's loco" translates to: "He's fucking stupid, and might do just about anything violent." Other gang members feared his temper and willingness to fight/shoot/confront. His peers respected him for his craziness and the fact that he was clearly so down for his set.

He liked me, though. And, I liked him. So, I kept trying, even when it seemed to be a constant exercise in futility.

Ghost, Part 3


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