“I got suspended for five days over that fight man. The principal was saying he might expel me.”
“What? Expulsion? It’s that bad?”
“Hell yeah. I’m really throwing things off by not coming to school, because the gang needs me. I’m the ring leader. I keep everything in order. I run a legit business Ron. You just don’t know what be going down sometimes.”
“A business? You mean like...”
“Don’t be scared to say it.”
I look at him and he looks back even harder. I was hoping his money was clean.
“Drugs?” I finish very softly. Although barely anyone is here at this park, I don’t want to proudly announce that Blake and his gang illegally sell drugs on school property.
Now this doesn’t seem right anymore.
“Why? What kind of question is that?"
“Why do you and your gang sell drugs?”
“So we can live off our own. We ain’t got no parents who look out for us and give us allowance and shit. That’s why we a gang in the first place. Priority. Family. Bonding. We gotta hustle and stick together. Normal life ain’t meant for us.”
“Then what life is?”
“The life we living right now homie. Gang Life.”
The way he says it, the way he looks, he makes it all sound so promising. Terms like family, bonding, and priority make me think about my own sets of values and support.
Do my parents care that I’m gay or not? Do they even know? Well how does an eight year old know then? What if they don’t care? Or what if they really don’t know? How can they not?
Blake senses that I’m in my head again. He finishes his ice-cream. Throws it away. Points to my own dessert.
“You gone eat that?”
“I-I’m not really hungry.”
“You just wasted my money then.”
He chuckles and this eases my nerves a little bit. I feel like Blake is a very confusing guy to figure out. One minute I feel like he notices me in every which way. Or maybe I’m thinking too hard? Blake cannot be gay. I don’t believe it’s in his character. But then again...
...I never thought I’d be considering joining a gang either.
This feeling engulfs me and I look towards the sky. I let the breeze run across my face like sheets blowing in the wind. My heart beat is out of control. I feel Blake’s eyes on me, and I feel bold enough to look at him back.
He doesn’t flinch or move or blink. Only gazes.
“I just realized we the only two here,” he states.
Something else is on his mind. He seems distracted.
“No,” I say, trying not to smile.
It’s right now that I feel something very deep; penetrating; drilling right through me.
Blake will not take his eyes off me. I almost want to ball up into nonexistence and pretend like he never touched my bruises in the locker room. I want to pretend that he never hit me just an hour ago, or that his hand was on my thigh on the bus. This ice-cream thing never happened, and Blake never happened.
“Tell you what,” his eyes leave my face. “this ain’t nothing to be flip-floppity on. You either want in for real or you can stop playing.”
“W-What do you mean? I’m not playing?”
“Better not be.”
“I want respect. Just like you.”
I sound desperate for him, a bright urge so badly wanting this taste of change. I want to be respected, I want to be someone I never thought I’d be.
His dark eyes roam over the park, jacketed arms folded across his chest. I read before that that’s a defensive stance. He’s trying to hide or deny something. Better yet...he wants to appear intimidating.
I don’t take my eyes off of his face though. My attention is solely his and free to have at any time.
“Well Ron,” he says, smirking while nodding.
I lean in closer. The wind tossles around us like air waves.
“First thing you need to know...you affiliated with us now.”