Horror. Horror and pure shock freeze over me.
Wet bark and the smell of hot gunpowder clog my senses. I am on the ground covering my head, about to die of a heart attack from my own fear. I am violently shaking. Nothing or no one moves. When the firing stops, all that’s left is abhorrence. An abhorrence filled with the most putrid taste of anger, sadness, and fear mixed in one.
I don’t know how long I’m on the ground, connected to Mother Earth and her deep-pitted roots. As soon as I conclude that I’m truly alive and that my thoughts aren’t just the aftermath of my death, a glass-shattering scream shoots awareness up my spine. I look to my left and see Valerie screaming, standing over the fallen body.
The fallen body of Barbara.
Blake and Antonio scramble to their feet to join the chaos. It is too dark to see their facial expressions, but judging from their still silhouettes, they are just as stunned as me.
But unfortunately, I am the one who is right next to Barbara’s lifeless form.
I stand up and immediately back away from her. My mind can’t process what the fuck I’m witnessing. I don’t want to believe my friend is dead.
Someone starts losing their breath. Someone starts gagging and turns away from the awful result. A phone light shines bright on Barbara’s body and upon first sight, our concerns are finalized.
Barbara is dead.
“NO!” Valerie shrieks, falling to the ground and hugging the bloodied body that the bullets punctured through. Tears are rolling down my face in numbers. I have never seen a shot-to-death body in my life. The only corpse I’ve seen were that of a grandparent who passed from natural causes, and still, that bothered the shit out of me. Looking at a human being who no longer exists is just mind-boggling and hurtful and disturbing.
Antonio chokes while crying and that’s when I process that this is the most heartbreaking thing I’ve seen in my life. This all feels fake. As if this is a whole prank and someone is gonna come out and shout how scared we all were and tease us for eternity about our reactions. I’m waiting for the cameras. I’m waiting for Barbara to pop back up and laugh, a beautiful smile shining with youth and innocence and everything I ever appreciated Barbara for.
But she doesn’t. She lies lifeless. Blood pools out of her mouth and all around her body.
I’m frigid. I’m breaking down on the inside. Suddenly, I’m numb to everything. Nothing matters anymore. I don’t even blink or flinch when Blake starts firing bullets into the woods, scaring away whoever’s still out here.
An engine starts in the distance and Blake starts firing at the car. More gunpowder, more violence. Someone might’ve been hit, someone might be dead.
I keep staring at Barbara expecting her to wake up and join us again. She was by the far the most welcoming and most kind gang member who took me in. Never complained about me, always made sure I was alright. Barbara and I had the most in common. Two broken souls just looking for acceptance. Two sensitive kids who longed for friendship and passion. She was my family.
And now she’s gone.
Staring at her wide eyes and gradually decaying body becomes less depressing and more encouraging. She gives me a sprite of courage to want to avenge her. To want to really be about this life and stop playing so many games with myself. Bold Ron has erupted a few times, but this one time, this one, peculiar time...
...Bold Ron is in full throttle. Fuck trying to play it safe. Fuck being a coward. Fuck my parents, fuck useless school, and fuck the Chicago Saints who ruthlessly took our friend in vain.
I am finally prepared to be in this shit and face whatever gang life may bring with it.
I have finally snapped.