Chapter 19

Justin found out his crush Amy liked me. I didn’t even know it. All I knew was that my property was being mysteriously vandalized. I should have seen the writing on the wall then, that even when a girl does like you, that’s actually just the beginning of the stress. Come to find out, Justin was slashing holes in my bike tires. The last straw was when he stole my pair of fake Ray Bans.

I told his cousins and everyone we knew, that when I saw him, it was on sight. Even my mom overheard my threats, but I guess no one took me seriously, until I caught him walking home from Dairy Queen. It was the moment I’d been waiting for. I rushed up the hill and without saying a word, shoved him into a fence. To my surprise, he wasn’t shook.

“Just let my set down my slushie and glasses”, he said.

After he did I started swinging. You would think I was trying to kill him. All he could do was whimper in self-defense, and try to mitigate the damage. It was as if I was retaliating for years of being bullied by everyone else. I saw blood gushing out of his face but I didn’t stop. He was crawling on the ground. I was standing. I cocked back to kick him in the face. It was just how I’d been fantasizing. But something in his sad cowardly expression reminded me that he was once my friend, so I stopped. My work was done.

I ran home feeling like Rocky, my clothes covered in his blood. I put my Tupac tape into the cassette deck. I played ‘Ambitionz Az a Ridah’ as loud as it would go, mimicking the lyrics and mannerisms like I was filming the music video. By then my grandmother came over to see what the commotion was. Shocked, she screamed “Are you losing your mind”. For that moment, I had.

Just then the police showed up. They said they wanted to question me. I told them I was doing their job for them, since they couldn’t apprehend this thief and vandal themselves. I told them I was going to protect my property by any means necessary. I told them there was only one criminal involved in this situation and justice had already been served.

As I waited for them to thank and applaud my heroic vigilantism, they got a call from their dispatch saying Justin’s mother did not wish to press charges. Probably because that would also implicate her son criminally. Apparently she was just trying to scare me.

My punishment was that my mother made me spend an entire day with her at her desk job. It was horrible sitting there all day by myself in a cubicle with nothing to do. What’s crazy is that my punishment then is what I have to do for money to survive now. What’s even crazier but not terribly surprising is that last I heard, Justin is a cop now. Let’s pray he never pulls me over. I’ll add that to the list of things I don’t want to think about.

“Fuck peace and the police” -2Pac, ‘Ambitionz Az a Ridah’


I was never allowed to go on any field trip. I had gotten in too much trouble. It broke my heart in the 6th grade when I could’t go to Camp Piedmont. I’d been looking forward to that trip for years. The night before, I begged God that somehow I’d be able to go. But when I went to school the next morning, everyone was gone and I just sat there with the other ‘bad’ kids, doing nothing.

It was the 8th grade now which meant there was one last field trip before High School, the big one to Washington D.C. I actually had a shot at being allowed to go. But a few weeks before the trip Jared W tried to fight me again. The whole school formed around us. We stood there surrounded by a colleseum of students, him antagonizing me, everyone laughing. I was running out of time, that crowd wanted blood. I didn’t know what to do.

Teachers finally came and broke it up. I wondered what took them so long. The principal took me in his office, called me a trouble maker, and gave me the only thing worst than in-school suspension – the dreaded Saturday School. He said that if I didn’t show up, I could kiss my D.C. trip goodbye.

They had taken so much from me already. I wasn’t going to beg for their mercy. It was the Friday before I was supposed to go to Saturday School. Friday the 13th, September, 1996.

My mind was made up about not going to Saturday school, or DC. I had made my peace with. It was my protest. I didn’t do anything wrong and believed it was important to stand for something. Rebelling against the system was the only time I ever found peace. I felt like I was doing God’s work. I felt like it was ‘Me Against the World’ and I wanted to be like Tupac.

He had just been shot a week before and was still in the hospital. All I could think about was what he said. If you can’t find something to live for you better find something to die for.” The words were resonating with me a lot. I felt like he was going through so much, so we’d know we could also withstand struggle. I was sure he was going to survive, like he always did.

But later than evening while playing my Nintendo 64, my mom came into my room from watching the news, and told me that my hero had died. Tupac has succumb to his violent, rebellious lifestyle.

The look in her eyes said it all. The next morning I went to Saturday school. And then on a field trip to Washington D.C. where I saw the buildings built by slaves, and the people who preached freedom.