Tuesday, April 17, 2007

...

A foul smell arouses you from slumber, twisted into a painful position amidst piled bags of garbage in the dense black of a deep alley at night. Your head feels leaden, sagging toward your chest. You labor to pull yourself into a one kneed crouch, cradling your throbbing head in your hand for a moment like a bedraggled version of The Thinker.

Shouts from the other end of the alley startle you and you look over to see three cholos surrounding another of their kind, fallen and prostrate; they are assaulting him with kicks and insults. You slink back into the garbage pile, hiding. Suddenly a blast of light flares from amidst the three; three times accompanied by the crack crack crack of a small handgun.

They run off, leaving their victim on the ground. Silence falls instantly; the man is motionless under the rising smoke of the pistol shots. Your heart is beating so hard and fast it seems it is trying to pound its way out of your chest.

After what seems like hours you overcome your fear and get up and start slowly toward the fallen man. As you near you think you see him move slightly and you break into a run. You reach him and look down to see a boy of about sixteen, Latino with black hair slicked back in classic vato style. He's pleading at your through uncomprehending eys. Not knowing what to do you kneel down next to him, examining his torso for the wounds you expect to find. He is wearing a thin white undershirt, but you cannot find a mark on him. With great effort he moves his right hand over his chest and points to his left shoulder. You lean over, expecting to see a bullet wound. With a horrifying shudder he lets out a final breath, his forefinger pointing to a tattoo. You can just make it out in the light; in low rider style calligraphy it reads:

UNTETHERED

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