Excerpt 1: Fate

Spread your feet, boy.” The cop kicked Vincent’s legs open before he even had a chance to spread them.

Another cop car pulled up joining the other three that where already there. Vincent was not even supposed to be here tonight.

Vince knew when the guys showed up riled up about what had happened at school earlier that day it was a bad idea to buy booze and hang out. He’d already said he was out but at the last minute decided to join them.

Sure enough as soon as a few of them got buzzed they started talking about walking the two blocks from the abandoned car lot where they’d been hanging out to their high school and crossing out the offending tags they were so pissed about.

Now here he was face down on the hood of a cop car as a cop frisked him roughly and most likely would be thrown in jail for vandalism. He hadn’t even been one of the ones doing the tagging. In fact, he’d been the only one telling them they were stupid for doing it.

They didn’t call themselves a gang but they may as well because they sure as fuck acted like stupid thugs sometimes—like tonight for example. The guys were all pissed because someone had tagged up several of the more noticeable walls at school with the words Basset, the city just over on the other side of their high school.

Alfonso, one of Vincent’s friends since childhood had gotten in a fight over a girl with someone from a Basset gang not too long ago. They’d all been there at the party so everyone took the tagging personally. Everyone agreed they had to cross the tag out. As stupid as Vince thought it was, he agreed to go out of loyalty to his friends but he refused to do any tagging. It didn’t matter now because they were all in trouble just the same.

“What’s your name, boy?” The heavyset cop asked Vince from behind him as he handcuffed him.

“Vincent.” He squeezed his eyes shut for a second and thought of how disappointed his parents would be. The cop turned him around so he could face him.

“Vincent what?”

“How old are you, Moreno?”


“You in a gang?”

“No sir.”
“You sure about that?” The cop asked gesturing toward his friends.

Vincent glanced over at Alfonso who was now sitting on the curb handcuffed, then at the rest of them who were still lying face down on the ground with their legs spread and their hands behind their heads. Not a gang his ass.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

“You were the only one without a marker in your possession or doing any tagging when I drove up. Why’s that? You the look out, Moreno?”

“No sir.”

The cop spun him around and smiled, crossing his arms in front of him. “So you hang out with a bunch of punks who come and cross out other gangs tags but you’re not in a gang?”

“No, sir. I’m not.” As stupid as that sounded Vince was sticking to his story. The last thing he needed was to get labeled a gang member by the local authorities. For months, he’d been trying to straighten his shit out.

After his brother Lorenzo had gotten caught shoplifting and his mother blamed Vince for being a bad influence, even though he’d never stolen a thing in his life, he swore to her he’d straighten out.

Vince didn’t even let Lorenzo hang out with him and the guys anymore if he even thought they might be up to anything that smelled like trouble. Like tonight. He was so glad now he’d refused to let Lorenzo tag along. Being arrested would be bad enough but getting his younger brother swept up into this mess would’ve been a million times worse.

“I’ll tell you what,” the cop said. “You tell me who the ringleader of your little NON gang here is and I’ll let you walk.”

Vincent chuckled. This cop was full of shit if he thought Vince was going to rat out any of his friends. Living in La Puente his whole life, he knew the drill when it came to cops. Gathering gang information was crucial to them so they could go after them and their biggest target was always the gang leaders. He’d sooner go to jail then throw any of his friends under the bus. Besides as bad as this looked he wasn’t in a gang, damn it.

“I already told you I’m not in a gang so there are no ring leaders.”

The cops smile went flat and he grabbed Vince by the arm. “Suit yourself.”

He walked him over to the curb and sat him down next to Alfonso. Vincent thought about what his parents’ reaction would be when they got the call. His mother would probably cry, his father would be completely disappointed and he’d be in a world of trouble if his parents who were already struggling financially had to pay any fines for this shit.

One by one, all his friends were frisked, questioned, handcuffed then sat down on the curb. Their Miranda rights were read and then the paddy wagon arrived. They all filed in and sat down. By now, enough people from the neighborhood had gathered that his parents would probably know about his arrest before he even called them. Fucking hell!