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Travon smacked his lips. "Man, you're stupid."
"Why?" Justin asked, shifting his gaze toward Travon. "Just because your brother got killed don't mean I will. Besides, it's for the hood."
Travon exhaled, and lowered his head. "I told my brother that he was stupid too, and now he's dead."
The boys continued around the side of the old red-brick school building toward the back. Staring at the ground, Justin haphazardly kicked at gravel spread along the ground beneath his feet.
"Yeah, Tre, but at least Too-Low went out like a soldier," he replied.
They were headed behind the middle school to a pair of old wooden green bleachers that sat across the well-worn football field. They could see the others standing just in front of the peeling bleachers waiting for them. Travon shifted his gaze from the waiting boys back to Justin. He started to speak, but Justin interrupted him.
"Tre, what's up with you?" Justin asked. "You ain't got no love for the hood? Your brother was down; he was a straight-up G. Don't you wanna be like that? Making everybody bar you and catch out when you step on the scene?"
Travon stared at Justin in silence. His silence seemed to only anger his friend more.
"I know that you're still trippin' over your brother getting killed, but he'd want you to ride for the hood!" Justin shouted. "He'd want you to be down!"
Travon halted in mid-step, and stared at Justin coldly. "How do you figure that?"
Like a precious family heirloom, Travon considered his brother, his brother's thoughts and wishes, as well as his memory, to be sacred. They were his and his alone.
Justin paused to formulate his reply, but one of the waiting boys shouted. "Y'all lil' niggaz hurry the fuck up! We ain't got all muthafuckin' day!"
Now filled with even more nervous anxiety, Travon and Justin quickly ended their conversation and hurriedly approached the waiting group. A tall, slender, shirtless boy stepped to the forefront. His torso was heavily illustrated with various tattoos and brandings, while his body was draped in gold jewelry, glimmering brilliantly in the bright South Texas sun.
"So, y'all lil' niggaz wanna get down, huh?" the shirtless boy asked.
Another boy anxiously stepped forward. "Say, Dejuan, let me put 'em on the hood!" Dejuan, the first boy, folded his arms and nodded.
Travon walked his eyes across all of the boys present. There were six of them, all adorned with large expensive gold necklaces, watches, bracelets, and earrings, and all of them had gold caps covering their teeth. They were members of the notorious Wheatley Courts Gangsters, or WCGs for short. The WCGs were one of the most violent drug gangs in the State of Texas. Their ruthlessness and brutality was legendary.
Travon nervously examined the boys one by one. Those who were not shirtless were clad in burnt-orange University of Texas T-shirts. Burnt orange was the gang's colors, and the University of Texas symbol was their adopted motif. It stood for the location of their home, the Wheatley Courts. It was their municipality, their ruthless domain, their merciless world. It was a place where their will was law, and where all those who disobeyed were sentenced to death.
The Wheatley Courts was a low-income housing project where drugs and violence were the rule, and not the exception. It was also a place where many more than just a few of its occupants had made millions in their professions as street pharmacists. Perhaps worst of all, the Courts were home to the WCGs, a gang of ballers, and stone-cold murderers.
Travon shifted his gaze to his left; Justin had begun to remove his T-shirt. He looked back at the group of boys, to find that several of them were removing their shirts and jewelry as well. The festivities were about to begin.
"Let me whip these lil' niggaz onto the hood!" Tech Nine asked Dejuan again.
Without waiting for a response, Tech Nine walked away from the group and onto the football field, where he was quickly joined by Quentin, Lil C, and T-Stew. Once out on the field, the boys turned and waited for Justin.
Hesitantly, Justin made his way to where Tech Nine was waiting patiently and cracking his knuckles. Once Justin came within striking distance, Tech Nine swung wildly at him. The blow slammed into Justin's face.
"Muthafucka!" Justin shouted. He quickly charged Tech Nine and tackled him. Both boys hit the ground hard.
Lil C approached from the side and kicked Justin in his ribs. Justin cried out and rolled over onto his side. Justin tried to lift himself from off the ground, only to be met by a fist from Quentin. Justin grabbed his bloody nose.
"Wheatley Courts Gangstas, you punk-ass bitch!" Tech Nine shouted, as he charged Justin. "This is WCG, nigga!"
Lil C delivered a kick to Justin's back, just as Quentin swung at Justin again.
"Get that muthafucka!" Dejuan shouted from the sidelines.
Justin was able to roll away from Tech Nine's lunge, but had to take another blow from Quentin. He was able to make it to his feet just in time to receive another punch from Lil C. Although tired and out of breath, Justin was able to sustain the blow and remain standing.
"WCG for life!" Quentin shouted, advancing again.
Lil C swung at Justin again and missed. Justin, however, was unable to dodge a kick from Tech Nine. It landed directly in his groin.
Justin stumbled back, and Tech Nine kicked again, this time missing Justin and striking Lil C.
"My bad, man!" Tech Nine shouted. "I was trying to kick that little muthafucka!"
"Shit! Aw, fuck!" Lil C slowly descended to the ground while clutching his groin.
This brief intermission gave Justin time to recover and go on the offensive. He quickly dropped to one knee and punched Quentin in his groin, just as Quentin was about to swing at him.
"Aaaaaargh, shit! Punk muthafucka!" Quentin fell to the ground clutching his crotch.
Tech Nine maneuvered behind Justin, and threw a hard punch to the back of his head.
"Yeah, muthafucka, this is Wheatley Courts on mines!" Tech Nine shouted.
Justin rose, stumbled forward, and tripped over Quentin's leg. Tired, he hit the ground hard; this time, he could not find the energy to get back up. Tech Nine hurriedly approached and began kicking.
Justin, unable to move, curled into a ball and waited for the pain to be over.
"Punk muthafucka, fight back!" Tech Nine continued to kick brutally. He kicked Justin until he became tired, and retreated to where the others were standing.
Dejuan turned to Tech Nine. "Do you think that's enough?" he asked laughingly.
Tech Nine, sweating profusely, swallowed hard before answering. "I think he can get down. I think he's got enough nuts." He shifted his eyes to Travon. "You lucky I'm tired today, but tomorrow, I'm going to enjoy putting hands on you."
Travon's heart slowed to a semi-normal pace once he realized that they would not be jumping on him today. He quickly walked to where Justin was lying curled in a ball on the ground. Travon dropped down to his knees beside his friend.
"Justin, are you all right?" Travon asked.
"Justin." Travon grabbed Justin's shoulder and shook it gently. "Justin."
"Yeah, I'm cool," Justin answered weakly.
"Leave him alone, he's all right!" shouted Lil C, who was slowly rising to his feet again.
Tech Nine shifted his eyes toward his friend. "Say, C, are you all right?"
"Yeah, muthafucka," Lil C answered. "Just watch where in the fuck you kicking next time."
Justin slowly uncurled, and pain shot through his body as he tried to brace himself to stand. Travon helped his friend off the ground.
"Yeah, you WCG now, baby!" T-Stew shouted.
Quentin, Tech Nine, T-Stew, and Dejuan quickly surrounded Justin.
"You WCG for life now, baby!" exclaimed Dejuan.
"Gimme some love, homie!" Tech Nine shouted.
"It's all about that WCG!" Justin declared weakly.
"Yeah!" T-Stew shouted. He extended his right arm into the air and made a W by crossing his two middle fingers. Doing the same with his left arm, he cupped his hand and formed the letter C.
"Wheatley Courts, baby!" Lil C shouted, as he and Justin embraced.
"Wheatley Courts!" T-Stew repeated, maneuvering into position for his embrace.
Dejuan swaggered away from the group, over to a pile of T-shirts lying on the ground. He lifted up a burnt-orange University of Texas T-shirt and examined it. On the front of the shirt rested a large white T. On the back of the shirt, printed in Old English script were the words Wheatley Courts for Life. Dejuan turned and walked back to where the boys were waiting, and Travon watched in fear, disbelief, and a slight bit of jealous envy as Justin was given Dejuan's very own Texas T-shirt to put on. © 2007 by Caleb Alexander