Read an Excerpt
An excerpt from Inside the Crips describing Colton Simpson's induction at age 11:
"You wit' it?" Big T asks, but he doesn't look at me.
"I'm down," I tell them, waiting for the discussion of my worthiness and loyalty to begin.
"When I say run, run down the alley and don't stop," Smiley orders.
I take a quick glance down the alley. Only a dim light lends a gloomy vagueness. The telephone poles have disappeared into the sky. The iron bars have a striped shield. What kinda shit is this? Then I turn to the group. Terry is loading guns.
"Run," Smiley orders.
I take off fast. There's no streetlight. I can't see. Stay in the middle. Otherwise, I'll crash into fences, the trash, or the poles.
My legs thrust. Don't stop, Smiley said. I gasp for air.
What's that? Car backfiring. I jerk from the sound.
Gunshots. They're shooting at me. Fuck. In spite of the night's heat and my sweat, I'm cold. I could die. Right here and now. No. Can't be a buster. Be hard. Run. Just run.
My heart hammers in my chest, my ears. My legs hit the cement as fast as they can, faster than my heart thumps. Another shot slaps behind me. My arms pump. Keep running. Stay strong. Focus. Stay in the middle. Run faster. I can do this. I can.
A clap and then sparks fly from a hit electrical wire. Darkness is thick.
Am I halfway through? What if they hit me?
Don't think that. Don't be a buster.
I can't get enough air.
A bullet hits a wall.
I pant. Darkness diminishes. Almost at the end. It's quiet except for my gasping, my heart. There, a car. I'm almost there, at the street, on the other side. I stop, lean my palms on my knees to grab some air. I made it.
Smiley and T.J. appear out of nowhere. Smiley punches me in the face, knocks me to the ground. Dizzy, I start swinging wildly. Big T rounds the corner. Three on one. My swing connects with a torso. Then T.J. lands five flush punches on my chest and I'm on the pavement, struggling for equilibrium. Kicked in the stomach, the wind is knocked out of me. I gasp and force my eyes to center.
"Squab for yours, cuz," someone says. I'm snatched by the collar, forced to stand. A solid kick to the chest whips my head back.
The world swims as I receive another kick and a strike. Hard spitting-punches come from all angles. I'm tossed by blows like a speed-punching bag. They have the control. Stars swim before my eyes again.
Stay strong and focus.
Copyright © 2005, 2006 by Ann Pearlman. All rights reserved.