What the f*** dude?

Midweek Sport - - NEWS -

there I was, locked out of the house, with a back­pack full of drugs and a gun in my waist­band, not more than a cou­ple of hun­dred feet from a house that had just been torched. I had to get out of there – fast!

I’d par­tied with some kids who lived in an­other house across the street, so I de­cided I’d try and duck in there. “What’s up Larry?” “Aw, noth­ing – just stop­ping by.” “Yeah, cool. Come on in.” A few min­utes of mean­ing­less con­ver­sa­tion fol­lowed. I wasn’t re­ally lis­ten­ing or pay­ing at­ten­tion; I was too busy look­ing out the win­dow, wait­ing for plumes of smoke.

“Oh my god!” one of the girls shouted. “That house is on fire!”

They started to scram­ble. I pulled out my .380 and set it on the cof­fee ta­ble. That didn’t shock any­one, as most of th­ese kids knew I car­ried a gun. But then, very calmly, I raised the stakes.

“No-one is call­ing any­one. And the door stays closed.” Ev­ery­one froze. I picked up the gun, rolled it around in my hand for a mo­ment or two, then put it back in my waist­band. The room fell silent. Ev­ery­one got the point.

When the cops came pok­ing around over the next cou­ple days, knock­ing on doors and ask­ing ques­tions, no-one said a word.

We never did get caught, al­though Con­nor would even­tu­ally do sev­eral years in prison on other charges un­re­lated to ar­son.

Ev­ery kid de­tained in that house held his mud, not out of any sense of pride or sol­i­dar­ity or friend­ship, but surely out of plain old fear. Some of them weren’t ex­actly law-abid­ing cit­i­zens them­selves, but they un­der­stood now that Con­nor and I were on a whole dif­fer­ent level. You torch a guy’s house and you send a pretty clear mes­sage.

In this case, it was: Don’t f*** with us, be­cause we are com­pletely out of our minds.

And all around us are guys from both groups, cheer­ing and curs­ing and laugh­ing, and bet­ting a shit pile of cash on the out­come.

The first few times I’d feel like I was go­ing to puke be­fore the fight. The an­tic­i­pa­tion was al­ways the worst.

But, like any­thing else, you get used to it af­ter a while. Once the first punch was thrown, it was all adren­a­line and sur­vival.

I got pretty good with my fists. Won most of my fights, rou­tinely beat guys into sub­mis­sion and pock­eted a per­cent­age of the bet­ting pool for my ef­forts. Ba­si­cally it was like hu­man cock-fight­ing, and at first it was some­thing I did only out of obli­ga­tion or threat of bod­ily harm, it soon be­came some­thing I did for sport; for fun. And for money.

We’re 10 min­utes into check­ing the mer­chan­dise when a bunch of Chi­cano gang­bangers come fly­ing into the house. One of them, the big­gest one is cov­ered with tat­toos. In­clud­ing the num­ber “805” splat­tered across his face. He’s bran­dish­ing a steak knife and scream­ing at the top of his lungs: “Where’s Stan? I gotta talk to Stan.”

Sud­denly Stan is charg­ing past me, run­ning at the dude with the knife, ready to take the guy down with­out hes­i­ta­tion. But the guy holds up his hands in sur­ren­der and Stan stops in his tracks. “Stan… dude. You gotta help us.” The gang­banger goes on to ex­plain his predica­ment. There’s a party down the street that’s got­ten out of hand. Some­thing to do with ri­val gangs and drugs and dis­re­spect. I don’t even know. I don’t want to know. But Stan’s into it.

The next thing I know we’re climb­ing into the guy’s car.

My mind is rac­ing, but I’m not ex­actly think­ing clearly. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve slept. Two or three days… maybe more.

It oc­curs to me, though, in a fleet­ing mo­ment of ra­tio­nal­ity and re­gret, that my life had taken a se­ri­ously wrong turn at some point. I was one of the best young mo­tocross rac­ers in the world. I pi­o­neered the sport of freestyle mo­tocross. I had a thriv­ing mil­lion­dol­lar busi­ness with ten­ta­cles ex­tend­ing deep into the grow­ing world of ac­tion sports.

I had le­gions of young fans, spon­sors, en­dorse­ments. Fam­ily and friends. And now here I am, in the back­seat of a car, with a loaded .44 Mag­num in my pocket, head­ing to a gang fight that will surely end in a very bloody way. I don’t want to be in this sit­u­a­tion. I don’t want any part of it. But how do I es­cape?

Sud­denly I re­mem­ber that “805” up there in the front seat is pack­ing noth­ing more lethal than a steak knife.

“Hey man,” I say, as the car starts to pull away from the curb. “You guys don’t need us. You just need fire­power.” “Huh?” “Yeah, check it out. Dude back there is sell­ing guns. Go in­side and grab some.”

Next thing you know, we’re all back in the house, and Stan and I are ba­si­cally auc­tion­ing off the dealer’s guns with­out his con­sent. But what’s he gunna do?

A few min­utes later, “805” and his friend are on their way, armed to the teeth. Part of me feels sick about it be­cause I know what’s go­ing to hap­pen. But des­per­ate times call for des­per­ate mea­sures. I just want out of it. And now I am. Sure enough, not 10 min­utes pass be­fore we hear gun­fire crack­ling through the neigh­bour­hood. Not one or two pops, but mul­ti­ple gun­shots.

Then si­lence. And, fi­nally, the pre­dictable bleat­ing of sirens. I’m stand­ing on the side­walk as the cops close in, my heart prac­ti­cally jumping out of my chest. This is my world now, and I have no idea how I got here.

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