‘The Taming of the Wild’

In high school two of my obsessions were with street gangs and the mafia. I daydreamed a lot and those lifestyles seemed exciting to me. I fantasized about joining or becoming one or both, depending on the day and what I was reading. The Conan the Barbarian stories by Robert E. Howard and the Mack Bolan books by Don Pendleton were favorites as well. In a few years I became an adult and my obsession with those things ended (my obsession with sports ended as well, though I continue to follow and be a fan of Pittsburgh sports teams and the NFL).

In twelfth grade my English teacher assigned a creative writing project. I chose to write a gang story. This is it. I am reprinting the story exactly as I wrote it in 1986/87, so i haven’t gone through and corrected spelling/grammar errors, etc.

The Taming of the Wild’

The sun had been beating down on him for hours before he woke up. It was a blistering hot, humid day; he had one heckuva headache. He sat up and looked around, seeing a couple of air vents, a weather vane and the city skyline. What am I doing on top of a building? he wondered. All he could remember about yesterday was sitting on the boardwalk down on the beach with the rest of the gang. His head was throbbing and his vision was blurry, but he tried to stand up anyway. He took one step and fell backwards, landing on his back, snapping his head back against the hard gravel like substance of the roof. He sat up and felt the back of his head. His hand came back clean, but when he looked at the roof he saw red all over the place. He touched it and it was dry, so he checked the rest of his body to make sure he wasn’t bleeding. He wasn’t, so where did it come from? He checked around to see if there was anything or anyone else around, but all he saw was a red woman’s Gucci purse over by the edge of the rooftop. He carefully stood up and half-walked half-staggered over to pick it up from the roof. He did, he noticed loud talking coming from the street. He looked over, seeing a group of a dozen or so staring into a garbage bin, one happened to glance up, yelling “Look!” and pointing. Everybody suddenly looked up and talked rapidly to each other. What are you looking at? he wondered. Then a thought clicked in his head. He looked at the purse, then the dried blood, the the purse, and the people looking into the garbage bin. He hurried down the steps and out the back door, walking over to where the dumpster was. The people saw him coming and cleared a path for him, staying away from him. He didn’t really notice until he saw what they were looking at. There laid the body of a teenage girl, dressed up in clothes resembling those of a hooker, stabbed about twenty times on the head and body. He looked at all the people staring and thought, did I do this? He decided not to stick around and find out. He turned around, walking across the empty building lot to where he thought was his apartment. He got across the lot and went down an alley. when he got to the sidewalk, he looked around but didn’t recognize anything. Out of nowhere, a police car drove past him very slowly as though they were watching him. He saw them, remembering he was still holding the dead girl’s purse. The police car was now up the street turning around, enough hint for him to disappear. He threw the purse down and ran back up the alley. The cops saw this and started chasing him. One followed him on foot, while the other flipped on his siren and sped off in his car. Arnold was now running across the empty lot back towards the garbage gin, but there were cops over there too, so he made a sharp right and ran between two other buildings, still at full speed. Arnold was a fast runner and with a head start no cop in the city could catch him on foot. His head was still hurting, but getting picked up on a murder charge negated the pain. He looked over his shoulder to see how close the cop was. He was a good thirty yard away, but he couldn’t outrun the cop in the car. He turned the corner of another street, between two buildings and ran into a doorway. About the time he was going into the door, the cop was just turning the first corner so he never saw Arnold run down the alley and into the door. He took off up the stairs that lead to the roof thinking “Ain’t no cop in this city good enough to catch me.” But he never counted on a bystander telling the cop he saw Arnold run down the alley. The alley was a dead end so it didn’t take the cops long to figure out where Arnold went. meanwhile, Arnold was busy working his way across the rooftops keeping in the middle of the building and low so as not to be seen. He got across about then buildings before he decided to cut down to the street again. He looked over the edge, didn’t see anybody, and quickly climbed down the fire escape. Arnold took one look around the corner of the building, saw cars but no cops, and casually jogged down to the end of the street. He turned right, picked up a little speed, and was gone.

Knowing it wouldn’t have been very smart to go home immediately, Arnold hung out in the basement of an abandoned building until it was dark. When it got dark out and the streets were almost deserted, he carefully made his was down the sidewalk, always ducking into doorways and hiding behind cars whenever he saw a car coming down the street, just to be sure. He knew the cops had seen his gang colors, so they would know which streets to stakeout. As he got closer and closer to his turf, he knew that since he wasn’t around, the guys would just meet at the candy store on the corner. But if the cops knew it was him they would have went down and talked to the gang and asked them if they saw Arnold. So the cops wouldn’t go down there again. He cut down another street and went all the way around, taking forty-five minutes longer, but traveling safer.

The gang was there sitting on a wall that jetts out from the side of the building. A skinny kid with the same insignia on the back of his jacket came running up to the rest of them, about seven in all. He went to the guy in the middle and said, “Nothing. Nobody’s seen or heard from him all day.”

“What about JJ, Holo, Franklin, and Willie?” asked the dark husky dude in an impatient tone.

“They’re out cruisin’, looking if he’s hiding out with the Boppers or Black Death.”

“What about the rollers? Are they still watching the building?”

“Yeah, but they’re sitting’ under a light, Arnold would see them right away.”

“Go back and sit there ad wait, we might be there already – call if you hear anything.”

The skinny called Birdy took off and was gone in a flash. The guy he was talking to was Arnold’s second in command who took over for the day since Arnold had not shown up since the party last night

Arnold had watched this activity and figured the coast was clear. So he carefully sauntered over to where the gang was sitting.

Lewis, the kid on the end, was the first to see him.

“Hey look, it’s Arnold!”

“Hey Arnold. How ya doin’?”

“Where you been?”

“Cops out after you man!”

Freddy, the second in command, quieted them down. “Hey man, just what happened last night, cops are after you and everything.”

“I don’t know. I can’t remember nothing. I woke up and the cops was coming down on me.”

“They said you killed that chick you was with.”

Inside the store, the clerk was watching this and knew which one was Arnold. He called the police to tell them.

“where is everybody?”

“Out looking for you.”

Arnold held up his hand and said. looking around “Do you hear something? The police. Hit it!”

About four squad cars came flying up tp the [parking lot and eight cops jumped out and started chasing after the seven youths, who were in full speed trying to get away. They didn’t respond to the cries of “Stop! Police!” But Lewis and Lincoln, the youngest of the gang, bid to make it past; they were grabbed and tossed into the back if the car. Arnold and Freddie were together, attracting most of the attention from the cops. They tore off down the street that cut across the one the candy store is on, using every trick they knew to get away. Down alleys, under cars, over walls and fences they went, but the scarred speed helped them get away the most. After jumping a fence and running across a basketball court, they stuffed themselves under a deserted house porch.

“How did they know I was there”

“That store man must have told them.”

“Yea, well, when the coast is clear, we’re going back there and wasting that dude.”

“You said it!”

A squad car came rolling past slowly using a spotlight to search all the dark corners, but they were well hidden and couldn’t be seen. After the car was gone, they crawled out, careful not to be seen, then they ran the other way back towards the candy store. Lewis and Lincoln had been taken away but there was still two cops talking to the store owner. They stood in the shadows for about thirty minutes until the coast was clear, then snuck up to the store so the clerk didn’t see them. The clerk had gone in the back and became started when he heard the bell on the door sound. He went into the store front, but didn’t see anybody. He went back to the storage room, for ten minutes and came back out only to find Arnold and Freddie standing blocking his passage way.

“What do you guys want” The clerk said backing up slowly.

“You shouldn’t have called the cops on us man. Now you’re gonna pay!”

Arnold and Freddy pulled out their knives and made quick work of the clerk, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest and stomach while ignoring his screams. As the man crumpled to the floor, Freddie grabbed Arnold’s arm and told him, “Come on. I know where the rest of the guys are.” with that, they took off out of the store.

While Freddie led him down streets, through alleys, and in and out of deserted buildings, Arnold thought to himself, “The cops are gonna know it was us that killed that dude back at the store, so anybody they pick up is gonna get the blame, Lewis and Lincoln won’t, they got busted before it happened.” His attention turned back to Freddie who was still leading them through the dark deserted streets.

“Freddie where are you taking us?”

“To the park.”

“What for?”

“That’s where everybody else is gonna meet us.”

“Why the park? That’s where The Street Demons run. They will kill us if we go down there.”

“But the cops will never expect us to go there, right?”

Wrong. The police had unmarked squad cars following the four other Dominators around all night. They also had the park staked out well and were ready when they saw the figures of Arnold and Freddie move across the street.

Arnold and Freddie had just gotten through the gates and down the steps when the first car came screeching to a halt in front of the entrance to the park. Arnold saw the cop car right away, yelled, “Run!” and they tore off down the concrete path, leading to the other entrances and exits of the park. They got to the first one and begun to go up the steps two and three at a time when another police car car moved in to block their escape. They turned, and were down the steps in two big leaps running for the south end of the park. After, goin about 100 feet, they saw the figures of JJ, Hollis, Franklin and Willie coming towards them, being chased themselves, Freddie was the more scared of the two, yelling “What are we gonna do, man?”

Arnold, seeing the police closing in from the other direction, said “Nothing. This is it. We either make it out of here or we don’t” The rest of the gang was with them now.

“You guys ready?” He flicked out his switchblade.

“Ready for what?”

“When I say go! Follow up behind me!”

The cops, about twenty of them now, had surrounded them. Two on the right, four in front and eight to the left, all had their guns drawn.

“Drop the knives and get your hands on your heads!”

Arnold looked at his gang, winked and said “Ok” then feinted as if he was going to comply. When he saw that the two on the right might have dropped their guard, he yelled “Go!” and sprinted right to the two cops, knives in hand and ready to fight. The two cops, knowing it was either kill or be killed, brought their guns back up and tried to fire at the youths coming straight at them with deadly intent.

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