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Authors: Caleb Alexander

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BOOK: Eastside
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He searched the crowd for several moments, until he located the person he was looking for. “Say, Tevin, pretend like you a muthafuckin' quarterback and pass the muthafuckin' forty.”

Tevin, a six-foot-six, three-hundred-pound mass of dirt and filth wearing a red T-shirt that was two sizes too small, extended his arm and passed Lil Bling the beer that he had been sipping on.

Travon turned away from them and began to examine Fro Dog's car. The automobile was absolutely gorgeous. It was covered with multiple layers of red-candy paint, with tens of millions of sparkling red flakes throughout. The paint reminded Travon of a brand-new bowling ball that had just been polished with oil. The interior of the vehicle was covered in white leather, with red leather piping and blood-red carpeting. The car's front grill, bumpers, rims, mirrors, and trim pieces consisted of highly polished chrome. The car was truly a rolling work of art.

“My shit is gonna be like this,” Lil Bling announced, pointing at Fro Dog's car. “Except my car is burgundy, with gold rims, grill, and trim.”

“Say, Marcus. Where was y'all headed?” asked another one of the boys.

“To the hood store.”

“Is that y'all kinfolk from The Courts that y'all said was gonna be staying with y'all?” the boy asked.

Marcus nodded.

The boy walked to where Travon was standing, and extended his hand. “Say, lil homie, my name is Big Pimpin.”

Travon extended his hand, and he and Big Pimpin tapped each other's fist.

“I'm Travon, but everybody calls me Tre.”

“Rewind the B-side!” Lil Bling shouted to Lil Fade.

Big Pimpin reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a wad of rolled-up bills. He peeled off a twenty and handed it to Travon. “Bring me back a forty-ounce of Red Bull and a forty-ounce bottle of O.E. You can get you whatever you want, for going to the store for me.”

“Say, Big Simple, I mean, Big Pimpin,” Lil Bling called out to him. “Get me a bottle of M.D. and some bigga-rettes.”

“Nigga, fuck you!” Big Pimpin told him. He turned back toward Travon. “Get a bottle of Mad Dog and a pack of Kools.”

Travon nodded, and then stuffed the twenty-dollar bill into his front pocket. He and Marcus turned, and started back down the street, continuing on their journey to the neighborhood store. Once they had reached a point where he was sure that they could not be overheard, Marcus turned to his cousin and nudged him in the side.

“So, Tre, do you think that you are gonna like it out here?”

“I think I'll be aight. It seems like everything out here is pretty cool. Everybody is real laid-back.” Travon lifted his head toward the sky and took in the last warming rays of the lazily retreating sun. He turned to his cousin and nodded. “Yeah, I think I'm really gonna like it.”

CHAPTER SIX

The Hood Store

Travon grabbed two Red Bulls and walked to the checkout counter. He sat the beers down on top of the counter, and then walked to the wine freezer, where he grabbed a bottle of MD 20/20. He returned to the counter with the bottle of wine.

“ID, kid?” a lady of Asian descent asked him. She spied Marcus ambling toward the counter through the corner of her eye. “Are you with him?” she asked Travon.

Travon nodded. “Yeah.”

She proceeded to ring up the items.

“Add two packs of Kools to that also,” Travon told her.

The petite Asian clerk reached into the overheard cigarette dispenser, where she pulled down two packs of cigarettes. Marcus stepped up to the counter.

“Hello, Marcus,” the clerk greeted him. “How's your mother doing?”

“She's all right, Mrs. C,” Marcus answered. “How about you, how are you doing?”

“Oh, I've been doing pretty good,” she told him. “Just arguing with that damn insurance company again. Have you seen Lil Fade today?”

“They're all at Big Pimpin's house right now.”

“Is that where you're headed?”

“Yes, ma'am,” Marcus nodded.

“Good. Then you can give him a message for me. Tell Lil Fade that my husband said that he has some new AKs in. I think he said that he had three of them. Well, anyway, tell him that Mr. C said that he will make him a good deal if he gets all three of them right now.”

Travon's mouth fell open.

Outside, a blue-and-white San Antonio Police Department patrol car pulled in front of the store. Mrs. Chang spied the patrol car out of the corner of her eye.

“Hurry up, give me your shit!” she said, thrusting her tiny, pale hands out toward them.

Marcus pulled a Glock model twenty-three, forty caliber, semiautomatic handgun from his waistband, and handed it to Mrs. Chang. Travon was paralyzed from shock and fear. Mrs. Chang quickly hid the weapon beneath the counter, and placed the beer and cigarettes that the boys were buying on the floor behind the counter. The cops walked in.

“Ching, chong, chang, separate mines from yours, Ms. Thang,” said one of the officers.

Mrs. Chang opened the cash register and gave him a wad of money. The second officer approached Travon and Marcus.

“What's up, Lil Marcus?” The officer nodded. “What have you been up to? I see that you're still slobbing. You know that you shouldn't be hanging around those pussy-ass Bloods.”

Marcus frowned. He balled his hand into a tight fist, and blood rushed to his face.

“Them Crips over in the East Terrace say that they got all the juice,” the officer continued. “They say that they got it going on, and that y'all Slobs ain't shit.”

“Fuck them punk-ass Crabs!” Marcus shouted.

Travon's eyes flew wide, and his heart began to drum rapidly. He had never heard anyone talk to a police officer like that. He had heard people talk bad about them after the cops had left the scene, of course, but not actually curse them to their face.

The officer shook his head. “Now, Marcus, why you gonna talk that way about my homies? You know we boys in blue all stick together. Now I'm gonna have to shake you down too.”

With a wide grin, the officer began searching Marcus. His partner walked over to Travon and did the same. When they finished, the officer had taken a total of one hundred and twenty-nine dollars off the boys.

“Lunch money, huh, partner?” asked the second officer.

“Yep, and a little bit of beer money to go with it!”

The patrol officers shared a hearty laugh.

Travon examined the officers' name tags. Cooney and Preto.

Cooney was the tall pale one with sky-blue eyes, and chocolate brown hair. Preto was the short, stocky one with green eyes, tanned skin, and black hair in a crewcut. Cooney stepped in closer to Travon.

“What's your name, nigger?”

Travon frowned, hesitated, and then stammered out his name. “Travon.”

“Travon what?”

“Travon Robinson.”

The officer turned to his partner and began snapping his fingers. “Robinson, Robinson, Robinson, hmmm. Seems like I know a Davon Robinson.”

Travon noticed the sparkle in Cooney's eyes, and became hesitant to answer.

“Well, fuck face?” Cooney demanded.

“He was my brother,” Travon whispered.

“You gotta be shittin' me!” Cooney shouted. He jabbed his finger into Travon's chest. “You're Too-Low's little brother?”

Travon looked down and nodded.

The look of astonishment on Cooney's face quickly turned to one of anger. “What the fuck are you doing hangin' out with this fuckin' slob?” he asked, pointing at Marcus.

“He's my cousin!” Marcus shouted.

Cooney nodded. “Oh, that explains it! He's slumming with the fucked-up side of the family.”

Preto laughed.

“Look here, Travon. Wait, what's your nickname?” Cooney asked.

Travon shrugged. “Just Tre.”

Cooney stared at Marcus. “Y'all can't even give the kid a decent nickname?” Cooney turned toward his partner and shook his head. “That's why I hate Slobs.”

The officers shared another laugh.

“Look here, Tre. Let me give you some advice. Go back to The Courts, and make you some money. Slobs are fuckin' poor. You are too good for them. Go back to The Courts right now, and I won't tell the homies in the hood that you got Slobs in your family. Okay?”

Travon stared at him coldly.

“We got to add this one to the gang file as a Blood, but possibly a WCG,” Preto told his partner.

“Hopefully, we'll add him as a WCG in the future. I need a new truck.” Cooney laughed, and turned toward Travon with a feigned look of care and concern. “Say, Tre. Work with me on this, and go back to The Courts. I'll go easy on you; I'll even put you on a flexible payment plan.”

Cooney and Preto laughed heartily, as they adjusted their gun belts and strolled out of the store. Travon, Marcus, and Mrs. Chang stood silently, in bitter, seething rage, until the officers climbed into their vehicle and pulled away.

“Fuckin' bastards!” Mrs. Chang shouted. “Here, take your beer, and here.” She handed the bag to Travon and the gun to Marcus. “Don't forget to tell Lil Fade what I said about the guns. I think that he said that they were fully automatic, or that he was going to convert them to full auto. I forget which one it was, but either way, they'll be just like he likes them. Don't worry about paying me for the beer and cigarettes; I know those bastards took your money.”

Marcus slid the gun inside of his waistband, and grabbed the bag of beer from Travon. “All right, thanks, Mrs. C.”

“Later, Blood,” said a smiling Mrs. Chang, as the boys left the store.

Tre and Marcus headed down Palmetto, back toward Cactus Street. They were only a few blocks away from the store when a large white, late-model Mercedes pulled up alongside of them. Marcus quickly reached for his gun. Travon placed his hand over Marcus's to stay him.

“It's cool.” Travon nodded. “Trust me, it's okay.”

The tinted window on the driver's side slid down, and Dejuan stuck his head out of the car. His gold teeth were glistening brilliantly in the bright South Texas sun, while his long, curly, rubber-band-sectioned hair blew gently in the mellow breeze.

“What's up, Lil Tre?” Dejuan asked.

“Shit, nothing much.” Travon shrugged. “Just been chilling out here with my kinfolk.”

Dejuan smiled. “I see that you're doing better.”

A big, dark, muscular guy leaned forward in the passenger seat, and offered Travon a smile. “How you feelin'?”

Travon recognized him instantly: Big Mike, a member of thenotorious East Terrace Gangstas, or ETGs for short. What Denver Heights was to the Bloods, East Terrace was to the Crips.

When Marcus also recognized Big Mike, his hand began to twitch.

“Shit, I'm all healed up,” Travon told them. “Thanks for helping me out that day, Dejuan. I would probably be dead right now, if it wasn't for you.”

“Shit, man, you're my homie's little brother. Plus, your brother was like my brother. He saved my ass a few times.” Dejuan paused, and then shook his head. “Damn, lil homie. I didn't want you to move out of the hood. Man, that shit was all fucked up. Them niggaz be trippin' too much. We at war with them fools right now.”

“What?” Travon shouted. The news had taken him by surprise.

The opportunity was just too good for Marcus to pass up. He leaned forward and stared at Dejuan.

“I thought that all of y'all was Wheatley Courts, and that y'all stick together like family?” Marcus shifted his gaze toward Big Mike. “I'm glad that Bloods don't kill each other like that.”

Dejuan ignored Marcus, keeping his attention on Travon. “Shit, the hood is divided, and we takin' it to each other right now. Ain't nobody makin' no money or nothing.”

“What did y'all get into it for?” Travon asked.

“Shit, you ain't heard?” Dejuan asked incredulously. “Them fools killed T-Stew.”

“What?” Travon asked in shock. “Who?”

“Man, Quentin, Tech Nine, Lil Texas, and Dupriest,” Dejuan told him. “They say that Quentin shot him, but Lil Texas and Dupriest finished him off. That boy had twenty-nine holes in him, from four different guns. That shit pissed me off. And it was all behind a bitch too. T-Stew was supposedly fuckin' Quentin's baby's momma. Me, Act One, Baby T, Lil C, and PayDay, T-Stew's brother, is taking it to them niggaz. Shit, really, everybody in the Courts done chose sides. Last night, Dre shot Heavy G in the neck. They don't know if that fool gone live or not.”

“What?” Travon repeated.

“Fuck!” slipped from Marcus's mouth.

Travon shook his head. “Man, y'all niggaz is crazy. I'm glad that I got the fuck outta there.”

“Niggaz is getting shot every day in the Courts, or by the Courts. That shit is hectic.” Dejuan turned to Big Mike and smiled, and then turned back to Travon. “Anyway, trick that shit. How you living? I got something for you.”

He reached beneath the seat and pulled out a small paper sack. When Marcus saw what it was, he released the grip on his weapon.

“Here, it's five OZs in here, just for you.” Dejuan handed Travon the paper bag. “When you get through with it, call me. My number's inside the bag also. Just bring me back two Gs, lil homie.”

The power window on the big German sedan glided back up, and the Mercedes slowly eased off.

Later That Evening

Travon was lying in bed when someone knocked on the door.

“Come in,” Travon called without looking up from his book.

Darius entered, followed by Marcus.

“What's up?” Travon asked. He closed his book, and sat up.

“Nothin.'” Darius shook his head nonchalantly. “Just came to holler at you about a few things.”

Travon became suspicious. “What?”

Darius bit down on his bottom lip. “Well, Marcus told me about what happened today. About y'all hollerin' at Dejuan. He said that Dejuan put you down with some yea-yo.”

Travon nodded. “Yeah, but I don't know if I'm gonna do it. I ain't made up my mind yet.”

Darius sat on the edge of the bed. “Say, T. You're my cousin, and I'm a look out for you, always. Let me let you in on a few things. First, Dejuan is a user. That's all he does is use people. He used Too-Low, and now he's trying to use you. I used to tell Too-Low all the time, to quit fuckin' with them niggaz. Think about it, Tre. How many people do you know that ride around with bags of dope with their cell phone numbers in them, ready to be passed out? Dejuan was looking for you. He don't care about you, he don't care about nobody but Dejuan, and how much money you can make him. It's all about money to them dudes. They whole clique is all about makin' money, and their only loyalty is to the dollar.”

Pointing toward the window, Darius continued, “They are at war with each other in the Courts. Can't nobody sell shit, because one-time is all over the place, because of the bodies. Geekers and niggaz is afraid to go out there and buy anything, so Dejuan ain't makin' no money. His boys can't sell his shit out in the Courts for him, and they damn sure can't come out here, or go in the Terrace, so he finds you. Don't be stupid, Tre. Dejuan doesn't really give a fuck about you. That muthafucka is just trying to move his dope. Game peeps game. He's probably also tryin' to pull you into his clique, because right about now, I imagine he's in desperate need for a new triggaman.”

Darius rose from the bed and faced his cousin. “That's what Too-Low was for him. So who better to replace Too-Low than his little brother? Your brother put in all the work for them niggaz, while they got rich.” Darius shook his head and looked down. “I loved my cousin to death, but he wasn't exactly the brightest thing in the world. Did Too-Low ever tell you about some of the things he did? Do you remember the time that all of those Colombians got killed in that motel on Austin Highway?”

BOOK: Eastside
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