Four hoodlums from a boys home head out into the night to cause ruckus, until they stumble upon a bigger evil in their city and decide to stand and fight.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
“Thanks for walking me home, Caleb. I really appreciate it,” said Sherry, flashing Caleb a friendly smile as they strolled along Peach Street. The warm September sun that had burned bright all day was now sinking behind the skyline of tall towers that made up Wreck City’s public housing district.
“Hey, no problem,” Caleb replied. “A new girl in a new city? It would be rude of me not to…” They shared a moment or two of comfortable silence, Caleb kicking a pebble and Sherry taking in her new neighborhood. Then Caleb continued, “Must be tough for an uptown girl like you, settling in a place like Wreck City.”
Sherry brushed a few strands of her strawberry blonde hair away from her face, tucking them behind her ear. “It’s definitely going to take some getting used to,” she said. She was trying to be polite, but Caleb didn’t need any sugar-coating. Wreck City was a tough place for anyone to live in, let alone pretty blonde girls from the ‘burbs. “Most families spend their lives trying to get out of bad neighborhoods,” Sherry continued. “But having a news reporter mother, it’s like we’re always trying to be in the worst places society has to offer…”
She caught herself as if she had said something wrong and quickly tried to correct her mistake. “I mean…I didn’t mean that you’re the worst society has to offer, or anything like that.”
Caleb let out a soft laugh, finding Sherry tripping over her words amusing. “Don’t sweat it. Wreck City is a wreck. It’s not exactly headline news. But there are some good people here, believe or not.”
“You seem okay,” she said, looking up at him. “You’re nice…polite…cute…”
Her face became bright red; a curse of the fair-skinned that made it impossible to hide nervousness. Caleb didn’t notice, or at the very least, he didn’t call attention to it. “I was hoping for sexy,” he said, with a sideways grin. “But I guess I can settle for cute.”
Sherry smiled and her face returned back to its original shade. Her eyes then broke from Caleb’s and fixed on a boy, a teenager, who was walking down the sidewalk towards them. The boy was dressed in a basketball jersey and shorts, holding a bright orange “Spalding” basketball against his slender hip. “Isn’t that Charlie, from English class?” Sherry pointed out.
As it turned out, it was. The boy smiled wide when he saw Sherry, but when he met eyes with Caleb, his gaze darted away instantly; as if he was sorry he made eye contact in the first place. Still, he slowed in his stride and stopped to talk, but kept his attention firmly on the girl. “Hey, Sherry,” Charlie said. He cautiously looked towards Caleb but saw Caleb was focused on the brand new pair of Supreme Flyers on Charlie’s feet.
“Hey, Charlie,” said Sherry, kindly. “What are you up to?”
Charlie motioned to his basketball. “Just going to shoot some hoops at the courts for a couple hours,” he said. “You?”
“Just heading home,” she responded. “I have dance class a little later, so I’m going to eat and head back out.”
“Cool,” said Charlie, with a harmless smile. “Well, I’ll see you in class, then.”
Charlie continued toward the courts and Sherry and Caleb continued their walk down Peach Street. A few blocks later, they came to a red bricked townhouse where three other boys, dressed in baggy clothing, sat on the stoop of the front steps, acting rowdy and smoking cigarettes. When they saw Caleb and Sherry approaching, their laughing ceased and their expressions turned to stone.
One of the three boys, with a shaggy head of hair and a loose-fitting grey sweater, leaned over the railing and followed Caleb close with his eyes. Then his stare fixed on Sherry and remained there, which made her obviously uncomfortable. Her head sunk and looked down at her feet as she tried to hide the red that was slowly returning to her cheeks. This only seemed to excite the shaggy-haired boy in the grey sweater. “Damn, girl,” said the boy with a grin and a whistle. “You want a real man to walk you home?”
Caleb, who was just as relaxed as he had been the entire walk, turned to Sherry and said softly, “Just ignore them, okay?”
Another of the boys on the step, the tallest of the bunch, wearing a backward baseball cap, stared hard at Caleb, his baby blue eyes lacking any hint of kindness. A long, thin chain with a thick, diamond-encrusted crucifix hung from his neck and glared in the setting sun. “What the fuck are you looking at, homie?” said the boy, testing Caleb for weak spots.
Caleb took his own advice and ignored him.
The third boy on the steps was a boy of color, wearing a black t-shirt and was also wearing a gold chain around his neck. This one was thick and linked, like the rappers in the eighties used to wear. The boy didn’t say a word but instead sipped quietly on the forty-ouncer of malt liquor gripped tight in his hand. He didn’t have to speak to come off as intimidating. His tank-like build and cold, emotionless eyes did that for him.
Miraculously, they passed the group on the steps without any further incident and once they were another block away, Sherry began to relax a little. When they came to the front steps of Sherry’s apartment building, Caleb said goodbye and wished her a good time at her dance class.
“Thanks,” said Sherry. “And thanks again for walking me home…I don’t know what would have happened with those hoods if you hadn’t been around.”
Caleb shot a grin. “You got nothing to worry about when I’m around.”
Caleb found himself returning to the steps which the three hoods had been sitting earlier. They were gone now and all that was left was an empty forty ouncer and some cigarette butts. There was a worn sign beside the front door that read “Wayward Boys Residents”. Caleb walked up the steps and turned the knob to the front door. It was unlocked. He took a quick look back out to the street and saw there was no one watching. So, he opened the door and walked inside…
“Whattup, KayKay? You bitch!” shouted a familiar shaggy-haired boy in a grey sweater, as Caleb stepped into the recreation room of the three-story townhouse. He found the three hoodlums from earlier watching the thirteen-inch box television set up in the corner. The slender one with the diamond-encrusted crucifix around his neck was doing push-ups near the window, while the boy in the grey sweater sat on the couch next to the large, silent boy who had been drinking the forty.
Caleb grinned and shook his head at the three boys. “You guys are fucking dicks. Every time I’m with a girl, you guys play that gangster shit. I thought we’re supposed to be brothers, huh? You’re fucking up my game!”
The three boys just laughed. “You ain’t got no game, KayKay,” said the one in the grey sweater.
Caleb, or KayKay as he had been nicknamed, actually knew these boys very well. They were all orphans and residents of the Peach Street Wayward Boys Home. Though they all came from different backgrounds and nationalities, over the years they had come to call each other brothers. And like brothers, they gave each other a hard time whenever the opportunity arose.
The tall slender one with the navy blue baseball cap backward on his head and crucifix around his neck was a boy named Blake. He was the eldest of the four and went by the alias Blizzo, a name that was tagged up all over the public housing district. His skills with an aerosol can were widely known and respected throughout the slums of Wreck City, rarely ever getting painted over by the competition.
The loud one in the grey sweater was Dylan, but as an aspiring rap artist, he preferred to be called D-Dog. And the one beside him on the couch with the wide shoulders and thick gold link chain was a boy named Rudy, though the other boys rarely called him anything but Juice, a tribute to his love of malt liquor.
Blizzo, KayKay, D-Dog, and Juice were the four founding members of the Peach Street Gang, Hood Boyz. Though they had yet to accomplish any noteworthy capers, besides some low-level street muggings, they all wore the united color of Green and kept a green bandana in their back pocket at all times to represent their affiliation.
“I want those kicks,” stated Blizzo, pointing to the small television in the corner that was displaying an ad for a popular new shoe called the ‘Supreme Flyers’. It was the shoe worn by both NBA ballers and famous rappers alike. And Blizzo had an eye for nice things.
“Yeah, right,” scoffed D-Dog. “Those are almost three hundred dollar shoes. And you a broke motherfucker, Blizz. Straight.”
“Maybe you should pawn that fake ass pendant,” added Juice, resting his head back on the couch and pulling down the brim of his purple cap, as if getting ready for a nap.
“Fuck off, Juice…Ya drunk fuck,” Blizzo returned. “These diamonds are real. I don’t fuck with fake shit.”
“There’s a guy in my class that has a pair,” said KayKay. “He’s at the courts right now. Why don’t we go jack him?”
The boys all looked at each other with mischievous grins.
“I’m down,” said Blizzo. “Juice, you down?”
“I thought I was a drunk fuck,” Juice muttered from under his cap.
“Ah, don’t trip, little brother,” said Blizzo with a pout. “Come on, you in or what?”
After some thought, Juice answered, “Buy me a forty and I’m in.”
“Done,” agreed Blizzo. “D-Dog, you down?”
“Always down to fuck shit up,” D-Dog boasted with his chest out. “Let me just go get my banger.”
D-Dog ran out of the room and disappeared upstairs. There was only a brief moment of silence before he was heard quickly pounding down the stairs again. When he came back into the room, he was holding an old wooden baseball bat. He modeled it for the boys and even gave it a kiss, whispering to it affectionately, “I love this bitch right here.”
And so, just like that, the four boys headed out into the streets, under the stars, with cigarettes hanging from their lips and green bandanas hanging from their back pockets. After nightfall, there were rarely any people wandering the streets. The punch in, punch out citizens had learned a long time ago that the night brought out a whole different breed of citizen, ones with a completely different understanding of the term punching out. Even the cops avoided Peach Street after the sun went down. That’s why the four boys loved their neighborhood. During the day they were just a bunch of good-for-nothing hoodlums, but at night—the streets belonged to them.
They walked down the sidewalk, laughing as they threw mock punches at each other, surging with the familiar adrenaline that occurs before a crime is committed. But before they could get to the courts, they heard a high pitch scream coming from an alley across the street. It was a girl’s scream. Screams were not something often investigated on Peach Street, but because it was a girl, and only because it was a girl, the boys decided to check it out.
They quietly hustled across the street and dipped into the alley, kneeling behind a garbage dumpster for cover. The screams had become a muffled whimper, but the sound of feet scraping against the pavement was clear and there were other voices as well. Men’s voices. Blizzo motioned to the boys to be quiet and then carefully peeked out into the alley. After a second, his head popped back behind the dumpster and he whispered to the boys, “Five dudes ganging up on a chick…”
KayKay remembered that Sherry said she had dance class that night and wondered if maybe the girl had been her. He peeked his head out and took a look down the alley. That’s when his stomach sunk. It was Sherry. She was surrounded by five guys in black bomber jackets that wore red ski-masks over their faces. He knew the ensemble well. It belonged to a competing Peach Street gang known as the P-Street Predators. They were not a force to be taken lightly.
“That’s the girl I was with earlier,” KayKay told the gang. “We gotta do something.”
“That’s the predators, Kay…” Blizzo said, with a rare caution in his voice.
“I don’t care,” KayKay replied instantly. “I can’t let this happen, Blizz.”
D-Dog grinned wide and showcased his banger. “Let’s go bust some skulls then…”
Blizzo nodded with profound, father-like pride and said, “Okay, boys. Bandanas on.”
On command, Juice and KayKay withdrew their green bandanas from their back pocket and tied them tightly over the bottom half of their faces. D-Dog however, did not. “Y’all look like fucking Ninja Turtles,” he groaned. Then he stood up and threw his grey hood over his head, covering his face in shadow. He tapped the bat off the toe of his sneakers and, just before he stepped out from behind the dumpster, he turned to the other three boys and said, “Cowabunga, you pizza eating faggots.”
As soon as D-Dog stepped into the alleyway, the five P-Street Predators turned their heads and stopped their groping of the trembling young girl, if only for the moment. “Hey, you dick-cheese sucking, fuck-asses!” yelled D-Dog, pointing his banger in their direction. “Why don’t y’all go home and rub one out! It’ll be better for your health!”
The Predator at the head of the five pulled a switchblade from his bomber jacket and flicked it open. “Oh, yeah? Who’s gonna do something about it? You?”
The four other Predators laughed. But when Blizzo, KayKay, and Juice stepped out from behind the dumpster, the laughs cut on a button. “And them…” answered D-Dog.
After that, there were no more words. The Predators took the offensive and charged. The four boys stood their ground. D-Dog swung his banger and connected with a pop to the head of the lead Predator. He dropped to the floor and didn’t get up. KayKay took a hard right fist to his cheek and stumbled back. The mere sight of KayKay hurt put Juice into a wide-eyed rage and he suddenly came to life, grabbing KayKay’s assaulter by the throat and lifting him into the air. “You don’t touch my little brother, motherfucker!” growled Juice, choke slamming him to the ground. The red-masked thug shook on the pavement, convulsing.
Blizzo was a few feet away, and not doing as well. He was trying to fight off the two remaining Predators, but he was losing. Suddenly there was a loud KLONK! And one of the Predators spun to the floor, sleeping. In his place stood D-Dog, gazing down at his banger with romantic admiration. “I fucking love this thing…” he sighed.
Now all by himself, the final conscious Predator was shaken. He reached into his coat and pulled out a pistol, raising it to Blizzo. A shot rang off and lit up the dark alley like a firecracker, illuminating Blizzo as he stumbled back, hit the wall, and sunk to the floor, eyes shut. “Nooo!” screamed D-Dog, who had witnessed it all. The last Predator ran off into the night as if he was frightened. Not of the boys, but at what he had just done. Sherry, was frozen, tears running freely down her cheeks.
“I’m so sorry…” she uttered.
D-Dog’s head spun from his fallen friend to the girl. “Just get out of here, you fucking broad! It’s cuz of you he’s dead!”
Sherry ran out of the alley and out of sight.
D-Dog’s anger turned to tears as he knelt down beside Blizzo’s limp body. “Blizz…” he coughed up. “Don’t die on me, man…Please…Don’t die…”
And then, the boys all took a step back, for it seemed a ghost was talking to them from beyond the grave as Blizzo, though his eyes remained shut, suddenly smiled and said, “Juice, I told you these were real diamonds, you drunk fuck.”
That’s when the three speechless boys looked down at Blizzo’s chest and saw a bullet lodged in the center of the crucifix around his neck. A wave of relief rushed over them all. “Jesus fuck!” screamed KayKay. “Blizz, you had us all losing our shit, dawg!”
“Real ice,” nodded Juice. “Ruspect.”
Blizzo was weak but managed to let out a soft chuckle. “D-Dog cried like a bitch…”
The four boys sat in the television room of the Peach Street Wayward home for Boys the next day, watching the news on the small television in the corner. All their eyes were glued to the screen as, now back from commercial, they were about to hear the report about a gang altercation on Peach Street the night before. “Shut up! This is it!” barked D-Dog.
The boys hushed as the newsman on the television spoke, “This is Ian McFinn in for August Kellerman today after her daughter was viciously attacked last night on Peach Street. Over the years, the public housing sector of Wreck City has not gone without its incidents, but things seem to be getting worse and worse as even the working class citizens of this city are not safe in their own neighborhoods. Young Sherry Kellerman was assaulted by a group of men in red ski masks last night, known to police as the P-Street Predators. Thankfully, a group of young heroes came to her aid and stopped the assault. Though the good Samaritans were disguised in bandanas, one of them did show his face and the witness has provided the local police with enough details to put together this sketch of her rescuer…”
In the right corner of the television screen appeared a cartoon sketch that looked remarkably like D-Dog. Blizzo, who was sitting beside D-Dog, gave him a hard smack in the chest. “That’s why we wear bandanas, ya goof!”
D-Dog was fixed on the screen. His grin became a wide smile. He looked at the three boys and laughed, “Whatever, bitches! Only one of us is on TV! I’m famous muthafucka!”
The other three boys sunk back on the couch and groaned.