Recalling where we left off with the story, my buddy Little Slim Capone , ( 6'3" and 185 at 16 ) and I were on 89th & Manhattan Place, and wanted to get into something, stir up some shit so to speak. So I went and got my keys to the car my dad ( Moose ) had given me, remember the 1965 Pontiac 2+2 I mentioned in part 1? Well it was mines now, canary yellow with black vinyl interior, dad and I had restored it by this time, it was one of the coolest most recognizable cars in and around my part of Los Angeles.
So we got in the car and headed over to that neighborhood we were at war with, just to hop out on them and rough them up a bit, NO GUNS! Well, we cruised around their neighborhood and saw a couple guys, Little Ant Dog, Tiny Manson, and Baby Catt Eyes, ( had distinguishable, natural green eyes as a black kid ) we went to high school with these dudes, so we recognized each other.
As we saw them and they saw us, MORE enemy gang members started revealing themselves from their concealed locations, we drove past with only a few words exchanged. No biggie right? WRONG!!!
Slim and I exited their neighborhood and started to travel North on Western Ave. back towards our neighborhood. As we crossed Century Boulevard, then 98th street, then as we approached 96th place we saw a car with those individuals in it pulling up fast on the passenger side of my car. I looked over at Slim and said " Get ready to duck in case these niggas do something stupid!" as they sped past us in the right side lane, ( Western Ave. is a 2 lane road ) an arm came out the rear window brandishing a small caliber revolver. 5 shots rang out in rapid successive order, Slim ducked and remained unharmed. We drove through 96th , and as we crossed 94th, coming up to 92nd street, Slim looked at me and said " Damn cuz, I think you got hit, you don't feel nothing?" I replied " Naw, I'm good homie, it's just a cut from the glass." I pulled up in my driveway and got out and looked at my newly restored classic Pontiac, 4 BIG holes were in the passenger side, 1 near the rear tail light, 2 hit the door and bounced off, 1 hit front fender and tore through the sheet metal. Then I noticed the blood pouring from my left hand, my left index finger , middle finger and thumb were severely deformed and a big " through and through " bullet wound was in my left hand, I could see through my left hand practically. I told Slim, "Nigga I'm hit , we got to get to the emergency room." We took off to Centinela Emergency Clinic, about a 5 mile drive or so up Manchester Ave. We arrive unscathed and no speeding tickets, only to find out that they weren't equipped to handle gunshot wounds and I would have to go to Kaiser Permanente on La Cienga Ave., where my MOM WORKED on the 4th floor, she was charge nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
I didn't want to go there, everyone knew me, they had been seeing me around that hospital with my mom since I was 4 years old or so, but I had no choice. The hospital staff loaded me into an ambulance and transported me to Kaiser Hospital.
Fast forwarding past the check in and what nots, my mom found out I was there and came and saw me in the treatment room, and I can not recall our conversation at the moment of writing this installment, however I do remember my father coming to the hospital. He came in and was there to take me home, he just looked at me and said, "So this is it?, This is what I have to look forward to being your father?" I didn't know what to say, but I believe that was a rhetorical question that day, it never got an answer. My left thumb had been shattered, it was broken in 17 places, my left index finger was broken in 7 places, and my left middle finger was broken in 3 places. I was hit with a .25 caliber hollow point bullet in my left hand, and only have about 30% flexibility in these limbs to this day. I cannot make a "tight fist" with my left hand, and haven't been able since April 17, 1985. This is the story of the first time I was shot, I was about 14 maybe 15 years old, I do remember I was attending Washington Highschool in South Central Los Angeles, ( where the movie THE WASH was filmed ) that was second semester 9th grade and 10th grade year, then I was expelled.
I was interrogated by LAPD gang task force officers, better known in that day as C.R.A.S.H. unit, ( Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums ) I didn't say anything about a car or the shooters, or their neighborhood affiliation. I just told them I was shot, nothing more or less than that. An active "gang file" was opened on me that day by LAPD, I believe, and still active as of 2017 to my knowledge.
Well, as it would play out in the hood sometimes, funny shit happens, remember Stone, Chico, Squeak and those guys? The ones that were going to steal my bike 3 or 4 years earlier? Ant, the trigger man died under "mysterious circumstances" let's just say, and Squeak and Chico were convicted for 2nd degree murder and served 8 years. The guy in the car Tiny Mason, rumor has it he got caught up in a bank robbery, and murder and was sentenced to 25 to life. Catt Eyes got a sports scholarship for basketball to a very good nameless university on the East Coast, and I never heard what happened to him after that.
Slim you ask? What happened to Slim? , My friend....one day years later after I had been shot the second time, and graduated high school, been discharged honorably from the Marines, and had moved to the East Coast I got a phone call.
When I picked up the phone and said "Hello?" I heard a voice on the other end say " Be advised, this is a secured line, from a US Naval phone line, stand by to be connected." I was like " What the holy fuck have I done now?" , 30 seconds pass maybe and then we connect and I hear "Fuuuuzzzzyyyyyy" , I knew the voice instantly and started to cry, and I said " You're alive man I knew it!" and Slim said " Just fucking barely I'm off the coast of Kuwait in the Gulf. I heard you been here too Marine." This was in 2004 maybe 2005, at the height of the second Gulf War. Slim had enlisted in the United States Navy, in 1991 ( he got held back a year in school ) and had been in for 14 or 15 years. He was a 2nd Class Petty Officer and personal assistant to the Admiral of the ship. He never disclosed how he got my home phone number, I just figured he had his ways. He told me he planned to retire from the Navy and buy a house in Las Vegas, his mom had passed away a few years earlier and she had lost the house back in the old neighborhood. We laughed and joked, talked about old times and "that day" in 1985, he asked about my mom and dad, at that time they were healthy, doing well and enjoying their retirement. I told him my sissy had since retired from Navy and had a daughter of her own.
After about a 15 minute conversation we said our goodbyes and vowed to talk, and see each other again, that has yet to happen. I wonder at times about my friend, Slim; if he ever did retire, make it out the hood so to speak. I hate to end this segment here, I could go off into the second time I was shot, April 18, 1987, same day two years later, told you the hood is funny sometimes.
However I wish to progress this and get to the point were my life really started to take a spiral, and I started to look for a different way.
I knew I had to do something, I had caught some charges by the time I was 17 years old. I had beaten two robbery charges and was tied up in a conspiracy to commit murder charge, by 1989. I had a couple carrying concealed firearms by a minor, and possession of stolen property convictions on my jacket, as well as some minor assaults.
One day when I "went" to school, I saw this young dude, clean looking, and had on a military uniform, I didn't know what kind it was but it was fucking cool, the coolest. He was a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, at his side was a Lance Corporal.
I was in 12th grade and barely passing my classes, not because I couldn't do the work, it was because I never went to school, I would attend only two maybe three days a week, and only stay till 10:00 AM or so then split, and go back to the neighborhood. The Sergeant approached and said "Young man, what's your intentions after graduating high school?" I responded in a not so typical fashion, as I caught the seasoned recruiter off guard "I hope I don't get shot again." and with that he paused.....
"Damn man what happened..?" Sarge asked, so I told him about my gang affiliation and by that time rumor had it, I had a bounty on me, and I wanted to leave Los Angeles before I got killed. I told him my grades were shit, my attendance was shit, my motivation to complete high school left me in 8th grade...but all my teachers said I was one of the most gifted students they had ever taught, I just didn't apply myself.
He told me I could come in and take some sort test and I could go into the Marine Corps, and get away for awhile, let shit cool off so to speak. I said "Fuck it cuz, I'll try it and see what happens." So I went home all happy and shit, and couldn't wait to tell my mom and dad that I finally knew what I was going to do when I graduated, I was going to be a United States Marine Corps man, whatever the fuck that was. All I knew is they wore cool clothes to work. I was 17 people give me a break...so I ran home from the bus stop and burst in the door were my mom was washing clothes or something, I can't recall.
"Momma, ....! Momma, guess what?" I exclaimed joyfully, "What happened now Fuzzy?" she just mumbled without any emotions, she had become mentally exhausted from my life, and it aged her rapidly. "I talked to this soldier dude at school, he said I could ride with him after school to the recruiters office in Hawthorne and take a test to enlist in the Marines!"
My mother rose up and looked at me and said, "Oh Fuzzy, no baby I don't know about that son. That's dangerous." I said "Momma it ain't no worse than living here, I'm not going to live to see 25 if I stay here, and you know that." she knew if she didn't say yes I'd do it anyway so she said, "Fuzzy go and take the test baby and see what they say if you want to, we'll go from there and see whether to involve your father with this decision of yours." I was so happy my mom said I could go, I'm tearing up as I'm writing this, for it brings back one of the happiest days in my life, the day I knew I might live to see full adulthood, maybe; just maybe I could be a dad, and tell my kids this crazy fucking shit, they'll never believe it though.
So the next day at the recruiters office, I took this test and to my surprise I scored a 187 on the ASVAB test, which at that time placed me in the top 10% to 15% of recruit scores. The Marine recruiter told me I could be almost anything I wanted to be in the Marine Corps, just say it.
My first choice was a helicopter fighter pilot, my uncle was a door gunner on a Huey in Vietnam, he was in the Army. I was told I'd have to go to O.C.S. to fly helicopters, become an Officer, in other words, go to college, and I hated school. That was out the question then. So I considered if I was going to join the toughest, strictest, most physically and mentally challenging of Armed Forces, why not go for the hardest job?
I told my recruiter "I want to go in Infantry, ain't that the Rambo shit?" the recruiter laughed and said "Yep, but you're too smart for that man. You should go into Marine Intelligence, learn a foreign language or something, and get assigned to the Pentagon or some Embassy somewhere." "What, like a spy or some shit?" I asked. "Kind of, they'll determine how far you go and into what field of expertise you have. That spy shit usually involves the C.I.A., they'll get in touch if they want you, trust me."
I don't know if he knew what he was talking about but that shit sounded awesome, like some James Bond shit, that was right up my alley. But for some reason, Infantry just looked more appealing to me, so I told him again that I wanted to be an Infantryman. I then gave him my 3 choices for Duty Station assignment, which was Hawaii, Japan, and lastly Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.
I rode home that evening with that Sergeant and his boss, a Gunnery Sergeant Williams, and he walked in and introduced himself to my mom, saying "Good afternoon ma'am, my name is Gunnery Sergeant Williams, United States Marine Corps, pleased to meet you." He reached out and shook my moms hand and asked if he could sit. Mom gestured to the living room and pulled a chair for the Marine. She fetched a glass of ice water and then her and I joined him at the table.
"Ma'am, your son has expressed an interest to serve his country as a Marine, he has scored well enough to enlist and we have here his prepared enlistment documents that require your signature, he is only 17 at this time you know."
My mom said " Sir, that's all well and good, but he knows I won't sign that paper without consulting his father first, he'll be home around 3:00 this morning and I'll talk to my husband then. We'll send word by our son tomorrow as to what decision we have made."
After a question and answer period from my mom was entertained, the Gunnery Sergeant and his assistant exited and awaited my fathers decision, as did I.
My dad worked for years on a schedule that was odd to me, 5:00 pm, until 3:00 am, he would come in the door early some nights around 2:00, but never before that.
I stayed awake until my dad came home, the anxiety was too much for me to sleep. I heard the car pull into the driveway, and the car door slam shut. The key slid into the lock and with a thunk, the door swung open hitting the door stop spring, with a dong. The keys hit the table a slid a bit, and the stove clicked on, to warm up some tea as he always did when he first came home, 2 tea bags, 2 slices of lemon, 2 slices of orange, and a tea spoon of brown sugar. I heard my mom get up and join him in the den, where he relaxed after work and drank his early morning tea and read the Los Angeles Times. Their conversation was brief, and I couldn't make out exactly what was said, the den was at the other end of the hallway from my bedroom. I heard my mom open the den door and shuffle half asleep, back to their bedroom and close the door.
My heart was racing and I knew he would be coming to wake me up to talk to me. I heard him walking up the hallway and heard him walk past his door, and then mine swung open allowing the light in from the hallway to shine in my bedroom, and to his surprise I was wide awake.
"Come to the back boy, let's talk." that's all my father said and he closed the door. I jumped up, in my boxers and a t shirt and walked down the hallway about 4 steps behind Moose. I came in behind him and he said "Close the door boy." without even looking over his shoulder. He took a seat on the sofa, and I sat at the table across the den about 10 feet away, as not to be close to him in case he started yelling.
"Your momma say you want to be a Marine, is that true son?" ...I was scared to answer him directly so I replied, "You and Sissy, Uncle so and so and uncle so and so went in right after high school didn't y'all?" My father wasn't a man that believed in long drawn out conversations, he asked questions and expected answers. He just looked at me and said absolutely nothing, about 5 seconds passed and then I said , "Yes, yes dad I want to be a soldier."
My father asked "Why son, why do you want to enlist?" I told my father the truth for once in my life, and simply "I don't want to die daddy. I got to get away from here, I mean I love you and mom and all, but I ain't smart enough for college, and I'm too smart to stay here." Moose said, " Boy that's one of the most intelligent things I've heard you say in your life. I agree son, it's not the worse thing for you, in fact it might help teach you what your mother and I have failed to instill in you as your parents, perhaps that's our fault I guess. But why the Marines son, I don't think you can do that, they're too hard." I said "I know daddy, I want to do it, I can do it if I really tried. They just need y'all to co-sign the contract cause I won't turn 18 for 2 more months, and I want to leave as soon as possible, after school is over. Please dad, say yes...don't make me wait two months to sign it myself, I'm going in one way or the other."
My dad shook his head and said " I know son, I've seen that look before, you're already gone upstairs." He smiled at me , one of the rare times that ever occurred in my life. "I'll tell your mother to sign the paper tomorrow and leave it on the kitchen table, I'll sign it when I come in from work tomorrow night."
I was so happy, I ran to my room and couldn't sleep the rest of the night anticipating my first day in boot camp, as a United States Marine. The next day things went as planned, the contract was signed by my mom, dad, and myself; I was now property of the United States Government, and had only 4 months of civilian life that laid ahead. Now to stay alive until I got on the bus 4 months from now, just 120 days to go. The countdown began and the tensions started to rise as word spread of me leaving the neighborhood soon, I had enlisted without asking permission from my gang leaders, this could definitely cause a life or death situation, if the wrong people found out.
To be continued in Installment 4 : The Countdown
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