The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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When Things Get Hectic
Juan Azize

Last summer I was headed to the bodega around my block to get a hero when I saw my boy Deps step to some kid I’d never seen before. Being the nosy friend that I am, I went over to see what the problem was. “Yo Deps, what’s going on man?” I said.

“This bitch ass nigga got an eye problem,” Deps answered.

“Whatever man,” said the kid. I noticed he got scared when I came over, knowing there were two of us now and this wasn’t his neighborhood.

But fighting over a bad look wasn’t exactly the move. “Yo, forget about that crap man,” I said. “He don’t want no beef.”

“So why he trying to scope if he don’t want none?” said Deps.

“I wasn’t scoping at you man,” answered the kid.

“Yo man, squash this crap already so I could get my sandwich,” I told Deps. “My stomach is growling.”

“Aaiight man, just don’t be trying to act like you represent around here,” Deps told the kid. They gave each other the hand along with dirty looks and slow moves.

After the fake pound, I went inside the store to get my salami and cheese and Deps tagged along. About fifteen minutes later there we were chilling in front of my house. It was really hot and we were trying to throw girls in front of the hydrant and munching down that delicious hero when, all of a sudden, a blue Corolla with tinted windows rolled up in front of us.

I knew right away this was the kid Deps was riffing to. I remember the hero losing its delicious taste. The girls were still teasing us, trying to get us to chase them, when Deps tapped my leg cause he knew what time it was. Before I could yell “duck,” I saw the back window roll down enough for a gun to fit through. I grabbed Deps like a reflex and we both hit the floor at the same time two bullets hit the side of my house.

The car was long gone before me and Deps had a chance to feel burnt. All of a sudden the girls didn’t want to play anymore and it wasn’t that sunny. I never knew things could get to that point so fast. A dirty look setting bullets off didn’t make any sense. What if they had caught us from behind? What if they had shot one of the girls? What if my mother had been standing there?

It really made me think deep. I wanted to kill those guys, I was so steamed. I was confused. I was flipping. I rode around with my friends looking for that blue Corolla for that whole week. Deps got a gun that same day hoping they were going to come back, which didn’t happen.

This kind of thing goes on all the time: “Yo, you heard who got shot?” “I ran into some beef today.” “Yo man, bring a shank just in case.” I am sick and tired of hearing it. Violence surrounds us everywhere: school, work, even in front of your crib. That’s the number one reason for deaths among teens in New York City. Kids nowadays are ready to kill each other over the dumbest things.

I know a lot of kids who are scared one day they are just going to get blasted for something stupid like that. There are so many other kids out there with guns, knives, and short tempers.

I live in Corona, Queens, and when the weekends come I feel like I am in a battle zone. Before trooping it out to a jam I always have to make sure I am rolling with my little crew in case things get hectic. Most of the jams I’ve been to end up with a shootout or a rumble.

And this stuff doesn’t just go down where I live. In school all the gossip in the hallway is about things happening in the streets. I know lots of people also carry weapons to school but the beef is outside most of the time.

There was this time, last year in my old school, when my boy Duzer was supposed to shoot a fair one with another kid in school, so my little crew got together to keep it a fair fight. When eighth period came we all hit the handball courts. While Duzer hopped around to get ready, I saw kids pulling shanks and hammers out of their knapsacks. I knew this wasn’t going to be no fair fight, fake gangstas put that out of style trying to find the easy way out.

It started to get hectic; people were getting shanked up and hammered down. I was playing it safe and taking them sucker punches every chance I had. It was an even rumble, not counting the fact that they had more weapons. (I admit I was scared to death about them hammers.)

When the 5-0’s rolled up we were gone with the wind. A couple of kids couldn’t run so they stayed on the floor covering their sore spots. My boy Eliester had a thin slice on his neck and had to get eleven stitches. The rest of us had shanked jackets and arms, nothing serious (thank God).

We ran to the hospital about ten blocks away. About a half hour later, after the hype went down, I stopped Duzer in the waiting room and asked him what the beef was all about. I almost started to laugh when I heard the answer: “He was trying to tell me who I wasn’t allowed to talk to,” answered Duzer.

A girl! I didn’t understand. One of our boys gets sliced in the neck with eleven stitches and three other kids were left on the floor bleeding like cold. This was pathetic, killing each other over a girl who’s probably ready to move on to the next man. Eight-tracks make better sense than that.

I look at it this way: If I am going to have beef I am going to have beef worth having. Not over a girl, a stupid remark, or any other petty things. I am going to make sure before I go all out that it’s for a good cause. What is a good cause for me? Somebody trying to kill me, rob me, or anybody that touches my mother.

Besides that, you got to keep it real. The last thing in your mind should be a gun or a blackjack, that’s all unnecessary violence. Nobody has to go that far unless it is life threatening. There are many kids out there who only get down when they are strapped or rolling deep. Remember, the real people won’t need that when they blow your finesse. And you aren’t always going to have your gun or your crew to hide behind. Slow down or it’s going to happen when you are not looking.

You should only try to get respect if disrespected, without letting things get out of hand. I’m not saying it’s easy, trust me. Nowadays there is no respect, everyone wants to be bigger than the next guy. But real people keep it real. They are the ones that go all with their hands and not with their guns, knowing it will give them both a chance to come back. Like that rap song goes: “Leave your nines at home and bring your skills to the battle.”

We should all try to calm down. Violence won’t solve anything in the long run. We have to grow up and realize there are other ways to solve a problem—talking it out and mediating and sometimes even ignoring it. We’ve got to try to remember a lot of kids are getting killed over little problems that could have been easily solved.

I am not gonna front, though. If my boys get into more senseless beef, I am still going to catch their backs and I won’t stop to ask them what the problem is. Adrenaline flows faster than questions, and my boys have always been there for me when I needed them without asking questions and trying to talk it out.

I guess it must be written in that invisible book that knows everything, the one where ladies go first and actions speak louder than words. The funny thing is, I follow that book. If my boys have beef again I’ll be there asking mute questions that come out too late. It’s like a reflex. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Your boys are your boys. I do stop to think about it, but only after it’s too late, after the damage is already done.

In the past three years, I’ve lost three of my boys to senseless violence. Every time it happens, the rest of us get together and make a mural on the wall. For me, the hardest part is figuring out what colors and design to use. How are we supposed to concentrate without the whole crew? Even the invisible book doesn’t have an answer to that one. It doesn’t have a special chapter on consequences.

We all have one life to live, let’s keep it real. Cause I am tired of trying to figure out colors and designs for my friends’ memorials. Wouldn’t you be?

This goes out to SEN and to all those who have fallen to violence. Rest In Peace. Nobody is ever promised tomorrow. Increase the peace.

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