[Po]: 80.Unconditional

Rating: 0.90  
Uploaded by:
2006-02-12 13:26:59
short story
Free for reading
Reader's caution: contains strong subject matter.


Copyright Rose A. Campbell 2006

They were always together, the two small boys. Always together, but always alone. The older one couldn’t have been any more than six. He was a meticulous caretaker to the younger, a boy of perhaps four. They wandered the Projects with smudged faces and clothes made for better-fed children.

The graffitied hallways and piss-stinking elevators were their domain. Cracked cement was their playground, abandoned cars and burned-out trashcans their jungle gyms. The older boy would tear howling through the buildings, running past wire-mesh covered windows and battered doors, his brother in stolid pursuit.

On that last day, they were fighting each other in the seventh floor hall. The noise of the older boys’ shrieks penetrated the cinderblock walls of my apartment, waking the baby. Grabbing her, I yanked open my door. “Get the hell outta here, you goddamned troublemakers, or I’m gonna call the goddamn cops on you!” I screamed, and the baby wailed. They blinked at me in surprise, and I spat curses at them as they gathered themselves up and shuffled down the hall, grappling each other with filthy hands for a little bit of green. A five-dollar bill, a treasure.

I paced the living room with the baby, trying to calm her. I watched out the open window as the boys barreled across the parking lot, shoving through a group of Balseros and Chapines toward the party store, still battling over the precious money. “That’s money wasted, ain’t it?” I cooed at the baby, giving her my tit to shut her up.

“Gloria! Come down for some tamales!” my neighbor called up from the next building over, seeing me in the window.

“Ya, ‘Berta! Be right down!” Anything was better than watching a bunch of macho gangster wannabees strutting around in front of each other, talking shit about their mamis and their bitches.

The elevator light was out and the glass of the small window was shattered. Coming off the elevator, I stumbled over a drunk sleeping in the hall.

“Fue puta, borracho!” I mumbled, holding the baby close to me as I regained my balance. “Drunken bastard, why don’t you sleep in your own hall?”

The sweet sound of a slow Salsa drifted toward me from the parking lot where the cholos gathered, arguing together. In their wifebeaters and chinos with their hair slicked back or shaved, with their slutty girlfriends hanging on them, they seemed to forget that they were only teenage boys playing at being grown men. The argument grew heated as I walked, escalating to shouting and shoving. The smallest of the bunch refused to give way. He threw the first punch, swinging like Holyfield in the ring. That was all it took to get the crew of them fighting, and their movements blended together, a rushing mass like a packed dancefloor.

It only took a minute for the small guy’s friends to pull him away. The Chapines coaxed him away from the Balseros while throwing harsh words of revenge at them.

“Damn, I’m glad that’s over!” ‘Berta gestured with her chin at the cholos. Half the lot separated the gangs, and they were still firing verbal assaults at each other. I nodded absently, not really listening to her. It didn’t look like it was over to me. The little guy was in a rage, struggling against the hands holding him back from storming at the Balseros. I couldn’t hear what was being said. Their voices were drowned in a frenetic Merengue beat. I didn’t need to hear them to see the Chapin reach under his plaid and pull the pistol from his waistband.

“Dios!” I cried, clutching the baby against my chest and jerking ‘Berta to the floor beside me.

Defiance on his face, one of the Balseros stepped forward to face the Chapin. The Balsero raised his own gun and they faced each other, all machismo. ‘Berta’s tamales smelled delicious.

A glint of light, and two little dirty boys bearing plastic bags ran out from behind a car. A double gunshot, my gut clenched.

A single heartbeat, and I flew toward the children, my baby left with ‘Berta. The cholos scattered.

I knelt beside them, the two kings of this broken playground. Filthy with flowing blood, they held each other. My hands were at a loss.

“It hurts!” cried the small one.

“Don’t worry, buddy. Don’t worry.” The older one reassured through his pain. “Tell me what you see.”

The boy looked up, past me, into the silent, stricken face of the pistol-carrying Chapin beside me. His brother followed his gaze.

“I see God.” The tiny boy slumped with a last, rattling breath.

“Me too.” He smiled, closing his eyes.

I screamed, and the baby wailed.

2006-02-12 kileaiya: That was a beautiful piece of writing, full of emotion.

2006-02-12 Po: That's what being a lucid dreamer gets me, I guess. Thanks.

2006-02-12 Kaimee: That really is beautiful. I'm actually getting all teary over it.

2006-02-12 Po: It was hard to write, toward the end there. *has two sons, a seven-year-old and a four-year-old*

I cried when I dreamed it, and when I wrote it.

2006-02-12 Kaimee: *hugs*

2006-02-12 Po: :)

2006-02-12 *Amy*: Tear Jerker all the way! *Sobbing*

2006-02-13 Po: Aww! *hugs* I hate it when I do that!

2006-03-04 Fireheart: wow. that's powerful.

2006-04-23 Metal Tsubasa: That was really beauitful. First place for sure! It's one of those stories that once you start reading it, it's like you're really right there. The imagery is great!

2006-06-06 RiddleRose: wow. that is beautiful... *agrees with fireheart*

2006-06-13 Po: Thanks! I think I'll do a rewrite to make it more the complete story (without Kaimee's difficult 800 word limit *hugs Kai*), and post it here for comparison. Sometime in the future. :D

2006-06-14 Kaimee: *messes up your hair*

2006-06-20 Po: *pokes Kaimee* damn 800 word limits grumble grumble *grins*

2006-07-17 Harlequin: Two years of Spanish didn't help me follow all of the lingo, but I must say that this is quite the piece. I really wish more of my work could be as descriptive, and of course, emotionally driven. It's quite nice. I wouldn't worry too much about it being a tear-wrencher. I don't really think it could have been as good any other way. Congratulations.

2006-07-22 Lanrete: Amazing. It must have been quite a powerful dream, to end up with such a clear and emotional story. Beautiful.

2006-07-22 ~*Lonely Wanderer*~: wow. That was really intense. But tell me, what got this started?

2006-07-29 Marten: Having grown up in Ft. Lauderdale and having seen things similar in a slightly different setting, this really is touching. Nice work on description.

2007-03-09 nathie: you painted a very vivid and strong picture with this story. very powerful and intense.

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