I don't want to move to LA. Why would I want to? I have to give up my cat, Emily (named after Emily Dickinson). Dad #3 is a wannabe rock star. He covers bad hair band music and writes his own, just as cheesy as the stuff he covers. His band thinks they're going to make it big in LA. So we have to go.
When we get there, after turning down the place in Compton that was riddled with bullet holes from the previous occupant's assassination, we settle on an adobe box in the center of mexi-town. The house is on a hill, just south of the school where 9 out of 10 students are Hispanic but all the teachers only speak English. This means 3.2 of the kids in my class, including me, are white. This isn't like prison where you can team up with your like kind and form some kind of protection circle. Here, you just hope the other guys are bigger targets than you are and you try not to draw attention. I'm the minority and I'm new. I draw attention and get bullied by a kid with no fingers on his right hand because, as he puts it, "my mama smoke 2 much crack. What? You lookin' at my hand? My brother leads this gang, gringo. He'll fuck you up. Check this knife, bitch." Then he'd pop out a 6-inch steel blade with his good hand and lick it like some creepy cartoon character with Down's syndrome.
Fifth grade is a bitch.
My mom tries to alert the school principal about the weapons and drugs the kids bring onto the playground. He laughs at her, "What do you expect me to do about that? You talk to their parents. Let me know how it goes."
My mother turns on the radio every morning before my brother and I walk to school. The radio tells us whether or not it's safe to breathe the air outside today.
"Today.... is a SMOG day." That means, no. We have to eat lunch in the principal's office and spend recess indoors. The principal is some white dude underneath his horribly mega-tan, sun-torn face. He doesn't talk to us, just stares at us like we're aliens, like we don't belong here, children of some hippy who's overly-concerned with the air quality, like everyone here doesn't just live with it. Three out of five days are smog days. The surgeon general warns that it's not safe to leave your house on those days but everyone does it. They have to do it.
When we moved into the stucco house, we tried to put up some posters. Upon touching the tiny nails to the wall, massive holes broke out. Tape doesn't hold. Nothing can go on the walls, so they remain this ugly color of beige--ugly because it's the color of gringo skin, the white plague, some kind of infestation on this turf.
One Saturday morning, I head outside before my mom wakes up. This guy is running down the hill, frantically wheeling a truck tire as fast as he can. He's taking evasive action because, right behind him, another guy is chasing him with a six shooter, screaming something in Spanish. The guy with the gun fires two rounds but misses each time, the fleeing thief ducking as if to dodge the bullets. The bullets continue through the residential streets, finding homes in whatever gets in their way. I go back inside. It's probably a smog day, anyway.