Sunday, September 04, 2011

Excerpt 3 of Untitled Book Project

"Yo, did you hear that?" Ant said, eyes wide open. "What was that?"
"I don't know, but it sounded close," Zamudio said, his head on a swivel, ready to fight if he had to.
"I bet it was the security guards," Arnel said.
"Let's bounce," Danny said, putting his tin box into his jacket pocket, paranoia shooting through his veins and killing his high. "I ain't getting caught up here."
The four started back to the pole when they saw a bright light shoot up to the sky near the ledge. There was a loud ruckus and what sounded like a voice on a radio. The light pointed up to the sky near the pole, waving left to right, as the voices got louder.
"What iss that?" Z said, as Arnel ran to edge to get a look.
"Oh shit!" Arnel whisper-yelled. "There's two cops down there."
"Did they see you?" Ant asked.
"No. They’re talking to each other,” Arnel said as Ant pulled up behind him. Both boys ducked their head as if to hide in an invisible shadow. “The squad car is right there."
"What do we do?" Ant said. "Danny, you gotta toss that bag."
"I'm not wasting my weed. I just bought this eighth," Danny said.
"Dude, we're gonna get busted with that if you don't toss it," Ant said. "I'm not getting busted the day before school starts."
"There's only one way out of here," Z said, facing toward the opposite edge from where the cops were. He walked across the roof, his long legs moving him across quickly. He reached the ledge and looked straight down at the ground. The reflection of shadows from the pool lights wavered on his face, revealing the manly stubble on his cheeks and neck.
"I'll go first," Z said, sounding like an Indian at Wounded Knee.
"Dude, how are we going to escape? They'll hear us make a splash," Ant protested, clearly scared at the prospect that the cops, and worse, his mother would bust him upside his head.
"All we gotta do is jump, cut across and climb the fence. They still have to get inside the building. We can cut out the back door and hide in the fields," Z said, adding "I've done it before."
"Dude, and we're gonna be soaking wet all the way home in this cold," Ant said.
"What, you afraid of catching a cold?" Danny said.
"And what, you afraid of losing your weed? It's gonna get wet anyway," Ant said.
"That's what blow dryers are for," he said.
"I'm going," Z said, and before anyone could say a word, he stepped up on the ledge, took a breath, and jumped feet first into the swimming pool. The cops must have heard something because the lights that were pointed up toward the roof came down quickly.
"Screw it. Filipinos are good divers," Arnel said, running across the roof and jumping feet first. Below, Z was just exiting the pool when Arnel hit the water. His small body made a much quieter splash than Z.
"Oh well. I guess this is keeping it gangsta," Danny said, as he stuffed his box into his pants. He stood up on the ledge for a half-second, then jumped feet first. He jumped wide enough to land in the middle of the pool.
As Danny emerged from the water, he looked up, along with Z and Arnel. No one said a word as Ant stood with one foot on the ledge, the other on the rooftop. He looked down at his friends, feeling a gust of wind that knocked him a little off balance. He thought about what would happen if the cops took him home, about the sting from a slap courtesy of his mom's right hand. The cold air pierced his nostrils with each breath he took.
"Damn," he said to himself, as he balanced himself on the ledge. He jumped, and without realizing it, closed his eyes mid-air. He splashed and felt his feet, legs, torso and hair soak all at once. Flapping his arms, he surfaced to the air quickly and felt the sharp chill sting his face. He let out a quick gasp, not sure if he was alive.
"Man, you're such a chavala. Why you lag for," Danny said, reaching down and helping Ant get out of the water. Danny had a funny way of being supportive and condescending at the same time.
"Let's get out of here," Ant said, trying to wipe the water out of his hair before motioning away from the pool. The two boys ran toward the chain link fence and scaled it in an eye blink, meeting up with Arnel and Zamudio, who were already on the other side. The four ran across the plaza area, past the palm trees, the food hut, past classrooms and billboards and lunch tables, to the back entrance. The back door entrance to the school was locked from the outside, but it was the only entrance that didn't have a padlock and chain. Zamudio kicked it open with one big swift, powerful right leg, setting off the alarm.
The boys made a dash to the lettuce fields that lay behind the P.E. field and connected to their neighborhood. Alert, cold and soaked, with the night chill exhaling with each pant, they ran through the fields they had grown up in, that some of their parents had worked in, that were now an escape route they owned in the night. The dim glow of two police flashlights grew faint in the distance. The cops didn't even know who or what was going on up on the roof.
They reached their home block of Countryside Drive, without saying a word. Once in safe territory, they barely looked at one another before going their separate ways. Ant and Danny were next door neighbors, so they walked in the same direction.
Ant reached into his pocket and removed the wet remnants: his rhymes were soaked and the ink was wavy in some points. Luckily, he had memorized most of the raps he wrote. Besides, that's what blow dryers are for, he said to himself.
Danny walked by his side, silent, his wet feet scrunching with each step. He reached into his pants for his tin box. He opened it.
"Damn. It's all dry. My weed didn't get wet," he said with a laugh.
"Well aren't you the lucky jerk," Ant said, not really mad at his one-time best friend.
"Don't get all sad because you lost your lyrics. Now you'll just have to go write some more gangsta shit," Danny said as he headed towards the walkway to his house.
"I hope you catch a cold," Ant said, walking to his house. 

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