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by Anonymous



I caught my first charge at twelve, I think to myself as I sat in this Criminology class.

"Crime is deviance, deviation can make you a criminal. We study the cadavers of these people. What's wrong with them?"

Tapping my foot, Rod Wave playing in my right AirPod. Man, I swear this is the only thing keeping me sane right now. Sometimes I wish I was normal. I wish I was like the rest of these kids. It was self-defense, I swear, but I can never live my life the same, these people don't know me. EVERYTHING is a façade.


I guess before getting too deep, I should backtrack. I'm Tres—like three in Spanish. I got the same name as my dad and my granddad. But they ain't never did shit for me so I don't go by that, I go by Tres and only Tres. I just turned twenty last week, I had the time of my life man. My brother Twan hit the local lottery for fourteen-thousand, and we went to Magic City. Twan is my blood brother, we the only ones in the house with the same momma and daddy so we love each other a little different. Everything I get Twan get a piece and vice versa. I love all my siblings but my blood brother really me. He a local lottery champ. He go walk outside and automatically start making money with just two little dice.

He been doing it since we was young, I remember Twan hit his first real pick up when he was twelve. I remember it like it was yesterday, I was ten getting ready to turn eleven and the new Gamma Blue Jordan 11s was coming out the Saturday before my birthday and he promised he would get 'em for me for covering for him when he skipped school. I knew Twan was gone get the money a crazy way but I ain't care, I wanted them new J's and it was my birthday.

It was basketball season at school so every week on Friday night we got to stay late and go to the basketball game but this particular Friday was right before my birthday, so I was scared; trouble was definitely something I wasn't looking forward to on my birthday weekend. I had on my freshest fit. I wanted to make sure everybody seen the clean white Polo t-shirt, baggy khaki shorts sagging off a little (this was my first time sagging, I felt so cool, I felt just like Twan and his friends) and some fresh all while Nike Air Force Ones I’d been saving since the first day of school. The school day was cool and went by fast but now it was only about an hour between the dismissal bell and the beginning of the game; most kids usually began to walk to the store or find something to get into.

Any other day I would stay inside the library and watch Twan and his friends shoot dice behind the school building, make money, laugh, play music. They always said I wasn't cool enough to come around, so I stayed inside and read books or played online. I was raised by my grandma, and she taught me "Knowledge is power baby, learn all you can while you here. Don't let nobody bully you or pressure you into being or doing something you not." So, I never had a problem staying inside, but this specific day I was going outside. They let me chill with them, nobody said nothing—and I mean nothing. Twan's oldest friend Andre even passed me the dice and let me have a turn. I didn't like gambling, so I gave it back fast.

It was probably only about fifteen more minutes before the girls' basketball game was starting. My best friend Zariah played basketball, starting point guard so I tried to never miss a game. She was sad her mom worked a lot so I tried to always show up and show out for her. So, I ended up leaving Twan and his friends outside to go into the game, he was supposed to be following me within the next few minutes… but they never came. It was about 7 minutes into the girl's first quarter, so I run outside to their spot and check for them but nobody's there. In the distance, I hear some loud ass bass (like louder than I ever heard before) and I follow the music to look over and see Twan in the passenger seat of a brand-new Challenger; Andre was in the driver seat. Once I got closer, they both looked pretty intoxicated, I never seen Twan look like this before, only grandma after she came from drinking and playing Bingo with the girls.

I walked up to the car and said "Yo Twan, what you doing man?"

Twan just stared at me. I noticed blood on his cheek and all down his shirt. Before I could even ask what happen, he told me to shut up and handed me a stack of money.

"Happy birthday dweeb," he said as he shoved the money in my hand and hugged me at the same time. I was happy but also scared for my brother. At the time I didn't know it, but Twan was in some deep shit, this was the start of something crazy,

As time went on it became obvious that my brother was now in a gang. They told him when he could eat, sleep, spend time with us, damn even seemed like they told them when to shit cause he sure didn't do it unless they told him to. Being honest I really missed my brother, we wasn't growing up with no daddy, so he was like my daddy, my role model but he just wasn't the same no more.

He always looked tired or was too annoyed to be bothered with me and our younger siblings. We had lost our father figure.



For me, I know for a fact my behavior changed. I remember right before my twelfth birthday I started smoking weed, lost my virginity and told my mom to cut the curfew. I was still eleven years old, but to me and my peers I was a grown man. Everybody kept telling me "This isn't you Tres, you acting like your brother. Remember you better than that." And honestly, I wasn't trying to hear any of that, I was finding myself just like anyone else. Was it a little young? Sure, but it was my life man, let's be real who don't smoke weed. I lost my virginity to my long-time best friend, now girlfriend, Zariah, and I didn't need a curfew. It was about to be summertime.

They say the smartest people talk to themselves… is it bad that that's all I do? I've grown to hate people because truly what happen to me at twelve didn't need to happen to anyone guilty or not. Society must learn to focus on facts and not judge a book by its cover and it's safe to say I was judged by my appearance before I was able to get a trial, lawyer, jury and judge willing to finally listen to my story—the Police Department in the city of Mahogany wronged me.  

Let's just say I'd been twelve for seven months, I had the hang of this whole thing. I started hanging with my older brother and his best friends heavy NLMB, Never Leave My Brother (we said every time we came in contact or parted ways)—we were one. You couldn't cross one without crossing the other. Twan was damn-near fourteen at the time but all his friends were sixteen and over, driving. They had apartments, one even had a baby.

"Mini, pass me that bookbag from back there." Said Andre, he was basically our big homie now, our dad in a way but without the rules, just the knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge became even more important to me after my grandmother passed away a few days following my twelfth birthday. That hurt bad but I know she loved me learning and having knowledge. Therefore, no matter what I did, right or wrong, I seen it as a lesson and was always looking to gain more knowledge. I wanted to make my granny proud looking over me.

"Mini" was my NLMB code name. Andre said it was dumb to use my name or even my familiar nickname, we needed something that no one really knew me by.



Every weekend we went to a new city and partook in illegal activities with Andre, but this particular weekend it was my turn to pick where we went and how many targets we eliminated. I asked Zariah to help me find a place and she told me about this city known as Mahogany that her and her family once visited.

"It's real nice bae," Zariah said as she rubbed my neck and ears calming me down. "Police presence ain't too much and even the last time we went I seen somebody's beach house getting broken into and the police didn't come for almost five minutes."

Dre had been down my neck all day because it was my week and I still didn't have a destination in mind, so of course I let Zariah get in my head.

"Yo Dre we doing Mahogany, my shawty say it's not too far and 12 ain't on shit," I said.

"Alright bet Mini I'll be there in the morning, you and Twan be ready."

Zariah finally got privileges to stay nights with me so we cuddled up, watched Rick and Morty until we fell asleep.



The next morning Andre pulled up with his booming speakers, around 7am., waking not only me and Twan up. It seems as though he woke the whole block up. But being real, you look outside the window and see Dre, you'd just lay back down. Andre is one of those people where it's just not worth it; I think hot head would be the official term to describe Dre's attitude, so people usually just stay out of his way.

"Five minutes, be outside," said a text in the NLMB group message. I went to brush my teeth and change my shirt, we had to be out the door and on the way to Mahogany to take care of business. The ride was simple and felt so short. They say we was on the road for bout two hours, but we was finally here, riding around scoping out the scene. It was hella white people. From back where we stay, we don't have this many and they definitely don't keep staring and looking at us crazy like these folks was. Everybody was hungry but we was scared to stop. We wanted to take care of business and move around but of course Andre demanded we get some food.

"Nothing works on an empty stomach," he said, but nobody was really stunting him forreal, again hot heads always get what they want cause nobody got time to argue with them man.

So, we stop at the first Bojangles we see, as soon as we walked in the whole store goes "UGHHHH" as if our presence was bothering them. My brother hated shit like this and instantly started talking mess to the order taker and before we knew it, she dropped the hard er. She said it again and directed it towards the entire NLMB. This bitch obviously didn't know who she was dealing with. Twan says, "You might wanna watch it, we not from out here and we don't tolerate that type of disresp..." and before Twan could finish his sentence another Bojangles employee came out the back straight instigating. There was now a heavy-set white male on top of Andre. Twan pulled a blade from under his tongue and sliced the female employee's neck repeatedly. I never seen anyone do that outside of jail clips or Beyond Scared Straight. I could only think to myself what is Twan really on?

All the money was out of the register, the female hard er dropping employee gasping for air laying in a pool of her own blood while the instigating male employee is fist fighting Andre. It wasn't looking too good for him and I knew I didn't want to lose my only father figure Dre, so I fired a shot but two came out, one hit the employee but the other hit Andre. My new role model, I didn't mean to hit him but it was a head shot. I instantly broke down crying, those aren't usually too good. I was shell-shocked but staying stagnant wasn't an option. We all tried to run out the back to the car, but 12 had us surrounded and the only thing I can think in my head was I thought Zariah said 12 didn't show up out here… Why are they here?



Ding Ding Ding

"Ok, thank you Mr. Tacion Wright. Exactly five minutes. That is a perfect embodiment of a 'broken window theory,' " Said my Criminology teacher.

He continued, "The city of Mahogany probably had one of their first broken windows whenever your at the time girlfriend visited, and watched that house get broken into. The presence of delinquency was around and the city could either repair this window and keep more from breaking, hence beefing up police forces or allow more windows to be broken, opening its doors to more violence and downfall but it seems as though the city chose to repair that window and unfortunately you and your friend from back home fell victim to that. Great job, Mr. Wright, and thank you for sharing this experience with the class."

"Man, don't call me that Tacion, Mr. Wright shit," I said. "Tres only Tres."

Anonymous is a student at Tuskegee University.

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