By Suzanna Franek
"...One day I stopped by the house during my lunch hour to check on the construction progress and noticed a gang tag on my side porch. Etched into a thick layer of dust were the initials ‘CYS’. Instead of waiting another few weeks for construction to finish, with my 5-year old in tow, and another sister and niece who were living with us at the time, we pulled the bare necessities together and moved in the next day. I too was staking claim to territory. ..."
By Maria Fernandez
"... The gun battle that followed between the the Salcedas and the Valdovinos left only one wounded man on the Valdovinos's side; but nothing was ever the same. Most of the Valdovinos clan had to move to another town. Aureliano's family home and his father's land had to be sold. Aureliano missed his friends, and working on his father's fields, but more than anything he missed Esther. ..."
By Louie Flores
"...The mural that summer was funded by the county, which wanted to beautify the East L.A. area. The fire department donated the paint and the Kiwanis Club lent us the scaffolds. A mural was better than graffiti, they figured. It turned out to be a mural showing how long VNE had been there and how long we were planning on staying. ..."
By Louie Flores
"...Then out I went. I heard the wind all around me. It was quiet. I saw the trucks and trees below, and they looked small. I was nervous but those crucial four seconds were the most important in my life up to then. ... I was in God’s front yard. I steered my chute to the right, left, to the front, and back. I felt as if I was riding a giant swing – a natural high. It was 1974; I was 19 and straight out of East L.A. from the biggest varrio at the time: the Varrio Nuevo Estrada Dukes. ... "
By Jose Nunez
"...We passed the corner house where a girl named Gerri used to live. Once, her brothers got into it in the middle of the street. Their mother went into the house and came out with a monkey wrench. She looked mad enough to swing at their heads. Instead, she smashed the windshield to her oldest son’s Impala. That stopped the fight. ..."
By Johnathan Quevedo
"...Then my car's transmission went out, so I had to take the train to work. I had to be there at 6 am.
One day, I was walking to the Blue Line station in Compton, when an SUV with four Latino gang members passed me as I was at the intersection. The passenger held a gun out the window and said, "Don't move, motherfucker!" They were talking directly to me, as if they knew me personally. ..."
Earlier this fall, I did a writing workshop with students in Pedro Ramirez's composition class at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.
The results, I think, were terrific, if many of the stories were a bit grim. I'm publishing a few of them over the next few weeks. Here's "The Last Day"....
By Christian Lockwood
I once had a house with a white picket fence. In it, I lived with a wife, and two children. Life seemed pretty good. But the shell shock from a tour in Libya fighting the war on terrorism tore me up, and drugs and alcohol became a way of life from which I could not free myself.
That is how one warm August day in 2009, well into my self-medication, I awake on the seat of my pickup after another night of no place to rest my head. My pickup, my dog Batman, and my cell phone are all I have left. My wife and kids have been embarrassed by me for the last time. ...
By Richard Gatica
"...The day before I killed Donald Evans I did not even know he existed. The day he died I was smoking crack cocaine and when I smoke crack, nothing else matters. Not family, not friends – not even God. ...
At the time, I was out of money and robbing drug dealers on the streets of Los Angeles. ..."