The young man and Elder Johnson tap on the door, and a young Latino waves them in quickly.
“You didn’t see no one else out there, did you?” he says.
“No,” says the young man, as he sits down on the couch. “Why? What’s up, Anthony?”
Anthony peeks out the window, which is covered by a thick white sheet.
“Think y’all could do me a favor?”
“Yeah, man. Anything,” says Elder Johnson.
“I need to meet with my probation officer. He’s about three blocks away. I got no car so I gotta walk. And if I miss it, he’ll pick me up and take me back.”
“Ok. Can we walk? We’re not allowed to drive anyone but missionaries for insurance reasons,” says the young man.
“Yeah, that’s cool. No one will shoot you all.”
“So I need you to go with me because these guys want to kill me, but they won’t kill you so they won’t kill me if I’m with you.”
“Why wouldn’t they kill all of us?”
“It’s against the rules.”
“Can I explain this as we walk? I can’t be late.”
When they step outside, Anthony looks all around, then points at the wooden fence. “That graffiti there? Those dudes left it for me.”
“What dudes?” says Johnson as they start walking. Anthony walks between them, turning around several times as they walk and watching every car closely.
“See, I was at this party a couple weeks back. I thought it was Lomas dudes.”
“Varrio Las Lomas. La Eme’s affiliate in Rosemead.”
“But it had some dudes from EMF.”
“El monte flores,” says Johnson. “I served in Arcadia before.”
“Yeah,” says Anthony. “So it got kind of hot between me and this girl. Turns out she was the girl of a dude from EMF, so now they want to kill me.”
“Well, that’s bad.”
“Yeah but La Eme hasn’t given me the green light so they can only kill me if they can trick me into going outside alone.”
“La Eme sets the rules. Lomas and EMF, they both pay rent to La Eme. And you can’t kill no one unless La Eme says it’s ok. Well, actually, you can, but you gotta follow the rules.”
“No drive-bys, no shooting from motorcycles, no killing family members, no killing bystanders, no killing anyone in their house.”
“That’s … weird.”
“Bad business. Brings the cops if you don’t do it right. Except if La Eme green lights you, there are no rules. Anyone can kill you and your whole family, and everyone knows to look for you.”
“So you don’t have a green light?”
“No. They are trying to get one but they don’t have it yet. So they come to my house and they pound on the doors and tap on the windows. They call me names and try to get me mad so I’ll come out. That’s who left the graffiti.”
“So if they see you now, they would try to kill you.”
“No cuz you can’t kill bystanders. And you really can’t kill Jesus people. That gets the police plus it’s really bad karma. They all believe. Killing Jesus people is the worst. So right now, this is the safest I been all week. You guys are untouchable.”
“Awesome. Glad we could help.”
They arrive at a portable building. “Well, this is it. Y’all can hang out for a few?”
He’s back in about five minutes. “Thanks, guys. That dude in there is pretty cool. There’s a beat guy around here who’s not.”
“Yeah. Like a week ago, I seen him stop this girl walking on the sidewalk. She ain’t done nothing wrong. Just walking. He pulls up beside her, starts talking. Next thing you know, she gets in the car, and they head to the shady part by the park.”
“Serious. That dude is always cruising like that.”
“Nice. Well, how’d you like the reading we gave you?”
“It was nice. So that was Jesus over here? In America?”
“Sweet. I’m down with that.”