Blood In

The young man is a freshman at Carroll High School. He has finished lunch and has gone up to his locker. Carroll has an outdoor hall system, and the lockers are in un-air-conditioned rooms at the ends of each of the five wings. His locker is on the first wing upstairs.

The young man is by himself. Ted has gone to his locker on the second wing and plans to meet him before they go to fourth period together. The young man spins the dial and cracks the lock open. He opens the locker, then unzips his backpack and pulls out his history book to put away. As he does, a crowd of Mexican guys walks into the locker room. They are all dressed in black jeans, and two of them wear blue bandanas. The young man recognizes Starsky: he stands out for having long, wavy black hair, while the other dudes have close-cropped hair.

They are all talking over each other, part in Spanish, part in English. The young man grabs his geometry book, but both doors are full of these guys and he doesn’t want to walk through them. One guy is looking outside the locker room, and he signals Starsky, who says, “Shh!”

They all back up against walls and lockers. The lookout slips in behind one of the doors. In walks a short, skinny Mexican kid. The young man knows him from middle school–Arturo Villarreal. Quiet kid, never a problem in class. Never gave the young man a problem.

Starsky yells, “Now!” The guys all fly at Arturo. He gets punched in the head, the neck, the chest. His legs are kicked out from underneath him, and he drops to the floor and curls into a ball. Feet slam into his ribs, and he is bleeding from his nose. The young man backs up against the lockers and tries to be as small and quiet as possible.

Suddenly, Starsky yells, “Enough!” He reaches down and extends a hand. Arturo takes it, and Starsky helps him up.

Starsky says, “You did good, mi carnal.

“Thanks,” says Arturo.

The rest of the guys around him pat his back and rub his head. Arturo wipes blood off his nose with his fist.

Starsky motions with his head and says, “Vamonos,” and they all exit. The young man takes a deep breath, zips up his backpack, slams his locker shut, and snaps the lock into place. He walks out of the room into an empty hallway and heads off to meet Ted.

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