It wasn’t a good party at all. Sergio told me it woulda been a good time. I didn’t even meet any girls. Homies with guns down their pants, dancing with their ugly girlfriends wasn’t nothin’ special. I was in the back of the Acura trying to keep my head down and trying to find some way to be comfortable at the same time.

Sergio was way too faded to drive, but he didn’t give a shit. If there was one thing for sure, laying in the back of that car was my vacation. “Hustler’s grab your guns, your shadow weighs a ton, drivin’ down the 101.” Phantom Planet blasted into my shitty ipod earbuds. The left one was fuckin’ up, making a sound like gravel pouring through a funnel.

Mom probably was asleep back at the house with a nostril full of coke and an empty wallet. And she’d usually call me stupid, working herself down to the bone for a couple ounces of blow, so ready to kick her kid in the ass for not doing his homework. Nah, this is where it was at, I thought.

Sergio was like Jack Sparrow in our neighborhood, he never gave a shit about anything or anybody. He was the self proclaimed “prince of East L.A.”

Oh, and I forgot about Tony, he usually didn’t say much other than “Shut up,” or “Ima fuck you up”, and that was only around douche-bags, which was pretty much everyone we hung out with. Sergio’s my cousin on my dead dad’s side. He was cool, most of the time. The only time I didn’t wanna say a word to him was on car rides back home. I usually pretended to be asleep like I was that night. They could’ve been bumpin’ the loudest ass music and I still wouldn’t budge.

Sergio said I had narcolepsy. I once fell asleep at a house party right next to the speakers; because of that my left ear just didn’t hear like it used to. But that screwed up left bud still annoyed the shit out of me. Whatever… I just shut up and laid out in the back, let them say whatever they wanted to say, and they would leave me alone. Sergio was pissed off this time. There was usually someone always startin’ shit and trying to bluff.

Some fool got up in Sergio’s face at the party. Dude said some shit and next thing we knew, Tony pulled out a glock and the homie went down with hot lead in his ass. He didn’t die, but the screaming drew too much attention. We booked it, flying across town, running at least three stop signs and two lights, while Tony checked for cameras. Sergio is a badass like that… A nigga could get capped right in front of his face and the dude wouldn’t even flinch, he didn’t even crack a smile; not because he didn’t enjoy it but he always said that a smile is a crack in your armor that no one but your girlfriend, homies and your mother should see.

Sergio would know how to get us out of it though. I was pretty damn sure. He always got out of crazy shit. One time, he ran through this house while Tony’s pit bull chased him down Cesar Chavez. Sergio busted through their living room and out the front door while three vatos high as kites unloaded their nines into the night in his direction. Sergio got out without a scratch. I was sure our little situation would be no different.

“You stupid fuckin’ idiot!” Sergio yelled!

“What?” Tony was confused.

“I should shoot you instead! I told you not to bring the piece. He didn’t even have a fuckin’ knife on his ass! And you had to go and stick a bullet in it. You got two strikes on you and you don’t think twice?!”

“Woah ese, I did you a fuckin’ favor!”

“Favor?! You got two strikes homie and that’s Abner’s lil hermano you shot!

I’ve got beef with those bitches and you gotta start escalatin’ shit up in my face!”

Sergio never sounded so off his game before. I could literally feel him shaking as the car ride started feelin’ less smooth.

“Woah, woah woah, what’s that? Sergio said.

I could tell that we stopped at a red light. I heard the nastiest squeak of metal whining next to our car. Someone had some real shitty brakes. My foot slightly rested against the back of Sergio’s seat and I could feel him squirm.

“Look at this fool, right here, hold up!”

I heard the click of Sergio’s cuvete; the gun was a nine millimeter Beretta. Why didn’t we just run the light? I wondered. The sound of Sergio’s window rolling down sent a chill up my spine.

“You recognize this faggot?!” Sergio barked.

“I can’t see his face.” Was Tony’s reply.

“Do you recognize the car?”

“Nah holmes. But don’t get crazy, it could just be Javier fuckin’ wit us.”

“Pinche Javier.”

Javier was always pullin’ legs. One time the vato shaved his head like a Hill and 5th street member and walked through San Julian street just to start shit with DTG members. We called him “Death Wish.” All I could usually say to that was that crack was one helluva drug. It was the brother of a DTG member that Tony shot that night at the club too. I don’t remember his name, but his brother was “Jimmy,” one of the most infamous members of DTG. Jimmy was a nasty lookin’ fool with a fucked up face, and a pitbull that had to have some Mastiff in it because it was too damn big.

An old and loyal friend of Sergio who we called “Lucky” had it rough and was surviving on Skid Row and owed some money to DTG. It was like 4 dollars or somethin.’ Known as the main enforcer when it came to debts, Jimmy strolled through Skid Row one night with the dog, a bitch named Marcy, who had a bite that nearly took Lucky’s hand off. I heard rumors about his balls getting bitten off too, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Jimmy was an evil son of a bitch.

I could hear the scream of burning rubber as the mysterious car peeled away. The laughing squeal of the sedan mocked us as it zoomed down Fourth street.

And as soon as I couldn’t hear the car anymore, we yanked hard left down St. Matthews; this time my head hit the door and hurt like a mother. I couldn’t play off my sleep any longer.

“Holy shit! What the hell, Sergio?! I remarked.

“Put your ass back to sleep bro. My bad.” Sergio said.

I felt the buzz in my pocket. She was texting me again. Why was she texting me at such an odd hour of the morning? My girlfriend never had a normal way of communicating. It was either at odd hours, or things meant only for verbal conversations sent through text. I was way too wired to check it right then. We pulled over after almost a minute of driving. Sergio swung the door open and busted out. I went back to lay down in the backseat, trying to imagine myself being somewhere else.

Tony got out of the car too, I heard the door close and his gravely footsteps, slow and sparse, like he was trying to sneak over to Sergio. I heard more shouting. This time it sounded like Sergio was about to die from his blood pressure rising too high. Cuss words and insults flew back and forth like a messy gunfight. Then it got way quiet.

I checked out the window just to make sure someone wasn’t gonna get killed. I knew Sergio wouldn’t, but still… I noticed this super hot chick in a scarlet dress that hugged her body better than a new husband walkin’ down towards Sergio. Her hair flowed around her like a real Latina queen. It was obvious she was just some hoe to everyone, but I thought those smoky eyes asked for more than just a midnight bang. Or maybe it was just the crack. Yeah. It was the crack. It was way too late, and the streets were too empty. She trotted a few more steps and then put her hand on Sergio’s shoulder.

“Ay que guapo. I can make you light up, you seem stressed. Make it the best night of your life, huh? Make you feel real goo-”

“Get the fuck off o’ me” Sergio snapped as he shoved her by her right shoulder.

The push wasn’t that hard but somewhere on the way down, she got all twisted and shit with those stilettos and all I saw was legs tangle. I saw the most pitiful attempt of her trying to break her fall and she fell face first on the edge of the curb. No grunt of pain, no scream, no crying, just the sound of Tony yellin…

“Shit! Shit!”

Sergio was about to walk away before she landed. Now he couldn’t even move, petrified with fear, shame, or for all we know he didn’t give a damn. All I know is, he didn’t move. I could see the river of blood begin to flow down the curb.

“Fuck you Sergio!” Tony yelled!

“WHAT?! What?! What do you want me to do?!” he yelled back.

“Get us the hell outta here!”

I saw the light from a loft across the street turn on. Shit. A silhouette came into view. I could see someone through the window although we couldn’t see his face.

“I ain’t goin to the pen, Sergio!” Tony whimpered

“nah, nah.” Sergio thought to himself.

“Pick the bitch up by her arms.”

“Huh?!” Tony didn’t get it.

“Pick her up by the fuckin’ arms and throw her in the back of the fuckin’ car with the lil homie!”

What? What was Sergio doing? The door opened and the dead hooker was tossed practically on my lap. I tried to open the car door and jump out the other side, but Sergio gave me one of those looks, and I just shut up and sat there.

I’m pretty sure that dude in the window saw us. We had been riding around for like twenty minutes. I had no idea where we were goin.’ Sergio and Tony had nothing to say. The silence was getting to me. I preferred Sergio’s frantic shouting over the painful quiet. We were in MacArthur park, in an unfamiliar neighborhood. We pulled over to the side, and then, Sergio turned and looked at me.

“Look… me and Tony got to talk to a homie who can get out us out of this shit. What you need to do is stay in the car. Come in the driver’s seat so any fool who walks by doesn’t get the idea of lookin’ into the car.”

“Can’t we just take her to the hills?”

I couldn’t believe I just said that. I still hate myself for thinking it. But I was scared.

“Listen to me holmes. Don’t crack on me. You keep watch. Everyone goes to the hills, we leave her there, its like a calling card. Besides, when we get it figured out, we’ll let you out and you can take the metro back, that way you don’t have to know what we did. We’ll get you off the hook, you don’t need to be involved in this shit.”

Made sense; I did as he said. Sergio and Tony gave each other a look and then got out of the car. I had some blood on me from the girl, but I was too shocked and worked up to really worry about it. I sat in the driver’s seat.

I put my hands on the steering wheel, and tried my best to look ahead of me. I knew her dead eyes were staring at me the whole time. Hands still shaking. I thought I would cry. I’d cry over the littlest shit. I got another buzz on my phone. Shit. At least I had time to check it. It would get my mind off of the corpse.

Danielle, my girlfriend always had something inconvenient to say, so before I checked the phone, I played like three scenarios in my head that it coulda been. They all seemed likely. I read it… my stomach jumped into my throat. I opened the door and puked on the asphalt, ceviche everywhere, and I put a lot of Tapatio on my food, so the shit burned. The first text said “I’m keepin it.”

I didn’t even wanna read the second one.

Now the tears rolled out. I had no idea what was going to happen, and now I was a father for sure. It was up in the air prior to that moment, at least in my mind. I looked behind me, at the dead hooker. Her eyes were still open. Shuddering and reaching in my pocket, I pulled out my mother’s rosary. She gave it to me saying that I needed it more than she did.

All I could think of was what a warm hug from her felt like. Sure, she was usually high as a kite and quick to slap the shit out of me, but to be honest, I felt more love in those slaps than in kisses. Her hands were warm when she slapped me, hot from the rage. It was cold that night, and thinking of those hot hands was the only thing that could slow my heart rate.

“What was taking Sergio and Tony so long,” I thought? At least thirty minutes had gone by. Then I saw it, in the distance. Right there in the rearview about a half mile down the street. I saw the multi-colored lights. Those bitches… why didn’t I see it coming? To be in the cliqua, loyalty was the law. I lost it, crying like a little punk. I shoulda stayed home. I shoulda texted Danielle back before the party, maybe I wouldn’t have went. What if I had a girl on the way? I looked back at the dead hooker, she may as well have been the spitting image of my future daughter. I wouldn’t ever get the chance to lead her the right way anyway. I kissed my hand and touched her on her blood stained forehead. Pulling out the rosary I put it around her neck.

“You need it more than me.” I said to the corpse.

Then… rage just filled my veins, and I yelled at it!

“YOU’RE SO STUPID! WHY??! WHY?!”

She was in the same backseat that I laid in. And we were probably both looking for the same comfort. Repositioning ourselves when the bumps of the road knocked us around. Maybe if we woulda just stayed put. Its just a thought that crosses my mind every once in a while.

The blue and red lights from the LAPD began to bathe the neighborhood. The car got lit up, the rest of what I remember is lights dilating my eyes, cuffs strangling my wrists, knees in my back, and then just… cold. A bitter cold from within, like I had just died too.