At 3:15 p.m. on April 29, 1992, a jury acquitted Los Angeles Police Department Officers Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind, as well as Sergeant Stacey Koon, of excessive force used to subdue civilian Rodney King. The jury failed to reach a verdict on the same charges against Officer Lawrence Powell.

At roughly 5:00 p.m., riots began. They lasted six days, finally ending on Monday, May 4, after 10,904 arrests had been made, over 2,383 people had been injured, 11,113 fires had burned, and more than one billion dollars’ worth of property damage was sustained. In addition, 60 deaths were attributed to rioting, but this number fails to account for murder victims who died outside active rioting sites during those six days of curfews and little to no emergency assistance. As LAPD Chief Daryl Gates himself said on the first night, “There are going to be situations where people are going to be without assistance. That’s just the facts of life. There are not enough of us to be everywhere.”

It is possible, and even likely, that a number of victims not designated as riot related were actually the targets of a sinister combination of opportunity and circumstance. As it happened, nearly 121 hours of lawlessness in a city of close to 3.6 million people contained within a county of 9.15 million was a long time for scores to be settled.

This is about some of them.

“An even more interesting question is: why is everybody worrying about another riot — haven’t things in watts improved any since the last one? A lot of white folks are wondering. Unhappily, the answer is no. The neighborhood may be seething with social workers, data collectors, vista volunteers and other assorted members of the humanitarian establishments, all of whose intentions are the purest in the world. But somehow nothing much has changed. There are still the poor, the defeated, the criminal, the desperate, all hanging in there with what must seem a terrible vitality.”

— Thomas Pynchon, New York Times, June 12, 1966

1

I’m in Lynwood, South Central, somewhere off Atlantic and Olanda, putting tinfoil over trays of uneaten beans at some little kid’s birthday party when I get told to go home early and prolly not come back to work tomorrow. Maybe not for a week even. My boss is worried what’s happening up the 110 will come down here. He doesn’t say trouble or riots or nothing. He just says, “that thing north of here,” but he means where people are burning stuff and breaking out storefronts and getting beat down. I think about arguing, because I need the money, but it wouldn’t get me anywhere, so I don’t waste my breath. I pack the beans away in the truck’s fridge, grab my coat, and leave.

Earlier in the afternoon when we got there, me and Termite — this guy I work with — saw smoke, four black towers going up like burning oil wells in Kuwait. Maybe not that big, but big. The birthday kid’s half-drunk father sees us notice them as we were setting up tables and he said it was because the cops that beat Rodney King aren’t going to jail for it, and how did we feel about it? Man, you know we weren’t happy, but we don’t tell our boss’s client that! Besides, it was a raw deal and all, but what did it have to do with us? It was blowing up somewhere else. Here, we shut up and do our jobs.

I been working the Tacos El Unico truck going on three years. Whatever you got, I’ll sling. Al pastor. Asada. No problem. We do some nice cabeza too, if the mood hits you. Otherwise there’s lengua, pollo, whatever. You know, something for everybody. Usually we park over by our stand on Atlantic and Rosecrans, but sometimes we do birthday parties, anniversaries, anything really. We don’t get paid by the hour at these, so I’m happy when they’re done sooner. I say bye to Termite, tell him not to show next time without washing his hands good, and head out.

If I walk fast, it’s twenty minutes home, fifteen if I take the Boardwalk through the houses. It’s not a boardwalk like Atlantic City or nothing. It’s just a thin little concrete alley between houses that serves as a walkway between the main street and the neighborhood. That’s our shortcut. As my sister would say, “fools been running from the cops on it since forever.” Go down and it takes you straight to Atlantic. Go up and it leads into the houses, street after street. That’s where I go when I get there. Up.

Most people’s porch lights are off. Backyard lights too. Nobody’s out. No familiar sounds. No Art Laboe Oldies music playing. No people fixing cars. When I’m passing houses, I only hear TVs on, and all the anchors are talking about is looting and fire and Rodney King and black people and anger and that’s cool, whatever, because I’m focused on something else.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not being cold or nothing like that, I’m just taking care of what I need to take care of. You grow up in the same neighborhood as me, one with a gun store that sells single bullets for twenty-five cents to anybody with bad thoughts and a quarter, then you might end up the same way. Not jaded or pissed or anything, just focused. And right now, I’m counting months till I can get out.

Two should do it. That’s when I’ll have money saved up to get some wheels again. Nothing fancy. Just something that gets me to work and back without having to walk these streets. See, I been cooking someone else’s recipes forever, but I’m not trying to stay that way. When I get my own car, I’m driving to Downtown and begging for an apprenticeship in the kitchen at R23, this crazy sushi spot smack in the middle of a district that used to make the majority of toys in the world, but now the warehouses are all empty, and the toy stuff is up to China.

I heard about it through Termite, because he loves Japanese too. I mean, he loves everything Oriental, especially women, but that’s besides the point. He took me up there last week, and I dropped thirty-eight pinche bucks on a meal just for myself, but it was worth it because of what these Japanese chefs did. Stuff I never even dreamed of before. Spinach salad with eel. Tuna seared up so good with a blowtorch that it’s cooked on the outside and all buttery and raw in the middle. But what really shook me was this thing called a California roll. Outside it’s rice pressed into these little orange fish eggs. Inside it’s a green circle of seaweed around crab, cucumber, and avocado. It was that last ingredient that messed me up bad.

Man, you don’t understand. I’ll do anything to learn from those chefs. I’ll wash dishes. I’ll sweep floors, clean bathrooms. I’ll stay late every night. I don’t care! I just want to be near good Japanese food, because in the time it took me to order the roll for its name, stare at it and decide I didn’t want it because I’m sick of avocado, only for Termite to call me out and by then I just had to shrug and take a bite. When it hit my tongue, something sparked inside me. My whole brain just lit up and I saw possibilities where I’d never seen any before. All because some chefs took something I was so bored with, something I see every day, and turned it into something else.

Cut, scoop, and mash enough avocados and you’ll know. You’ll get an ache in your bones quick, the kind that only comes from your hands memorizing movements by doing them over and over till you do it in your dreams sometimes. Make guacamole every day but Sunday for almost four years and see if you don’t get sick of those slimy green suckers too.

Something smacks the fence by my head and I jump back with my hands up and ready. I laugh when I see it’s just a fat orange cat because damn, that got my heart going.

I keep moving though. Lynwood’s no place to be caught standing still, not if you’re smart. Downtown’s different. It’s a better world up there, at least it could be for me, and there’s so many things I want to know, so many questions I want to ask those chefs. Like, how does this place affect food anyway? I may not know much, but I’m pretty sure they don’t have avocados in Japan. Our roots in this city are in Mexican food, because California used to be Mexico. California’s even got a little Baja beard that still is Mexico, even though the land north of it is something else now. Like me, kind of. My parents are from Mexico. I was born there, and carried to L.A. when I was one. My little sister and brother were born here. Because of them, we’re Americans now.

This’s what my walks home are for. Kicking questions around in my head, dreaming, thinking. I get lost in it sometimes. As I’m turning the corner onto my street, I’m back to wondering what the hell a Japanese chef was thinking before inventing the California roll and my mind’s ticking over how even avocado can become something new and beautiful when put in different circumstances, and that’s when a car with a grumbling engine comes up behind me.

I don’t think much of it. Not really. I move to the side but it brakes next to me. So I move all the way over, right? Like, no problem, he’ll just go by when he sees I’m not involved. No cholo uniform. No tattoos. Nothing. I’m clean.

But the car keeps up with my pace, inching forward, and when the driver’s-side window rolls down, Motown-style fast piano pours out. Around here, everybody knows KRLA. 1110 AM on the radio dial. People love their oldies around here. The opening bit of “Run, Run, Run” by the Supremes is going. I recognize the sax and piano.

“Hey,” the driver says to me over the music, “you know that homeboy Lil Mosco?”

The second I hear my little brother’s street name in this stranger’s mouth I start booking it back the way I came. With every step it feels like my stomach’s trying to claw its way out of my body. It knows this is some serious fucking trouble.

I hear the driver laugh as he throws the car into reverse and slams on the gas. The car passes me easy, and barrels to a stop. That’s when two guys get out of the front and one jumps out of the bed in the back. Three guys all dressed up in black.

My adrenaline’s all the way up now. I must be more alert than I ever been in my life and I know if I make it out of this, I need to remember as much as possible, so I turn my head and look while I’m running and try to memorize everything. It’s a Ford, this car. Dark blue. I think it’s a Ranchero. It has a taillight out. Left side.

I can’t make the plate number because I’m turning my head as I take the corner back onto the Boardwalk, and I’m breaking between houses, trying to bust out onto the next street, hop a fence, and disappear into somebody’s yard, but they’re on me too fast. All three of them. They haven’t worked ten hours over a grill, serving tacos to a bunch of damn kids and drunks. They’re not tired. They’re strong.

I hear them coming up hard behind as blood thumps up in my ears, and I know I’m as good as caught, man. I get one cold second to gulp air and brace myself before they swoop in, kick me off my feet, and smash me in the jaw with something hard as I fall. After that, shit goes black for I-don’t-know-how-long.

I been hit in the mouth before but never like that. I come to as they’re dragging me back to the car and it feels like my face is going to fall apart in two pieces. Around the ringing in my ears, I hear my boot heels slide-grinding over the asphalt and I figure I couldn’t have been out for more than a few seconds.

“Don’t do this.” I hear myself say the words. It surprises me how calm they are, considering my heart is going a million beats per minute. “Please. I didn’t do anything to you. I have money. Whatever you want.”

They respond, these three, but not with words. Rough hands jerk me up to my feet, out of the Boardwalk and into the back alley with garages on both sides. But they’re just setting me up.

Quick, weak punches hit me in my kidneys, my stomach, my ribs too. I get it from all angles. They don’t feel hard but they steal my breath away. At first, I don’t understand, but then I see the blood, and I stare at it on my shirt, and as I’m wondering why I didn’t feel the stabs, a bat hits me.

I see a flash of black a second before it lands and flinch away. The heavy part only gets me in the shoulder, but I go from being upright and looking at my shirt to flat on my back and staring at the night sky. Damn.

“Yeah,” one of them screams in my face, “yeah, motherfucker!”

I crumple up into a ball, my jaw feeling like somebody’s frying it up in a pan. I bring my hands up and protect my face but it doesn’t help. The bat comes down again and again. I catch one in the neck and my whole body goes numb.

A different voice says, “Tie that shit off while he’s flat like that.”

I can’t hardly breathe.

Another voice, maybe it’s the first voice, joins in, “Yeah, do it if you so big, Joker!”

One’s named Joker. I need to remember that, I think. This’s important information. Joker. The word sticks in my brain and I turn it over. I don’t know any Jokers except for comic books, and it doesn’t make any kind of sense why they’re after me and not my brother if he did some stupid shit again.

“Please,” I say when my breath comes back, as if a plea ever worked on these monsters in their whole lives. No way. They’re too busy yanking my ankles away from me, but I’m so numb I can’t even tell which one. Beneath me, my legs just get tight.

“There it is,” one of them says.

As I open my eyes, I think, There what is? All around, I see a neighborhood I recognize. For a second, I think I’m safe when I hear them walk away and I see the brake lights of their car turn the garages around me red. Relief sinks into me. They’re leaving, I think. They’re leaving! That’s when I see a little boy, maybe twelve years old, hiding in the Boardwalk. His face goes red in the brake lights and I see, yeah, he’s looking at me. His eyes are all big though. His look messes with me so much that I follow his gaze down my body to my feet and I almost throw up when I see both my ankles tied to the back of the car with heavy wire.

I pull hard, but the wire doesn’t loosen, it just cuts into my skin. I kick out with all the strength I got left but nothing happens. Nothing shifts. I struggle to get my fingers down to it, to push it off somehow.

But then the car’s engine goes and I get smashed flat and dragged, the speed sending my skull skidding over the asphalt. Air rushes over me fast and every bit of skin on my back feels like it’s going up in flames when the car smacks its brakes hard.

Momentum throws me forward. Ten feet? Twenty? I must bounce because I go airborne before something hard and cold like metal smashes me in the face, and this time I feel my cheek break. I actually feel it give from the inside, the way its crack echoes in my ears, the bone giving and blood gushing onto my tongue. I turn my head, open my mouth, and let it go. When I hear it hit the street, when it doesn’t stop dripping, I know it’s over.

I know I’m done.

Maybe I had a chance before, but not now.

A voice from the car, I don’t know which, shouts, “Grab that wire up, fool, and make sure that motherfucker’s dead!”

A door opens, but I don’t hear it close. I hear footsteps coming close, and then there’s a shape looming over me, checking to see if I’m breathing.

I don’t even think. I spit as hard as I can.

It must land because I hear a quick scuffle and the shape moves back.

“Jesus,” it says. “I got his fucking blood in my mouth! Are you tryna give me AIDS or something?”

Right then I wish I had AIDS just so I could give it out! I try opening my eyes wider. Only my right opens. I see the shape put something in its mouth and then I see it sneer at me and show teeth. Then the shape’s on top of me, so fast I don’t even know what’s happening, but he’s punching me hard three times in the chest. I don’t feel the knife at first but I know he has one from the sounds, from the way it takes my breath out with it. There’s this hollow thumping as he pushes it in deep. As deep as a knife can go.

“Tell your brother we coming.” He whispers it like my ma whispers when she’s mad at you in church. Quiet mad.

The one giving orders from the car yells out, “ People are watching, fool!”

The shape above me disappears then. The car does too. It kicks up gravel on me as it goes. I’m still breathing but it’s wet. Half blood. I’m numbing up all over. I try to roll. I think if I can turn over, the blood will just fall out and not choke me. But I can’t. I see a new shape above me. I blink hard and it’s a face. It’s a lady brushing hair from her eyes as she leans over. She’s telling me she’s a nurse, to stay still. I want to laugh, want to tell her I can’t move, so not to worry, I’ll stay still because I can’t do anything else. I want to tell her to tell my sister what happened. There’s another shape beside her, a smaller one. It looks like the boy I saw, almost, but it’s too fuzzy to tell. I hear the kid’s voice clear though, “This fool’s gonna die, huh?” For a second, I think he’s talking about somebody else. Not me. The lady whispers something I can’t hear then, and I feel hands on me. Not hands so much as pressure. The pain isn’t the biggest deal. The problem is I can’t breathe. I try and I can’t. My chest won’t rise. Feels like a car’s parked on it. I try to tell them this. If they could please tell the car to move, I’ll be fine. It won’t be so heavy and I can breathe and everything will be okay if I can just get air. I try to shout this, any of it. But my mouth won’t work and my skin feels big, loose, and the sky feels too close, like it fell on me, on my face, like a sheet, and I have the strangest feeling, like it’s coming down to fix me, that it’s getting inside me with some dark kind of concrete, trying to patch my holes up and make it so I can breathe and I think how good that’d be if that were true but I know I’m just dying, the kid is right, I know I think I’m just melting into it because my brain’s low on oxygen, and I know because that’s logic, because brains don’t work right without food, and I know I’m not really becoming part of the sky, and I know because, I know because

1

Clever’s studying a textbook while Apache’s sketching Teen Angels magazine style at the kitchen table, and over on the stovetop Big Fe’s slapping chorizo around in a pan with a wooden spoon. He’s halfway through shouting his Vikings story at me in the living room, talking about how one night at Ham Park shots pop off and everybody hits the floor, and how bullets whiz, man, how they really do make that sound, when a knock hits the front door of my house all hard and fast, like bam-bam-bam, like whoever is on the other side doesn’t give a fuck about his hand.

We were watching a bunch of mayates tear the city up after putting a brick through some white trucker’s face on Florence and Normandie, but the news got boring quick so we clicked over to the small dial to watch something else. There’s a western on TV now with the sound down, but whatever. It’s safe to say my eyes aren’t on the guns and hats anymore though. I’m looking at Fate (Big Fe pretty much only goes by Big Fate, so you know) and Clever and Apache and they’re all looking at me. We’re thinking the same thing: this ain’t sheriffs.

Sheriffs don’t knock. They ram. They come in screaming behind shotgun barrels and flashlights. They don’t care if you’re a girl like me. They fuck everybody up regardless.

No way this is sheriffs.

Fate’s got the juice card around here. Under his wifebeater he’s that natural type of big that pro wrestlers wish they could be. His right arm ripples with Aztec tattoos as he pulls his khakis up at the belt and moves the pan off the heat even while the sausage keeps pop-popping.

I nod at him and he keeps talking, to sound normal in case whoever’s outside can hear us, and he nods back as he bends down and comes up with a pistol. There’s always one in the pan drawer under the oven.

It’s a .38. It’s real small, but it makes real holes.

“So I’m on my back,” Fate says as he moves to the door all slow, “looking up at stars, and, like, little shreds of leaves falling down on me cuz the bullets cut straight through them. They’re just raining down on me.”

I slip to the floor. I eye the windows, but I can’t see shadows for shit behind the curtains. Apache’s right up on them though. I see the white comb he keeps in his back pocket peeking out. He’s not much taller than me but he’s solid muscle, and he wears baggy clothes too so nobody can tell how strong he is. He’s the kind of guy you need in a situation like this, in any situation, really. I mean, he scalped a fool once. That’s how he got his name. He took a knife and peeled the skin off, inch by inch, hair and all. He threw it in a sink when he was done. I wasn’t there, but I heard.

“You know me,” Fate’s still going, “I just army-crawl my ass over to the nearest tree so I can look out to see who’s shooting.”

I must’ve heard Fate’s story two hundred times. We all have. By now it’s like call and response. It’s our story, we all own it, and when it gets told, you gotta ask questions at the right times.

As I crawl to my room I say, “Could you see who it was, like faces or whatever?”

The knock comes again, slower and heavier this time. Bam. Bam. Bam.

Fate blinks. I’m hunched down by the door to my room, running my hand along the baseboard for the rifle my little brother hides there behind the nightstand. He does that. Hides one in every room, two in the bathroom.

“It was Vikings. Leaning all out over the hood of that cop car, headlights off, letting go of shots, man, just squeezing!”

That’s Lynwood. We got our very own neo-Nazi sheriff gang. I wish I was lying. I’m not. We heard they even got tattoos. Minnesota Vikings logos on their left ankles. The law don’t matter to them. Their idea of fixing gang problems is rolling up in a neighborhood with their lights off like Fate said, then loosing shots at whoever even looks like a gangster before rolling out, hoping to set off a gang war where we kill each other cuz we think another gang shot at us, not sheriffs. That’s some criminal police work right there. But to them, if you’re brown or black, you’re worth nothing. You’re not even human. Killing us is like taking out trash. That’s how they think.

With nail polish in one hand and one of them application things in the other, Lorraine pokes her head out my room with a curious look on her face, a big, dumb look with her high school chichis jiggling at me underneath it. She’s not even wearing a bra, and only three toes out of ten are done up in blue glitter. Obviously, she got interrupted.

My glare stops her cold. I mouth the words, Puta, get back.

She looks mad at first, but she sinks back into the darkness of the room as I wrap my finger around the butt of the rifle and draw it into my lap. It’s a light little thing in my hands, a .22. I only ever shot it twice at targets in my life.

I check it’s loaded. You know it is.

Clever’s whispering at Fate, looking at the closed-circuit monitor that shows every angle of the house outside, “Got nothing on video. It’s the Serrato kid.”

“Alberto?”

“Nah, the youngest. I don’t know his name.”

The knock comes again and it’s loud as fuck. Hard to imagine a twelve-year-old kid hitting my door that hard. That’s when my stomach drops like I’m riding a Knott’s Berry roller coaster. See, that’s when I know something’s real wrong. Something that maybecan’t get fixed.

2

Fate’s on the phone, doing the smart thing: calling across the street, calling two houses up, two houses down, to make sure the avenue is clean, carless, nobody lurking. You never know who they might use to get you to open a door. Could be kids, could be anybody. Gotta have eyes everywhere. He nods slow before handing the piece to Apache. Clever backs him up.

Clever’s toothpick thin. A real palillo. He keeps the chain on the door but turns the knob and cracks it so Apache can slide the snub-nose .38 to the metal grating of the security door, a few inches from the boy’s face. “You need something, lil homie?”

The kid is dead out of breath, coughing a little, not even looking at the barrel or even looking up. “Miss Payasa, I . . .”

Lupe Rodriguez. That’s been my government name if you need to know. Not that it matters. It’s not my real one. I’ve changed it twice already. But it’s Payasa since I been all involved. (That’s the polite way of saying I’m into some gangster shit.) Calling me Miss, though? Ha. If my stomach wasn’t fighting itself, I might even think that was cute. Even now, even in the heat of whatever, respect is necessary.

Around here, that stuff isn’t courtesy. It’s currency. Can’t ever forget that.

Apache leans in. “Spit it out, lil homie.”

The kid raises his eyes from my front stoop and his face is all hard. “It’s her brother, he’s like — ”

Clever undoes the chain then the security door, and Apache snatches the boy inside by his shoulders, slams the door with his heel as the security metal slams behind it, and frisks the kid quick and efficient. The boy has too-long black hair and a chipped tooth. He’s got blood on him too.

Fate picks up from there and shakes the kid a little. “¿Adónde?

I can’t even lie. See, I’m thinking it’s Ray, my younger brother. He goes by Lil Mosco. (Mosco means “mosquito.” He caught that name cuz he never stopped buzzing around when we were little. He’s got Lil cuz there used to be a Big Mosco until last year. Drive-by. Rest in peace.)

It takes the kid a minute to tell us the body is two blocks away, dead as dead can be. That’s when the blood really beats up in my ears cuz that doesn’t make any sense.

Lil Mosco’s running to Riverside and back, I’m thinking, like, how could he . . . ?

Shit. It hits me in that second, hits me right in the face and tilts the whole house on me. I gotta catch a wall with my hand just to stay upright.

It ain’t Ray.

“Oh, fuck,” I say.

Fate lets go of the kid and he’s got this sad look on his face, the saddest look I ever seen. He knows it too. Clever’s already got his mouth open like he forgot what breathing was. Apache has his head in his palms.

It’s Ernesto, my big brother. My guts know it, but my brain’s disagreeing, saying things like, he’s not even a player. He’s not involved. He’s civilian. He’s off-limits, so there’s no way. No fucking way.

But then it dawns on me like a math problem my stupid ass finally figured out. There are no rules now. None. Not with people rioting. I shiver when I realize every single cop in the city is somewhere else, and that means it’s officially hunting season on every fucking fool who ever got away with anything and damn, does this neighborhood have a long memory. I snort and take a second to appreciate the evil weight of it.

I mean, me, Fate, and Clever joked about something like this happening when we saw the dude getting bricked on the TV before Apache came over, and we were saying how now would be a good time to even up some scores if we felt like it, but I guess some homies were already out there, calling in old debts, blasting.

Behind me somewhere, Lorraine comes out of my room and says, “No, baby, no . . .” like she’s trying to comfort me or something, but I’m not even sad right now and I sure as hell don’t want her hands on me.

I’m angry.

I mean, I never been so mad at anybody in my life. I see flashes of red dotting my vision as I dig my nails into the rifle butt.

Like, how many times did I tell Ernesto to pay attention how he walked home? The dividing line between our neighborhood and theirs is too close as it is. Lazy-ass motherfucker got what he deserved for not listening to me!

I bite my lip and realize I been holding my breath.

I hear myself say, “Who knows?” It comes out sounding like rage.

The kid looks confused. “Like, who did it?”

“No,” I say. “Who knows Ernie’s gone?”

The kid gets around to it: just the people in the alley where he got dragged. Dragged, the kid says the word and I don’t even know what it fucking means in this situation. The word just doesn’t click for me. I don’t get it. Not right at that moment. Not with the house still spinning, not with me still holding on. I swallow hard and say, “How much time we got?”

Clever gives me a look like he doesn’t get what I’m asking at first, but Fate does. I don’t even need to say it.

He looks at the wall clock and shrugs. “Hour and a half most likely.”

That’s how long it’ll be before Lil Mosco buzzes back and hears about this. Nobody takes pagers on runs. That eliminates the temptation of using it while you’re doing business.

So ninety minutes then, maybe less. That’s how long we got to find out who did it, find them, and put bullets in them before wild-ass Lil Mosco gets home and starts shooting up house after house of anybody even halfway connected to this shit. But that’s not my style.

I need to look whoever did it in the eyes, because what else is a sister to do?

They need to know I know before they get it. It needs to be justice.

Everybody in the living room can tell I’m on fire. Nobody says shit when I turn off the TV on a posse scene, badges getting handed out to a bunch of white hats. For a second, that feels like us. I hand Fate my rifle and pick up the phone to call mi mamá. We moved her out of Lynwood last year to somewhere safe, somewhere I can’t even tell you. She still hears things though, like the grapevine still runs right through her kitchen.

Takes me five tries to get through. Phone lines must be jammed everywhere tonight. Guess I’m just lucky. When she comes on the line, I can tell by the tone of her voice she doesn’t know yet, but she knows something’s wrong cuz of my tone. I tell her not to answer the door, to lock it up good. I tell her not to answer the phone again until I get there cuz I got something important to tell her but it needs to wait, and I need her to hear it from nobody but me.

Por favor,” I say. “Prométeme.”

She promises.

I hang up the phone and tell the kid to take us there, take us to the place where my brother got fucking dragged to death.


Excerpted from All Involved, a novel by Ryan Gattis (April 2015) from Ecco.

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