I was putting out my garbage for the morning pickup when I heard all this ruckus going on behind me where my neighbor’s car is parked in a sort of open area between buildings used as a driveway. It was seven teenaged-boys at least sixteen years of age fighting. Rather, I should say, four were throwing some serious punches; one was counting numbers and laughing at the fighting with another boy. I was a little familiar with the basic concept of this. The ones doing the beating only had to the count of one hundred to do whatever they wanted to do to the one getting beat and then they had to stop. Depending on how much the one getting beat was disliked it could a semi-fast count or a really slow one. If anything interrupted the fight, even if the count was already at ninety-nine, the count had to restart from the beginning. If the ones doing the beating had mercy they could choose to reduce the recount to fifty or twenty-five. My first thought was boys (even ones more than big enough to know better) will be boys.
It’s near 6pm in the evening; I didn’t see any one coming or going on my short block, I did not have my cell on me and above all I was out-numbered by males a lot younger than I. In all honesty , I wouldn’t have gotten involved at all except, this was happening on the property of my apartment building and they were too close to my neighbor’s car. There was a school yard a block away, if they wanted to fight over whatever stupidness it was about, take it over there. Then I saw the seventh one who was getting beat.
He was not a teenager; this boy could not have been older than twelve at the most. The smallest of the teenagers doing the beating had a good six inches and at least twenty pounds on him and there were four of them. At this point I forgot about my neighbor’s car. I was worried about the child balled up in a near-fetal position against the fence.
“What the hell are you doing? Get away from him!” I yelled. Luckily for the child the count had just reached a hundred and the teenager counting had called for the break before I yelled. My trying to help could have made it worse for him as I only remembered about the recount rule after I was back in my apartment.
“Yo, mind yo business!” The counter sucked his teeth.
“Boy, don’t even try to act all man up now. You and your friends are beating up on one child nearly half your age. You get no cred for that.” I stared him down, “Besides, you’re on my building property; it is my business.”
If he or his friends were going to say or do anything else; it was cut short by a teen-aged girl who appeared and called him stupid and pretty much said what I was saying. However she said it, it was enough to get him to relent. Just then, one of my other neighbors came running out brandishing a baseball bat, and stopped short when he saw me. From the side window of his apartment he saw the four boys beating up on the one and came down for that, but I was in front of the building out of his line of vision, he never saw me out there. Not that it would have stopped him. We all gave each other evil stares as the five of the teenage boys and the girl passed, but no one said anything. The fifth teenager was trying to help the kid, but drew back when the kid yelled to get the fuck off. He and the sixth teenager stepped to the side as the boy came out. He was limping, and his face was going to be a series of bruises by the morning, but seemed otherwise alright. I started towards him, but he looked at me with such malice, I stepped back just as I felt my neighbor’s hand on my shoulder about to pull me back. We both watched as this boy limped away in the company of the last two teenager. I’m not one hundred percent sure but, I believe as they passed, I heard one of the teenagers say to the other that the kid had guts and took it well. Took it well? What the fuck? The beat down was on purpose?
I can’t swear on it, but I believe what I witnessed was something known as being “jumped in”. This child purposely let himself get wailed on as a gang initiation rite. If this is true, I am even more scared of that child’s future than I was of what I saw.
This write is such a sad statement of our youth and the road they are on. Far too many times children are left to their own devices, left without love and mentoring parents are expected to provide. As a result they seek love and acceptance in the arms of violence breeding the same bitterness, anger and resentment their parental units have passed down. Though never “jumping in” with a gang, I found myself upon this same road for many years, seeking love in all of the wrong places – never realizing the only one I really needed love and acceptance from was myself. It scares me, this walk of our youth, as I realize at one point they will be leading our country.
On another note, I’m glad you are okay – I’m glad they weren’t carrying guns, or at least they were smart enough not to take aim. Be safe out there My Dear Friend – it’s a crazy world!
In one of Voltaire’s novels (Candide or Zadig, I forget which), the protagonist sees a man severely beating a woman, and intervenes to rescue her. Immediately, BOTH of them turn on him and chase him. I don’t recall whether or not this was explicitly stated by Voltaire, but it was apparent to me that he had unknowingly interrupted some extremely weird sort of foreplay.
I’ve always felt that this is what happens to most people who attempt to do this particular type of “right thing”, and I would be no exception if I attempted it.
It’s worrisome whenever we cross paths with things like that. The reality of the situation really prohibits intervention. To me it sounds as if you are right in your hypothesis, as distressing as it is that there is gang activity right outside your door.
I should have immediately recognized it for what it was. If I had, I would have known to stay out of it. It has been a very long time since I’ve gang activity so in my face as yesterday. The brutality of it, and it being literally yards from my front door, caught me off guard. My neighborhood is not the best, but that has never been a problem before. It’s now one more thing added to my ever increasing list of things to be wary of in the street.
My first thought when you said they were counting was jumping in … That also explains why they didn’t go to the school yard, but doesn’t explain why they would have been so close to anyone’s house. Strange and scary.
I’m glad you’re fine and that they didn’t feel the need to go after you to save face in any way. I live in a pretty ganged-up community. It doesn’t affect me in any ways and rarely shows its face, but there are always the little reminded: the colors everyone wears, for one. This is very new for me, and I’m still not entirely sure how to navigate it all the time. I just hope it stays outwardly benign.