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|AWAKENED (revised) by Deon C. Sanders(Deno Sandz)
The year was nineteen ninety-nine (1999), and twelve year old Steward Charles Hamilton,
street name Tyke, was about to embark on a twilight zone, close encounter of the spiritual kind.
Now, Tyke did not start off as a gang banger. He was not considered by gang philosophers
as your everyday self-made gang banger. His brother, “Big Zane,” was the leader of a
neighborhood street gang on the South side. Unfortunately, when Tyke relocated to stay with
his father and his brother “Big Zane”, heredity made him one.
Tyke worked well at his new school the same as the other, but just a little improved. Tyke
became a straight A student at Harvey Elementary verses the B student at his old school. His B
had been accomplished despite the agony he went through at his old school from bullies and average Joe's. However, at his new school Tyke was living the life.
“Leave him alone, he rides with that gang, and, man, his brother is the Chief.” This is what he
heard as he walked through the hallways of the school. He was a made man, a king. Still, Tyke
could not fight and was very timid at heart. Tyke had lost every fight and was sometimes considered a reversed ghetto Robin Hood at his old school because he was poor and money was taken from him with force.
It was a cool time for Tyke in his new school, and outside of school. There were perks for
being the brother of the chief of a gang. Tyke did not have to be jumped in or anything. He was
just part of the gang in dress but not in spirit. “Big Zane” started to buy him new clothes, gym
shoes, and gold to keep his mind set on banging.
Nevertheless, when he was in his room alone, he would do all of his homework and do his chores around the house while his brother did nothing. He was only in the gang for protection while he pursued his dreams of becoming a doctor, even though deep down he was starting to enjoy the gang life.
Being so young and innocent, Tyke was unaware that this life could lead to prison or even
death. “Big Zane” never explained this to him, he just needed some soldiers and Tyke was a
great victim. Mentally afraid, physically unfit, and he lacked street knowledge despite his book
sense. But he would shoot someone if “Big Zane” told him that’s what big brother wanted. He
wanted someone more afraid of him that was the ticket.
As the months rolled on, things were going good for the gang and Tyke. The gang was selling
lots of drugs and Tyke was passing all his classes with flying colors. He even received a letter from one of the best high schools in Chicago. They wanted him to come there and would pay his tuition for all four years. Tyke was very excited, but kept it to himself and away from his brother and the other gang members. On November 28, (the day before his birthday), 1999, the dead of winter, Tyke’s father asked him to go to the store for some milk and cheese for dinner. “Big Zane” was out running the gang and hardly ever came home for dinner. So it was left to Tyke to do the running for his father. Many times Tyke went to the store for his father. But this particular night would change his life forever. Tyke grabbed his gym shoes, his coat and his baseball cap that symbolized the gang he was in and went in to the kitchen where his dad was getting the money ready. When he put the money in his pocket, he turned and went back to his room to grab the red scarf that went in his back pocket. When Tyke closed the door behind him, out of the sight of his father, the metamorphosis began. He turned his hat to the left, untied his gyms shoes, put his scarf in his left back pocket hanging down, and pulled out his 22 caliber handgun to make sure it was loaded. The travel to the store was easy. He went in, gathered the things his father wanted and paid for them. As he left the store he saw a member of his gang standing on the opposite side of the street. So he walked over and talked to him for awhile and then it was time to get to the crib. The other member walked east and Tyke walked west. As Tyke reached the corner. There walking down the street was the rival gang. “What to do?" he thought, standing frozen in place. By that time the other gang spotted him and started to run after him. Tyke dropped the bag and ran back east in the direction his friend was walking. When his friend saw him, the friend did not wait. He darted up in to his house and locked the door. Tyke knocked on the door repeatedly, but he would not open it. As this was going on the rival gang was getting closer. Tyke started to run again, breathing hard and crying, knowing he
would die if they caught him. Tyke ran and made an abrupt right, down an alley and concealed himself behind a dumpster. Breathing hard, Tyke placed his hand over his mouth. As he hide there for awhile, he turned and saw a light. It was coming from a peep hole in this deserted ware house that his back was resting on. It was three blocks from the tavern on Lyon’s Ave. across from Al’s Gas Station. In the shadows of the neon lights that illuminated through the warehouse’s cracked windows, he saw lying in front of him, a figure, limited in stature, around the purity of all ages which was twelve in Tyke’s mind. The twelve year old boy had a partial beam of light covering his body and was semi-submerged in a puddle of darkened and bug infested water.
The scenery of the warehouse was old and decrepit. It used to be an old distribution business of imported carpet and rugs. Tyke was nervous; he did not know what to do. Should he run for help or should he try to help? The idea of leaving was not beneficial; the rival gang was still after him. Nevertheless, he could not just leave; the boy could still be alive. But deep down Tyke perceived he was dead by the way the body was positioned like fallen mannequin losing its balance in a department store window. Tyke did not know what made him run down this particular alley that night, maybe it was just destiny. While looking for a way in, he had noticed the feeble and decaying two by fours covering the entrance door. Still hoping the boy was alive, Tyke wondered if he would be a hero or would he be a mourner at the demise of a person he did not know. Tyke placed his hand on the first plank that was nailed dead center of the doorway. Tyke began to tug and kick at the door. Racket was not actually a problem in this part of town, unless in Tyke’s situation someone was chasing you. Then it was extremely wise not to make much noise. The police hardly ever came over there unless someone reported a body or something. It took Tyke awhile to get in even with the extensive pulling and kicking. But finally he had made it through the blockade. There was debris everywhere, and several blankets that were left behind by the homeless tenants that used to dwell there. Tyke reached in his pocket for a lighter to light his way to the boy. Slowly, he maneuvered through the trash to the clearing where the young boy laid. As he stared at this boy, he reflected on his twelve years of life. Thanking God he had not fallen to his death in this manner, lonely and suffering without a family member to comfort him. The boys’ wardrobe seemed very fashionable and expensive. His three inch in diameter silver charm floated in the water. It was attached to a silver rope chain about twenty-four inches in length. His gym shoes cost approximately one hundred and fifty dollars. There was also a substantial amount of money that protruded out of his pocket. As he stood over the body he still could not get a good look at his face. This was because of the way he was laying with his back to Tyke. Tyke did not want to have contact with the body. So Tyke looked around to find something to turn him over with. Eventually, he found a mop handle that was alongside of him.
Suddenly, Tyke heard a racket in the alley, so he concealed himself behind a metal barrel. It was the rival gang still searching for him. The gang walked right pass him without even stopping to check the warehouse. They were all yelling, "We are going to get him when we find him.” At last, the coast was clear, so Tyke proceeded to turn the body. He placed the mop handle in its
side adjacent to his mid-section and pushed downward with minimal force. The water puddle showed small waves as the boy's body tilted to a different position. Tyke started his inspection with his shoes, moving upward to its face. As he reached visual contact with his face, Tyke’s soul became like stone, his heartbeat increased drastically, and his eyes fixated on to the boy's face in a ghostly manner. He closed his eyes and fell to his butt. He could not believe it. It was himself he was looking at laying there. It was him, dead in the water like a ship lost at sea. Furthermore, a bullet hole was lodged dead center of the boys’ head. Actually it was Tyke’s head. The emotional wrinkles and the black and blue bruises on his face showed pain and suffering. There were numerous footprints that overlaid his nice black jeans. As Tyke sat there with his hands between his legs and rocking back and forth perfuse. His image stared right at him with cold dead eyes. Enlightened by this image, Tyke’s outlook on life and the misfortunes people in a gang have ran through his mind.
After awhile, Tyke partially regained his composure, got up and staggered to the door, clenching his fist in soulful pain. Finally, reaching the door he peeped out to check if the coast was clear. Everything seemed to be serene. But as he took the first step out of the doorway he decided to look back at the body. To his amazement the body was no longer there. It had vanished, disappeared from the face of the earth.
Tyke stared for a moment, gathered himself mentally, and bowed his head. At that instant, in a deep silent conversation with God, Tyke gave up being a gang banger. In slow motion, he proceeded to change his destiny by casting down his red color bandana, turning his hat straight, pulling up his pants, tying his shoes, and discarding the handgun in the same dumpster he had hidden behind. It was time for an adjustment to his madness. His life meant more to him. Twelve was not far from twenty-one and he wanted to live to see it.
After that night, Steward Charles Hamilton was never known again as Tyke, the Gang banger. He was “AWAKENED.”
Thank you, God for what you have done for me. I’m now, 21. I AM A MAN.
, Short Story
, Young Adult
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