In Harm City’s mixed-race residential areas ‘sets,’ are the phoenix-like precursors to drug gangs. These entities bloom and wilt like ugly night flowers, lasting, on average, about 18 months, before a key member either gets arrested, killed, grows the hell up, or the darker lights of the membership are assimilated into, or form up into, a real for profit gang.
Over the past five years I have traced, partially, and once thoroughly, the rise and fall of one of these neighborhood teenage associations. Just over a month ago, with the brutal rape, torture, murder and burning of a young lady in the neighborhood by members of the most prominent set, a change was set in motion. The police have really been patrolling the area, with the helicopter over my five block zone at least twice a day as squad cars attempt to corral some unseen hoodlum.
The Drive-up Bankers have not been around this summer.
The ATM Boys have gone.
Only one of the White Vice Lords is still around, and he is keeping a low profile.
The Church Yard Boys are gone, perhaps away for the summer
The Burdick Park Crew have been taken down by the cops.
Skid Mark and Cum Stain wander the streets with a single associate, a tall deaf mugger, but are of little concern to me.
However, I have seen three odd pairs of youths patrolling, without using smart phones to coordinate movements with associates. These are potential set starters or joiners.
Also, over the past five weeks, five dogs—at least—have disappeared from neighborhood yards. This is a crime usually committed by pairs of youths. The pets will be sold or traded to real gang members to be used as bait dogs—dying chew toys—for their fighting pit bulls. This is a crime that I have noticed tends to be committed after one set disperses and before another coalesces. As I was walking home a few minutes ago, turning the corner onto White Avenue with my weekend six pack past two African preachers holding up a Free Prayer sign in the late afternoon breeze, and inviting one and all to visit their community prayer center, a young thug drove by with his rap music blaring “suck my dick—thadz it.”
Fifty yards down the street, I saw another new sign for a lost dog. His name is Biscuit. He’s eight years old, looks like a short-haired mutt with strong whippet features, and disappeared from his yard this week. Biscuit, represented realistically by a child’s hand-drawn and marker-colored sketch, is no doubt suffering his last agonies this weekend, never to return to the child artist, who declared him a “beloved member” of “the family.”
As much as that made my stomach churn, I file away this bit of sorrow as another indication that a new set is forming in the neighborhood under the witless nose of the residents. They are, perhaps, forging bounds with a drug gang by providing bait dogs. Three times in five years, I have seen a spate of bait dog abductions in the months leading up to the formation of a new set, which will be confirmed when I see more than three youths loitering or walking, or when pairs and trios of associated youths using smart phones as tactical radios begin patrolling on parallel and perpendicular lines just out of sight of one another.
There was also a home invasion a few streets over, which is a sign of serious drug activity, so I am staying vigilant for more than hoodlums.