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The Caravan
American Dream Boat #9
Lenita was sitting in the middle of the back seat and he kept turning to look where they were headed and couldn’t help but notice her always batting her eyes back at him as if she was obsessed with him like Rico was over Donna Vito, the 8th-grader with huge tits at the academy. Thinking of Rico and wondering if his cousin was such a savage about boys like he was about women—and hoping it was not true—brought him to mind of his only friend.
Dillon searched him out over the backs of the next two lowriders as they headed down to the interstate ramp and could see that Uncle Cholo and a tough dude with sunglasses were in the front seat and that another tough dude and Rico’s mom behind them, Rico presumably reclining somewhere in the back of that SUV, as its former owner died up on Joppa Road.
‘Things are changing, changing from bad to worse. Stuff has always been bad but not like this.’
Ahead was a police roadblock, with a half-dozen cars, and a swat vehicle. Cholo gunned the engine of the SUV, roared by each car, shouting an order in Spanish to each driver, and then took the lead, just before they reached Cromwell Bridge Road and he signaled a left, waving out the window to the cops manning the barricade, “Lawn service, yo. Yo need yo trees trimmed we give cop discounts!”
And as the SUV and the three follow on cars turned left, everyone, even Dillon, waved and smiled at the cops and Dillon immediately knew where they were headed. It had not occurred to him until just now that outside of battling skinnies in the immediate neighborhood, all of the capers that Rico had taken him on had mirrored his Uncle’s criminal activity. If Rico took Dillon to throw stones at a skinny mechanic it probably had something to do with his uncle’s business. If Rico took Dillon out Cromwell Bridge Road to Dulany Valley Road on their bicycles to get a head count on military age men of color on the street, new high-end cars, satellite dishes, dope slingers or cops on patrol, it was not just in emulation of Uncle Cholo, but very probably an intelligence-gathering mission. For a year now Dillon had actually been working as an associate of the Orchard Lane Project Latin Princes and hadn’t even known it.
They took the fairly deserted suburban roads at a slow pace until they were in full White Bread Range, where the rich people lived with their single houses and driveways full of cars, and the cars were home, because it was obvious that there was not only gas rationing against citizens but intestate travel bans as well.
They cruised with low, slow menace and Dillon felt menacing himself, after flipping off the Paki bodega owner and staying cool while Uncle Cholo killed that Ghana man so close that blood spatter speckled the light blonde hair on Dillon’s forearms. He was no longer some runner white-boy hiding out from skinnies, homeboys and beaner boys, he was a blonde menace, had been detailed by Uncle Cholo to look after the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, a girl that was making big pretty eyes at him with every chance she got.
With this crowbar between his young hands, faster than these big burly thugs and smarter than everybody but Rico and Cholo, he felt assured that he could accomplish just that—her sweat protection. His mind drifted off into a reverie of Lenita walking besides him across a grassy field, holding his hand and smiling up at him with those big, dark eyes and full red lips, her perky little body, all 80-pounds of her, swishing slightly through the grass as Dillon handed her a dandy lion flower and she laughed, like he had screwed up on flower selection, but took it anyhow with a blush.
Three skinnies were at 11 O’clock [Rico had always taught him to use the old wheel clock for scouting positions] emptying the pockets of some bloody-headed old white man lying face first in his driveway as two more skinnies dragged an old white lady into the open storm door of the house.
Uncle Cholo gave the “slow ahead” signal and they continued cruising around this really rich-looking area, with no trash on the street, and bars on the doors and windows with ornate twists and designs. Dillon saw ahead to the left three homeboys jacking an old beamer with a scanner key, frightened white faces of the owners peering from behind the barred windows in the house above the driveway.
A bus load of skinnies with machetes came rolling around the bend ahead and the tough guy with the bat in the lead vehicle, their SUV, sat up on the door frame and chambered a round in a pump shotgun even as Uncle Cholo held his automatic pistol up pointed towards the sky. Dillon crouched on the top of the trunk just behind the rear window, his crowbar at the ready as the bat man in the follow on car behind him and the two bat man on the trunk of the third car stood in a like crouch and waited like big cats, ready to spring into action.
Lenita was tapping on the window for him to get down and take cover but he just snarled at the tall, skinnies, so dark they were almost black. There were easily fifteen of them just hanging onto the outside of the bus on this side, machetes lax in their hands, about fifty more of all ages and sexes packed within. Tension was high as the smell of the reeking skinnies overtook their noses, luckily appearing not to be on chem-khat, though the men hanging onto the crude wooden runner with their feet and the window frame by their right hands were chewing traditional khat and seemed wired, ready to kick it off.
Just as the bus passed the rear car and the bat men turned to face the rear, it stopped, and the machete men jumped down, swarmed around the bus and ran up through the ornate yard of some nice-looking white family who were busy packing luggage into an electric SUV.
The father’s head slid in half from a machete blow as his son lost his hand and was a bloody, wriggling puddle at the feet of three skinnies. The mother and the ten-year-old daughter had their clothes torn from their bodies in a second or two and were both being pinned down and raped within five seconds as the women and children from the bus emptied out and rushed up into the house to loot.
Lenita was biting her little knuckles and crying, looking up at him like she was hoping he was a ten foot tall Viking or something. He wasn’t ten-feet tall, but that was not happening to Lenita while he was alive.
They passed a bus manned by skinny elders in their robes as a crowd of men raped a white woman on the front lawn of another house and children and women hauled stuff out the front door, some of the old men even tearing the iron bars off the windows and door to fit onto the bus—a big solar-powered bus.
A few more houses up was the aftermath of a battle between beaners and homeboys, with three dead of each on the lawn and two beaners patching each other up, to whom Uncle Cholo raised the fist of victory and they all cheered the survivors as they rode by, even Dillon, pumping his fist and glad to be on the winning side in this crazy war.
On they rolled, past two flipped police cruisers, a blonde female cop and a big black cop, both lying dead and naked in the street except for their underwear, a dead skinny on the asphalt between them. They swerved around the body of the female cop and stopped, Uncle Cholo waving him forward, “Yo, Dayshawn, front en center!”
Dillon ran to the driver’s side door and looked up for his order, as Uncle Cholo looked down and gave it, “Pigs keep shotguns in they trunks. The drunks of these flipped tings have not been popped. Pop the trunk wit that crowbar, above the plate, below the lock.”
Dillon was in a panic that he was going to screw this up, having never popped a trunk with a crowbar. But Lenita and her older brother, the man that Dillon would have to ask to marry her, were looking on. Even Rico, in extreme pain, was looking on, his mother propping him up. So he went at that upside down trunk with the slick end of the crowbar like it was a downed dragon and he was a knight and he only had to stab and heave three times to pop the trunk.
He went to clean it out with his left hand when a big shadow blocked the sun and the thug from the SUV—Cholo’s meanest man—said, “I gotz dis—next one, whiteboy.”
Dillon was good for this command and rushed on, ripping open the next trunk, but wondering what would happen to him if something happened to Uncle Cholo, because this dude was obviously next in line and seemed to have a thirst for Dillon, probably because he, like any man would, had taken a shine to the girl that liked Dillon.
As the man came behind him, pushed him roughly away and cleaned out the long gun and ammo for the next trunk, Dillon ran dutifully back to his post on the trunk, but was thinking, ‘That big full-bloat rican has a hundred pounds on me and a gun. I’m not even a good fighter like Rico. I better support Uncle Cholo full out or run for it.’
The caravan rolled on, looping to the left, avoiding the reservoir land, which even Rico and Dillon on their scouting capers, had not been able to gain access to on their bikes. Rico said “Homeland Security shits run dat joint,” and left it at that. So did his Uncle in action rather than words as they turned west towards York Road and Hunt Valley.”
Dillon knew what this meant, they weren’t headed into no country area where rednecks might be with trucks and guns and ATVs but over into the White Breadbasket as Rico had always called it when on their capers, when they practiced identifying electric cars, permaculture gardens and other signs that people might have food reserves and grid-down resources.
Dillon had always actually thought that Rico’s grid-down scouts were fantasy trips engendered by his reading Nationalist Front Comics. But apparently not. For as they drove past the back of the burning supermarket a block from York Road, Cholo made a right turn down a side street of single family homes and drove halfway down, until, on the right, Dillon found himself in front of the house with two small electric cars—one a Solar Wind, one a Green Leaf Eco—and the house with the grape arbor, the corn garden with squash all around it and the blueberry bushes around back where the scarecrow was, the only scarecrow Dillon had ever seen in person.
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