Honor's Choice

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Does everybody make the same one?

Honor's Choice

by Donna Lamb

Honorio Juan Jose Pasqual de Marquez y Gongora had an important decision to make. At eleven, the gangstas in his neighborhood had already begun recruiting him. But which gang to join?

The Centro Donton had a great territory, including all of the best places in town to hangout.

But the Tellarney Street gang had tagging rights in the neighborhood where Honorio actually lived.

And the Hellboy Soldiers had numbers and solid political connections with richer, more powerful gangs elsewhere in the city.

A slender, thoughtful boy, Honorio knew this decision would affect the rest of his life, however long, or short, that turned out to be. He didn't know any men in his neighborhood between the ages of thirty and fifty and most of the oldsters had come from another country. He fully expected to be dead before he could legally drink, but that didn't mean he wanted to waste the six or eight years he probably had left by joining the wrong gang.

He decided to take a few days thinking it over before making his decision. Accordingly, he took some tortillas and canned sodas and climbed into the crawl space above his grandmother's apartment where he knew he could stay practically indefinitely, as long as he didn't get caught going to the bathroom or getting more food.

He carefully considered his options, enumerating them in his mind while sipping his Fresca.

Centro Donton wore red, a particular faded shade of red-brown or a virulent neon color when they wanted everyone to know their gang. They had their favorite places to hang and for the most part the cops left them alone if they stayed in their own area because they really didn't do many crimes. Sometimes they worked the hustle on small businesses like restaurants and nightclubs for like walking around money. Their initiation involved spending money on looking good.

The Hellboy Soldiers wore blue, of almost any shade, and hung together even more than Centro Donton. Some of their members bragged about the time they had spent in prison. Sometimes the gang got involved in violent confrontation with other gangs. Some of them lifted weights and played sports, but not all of them. Some of them would do almost anything for money because a lot of them were into drugs. To get into the gang you had to do something kind of disgusting, at least, to Honorio.

The Tellarney Street gangstas wore purple. They had the fewest members and the smallest territory and they usually didn't even hang around with each other much. A few of them were into small time street crime but mostly they seemed the poorest of any gangstas Honorio had ever heard of. A lot of cops liked to act like the gang didn't even exist and that their purple was some shade of red or blue. And they had an initiation that actually sounded painful.

Honorio knew he could join a gang and just not tell anyone; mostly only people in one of the gangs would know. But that didn't seem right, it was like having most of the disadvantages without really belonging or having any homies you could count on.

Honorio's abuelita caught him in the bathroom the second night of his philosophical retreat. "What you doing, mijo?" she asked.

So he told her. He couldn't tell anyone else but your abuelita is a special person, she has to love you no matter what and she doesn't have to scold like your own mother.

"Have you make up you mind?" she asked.

"I think so," he said. "I don't like the Hellboy Soldiers, too many of them do bad things in public. They are okay, I guess, 'cause they aren't all like that but I think they are disgusting."

Abuelita chuckled. "Me too, also," she agreed.

"So I think I'm going to join Centro Donton instead of Tellarney Street," said Honorio. "At least, that way I don't have to have anything cut off."

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This story is 673 words long.