Folio - Salt Lake Community College Art and Litereature Magazine

School Of Hard Knocks


Osaiasi Tuifua

I counted eight gunshots—or was it twelve? How could I remember when it was too loud to think? The night started out quiet—until we walked home from Glendale Middle School. It was nothing new: Crazy Leggs, Misi, and I were going home from playing basketball with the other kids in 8th grade. We were always running the court on Wednesday nights because no one could ever beat us at three on three. As we walked home and made fun of each other’s basketball skills, the night turned for the worst in mere seconds.

It was our typical routine on Wednesdays. We’d start off by getting a drink from Hook and Ladder, a local burger spot, and gloat about our victories, and right when the street lights would come on, we’d start our journey home. Crazy Leggs would spark a cigarette, which he usually stole every morning from his dad. All I could see was the street light four blocks in front of me, the street light four blocks behind me, and the embers from Crazy Leggs’s cigarette. Misi and I made fun of him the whole walk, talking about how he smelled like an ashtray in an interrogation room and that’s why none of the girls liked him. As he took a long drag and the ashes fell to the ground, I saw an oncoming car turn off their headlights. I looked back at Misi and Crazy Leggs in fear. That was the scariest moment of my life.

No words were said. Crazy Leggs dropped his cigarette and while it fell slowly, we ran for our lives. It felt like we ran for miles before the cigarette hit the ground. The engine ofthis mysterious car roared and chased us down the street. That wasn’t the only thing that was chasing us, bullets were following us too. Tears ran down my face and hit the cold ebony asphalt. Hand cannons spat flames, my royal blue Chuck Taylors soles were red hot from running, my heart beat like a bass drum, and I was breathing like I had asthma.

Down the street from my house, I jumped over a tattered brown wooden fence to get away from the shooters, but it also split me up from Crazy Leggs and Misi. Not knowing what to do, I broke down and cried. What do you expect from a twelve year old kid? That day was my first encounter with gang violence and guns.