My feet prodded the creviced and crumbling tarmac with the uneasy grace of a criminal’s waltz. It was one o’clock at night, sky barren, and the slivered crescent moon emitted a piss yellow glow only so because of the dust and death that dwelled in the street-lit Phoenix skies. The poisonous smog that stretched across the horizon only rested when the rarity of rain graced the heavens; if you believe in that sort of thing.
An acquaintance of mine kept equal stride to my right. A thirteen year old child from a broken home such as myself. His livelihood was kept stable by hustling that g-shit and robbing his relatives just like every other wannabe thug. We passed one decrepit apartment after another. Each one littered with fast food wrappers, clumps of dug up concrete from unfinished road work, shattered and intact bottles of liquor and booze, shredded tires, and toppled over construction signs.
Every rebel in the neighborhood seemed to have a cheap can of watered down spray paint and a grudge against the complex. What a waste of time. I always thought that if these kids had any brains or ambition they wouldn’t waste their time kicking a dead horse, and try selling drugs like everyone else. If you’re going to be a rebel do it for the funds, not the fun, that’s what I always say. Not that I was one to talk because my sins of apathy and attention kept me looking for a rush. This made me exactly the same as every bastard child with an urge to destroy, only just a little bit grimier.
I knew I wasn’t different from every other scum bag on this block, but this all black attire made me feel like a god should; an invincible force not to be fucked with. My shades and rag made every black, Mexican, and biker give a second thought before looking me directly in the eyes. Most would pretend they were looking at something in a different direction or just look straight ahead, even yawn complacently. One man raised his eyebrow nonchalantly and another puffed his chest out as my feet carried me by. Those that lurked about at this time new what this gleaming box cutter that glared from my hip forbid; a challenge. I never thought I would ever use it unless the gravity of another’s force was present. Although, this maniacal feeling is sometimes toxic, and imagined threats are easily manifested for a mechanical youth such as I.
My affiliate shifted his gaze from our trajectory to look at me with a perpetual anger I never took offense to. He analyzed my as we made our way to a rundown furniture store connected to a Goodwill across the street. There was a gritty looking bar populated by leather clad bikers on the opposite side of the faded Goodwill, and a barred pawn shop whose main source of income was guns. These were the businesses we passed first. Everything else around us seemed to be under an infinite state of construction. An assortment of miscellaneous shops and small markets on the left end of the parking lot had foreign names and were unwelcoming to a ‘white boy’ such as myself. Not a lot of even keeled or intelligent people roamed these ruins. Though not as dangerous as the south side, this area dubbed “West Scaryvale” was not a place you wanted to be inattentive in at such an hour. For the minds of these men were ever so wicked.
We made our way to the mom-and-pop type establishment in about five minutes; residue of sweat spotted the front of the rags wrapping our skulls. Not so much from the trek, but from a combination of the South Wests’ infamous heat and the adrenaline of anticipation. As we closed in on our kill I could see an eerie light constant through the tinted glass that guarded the cash we hoped was still in the drawers. This was easy money for sixty seconds of a blurred haste. Besides, I was sick of shoplifting and since I was hungry now I knew I’d be starving in the morning. We shrouded ourselves in the shadows of a rusting dumpster and a Chinese restaurant that smelled vaguely similar to body odor and old cooking oil. We were so close now; only a dozen strides from our aim.
“You got this mother fucker?” my partner muttered in question as he picked up and embraced the potential of a nearby cinder block. Focusing on the store I saw a younger woman no older than twenty walking through a back door to another room, a tired expression glued to her face; fucking whore. “Hell yea, who the fuck do you think I am?” I boasted quietly. My right hand wielded an iron bar of some sort I had found next to the rotting dumpster. I held it in a cliff hangers grasp, knuckles white with tension. My mouth curled up in a mischievous grin as I raised the black rag, concealing my nervous smile. “If the police don’t come we should burn this motherfucker to the ground.” A part of me spoke aloud. My partner nodded in compliance. “Who knows,” I snickered, the devil in my voice, "maybe we’ll make the evening news.”
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