The Barrio Kings - William Kowalski - E-Book

The Barrio Kings E-Book

William Kowalski

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Beschreibung

Rosario Gomez gave up gang life after his brother was killed in a street fight. Now all he wants to do is finish night school, be a good father and work hard enough at his job at the supermarket to get promoted. But when an old friend shows up to ask him why he left the gang, Rosario realizes he was fooling himself if he thought his violent past would just go away. When his pregnant girlfriend is hit in a drive-by shooting, Rosario has to make some hard choices. Revenge means a return to his old ways, something he swore he would never do. But unless he takes action, his enemies will not rest until they've settled the score against him.

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THE BARRIO KINGS

WILLIAM KOWALSKI

Copyright © 2010 William Kowalski

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Kowalski, William, 1970-Barrio Kings / written by William Kowalski.(Rapid reads)

Electronic MonographIssued also in print format.ISBN 9781554692453 (pdf) -- ISBN 9781554694402 (epub)

I. Title. II. Series: Rapid reads PS8571.O985B37 2010 C8I3’.54 C2009-907248-3

First published in the United States, 2010 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009942225

Summary: While finishing his high school diploma and preparing for the birth of his first son, Rosario Gomez struggles to stay out of the gang life that killed his brother. But when his old friend Juan gets out of jail, his past returns to haunt him.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Design by Teresa Bubela Cover photography by Dreamstime and Teresa Bubela

In Canada: Orca Book Publishers PO Box 5626, Station B Victoria, BC Canada V8R 6S4

In the United States: Orca Book Publishers PO Box 468 Custer, WA USA 98240-0468

www.orcabook.com

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Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

CHAPTER ONE

My name is Rosario Gomez. I’m twenty three years old. I stock shelves at the supermarket downtown. I wear a tie to work every day, even though I don’t have to. I wear a long-sleeved shirt to cover my tattoos. But I can’t hide all of them. There’s one on my right hand that says BK in small black letters. That one I can’t hide. So I try to keep my right hand in my pocket when my boss is around.

My boss is Mr. Enwright. He’s a fat, bald white guy who gets mad easy. But he’s okay. Some of the other workers here call him Mr. Enwrong. I do not do that. Not to his face, and not behind his back. I need this job too bad. Enwright told me that once I get my GED he will promote me to assistant manager. That would be the most important job anyone in my family has ever had.

I was not always this straight. I came up rough. My neighborhood was on the news almost every night, and the news was never good. It was the kind of barrio nice people don’t visit. There was nothing there for them. There was nothing there for me either. There was only survival, and I had to fight for that.

I dropped out of school to run with a gang called the Barrio Kings. I did some things I’m not proud of now. Like I said, I had to survive. I used to be the best street fighter around. I didn’t like fighting. But I had no choice. I pretended to like it though. I used to smile. That scared people even more. And when you’re scared, you lose. Most fights are won before they start. You win them in your head, before you even throw a single punch.

I was just lucky that I was good at fighting, the way some people are just good at music or art. Sometimes I wonder if I should have been a boxer. But I always used to get this sick feeling in my stomach after I hit someone. It stayed with me. I don’t miss that feeling. It’s been a long time since I was in a fight. I hope I’m never in another one.

Things are different now. I’ve had this job for three years. I’ve stayed out of trouble. I don’t go back to the old barrio anymore. I don’t even miss it. Now I work from nine to five. After work, three days a week, I take the crosstown bus to the community college. That’s where I take my night courses. I’m almost done with them. In just three weeks, I’m going to finish my high-school studies. Then I’ll be the first person in my family to have a diploma too.

After class, I take another bus home. I live with my girlfriend, Connie. She’s twenty. We’ve been together for two years. We’re going to have a baby in a month. We already know it’s a boy. We’re going to name him Emilio. We have a crib all set up for him. We have a bunch of toys and clothes too. Connie’s Aunt Carlita gave them to us. She has eight kids, so she has a lot of extra stuff.

By the time I get home after class, I’m wiped. But Connie has not been feeling too good lately, so usually I make dinner. I can’t believe how big she is. Her feet hurt all the time. So do her hips and knees. I feel bad for her, but there’s nothing I can do. And Emilio is almost here. I can’t believe I’m going to be a dad.

Mr. Enwright told me that when I get that promotion, I will have to work longer hours, but I’ll make more money. I can’t wait. I have a plan. I’m going to save up money, and I’m going back to school. College this time. I’ll take some business courses. I figure by the time Emilio is five, I can be a manager, and I will make even more money. That would put me on the same level as Mr. Enwright. I think Emilio will be proud to know his dad is a boss.

But I’m not stopping there. I want a business of my own. I don’t know what kind yet. All I know is, I can see it in my head. Just like I used to see myself winning street fights. I can see myself in a three-piece suit. I’m not sitting in an office though. Who wants to sit still all day? Not me. I like to move around, talk to people, shake hands, make deals. I see myself in an airplane. I’m speaking different languages with people in other countries. Maybe I’ll be selling things. Maybe I’ll be setting up deals. Whatever it is, I’ll be good at it. And I will make a lot of money.

But right now I need to come back down to earth. Mr. Enwright doesn’t like it when people slack off. Not that I ever do. I just don’t want to give him a reason to get mad at me. Not when everything is going so well.

Today is Thursday. That means I have class tonight. I hate riding that bus, but I can’t afford a car right now. Cars are really expensive. You have your monthly payments, your insurance, your gas and repair costs. All that stuff adds up quick. And every penny I spend on a car means one penny less in the bank.

It doesn’t matter about the bus. I don’t mind. I do dream about a car though. I know just what kind I want. Not a lowrider, like I’m some kind of punk. I want a serious car. I want a black Lexus suv with a leather interior and tinted windows. I want people to look at that car and wonder who owns it. I want them to admire it. And it will have a nice stereo too. The kind you can hear a mile away.

CHAPTER TWO

It’s Friday. I woke up early again. Connie was sore and needed me to rub her back. Man, I’m tired. But I don’t complain. And I never slow down. Mr. Enwright never has to yell at me to move faster. Just today, he patted me on the shoulder and told me to keep up the good work. That promotion is waiting for me. All I have to do is earn it.

Five o’clock. My shift’s over. I tell Enwright I’m leaving and head out the door. It’s a warm day. I like the sun on my face. I wish I had more time to spend outside. Maybe when Emilio is old enough, I can take him fishing. Or camping. I’ve never been camping, but I bet it’s not that hard. Man, I cannot wait for that little dude to get here.

Suddenly I hear a whistle.

I stop. I know that whistle.

I look around, but I don’t see where it’s coming from. Maybe my ears are playing tricks on me.

Then I hear it again. This time I see where it’s coming from. I can’t believe it. Parked on the side of the street is a red El Camino. It’s all tricked out, chrome everywhere. It has a stereo you can feel in your chest. And sitting at the wheel is a face I haven’t seen in a long time. So long that I forgot all about him.

“Loco!” the face yells.

It’s Juan. Who else would be calling me Loco? No one’s called me that in a long time.

I walk over to the car.

“Juan? Is that really you?”

Juan turns down the radio.

“No, it’s Elvis,” he says.

“Man, it’s been a long time.”

“I know. Get in, bro.”

“I gotta get home,” I say. “Connie is waiting for me.”

“Who’s Connie?”

“My girlfriend,” I say. “My baby mama.”

“You a daddy?”

“Pretty soon.”

“Come on, homes,” says Juan. “I’ll give you a ride.”

That sounds pretty good. At least I won’t have to ride the bus. So I ignore the funny feeling I’m getting in my stomach and get in.

“Look at you, man,” I say. Juan is my age, but he looks a lot older. He lost some weight. A few new tattoos, not very good ones. His eyes are different too. Colder and harder. I guess prison will do that to a guy.

Juan holds out his hand. He wants me to do the old handshake. At first I can’t even remember it. He laughs at me.

“Look at you,” he says. “You look like Mr. Clean. What happened to you? Where your colors at?”

“I don’t wear the colors anymore,” I say.

Juan looks like I just slapped him in the face. But he doesn’t say anything. “Still got your wheels, I see,” I say.

“My baby was in storage,” he says. He runs his hand over the steering wheel. “I only got out yesterday.”

“Who else you seen?”

Juan shrugs.

“No one special,” he says. “I missed you, man. I didn’t get no letters though.”

“Ah, you know me and writing,” I say. “It takes me forever.”

“No phone calls? No visits?”

“I’m sorry, bro. I’m a busy guy. I got a good job. I’m gonna get a promotion. And I’m going back to school.”

“Now I know you trippin’,” Juan says. “School? What for?”