Most people ask me why I am the way I am. I tell them that when I was a boy, my friends were kids. When we became men, they grew into killers.
My mom used to babysit all the children on the porch. Sometimes, she’d get us sweet treats from the ice cream truck. It was blue, and the ice cream man made his own candy. “Street candy” is what we called it. He watched me grow up.
When my crew and I ventured off the porch, we called ourselves “Wild Boys.” We would ride on the back of the ice cream truck to our tee ball games. Once we got too old for tee ball, we woke up on Saturday mornings to catch frogs on the train tracks. We would walk into the park all muddied, chasing good girls around with dirty frogs. The boys who were clean used to want to buy our frogs to impress the good girls. We sold them for Pogs. I was the king of Pogs. My slammer was a silver dollar. When the ice cream truck rolled up, I would break up the Pog game and race over to trade my milk caps in for street candy.
By the time I turned 16, my crew joined the neighborhood gang. A couple years earlier, one of us got killed. Then, on the day of his funeral, another one of us killed himself. I was too scared to join the gang, and they respected me for it. They went on to call themselves “Suicide Squad.” They wore Chevy letterman jackets with “S.S.” on their left chest.
To the community, they were killers. To me, they were my bros.
When we were younger, I was the big bro that bought us all the ice creams from the ice cream truck after the driver sold us some weed. When my bros started killing people, I went from being their big bro to being their hustler. I sold them their guns. They were always busy.
One day, a Suicide Squad rival was killed. The crew came driving down the street with their music loud, and blew their horns as they rode past. Moments later, the ice cream truck pulled up. It was now painted white.
The driver had a woman from the rival’s community helping him work his truck. I told him to get her away from over there — Suiciders live around here. He said he would and drove off toward the park.
Next thing I heard were gunshots. As soon as the woman in the ice cream truck was spotted, an attempt was made on her life. She was shot five times, but survived. Soon after, the Suiciders jumped on the truck and took a couple of shots at the driver. He wasn’t so lucky.
That was the end of ice cream trucks — and, pretty soon, the end of my bros. None of them lived to see their 17th birthday.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.