Day 172 – The Initiation

One portion of the numerous messages Domingo had been subjected to in those special brainwashing presentations over the years had stayed the same: gang initiation is a brutal process. Whether it meant getting beaten up by all the other members of the gang, stabbing a stranger on the street, or setting a liquor store on fire while you and everybody else are still inside, the experience was supposed to push you to past your limits. But it was not supposed to be like this.

Tulip pulled Domingo by the collar of his jacket till he was practically falling over the roof’s edge. He judged by the look on her face that the look on his own must have been really amusing. “Scared, niño?” she asked, mocked concern filling her voice.

“No,” Domingo replied. The worst thing you could be in the eyes of the gang was afraid.

“You should be,” Tulip said, all amusement gone from her face. “Here’s how it works, idiotas. We put the bandana around your eyes. When we say go, you run. When you get to the edge, you jump. If you do it right, you land on the next building. No problemas. If you do it wrong, you land on the street. Mas problemas.”

The other gang members on the roof chuckled. Tulip gave them a signal, and they began blindfolding the initiates. Just before his went on, Domingo saw Frederico wet himself. He hoped, for Frederico’s sake, that no one else did.

Tulip dragged Domingo back from the edge, and he tried to count the steps. Was it thirteen? Fourteen? He thought it was fourteen, but it occurred to him that his strides running would be much longer than staggering under the gang leader’s guidance. He was going fourth. Rather than let that increase his dread, he strained his ears to pick up the steps of the three before him.

Alfonso took ten, and his scream went on far too long. Frederico took fourteen, but it sounded like he slipped off the edge. Teresa took fifteen, and her landing sounded close, but she was shorter.

Domingo heard Tulip’s andale. His feet pounded the roof twelve times. Then he jumped.

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