Sixty seconds can seem like a long time, especially when you are getting pummeled from every side by gang members. I was getting jumped into an Asian gang called Local Oriental Killers (LOK).
It was an organized beat down. The only rules were no shots to the groin and face but everything else was a go. You were also allowed to fight back but this was pointless. Between the slams, kicks and punches of three Asian guys there was no time to take a swing.
While trying to absorb a dozen kicks to the body I remember looking up from the ground. I caught a glimpse of Smoky standing to one side, the chubby shot-caller who was holding the watch and keeping time. I thought to myself, “Damn, when is this going to end?”
For one second the kicks stopped while the guys allowed me to stand back up so I can fight back with decency. I only took a few swings and just as I landed a good blow to some dudes gut I heard “Time!”
I took a deep breath. Then the shouts and smiles came. Every member took turns embracing me with hands clasped. I had earned their respect, especially Smokey’s, and there was nothing more satisfying this day. We celebrated by smoking a black & mild together.
Our relationship was never the same. From violently crazed beat downs to best friends in less than a minute…that’s all it took. I was one of them and they were all of me. And everyone would know it.
A few days later I was sitting in a classroom in a new school. Andrea, a very out-going, brave and vocal white girl, turns to talk to me.
“Tobias, I heard you got jumped into a gang? Is that true? Are you a part of L.O.K. now? What is that anyways?”
I was a little uncomfortable because I didn’t have too many white girls talk to me. “Uh, yea…I claim L.O.K. now. It’s Local Oriental Killers.”
She logically responds, “So what does that really mean? Do you gangsta’s like, rob stores, shoot people and kill people?”
I really had to think about this, “Nah we don’t do that shit all the time. We mostly just watch each other’s back. If someone set-trips or disrespects us, we just have to get em back. That’s all. We fight for one another.”
Wherever there are Southeast Asian refugees there are gangs. All this took place in some small town two hours east of Little Rock, Arkansas. But we wouldn’t be their long. We were never in any one place for long. Soon we would be moving north…
…No matter where we moved those sixty seconds would stay with me for
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