Approximately one year later, the up-and-coming gang found themselves strolling through downtown. It was nice out — The sky was clear and the sun was bright. Their purpose in town today: to look cool. And eventually, to wind up at a pawn shop where Carlos would be buying his old lady some jewelry with the cash he had just made “pushing ice.” At some point on their walk, a rival gang approached them in a black Escalade. Eleven guys hopped out at the curb and landed in front of Carlos and his gang, blocking their path. “This is our turf, homes,” one of them stated.
Carlos puffed up his chest defiantly. “I don’t see your name on it, cabron.” He turned to the leader. “Why don’t you and your buddies hop back in your ride and make like your ex,” he indicated to Kat. Meagan shot a questioning glance between both Kat and the rival gang’s leader. The wheels in hear head were spinning. Kat never saw because she kept her eyes forward. If she was at all phased by Carlos’s comment, she didn’t show it. “Eh, Jason?”
For a second the other gang member, called Jason, locked eyes with Kat.Then he nodded slowly, looking back towards Carlos. His mouth was smiling but his eyes were firey. “So you’re the one.”
Carlos put his hands together in front of him, as if in prayer, and bowed towards his opponent. “Mr. Steal your girl, at your service” — Then he straightened up. “What will it be today, boys? Eleven ass-kickings?”
Surely Carlos was only bluffing, Meagan thought. They were outnumbered eleven to eight. They had recruited several young students and a few sharp-looking studs in the twelve months since Meagan joined the squad, but none of them were around at the time.
“I think just five will do the trick,” Jason answered calmy. Then without warning, he pulled out an SMG from under his coat. It hadn’t been lost on Meagan that he was oddly wearing a large coat in the middle of Summer. As soon as his hand moved toward whatever was underneath, she made a move. Acting purely on the instinct she either never knew existed or had long forgotten, she sprinted forward and tackled the would-be assailant to the ground. Not expecting the quick countermove, Jason lost his grip on his gun, and it went flying, firing into the air. All this occured in a matter of two seconds, before anyone could react. When the gun went off, both gangs pulled out their weapons.
A gunfight ensued immediately, with the rival gangmen pulling shotguns and Carlos’s crew pulling handguns. As they dove out of the way of shotgun blasts, firing back from under cover, Meagan wrestled on the pavement with her opponent. He fought hard, and he was stronger, but Meagan was able to use the momentum from the fall against him. Using moves she hardly beleived he knew how to defend, she got the upper hand and put him into a submission hold: the arm bar. The gang leader hollered in pain.
“Call off your men!” Meagan ordered. He said nothing. Kept resisting.
“Ahhhhhhh!” The scream had come from Kat. She’s been shot! Even though Meagan hadn’t liked her at first, a sort of comradere had been forged between them in the past year. Aside from that, she couldn’t let her die. It was a rule. “Protect your brethren at all costs!” Carlos had once announced to the group.
Fighting off the urge to turn around and check on Kat, Meagan — pushed by the urgency of the situation — snapped the thug man’s arm. Immediately, he cried out and began sobbing like a child. “Call them off! Now! You motherfucker!”
The man screamed for his men to stop in Spanish. Everyone ceased fire and went quiet. They could now hear the distant screams of passers by running away. It wouldn’t be long now. A witness was sure to call the cops.
“Good,” Meagan said in a mockingly pleased tone. “Now, order them to throw down their guns, back away, and get back into their vehicle.” The gang leader didn’t hesitate. He did exactly as he was told. But the same couldn’t be said of his men. They hesitated, staring stupidly at him, which caused their leader much anger and panic. He yelled many explicitives at them, ordering them in Spanish to just do it before the bitch broke his arm off. So they did it. Once the majority of the rival gang was back in the Escalade, Megan told the leader: “Alright. Now I’m going to let you up. You’re going to leave without your gun, and without any more trouble.”
“This is not over!” The hispanic spat out at the group. “Katrina, you will pay for your betrayal,” he said to her in Spanish. “I will get you back. Mark my words. And when I do, my men and I will take turns on you. That’ll teach you to whore around–”
Meagan put an end to his rant. As Carlos shouted in Spanish from afar, she lowered her tone so that only he could hear. “You think I can’t understand what the hell you’re saying?” The gang leader said nothing, just continued grunting and groaning in pain. “I’ll break your arm completely off, and I’ll watch you bleed out, if you don’t shut up.” She said this in Spanish, the whisper really a hiss at this point, to really drive the message through. She just wanted to scare the older gentleman, now that she had proved to him that she could hurt him…. but perhaps there was something else there, from an old life, keeping her anger alive and well at all times just beneath the surface.
Meagan was still trembling with rage, so mad she couldn’t see straight, long after the other gang left. As much as she tried to hide it, too, the gun fight had terrified her. Sure, she wore a piece at all times for protection. But the almost eighteen-year-old had never been forced to use it. And even though she was familiar enough with guns, she wasn’t familiar with using them to potentially take another’s life.
Carlos got up and approached her, grinning. Meagan immediately looked around for Kat, who she found leaning up against a nearby building. Holding her bleeding arm, she looked angry. Other than that, she seemed okay. Carlos came very near her before stopping. Searching her eyes, he asked her, “That was your first gun fight?” Meagan saw no reason to lie, so she didn’t. Carlos patted her shoulders with both hands, then let them linger and gave them a brief squeese. “Good… That’s good, for your first time.” He winked then, which made her heart stop — Not in that way it does when a woman has the hots for a man but when she’s beginning to get wary of him. She looked at Kat to see if she had noticed what Carlos just did. It seemed so, for as Kat was approaching Carlos, she glared right at her.
They began arguing about how Carlos had just put Kat’s life in danger by stupidly deciding to start a fight with a rival gang. “Ah, chicana,” Carlos said. “You’re fine! It’s a flesh wound.” He forced her to show him her injured arm. “Bullet never got close. It’s just a ricochet.”
“What if it wasn’t, Carlos?” Kat said through dramatic tears.
Carlos paused, glaring down at the much younger girl. “Why are you acting like this? Like you’ve never had people shoot at you before — You’re just doing this in front of your friend.” By “friend” he meant Meagan.
“Hey,” Meagan cut in. “I don’t mean to cut this short or anything, but I hear sirens. Let’s bounce!”
Carlos realized two things after the gun fight with the upper South side’s XXX gang: One, he needed a lot more recruits to catch up with the number of XXX members, and two, he needed more money and territory. First things first, he renamed the gang Brothers Santana — it had been Carlos’s Crew previously– and celebrated the change that night. In a local, rundown hole-in-the-wall joint that Carlos had bought from its original owner, they toasted to the new group, as Meagan’s triumph over the XXX gang, and partied all night.
Meanwhile, something very different had started to grow deep inside Meagan following that last fight, and it was doubt. She began to wonder whether she should stay in the gang life. Sure, when she was winning, she really felt like winning, but was it worth her life? Oh, well. For that night, she didn’t think too much about it. She got wasted instead — since, after all, she did feel like quite a winner at the moment.
On the night of her nineteenth birthday, fate would make her decision for her.