|So…Along Came A Gangster
Pictured above is the Hawthorne Water Tower in Hawthorne, California. I remember it well because I grew up beneath its shadow from 1972-1978, the only son of a single father, living together in the only apartment we could afford.
The neighborhood is now much as it was then: nearly an even split of half Hispanic, half African American and gang-ridden. As a white kid, I was in the definite minority while attending Eucalyptus Elementary School. I remember it being a violent place, with daily fights on the playground and after school. In 3rd grade, I was mugged (for my lunch money). In 4th grade, as a latchkey kid, I played all day with a loaded .38 revolver that I found on my walk home from school and by 5th grade, my friends Efren and Tito forced me into a few fights to “prove myself”, then gave me a switchblade as a reward.
All I can say is, as a kid, in that neighborhood? It wasn’t looking good. Instead, one week after my father found the switchblade, he took a job transfer and we moved to San Bruno, California (the utter opposite of Hawthorne). As for Efren or Tito? Last I heard, they both fell into the gang life and then prison. I moved on, but I never forgot them. In fact, in some ways, their memory lives on in the character of Hector Villerosa in The Parker Trilogy.
Like Tito, who loved to read, or Efren, who loved to laugh, Hector embodies some of their truths while also reflecting their realities. Yes, he is violent, brutal and lost, but he’s also in love, has dreams and knows full well that he could’ve been a straight-A student. More than once, when I was writing one of his scenes, I thought to myself, “This could’ve been me, too.” That’s sobering. That’s humbling.
In Another One, Book 1 of The Parker Trilogy, we meet Hector and then watch him come face to face with a truth he cannot comprehend. But when Book 2, One Way or Another, releases this May…it will be time to turn the monsters loose and see what happens when a gangster is asked to become a hero.
As always, thanks for following along on this journey. It’d be awfully lonely without you.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: REVIEWS NEEDED
If you’ve read any of my books and not yet posted a review? Please take a minute to do so now. That all it takes. And every, single one of them means a ton! Here are the links to the review page for each on Amazon:
One In A Million
A Million to One
One Plus One
The Snow Globe