Children Fiction posted May 23, 2010 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 23... 


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It's Luis come to Jesus meeting

A chapter in the book Ms. N.O.R.T.

The Intervention

by Deejharrington



Background
Tanisha is a young girl who has lost her favorite teacher and gained an unlikely friend, Walter, a refugee from Katrina. Together, they battled a group of bullies.
Chapter Twenty-Two: "The Intervention"



Big Momma's car pulled into the driveway about two hours after she had left. Walter and I were waiting at the kitchen table. "Where have you been? We've been worried sick. Church don't take that long, even a Catholic one." I fired questions at her, hands on my hips and a frown on my face.

"Now, girl, you keep a civil tongue and maybe I'll tell you how I've solved your problem." Big Momma sat down with a huff and put her hat and gloves aside.

Walter and I looked at each other, then back to Big Momma. "What are you talkin' about? Solved what problem?" I demanded.

Walter's head went back and forth like a ping pong ball. He wasn't about to get in the middle of this.

"Luis's abuelita and I have arranged a ...what do they call 'em?... Oh, yes. We are goin' to have ourselves an intervention." Big Momma said with much satisfaction. "They're all coming over this afternoon and we'll show Luis the errors of his ways."

Walter gulped and choked on a piece of biscuit. "Lu...Luis is coming here? If he is, I ain't!" He turned to run but Tanisha pushed him back in his chair.

"Who else is invited to this intervention?" I asked suspiciously.

"Well, it will be the three of us" she looked directly at Walter. "And Rosa Rodriguez,their grandmother, Luis, and Juan."

"You invited Juan? You asked that...that gang-banger to your house? He'll probably case the place to steal you blind. He'll bring his boys with him and we'll all be dead! How could you do that? OMG! We gotta get out of here. Come on, Tanisha, let's make a run for it!"

I just stared at Big Momma. I knew my grandmother wouldn't do something that crazy without good reason. She must have a plan, a really good plan.

Walter was scurrying from window to window, peeking out.

"Walter, sit down and put your head between your knees. Take a chill pill." I scolded him. He did as I instructed.

"OK, Big Momma, let's hear all about this intervention. What do you think is goin' happen? How will this help Walter.?" I sat back down across from my grandmother.

"Rosa, that's Luis's grandmother, and I had a lovely talk after church. They serve coffee and donuts downstairs. The sweetest young girl served us."

"Big Momma, I really don't care..." I was stopped with the look. She would tell her story her way or no way.

"As I was saying, we talked about her grandsons, Luis and Juan. She is so disappointed in them and scared for their lives. When I explained what Luis had done to our Walter, she started to cry. Rosa prays that Luis will not follow in Juan's footsteps. But she knows he looks up to him. Their father has been gone many years, so Juan has been Luis's role model." Big Momma shook her head.

"Great role model, gang member, criminal, done time..." I rolled my eyes.

"But wait, you haven't heard the exciting part. Juan is reformed. I guess his last time in Jackson helped him see the light. He got his GED and is enrolled at community college. He's working at a real job and going to church." Big Momma sat back with a very satisfied look on her face.

" I don't see how..." I was interrupted by the doorbell.

"They're here! Run, hide, do something", Walter looked around wildly for a place to disappear.

Big Momma pulled herself out of her chair. "I'll get that. You and Walter go in the kitchen and get some lemonade and cookies."

As I pulled Walter into the kitchen, I mumbled to myself. "What else do you give to thugs and criminals? Cookies and lemonade."

By the time we were finished, everybody was seated in Big Momma's tiny living room. Rosa and Big Momma were chatting away about church. Luis sat in the furtherest corner, sullen and angry looking. Juan looked up as Walter and I brought in the tray.

"Here, let me help you with that." Juan smiled and set the tray on the dining room table.

This was not what I was expecting. Juan looked the part of a gang member. His arms and neck was covered with tattoos. But the one that held my attention was the tear drop tattooed in the corner of his eye. I knew what that meant. I hoped Walter didn't know it was a gang sign for one kill.

Walter was too busy trying not to gain Luis's attention. He sat in the chair closest to the kitchen. For a fast escape, I guessed.

The grandmothers passed around the drinks and cookies. Luis refused anything with a small shake of his head. Juan politely thanked them and sat back. "As I understand how these things work, everybody gets to say their piece. Walter, why don't you start. Luis, listen up."

A few angry words in Spanish were exchanged. But it seemed that Juan had the final say. Luis turned and glared at Walter.

Walter looked ready to cry or bolt. I whispered to him, "Positive thinking, remember, imagine-believe-become." Walter looked me in the eye and nodded.

Walter told the group of what had happened that day in the boys locker room. How the group of three bullies had beat on the metal lockers and taunted him about hurricane Katrina. The bullies had called him a baby and blamed him for not saving his family. He told them things I hadn't even heard. Walter told them how it made him feel; scared, alone, and guilty. Yes, he had been saved, but for what? Everything else that mattered to him, everybody he loved was gone.

Walter sat quietly with his head bowed. I wanted to put my arms around him, but I knew he'd be embarrassed. The grandmothers both had tears in their eyes. Juan was watching Luis.

"You did this? Luis, what he tells us is true?" Juan asked softly.

Luis whispered something. "Luis, speak up. Be a man. Admit it, if it's true."
Juan demanded in a voice that made Walter and me jump.

"Yes, alright. I did it. Okay? Are you happy now?" Luis shouted.

Juan gave him a look that would scare the meanest thug on the street. "You have a nice house to live in? Do you have family that love you no matter what? Do you have nice, clean clothes? Decent food every night on the table? Huh? Luis, do you have all these things?" Juan demanded.

A very timid "yes" came from Luis.

"So you decide it is a good thing to do, torment someone who has lost all these things. You thought it would be funny to tease someone who has survived more than you will ever know. Yes? Was that how it went?" Juan was standing in front of Luis.

Luis could do nothing but shake his head yes. Juan looked at him with disgust. "I am ashamed of you." He went back to his chair and after a minute looked to his grandmother. " Abuelita, would you like to speak next?"

Luis's grandmother pulled herself up and turned to look him in the eye. She spoke in a voice barely above a whisper. " Luis, you know I have lost one nieto, killed in the streets like a dog. I buried your father after a knife fight over gang revenge. Two of my own brothers died in prison, still proud to be gang members. Oh, so proud. Dead, all gone because of the colors they wore or the street they walked down and the people they ran with. I thought I had lost Juan too. But that is his story to tell. I want you to know that every morning I go to the church and pray to the blessed Virgin for you. I light candles that you may see the light. Every night I cry myself to sleep, afraid I will lose you too." She put her hands over her eyes as more tears began to fall. Big Momma reached over and hugged Rosa, all the time looking at Luis.

Luis stared at his abuelita. He was stunned and ashamed.

"I guess that just leaves me to talk." Juan said, drawing everyone's attention. " Luis, you see these tattoos? They are there forever. They will never fade away or disappear. That is just like what it means to be a member of a gang. You can't run from it or change your mind. In for life, do you know what that means, Luis? Do you? Even in prison, the gang controls you. When and if you are set free, the gang controls you. Is that what you want? For the rest of your life to be fighting or killing 'cause of a stupid gang? No good job, no college, no nice house, no future. Except for death or prison. Those are the choices you have once you become a member."

Luis looked wide-eyed at his brother. " But that's what you did. You told me it was family, a way to belong. That the brothers always had your back. You said not to trust anyone but a brother."

Juan looked at his little brother and admitted, "I was wrong. Look at your abuelita, she is your family. Look at me, I am your brother. You do not need the gang for any of that. It took me many years to learn this. All those months sitting in a prison, with nothing to do but think. It came to me one day after you had been up for a visit. Do you remember? All you could talk about was the Conquistadors were recruiting you. I went back to my cell and I knew then, that either I would be going to your funeral or you would take my place in this cell. It was up to me to change that. But I had to change myself first. It wasn't easy and I still fight my guilt every day. But I am out. I decide my future, not some gang. Will you allow yourself to be sucked into the lie? Or will you stand with me and choose your own destiny?"

With tears streaming down both their faces, the brothers embraced.


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Big Momma and Luis's abuelita hatch a plan.
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