Saturday, November 18, 2017

Chapter 7: What If You're Over My Sh*t?

Views Magazine presents…
Marc and Rachel Isles
Exposé of a Marriage Uncovered

The Night the War Was Won
The strangest thing about that night is that you could see the stars. Usually, it's foggy during summer, but not that night. It was quiet. Real quiet. The Dope War had been won, and Marc's brother was proclaimed Elysian Field’s Kingpin. Adam’s father lost; Gus’ reign was over. I will never, for as long as I live and breathe, forget the night the war was won. The night everybody stopped fighting.
Everyone drifted onto their porches once we heard the sounds of tires on pavement. It was the dope-boys. A legion of them, an army of them, were riding their bikes through the street. All in one direction. All without saying a word to each other. And we all came onto our porches to watch.
“They laid down their weapons,” my father whispered to me. Yeah, they did. These soldiers fought a war, and they won it. They were the survivors. Their king was Trev Isles, and it's him whom they pledged their allegiance to. I watched Trev's soldiers ride their bikes silently down the street. I had never seen this before. Where were they going?
When Gus took over the dope throne from Ford, there was no power struggle; Ford was in prison, the throne was vacant. Gus slid right on in. But this was different. Trev had ousted a sitting king. It’s the very reason why the nineties are legendary to us all. It was full of change, gossip, power, excitement, good music, and a new monarchy. Those of us who lived on Afterlife Lane, the street the new king was raised on, felt an extra twinge of pride. Trev ruled all of Elysian Fields, including the one million people who live here, but he lived on our street.
The night of the ceasefire, everyone in Elysian Fields stood on porches or stoops, watching those dope boys on their bikes. They were soldiers of the devil’s army, bats out of hell, who was slowly, quietly, riding past us. Their tan Dickey's were dirty; their sweatpants were smudged.
Dope-boys work hard. They get up before the average person showers for work. They go home after the average person is already in bed. They only rest, they never sleep. When we were watching them that night, we weren't just looking at them; we were respecting them. All of us. Well, not all of us.
Marc wasn’t outside. The summer fog in Elysian Fields hovers six feet off the ground at night. Anyone taller than six feet becomes a headless ghost. A man over six-feet can move around freely, his face covered, his identity secret. So, had that summer night been foggy, I would have never known if Marc was outside. He would have been too tall for me to see his face. But there was no fog that night, and I remember looking across the street at his parents’ house and seeing that there was no one standing on their porch. It was empty. Marc’s brother had just won the war. Where was everyone?
“Where is everyone?” my father whispered.
“Not sure,” I whispered back. I think back on that night now and think of how insane that sounded. I just said that everyone was on their porches or stoops, watching the dope boys ride by. And yet, when my father asked me where everyone was, I knew exactly who he was talking about. The Isles family. Marc’s family. Trev’s family. My father was talking about Marc's family, and I knew that. Anyone standing there would have known that. That’s how important they were. That’s how important they are.
“There they go,” my father whispered to me. And, again, I knew he was talking about Marc's family. I knew this. I looked across the street at Marc's house, and sure enough, Marc’s parents were coming out onto their porch. But they weren’t looking at the scene, they were whispering to each other. I remember it like it was yesterday, there were Marc’s parents: Jason and Carmen Isles. Jason was and still is a science teacher who likes to dress like one: black glasses, cardigans, slacks. He looks like a nerd, but he isn’t built like one. He and Marc are constructed like each other. Tall. Solid. Broad-shouldered. Carmen’s a nurse who likes to dress like a Charlie’s Angel: long feathery hair, tight jeans, tight turtleneck sweaters, big round sunglasses. Carmen’s the beauty; Jason’s the lucky one. It's a lot like Trev and his wife, Barbie. Or Marc and Rachel: The Isles men look at their wives and feel lucky. Jason and Carmen are a good-looking couple who are happily married. Everyone loves them for that. Everyone loves their sons for other reasons.
“I smell barbecue,” my father whispered to me. I inhaled deeply and noticed the smell of roasted pig. Ribs. As if on cue, Marc and his newly crowned brother, Trev, walked out of the house. Both carrying fold-out chairs or tables. Both looked alike: lean and tall. Both dressed in the standard L.A. uniform: Dickey’s, white t-shirts, Converse sneakers.
“Listen, let’s just sit this shit down… anywhere,” Trev said.
“Language,” Marc’s mother, Carmen, said. She looked around her front lawn, deciding where she wanted the tables to go. She did this with the nonchalance that both she and Marc are famous for. Marc said nothing, just patiently waiting for his mother to pick the perfect spot. They were having a barbecue tonight.
             Of all the things that were strange that night (the fog-free night, the dope-boys, Marc’s brother acting like he hadn’t just been crowned kingpin), what wasn’t strange was the evening barbecue. That’s how it is in the hood. Every night is a block party. Throw some food on the grill, put on some funk, have a round of domino games popping at the same time. That night, the dope boys were hungry. They had fought for Trev, and they had won for him. Like an army of knights who won a war, they were on their way to sit and eat with the king. That’s how it is in Elysian Fields.
Does the name Elysian Fields ring a bell?
 Marc's girlfriend, Karla, never cared about the name.
Rachel loved it.
Word on the street is, the first time Rachel heard the name, she couldn’t contain her excitement. To think that our side of L.A. would be named after a section of the Greek underworld. To think that our street is named Afterlife Lane for a reason. The Greeks considered Elysian Fields paradise, though it was located right in Hades. Right in hell. Strange, isn't it? But Rachel's a book-girl, and she loved that our side of town was named after a place in hell. Some summers, when Rachel and Marc are visiting the hood, he takes her to his parents' attic. There, he'll help her climb onto the roof. On the roof, she'll stand in the fog, looking over Afterlife Lane. Like a god. Marc will join her there, his head in the clouds.
             That’s how I see the two of them. Rachel: the god. Marc: his head in the clouds.

Disclaimer: The above views and interpretations are the opinions of the writer only.

Why Are We Afraid To Have It ALL?