It’s June 18, 1995, a 14-year-old boy named Tim Stewart, decided it was time to start his own gang. The now, mostly rundown city of Clarksville needed another gang like it needed another pothole in the street. Fortunately, his idea of establishing himself as a self-appointed leader, did not include violence nor crime as a prerequisite for membership. Their primary focus would be on coming up with legal ways and means to get money in the streets. Once his team was in order, the first goal would be to get some wheels. Undoubtedly, he was too young to drive a car but just old enough to get a street bike from Avis’s bike shop. He figured standard bicycles were all too common for a young man of his status, besides, everyone had one. He wanted to be anything but ordinary, so everything he does has to make a statement. Even though, Clarksville was considered “the hood” there was a two block stretch that was considered decent or the “safe side” of the town. The 1500 block of Grand Ave is where the supposed safe side began, with Tim living smack dab in the middle of the block. Tim was admittedly very privileged and unapologetically happy about his lot in life thus far, from a financial standpoint at least. This fact made him very popular amongst the ladies yet the focal point of immeasurable hate from his male counterparts. Knowing this, he was very aware his selection process for friends/gang members had to be thorough to avoid getting set up within his camp. Tim is tall and slender with an athletic build, boasting a 2 inch high top fade with a slanted part in it. He always had on the hottest gear, Karl Kani, Gucci, Polo, Louis Vuitton you name it, and it was guaranteed to be in his closet. Jordans in almost every color to match his outfits, which he never wore twice. And of course he had to have the smell goods on, before school he would spritz himself with Joop cologne. To complete his look he worn a thick gold herringbone chain like Tupac in the music video “I get around”. Now, after much deliberation he recruited his first three members, Rick Jones, Tamir Pryor & Marshall Edwards. Rick & Marshall lived alongside Tim on the “good” side of town. Both boys benefited from having two hard working class parents. Tamir, however, lived with his grandma on Reading Street five blocks over. Even though Tamir had the least amount of money, he was the master at making the most of what he did have, he was the ultimate hustler. Keeping with his original idea, there were no crazy rituals, jump in’s or random shootings necessary. In fact, they’ve known each other for years, so a brief discreet, individual conversation was all that was needed solidify their bond. Image is everything in Clarksville as it is in any other hood. There are they haves, and the have-nots and those mad about whatever you got. With this in mind, Tim would periodically loan out clothes and shoes to his new recruits to help keep up appearances, especially on the weekends. Now that everyone was on one accord they would often gather at their official headquarters, Tim's front yard. Primarily, they would just hang out, laugh and talk for hours about the good times that were ahead. That momentous day when they would be able to show off their brand new Kawasaki dirt bikes. They talked about speeding down the block poppin' wheelies, doing circles and without question burning plenty of rubber in the street. With the vision firmly cemented in their minds eye, they agreed there was no compromising and no turning back. They even found the ideal location to learn and perfect new tricks, the back of Clark’s supermarket. About two years ago new construction began to add an addition onto Clark’s supermarket. However, due to a lack of funds the project was scrapped, and all that was left was mounds of dirt. Fast forward, it’s now the last day before the much-anticipated summer vacation. Tim, Rick, Tamir, and Marshall are at Clark High school in their homeroom hallway before class. They lean their backs against the lockers, with one foot on the ground while the base of the other foot is against the locker. Feeling like ghetto celebrities they embrace the love and attention from the young ladies passing by smiling. At this point, their arms are folded, as their eyes look through knock-off Versace glasses at students on their way to their respective homerooms. In this section of the hallway, sunlight beams in from the window directly on their lockers making them squint their eyes, hence the shades. Now, to the teachers it appeared that these boys must’ve been vitamin D deficient or just really enjoyed basking in the sun every morning. However, both assumptions were wrong. The truth of the matter is that they endured the direct exposure to the sunlight so everyone could see they had it going on. Then, like clockwork the school bell rings signaling it was the start of the first period. Tim stomps his blue and red Nike's down hard as he could, making sure to get the attention of his friends. They remained lined up against the locker, he walks by them slowly as if he were a military drill sergeant. "Meet me at my house after school I have a major announcement. Also, I need ya’ll to be at Ms. Folsom’s class soon as yours lets out!” He says in a stern voice. In the past, the last day of school always arrived with its own preset agenda. If you had a problem with someone or if someone had a problem with you. Rest assured, the last day of school was when the score would be settled, as there were no worries of getting suspended. As it stood, Tim lived somewhat of a double life. In class, he was a straight A student though he would never admit this to his friends for the sake of not being seen as cool. At the same time, he displayed thug tendencies frequently getting into fights in the neighborhood. He had been having issues with a kid named Darius, who lived on the east side of Clarksville, which was about 10 miles from the West side where Tim lived. In reality, the chances of them meeting in the street were slim to none. But there had been rumors that Darius wanted to put hands and feet on him for talking to Stacy Johnson, who was new to the school. Darius knew in his heart of hearts that he was truly God's gift to ladies. With this thought etched in his mind, he believed he should have the first chance to rap to every beautiful girl, before anyone else. However, Tim was not informed or concerned about Darius's warped rules of entitlement. He approached Stacy one day while walking past her house on the way to the park. After a little small talk, he was successful getting her number on the first try. From there they began hanging out on a regular basis, so much so she could have been a considered an honorary member of the crew. Naturally, Darius was furious when he found out about this but couldn’t do anything about it. Not surprisingly, he had been suspended numerous times throughout the year for bullying and terrorizing students. In light of this, he faced juvenile detention if he got in trouble again. All things considered, it was highly unlikely the day would end without some sort of fireworks display, taking place in June instead of July. The half day of school had zoomed by, students are freely walking down the halls back to their homerooms for the last time awaiting dismissal into summer bliss. Tim and Rick share the same homeroom and are sitting at their desk in the back of Mrs. Folsom’s' history class. Mrs. Folsom was a tall, slender, soft-spoken African American teacher who could've been a model in a magazine. She closes her notebook rises from her desk and sits on the edge of the desk with legs carefully crossed. "Class, before you go for the summer, study those packets I have given you, please! And Remember, everything you do to make a better you, makes a better you! Lastly guys, try to do something positive this summer and stay out of trouble" she said. The back of Tim and Ricks' desk faced the back of the windows which were wide open. Tim could feel the hot air blowing on his back like a heater, as it was close to 99 degrees that day. He could also feel the tension mounting as he looked closely at the clock, the extended hand was fast approaching the 12, lining up correctly with the shorthand already on 12. He is slowly allowing his mind to accept the reality that he’s about to be released into a potentially dangerous situation. Rick, who sits directly across from him, looks at Tim and says "Hey man, you okay? You look like you're zoning out over there". Tim was looking extremely focused on the back of Kevin's fat round shaped head,with creases in it who was seated in front of him. Tim breaks his concentration and replies. "Naw, man I'm fine, I'm just calculating how many times I'm gonna bust Darius upside his head if he comes at me today" followed by a somewhat nervous laugh. It’s important to note that Darius was known for fighting dirty, Tim wasn't sure if he would have a weapon on him or not. Gone were the days Tim's dad talked about when men settled their issues with only their fist so both men could live to see another day. In Clarksville, the youth didn't seem too concerned with whether they lived or died much less anyone else’s welfare. Finally, the extended hand hit the 12 and it was now time to deal with whatever was to come. Tim had no books to carry, so he gets up turns to look out the window, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath as he prepared to go to battle. Tim was the self-appointed leader of his crew, he recognized any sign of weakness could jeopardize his leadership. The Class is dismissed, then all at once, students from around the school start rushing into the green colored hallway with matching lockers. It was as if they were given advanced notice that something was about to go down. Meanwhile, Rick and Tim are the last to exit the room. "Let's get to my locker ASAP where the rest of the fellas will be," Tim says. But no sooner did the words leave his mouth did his nose press directly into the chest of Darius, who was right at the front door. He stood 6'2 and weighed 200lbs of shear muscle. From Rick’s perspective, it appeared as if the entire school came alongside Darius. "Now what you gonna do punk? I heard you talking to Stacy?" said Darius. Tim quickly glanced up while removing his nose from the logo on Darius's shirt that read "Do Somethin". Tim's first thought in his mind was that his hour had come, like when they came in the night to capture Jesus. Ready or not it was about to go down. What he did not see though, was that the school security team was running the same direction as all the other kids, who were coming from the other hallways to see the fight. Darius wasted no time and swings on Tim, but thanks to quick reflexes Tim ducks down. He comes back up with a powerful uppercut that connects right to Darius's mouth. Darius, who seemed unfazed by the punch that bloodied his mouth cocks back to throw a hard right hand but his arm, is caught mid throw by the school officer. "Hey! Hold it right there Darius!" Officer Stroud yelled. "I just knew you were gonna start some trouble today, I knew it." Darius struggles with Officer Stroud to regain freedom of his arm, they were both the same height and seemed to be equally matched strength wise. Darius was trying to get to Tim with all his might, but backup security had already gotten there and started to restrain him knocking him to the ground. "You think this is over! Exclaimed Darius. "Nobody puts their hands on me and lives, you hear me?" he shouted as security was bringing him back up to his feet. By this time, Tamir and Marshall had joined Tim and Rick. For the moment, Tim is feeling extremely relieved inside that things ended like they did, but acted like he was ready for war in front of his crew and the many onlookers. "Do I look like I'm scared?" forging toward Darius as his friends were holding him back and the officers began walking Darius in the opposite direction. At this point, Tim and the crew headed for double doors leading to the school front steps. Tim forcefully pushes the doors open catching an immediate blast of the 99-degree heat coupled with what seemed like the brightest sunshine ever witnessed. The air was hot and muggy so Tim immediately took off his T-shirt, threw it over his shoulder just then he noticed a crowd of kids swarming around them like bees. One onlooker yells “It’s about time somebody put Darius in his place!" Tim looked at the boy, smirked "Yeah, you're right." Tim knew that 10 miles would not be a great enough distance to keep him from coming face to chest again with a vengeance-seeking Darius. Never had Darius been embarrassed like this in front of the whole school. Tim knew his small battle victory just started a war. "Hey fellas, just come by the house in the morning around 10 for the meeting I was talking about." They nodded their head in agreement and went their separate ways.
The first official school free day has arrived for Tim. He slowly wakes up on his own without the annoying beeping sound of his alarm clock. "What a relief," he says to himself as he throws off t
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