Books by Art Rodriguez

"Coming of age in Latino life, Art Rodriguez's true tales give readers an inspirational life"


Art Rodriguez

East Side Dreams

Excerpt from East Side Dreams, Chapter - "The Get Away"

e were backing into the street. Our car came to a stop, and Redhead changed gears. I could see the other car with Isaac, Phil, and Steve. They were backing out in front of us. It looked as if there were about 25 guys around and behind them. It didn’t bother them at all, even if it meant backing out and running over them. They were leaving, and that was it!

s we looked east on Story Road, I saw red lights flashing and racing toward us. Also from the other direction and Senter Road we saw red lights coming.

o how are we going to get out of here? Redhead screamed.

looked around to see where we could go, then I said "Go through the railroad tracks!"

edhead stepped on the gas and started down the tracks. It felt like a giant vibrator, especially since I had a four-inch open wound on my head. I was trying to hold my head as we were bumping down the railroad tracks. It seemed like a long time before we got off the tracks. I’m not sure where it was that we got off.

he next thing I knew, we were headed down San Antonio Street. From far away we saw police cars flying through the streets. We knew someone back there had to have died. One police car was coming toward us. We turned our lights off, turned the corner, and parked.

edhead said "Lie down!" I went down toward him, and he leaned toward me.

he cop car came around the corner slowly. We saw his headlights, and we didn’t move. He kept moving down the street. We stayed there for a few more minutes, just in case he came back. He didn’t return, so Redhead started up the car again. We started back down the road, headed down San Antonio Street not too far from King Road. We were behind another car when out of nowhere a police car came up to the car in front of us. The police officer was flagging the car to stop in the middle of the street. Right away I leaned over and down, so he couldn’t see me.

e stopped behind the car in front of us but couldn’t hear what the police was telling the guy. Redhead then said, "Don’t move; here he comes."

he police car moved up to ours. The street was dark and quiet. The cop car came very close. As we waited there, it sounded as if the cop had his head in our car. He asked, "Where are you coming from?"

rom work, officer, Redhead answered, trying to act normally.

ave you seen any trouble? the cop asked.

No, officer, no trouble around here, Redhead said, trying to sound convincing.

OK, go straight home, he said as he sped away.

e again started driving down the street behind the other car. When we arrived at Jackson Avenue on the east side, another police car raced by us. Finally we were back at Robert’s house.

ll the other guys were there waiting for us, except Steve, Isaac, and Phil. They were in the car in front of us in the driveway when we left the fight. Everyone else made it back. Ceasar had jumped in the GTO and returned with my brother and the other guys.

he guys wanted to see how bad I was hurt. Ceasar and I were the only ones injured. We were telling each other how many cops we saw out there. Someone said they knew someone had died. Everyone was talking a mile a minute.

hat were we going to do? We decided they would take me to the emergency room, and someone else would take Ceasar to another hospital. We agreed to say we had been at Robert’s house, and Ceasar and I became angry at each other and started fighting. We would say I fell and hit my head on a rock. A good story. But would it work? Everyone said we’d try it so that at the hospital it wouldn’t be connected with the big fight.

edhead agreed to take me to the emergency room. We rushed into the car and told everybody we’d see them later—we hoped.

s we drove down Capitol Avenue, my head was still bleeding. I knew it was a big wound. Back at Robert’s house, everyone looked at my head. They told me it looked bad; they felt it would be necessary to sew me up with a lot of stitches. By this time Redhead’s car seat was full of blood.

e turned down a side street to Jackson Avenue because we wanted to avoid all the cop cars on the main streets. Things just didn’t look good again. I had a feeling things weren’t going to end up too well that night. We had been in a fight and hurt some guys pretty badly, and I was on the way to the hospital.

hat was my mother going to say? It seemed she had always trusted us, and we were always doing bad things behind her back. My poor mom. I dreaded her finding out what happened that night.

s we were riding to the hospital, I wondered how I was going to tell them what happened to me. Would they believe me? I had become a pretty-skilled liar by that time.

e were now on Bambi Lane; everything seemed to be cool. I wasn’t talking, just thinking. Redhead wasn’t saying anything either. He was more than likely thinking the same thing I was.

e were coming up to Jackson Avenue, and out of nowhere lights appeared all over the place. I turned to look behind us; there was a cop car following. He was right on our bumper. I mean on our bumper! If he came any closer, he would be pushing us.

edhead! There’s a cop behind us!" I yelled as he looked in his-rear view mirror.

know! I know! Redhead answered, sounding alarmed.

looked across the street on Jackson Avenue. There was Art’s car, the one Ceasar was in earlier. The doors were open, lights were on, and four cop cars were around it. Nobody was there, not the guys or the cops. T hey had run out of gas in their stolen car and were pushing it. When the guys saw the cops, they took off running through the field behind Lee Matson School. The cops went after them on foot.

y this time our car came to a stop, and we were surrounded by cop cars. We had just made the turn to Jackson Avenue. In those days the freeway wasn’t there. It was a big field. Everything was lit up with the cops’ lights. An officer marched to my side of the car first.

K, where’s Ceasar? the cop asked.

efore I could say anything, he opened my door. As he opened it, I said, "Who’s Ceasar?"

e pulled me out of the car by my arm. "Where’s Ceasar?" he asked again.

ust then he noticed the blood all over my head and down my back. "Hey! This one is all full of blood!" he said to the other cop.

t that time Redhead was being pulled from his side of the car. "What happened to you?" the cop asked me, as he dragged me toward the front of the car.

y eyes met Redhead’s; and since they already knew about Ceasar, I didn’t want to say anything about getting into a fight with him. I replied loudly enough so Redhead could hear me, "We were cruising down Capitol Avenue, and these guys threw a bottle at us and told us to pull over. We did, and this guy hit me over the head with a bar."

edhead was being pulled to the back of the car; therefore, he couldn’t hear me anymore. I hoped he heard what I said because I wasn’t going to change my story.

hat were you doing on Keyes Street? the cop asked harshly.

looked at him in the eyes and said, "I wasn’t on Keyes Street."

e know where you were tonight, kid!

Excerpt from East Side Dreams, Chapter - "The Report Card"


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