Away from his colors, his homies, and his neighborhood, the gang-banger in the backseat of my patrol car was pleasant enough. He talked quietly, then leaned forward to take the weight off his handcuffs and just watched the clouds roll by.
Despite that, you could tell he was nervous. Having just turned eighteen, he was anticipating the criminal element’s version of the manhood ritual, adult jail, and his anxiety was easily understood.
So I spared the kid–I mean adult–the usual lecture. After all, he was a veteran of drive-by shootings, both as (alleged) triggerman and victim, had the blessings of the gang’s shot-caller, and walked the streets with a swagger that, if I were to replicate it, would likely pull several muscles. For all of that, he was just beginning to realize that his increased speed on the road to being a badass would only make the final stop come more rapidly and explosively.