Journalism

Murray, KY to Paducah, KY

“There were green lights, that’s the last thing I remember. I got a big scar on my head from the baseball bat. What really screwed me up…what screwed me over in county court was after, when I said, ‘Imma go get my piece, and Imma come back and shoot every one of you fuckers.'”

Paul was a member of the Almighty Ambrose gang in Chicago. He picked me up.

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Paul wasn’t going my direction. He went two hours out of his way to take me to Paducah, Kentucky. “I see people like you, and I know what it’s like. I was homeless in south-side Chicago for a year and a half. My girl, she asks me, ‘why do you do that? Help people.’ Well I know what it’s like to be there.”

Paul smoked, not cigarettes. “If that’s the worst thing I’m doing, I’m not doing too bad.” He’s had a few serious felonies, one for a burning car and a “serious injury.” One for dope dealing. One for dope using. That’s illegal in the white and Hispanic gangs.

“They got me set in rehab. Then I…disappeared. And they put me on SOS.

“Shoot on sight,” he finished. “I talked to the jefe, and I stayed around a different part of Chicago for about three years.”

The law is not the law. The law is gang law.

Then he moved to Kentucky against his will.

“My first house in Kentucky was a prison. I came here to get clean.” That was ten years ago.

This year, I took a Greyhound and sat next to a girl who was moving from the hills to Chicago to get clean. “Was she on meth? They didn’t use to have meth here…”

Paul has a full-time job. He has a girlfriend. A son. A house. A car. He’s the only good soul who picked me up. He wasn’t even going toward Paducah. He may be the most earnest person I’ve ever met. Ernest to catch up, or make up, or whatever you might call it. To get right. To even the score.

“Gangbanging is fucking stupid, man. You got…it’s old people…sending young guys around taking care of their bullshit beefs. That’s all it is. It’s bullshit! I got friends, my old friends, they teaching their 10-year-old sons to throw gang signs. It’s fucking pathetic, it is.”

The hills are green here, so green. The rain has brought it out.

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