The sun is setting in West Highland District. Max is at the park waiting for the sun to go down and is thinking about going to Mr. B’s convenient store. It is 6:45 p.m. and the neighborhood is darkening slowly. Max gets up off the bench and notices children playing around the playground. He recalls when his mother used to take him to a playground far from West Highland District. A flashback occurs, and Max is five-years-old again. Fernanda is pushing Max on the swing while smiling and giggling. Michael Cooper is buying ice cream for Max. He can remember that his father was a caring and loving man. Michael approaches Fernanda from behind and kisses her on the neck. Max recalls his father giving him an ice cream cone and patting him on the head. “Here you go son,” said Michael. Fernanda looks at both of them and is flattered, “He is going to be all messy honey.” Michael says, “Nah, he’s fine baby, plus we don’t have to worry about anything.” Max can reminisce the taste of the ice cream. The flavor was vanilla with some sprinkles. Then, the flashback becomes dark, and all of sudden Fernanda stops pushing him on the swing, she turns around like a zombie and walks away. Michael, on the other hand, apparently has changed and he looks filthy with dirty clothing. Max can see his father snoring cocaine and laughing like a mad clown saying, “I hate you! I hate you Haha!”
Fernanda walks off into the distance as if she were going somewhere. Little Max begins to cry in terror. Nobody helps and just stares at him with an evil look. Max snaps out of his illusion and can hear kids laughing and horsing around the jungle gym. He shakes his head and begins to walk towards Mr. B’s store. It takes thirty minutes to walk to the store. Max can hear Francisco’s voice in his head and begins to get paranoid. It is 7:15 p.m. and it is night time. Max can see a black Acura NSX which looks like a 1990’s model parked 50 feet away from Bernard’s store. He had a feeling it was one of Francisco’s crew member watching him. Max has only 12 bullets in the gun and is walking towards the store. He is 15 feet away from the building and can see that Bernard wasn’t in the store that evening; it look like a young fellow that Max encountered the day when he stole the pocket knife.
The young man is stocking sodas in the refrigerator and working at a slow pace. Max takes out the gun and points it at the direction of the store. He pulls the trigger multiple times. Boom! Boom! Boom! He sprays the entire store breaking all the windows and damaging the walls. The young man in the store collapses to the floor not knowing what had hit him. Max runs off passing the street, and a car almost hits him. He runs to High Street where Anthony lives. Max stops and is sweating profusely. His heartbeat is racing so fast that he can’t catch his breath. He sits by a fence in front of a house and begins to cry.
Max starts to regret what he did because Mr. B is a nice guy and sometimes he would give him a break if he was short on change. Bernard has always felt sorry for Max ever since the day he met him. When Max was 10 years old, he was with Michael buying beer. Little Max wanted a Mars candy bar and a Coca-cola drink, Michael refused to get him the junk food because he only had money to buy himself a cheap beer. Max cried and begged his father to get it for him. At that time, Michael was already disabled and living off the government. Max rarely got anything. Michael got angry and embarrassed by the scene, so he slapped Max in the mouth cutting his lower lip. Max instantly starts to shed tears. Bernard felt terrible and told Michael, “He can have the items for free, no charge sir.” Michael gets angry and says to Max, “Here you go! Now shut up.” Bernard feels bad for Max. Michael walks out of the convenient store and yells, “Hurry up, little girl!” Max saunters with his head down. “Aye little boy, if you come to my store and want something, just give me what you have in your pocket and it’s yours.” Little Max looks at him with watery eyes and replies, “Thank you, sir.”
Max is whimpering on the floor and wiping his tears with is dirty hands. He is thinking about the young man in the store. Max had a feeling the bullets hit the man and maybe died during the shootout. The gentleman is Bernard’s nephew who is enrolled in college and 19 years-old. The fellow’s name is Hamed Li and works part-time at his uncle store. He barely graduated from high school two years ago and is attending a university to become an engineer. Hamed graduated with honors and got accepted to one of the top schools far from West Highland District. He was a nerd in high school and many students used to make fun of him. One time when Hamed was eating by the library, a group of jocks grabbed him and threw him in a nearby dumpster. They broke his glasses and threw his backpack in the toilet. Hamed hated high school, and the safest place to be was the library where he read lots of books.
Max gets up from the floor and heads to Anthony’s house to hide out for the night. He is nervous that the police is going to find him in the streets. So, Max goes to the alley behind Anthony’s house and sleeps inside a dumpster filled with cardboard. He covers himself with the cardboard and falls asleep for the night. He wants to talk to Anthony to see if he can take him to see El Buho.
© Daniel Sanchez 2019