By Jeff Jones

Things could not have looked worse when the police shined their brights on my little corner of the projects on North Sherman and Douglas. It was 11 at night. Me and about twelve other guys were in the middle of the street lined up and talking cash.

It’s not what it looked like. My older brother and his crew were always mouthing off. About everything. On this Friday night we’d all been drinking and I’d had enough. Time to show these dudes that we’re grown. We challenged the old heads to a street race. Let’s shut them up once and for all. At least for the rest of tonight.

My sister was out on the porch to call the race. We needed her to make sure my brother didn’t cheat. Cheater that he was.

It was dark. So dark that we didn’t see the police car parked just off the corner against the creek. Po-Po. Collective muffled “damns” cut through the street. We all knew what time it was. In unison we turned and faced the police car. We couldn’t see in. All we could see were headlights.

After a minute the red and blue dome lights came on. “Awww dang,” my chorus sang. We all put up our hands. Then for a while, nothing. We were just standing there looking into headlights and flashings reds and blues. Cops were messing with us.

Soon we’ll be laid out in the street, frisked, maybe go for a ride. I’m pretty sure somebody here is getting took. A few more minutes passed. At some point I remember thinking to myself, “just get it over with so my sister can go back in the house.” (She was afraid to move, too.)

“Click-click.” “Click-click.” The cops’ loudspeaker went live. I looked left and right at my co-defendants. The moment of judgment was upon us. We were all praying for a warning. Maybe just tell us to get inside and call it a night. That’s not what happened.

The loudspeaker boomed: “ON YOUR MARKS.” Nobody moved. Again, only louder: “ON YOUR MARKS!!”

Something was starting to sink in when my sister yelled, “They ‘tryin’ to let ya’ll race you dummies.”

Fresh off fright we raced to the line and got down. “GET SET!!” The cops turned off the reds and blues. They turned a flood light down our street so everyone could see. “GO!!”

After the race the police just drove off. Who won the race doesn’t matter. (I did.) The police had a bucket full of legal options that night. Not all of them legal. Many of those options would have changed our lives forever, and for the worse. The option they took did change our lives. If only for a little while, for the better.


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"Soon we’ll be laid out in the street, frisked, maybe go for a ride. I’m pretty sure somebody here is getting took."