The Things We Carry

“Shoot! You tryna fuck with us?! We don’t got all day! Shoot god dammit! If you don’t shoot in five seconds you’re dead!






It is truly amazing how complex the human brain is, simultaneously receiving and transmitting information to the body without the need to ever think about initiating those processes. But where is the limit? Does the brain have natural limits? The brain is an organ so there must be physical and mental limitations. But what about certain circumstances? Say for example, when the body is under duress, in a dire situation. Can the brain exceed those limitations? I guess we’ll find out, I think.

Another cold, rainy day which just so happens to resemble the other one hundred and fifty-four days of rain in the great state of Oregon. Another slow-paced morning commute, monotonous in nature, and guaranteed to dull one’s senses. After some time the days begin to blend, the rain comes and goes, the traffic stops then flows. Except it’s 1 A.M., Friday morning, a slight rain unlike the other one hundred and fifty-four days of rain and no traffic to be seen for miles. Truly a rare sight, although it’s not every day I’m asked to report to the station at 2 A.M. I’ve actually never been asked to report to the station at 2 A.M., a concerning notion when the chief refused to disclose the reason why I’m to arrive at the station so early in the morning. Am I being terminated? There’s no way, they wouldn’t call me in so early just to fire me… would they? Maybe the chief called in all the officers for special training this morning, that’s gotta be it! But… the email was only addressed to me… does that mean I’m the only one who received it or did the chief send out multiple emails?… My brain really doesn’t function well on minimal sleep, my one and only savior to assist me through the early morning struggles, Mr. Red Bull. But little did I know I would need more than Mr. Red Bull to wake me from the life changing events that were to occur.

As I eased my way into the station, the good ole Newport police station, groggy, mouth agape, brain in a state of limbo, my prior concerns slowly began to fade as the caffeine flooded my brain. The only thing on my mind now was the colorful language I would unleash on Chief Garcia for waking me from my peaceful slumber. It’s a long walk from the entrance to the Chief’s office, a marathon that feels like an eternity to the dead of mind so I had plenty of time to sort my thoughts. You motherfucker Garcia, calling me in on my day off you’re an asshole Garcia, I’m getting paid overtime for this shit right Garcia, all of these wonderful options running through my head, reciting the lines over and over just to find the perfect tone. As I rounded the corner, the final stretch, I had finally decided as I entered the room, “you motherfu…”

“Welcome, I’m glad to see you’re so energetic this morning Mr. Griffin. How’re the wife and kids?”

“Ahh, they’re doing well sir, thank you for asking Commissioner Scott. If you don’t mind me asking what’re you doing all the way out here in Newport.” Of all the people I could have almost cursed in front of, it had to be the Police Commissioner of Portland, no wonder Chief Garcia is as pale as a ghost.

“Now you see Mr. Griffin, you’re aware of the recent commotions of the, ‘Blood,’ gang and how they’ve been causing issues across the Portland area correct?”

Sure I’ve heard about the issues in Portland with the Bloods but, what does that have to do with me? I haven’t been to Portland in years, are the Bloods expanding their influence out here in Newport? “Yes sir I have heard of the recent commotions with the Bloods, but why come to Newport sir?”

“Well you see the Portland police department is in need to an officer the Bloods have never seen before, with the recent commotions we would like for you to go undercover and become a ‘Blood.’ Of course, Chief Garcia has already given his approval.” You motherfucker Garcia, undercover?! With the bloods?! Why would anyone take that job willingly?!

“Mr. Griffin, I know this may come as a bit of a shock but you’ve been a loyal member of the Newport police department, has it really been fifteen years Mr. Griffin? You’re the only one we can entrust such a task too, I hope you’ll understand.” Understand my ass, you’re asking me throw away my entire life just because I’ve been here the longest?! “Mr. Griffin, of course we don’t plan on making you undertake such a task without any incentive, I’ve been made aware that one of your boys has been in and out of the hospital undergoing chemotherapy. My, such a terrible experience for a young child but, with your cooperation the Portland police department would be willing to cover the medical costs associated with your boy’s treatment. We, the police force of Oregon would never want one of our loyal officers to live in debt due to such an unfortunate situation.”

I see, so that’s how it’s going to be… using my child against me… Ha… haha… I guess Scott is the real motherfucker here… “I accept.” Unable to muster any other words, thoughts, or curses I made a hasty exit. My mind in a state of disbelief, sorrow, anger, name an emotion and I’m probably feeling it right now. Is this what it feels like to be bipolar? Unable to sort my thoughts as if a tornado has taken up residence in my head. My only friend Mr. Red Bull, now utterly useless, as no amount of caffeine could stimulate my brain to wake me from the harsh reality, trust me, I tried.

It’s been three months since I’ve successfully become a Blood. It’s a funny story, well, not actually funny but more of a joke because of how easy it was to join the gang. I spent the first week I was assigned the task racking my brain trying to devise the perfect strategy to join the gang. I researched the Bloods extensively, kept tabs on their movements, and watched how they interacted, I was essentially a nature documentarist with the amount of time I spent observing the gang. But no matter what I did I still couldn’t figure out a fool proof way to engage the gang and convince them to let me join. Another week passed by with the same results and the same issues, it was at that point Commissioner Scott began to put on the pressure and made it clear I was to make contact with the gang within the next week. As the window on final week to make contact with the gang was closing I was under immense stress, the thoughts of everything that could go wrong occupied my mind. What if I say the wrong thing? Would they kill me? What if I wear the wrong clothing? Would they kill me? These thoughts continued to rack my brain until the final day of the week slowly approached. It was at that point that I just had to say fuck it, and try something, anything.

The entire situation is still engraved in my mind. It was 1 P.M., and since I had observed the gang so closely I already knew the leaders face by heart, all that was left was to approach them. I made my way to the trap where the local leader was conducting business as nervous as can be. The leader surrounded by at least twenty other members of the gang, an intimidating sight for an outsider, eyed me like a hawk as I slowly approached. The walk up to the leader felt even longer then the walk to Chief Garcia’s office at the station. Before I could even get to the leader I was stopped by a few of the members. Even though I said the situation is engraved in mind I can’t for the life of me remember what those members said as all I heard in that moment was an authoritative voice from behind them yell, “ayy let him through.”

As I meet eye to eye with the leader I was left speechless, not because of his beauty or his charm but because of the gravity of the situation, if I fucked up I was dead. I remember the leader saying, “is this guy crazy? Can you talk crazy man? C’mon I don’t bite.” At that moment, I can only imagine myself looking like a deer in headlights because my mind had gone blank, I forgot all the lines I had practiced. It also didn’t help that I’m terrible at improve but in the heat of the moment I remember blurting out, “my brother was killed by the Crips, I want them dead!” Now I’ve never had a brother, I’ve been an only child my entire life but, I seemed to have lit a fire in the leader’s eyes and I remember him saying, “good. Now hit this line.” The words, you’re a member now were never uttered, there was no question of who I was, the only prerequisites were to be black, have a hate for the Crips, and to do drugs without question.

Back to the present, it’s been three months since I’ve become a member of the Bloods and everything has been going surprisingly smoothly. I’m not sure whether Commissioner Scott was overly worried about the problems the Bloods were creating but they’ve been quieter than usual lately. Besides selling drugs nothing significant has occurred, or so I thought.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, a normal afternoon spent at the trap, addicts buying to get high, and dealers buying to increase their supply. It wasn’t until later that night when Messiah, the Blood section leader, pulled me to the side. He said in a quiet voice, “did you ever get the feeling like we were being watched these last few months? If we were that would be a problem, right?” In the back of my mind a red flag was raised, had he found out that I had been observing the gang before joining? The red flag slowly began to fade into skull and crossbones, death. “Yeah that would b…”

“Enough” he said, “come with me.” Well this is it, it’s all over, on the outside I remained calm but, that’s hard task to accomplish when your mind is in a state of frenzy. So much work done for nothing but investigating drug transactions, all for a city I don’t even care for. Messiah walked me to the trap and into the basement. The walk this time no longer felt like an eternity, maybe because I already resigned myself to death that I no longer felt any fear. When we reached the bottom of the stairs there was a lone man, gagged and bound to a chair. A wave of relief washed over my body, no longer resigned to death, a new man. It’s a weird sensation to explain, finding relief in another man gagged and bound before your eyes but the amount of terror I had felt not even ten minutes ago seemed to justify the feeling. I looked at Messiah and asked, “who is this?”

“A pig” said Messiah. “A cop. A filthy cop who stuck his nose too far into our business. And you’re going to kill him.”

Messiah handed me a loaded pistol, his eyes looked as they did the day I joined the gang, lit with passion and I knew there was no way for me to talk my way out of this. The wave of relief that had previously washed over my body hadn’t managed to remove all my remnants of fear. As these fears began to manifest, one after the other without delay, the world slowly began to fade.

As my eyes ease open, the world around me is no longer the cold dark basement but a colorful masterpiece. A calming brightness like a warm blanket out of the dryer fills the air. Is this a dream? No maybe this is heaven?


I quickly turned around to the sight of my loving family. A sight much needed, a sight I haven’t seen in months. I’ve been worrying about nothing but myself for these past few months. Worrying about nothing but my own survival but my worries are nothing in comparison to my family’s happiness, or so I thought. The ground begins to shake, the warm colorful masterpiece begins to flicker, and the image of my family fades away. I’m reminded of the harsh reality. Without me my family won’t have any money to live on… Without me my family will suffer emotional distress… Without me my family… Without me… The shaking comes to a stop and the flickering world comes to stabilize.

“Mr. Griffin.”

I quickly turn around again but this time to the sight of Chief Garcia and the other officers of the Newport police station. Another sight much needed. But the cold reality has already set in. The ground begins to shake again and the warm colors of the world begin to dull. If I shoot the police officer… can I still go back to my real life? Can I even still be a police officer? Or will I be sent to jail for murder? The ground begins to shake once again and the world around me begins to crumble. As the world around me collapses I hear something faint. There’s nothing to do but to wander the collapsing world I’m trapped in. The faint sound begins to grow louder, and louder. The faint sound begins to sound like a language, a foreign language at present but the understanding is becoming clearer as time passes. The fears that flooded my psyche, ever present as I walk the collapsing world in a zombie-like manner. The faint sound is even louder, and has a resemblance of English. I walk closer to the source of the sound and can finally understand. Shoot!

The world erupts and I’m brought back to the cold dark basement of the trap. An out of body experience? Was I unconscious? How long have I been standing here for?

“Griffin!” yelled Messiah. That’s right, I have a gun in my hands, fuck.

“Shoot! You tryna fuck with us?! We don’t got all day! Shoot god dammit! If you don’t shoot in five seconds you’re dead!
















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