Francis was sentenced to a year of probation for the burglary, but the judge agreed that since the guy has “issues” he needs to be placed under the state’s guardianship. Francis was offered Public Assistance benefits, and was put on the waiting list for subsidized housing. In exchange, he had to attend a psychiatric outpatient clinic. Francis agreed to these terms even though he did not consider himself sick at all.

He was so thin, almost emaciated. His face was dreadfully pale with two black button eyes as though pinned into a plaster cast mask. His dark hair was cut short and he had a black prickly beard on a narrow chin, with a black mustache further accentuating his paleness. His stare was completely detached. His whole appearance had some kind of hopelessness, seediness.

This is how I would start to describe Francis. All his clothes were loose. He wore old wide jeans hanging below the waist; his sneaker shoelaces were always untied. Francis had a strange walk: with his hands in his jean pockets, he took wide steps swaying side to side with his whole body as if on hinges. During our sessions he rarely looked me in the eyes, but instead stared somewhere into the corner of the ceiling.

I don’t know how he spent his free time prior to our acquaintance. When I met Francis, he was seriously preparing… to join a youth street gang. I found out about this when I asked him why he wears T-shirts with depictions of guns, skulls, lightning, etc.

“Are you a gang member?”

“Almost,” he mumbled.

“Are you serious?”

As it turned out, he had not joined a gang yet but was getting ready to do it. Meanwhile, he was deciding which one to choose.

“Most likely I will join Latin Kings. It is currently the toughest gang in America; they are fucking cool.”

Latin Kings actually is one of the major street gangs in the U.S. Its “main office” is located in Chicago, with a “branch” in New York. For the most part its main members are Latinos, but there are some whites and blacks as well. The number of members is not counted in dozens but hundreds of thousands. It’s a whole army with its own ideology of hate towards the “white millionaire state,” its own “Manifesto,” and a multi-level hierarchy.