The lowest level has the “street knights,” and the top has the movement leaders, “Kings.” Today they rule the streets of many American cities and in prisons among the convicts; tomorrow they will seize political control of the country.

“It is very interesting. I don’t understand, however, why you need to be in this gang?” I asked Francis after he informed me about the Latin Kings.

“Why I need it? They have organization, justice, brotherhood. Maybe one day I will become a ‘King.’” Once again directing his disconnected stare at the ceiling, he started to tell me about the rituals of this gang, the history of its origin, its Kings—basically the whole information which he had thoroughly gathered from various sources, including the streets and the internet.

From that day on, we found a favorite topic for our discussions. Of course I figured that what attracts Francis to the gang is not cruelty or violence. He was drawn by the deceptive impression of brotherhood, friendship, and love—everything he lacked in his own life.

I was sure that he will never join any gang, that he invented this idea to fill a void of his existence. He came up with God knows what. In his imagination he sees himself among the “good and kind” killers. The myth of his imaginary power enables him to compensate for the feeling of his own insignificance.

However, at times he spoke of his gangster future and the past criminal adventures so animatedly, his eyes shining so brightly during these moments, that I admit I was lost in doubt. Maybe he really did want to be a cool macho gangster?  He did participate in the apartment robbery, though I don’t know what role he played in that crime.

“You want to be a gangster? Okay. But let’s try to look at the situation at another angle,” I offered him. “Maybe it would make more sense to do something else? How about going to college? You are not a stupid guy. Just think. You will get a degree in, let’s say, computer science, then get a job, buy a sweet ride, and go on vacation with you girlfriend to Miami.”

Francis, on the other hand, did not share my enthusiasm regarding “doing something else.” He did not want to go on vacation to Florida in his own vehicle, not even with a girlfriend.