“I don`t give a fuck, doctor, about what you’re saying. I want to join the Latin Kings. Too bad that I got a year of probation instead of jail time. In prison I would have made a career faster.”
So, Francis was joining the gang and I discussed with him his upcoming criminal plans. Our chats on this topic peacefully lasted for a few months, and it didn’t go beyond our talks. I did not have the slightest clue about how one enters a gang. Is there a special rite of passage or ritual? Does one have to rob or kill to prove one’s loyalty to the order?
Once I had a meeting in the area where Francis’ shelter was located and I decided to pay him a visit.
Francis was very surprised to see me. He invited me into the room and sat on the unmade bed. He offered me a chair, but I stood by the window, leaning on the windowsill.
“Don’t worry; nothing happened. I was just nearby and I thought I’d come over.”
He peered at me suspiciously, then shrugged his shoulders, like, “It’s up to you, doc.” He took out a cigarette from a pack and started smoking.
“Do you by any chance have a cigarette for me as well?” I asked.
“You smoke?” he held out the pack to me.
“I indulge sometimes.”
I really did smoke very seldom and now after a second puff I inhaled too much smoke into my lungs and started coughing. A smile slid across Francis’ face.
“Is it true that a pack of cigarettes costs ten dollars nowadays?” I asked.
“Yes, but here in the shelter they sell stolen ones in bulk and you can buy three packs for ten bucks.”
I started to talk about the weather. Francis felt much more at ease here than in my office. It’s understandable: a hospital is an establishment where he had to serve his sentence and seek treatment, God knows what for. But here, although at a shelter, at least he was home.