Joel targeted the .22 caliber pellet gun on a nearby streetlight and squeezed the trigger. The explosion of plastic and glass split the night air and echoed across cold, black buildings. At first, Joel thought curious neighbors might rush to their windows in response, but a quick scan of upper floor windows convinced him no one considered the crashing sound unusual in this bleak and dying section of the city. Blanketed in darkness, he felt invisible. And powerful.
He holstered the pistol in an inside pocket of his black leather jacket then zippered it against a stiff February breeze. A lone snowflake melted on his frosty nose. Even with his collar turned up and long wavy hair tucked against his neck, the icy wind found its way to his shivering skin. Despite the discomfort, he kept a watchful eye on the street and sidewalks as far as he could see in all directions. It was past midnight, and only an occasional car sped by. No one dared walk the dismal block.
Crouched in the niche of the electronics store entrance, Joel smiled at the thought that he was becoming an important member of the Blades. Tonight he was the trusted lookout while others took anything of value from the run-down store. This is only the beginning, he thought. Someday, he would be Derrickâ€™s second-in-command and maybe even have his own gang.
Suddenly, an engine roared to life. â€śAll right!â€ť said Joel, as little gusts of vaporous breath followed each word. Three seconds later, screaming tires propelled the car in reverse out of the alley. It made a quick turn, barely stopped, and then raced away, spitting smoke and bits of asphalt in its wake.
Joel jogged toward the car. â€śHey...hey...wait up will ya?â€ť
But moments later, he was alone in an unfamiliar section of the city, surrounded by silence and foul-smelling exhaust. â€śMan!â€ť said Joel as he kicked a beer can. The metallic clank clank clank cut through the frozen air. Any sound was better than the awful silence.
Joel had ridden with the Blades, who had purposely driven to Greenpoint on the north end of Brooklyn, so no one would recognize them. But now that he was alone and on the street, far from familiar territory, and with some pretty rough neighborhoods between him and home, the gangâ€™s notoriety had become a curse. He slipped a hand into his jeans pocket and felt the switchblade. Between that and the pellet gun, he should have no trouble defending himself.
Joel shoved frozen hands in his jacket pockets and started walking. Anger chased his thoughts around. How could they leave him like that? They knew he was outside waiting for them. Had an alarm gone off? He hadnâ€™t heard one. Something must have spooked them so bad they didnâ€™t have time to pick him up. He couldnâ€™t blame them if that was the case. The thought took the edge off his anger, but still he fumed.