A young girl named Jessica was sitting in a park with her boyfriend. She was a very pretty girl with long straight black hair, just like that of her mom, and her grandma before her. She was only fifteen, and she was ditching school. She didn’t care. School was a waste of time for her, because at the center of her universe was her boyfriend, Chapo. That was what they called him anyways. He had a real name.
They sat on a table and bench in an empty park in their south Los Angeles neighborhood. Off in the distance, there were some moms out with their kids, playing in the sandy playground. Chapo sat on the table, drawing on Jessica’s backpack while she was wearing it, sitting on the bench below him. He wouldn’t tell her what he was drawing.
He was seventeen years old, and had been going out with Jessica for six months. He looked like a typical LA Latino gang member. He had a closely-shaved head, a few tattoos, and he wore a football jersey. He wasn’t an actual gang member, as in “jumped in” and sworn to one for life, but he also was no saint. He was a tough kid, but only because he had to be, due to his older brother. His older brother was a gangbanger, and at twenty-two years old, had already been in and out of jail a bunch of times. He had always put pressure on Chapo to be down and “man up”. Chapo went along with it, eagerly at first, but he really didn’t have his heart set on living that kind of life forever. He was lost in between two worlds.
Despite his image and self-doubt, he was really a nice guy with a caring heart. He had sparkling eyes, a great smile, and kind demeanor. Most importantly, he cared a lot for Jessica and treated her like a princess. They were starting to really love each other. They dreamed together of some possible future together, far away from LA. He understood everything about her heart and soul, and he knew her deepest thoughts and wishes. He could read her thoughts better than he knew his own. He was there for her, always and unconditionally, giving her everything she needed.
“What are you drawing?” she asked him.
“Nothing. I’m writing something,” he answered back softly, as he focused on his work.
Jessie watched a mom with her son off in the distance. The mom smiled as she pushed him gently on a swing. “Do you think I’m gonna to be a good mom someday?”
“What?” Chapo sang out in his reply. He was surprised, but he kept his concentration on what he was drawing. “I don’t know. I never thought about it. I guess so. You are nice, you are so pretty…”
“What does that have to do with being a good mom?” she asked, playfully annoyed.
He chuckled, this time looking up towards the park. He noticed Jessie watching the mom across the park, and then he knew why she was asking. “Well for one thing, nobody wants to have an ugly mom…” he joked again.
“You stupid!” she yelled back, elbowing him in the shin.
He chuckled again. “Alright! Alright! Of course I think you will be a good mom.”
“Because,” he became serious, because he loved her and wanted to give her the answer she deserved. He wanted to tell her what he really thought, to put her mind at east. “You have such a big heart and you will love them a lot. And that’s all children need, parents that love them a lot.”
“Yeah? You really think I have a big heart?”
“Oh I know you have a big heart,” he replied smiling. He went back to drawing. “That’s not the only thing big…” he uttered under his breath. She elbowed him again immediately. “Ouch!” he replied, laughing. “I’m just joking, baby girl!”
“You know, I‘m worried about you,” she said to him in a serious voice.
“I worry about you too,” he replied.
“Oh yeah? Why are you worried about me?”
“Seriously? I’m not. But I sort of worry about you, with school and your family and stuff. And I get jealous of the other boys at school that like you.”
“Uh, whatever,” she sang out in reply. “You know I don’t care about anybody but you. I’m being serious. I am worried about you. Angel and his friends want to get you…”
“Meh!” Chapo replied with a nonchalant smile, concentrating on his work. “Don’t worry about that, baby. Those fools ain’t gonna do shit. Besides, me and Marcos are ready for them. If they ever wanna try something, we’ll just blast em’. I don’t want you to worry about me ok?”
Jessie remained quiet, fearful that things could get deadly serious. Some fools from the nearby neighborhood had already promised to blast him, for no real reason other than his association with his brother’s gang.
Chapo tried to change the subject, “what about you and your mom? Has she tried to talk to you lately?” Jessie had her own problems. Neglected by her mother and unaware of any father, she felt sorry for herself. Although she didn’t quite understand it, she was carrying anger and resentment inside.
“No. Hell no. I still haven’t seen her since that one day a few weeks ago.” Feeling bad for her, Chapo put his pen down beside him, and sat down next to her on the bench. He looked into her beautiful eyes and hugged her tightly. He gently kissed the tip of her nose. She leaned into him, letting his comforting hug soothe her pain. Jessie had her grandma and grandpa, both of whom loved her and cared for her. They didn’t, however, understand her. Chapo was the only person in her life that made her feel comfortable, loved, and understood.
“I love you baby doll. You don’t need her. You have me,” Chapo whispered into her ear, kissing her cheek.
“Do you promise?” she asked him.
“Yes I promise. You have me forever,” he replied staring deeply into her eyes. She knew he meant it. She knew he was so in love and down for her that he would die for her. She smiled and took off her backpack. She looked at what he had been writing. It read, “Jessie” heart “Chapo 4-Ever”. She smiled at him.
They wasted anther hour at the park before they started getting hungry and decided to leave. Jessie stuffed the feelings she had about the world outside of her and Chapo, back deep inside of her. The volatile mix of stunning beauty, neglect, and self-pity, culminated together in the creation a rebellious teen that sought to seek the emotional attention she needed elsewhere. Only God and time knew her future.