Shattered, Scattered, and Sparkling: A Modern Attempt at Romeo and Juliet

Welcome to Atlanta where the playas play
And we ride on them things like every day
Big beats, hit streets, see
And parties don't stop
til' eight in the mornin

(Welcome to Atlanta-Ludacris)

Our scene solidifies on an Escalade barreling down a street in the South. While these boys refuse to be labeled like the classic Jets and Sharks or the modern Crips and Bloods they are just as identifiable as those gangs. But they aren't referred to as gangsters or gang members. No, they are never to be called that. Though the line between gang and mafia is slightly skewed due to the Italian heritage, there is an unspoken rule that some things will always remain unspoken.

The bumper sticker was the truly telling thing; a white oval with black block letters in the popular style. MC2. The simple shapes indicated so much more, and affiliation with one of the three large powers within the city: The Governors, the Cortez Family and the Morretti Family. Morretti Culinary Company employed several hundred people (though not all legally) in the Georgia boundaries and more throughout the south. The occupants of the Escalade were obviously drunk as they rolled down windows, blared their crude rap, and tossed water balloons at unfortunate pedestrians.

From a shadowed stoop, a figure pulled out a cell phone and dialed a memorized number. "Hey. Yeah, we've got a situation down here, in front of Dominique's building. Alright." Within minutes a red Camaro slipped onto the street and several guys tumbled out of it to glare at the offending car. Like rough n' tough n' deadly clowns some held manic grins because this was what they lived for. The Italians saw the approaching Latinos and urged the driver to go faster. Alcohol and fear made a disastrous mix that directed the Escalade into a newspaper box on the corner. A full brawl was initiated as the Spanish speakers tackled the escaping Morretti lackeys and fists began flying.

The street had been cleared the moment the Camaro entered the scene but faces could be spotted peering through windows and doorways. The eyes watched to predict the attitude in the city, numb to the violence. The police arrived (never called because that could just as easily be your boyfriend or your cousin or your neighbor, no, this was pure chance like most of the raids) in time to catch the delinquents but there was never a chance of death, the words shouted had been disrespect, turf and reputation. While those were serious enough to kill a man over, they could also incite the smaller scuffles. None of those warranted a murder… in this context.

The caller on the stoop watched as the young men were escorted to cop cars in handcuffs and caught a glimpse of something metallic on the back window of the Camaro. The caller gave a slight two finger salute and headed inside, lest he be seen and questioned. On the street, surrounded by uniforms, the gold medallion sticker winked in the sunlight.

Police men and women moved the Escalade and the Camaro, impounding both, noting down the stickers on both. It was routine, it was expected. Police Chief Travers thumped the file on his desk in frustration because he could not hold the men with the true charges of gang activity. All because the connections were too distant and the boys had been taught well. The old men in Armani and Dolce and Gabbana who had more money than they knew what to do with (and only wanted more) would crush out any person who proclaimed themselves gangster. Those rich men, driven by greed and pride and prestige, they refused to be associated with even the lowest form of mob or gang activity. They are families, they are factions, they are too refined to be called gangs.

Buy you know what they say, a rose by any other name…