Armed Robbery

February 19th, 2014 § 4 Comments

After some two plus years, we were out of West Los Angeles. We left behind Palms Junior High, the bus rides to Westwood, Tower Records, Penny loafers, Venice, black kids bussed in and Jewish kids from the Fairfax District, KDAY, Prince and Bruce Lee. We headed East, the burbs. The four bedroom house with the basketball court and swimming pool was no consolation for the quiet and the heat. The air – stale, vacuumed of energy by homogeneity. “Bro, where the hell are we?” Yanked from Fast Times at Ridgemont High and dropped into The Breakfast Club.

And what precipitated this unfortunate change in script? Three armed men walked into Hillis Liquor one night. My parents and a family friend were put, face down on the floor. With the business end of a shotgun pressed against the back of my Father’s ear, the register was emptied.

Years later when my parents told us the story, they glossed over the robbery but told in vivid detail what they saw when they got home. They looked into our room and found their two boys fast asleep. Oblivious. The thought of their sons waking as orphans sent a shudder through them that a loaded gun could not.

Standing there, without a spoken word, the decision to get out of the liquor store business was made. Just like that. All good fathers are prepared to restructure their lives for the sake of their children. When it threatened his children’s well being, my Father walked from the only business he’d known into the uncertainty of starting over.

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