Imagine this happened today. Then imagine one of these Rhodes scholars pointed a toy gun the wrong way and a cop had opened fire.
One day I was with four friends, the same crew I did drugs and rock ’n’ rolled with. We did everything together. We were young and believed we were invincible.
We drove to the local Toys R Us and bought toy Uzis and AK-47s. It was when you could still buy toy guns that looked like real ones. I can’t remember why we bought them. Really. It’s not that I don’t want to tell you; I honestly can’t remember why.
We were on the 101 Freeway, south of San Francisco. The four of us started waving the toy guns around like we were gangsters. I was behind the wheel, and right in front of us was a sheriff’s transport van driving some prisoners to their new home. I had a thought: How funny would it be if they thought we were criminals about to start some shit? Why not pass, pretend we don’t see them and see what happens?
We pulled up next to them, waved the goddamn toys and then sped up.
I laughed it off. We all did.
Then we noticed they were following us. And once again, we didn’t think anything of it.
We drove a few more miles, right up until their lights started flashing.
We pulled into the far right lane and then started pulling over, when a voice said over the loudspeaker: “Go to the next exit, make a right and pull into the parking lot.”
As we turned off the exit, we saw cop cars in front of us. When we pulled into the parking lot, there were more cop cars. And then we were surrounded by cop cars with their doors open, cops with guns drawn and pointed at us.
“Get out of the car and put your hands in the air!”
We opened the car doors and stepped out as slow as molasses. We did not want to die in that parking lot.
“Put your hands in the air now!”
Well, fuck, I thought, how much higher can they go?
“Turn around, up against the car and place your hands on it!”
The cops grabbed the toy guns.
“Who owns the car?” one demanded.
“I do, sir.”
“Open the trunk. What are you doing with these?”
“We bought them for fun … for a party.” At that point, I’d have said anything. I thought we were about to go to prison. Images flashed through my head: strip searches, orange jumpsuits, a pile of blankets and a toothbrush, prison gangs.
“You know you could’ve gotten killed if you made the wrong move. Put them in the trunk when driving.”
The cops returned to their cars and drove off. My friends and I put the toys in the trunk.
I really wasn’t cool as shit. What I really was, was stupid as shit.
– Leslie dela Vega in Going to a Party, Going to Get Shot