“…bullets hit the playground a few hundred feet from where we are standing sounding off loud metallic rings as they connect with the metal monkey bars and swing sets. They continue, this time closer, less than a hundred feet from us, raining down on the sidewalk…‘Come on guys. You’re not going to die.’… ”
She stands in front of us, lecturing about something. I don’t really care though, I just want it to be over so I don’t have to stand at attention anymore. Feet together, hands at your sides, face forward, no fidgeting, no waving off flys. Just stand there, at attention we call it.
There are about 80 of us, arranged in lines. We line up based on our duties, our “posts”. At the head of each line is the person in charge of each division. Division heads or “div heads” for short.
I’m in division 4, the Estates division. My post is “Hardscapes I/C” in the Grounds Department. There are 7 Divisions, each with 3 Departments. Hardscapes are all of the sidewalks and roads on the property. I’m the I/C (In Charge) of all of them. Meaning I must sweep, clean and maintain them. It’s not a bad job. I have friends I work with, one of them, BJ is about the same age as me. We both like exploring in the outdoors, looking for bugs, walking in the creek and we both aren’t really interested in sports like most of the other kids.
Mr. Molina. She stands in front of us droning on about something. I don’t think any of us really like her. We have to call everyone above us in the organizational structure “Sir” or Mr.” Followed by their last name. Even if they are women. This is normal for me as it’s been that way as far back as I can remember. When we do roll at the start of school every time and my name is called I respond with “aye sir”. I know other people that weren’t raised like me think it’s odd though so I have to watch what I say if there are any people around that aren’t in my church. Wogs we call them, non-Scientologists.
Everyone I know fears Mr. Molina. If you’re ever told, “Mr. Molina wants to see you in her office!” You immediately get scared. She’s intimidating. She has a husky named “Wolfie” that I like, but he’s always getting into fights with “Bear” another dog. I think they’re both competing to be alpha male.
Mr. Molina is from Mexico, wears glasses and has short brown hair. I think she’s in her 40s. She usually has at least 1 hand stuffed in the front of her khaki uniform pants while she talks to us…or at us. I think it’s weird but wouldn’t dare say anything. Suddenly we hear gunfire! Shots ring out in the distance. They sound close! They continue. Loud cracks one after another…and now whizzing sounds. Most of us start looking around, a bit worried. The “Ranch” we live on is close to the Soboba Indian Reservation and it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots…but these sounds really close. Much closer than normal. And we clearly hear bullets over our heads. Mr. Molina is annoyed that we are looking around, worried about our safety…no longer at attention. “Come on guys…you’re not going to die!” She says in an annoyed tone dragging out the “Come on guys” and “die”.
“Everyone to the Schoolhouse!”
As if on cue, bullets hit the playground a few hundred feet from where we are standing sounding off loud metallic rings as they connect with the metal monkey bars and swing sets. They continue, this time closer, less than a hundred feet from us, raining down on the sidewalk. Crack, crack! “Everyone to the Schoolhouse!” She barks out in an alarmed urgent tone! The thing is, as we all instinctually understand, running to the Schoolhouse means literally running right through where the bullets are touching down! They’re hitting the sidewalk that leads to the Schoolhouse! She is telling us to run through the line of fire!
With a tacit agreement, we all turn around and make a mad dash to the building we are standing but ten feet from. The “Motels”. It’s where we sleep at night. And right now it’s the only logical choice on where to take cover from the bullets flying over our heads.
Now, the ” ‘yes sir’ and-do-it” response to an order, we’ve been inculcated with, goes out the window and each of our individual survival instincts take over telling us not to run the 300 or so feet to a building through the gunfire but instead go to the building we are standing next to.
Thankfully everyone was okay.
I’m 14 years old.