…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.’… ”

At “Muster”

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.

Mister Molina

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!

The Motels at the Int Ranch

The Motels at the Int Ranch

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.

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