Soldiers of the Night
Soldiers of the Night
Perfect Bound Softcover
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‘We control everything'. Those are the words spoken by Hector, Joseph's best friend. They live in the harsh gang controlled streets of Richmond. Joseph is a wise streetsmart student, dedicating himself to live life to the fullest. Hector is gangster stuck in his own world of power influenced by the streets to rise to the top. Together with their crew, they struggle to survive not only the streets but high school and adolescence. Though, when Hector decides to retaliate against an enemy, everything starts to slowly fall apart. Loyalties are tested and the pressure mounts as Joseph makes the righteous decisions to save himself and the man he considers his brother. Set in during the height of Bay Area hyphy movement, the novel contains graphic dialogue and spanish language as it directly explores teenagers living in Latino culture.

“It’s just something my mom told me when I was younger. She got these ideas from my dad, things like,  you can’t let small moments in life ruin everything when you still got so much in front of you.’ He was giving her philosophies of how you should live every day that way she’d always have something to think about when she had difficult moments.”


“What do you think?”


“You know how people say life will get better one day? That it’s just how it is. We have our bad days and we have the power to pull through it? Now I think that’s just bullshit, mostly cuz that day could be any one of these days. And because of the way it’s going right now, it looks like it’s going to take a long time. Shit like this doesn’t get resolved in one day; it takes something big for instance, to make a big difference, one that especially everyone will see. But that just hasn’t come yet, and that’s just sad fool.”


“What do you think is stopping it from happening?”


“I don’t know what it is man, but you know… it’s just, damn what’s the word…” still thinking, “you know what? Forget the word, I’ll go with crazy. That’s what it is man, its crazy.”


“Watchu mean man? What you trying to say, like something’s wrong or what?” “Alright brother” I look at him straight in the eye. Feel like I should start somewhere from the heart.


“Last night I had this dream alright, and in the dream, I…um...” he still listens but looks confused.


“Ok, in the dream, I see the both of us, you, me, basically everybody. I saw all of us like it was back then; when we were much younger, and it was probably a lot better. You and Andrea, you guys were doing great, living it real good back over in the city, your cousin Dom was doing cool too.” He chuckled in agreement. “In the dream, everything was good, all was great, didn’t think you know, it was going to get bad, and that was before all our lives turned to shit.”


I felt like I said something that was awkward, maybe guilty and humiliating. My eyes were becoming watery, and a tear was just about to come down. I looked away from Hector out the window, had theatre view of the neighborhood. He didn’t want to be pulled into the conversation. I was already showing too many feelings that my words might distract him from focusing on his reality.


“Listen homie, I feel you, but you know, shit happens and people change, what can you do about it? What made you have this dream anyway?”


I don’t have the sentiment to even turn around. I keep staring out the window trying to rest my head on my arms, but it just feels uncomfortable.


“It’s difficult to say, hell I don’t even know how. Maybe I had a lot of thoughts intervene, could have been that chick we keep passing each other notes in class, maybe its this senior year shit, it could have been anything man.”


“Well, you know what, you need to wake up from this dream you had, cuz if it has you going soft… it’s bad for business, you need to get back to reality. Know what I mean? This is the real thing.”


“But there’s got to be more to life than this, I mean look how we livin’. This is all Richmond, nothing around here is nice, we’re lucky, hell I’m lucky if I get to my open my eyes every morning. We’re living on bloody asphalt, we get drive-by’s, break-ins, pimps, robbers, killers, and dealers all run through this entire hood. And what are we doing about it? Getting high right, wasting our time and brains cells, to what Mary Jane? You guys probably don’t see anything, but me… I can’t be the only one walking blind! All the crazy shit doing down and I’m sitting here waiting for answer? A miracle? I don’t know… but I’m waiting for something that may never come, or probably will, but it’ll probably already be too late.”


I was already upset and he could see that but there wasn’t anything any of us could do about it. “I mean I don’t even know what I want as a career, a real job, something I can benefit from.”


He gives me a confused look.


“I don’t know man.”


“What do you mean you don’t know?”


He shrugs, “I mean, I don’t know! What the hell you want me to say man?”


“Alright look my niggah, this is for real! You gotta talk to me; I’m not that guy who recruited you, alright? This is me talking, your friend. I’ve been here for a long time, I ain’t going nowhere, who am I gona spread it to? Tell me what you see.”


“Shit bro, you caught me in the spotlight!” he laughs. But then he notices I’m serious, so changes his tone.


“You know what, Ima be straight with you, cuz you my niggah, you know. There’s no way I’m gonna bullshit you, but I love what I do. I claim. That’s the one life I chose, I represent, I’m defiant, and I will bully those who disrespect the cause. The other life I chose is chill, got my parents, even though my dad’s in prison, my mom wherever the fuck rehab place she at. I haven’t seen in her in hella days, sometimes I wonder if either of them think of me you know? I guess foster parents are looking out for me the best they forcibly can, so until then I got my homies, and hey I’m here… so I thank God for that.” He chuckles.


I just nodded, I didn’t agree nor think different, at least he’s being real with me I took a hit off the joint I had in my hand, inhaled deeply and exhaled.


I hear a grunt from behind and I see Dom still sleeping from getting faded. I smile a little and turn to Hector.


“He got a kick out of that huh.” Hector looks back and shakes his head in amusement.


“You wana wake his ass up?”


“Nah, let him sleep it off.”


“Alright, fuck it, I wana sleep now.”


He turn on the radio to local bay area rapper Mac Dre comes on the radio, “I like this joint”, he just sits back; I go ahead and see if I can sleep. Too many thoughts are running through my head right now, it has me all emotional and I feel like breaking down, but I cant. I keep asking myself all these questions like, ‘what’s going to happen to this world when there are no more wars? Who will we judge when we feel less? What happens when violence and drugs are the things of the past?’ though I kept one thing in mind, when this war is over, what will be the next challenge or political issue that will have us on the verge of terror? It’s like everything we questioned, had no answer.

The author was inspired to write this novel from experiences he had in relation to events which occurred before, during, and after his high school years. The times this book is written about shaped Edwardo's perception of ‘life in the streets', presenting a canvas in which to pursue his writing; this is his first book.

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