“Oh shit...oh shit...they are about to call the next number!”
I'm at home. Thousands of students across the country are listening to the lotto. Most of them are listening. They call the next number. It's not mine. My heart is racing. I had to get out of Compton and this new program was my way out.
I look at my number again. I'm praying to God. My homeboy Andre is next to me. He's holding onto his ticket. None of us expects to get it. Hell...no one in LA has won yet. Shit. Only one person from California has even won and it's someone that we know from high school. Andre's ex girlfriend actually.
The woman comes back on television.
“And the next number is...”
I feel my mother holding onto her chest. She's praying that I get it. It cost us everything that we had to just be even put into this lottery.
The lottery was for a new program. They call it “High School in the stars”. It was a big deal. No. It was more than a big deal. Billions of dollars were put into this by some private company. They wanted to send kids into space to learn about astronomy first hand. Astronomy was my passion. Before my dad died of Cancer he used to take me out to see the stars in the park. It used to be clear back in the day. Now the sky is so polluted you can't see anything. I don't have money for a telescope. I only see the stars online nowadays. Online at the library. They cut off the internet at my house awhile ago. Yeah. I'm pretty broke.
That's why this is so important. See...once you passed the hard ass class...and yadda yadda yadda, you still had to pay for the ticket. And that shit was expensive to say the least. 5 thousand dollars for a single ticket. 5 thousand dollars! First I had to enroll in a hard class in order to qualify to even pay for the single ticket. The class was a nationwide astronomy class. Only the highest 10 percent of every class was qualified to buy the ticket. This eliminated a lot of high school students. That was all I could control though. The
“Mario...if you don't get it,
it's ok,” my mother tells me, “There's other
“Public school in Compton? Those are the other options?”
She sighs a little bit. She's given up on me already. I know she has.
You see...gangsters killed my older brother Troy this past summer. They thought he was tryign to set them up. They thought he stole money from me. Those same guys were looking for me all the time. Mind you---I'm a fucking nerd. I don't know shit about gang anything. But they think Troy must have told me where he kept their money. It's so much drama that I've just been trying to get away!
Compton was getting worse and worse. Street wars were breaking out between the local gangs and innocent people were being pulled into it. My high school was the breeding ground for crime and drugs. I had no future in this city. I had no way of getting out. I was stuck...literally.
And I only option. I only had one ticket.
I look down on my ticket. Holy shit. Well G'dam it, Mario! I'm one lucky motherfucker, aren't I? One more number. All the numbers are matching so far. There is one more number that they have to call. One more number.
I look down at the ticket.
“3...” the woman calls.
I look down on my ticket. I got it...I fucking won.
I look to my right. My homeboy Andre is looking over my shoulder at my ticket, “Ay Mario. What you got there?”
“Nothing,” I lie.
Andre and I have been best friends since middle school but this program was something that we all wanted. Ride or die. You know the type? The kind of guy who has your back and all that. He's pretty smart too, just like I am. We are are a couple of geeks who always had plans to do bigger thangs in these Compton streets. A program like this changes the world for kids like us. Kids like us didn't get the opportunity to do things like this. We weren't provided that.
So why am I lying to him? I should tell him. I should be happy. But right now...I just don't know. The look in Andre's eyes is a little different. He wanted this so bad. I don't want him to feel bad. At least not now.
Andre nods at that moment and leans
back, “Oh damn bra. That sucks.”
My mother is holding back tears. She looks broken. Fuck that hurts seeing her cry like that. I wanna say “April Fools” or whatever. Let her know it's a joke.
“We'll figure out a plan,”
my mother tells me, “We always figure out a plan. That space
program was against the odds anyway. It was a long shot. What were
the chances you know? It's ok Mario.”
Andre puts his hand on my lap, “Hell yeah...it's ok man. Hey gimme your ticket. I'll go throw them out. Nothing to even worry about.”
I look down at the ticket.
“You know what man. I'll hold onto it.”
“For what?” Andre said, “C`mon, give it to me. I'll throw it out for you. I'm already up.”
He's pressing me. I look hard at Andre a little confused why he's acting like this.
“I'm say I'm good bra...” I respond.
“Oh ok, cool...cool,” Andre says looking towards the door.
He turns back around at that moment and then he snatches my fuckin' ticket! I jump up as soon as he does and try to grab hold of him but it's useless. I miss. Andre knocks my mother down clean on the floor at that moment and runs out of the door.
I can hear my mother scream.
What the fuck?
This boy had my ticket! My friend just fucking stole my fucking ticket!
I find myself running after Andre. The
bitch is fast. I have to admit it. He clears the house in a matter
of seconds and darts into the backyard. I chase after him. Luckily
for me I ran track back in the day. Andre seems to know that. He
looks back and sees me catching up on him. He jumps over the back
fence. He's making a dash for it with my ticket.
“Dre! Dre stop playing man!” I'm calling after him.
My mouth is dry. I'm panicking. I can't believe that this just happened. I can't believe one of my best friends is playing me like this.
I keep running and Dre clears over a fence. He jumps over it like it's nothing. I'm struggling to climb after him. We make our way down the street right now. Dre is swerving through traffic. He's running as fast as he can.
All of a sudden car stops. It swerves nearly missing Dre but Dre falls to the ground at that moment.
He dropped the ticket.
I find myself running over to where Dre
dropped the ticket but before I get it one of the boys in the car
leans over and picks the ticket up. The boy is a brown skin boy.
The car is a fuckin' Porche. This kid has to be around my age but
he's driving a car that's worth more than anything me and my family
ever owned in our lives.
The boy grabs the ticket. He looks at it. Then he looks over at Dre.
“You good man? You just ran out into traffic,” the boy says.
Dre doesn't respond. He's still on the ground. He's looking over at me. He doesn't have anything to say. I am just shaking my head looking down at him. I can't believe that he would pull some shit like that. I can't believe he is so grimey.
“Yo...you dropped this. Oh shit.
This is one of them Space High School tickets. You better not lose
this kid. These things are valuable.”
Half of me expects the boy to run off with the ticket. I expect him to hop in his car and pull the same type of shit that Dre just tried to pull. He didn't though. He extends his hand out. He's handing the ticket over to Dre.
“It's not his...” I tell the boy.
Just as Dre is about to grab the ticket away from the boy. The boy closes the ticket in his hand. He looks over me a little confused. I haven't noticed it until we stare dead in each other's face. This boy is everything. He's a mahogany brown skin tone. He has huge lips and pearly white teeth. His face looks like it could have been painted on. His eyebrows are thick and solid but perfectly plucked. He looks like he's worth a million dollars. His forehead wrinkles a little bit. He looks a little like R&B singer Trey Songz and for a minute I think it's him. But the more I look at the boy I realize that it's not him.
The Trey Songz look a like turns to me,
“It's yours man?”
“Yeah. He fuckin' stole it...” I say.
Dre gets up at that moment, “He's
lying. I didn't steal shit.”
“Why the FUCK are you doing this Dre?” I ask at that moment.
“You saw me with the ticket,”
Dre tells the Trey Songz look-a-like, “I have no reason to lie.
It's my ticket man. I swear to God. I swear on everything. I
swear on my dead mom. It's my ticket.”
I can't believe Andre right now. His mother isn't even dead. She's a crackhead over on Skid Road. The fact that he's sitting here lying about this shit right now is really blowing my fucking mind.
“Man I let you stay with me Dre when your mother used the the rent money to get high,” I say at that moment shaking my head, “This is what how you repay me? Really?”
“Man...FUCK YOU!” Dre says, “That's my ticket.”
“You're lying,” the Trey Songz looking boy says at that moment.
He walks over to me and hands me the ticket. Dre looks at the boy and then he looks at me. He must realize he lost his plan now that the ticket is in my hand. Maybe that's why he decides to jet off like a fucking madman at that moment. He runs away without even looking back. I can't believe this shit. I can't believe I trusted that guy..
I look at the handsome guy. His friends are in the backseat laughing at all the drama that is going on. They are rich kids. God knows what they are even doing on this side of town. It doesn't matter though.
“How'd you know he was lying?” I ask.
The handsome guy looks at me. He
shrugs, “I deal with liars and schemers all the goddam time
man. It's nothing. It's not even so much I knew that dude was
lying. I just knew you were telling the truth. That's
“Thanks man,” I say at that moment.
He smiles at me, “It's all good. Just hold onto that. Those things are worth gold nowadays.”
He nods at me and walks away. I can't help but to watch him walk away. He was fucking sexy. He has on this tight black t-shirt and plain black pants. It's a simple outfit but it still looks expensive as hell on his muscular frame. His jeans fit perfectly grabbing his thing hips and waste. He has on some expensive looking Balmain boots. He opens up his car and drives off with his Porsche as if he owns the streets.
I know I'll never see him again. Hell maybe on television. Maybe something like that. I also know that it's kind of odd that I'm attracted to another guy. I've only found two guys attractive in my whole life. I always knew I was bisexual but it's rare I find someone that gets my attention like that.
See the thing is above all the drama happening at home. I'm also gay...
“I'm so excited,” my mother
is saying, “Do you have your lotion? Jergens. It's in the
back pack. No not that one. Shit. I wonder if I have time to run to
a store to buy you some more lotion. I can't believe I forgot to
pack lotion. Goddam it. What the hell are you going to do?”
I'm not even looking at my mother right
now. I'm concentrating on the big ass shuttle in front of me. We
took a trip to Dallas. This isn't the space station. This is just a
shuttle that's going to take us up to the space station that's
already orbitting the Earth. I'm nervous as all fuck.
What's it going to be like? Will I like it? Will I miss home?
“I'm sure there's lotion on the space station Ma,” I tell her.
She's tripping. I don't got a ton of family here with me. It's just me and Ma. It's always just been us. That's probably why I'm gay. I'm sitting around being a grown ass mama's boy my whole life. It sucks but it sucks in a good way. I wouldn't trade this corny ass mother of mine for nothing.
“I'm just excited Mario,” she explains.
“I know Ma. I know...”
She's hugging me again. Other students are around that are looking over at my mother. She is the regular ghetto lady from Compton who you can't take no where without her getting loud and ratchet. The shit is embarrassing! I know I'm not going to see her for a while so even though I'm embarrassed I slightly squeeze her a little tighter than I usually do. I'm going to miss her.
“Mario,” she tells me,
“Ain't no one in our family been out of the country. Hell we
barely left Compton. You making history Mario. Not just in the
country either. You are about to make history in the world. You
know that, don't you?”
“Shit. Ma. No stress, remember?”
“Watch your goddam mouth and come give your Momma another hug?” she says smiling, “You got clean drawers on. Cause you know you shit a lot when you get nervous Mario. You a nervous SHITTER. Don't shit your pants now Mario!”
She pulls me closer and gives me a hug. She's crying. I can smell her cheap perfume and her polyester fabric. It's a bit of home. Even though I want to get away from Compton so bad I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss her.
I walk away at that moment towards the
I walk away towards my future.
My mother was right. Partially. Here
I am sitting in a chair. We are strapped in. The way that the
shuttle is developed is kind of weird. My body is faced towards the
sky like I'm about to ascend on a roller coaster ride. I never liked
that roller coaster shit. Speaking of shit. Man. I had to take a
mean dump right now.
Gas is coming out from underneath me. It's kind of embarrassing. I notice other students around me. I'm trying to clutch my ass but the farts keep coming out. I'm super embarrassed.
The girl next to me starts to snicker.
“Just let it out for both of us,” she says.
“Oh my god...you heard that?” I ask.
“Naw...I smelled it,” she
replies at that moment, “It's all good. You're nervous. We
She's a pretty girl with long straight hair. She looks Asian but not Chinese or Japansese. She looks more exotic like maybe one of those islands in Asia where they get real dark. She seems really tall by the way. If it was my old self I probably would have been attracted to her. I probably would have liked her. Lately though I realize I am more gay than bisexual.
“I'm just a little scared of heights,” I tell her.
“Wait. Let me get this straight. In a couple minutes you are about to go into outer space but you are scared of heights?” she asks.
“Sound dumb right?” I ask.
She laughs a little bit, “No. Sounds brave man. I like it. I'm Kaysha. I'd tell you my last name but I promise you won't be able to pronounce it.”
I laugh a little bit.
“Mario,” I respond, shaking
her head, “Mario Kane.”
Kaysha is a curious person. She's looking around in her seat at all the other kids around her. She is right about one thing. I'm not the only one nervous. Supposedly the space shuttle was going to house 100 lucky students that completed the astronomy class and won the ticket. I'm hoping to see the girl from my home town but with 100 students it'll probably take a while before I recognize her. I had planned on getting her number from Andre but then of course he backstabbed me.
“Shuttle full of nerds,”
Kaysha says, “Brightest of the brightest. Probably won't be no
sexy boys on here. No offense.”
“None taken,” I reply.
I'm a decent looking guy. I'm not exactly the type of guy that girls went crazy over though. If you look up the word basic in the dictionary there would probably be a picture of me with my plaid t-shirt on and old hand-me-down jeans. I have scruff all over my face and barely shave. I'm just not the person that people just go in awe over. I never have been.
“Of course there's
I look at Kaysha a little confused, “Come again?”
“You haven't heard?” Kaysha asks, “So the captain of this space station goes by the name of Mia Laperla. Her kids and their friends are pretty much infamous. Her daughter had a show on Vh1. The Dollhouse. Have you not seen that?”
“No...must have missed that. I'm not big on TV,” I reply.
Kaysha shakes her head, “Well
long story short. They are a big deal and word on the street is that
Mia has her kids and all their friends on here.”
“What?” I ask raising an eyebrow, “They didn't have to do the lottery?”
“Lottery. They didn't even have to take the astrology course.”
I shake my head. That shit just wasn't even fair.
“That's fucking crazy,” I respond.
I'm a little disgusted by it.
Kaysha clearly isn't. She's smiling
from cheek to cheek, “I know right. I can't wait to meet one of
them. I am kissing some serious ass, my man. I'm not even going to
She smiles and turns to her right at that moment.
The shuttle takes off soon. I'm nervous as hell. I'm beyond nervous but the only thing that is helping me get through this is Kaysha actually. She's a talker. Matter of fact she doesn't shut up. For some reason it calms me down though. Her consistent talking is getting me through this. I learn everything about her. Her family is from Guam. She moved to the states a few years ago and has been living in North Carolina. I can tell by her little country accent that she's picked up a little bit of their culture.
She explains almost everything about herself as we take off. Her likes, her dislikes, her pet peeves and what kind of guys she likes. By the time we are taking off I feel like I know so much about her.
I'm holding onto my seat scared as fuck.
I close my eyes.
I hold them tight for what at first is just minutes but soon becomes longer and longer. I drown myself into Kaysha's conversation.
“Look...” Kaysha says.
People are talking. I'm not sure why. Everyone is still strapped into their seats but I notice something odd. The necklace around Kaysha's neck is floating. My hand is moving without me wanting it to. It takes force for me to put it down.
“Oh shit yo. We're in outer space,” I explain.
“Crazy right. Look out the
window...you can see the space station from here.”
I look out the window. It's a little distance away from where Kaysha and I are sitting but I see the space station slightly. It's a huge. I remember my astronomy classes and begin recognizing different parts of the space station. I see a huge docking module at first that seems to be where we are heading. The space station itself is circular and huge. It branches out in many ways and from each branch there is an array.
“What the fuck are those?” Kaysha asks.
“Seriously?” I respond,
“They are solar arrays.. They contain more than 262,000 solar
cells and cover an area about 27,000 square feet.”
“Don't know how far that is,” Kaysha responds.
“It's almost half the area of a football field,” I laugh shaking my head, “The solar arrays produce more power than the the station needs at one time for station system and experiments. They basically collect and store energy from sunlight.”
“You're a true nerd aren't you?” she asks me.
I laugh a little bit, “Yeah. Not
going to front. I mean we all had to be the top 10 percent in that
“Well my class weren't exactly geniuses,” Kaysha responds, “I don't remember half the shit I learned in that class. God knows how I made it.”
I laugh a little bit. Regardless if she understands what's going on or not I can see that Kaysha is excited. That's all that really counts. Everyone is excited actually. I can see the lights in everyone's eyes as we pull up to the docking module.
The shuttle slows down. We begin to dock. A huge umbrella covers the shuttle and artificial gravity slowly begins to kick in out of no where.
It feels so much better that now we are actually sitting up straight. The nervousness begins to disappear. The technology aboard this huge ass space station is amazing.
A woman image appears on a monitor in front of every chair. She is a beautiful older woman with straight hair. We all look at the monitor.
“My name is Mia Laperla. I am
the captain of this ship. Welcome aboard the
“This way...Mario. This way,” Kaysha pulls my arm.
She's leading me down an empty stairway. We have to go to Orientation before we get our room assignments. Kaysha isn't the only one running and pulling. There is a huge rush on the Exodus. Everyone seems excited.
The Exodus is more than anything I could ever imagine. As we walk off the walls are white and looks like something out of a Science Fiction movie. There are clear windows every where with extremely thick glass but I can see the stars. I can see them as clear as day from up here. I'm struggling to look out of every window we pass.
“C`mon...this way,” Kaysha pulls me.
People are pushing, they are rushing to get past.
A voice comes up on the speaker, “The Exodus is broken down into 8 different sections each called a module. The sleeping module, the eating module, the cargo module, the service module, the laboratory module, the docking module, the service module and the captain's module. In Orientation each student will be given room assignments, classroom schedules and a map of the space station.”
“Slow down Kaysha, I'm trying to
listen to the instructions.”
“Screw the instructions. Let's get our rooms.”
She's acting like it's first come, first serve. I'm sure the room assignments were created long before we got on board. None-the-less I'm amused by her to say the last.
She pulls at me and manages to start pushing past people. I see her push one person who turns around and gives her a stiff arm to her chest.
“Watch it...” the girl says at that moment.
“You ruined my motherfucking Versace glasses...bitch,” the girl tells Kaysha.
“Whoa...it's not that serious,” I come at Kaysha's defense.
The girl is pretty. She's more than
pretty actually. She's fucking beyond that. She looks like some
type of Kardashian or something. Her jet black hair frames her face
perfectly. She is white but she has the most curvaceous body I've
probably ever seen in my life. You can see her ass from the front!
She's has on a really tight dress and tan skin. Looking at her face
I can tell she's had some work done but it's also clear that whoever
did that work did a damn good job.
Still. I don't care how good the girl looks. She can't just be running around acting like a bitch.
“Do you know who I am?”
“A girl who doesn't know how to take an apology,” I respond standing up for Kaysha, “She said she was sorry.”
Kaysha grabs my hand, “Mario...let's not.”
Kaysha looks scared. What the fuck is she nervous about? She apologized to this bitch and this uppity girl was acting like an apology wasn't good enough for her. We were in space and this girl was worried about some sunglasses. Who fucking does that?
“I can get you kicked off this ship you now that?” the girl asks.
“What you going to do? Pay millions of dollars to have a space shuttle take me back to Earth?” I ask.
The girl looks heated. It's clear her dumb ass didn't think that far into it. I've had conversations with girls like that. Empowered girls who put themselves above others.
“My mother runs...this ship...do you know who the fuck I am?” she asks, “My name is Pia Laperla!”
Laperla. I look over at Kaysha. It must be one of the people she was telling me about. One of the girls in the Dollhouse. The thing is...I don't give a damn. I've never seen their show and honestly I have no interest in seeing the show. It's clear she's pretty famous though because she's shocked and appalled that I don't know who she is.
“Listen. Girl. I don't got time
for this. I'm sorry and I'm done.”
“Don't walk away from me when I'm talking to you,” the girl says walking after me.
She grabs my hand and I shove her off of me a little bit. She seems shocked that I gave her a little shove and all of a sudden I hear see her grab some guy that might have been with her.
“Jax...this dude just hit me...” she says.
There was already drama. I've already made enemies. I've only been here a matter of seconds. This is the same thing that I was getting away from Compton for. I didn't do anything to this girl. I wait until her guy friend...or boyfriend or whoever the fuck he is turns around.
I'm hoping to resolve this as peaceful as possible and I hope that he's a little bit more reasonable than she is.
At that moment I realize who that person is.
It's the Trey Songz look-a-like...the SAME exact boy who got my ticket back from Dre!
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com