top of page


By Andy Nguyen


My youth was filled with color, I used to run with my friends around the city. We used to tag so many of the walls, the building owners would call us rats, because of how troublesome we were. It was me street name DAMN, there was OT, Biggs, and of course our leader Point. We were just a bunch a kids, in the inner city trying to get away from our lives and our fears just to have fun, you know what I mean? We met in school, didn’t fit in with everyone else, called us delinquents. We were just having fun messing around, expressing ourselves in the only way we know how. We were painting our names on buildings, making art, thinking we were hot shit. There was a moment I remember when we got into a whole world of trouble though.

            It was the spring, my mom was always “Damien, remember to stay out of trouble.” Little did I know how much trouble and danger we was gonna get into. Couldn’t stand it at home, so small, so constrictive, but when I was out with my friends the world seemed so big. Especially in our city, subways could take us from one part to another in a few minutes instead of walking for hours. I rushed out the house with my backpack in hand and my breakfast still hanging out my mouth trying to swallow fast and get to school. School was always a struggle y’know? I’d rather be outside in the sun, running around with my friends. Though I didn’t want my parents to get called cause I was missing classes, gotta make them happy too. Going through the motions and going through school, half paying attention, and just doodling in my notebook of all the things we would sign on buildings.

            Once we were done with classes though, It was free reign, the guys and I would go riding around on our bikes, pedaling fast, seeing who could go faster. Those were good times though, Point would have our ink though tucked in his bag under all his books and papers, good thing it didn’t pop in there though. Biggs the biggest one in our group, hence his name, always wanted to get to the cans first to paint. Biggs was a big guy, but man could he paint. He was a gentle soul never bothered nobody, always used vivid colors painting masterpieces, flowers, cars, pretty girls. He didn’t plaster his name cross the canvas like we did, he made works of art. Straight murals out of museums. OT was next, he was a confusing guy, slow but methodical. Once he had his mind to a piece he wouldn’t stop obsessing over it. OT made like abstract shit, we could never figure out what he had in his mind, but whenever we finish we step back and always, and I mean always we would see a big OT smack dab in the middle of the piece. Didn’t know how he did it, but we dug it anyway. Point-Man was next, motherfucker was into superhero bullshit, drew stuff right out of comic books. He should’ve been a comic book maker, instead he’s in this life making street art for dullards to clean off the wall. He was charismatic, extroverted, well liked, knew how to get ourselves out of situations. Then there was me, I didn’t really know what I was doing most of the time. I was really just trying to fit in, I wasn’t any artist, nor was I some avant-garde artist trying to make it out of here. I was an anxious wreck, I didn’t wanna get in trouble most of the time, I was just going with them. I was just tagging walls with my name, that was my group, my brothers, I’d go to hell and back for them, even now I would, or what’s left of them.

            It was getting to six to seven now, the street lights flickered on, as the cool spring breeze washed over us. The sounds of sirens and cars driving past, the city was quieting down, getting ready for its slumber. Maybe it was time to go back home, I said, wiping my eyes, shivering in the breeze. Biggs said, “You’re alright Damien, nothing but a nice breeze. That ain’t hurt no one” as he deeply inhales. Out of the corner of my eye, I see OT still working on his piece. I was worried, cops all around, sprawling all about. Then I heard it, sirens… They’re getting closer. I tried to warn everyone I hear them sirens, cops are about to come. Don’t worry about it they said, They’re coming! We gotta run, I said. You’re tripping, Damien. There isn’t anything. There they were a block from us, I heard the sirens, I heard them coming, now we see them coming.


            “Oh shit! Cops” Point yelled

            “We gotta get out of here” I screamed, “OT you coming?”

            “We have to get out of here OT, no time to finish” Biggs said

            “Just one more line, I promise” OT replied,


            They’re here.


            All I could see was red and blue, red and blue, again and again.



“Stop what you’re doing!”


Handcuffs swinging, clicking clacking, like wind chimes on a porch. Instead of being peaceful and serene, it’s clicking into my wrists. Until I can’t move my arms to run, to hide, to go back to the place I was safe. Then all I could see was red. OT wasn’t moving, OT wasn’t painting. Sirens blaring, sirens coming again. Red and blue, red and blue. I didn’t know what happened, one thing led to another, and all I could remember was seeing OT’s spray can on the floor and red, lots of red. It wasn’t paint, I know that it was blood. His blood splattered on the wall, and spilling to the floor. They were scared of what OT was doing, fear is a big thing, fear is what caused OT to fall. All he was doing was expressing himself when we could not. Expressing himself, fearing that he could not amount to anything but his artwork. Fearing what could’ve happened if he was at home, fearing what his family would do to him… Just like that, just like rats, we were exterminated. Dealt with, not being able to bother no one again.


bottom of page