Gary was my friend, a childhood friend. I grew up in south west Los Angeles and Gary lived next door to me. He was number two of four bothers. Gary was light skinned blond and very cheerful. His oldest brother Russ was a red haired "devil may care" adventurer. He had a bicycle and he would ride it wildly without fear; years later when he got a car, it appeared to me that he seemed drive his car in the same manner that he used to ride his bike. Gary's younger brother Ron was a budding scientist. He was interested in all things living. He collected insects, reptiles, and rodents. He loved his "pets" and was sure, in his own mind, that they loved him back.
"Aw mom" said Ronnie playing with a black widow in a jar. "It's my spider. He's my friend, he won't bite me."
To my knowledge, Ronnie was never bitten.
Rickey was just cute. He was their youngest, and the family doted on him. I sincerely believe that the family felt blessed to have him, and it seemed to me that he wanted for nothing. I must admit that my experiences with him were not all that rewarding. Ricky seemed to love to kick me in the shins. He would kick me and then run and hide behind his mother. "Isn't he cute" she would say. Ricky would peek out behind her and stick out his tongue.
Rickey may have been cute, but at that time, I sincerely believed that he really wasn't human. I once suggested to Russ that he might be some sort of a demonic changeling, a creature that only appeared human. I was under the impression that Russ agreed with me; but in truth, Ricky was loved by all.
Gary's mom worked hard in trying to take care of her children. She washed, she cooked, she cleaned, and tried her very best to be a great mom. Their dad also was a hard worker. He worked nights as a guard in a defense plant. This was but one of several jobs. He simultaneously worked at a number of other odd jobs in order to support his family. I often wondered if he ever slept. Despite his working several jobs and going without sleep the man still found time to be with, and support his children.
It appeared to me that Gary might have been overlooked. He was a number two child and was neither the oldest nor the youngest. Where Russ was a bit reckless, Gary seemed careful. Where Ronnie appeared to be intense and Ricky aggressive; Gary was quiet, good natured and easy going. Gary was number two and he rarely gave anyone trouble and he was hardly ever in trouble, at least not until he met up with our mutual friend Richard.
Richard came from Seattle and was a bit older than the rest of us. My understanding is that Richard got into some trouble while in Seattle, and his mother was faced with the choice of either taking him out of state or losing custody.
We all thought that Richard was so cool. He was thin, tall, well spoken, and very very smart. The Los Angeles School District would periodically give students a battery of nationally standardized tests.
It came as a surprise to us, when we discovered that the City had a special awards ceremony to recognize their very best test performers. Richard was recognized as the top scoring student in the entire Los Angeles School District. Richards's grades never reflected his test scores, but the tests did prove that he had more mental horse power than the average person.
None of us could figure out how Richard could have done so well. Richard, when pressed for an answer would just smile and say "I know how to cheat."
Cheat or not, he was smart and before we knew it, we were all getting in trouble together.
Richard bought a "new" used car. He purchased it from Los Angeles City Salvage. It was an almost new black and white police car. The red lights and siren were removed as were the city stickers, but other than that the car looked very much like the cars driven by Dragnet's Joe Friday.
Richard was not satisfied with outward appearances. He installed a Motorola radio consol with colored lights and a microphone. His consol looked exactly like the consoles in real police cars. He also had a police radio receiver. The radio spoke to us: "Fourteen Adam forty five, two eleven in progress, 5612 Manchester. Code Two…"
"What does that mean?" We asked.