Dana Johnson was born and raised Los Angeles, California. She completed an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University and won the 2000 Flannery O’Connor Award for her collection Break Any Woman Down and Other Stories. Her first publication, “Melvin in the Sixth Grade” appeared in TMR 23.3.
Sep 01 2000
Melvin in the Sixth Grade
Maybe it was around the time that the Crips sliced up my brother’s arm for refusing to join their gang. Or it could have been after the Crips and the Bloods shot up the neighborhood one Halloween so we couldn’t go trick-or-treating. It could have even been when my brother’s friend Anthony got shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever the reason, my father decided it was tim to take advantage of a Veteran’s Loan, get out of L.A. and move to the suburbs. Even if I can’t quite nail down the events that spurred the move, I know that one and a half months after I climbed into my father’s rusted-out Buick Wildcat and said good-bye to 110th Street and hello to Verbugo Street, with its lawns and no sidewalks, I fell for my first man.