Snitches Get Stitches

Snitches Get Stitches

Snitches Get Stitches

Snitches Get Stitches

The neighborhood book club’s plan to stop the violence against people who cooperated with law enforcement and to quell the community’s fears of speaking up was off to a rocky start.

Despite their best intentions, people who talked to the police were still getting hurt.

The book club was an unlikely watchdog for the community. They were all well past 75 and all led pretty quiet, predictable lives.

On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays – before turning in for the evening or grabbing an early bird special – they’d get together at 3:45 p.m. – usually at Loretta Smith’s house – to talk about the book they were reading, trade knitting and crochet tips, gossip about the neighbors, and lament the gang violence that had seemed to hold their community captive for the past few years.

Mrs. Smith had been in the neighborhood for longer than most. Widowed when she was in her 20s, she never remarried or had children of her own. But, that’s not to say she wasn’t motherly. She was the first woman on the block to own a house and she kept a close eye on all the neighborhood kids. She was good at keeping them out of trouble. While parents were at work or away, the community had Mrs. Smith to thank for single-handedly running a free-of-charge babysitting service.

Those were the golden days though, when the streets were still safe to play in and there was still a sense of community about the neighborhood. As the years went by, developers downtown funded hastily built, low-rent apartment complexes that replaced single-family homes.

Tenants came and went with no real intention of settling down there. The sense of community was lost and eventually the gangs moved in. Public spaces were taken over by drug dealers and fiends. Garbage blew in the streets and piled up in the corners.

There had always been gangs, sure, but the degraded sense of community just made it worse and worse until it grew out of control. A week didn’t go by that someone wasn’t shot, robbed, or assaulted. And everyone in the neighborhood knew – if they spoke to the police, they’d get it too.

“Snitches get stitches, Loretta.” Adeline Johnston said. “At least that’s what my grandson says about it.”

“What!?” Henry Barker yelled from across the living room.

“Snitches get stitches is what my grandson tells me,” Mrs. Johnston said a little louder.

“Snickers in the kitchen?” Mr. Barker said. “Sure, Ady, I’ll have one. Thank you.”

“It’s a shame even the little ones are conditioned to this awful stuff now,” Mrs. Smith said. “The police tell everyone to report what they see, but then they just end up getting hurt too. And it just doesn’t seem to stop.”

The rest of the book club nodded in agreement. Except Mr. Barker who had fallen asleep waiting for his candy bar.

“We’ve got to do something about it,” the book club said almost in unison.

“What was that you said about stitches?” One of the members asked.

“Snitches get stitches. It means that if you talk to the police, you’ll end up hurt. Or worse,” Mrs. Johnston replied.

“I think we can work with that. Flip the script in a way,” another member said. “We’re awfully good at knitting. We’ve got well over 200 years experience between all of us.”

“So you just want to change stitches in the sense of that phrase to mean knitted, handmade garments?” Mrs. Smith said.

“Exactly!”

“That’s not what I’d really call flipping the script, but, who knows, maybe it’s worth a try. Let’s get to it then.” Mrs. Smith said.

“Now?”

“Well, not now. It’s almost quarter to five. I’ve got to turn in. We’ll start Sunday.”

That Sunday at 3:45 p.m., the neighborhood book club got to work knitting and crocheting scarves, mittens, hats, and sweaters. Despite arthritic hands and low energy levels, the group managed to finish an impressive number of garments.

“Well, I think that’ll get us off on the right foot,” Mrs. Smith said. “Who will go to the hospital with me tomorrow and start handing these out?”

The next day, Loretta Smith and a few of the club members visited everyone who was in the hospital after being hurt by gang members for cooperating with law enforcement. The snitches all received lovingly stitched sweaters, scarves, mittens, and hats.

“What’s this for?” A man with a broken leg who had reported a robbery asked.

“We’re starting a movement,” Mrs. Smith replied. “We’re going to put an end to all of this gang violence. How’s the hat fit, dear?”

“Good. A little itchy around the ears, but good. I’ll wear it proudly,” the man said. “You guys are doing a good thing here.”

When the first group of handmade-garment police-cooperator-recipients were discharged from the hospital it didn’t take long before the gang members put two and two together.

It seemed pretty strange that everyone they hurt for snitching was now out of the hospital and wearing knitted apparel.

“What the fuck’s going on here?” Clarence “Mad Dog” Brown, the gang’s second in command said. “You think these snitches are trying to make a statement or something? Trying to band together?”

“It looks that way.”

“We’ve got to put a stop to this before Lights Out gets back.”

Bernard “Light Out” Jackson was the gang’s leader. He’d been away attending his grandmother’s funeral in Florida. In his absence, Mad Dog was in charge.

That night, they decided to put the stitch wearing snitches right back in the hospital with the message that snitches get stitches who get stitches will get stitches again, but the first kind of stitches the third time.

Word got back to Loretta Smith and her book club the next day.

“We can’t give up so easily,” Mrs. Smith said to the sullen group. “Let’s get back to work.”

“More knitting?” A member asked. “What good will that do? They’ll just keep hurting them.”

“No, we’re going to knit enough garments for everyone in the community. Not just the snitches. The gang will be outnumbered. There’s no way they can hurt all of us. It’ll be a strong message and it’s going to work. It has to work,” Mrs. Smith said.

So the group set down their books for the next few gatherings and worked quietly on more scarves, hats, mittens, and sweaters. They were well on their way to having something for everyone in the neighborhood to wear.

That evening, Bernard “Lights Out” Jackson, a towering, muscular figure against the dimly lit street lights made his way down the street towards his gang’s house.

He itched at his neck and pulled at the sleeves of the intricate handmade wool sweater that his grandmother had knitted for him before she died. He opened the door and entered the house.

“What’s up guys? Everything good while I was gone?” Lights Out asked his gang.

“Lights, what the fuck? A knitted sweater?!” Mad Dog said, surprised that their ruthless leader would ever cooperate with the police.

“Fuck you, Lights! You snitch-ass piece of shit!” Kevin “Little Man” Dawes yelled and raised his gun.

“Yo, yo! What the-” Lights Out said.

They were his last words and Little Man unloaded his clip into the former leader. Blood stained the itchy wool sweater and Lights Out fell to the floor.

Someone upstairs heard the commotion and ran down to find Little Man holding a gun and Lights Out dead on the ground. He pulled out his gun and shot Little Man.

Another gang member in the kitchen came running in and saw that Little Man had been killed and he pulled out his gun and shot the guy on the stairs.

It went on that way until every remaining gang member was either dead or severely wounded.

And so it was, that stitches, the itchy kind usually gifted by an elderly relative, really did save a community from the clutches of gang violence.

The End