"this was my first tattoo. i got it when i was thirteen. i had gone to a tattoo party with a few of my little niggas—well actually my gang—and we wanted to solidify our ties to one another. they already had tattoos and i was the odd man out. my gang were the only ones that got me and understood me aside from my brother, but he was too young to run the streets with us. the phrase we decided on was ‘savage life’ because that’s the code we lived by. we were a bunch of little niggas that didn’t do what our parents told us. this was literal to me seeing as my real parents weren’t around and i sure didn’t claim my foster parents."
"as a kid, i was always drawn to comic books. my favorite was the naruto series. that was my escape from the impossible situation that i had been placed in. i collected the series as a kid. now that i'm grown, i’ve tracked down the entire collection. it took some doing, but after careful research i was able to hunt down all volumes. it was important to me so the man hours spent weren't in vain. after all, it was an integral part of my childhood. i take that approach with everything in my life—within reason of course."
"it's safe to say that comics and animé made many appearances in my life. it was my way of escape. at an early age, you could say that i had more in common with the villains. they were always more charismatic and cooler—sorta like me. chrollo in particular possesses the three c’s—he’s calm, cool, and calculating. that’s me all the way, so that’s why i decided on the forehead tattoo similar to chrollo’s. i’ll be the first to admit that i was against face tattoos, but the more i thought about it, i prided my existence on being different. not many people can say that they have been through what i have and i wanted to embody my individuality. to own that shit."
"whenever i wasn’t running the streets with my crew, watching naruto or escaping into the comic book world, i was on the computer. you wouldn’t know it to look at me, but i’m actually really nerdy. to take my mind off of things outside of my control, i took up computers. i always dreamt of getting away from my foster home and building a better life. i knew that education was the key to that. i worked my ass off for a scholarship and attended school. all graduates majoring in computer science and all things associated with the major were gifted macbook pros. with it, i’ve excelled at working on different projects—for work and pleasure—when i can be bothered to finish them. doing the same thing all the time bores me, which is why i love being able to work when i want and partake in all that life has to offer. i can do any and everything on the computer and there’s always more to learn."
"much of my childhood i try to let go of, but one picture has survived the tests of time. one photo in particular. it’s of myself and my baby brother brendan. while we were in foster care, our parents did manage to snap a photo of us. i reflected on this picture throughout my childhood, hoping that one day we would be adopted and never be separated. that’s a big dream for a kid to think about, but i’ve always been one to think about the future. that was the driving factor for why i didn’t fall by the wayside like most of my friends from back in the day. even though i took the high road and got an education, i still do what i want and resist rules and regularity. i knew that to get the end result, i had to deal with some form of routine. now that brendan and i are grown, i’ve framed the picture and keep it safe in my room."
"the impossible situation that i mentioned earlier was being in foster care along with my brother brendan. the reason i was there was because of my mother. of course at the time i didn't know it was because she wasn't right. i was told that she didn't want us and wasn't coming back. that fucked me up as a child, and was probably the driving factor behind why i acted out and did what i wanted. i hated her for deserting my brother and i. eventually, i did figure out the truth and i have a better relationship with her."
JUSTIN CARVER, HALF-BROTHER.
"he’s my oldest half-brother. he adopted me when i turned fifteen. at the time of course i didn’t know he was my brother. all i knew was that my mother didn’t want me or my brother so she left us. when i got adopted all i could think was that i was happy that my prayers had been answered and that soon my brother would join me. justin became my father figure—my foster mother was single so i didn’t have that influence. as with all adoptions, my progress was monitored for a year before justin was allowed to adopt brendan. i just always thought that he was a kind human being willing to adopt not one, but two kids. imagine my surprise when i found out that not only was he my brother, but everything i’d been told about our mother wasn’t true."
BRENDAN SANTIAGO, BROTHER.
"my baby brother. up until i got adopted, he was the only family i ever knew. the worst part about getting adopted first was being away from him. i used to pray all the time that whichever one of us got adopted that we would stay together and never forget about each other. so when justin adopted me, i vowed to be on my best behavior do what i could to stay in contact with brendan. we were all each other had. it wasn’t until brendan was adopted that i found out that justin was our brother along with tyrese. being that we grew up together, naturally i’m close to brendan. but i didn’t realize what he was going through until justin caught him cutting himself. i’m usually the one that always sees the silver lining, the good in everything and every situation. so i took that as his cry for help and i did what i could to help."
PROFESSOR OVARD, CS PROFESSOR.
"he was my main professor in college. he was always the one that pushed me to hone my craft. i guess he saw something in me that at first i didn’t see in myself. he spent extra time with me after class, teaching me tips and tricks that would help me better grasp the vast field of computer science. in addition to the standard work in our syllabus that he assigned our class, he gave me self-study assignments. it was while doing those self-study assignments that i began to really excel. i would teach myself how to code and hack into different operating systems. then it was my task to create a way to prevent it from happening. his tutelage molded me into the hacker i am today—in more ways than one."
"i often delve into waters that i have no business in. the higher the risk—of course not for me—the greater the reward. making my life and other’s lives interesting is my main goal. and when the situation benefits me, that’s all the better. i enjoy stirring the pot and watching others squirm and sweat. the moment you get involved with me, it’s safe to say that you’ve signed your death sentence. as some old person once said, you’re not remembered for the amount of people that you fuck, but for how many hearts you break."
"now while creating and causing drama is my forte, i’m difficult to read. i like to keep people guessing, ultimately making them bend over backwards to get reactions out of me. my actions—while calculated—appear spontaneous and often throw people off balance. i can be the breath of fresh air that people often need in their life, while at the same time being the worst thing that ever happened to them."
"the way that i dress, the way i talk—even my tattoos—it’s all apart of the greater scheme to stand out. it’s not like i’m a person that’s hard to miss. i’m not one to boast—well not often—but when the time calls for it, i will list my accolades. i’ve had a colorful past, but it has made me the man that i am today. good or bad—mostly bad—right or wrong."
"believe it or not, foster care wasn’t unbearable, but it was still an impossible situation. the only consolation was that i had my brother and my friends. whenever i wasn’t at the foster house—cause i damn sure wouldn’t consider that home—with my head buried in a graphic novel or at the local library in cyberspace, i was out with my friends. some were from the foster house and others were from the neighborhood. my niggas and i lived in our own world. we broke the rules; breaking curfew, skipping school sometimes and just all out doing what we wanted. savages was the best word to describe us so we each got ‘savage life’ tatted on our arms. it was after i started high school that things changed for me. one of my niggas got into some trouble at school which resulted in him getting expelled and his parents moved him away. it was then that i decided to cool it with my antics—at least while at school—and take my studies more seriously. i knew that the answer to my problems and the hatred i felt towards my parents was to find the proper outlet. it was then that i became a wiccan. i tried out different religions and this one aligned more with my spirit. if i did no harm to anyone, i could do what i wanted. then i got adopted by justin—who turned out to be my oldest half-brother. he adopted brendan not long after and it was then that i started piecing together the truth about our family."
"once i found out that justin, brendan, tyrese and myself were all related i wanted to know more about my parents. my father was a non-factor—he disappeared after brendan’s birth and subsequent overdose. he and my mom were toxic for each other and would often have violent fights. i didn’t want to know him so i wasn’t hurting over that. my interest was on finding my mother. who would’ve thought that she’d be right here in ashwick? a place that i’ve been practically all my life. i wanted answers for the questions that constantly kept me awake at night as a child. how could you just leave your kids and not look back? when i felt like i was ready, i sought out my mom to get the answers i desperately needed. it turned out that it wasn’t her choice to leave us. we were taken from her because it was determined to be best for us. at the time my mom was on drugs and the risk was that we wouldn’t survive being in her care. over time, i forgave her—years of hatred didn’t disappear overnight—and now i live with her. she gives me everything that i ask for, of course whenever i don’t want to buy it myself. i guess she’s making up for lost time."
TASTE OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT.
"when i was in college, that’s when i first got into guys. my first was professor ovard. at first we had a platonic teacher-student relationship, but things changed. one evening after class during one of our study sessions he made the first move. i was taken aback because i’d never been with a guy, but i didn’t fight resist him. after that night, he wanted to keep what happened a secret. but i had other plans. even though i was an excellent student, i wanted extra privileges. and professor ovard gave me those privileges. he didn’t have a choice in the matter because if he didn’t, i would go to the dean with what happened between us."