This story takes place in Bel Air, a "mid-level slum" in Haiti. It is a community that is fraught with gang violence and crime. The protagonist Pascal's mother and father own a restaurant, and because the gang members tend to take over the restaurant at night, it does good business...
This story takes place in Bel Air, a "mid-level slum" in Haiti. It is a community that is fraught with gang violence and crime. The protagonist Pascal's mother and father own a restaurant, and because the gang members tend to take over the restaurant at night, it does good business and allows the family to prosper. The family stays because they make enough money to send their children to better schools, which will set them up for brighter futures. Pascal's older brother, Jules, had already gotten married and left the country.
Pascal dreams of having his own radio show where he "talk[s] about the geto from the inside" and acquaints the rest of the country with the personalities and lives of the gang members. His friend, Max, pitches the idea but it gets shot down. Then the station leaders essentially steal it for themselves. The gang members taunt Pascal and suggest that he ought to "kick [the] ass" of the people who took his idea. Pascal considers asking Jules to send for him, but when the radio station gets shot up, one of the local gang leaders, Tiye, names Pascal as the "mastermind of the operation," and Pascal is arrested. He is treated horribly by the police, and he thinks of how there is no difference between the behavior of the gangs and the special forces.
His parents come to comfort him and Jules pays for a good lawyer; however, soon, Pascal is accused of being a suspect in a number of other cases:
In him, [the police] found a scapegoat for a whole tally of unsolved crimes.
The lawyer demands more money and advises that they bribe the judge. Soon, Pascal is released after Tiye blackmails the police. In the end, Tiye tells Pascal that he did what he did to "give [Pascal] a taste" of "what it's like for [them]."
The setting and the poverty experienced by individuals in this community drives many of them to crime. This compels Pascal to want to change the perception of the criminals in the community, but he learns that the police are actually more corrupt than the criminals. He dreams of expanding his radio show to talk even more about the gang members:
These were the real ghosts, he would say, the phantom limbs, phantom minds, phantom loves that haunt us, because they were used, then abandoned, because they were desolate, because they were violent, because they were merciless, because they were out of choices, because they did not want to be driven away, because they were poor.
In the end, the criminals keep him more safe than the police do.