Maria is cleaning windows in the second floor master bedroom of the Armstrongs' house when she sees the gang in their green hoodies, legs propelling their skateboards up the curved driveway of the house next door. The white boy in the lead has a handsome, puckish face and a crowbar in his hand. A few strands of long red hair escape his hood, but his skin is almost as brown as her own.
He glances up before she can duck away and for a moment their gazes hold. She reads a promise in his eyes—the possibility of…everything—and an unfamiliar flutter moves in her chest.
He gives her a wink, then wedges the crowbar into the doorjamb by the lock. Wood splinters. The largest of the gang, a tall black man, kicks the door open like it's balsa wood. They all troop inside. Luz is last. Except for the white boy in the lead, none of the others have looked in her direction. A moment later the door shuts and it's like they were never there.
Maria half-expects an alarm to go off, but many homeowners in Desert View feel secure enough with the management of their gated community not to bother. Most criminals just pick easier targets.
She wonders how the hooded gang got past the guards. It doesn't matter how long she's been working here, she still has to show her I.D. every time the bus lets her off at the front gate, and the guard always checks her name against his list.
She looks up and down the street. No one seems to have noticed the intruders or even heard their boards as they rolled through the neighbourhood. In the barrio everyone notices everything, but here, people shut themselves away in their houses. Most are at work right now anyway.