SHE KICKED off
her shoes to dance. Felicia Hendricks liked to dance, and this was a party, and
kicking off your shoes seemed to be an obvious thing to do. Her boyfriend told
her she was crazy. Why take off your shoes? Someone could steal them. They
could be lost. This was somebody else's house. Why take off your shoes in
somebody else's house? Anything could happen.
Warren," Felicia Hendricks said. "No one will take my shoes."
How about this
guy? He was so different from the other kids she knew. Daddy. That was his
nickname. Harold Warren Moon. Everybody's daddy. The average teenage boy in Los
Angeles in the early '70s seemed to be a pinball of emotions and noise,
bouncing off the city walls, screaming into the adolescent night. This boy ...
well, just the way she had met him said as much about him as anything. They
were sophomores in the same chemistry class at Hamilton High. He seemed, from
afar, to be quiet and shy. When she first spoke to him, she asked him for a
pencil. There was a test, and she did not have a pencil. He had three,
sharpened, lined up on his desk. She wanted to borrow just one of them.
have brought your own pencil," he said. "You knew there was going to be
a test. How could you come to a test without a pencil?"
So different. She
grew to like him, to like his methodical and solid ways, his quiet, his calm,
his good sense; but he could drive a person to distraction.
The party, that
night she kicked off her shoes, was a celebration in a couple of ways. First,
Hamilton had beaten neighboring Crenshaw High in football, and second, Moon,
the Hamilton quarterback, was still alive. There had been a death threat during
the week. A Crenshaw player had told Felicia that if Hamilton won, Moon was
going to be killed. Simple as that. In other places on the national high school
map, this perhaps could be dismissed as pregame trash talk. But in L.A. in 1973
the gangs had begun their lethal rise--the Crips and the Bloods and all the
rest--and this Crenshaw player was a known gang member. When he talked, it paid
Moon, for one,
had listened. Felicia pointed out the guy on the street, and Moon went straight
for him. Felicia thought there would be trouble, a fight. Moon put out his hand
to shake. "Hi," he said. "I'm Warren Moon. Good luck on Friday
night." So different. Following a sensible discussion with the Crenshaw
player, he had nevertheless sensibly informed his mother, his coach and the
appropriate authorities, and then he proceeded to play the game, in which he
sensibly cleaned Crenshaw's clock.
Now there was the
victory party. Felicia danced and Moon danced, and at some point in the
festivities, some kids from Crenshaw arrived. Moon stopped dancing. Were they
here for him? No. A Hamilton kid was dancing with a Crenshaw kid's girl, and as
the fight began, as the kid from Crenshaw grabbed a lamp and swung it at the
Hamilton kid's head, Moon grabbed Felicia's hand and pulled her out the front
door. He started running down the street, and she ran with him. When the sound
of pistol shots came from the house, Moon and Felicia dived to the sidewalk
shoes," she said. "They're still back there."