|"Steppin' Out" is a view into the life of a man, Armando Reyes, trying to take a positive step forward in his relationship with his family, while trying to cope with the aspects of gang life that constantly draw him into conflict.
We open in a prison, second home for some of those unable to escape the gangster/criminal life. Armando is uncertain about his fate due to his upcoming parole hearing. He attempts to reassure his mother, Ermy, and son, Donnie, that things will go well. He is determined to break that institutionalized frame of mind this time around, because he is tired of being in and out of the system, and he wants to be there to watch his son grow up.
The lines are more concrete in prison; as solid as the pavement the inmates walk on. Your affiliations can either save your life or bring you one step closer to your maker. Racial riots always the common, tension brews between the black and Latino inmates. The Black "shot caller", P-Dogg, calls for Armando and the other Asian car to take their side in the fight. P-Dogg reminds Armando that he owes for when they had his back against the Aryan prison gangs. Armando backs down, and the other Asians follow his lead, being their shot caller. They respect his decision, knowing that getting involved may affect his chances at parole. P-Dogg walks away in disgust, stating that his decision will definitely have repercussions.
Life seems to take a positive turn as he is released from prison. However, he still is unable shake his decision to not back P-Dogg and his group. The bus ride downtown from prison is the first of a series of altercations that lead to another point in his life where he has to make the decision to step out of the gang life and be a father to Donnie. One of P-Dogg's henchmen, Jackson, confronts Armando on the bus ride out, but things calm down under the watchful eye of a corrections officer. Upon leaving the bus station, Jackson points at Armando, his hand pulling back as if he were shooting him with a gun.
We meet Armando's cousin Jay, who picks him up from the bus station in a "hot model," or stolen car. Armando feels as if he is being tested, trying to turn away from anything and everything illegal, but he is anxious to get home, so he accepts the ride.
Armando attempts to adjust to regular life with the help of his Mother and Parole Officer, Mr. Silver. One day he is mowing the lawn and he notices a suspicious vehicle driving slowly on his street. Instincts kick in, and he ducks behind a cabinet as the car drives by his mom's house. Later on, as Armando is walking Donnie home from school, that same suspicious car comes roaring up the hill, and Armando pulls Donnie to the ground to narrowly escape being shot in a drive by shooting. Once again, the life he is trying to leave behind catches up to him.
Not wanting to jeopardize his attempt at going straight, he calls on junior members of his gang to find out who tried to kill him. With a partial license plate, make and model, and the right connections, he sends his "little cats" on their mission. He tries to cope by calling Mr. Silver, but is unable to tell him all the facts so as not to affect any chances to retaliate. Another homie from his "set", or gang, Sleepy, calls Armando back with information about the drive by vehicle belonging to someone related to Jackson. Frustrated at not being able to handle the situation himself, he leaves the task to Sleepy and the little cats.
His cousin Jay, Sleepy, and other members of his set kill those responsible for the drive by shooting. Armando is relieved after finding out that his attackers were dealt with. He goes to report to Mr. Silver.
As Armando calmly steps off the bus to report to his parole officer, he is confronted by a familiar voice. P-Dogg, fresh out on parole, runs up on Armando and the final confrontation ensues between the two shot callers. They take turns swinging at each other and stepping back, each trying to measure the other up. Armando sees a chance and takes a quick swing at P-Dogg, catching him off guard, and knocking him out. Police officers arrive and quickly subdue Armando. Mr. Silver comes running out of the Parole Office, takes stock of the situation. Witnesses give their account of what happened, and Mr. Silver assures Armando that he is likely to get off on self-defense. The scene closes with Armando staring out the back of a police car to be interrogated by Mr. Silver and parting thoughts on stepping out of prison, stepping out of the old life and into the new. Simply put, he is STEPPIN' OUT.
2004 Al Michael Farin
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