TITLE: Parallel Lives
Chris Burke recalls the events leading up to the death of James LaValle. Convinced that James killed his best friend's dog, Chris encounters James in the school parking lot.
I left black streaks on the pavement as I careened into the parking lot, heedless of the danger to the car or the kids who were drifting back to the building after lunch. Heads snapped around as I roared through the lot. Kids jumped out of my way and cursed at me. I barely saw them. My attention was focused on the far end of the lot, where James was gathered around the back of his car with a small group. I screeched to a halt and flew out of the car, homing in on LaValle like a missile.
“You killed her dog! You killed her f****** dog!”
I grabbed him by his jacket and threw him back, using every ounce of strength I had. He bounced off his car and fell to the ground. I chased him down and aimed kicks at his side, shouting and cursing the whole time.
He scuttled in between his car and the one next to it. I lunged after him but strong hands grabbed me and pinned my arms. I was propelled backwards and slammed against my car. Breath exploded out in a painful gasp. I struggled to regain some air, tried in vain to pull my arms free from the iron grasp of Frankie Balsam and Tommy Dunne.
“Lemme go, Tommy,” I said in a weak voice around gasps. “You’re not going to help that dog-killing scumbag, are you?”
LaValle got to his feet and checked his face for blood. Students who had been heading to the building were drawn back to the commotion like moths to a streetlight.