Killing Time at Shadow Mountain High

When bad things happen to good neighbors

Tommy Lopez, who was part of the fight but was not charged, sits out inthe hallway, waiting to testify. He's a handsome kid, as lean as Greg is stocky, and he seems to wear a constant smirk. Lori Norfolk's stepson sits next to him, sucking on a Tootsie Roll pop while waiting his turn. Their parents are not with them in court.

At the end of the hearing, as Pat McCarville's parents leave the courthouse with the detective investigating the case, Lopez and the other boy are driving past in the parking lot.

Dramatically, the boys spin tires, and shout something out the windows that neither the McCarvilles nor the detective can hear, but which they interpret as menacing.

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Later, when Lori Norfolk hears of the parking-lot incident, she explains that her son Greg and Tommy were really joshing with Mike Shoemaker and his family, that Tommy had accidentally driven his car over the curb, and that the boys and Mike's family were calling back and forth jokingly when the McCarvilles walked past.

"They can say what they want, but that's not what happened," says Pat McCarville, the father of Pat Jr.

More than once, Theresa McCarville has heard the thump, thump of music that throbs like a parody of a heartbeat out of cars with tinted windows that cruise down her street and pause in front of her house. She's given license-plate numbers tothe police, but they won't tell her who the cars belong to. Like all the parents involved, Theresa is scared for her kids.

Lori Norfolk's got her own fears. Her son has been in trouble before and, like the McCarvilles, she wonders how far the kids will go.

"I have a 10-year-old, too. Greg [Acevedo, Greg's father] has two other sons that come and visit with us. And we worry now: Are they going to come back and go after us because of this?

"You wonder how far is it going to go on?"
And no one has faith that the courts will put an end to it.

Meanwhile, on a Friday night, the Shadow Mountain basketball team bullies past a lesser opponent on its way to winning the state championship.

The team plays with the single-minded determination of teenagers, all elbows and emotions, the players' parents in the stands, bleating as if the game were mortal combat to decide the fate of the universe.

The Shadow Mountain players are good; they look good. They sport tattoos, and one starter wears his hair in a shade of Dennis Rodman yellow, a color more commonly seen on 1970s kitchen appliances. They wear their shorts low on the hips, big and baggy, and long enough to reach below their knees--gangbanger style--and whether that is intended to make them look more intimidating or whether it's just youthful imitation of their college-ball idols is anyone's guess.

Coach Jerry Conner is as mystified as anyone as to why four of his players--one varsity and three junior varsity team members--could find themselves fighting. He saw no sign of overt aggression in their demeanor. Fighting is strictly forbidden in games.

"Not only do they get sat down," Conner says, "they miss the next ball game. That's a state rule."

The kids remain heartbreakingly loyal to the memory of their late teammates.
When they go to the bench, they pull on white tee shirts; printed on the backs of the shirts are the yearbook portraits of Ryan Winn and Danny Richardson.

"It's not about hype," the shirts proclaim. "It's about the pride. It's about the love.

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