Drive-By by Lynne Ewing

Book: Drive-By by Lynne Ewing Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lynne Ewing
    I don’t go out at night anymore.
    Sometimes I have to for Mom.
    Like the night Jimmy died.
    Jimmy was my brother. Mom laughed at all his dumb jokes. She called him funny bones.
    I’ve never known anyone who could make people laugh as much as Jimmy could.
    Mina, my little sister, giggled at Jimmy’s faces. Mina wants to be a princess when she grows up. She’s still at an age where she thinks that’s possible.
    I’m the serious one. Jimmy called me a worry toad.
    That made Mom laugh.
    They’re all good-looking. Not me. I don’t look like I belong in the same family. My nose is too big for my face. My eyes are too small for my nose. Mom says I have character, though. Zevacross the street says that means I’m honest and dependable.
    The night Jimmy died, Jimmy and I were walking Mina home from a birthday party. Mina had tied her long black hair on one side in a ponytail. She thinks that’s what a princess does.
    Near the library, the wind started blowing. Leaves fell from the elm trees and scattered across the sidewalk. The library, dark and silent, had been closed for a long time. It looked haunted. Everyone said it was.
    So, of course, Jimmy decided to play the claw.
    “I can’t control my hand,” he yelled.
    He made his right hand into a claw.
    “Help me,” he cried.
    Mina screamed.
    “Don’t do it, Jimmy,” I said. “We’re already late.”
    Jimmy stumbled around, fighting his right hand. He used to scare me with that claw routine, too.
    He ran after Mina. He made it look like his hand was chasing Mina. He staggered after her, fighting his hand.
    She squealed and ran.
    I hated Jimmy’s claw routine more than anything. There was no way you could stop him when he started.
    That was the last thing I saw him do.
    Mina ran behind the library.
    “Great work, Clawman,” I said. “We were supposed to be home an hour ago.”
    That was my fault mostly. I couldn’t say no to a second piece of chocolate birthday cake.
    “Don’t be such a worry toad,” Jimmy said. Then he smiled.
    I shook my head. “We shouldn’t be out this late.”
    “Tito, relax. Okay?” Jimmy said.
    My real name is Timothy Thomas, but everyone calls me Tito.
    I left Jimmy alone on the sidewalk and ran after Mina.
    Behind the library, wind rushed through the trees, making shadows shift and change shape. Branches creaked and groaned.
    I found Mina right away. Without the claw chasing her, she didn’t think it was fun to run and scream. Besides, it was dark and scary behind the library.
    “You got to stop running away from me,” I said. “Someday I won’t be able to find you.”
    She didn’t answer. She didn’t think a brother should talk to his princess sister that way.
    We walked toward the front of the library, our shoes kicking up dead leaves.
    That’s when I heard music, hard and heavy loud music. The beat made my chest pound. I knew gangbangers were rolling nearby.
    Tires skidded.
    I peeked around the building.
    A car stopped near Jimmy. The shadows and trees made it hard to see. Four guys slouched low in the car. I could barely see their heads. I thought maybe they were asking Jimmy for directions.
    Then gunshots exploded.
    White angry fire flashed from the backseat.
    Mina grabbed her ears. When she feels really scared, she doesn’t scream and run. She freezes and sucks in air in a long sigh.
    Jimmy fell.
    I knew he was teasing, and it made me angry. I couldn’t believe he’d tease me that way.
    I only thought that for a heartbeat.
    The car sped away. The taillights—differentcolors, one red, one orange—blurred as the car disappeared around the corner.
    I ran to Jimmy.
    I’ve never run as fast as I did that night.
    I kept hoping he’d get up. I wanted him to laugh at me for being so scared and call me a pathetic worry toad.
    Jimmy lay still as a stone. Something seeped onto the sidewalk around him.
    I stopped and pushed Mina behind me.
    “Go sit on the steps,” I said.
    “No,” she said, and ran to Jimmy, her

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