My second book is about a boy who has Asperger's Syndrome and is bullied to the point to where he shoots up his school. I have divided the excerpts from it into three parts: Before, during and after the shooting.
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When Marvin Leversee moves with his family to Ramsgate, New Jersey, he is full of hopeful optimism. However, the children of Ramsgate perceive that there is something not quite right about him, that he’s weird. From day one, he is bullied, humiliated, and abused by almost everybody. When his name is legally changed to Mark, it’s just another thing for them to bully him about. It’s also the case when he is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. His life is made a complete misery and anything good is either short lived or taken away. Furthermore, his mother, the schools and even the police seem powerless or unwilling to do anything. After three years of living hell, Mark goes to school one day with a couple of guns and does the unthinkable. When it’s all over, the questions asked are “Is it because he was weird or was he driven to it and who is really to blame?”
Mid October brought basketball tryouts and it was the dream of most of the boys at Tye School to play for the Tornadoes. Mark joined the rest of the hopefuls of the seventh and sixth grades hoping to make the jayvee squad. He saw as soon as he went through the drills and fundamentals that he wasn’t as gifted as some of the other boys, but he didn’t let that spoil his determination.
The eighth graders hoping to make the varsity team practiced at the other end of the gym. This didn’t stop some of them from coming down to watch the jayvee hopefuls. As he took his place to do suicide drills, he saw the likes of Joe Callazone, David Roseman and Jim Nickerson, all of whom were likely to make the team, all looking at him.
“Go Marvin!” David sarcastically called out as he ran past.
“Get the lead out of your rear!” Joe chided.
When he ran back the other way, a tall thin lad named Vince Czenko made a move as if he was going to trip him. Mark sidestepped this would be attempt, but nearly stumbled in the process. This sent the eighth graders into hysterics. However, when he turned back to run up court again, Jim looked as if he was going to repeat Vince’s trip attempt. Thinking it was another joke, Mark ignored it and ran with an extra burst of speed in an attempt to go past. Only this time it wasn’t a joke. At the very last second, Jim extended his leg and sent Mark crashing face first to the floor.
“What’s wrong Leversee, can’t you stay on your feet?” Mr Danko queried as Mark picked himself up with the eighth graders cackling behind him.
All he could think was “Didn’t he see them trip me?” as he got up and continued to run the drill. However, the eighth graders weren’t quite finished with him. As he ran the final leg, Joe Callazone stepped in front of him to block his path. He tried to sidestep Joe but he pushed him into the arms of the waiting group who collectively pushed him into the wall.
As he tried to get away, Jim grabbed his shirt and putting his face near Mark’s breathed, “If you tell Danko I tripped you, you’re dead.”
Seeing the upset look on his face, Mr Danko asked him what was wrong. “The eighth graders pushed me up against the wall,” Mark explained.
Mr Danko gave them a brief look and then said to Mark, “Don’t worry about it.” Nothing more was said or done.
For the next two weeks, he had no further trouble at basketball practice. The jayvee and varsity held their practices at opposite ends of the gym and whenever the practice for either went full court, the others were ordered to sit and watch. This steadied Mark a little, but it wasn’t enough to help him make the team. At the end of the two weeks, he was cut along with Gene and many others.
They might have been cut from the team, but that didn’t stop Mark and Gene from staying behind to watch basketball practice after school on some days. For them, it was something to do and they stayed out of the players’ way so they didn’t get hassled. That was until one evening when after watching practice, he went to retrieve his bike.
As he turned the corner outside the school building, he saw four boys standing around a fallen bicycle. All of them he knew to be eighth graders and one of them was Mark Wolfe, who he knew from football. One boy was beating one of the tyres with a huge metal chain. Taking a few steps closer, he became horrified to see that it was his bike that was being smashed to bits.
“Is this your bike?” Mark Wolfe asked in a condescending tone. “Well, you’ll have trouble getting it home tonight.”
“We didn’t do this,” another boy pleaded innocently. “We saw some other kids doing it.”
“ But I just saw you beating the tyre,” Mark pointed out.
“That’s all we did, we didn’t do the rest,” Mark Wolfe declared.
With that, the four boys all walked off, giving Mark a combination of cold stares and slimy grins as they went past. He was left to survey the damage to his bike. The spokes on both wheels had been completely smashed in, the seat was ripped to shreds and the handlebars were dislodged. All he could think about was what his mother would say.
Mrs Leversee was upset when she picked Mark up that evening, but not with him. After they had put what was left of the bike into the trunk of the car, she wondered out loud, “Why is it always your bike?”
“It’s because I quit football,” he offered in response.
Mother gave a look of disbelief at her son’s last statement. But she asked, “Are kids picking on you because you quit the football team?”
He gave a nod and she further ranted, “It wasn’t like you were the star player! This shouldn’t be happening to you just because of that.”
Her words gave him some comfort as they drove off. To his surprise, she headed straight for the police station. The police officer at the desk had them fill out a statement based on what he knew and he indicated Mark Wolfe by name. He watched as the officer collected the statement and followed them out to view the destroyed bike. He assured Mrs Leversee that the case would be looked into and action taken. Therefore, when he got home that night, Mark felt certain that justice would be done.
Everything seemed fine the next day. He didn’t see Mark Wolfe or any of the other boys who were involved with the wrecking of his bike, so he believed justice had truly been done. It was only after he arrived home from school that he learned otherwise.
“It was terrible,” Mrs Leversee moaned when he got in. “The detective had all four boys in together and questioned them as a group. The one boy did all the talking and the other three just went ‘Yeah, yeah’ at whatever he said. They claimed all they were trying to do was take off the back tyre and that other kids had done the rest, although they couldn’t describe those other kids. I bet if that detective had questioned them separately, it would have been different.”
Mark wasn’t completely surprised at the news and went to school the next day anxiously worried about retribution. Nothing happened at school for the next two weeks, except for the usual teasing, Tommy Allen’s hand slipping a couple of times and body checks from Joe Kellerman, so his worries began to ease a little. That was until the last day of school before the Thanksgiving weekend.
As he was getting on his bike to leave school, Mark Wolfe and his chain-wielding friend stepped in front of him. “I see you got your bike fixed,” sneered Wolfe with an evil smile. As he was speaking, he reached into the basket on Mark’s bike and took one of his books and threw it.
“What you gonna do about that?” he asked menacingly. “Are you gonna get the cops on me?” With the second question, he kicked the larger sprocket on the bike.
“We don’t like liars, or quitters,” he spat further and then gave the front tyre two kicks. “We didn’t wreck your bike, we told you that.”
“He was probably trying to get you to buy him a new bike like he did me,” a fresh voice intervened. Mark knew that voice straight away, it was David Fitzpatrick. He stood not far away delighting in another spectacle of Mark being humiliated.
“You better not say I was involved in this,” he warned.
“Me neither,” Wolfe breathed, sticking his fist up to Mark’s face. “If you do, we’ll just tell the cops you’re making up more lies.”
“And if you try to get him arrested for assault and battery, my father says to let him know and he’ll defend them in court,” David added.
He wasn’t sure whether or not to believe David. This caused so much anxiety and confusion, that all he was able to do was to squeak, “I won’t.” Wolfe punched him in the arm and gave one last kick to his bike before walking off. David too rode off looking very bemused. Mark was left to retrieve his notebook and ride home feeling humiliated yet again. He now knew that justice certainly hadn’t been done.
He knew he had to make haste to number two before the alarm was completely raised. Otherwise, he would have paused a further second to listen to the screams of some of the wounded. Changing magazines of the Uzi, he held it at his side and reached for the pistol as he neared Tommy Allen’s lifeless looking body. He was glad he had watched DVDs of “Saving Private Ryan” and “A Bridge Too Far,” otherwise the ocean of red now created by the bleeding bodies of Tommy, Joe, Ron and Terry might have made him sick. He had no time to think of that now. Standing over Tommy, he took the nine-millimetre pistol out of the holster and pointing it at Tommy said, “My finger slipped again,” before squeezing off one round into the middle of his forehead.
In the weeks followed, this advertisement was often heard on local radio stations:
“Were you affected by the terrible tragedy that befell Bernard Tye School? Was your child among the casualties? Were they one of the ones who were wounded and will need ongoing medical care? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then we may be able to help you. We, at the law firm of Silverman and Pizzano, can help you get the justice you are entitled to. Our dedicated team of lawyers will fight for you to make sure you are fairly compensated. Our no win, no fee scheme means that if you are not compensated, you pay nothing in costs. So call us now and get the justice you deserve. That’s Silverman and Pizzano working for you.”
Howard Bernstein looked at the distraught mother and father sitting across from him. He did his best to try to reassure them. “Mr and Mrs Cherisso,” he began, “I know it doesn’t seem right not to sue the parents of Mark Leversee, but I know we wouldn’t get a decent payout and naturally, we will sue the man who gave him the access to the guns. But there are others higher up who are just as responsible: the school knew that the Leversee boy was bullied and did little to stop it. They also failed in their duty of care to protect your daughter so we should definitely go after them as well as the police. I know that the Leversee family had a restraining order against one of his bullies, who constantly broke the restraining order, yet the police did nothing. I also know that another of the bullies was the nephew of the chief of police, so they didn’t act effectively on account of that. It’s these people who failed your daughter and it is they who should pay.”
Al and Sandra Cherisso still weren’t sure about it. Al inquired, “Are you sure we would be successful if we sued the police and the school and what would the town think of us?” He had heard of cases like this where cities and large corporations were sued for large amounts of money but he wasn’t sure it was actually true.
Prepared for that question, the lawyer replied, “I can’t guarantee 100% that we would win but we have an excellent chance. As for the town, I think most people would sympathise with you because after all, your daughter was killed needlessly.”
It took a little more discussion and persuasion from the attorney but the Cherisso’s agreed to sue the school and the police department for a total of three million dollars. They knew it wouldn’t bring Lydia back but they believed Howard Bernstein when he said it would bring them closure.