The writer on his friend Tony Davis, a middle-age man who was convicted of killing a 13-year-old boy when he was 18. Adapted from Stray Bullet, a new single from The Atavist:
“I first met Tony Davis in the early 1990s, when I was a young reporter for an Oakland-based alternative weekly. The city was a hot spot in the nation’s crack epidemic, and turf warfare had sent its homicide rate soaring. I wanted to put a human face on the issue of teens killing teens, which is how I met Tony, who was two years into an 18-to-life sentence for Kevin Reed’s murder. That shooting would become the focus of my 1995 book, Drive-By.
“We kept in touch, and somewhere along the way, Tony ceased to be my subject and became my friend. Over the years, we have exchanged probably a couple hundred letters and shared countless phone calls. Inmates sometimes ask him about the white man whose picture is on his cell wall. ‘He’s like the only real best friend that I’ve had in years,’ Tony tells them.”