Who will cry?

“Duane” came into my life when I was a homebound teacher for Wood County. He and another eighth-grade boy were the last ones known to be in the boys’ bathroom before the toilet paper roll there was discovered to be on fire. He was expelled for the remainder of the school term, seven months in the future.

We spent a few weeks getting to trust one another. He learned to save pennies rather than toss them into the trash. He learned that I’d leave my purse in his custody, alone. He learned his schooling lessons well.

Duane was a bright young man, but he made poor decisions. He would pick up a cigarette butt and light it, neither caring nor knowing who had tossed it down. He scrawled his own name across the back of a local store building. His name, for the next twenty-five years, appeared regularly in local police and sheriff reports. For an armed robbery of a taxi, he netted $40 and a few years in jail. The last time I read about him, he had escaped home confinement for “possession with intent to deliver.”

Duane died only a few days ago, from an overdose, a beloved relative told me just today. Philosophical, “Bill” remarked on two things about Duane’s death: One, that had he been caught sooner, he might still be alive. Two, that Duane’s early death kept him from a life that surely would have been hard, however many years may have remained to him.

As I sat on my porch today, sobbing for the young, cheerful person I had known, I wondered, “Will anybody else cry for Duane?”

Kay Hill

Mineral Wells


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