Sunday, May 4, 2014


David Earle 1970-2008
I have written about David before, and have thought about him often. Today, however, I did a simple search and the news I sensed was there made me wished I hadn't.  Here is an excerpt from a April, 2013 post:
Simulation Drill?: Often, in interviews, you are asked situational questions where you can simulate your responses and they can get an idea of your affect and behavior. Sometimes this is done as a role-play. Well, I had the mother of all role-plays in 1985, but I don't think it was scripted. I had arrived in Jamaica as a Peace Corps Volunteer without an assignment (long story, other posts) and had heard about an orphanage that needed a teacher for a year. I contacted them and scheduled an interview with the director the next day. When I arrived at the school, I was surprised to see it had been an old tourist hotel overlooking Montego Bay. It was quaint and dated, and the boys lived in the old guest rooms (four boys to a room). There were only two floors, one central area, and an abandoned pool. I made my way upstairs to meet with the director and casually looked down the railed hall of the second floor. I could hear activity at the end of the balcony and I figured classes were going on there. I went into the office and began what was to be a half-hour interview - it didn't last nearly that long. We exchanged pleasantries, and he explained the nature of his need: The regular teacher was pregnant and needed to take a year's leave. She presided over a one-room school with seventeen boys ages 7-17. In his words, these were the boys "too spirited to appreciate the benefits of a traditional education." I got his drift.
He seemed pleased with my answers and was in mid-sentence with another question when we heard a very loud scream from outside. I knew it came from the end of the hall I had passed, and my instinct led me to bolt up and run down to the room. I emerged first, with the director close behind, and saw a very large, very pregnant Jamaican woman against the wall with her hand over her mouth. My eyes followed her gaze and I looked over to see a small boy poking a homemade knife into the belly of a much larger boy. Once again, I acted without thought and tackled the larger boy sensing he was the cause of the problem. The director caught the smaller child and calmed him down and I held the older boy until we could take him down to the office. He had only superficial cuts to his stomach. I survived the interview (new meaning to that phrase now) and I got the job, and after a year and a half, I did make some progress trying to reach David, the older bully. The kids were wonderful and I learned so much about education in that little room without resources.
David is dead at 38, having served time in prison. I can see him clearly, as can I see his young victim. Two boys, both in worn and tattered uniforms, shaved heads, and little or no futures. The younger boy, Colin, was very sweet but had severe cognitive deficits. David must have come from some kind of hellish childhood I couldn't fathom. Colin loved to hug people, David might never have been hugged in his life. I don't know what either boy took to bed with them each night as they slept in open rooms with dank and soiled bedding. I don't know what motivated David to hurt Colin, as I never saw any satisfaction on his face. I did manage to get David to leave Colin alone eventually, and that might have been my only significant contribution to the lives of those 17 children. I saw the emptiness in David's eyes, and I could find no imagination or hope to put there. I don't know if ghosts come from such devastated souls, but if they do, David's loss will haunt me for a great while I suspect.