Once when I was young and naive, I believed that social ills of society such as racism, poor parenting, etc., could be bred out of society. I felt that anyone could get himself or herself out of almost any situation if they had the willpower to do so. Now older and much wiser in the ways of the world, I understand that some people never had a chance. Donnie was one of those people.
Donnie was a classmate of mine and the son of a person the local dubbed "Wild Horses", so named for his method of trying to tame horse with chainsaws without chains. As the name suggests, I think the horses probably end up more wild than tame. I can't say this for sure as I never saw him with horses or a chainsaw. It might have even been one of those urban myths.
I did know Donnie and to some extent his older brother Paul who was a grade or four above me depending on the year and if the teachers had passed him or not. Paul would graduate in the grade above me but couldn't add two plus two or spell cat. He was mentally challenged as they refer to such people these days. Most teachers just passed him onto the next grade because no one knew what to do with him. Those that flunked him got him again the next year and didn't repeat their error. Thus he eventually graduated destined for a janitorial job for life.
Donnie and Paul came to school dressed in rags even from my childhood perspective, which tended to overlook such things. While most kids got new shoes to start off the school year, Donnie's parents would cut the toes off of last year's shoes and give him a pair of ratty wool socks to keep his toes warm during the winter months. His hair was always greasy and in tangled knots and streaks of dirt liberally applied to the rest of him. The only time I ever saw Donnie in a state that I would say was clean would be on special days like our Christmas pageant.
Donnie was a bright enough kid but his lack of parenting caught up with him and during our freshman or sophomore year, he flunked out of my grade. About the same time, got sent away to the state's custody and eventually some foster parents. To earn that honor, he pulled a gun on his drunken father, who was getting ready to whip Donnie, and pulled the trigger. Donnie and Wild Horses both new the gun was unloaded so it was more of an expression of Donnie's hatred towards his father and Donnie still came to school the next day covered in welts. Wild Horses must have got worried that next time the gun would be loaded and Donnie was hauled off one afternoon from school into state custody. He came back briefly a year later and told a tail of how he had stolen a car from his foster parents and had been involved in a multi county car chase that ended up with him boxed in by the law and ramming cars. He said it was the most fun he ever had in his life. I thought he was lucky he hadn't been shot.
His stay was brief for a day or two later, the police showed up at school and hauled off Donnie in handcuffs. I never saw him again and always wondered what happened to him. Then last week, I saw his name in the paper under the police blotter section.
Donnie evidently was living in his parent's home because the address is still the same. I drive by it on my way down to the farm and it is a shack of a building that appears as if it will fall over in a cloud of dust at a loud cough. According to the police report, Donnie was reported for firing several gunshots into the air. When police arrived, they found Donnie dazed and confused. A subsequent search of the property revealed a meth lab in a shack out back. He is now in jail pending more charges and a trial. I'm guessing he is going to be doing time and I doubt that it is his first. Donnie never had a chance.