a friendship begins

A few months ago we watched the documentary Off the Rails. C. and B. were already of the sound opinion that the “court system” was nothing but a matter of opinion, subject to whim and change, and just as full of babyish, unhappy bullies as it was full of good lawyers doing work with respect and intent. But in Off the Rails, it was pretty obvious from the get-go who we were gonna see on the job for the most part.

There are the “successful” people in the world, who make sure to look good at the country club or at Mommy’s and Daddy’s for dinner, and who go home and cry into their pillows. And then there are men like Darius Mc Collum — full of wonder, love, satisfaction with what life has out before them (and the miracle it can be!), and the goodness to want to serve the public.

Darius has spent half his adult life in prison. He is currently in a facility for the criminally insane and has been denied even an appeal.

He is autistic. He is black.

Claudia is waking up to the weight of her mantle as an African American young woman more every day. Darius’ plight, and his victimless crimes, were hard for her to address directly; she was sad, hurt, and feeling it personally.

Béla, the fearless — whose friends’ mothers often commend me on his virtues as a reliable, thoughtful companion — wrote Darius a birthday letter.

“I do not think that judge understands Aspergers,” wrote my son. He wished Darius were allowed crayons for drawing. Béla dedicated his own entry in the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project to Darius, as it was drawings of city streets (Béla’s favorite muse.)

And Béla got a letter back.

He’s studying aerial shots of Germantown now, where Darius once lived, to make him a drawing.

My children will ALWAYS question the verdict of the court — particularly when its stink of insecurity and fear of those happier and more blessed than they are part of its “decision”. These people went to college and came out with career highlights of the future being to keep an honest and good man from driving — then RIDING — a train.

My children will always recognize the golden heart.

My children are compassionate and fearless. They know to be a friend is more important than to count the friends you have.

My son is a new friend.