derek king 1.

I have mixed emotions as I write this post. It looks like Derek King will be returning to Estrella Vista.

He called a few weeks ago, and his life in Fairfax VA had become unbelievably difficult. I will wait until Derek is here and can explain it to you in his own words, but I will only say now that the challenges facing him were truly existential, and that makes me sad. There was little I could do from here save offering moral support and, once in a while, sending him a little money. After several offers, he finally decided to come to Estrella Vista for a time. But on his last night in Virginia before he was to have left for Texas, he was charged with a couple misdemeanors (a roach was found on his person), and he spent two or three nights in jail isolated from anyone in Fairfax who could help him. The experience was very hard on him. After posting bond, Derek is now stuck in Virginia awaiting two court dates in mid-August. But he is at least free.

I am happy about a number of things. First of all, it will be good seeing Derek and being with him again. The six months that he lived here were good enough for me that I am looking forward to a reprise of the experience. I am also looking forward to his able-bodied help around the property. But that’s all selfish. Anticipating Derek’s return from his perspective, I am glad that he will be able to breathe easily for a while and experience unconstrained growth. I am happy he feels comfortable enough at Estrella Vista that he regards it as a home he can return to. I am pleased that his basic needs can be met here, and that he is comfortable enough to adjust the place so it will meet more of his needs.

When I first visited Derek in prison, he told me he wasn’t interested in having me in his life as a father-substitute—and that was fine with me. He had never known an older male who had provided a positive parental model. It was enough for me that we could be friends. At the end of his first 6 months here, he had allowed that I had become a Yoda to his Skywalker. But over the years, he changed his mind. He began to demand that I provide more of a parental role for him—but I began to feel the idealized image he had developed for a “father figure” was too much of a crutch for my liking. A second extended visit to Estrella Vista will give us both an opportunity to work out the details of the role I will play.

It seems to me that every responsible parent should strive to raise their kids in accordance with the words of business ethicist and originator of the Servant Leadership concept, Robert K. Greenleaf: “Do those being served grow as persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will she or he benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?”

Few meet this standard—even “good” parents. Note today’s mania for hyper-protecting and over-scheduling kids. Most of the parents I see in the course of my work are control freaks who seek to dominate their children, often resorting to all manner of bullying, violence, and abuse. (They, of course, are the worse of the worse, but I do wish I had a way of getting a fix on the true norm of parenting skills in America—which I suspect is unexceptional. In the light of recent allegations about Bill Cosby, what kind of father was Dr. Huxtable, really?) The King Brothers were isolated from others, locked into their house, deprived of phone, television, or other links to the outside world, and not given an opportunity to develop healthy and open interests, social skills, and relationships.

Derek has never said anything negative about them, but he was abandoned by every adult in his life—most notably, both his natural parents and even his foster parents, those poseurs of upstandingness and respectability, Frank and Nancy Lay. I feel nothing but contempt for these Bible-thumpers and “professional” educators, who took a child into their home for 7 years, and then precipitously dropped him as if a relationship with a child can be severed as guiltlessly and easily as one dumps an old girlfriend or divorced spouse when the going gets rough. People are not Kleenexes. Nancy Lay testified at the trial that Derek had become too “uncontrollable” and that the Lays were concerned for the “safety” of their 4 natural children, but I blame them more than anyone else for the inconstancy that led to the murder of Terry King. Events appear to have borne out their fears, but more than anything, I believe it was their abandonment of Derek that precipitated Terry’s murder. They are unloving, unreliable scum, and I believe they deserve to burn in the Baptist hell they believe in.

Come what may, I will always stand by Derek. I may not always succeed, but I will prove by my actions that my “pagan” morals are superior to the Lays’ so-called “Christian” ideals.


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Band performing “Unfaithful Servant”


Weather Report

98° and Clear, Increasing Cloudiness, Thunderstorms in the Evening


3 Responses to “refuge”

  1. 1 matt
    July 22, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    It would be naïve of us to presume that the first RP protégé to face the challenging return to society would succeed without a hitch. You have done much to support Derek as he has struggled to find his way in society, but of course, you know that you can’t do it for him. This was a learning experience not just for Derek, but for you and all of the RP supporters as well. It says much for the RP goals and your personal vision and support, that Derek achieved so much, and it also says much that he has chosen to return to Estrella Vista for a chance to catch his breath and perhaps reevaluate his approach, so that his next attempt might be more successful.

    • July 22, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Thank you for your very understanding comment, Matt. It seems to me that being a parent–or good parent figure–involves at least two things. One is easy and involves no thought at all. The other is incredibly difficult.

      The first is to be unconditionally accepting of the young person. No matter what he or she does, it should be known that the parent will always be there–that the child has “unlimited second chances.” Remember that I said “accepting,” not “endorsing.” The young person learns by trial-and-error, and mistakes and failures are a part of the bargain. The young person must be free to exercise free choice and free will in figuring things out. We all learn at our own pace.

      The second thing–the hard thing–is knowing where and how to draw the line, what to tolerate and endorse, and what to reject. My job is to advise and honestly say what my experience says is the right or best thing to do. But it is the young person’s job to decide and do.

      When things didn’t work out with Alex, I didn’t kick him out. He decided for himself to leave. Had he stayed, it would have involved an adjustment in his behavior he was unwilling to make. If he returns with a different attitude, he is always welcome here–not because I have “won” or “prevailed,” but because he is willing to engage in the give-and-take that reflects a mutuality of respect.

      Derek knows me and this place and community. It is his decision to come here. It is an act of freedom and self-determination to live here. I’m looking forward to it.

  2. 3 Frank Manning
    July 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    I heartily second both Matt’s comment and yours. That unconditional acceptance you so eloquently define is the key. I wish Derek all the best. Hope to hear from him soon on this blog.

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