Friday, October 11, 2013

Dead Man Walking

      Zombies are hot right now.  Almost vampire-hot. TV loves them. They are in Sprint commercialsThey are on AMC.  They are probably on the CW too, because I am sure tweens are into them.  And I think that there are probably some zombie-like creatures on a beach in France.  But for as often as you might see the living dead on your television, I think that it would be safe to say that most of us don't believe that there are dead people walking among us.  Except that there are.  In Ohio for example.
     In 1986 Donald Miller, Jr. left his rented home in northwest Ohio and didn't come back.  He wasn't dead - he had disappeared south in the midst of a tough time in his life - and started over there.  But the Ohio authorities couldn't find him, and in 1994 his ex-wife Robin asked a judge to proclaim him legally dead.  Donny Boy owed thousands of dollars in child support to his ex, and she wanted his Social Security death benefits to go to their children.  Makes sense.  The problem though - as we said above - is that Donald Miller, Jr. wasn't dead.
     At this point I am confusicus.  What we have is a dead guy who isn't dead but everyone thinks he is.  I have not been able to find anything about what Mr. Miller did during his time in Florida, Georgia, and wherever else he went to during his dead time.  And so, despite making the Unpaid Interns research the subject for hours and hours and hours at cramped desks in little rooms, I haven't been able to ascertain if he used his real name or used a pseudonym or what. I certainly hope that he did.  Because if he was being Donald Miller, Jr. down in Florida then the guys up in Ohio really did a cracker jack job of looking for him.
     I understand that Al Gore had not invented the Internet yet in 1994, or maybe he was in the process of inventing it while Sarah Palin stood on her porch and looked at Russia, but I would like to assume that there were telephone lines strung in succession from northwest Ohio to just about every part of Florida AND Georgia.  Hell, even Hazzard had phones, and I am pretty sure that there were at least telegraph lines connecting the country all the way back in Civil War times.  They couldn't make a phone call?  Like, they didn't have APB's back then?  I just have so many questions about everything.
     So let's assume that he was going under a different name, like Ronald Miller, Jr. or something.  Or Craig Smithton.  Let's go with Craig Smithton.  Time goes by, events occur, maybe it rains one day.  Somewhere along the way he makes the decision to go back to Ohio and resume his life that he left behind.  He comes back in 2005, almost twenty years after he left, at which time his parents inform him that he is dead.
      So Donald Miller, Jr. instantly becomes the living dead.  And that has to be just terrible.  Whenever I am having a shitty day and I think that things couldn't get much worse, I think of Donald Miller, Jr.  I mean, he is dead.  He has to walk around being not alive.  Except that he is.  And he wanted to restart his life.  So that is why he was in court last week, essentially asking for his life back. He was asking for a reversal of the death declaration so that his drivers license and Social Security number could be restored.  His ex-wife was in court asking for him to continue being dead because she didn't want to pay back the benefits.  And all of them were sitting and making arguments in front of Hancock County Probate Court Judge Allan Davis.
      The Honorable Allan Davis is a man of the law, but I also assume that he is a reasonable and logical person.  Unfortunately the law is not also always logical and reasonable.  And the Honorable Judge Davis has to rule by the law.  And he explained it to those in the courtroom and by proxy the rest of us in the world. (What he did not explain is how a man who is declared legally dead and whom no longer has a Social Security number or driver's license anymore files suit in court.)  "We've got the obvious here" states the Honorable Judge Davis. " A man sitting in the courtroom, he appears to be in good health."  But the Honorable Judge Davis is a man of the law, and Section 2121.05(D) of the Ohio Revised Code says that once you have been legally dead for three years you can't come back to life.  Or at least you can't have your old life restored.
     So Donald Miller, Jr. remains dead, despite the pesky fact that he is still alive.  And he walks among us for everyone to see.  Life really is stranger than fiction.   And the law doesn't always have a basis in reality.  That is how we got this very unique dead man walking.

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