David Neal 1975-2008

It started with a text message from Emily Neal: “Please call me. I need to talk to you.” I was in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from Ground Zero. I found a quiet spot in a park to call her back. Then I heard the words, “David is dead.”

They’re still just words to me. They sit like a block of concrete poised above my head, suspended by apparently very strong dental floss that will, I’m sure, snap at any moment. Fortunately not before I endured the longest, most cramped ride on the F train I’ve yet experienced in my 9 months as a New Yorker. So I’ll continue to write in the strange clarity that imminent grief provides.

David was a magnificent jackass. He had a charm that I always appreciated, even if few others seemed to. There was a certain Corey Feldman-esque flavor to him[1]. My fondest recollections of him usually involve us getting into trouble in some form or fashion, like the time Mrs. Smith held us in from recess after we made too much noise playing a game in class. We kind of lost touch during junior high and high school, but we maintained that special bond that two people have when they’ve broken rules together. As Stephen King says in Stand By Me: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.”

We were reunited just a few years ago at our high school reunion when we discovered we’d both been living in Little Rock for some time. So I’d go out to his place in Maumelle to hang out every few months. He or Emily would cook dinner and we’d play dominoes (the man was a kung-fu domino player) or just visit. After their son Cooper was born, I looked forward to being another adopted uncle, and in the back of my mind pictured my future children hanging out with wacky uncle David. But that’s not the way it’s going to go down.

1.) Which then made me Corey Haim. Or more accurately, Sean Astin. We were the Goonies of Boone County.

11 thoughts on “David Neal 1975-2008”

  1. *hug*

    Call or ping if you need to talk. My phone’s open to you at any time. As is my house.

    I’m sorry, but those words just aren’t enough, are they?

  2. oh my… i always like david and i have many odd david memories from growing up… i think that the cory feldman description is perfect. i had not been in touch with him since high school, but he and his family a definitely in my thoughts …

  3. Wonderful honesty and sincerity. Since our paths intersected around 6th grade, I didn’t know the two of you were so close. My deepest condolences to you on the loss of a friend.

    The last time I saw David was at least seven years ago at the Nissan dealership in Conway. We had taken Patti’s Altima in for service and I was looking at a new one. Scared the crap out of me when the salesman stuck his head in the windows and called me by name. Very David.

    You and Emily and Cooper and all are in my prayers.

  4. David and I dated for some time and were good friends afterwards & the words I’ve read are perfect descriptions. I guess the last time I saw him was at Riverfest just before his son was to be born. He and Emily seemed elated and I was so happy for him. David brought so much happiness to those around him, I’m so sad to know he won’t continue to until old age. The world is missing something large without him. I will pray for his family.

  5. Your words paint a perfect picture of him. I’m the type of person that realizes that being a jackass is actually an endearing quality and David would certainly appreciate it too.

    It makes me incredibly sad to know that his son will grow up without his dad. One of my biggest fears is not being here to watch after my boy so this really hits home for me.

    Selfishly, I am glad you are coming back. I miss my friend.

  6. I could not think of a better description of David. I think anyone who knew him would have to agree. David was a strange wonderful friend. We grew up together as firemens kids. I had not seen David for years and still I feel a loss.

  7. I am really sorry Colter. I felt the same way when Cariane Gauze was killed in a car wreck, but I never got any real closure. I will continue you to keep you and David’s family in my prayers. I was good friends with Chief Neal when I was at the HPD.. I always asked how David was doing.. I am so sorry it all had to happen like this.. it is a huge loss.. hugs

  8. I just got the call this morning about David. Needless to say, I’m still in shock. David and I dated for four years and lived together in Little Rock for almost two years before he met Emily. He was a wonderful person and a great friend. I would email to check on him occasionally and stopped hearing back about a week and half ago. All I could do was listen to him and offer what little advice I could. Now that he’s gone, a piece of my heart is as well. I’ll miss his smile and that distinct dimple of his.

    I know he loved Emily and Cooper with all of his heart and it saddens me that Cooper won’t get to know what an awesome person his dad was. I hate that it had to come to this…..he will be greatly missed and always remembered.

  9. It has been 6 mos since david left us and it doesn’t make it any better. He was a great friend and more importantly to most of us our dirtbag. for most of us our life will not have as much as it did when neal was around but everytime i tee up or have a seven and seven he is and will always be remembered.

  10. i am davids sister, we share the same biological mother. i miss him more then i can feel. i love you david its okay now, no more hurting. i love you and i will see you again my god is good and knows a good person that needed him. your takin care of now! i love you david

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