Chapter 12. If I Send You Somewhere, Will You Go? (2002) – Part 2

When I arrived the early morning of March 4, 2002, and met my wife, Mayra, hugged and kissed her, I could feel the familiar walls going up.  I wanted to break free from the inability to be affectionate and loving quite apparent in my previous marriages.  I wanted a fresh start from all prior problems and hoped to achieve these goals.

Having visited much of the tourist traps my first time here, enabled me to settle into the new role as husband and stepfather to her grown children.  Although afraid and feeling quite inadequate, I was up to the challenge.

Mayra’s family home where she grew up, later cared for her sick father until his death, and eventual owner of the modest three bedroom home was very comfortable and well-cared for.  As the “new” head of the home, I saw areas of improvement and looked forward to being involved in making “our” home cheery, comfortable and pleasant.

As any person relocating, one has to learn the city, roads, shopping facilities and other areas such as where one might find gainful employment.  My disadvantage, one I hoped would not have been a factor, was due to my inability to speak Spanish.  As most Americans, you move to American owned interests abroad and believe everyone speaks English, which I found was not even close to being a reality here.  Going to fast-food restaurants became a venture because I thought they should be bilingual at the very least.  When I’d order a quarter-pounder, large fries and a soda, with no onion and cheese, is met with a strange look of “please help”, I became flustered, often bordering on anger at the difficulty of a simple request.  American restaurant, American people, or so they claim, yet no English!  Even months later, I still had difficulty saying “papafritos” when it’s simply “fries”, and not “grande” but super large.  I learned to point, over-riding all previous good behavior skills taught in my youth.

Job hunting was pretty much the same.  It’s easy if you “speaka Spanish” or if you are bilingual, but my long practiced effort of proper English diction and enunciation was worthless here.  Fortunate for me, my wife had a niece who worked for a temporary agency. I went to apply and hired the same day working for the agency.  The money wasn’t great, but I was no longer in New York, or for that matter the US of A.  It was a job.  Some place to go everyday.  Meet and make new friends.  Earn my own money to be a contributing factor to my home and society.

My next goal was to find an English speaking church, and I did, not too far from our home, about fifteen minutes away.  My first Sabbath I felt comfortable being in a similar type church I was a member while living in New York, small, caring and interesting.  I believed I would find a home there and believed I would be able to share my faith with Mayra.

When I was married to Karen, I remember watching her walk down the steps into the main living area and hearing the Holy Spirit whisper in my ear,

“If you do not pray together, your marriage will fail.”  It did.

I really intended this marriage to succeed.  I definitely had experience to provide me with what not to do and having had the previous warning, tried to institute prayer and study; however, I could not break down that “wall”.  Soon, I found it difficult to be loving, show affection and soon all intimacy left.  Although I had a deep desire to do all of these things, there was something within me, not unfamiliar now—quite familiar, but try as I may, I could not break through and my wife growing depressed and sad because I did not know even how to explain to help her see it had nothing to do with her.  The problem was truly all mine.  And the remarkable thing was, I was not involved sexually with anyone nor desired anyone other than in the way of communication.

At work and later at home when I purchased a personal computer, I would spend hours in various chat-rooms talking to other women.  This did not help things at home causing Mayra to be suspicious since this was the way we met.  I had no interest in the other women other than talking and later when I experimented with a webcam, my life of exhibitionism moved from actively pursuing such on the street to doing it on the Internet.  Unlike outside contact, an addictive benefit was women returning the same favor.

My “affairs” would soon be found out and would cause the threat of separation, several times.  Our problem escalated until necessary to involve a Christian counselor I was grateful for and who for the first time could talk freely, because I wanted to understand me and why I resorted to this type of behavior and not desire and respond to my wife in a normal fashion.  How could I love my wife yet be repulsed by any sexual advances?  Why?  I wanted her, but could not bring myself to touch her.  I was reminded when an older aunt told me her husband, hadn’t touched her in years, and I couldn’t understand what the problem was.  They were married for more than thirty years, and mine, less than one!  The therapist wanted to put me on medication and I refused, but did agree to take St. John’s Wort, which had no affect.  I began to feel again depressed and broken, like a child’s toy, beyond repair and value.

My whole life began to fall apart again.  My work began to suffer because of the time I’d spend on the Internet.  Church attendance fell off to whenever I did attend it was as if I was being recognized as the “Ultimate Visitor”.  I started to drive in neighborhoods I knew my former friend “Crack” lived and was flourishing but because of my lack of Spanish, there was no way I’d venture within Hell’s gate.  My attitude towards Mayra was becoming tense and I’m sure she felt it directed at her when my anger was really directed toward myself, especially when she’d cry and appeal to me to understand what was wrong.  I hated myself for bringing tears into her eyes.  Even once I arranged to get an apartment, but when the time came to move, we reconciled.  She didn’t want me away from her, nor did I want to be away from her.  Although I could not be affectionate, for me, just sleeping in the same bed brought me peace which excelled any problems and fears.  I’d watch her sleep, seeing in my mind’s eye my hugging her, but my arms were powerless to move.  More than once I wanted to die.  If I could not bring this woman happiness, to overcome my fears, then life was no longer worth living.  Not to me.  And when you’re ready to die, there is always the enemy available to offer suggestions.

One brilliantly sunny afternoon I received an email from Eve.  I could tell something was wrong and called her.  Her voice was so distant as if she were even farther away than just in Ohio when she told me there had been a fire in her home and Eriel and Steve did not make it out!  I needed her to explain it again because the reality of the news I could not accept.  Eriel and little Stevie were dead!  The shock registered on my face, my boss sensing something wrong and after explaining to him, sent me home, offering to assist me if I needed help in getting to Ohio.  I needed to get away but not to go home.  Since my grandfather died and attending his funeral in 1980, while moving his casket down the steps, the pallbearers stumbled and I could hear my grandfather’s body move within the box and all I could think about was, he’s not holding his glasses any longer and I vowed, then, never to attend another funeral, at least not for family, not for someone I’d known and loved.  I went home instead and as my previous nature and behavior, the only way to handle grief, I would store it deep within me as if it never happened at all.

It was not the fact Stevie died as much as it was Eriel dying.  She was my joy.  She was my heart.  I had great plans ahead for her.  Surely, I know it was wrong for me to think of her more than her brothers, Michael was born by this time, but she, in my mind, was my Eve, I never got to hold.  I wanted to work hard and become that grandfather who would bring her much happiness.  She was definitely my favorite.  I wrote Eve later why I could not come and as of the writing of this chapter (March 15, 2003), I have not spoken to her since although I wrote a letter, recently returned because she had since moved out of that house and I no longer had an address.  If there are any regrets, I regret not going and taking my wife with me.

I had an experience, while at work, while chatting in a group someone had posted a picture of a child involved in a sexual pose with another.  It disturbed me to see such a photo and I tried to contact the person who posted it but they immediately went offline.  I searched the other groups to see if I could find the person, to make contact, but they were not to be found.

Not long afterwards I stopped by McDonalds to get dinner for everyone and noticed a woman, tall, thin and partially toothless asking money from parked patrons.  She was going from car to car, but when she looked me in the face she skipped me!  I was curious why since she could not possibly know I spoke only English.  I backed out of the parking space and before leaving, noticed her sitting on the ground and got her attention.  I planned to give her the change I had.  When I asked her if she spoke English, hers was perfect!  In a way, I was glad to speak to someone who didn’t have an accent.  The conversation steered to how we both ended in Puerto Rico, her sharing how she was trying to get money not to eat but for drugs.  My thirst was awakened after six months here.  I gave her my office number and told her to call me on Friday and I’d see about meeting her.  When I drove away, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach and it wasn’t because of the lack of food.  This was one connection I wished I never met and hoped she’d lose my number.

When Friday came and when I answered the phone, I’d hope it was business related because I did not want to have any friends in the world I thought I left behind.  I was doing well.  Bought some nice things, well-fed, money in the bank and I loved the feeling of self-sufficiency.  When Friday ended and no call, I was grateful and couldn’t get out of the office fast enough.

Another Sabbath which should have found me at church found me at home in front of my computer, and Sunday started out the same until my wife and her son left for church.  For a split second I had an idea to go to McDonald’s to see if she was there.  I took $25 and walked to the restaurant, not seeing her, I walked down the street to the housing projects where I’d driven by several times.  A young lady, who was obviously not out to catch a few rays approached me and although her English was non-existent, we communicated enough to know what the intentions were.

I can remember today that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that sickening feeling accompanied with dry mouth and rapid beating of my heart when we made the purchase.  I followed her to an apartment and she explained to the other occupants I was here to smoke and did not know Spanish.  I watched her prepare a pipe, made in plastic, unlike any I had in the United States, and when I sprinkled my crumbs on the cigarette ash, I felt as though I’d just given away everything I worked for and ever hoped to have.  I didn’t want to flick the butane lighter, but old habits die hard, and as I had done, I’m sure, several thousand times by now, put the pipe to my mouth lips, inhaled the vapor and was quickly brought back to where this all started for me eleven years before, instead of a June night it was now an August afternoon.

When the smoking was over, my first thought was could I get home before Mayra normally did from church and get more money, if I walked fast; but in my heart, I hoped not to get more money and return.  I really wanted what happened here to end here.  I went outside to clear my head from the paranoia and make sure any physical affects were minimal,  not so much Mayra could tell, not having seen me before in this manner, but because I’d been this way with Louisa and Karen.  When I was ready to go home, I stood and experienced the worse pain in my lower back than I had ever experienced at any time.  It was as if I had a cramp in my lower back and although I could walk, but hunched and bent to the side.  I was in tremendous pain.  What should have taken no more than twenty minutes would take me more than an hour, often pausing to rest at each bus stop.  I could not believe the pain I was having.  As if someone had taken a muscle, a big one and was twisting it in their hands.

When I finally arrived home, all I could do was ask Mayra to follow me into the bedroom, lie on the floor and ask her to walk on my back!  When there was no relief, she tried to massage it and remarked about the tightness of the muscle and decided to get some type of medication instead.  Even the pills brought minor and temporary relief.

Monday I went to work still feeling as if someone were twisting the larger muscles in my back.  I hadn’t even thought to go home early until I answered a call about two in the afternoon.  It was the call I dreaded receiving Friday.  She called asking if I could meet her.  I told her I was there yesterday looking for her.  She expressed disappointment and informed she was available now and could meet me at the same place we met.  Instead of being loyal to the workplace and my wife, I told her I’d be there within one half hour.  In my mind I figured if I caught the buses correctly, I could be there by 2:30, smoking by 3:00, leave at 5:00 and show up home as if nothing happened.  I told my boss I decided to quit limping around and would leave for home and left my briefcase, not wanting to be responsible for it while smoking since I wasn’t stopping by the house.

When I walked out the door not seeing any buses in sight, I started walking.  As painful as my back still was, I was walking with vigor, as a person on a mission.  All I could think about was the sooner I could smoke, the longer I would smoke, and the sooner it will all be over with.  I arrived at 3:00, never catching the bus, sweaty and hot but yet determined.  She wasn’t there probably thinking she missed me or I, her, but I did see her as I walked toward the projects in a last ditch effort to make contact.  I made a small purchase, enough for the little bit of time and to pay for the use of a room in an apartment and set about to enjoy my smoke.  As soon as I inhaled my first vapors of Crack, my back was no longer bothering me, in fact, the pain went away altogether, miraculously.

When I glanced at my watch, during one sober moment, I saw it was a little after 5:00.  Always time for one more.  And one more.  And one more. When I went home, it was after three in the morning, three days later!  I should never have taken my ATM card.  Over $600 was spent during that drug binge!

The first morning, I had the presence of mind to call my job to take off another day or two, but because I did not have a quarter on me at the time, I did not bother.  The second day, I snuck to various ATMs to avoid being seen publicly.  By the third day, I was so tired, smelling badly and disoriented for lack of sleep, food and water.  I was also in shock because I could not believe I fell backwards after going forward for so long and so well.  But there I was, outside in the rain, thinking even the weather was sharing my pain, crying and trying to cleanse away the accumulated filth as well.  When my wife finally stirred after hearing me outside, expressing worry and concern and hugging me in my pain, she couldn’t help but show the repulsiveness of my four day old body odor.  All I could do was cry and repeatedly say I was sorry.  She explained how the boss was concerned, how the police were called and everyone thinking something happened to me.  In New York, my disappearance would have been regarded as “usual” when my drugging began, but this was new to Mayra, especially with her knowing my limited capacity to be able to communicate to others.

I showered and tried to eat something.  My mouth hurt too badly because I clinch my teeth, biting into the sides of my mouth when I smoke because of nerves, making the flesh opened and raw.  I had to be careful about certain foods which would give me instant diarrhea.  The best I could manage were pieces of lettuce with a very small amount of Ranch dressing.  I laid down for a few hours, but sleep never came.  I devised a plan to go to my therapist and have him call my employer to say I had a problem, which explained my irresponsible behavior, but the minute I walked out the door, the phone rang.  It was my boss, my wife told me, when I returned, firing me because of what he found on my computer when he needed to retrieve some information.  He found pictures of me taken from the webcam in poses for those women I’d met on the Internet.  Mayra was so upset she wanted to send me immediately back to the States and I begged her, on my knees, pleaded with her to let me remain, asking her to not give up on me.  And she didn’t.  I don’t know why, but she didn’t.

Again without a job, no large cache of personal money available, what took about two weeks the first time in looking for work, would now take six months, from the end of August until the end of March, the following year.  I felt secured in my abilities, having been this way before, several times in fact.  This time the difference being where I was and my inability to speak Spanish proved to be a handicap.

The classifieds, in the only English printed newspaper were few and I began daily trips to tourists traps in the Old San Juan area, trying restaurants and hotels.  After several disappointed weeks of lackluster attempts, I began to feel discouraged.  My pride would not permit me to just sleep in the bed when my wife was working.  I could not justify having lunch, when I did nothing to procure it.  I refused to watch television, while my wife slaved in front of some computer screen, providing for me, too.  Several times I would pack a sandwich, get dressed in office attire and take a bus, just to sit in a plaza in front of a scenic beachfront wondering what to do next.  I would try to manage not arriving home until about the time she did, to at least make an impression I was doing something.  Mayra chided me on not eating and never questioned me or made me to feel inadequate because of my not working, instead she encouraged me and made suggestions as to what I might try.  I began to think of returning to the States.  Perhaps coming to Puerto Rico had been a mistake after all, and it was time to cut my losses and make a life somewhere else, on familiar ground where I at least could speak the language.  The only other time when I had not worked for this length of time was when I was in jail or at Teen Challenge, where even then I was working in some capacity, so this experience was totally discouraging, emasculating and depressing.  Thankfully, I did not have a suitable supply of money available for certainly I would have found myself back in the clutches of active addiction.  What hurt me deeply was I had no money to purchase a nice gift other than a card for Mayra’s birthday.  Two months later, our wedding anniversary, the first one, came and went without my being able to do those things married, happily married, couples do.  That hurt.

My time in front of the computer continued to grow as well as the inappropriate activity I was engaged, forcing myself to shut it off, shower, shave and dress then leaving the house, only to disappear for an hour or two, or in some cases, not to leave at all but to have give the impression I had been out some time during the day looking for work.  Sometimes, just getting dressed caused my attitude to go up a notch or two instead of sinking continually in deeper depression.

Going shopping proved difficult. I no longer could place things in the basket I wanted as I normally did.  I could not understand how some men could live off a woman and not have their conscience bother them.  I couldn’t do it.  Mayra would sense this and walking down the aisles would say, “How about some cookies?  How about…” making it easier for me to accept her graciousness and generosity.  She knew I would have taken them normally, and my not having a job should not be the reason to stop enjoying those simple things. Such a good woman.

In March, she encouraged me to look through the papers again and I noticed a particular ad for an assistant to the president, English speaking preferred. I called and after being requested to fax them my resume, by the time I got home, they were calling to see if I could come in for an interview—that afternoon!  I scrambled around, now having to shave my newly grown beard, made arrangements to retrieve the car from Mayra and made it to my interview. They wanted to have me start right there and then, but I suggested I could begin in the morning, a Thursday.  Actually, I wanted to begin the following Monday but I’d been without work long enough.  When I picked Mayra up from her job, she was very pleased to hear the news.  I spoke now as one having purpose and responsibility.  I felt good.

I accepted the position of assistant to the president of a company who rented warehouse space to companies.  This employer, touted as being the wealthiest individual on the island, who along with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, owned more commercial square footage next to the government.  Originally, I was to support them in an administrative capacity, and after four months I was asked and accepted the position of sales manager in finding, showing and eventually leasing space.  In less than three months, I nearly equaled my base salary at IBM eleven years earlier!

The position proved to be an ego booster, giving me the freedom I have always sought as a professional.  No one questioned my hours having proven myself capable and reliant.  My home life picked up although in the area of intimacy there was no progress.  I could and willingly contributed to the maintenance of our home and allowed for myself the purchase of a Cadillac, albeit an older model, one which ran well, looked good and paid for.  Having my own mobility, I ventured in areas I should not have, eventually facilitating the time necessary to return to addiction and make it back home, at a reasonable time, to not cause any suspicion.  My exposure problem returned with a vengeance as well.

In July 2002, after an argument, it was decided I would leave the home and separate to decide what it was I really wanted. My contacts over the Internet were digging too much into my family life and I was not sure what I wanted and making a decent salary could provide more than enough means to pursue other interests.  More than once I thought about saving enough money to make a total break and return to the States, but there was something holding me back.  I was in love with Mayra.  Might have had trouble showing it, but nevertheless it was true.

I received an email from one of the groups I surfed on the Internet offering “underground” videos.  In my search for various groups which pertained to a particular interest, mine having anything to do with public nudity, I came across a group which contained no pictures.  This response, via email, interested me because I was not sure if it were valid.  If the subject matter were minors involved in nudity, which is not too difficult to find, especially in these groups, or on naturalist/nudists websites, fine.  I sent a response inquiring how to purchase them.  I received a reply detailing these were explicit, sexually-involved minors, cataloging each film with a brief description.  When I read them, one in particular caught my attention because of the word “crying”.  Something within me was hurt to know such material involving the pain of a child abused in this way disturbed me.  Again, I finally made connection with a child pornographer and I intended not to lose this one.

On one occasion, when I stayed away from home over night, I went to a park to summon my courage because I knew I had to go at one point, God spoke to me and told me to erase all my email contacts as well as delete the chatroom programs from my computer.  I thought this would be a good idea and carried it out; however, I don’t think two weeks passed before I re-downloaded the programs and recovered all chat-partners I deleted.  But during those days I enjoyed using the computer less and when I was on, having something productive to do.

I found a very small apartment, more an efficiency, in the touristy part of San Juan called Isla Verde, a ten minute walk from the ocean.  Also within walking distance were various shops and restaurants.  The apartment came furnished with a full-sized bed, table and two chairs, kitchen area with a fridge, sink and microwave, cable television and shower.  Outside my door, a nice tropical sitting area with a small pool, not large enough to swim, but nice to stand in on these particularly hot evenings.

I thought I would enjoy my newly found freedom, but I missed Mayra.  At least once or twice a week, she’d have me over for dinner or did my laundry, or on the weekend, we’d go out and catch a movie.  My evenings were spent either on the computer; however, strangely enough, I grew weary of pursuing my exposure or viewing others over the Internet; however, my drug addiction surfaced to want a priority in my free time.  I found a drug spot fifteen minute walking or less than five driving.  This spot was notorious on the island for being the worse and largest housing project; but nevertheless, even in the middle of the night, I could be found making deals for the purchase of Crack cocaine.

Two weeks within moving into this apartment I began to realize several important matters; I loved my wife, but loss whatever confidence I had within myself I could make her happy.  I made the decision to wait just a little longer before telling her I wanted a divorce.  When I separated in the beginning, I thought it would be for at least six months to a year before any decision would be made, but I had given up on myself.  I also realized I didn’t have too long to live since the drug addiction was kicking into overdrive and having traveled this road before it would only be a short time before I would grow suicidal and there was no going back to the States, not this time of failure, being so far away.  Even my wanting to make friends over the Internet stopped, except for this person who offered child pornography.  I maintained contact with him just to affect an eventual arrest, to have at least made this time worth something.  But I was going down hill faster now than at any time previously.  I could tell mostly by my weight or the lack thereof.  While living in Puerto Rico, my weight ballooned to 238 pounds, and now I was getting back into clothing I hadn’t worn since arriving here two years ago, and they weren’t tight at all!  My current, newer wardrobe was too loose to wear causing comments from my work peers.  By the end of the month, when I visited Mayra, I lost exactly 40 pounds.  And this during the first month!  I knew given any more time, I would die.  My sleeping habits were off, sometimes getting only two hours a night, if that and I began hallucinating.

Sensing I was in serious trouble and during a moment of sobriety, I prayed asking God to help me.  The word I received was familiar,

“If I could send you somewhere, will you go?”  I immediately responded,

“No way!  The last time I answered that question You sent me away for seventeen months.  I cannot go anywhere.  I have a good job.  I’m married.  I just can’t give up everything as before.”  The presence I felt went away and I knew I was on my own again.

I began having trouble waking up and getting to work having spent the evening and night consuming drugs.  Often too paranoid to drive my car the less than one mile to secure the purchase, I’d walk, increasing more visible time on the street, which was fearful in itself,  fearing to be mugged or arrested while seen purchasing.  Out in the middle of the night, two and three in the morning, negotiating the sale of another vial or two of Crack, wondering how I would make it to the next payday, already no food in the house.  When I could manage not to buy anymore, I sat watching the clock most of the night, counting down the available time I needed to sleep.  Once I became so depressed and wanting to do drugs without stopping, I called in sick on a Wednesday, drugged completely until Friday, never calling the job to inform them I would be out the remainder of the week.  I feared I lost my job, but I didn’t care until the weekend.  By then so famished, I had to contact Mayra for help. She rushed down to take me to the store to purchase food, and gave me some money to put gas into my car.  There was no way I would have been able to steal gas as I used to do in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Here you definitely had to pay first.

My purpose of getting this apartment, to have the freedom to use the computer for whatever purpose became hardly used at all.  I would go online a couple of times but not motivated to find anyone to expose myself.  I just wanted to do drugs.

I made the decision I had to spare Mayra any further pain.  I was a failure and could not do any better.  I was shamed into thinking I had to come all this way, in a country whose language I couldn’t speak, to see myself as a total failure.  I wanted to start walking into the ocean until the current would carry me out, to drown, my body washing up on a beach somewhere.  I fitting end.  A wash-up.  I determined to tell Mayra I decided to divorce and if she pursued it I would not fight it now.

I returned to work on Monday, both of my bosses expressed concern but were glad to see me and if I ever needed anything to just ask them.  If they only knew!  I felt so cared for I almost cried.  But, the addiction race just continued.  Again, after hours, I was back on the hunt to secure drugs and sleep an hour or two before starting it all over again the next day.  It was at work, in the process of getting one non-paying client to vacate the premises they were leasing, I noticed glass rods.  After they left, I dropped one of them breaking it into drug-usable stems.  The glass was considerably thicker, and would not break when under the intense flame I required when using a glass stem, although the diameter was slighter larger than what I was accustomed.  Any Crack smoker will tell you there is nothing like watching the smoke rush into your mouth and seeing the resin develop for later use.  The plastic pipes common here were an absolute waste of time since you could only load the contents of one vial, and even then sometimes you’d spill it.  Always having to make sure you had aluminum foil and ash was a pain often interrupting the smoking, never mind having to scrape the plastic to get whatever resin might develop.  There is absolutely nothing like glass.  When the rod broke perfectly the first time, I walked away with two stems which would suit me just fine.

I couldn’t wait for work to end to rush to the market and get a Chore Boy pad cut into a manageable size then burn off the toxins, stuffed into my new smoking utensil and took my first hit. Yes!  I was back.  The high was intense and I was gathering a nice supply of resin for future hits.  Payday comes and goes, the first of September after paying rent, now with my new stem, it was time to really enjoy my smoke the way I prefer it, with a woman.  I noticed a woman I drove by, watching her to see if she was looking for a date.  When I drove by the second time, I motioned her to come by the car.  She couldn’t understand me, but I made the universal sign for Crack-smoking and she readily accepted the offer.  I only had four vials but if she proved to be okay I would be willing to purchase more.  When we got to my apartment, in the best way I could explain, I made her aware when I take hits, I normally undress.  She understood and smiled.  I handed her my stem and a vial which she prepared and took a hit.  While preparing mine after hers, wanting the stem hot, I hit and looked at her as she was already undressed.  I was getting paranoid and couldn’t do anything.  The smoke was just too good.  We did the last two and left with my intending getting more, but for some reason, she wouldn’t go back, although offered to take me to get more from someone she knew.  I purchased eight vials but couldn’t convince her to join me, so I went home to smoke.  When I walked into the apartment, I believe I found what made her nervous.  I had a bag opened revealing my pellet pistol.  Probably while smoking and experiencing her own paranoia, she no doubt noticed it and became too alarmed to be with a stranger she couldn’t talk to who had a gun.  I’d done the same were the roles reversed.

It was at this point in my heart I felt God was giving me a warning.  It was:

“Do not involve yourself with another woman in this way or something bad will happen.”

Later on, I would come to know God was definitely not pleased with my providing drugs to a woman, my sister, who He was just as concerned about as He is with me.  Instead of providing them assistance, how many times had I kept a woman on the street longer than necessary, when she might have made the decision to change and go home to her family?  With the promise of free drugs and a comfortable environment to use, how many women did I help continue their journey to death?

After a hit, I decided to try and find another woman.  It didn’t take long.  As I drove around the projects where I bought, I noticed another woman, nice looking, bent over to give me a full view of her behind, in short pants.  The way she bent over told me she wasn’t looking for something dropped but done as a matter of advertising.  She sold and I bought.  Her English was a little better, and I was able to communicate to her what my intentions were.  Today, sex is not the issue as it used to be years ago for women prostituting.  Now, it’s for the purpose of smoking drugs and having company.  While getting high, she was acting strangely or at least I thought she was even in my cloud of confusion.  I began to pay more attention to her and thought she was putting things of mine into her large bag.  I think she began to get paranoid when she noticed the gun and wanted to leave, too, but I was too paranoid to let her go.  She took a clothes iron and started banging on the door.  I was afraid she would break the glass, so I opened the door to let her out but would not step out for fear the police were watching me.  I could hear her complaining, I thought, talking to herself, but she apparently knew my neighbor who shared an open court with me.  After awhile it got quiet.  I assumed he let her out and drove her to wherever she wanted to go.

I just sat there after finishing my drugs and began to sober quickly.  I began to look around and see my true condition and realized this was not what I wanted.  I had a good life, good wife, good job and I was continuing my past mistakes by throwing it all away—again!  I did not want to do it, so I began to pray.  My prayer—again, was simply,

“Lord, save me.”

And faithfully as if He were standing there all this time, watching and waiting, His response to me was,

“If I send you somewhere, will you go?”  I repeated the same words I said nine years before,

“Yes, Lord.  If You send me, I’ll go.”  I quickly added, “But Lord, I have a job.”  His response was short,

“You have already lost that!”

I didn’t know how to respond.  Then His next words were,

“Call your wife, you are going home.”

Before making that phone call there was something I needed to do.  A decision I had to make.  And I made it.  I got up and turned on my pc and began erasing every photograph, email, chat service, chat profile and anything else I felt inappropriate.  This computer had become the bane of my existence because it opened a door to all things I needn’t have had access.  When I felt all was done, I began to make other commitments to God, I knew I needed to do, prior to returning home: no more exhibitionism, voyeurism and drugs.  I sent Mayra an email letting her know I was sorry and I should have spoken to her about my difficulties—even now.  I became despondent and depressed and thought there would be no way she would accept me, but God’s words still echoed in my soul,

“Call your wife.  You are going home.”  So, I called and she picked up quickly.

“Mayra, I love you and I want to be a good husband to you, and I want to tell you I deleted all the pornography off my computer.”

“You did that, Roy?”

“Yes, I even erased all the chat information.”

“Why don’t you come back home?  I want you…”  I heard a sound, or felt a presence. Something strange was happening and I could not tell exactly what it was.  I had the door opened to my apartment to refresh the air even though the air-conditioner was running.  I got up and while still talking with Mayra went to the doorway and looked outside.

“Something is not right here!” I said.

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know.”

“Roy, why don’t you leave and come home now?”

“Mayra, it’s after ten and I need to be over to this part of town in the morning.  I think I’ll stay and see whatever this is and not run tonight.  I’ve ran all of my life from things, but I need to stay.  What I’ll do is plan to come home either tomorrow or on Friday or during the weekend.”

“Well, okay, but you know you can come here anytime.  I’ll be here and it doesn’t matter what time, okay?”

“Yes, I know and I appreciate that, Mayra, thanks.”

“You’re welcome.  I’m glad you’re coming back.  See you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay.  Good night and I love you.”

“I love you, too.  Goodnight.”

I don’t know what I expected when I hung up and brave enough to go outside and look around.  My paranoia had worn off mostly but it would not have surprised me to find police out there waiting for me still.  Some civil disturbance call might have been made with the second prostitute, but you just could never be sure once you’re in a cocaine Crack haze.  All I knew was my problems were over.  I was going to put this life behind me—finally, and do what was right.  I was going home.

I rested well that night with my anxiety level much lower and even looked forward to a day at work.  I was asked to be present because one of our clients was leaving one of our warehouse facilities.  Heading out to the facility, nearing the turnoff for my apartment and needing to use the restroom, I decided I could wait an hour or so until I came home, or use the facilities at the warehouse complex.  Fortunately, they were just about finished by the time I arrived and I figured this would be a short day by at least a half hour, and I could be home earlier than most days and not have to fight the traffic I normally fought because I’d be headed in the opposite direction.

When they were cleared out, I stopped by the bank across the street to withdraw $20.  I figured I would stay at the apartment until the weekend, until then, I would continue smoking moderately.  My last hoorah before finally kicking the habit!  When my money and receipt were dispensed my card did not return as normal.  With my fingernails I tried pinching the end of it and draw it toward me, but I couldn’t grasp it.  I hit the cancel button again and the machine swallowed it!  I parked the car and went to the entrance and found it locked.  It was 4:30.  I banged on the door getting someone’s attention who told me I would have to return in the morning to claim my card.  Reluctantly I left thankful I managed to get $20.  It would be all the money I’d have for drugs and as far as I was concerned, enough to get high for the evening.

Before I got home, I made my drug buy.  I opened the three gates necessary to get to my apartment door, and then opened the last door.  Before taking one step I noticed something out of place.  I walked in just one step more and observed my bed had clothing on it.  I had no trouble recognizing it was unmade which was normal for me.  I hate making up a bed, but I didn’t leave any clothing on it!  I looked around and noticed my computer missing!  I looked closer and noticed the clothes were clean on the bed and the clothes basket was missing along with the pellet pistol.  I checked the bathroom searching for my drug paraphernalia and everything was in its place.  I started laughing for a moment thinking Mayra knew I wanted to come home and probably made arrangements with the landlady knowing I’d follow the computer anywhere, but that seemed out of character for Mayra.  I began to cry and laugh at the same time thinking it is true, the saying, “What goes around, comes around.”  For more than ten years I stole computers, about one each year.  Now I was getting a first-hand experience what it felt.  Those I had stolen were company owned so it should not have had any personal information, although some had, but I was hit directly where it hurt, my home and my own personal computer, which I paid for, was gone.  I was devastated.  All I could do was sit in the chair, facing an empty space where the computer had been and brood.

Later, I turned on the television and left it running without paying any attention.  I just needed to hear a voice in the room.  I believe I began to have a sense of what it might feel like to be violated, having your personal space or body compromised.  Mayra called and noting a tone in my voice which certainly meant “occupied” and by the sound of the television, she quickly rang off knowing I’d soon be home even if another day or two would pass.  I didn’t mention anything to her.  I changed into casual clothes and felt uncomfortable doing so.  Was I being watched?  Funny, how the exhibitionist now is uncomfortable, in his own home, being undressed.  For years I have chosen the day, time and incident as to how I wanted to be exposed.  I did not like not being in control.

Feeling sorry for myself I decided to think like a thief, which would come easy for me and I hit the street inquiring if anyone knew or heard of a computer for sale, although I would have difficulty doing so because of the language barrier.  Eventually, I did meet someone, a prostitute I stopped, who got into my car and spoke perfect English and I figured with the drugs I purchased earlier, why not?  I don’t drink so this is the next best thing.

It wasn’t too long before she, too, had to go, after I found her making her selection from my clothing still on the bed.  Because of the noise she created and until the time my head cleared from the haze I experienced due to the drugs, I had to get her out of there and she found comfort in my neighbor, whom she knew it seems, and he drove her away just as the one the previous evening.  That guy must have gotten around a bit himself!

Later in the evening as I continued to smoke drugs, I became more paranoid, having to accept my apartment had been violated and could be again in the midst of my smoking, along with not eating food or drinking water, not able to sleep or rest and because of the heat of the weather my body being dehydrated, paranoia would become more intense.  I remembered I left my wallet in the car to safeguard it from theft, yet I was too afraid to go outside to get it.  I also thought the prostitute I just kicked out may have arranged for her friends to break into my car.  I called 911 and requested police to come over to check my vehicle and to call me once they were on the scene.  When they came, there were five of them.  I explained the reason why I called because I feared my car was damaged, which it wasn’t, and admitted smoking drugs with a prostitute, which I described and accused her of theft.  They said they had just seen her and she was not carrying anything!  I appeared as a fool.  Then I told them my apartment was broken into the previous day and they wanted to know why I hadn’t reported it until now.  I told them I knew they would’ve done nothing other than make out a report.  They agreed.  I was disappointed when they didn’t even bother to come in and search, only make a report. After the police left, I went back in and loaded my stem for another hit.  When I inhaled the smoke something quite unusual happened.  It seemed as if the pressure in the room began to rise and I could feel it in my skull.  My ability to hear stopped working or it suddenly became increasingly quiet in the apartment.  Now I began to hear sounds, loudly of a clicking noise, making me think there were guns chambering a round and I heard the last prostitute’s voice threatening me for having spoken to the police, coming from the only two windows in the apartment, high on one wall, near the ceiling.  Then guns began shooting!  I felt the impact of one bullet and covered it immediately with my hand, feeling a warm, sticky fluid between my fingers?  When I looked at my hand there was no blood!  Then another threatening remark and now I’m running around in the small studio apartment trying to escape being shot in the head.  Grabbing a pillow and trying to protect my head, then realizing a pillow wouldn’t provide much protection at all!  I ran into the bathroom and closed the door, locking it and then leaning against it.  It’s wood!  So, I stood to one side where the wall was concrete. But, that would leave my door vulnerable to being opened, so again, I went and leaned against the door, changing my mind and alternating between the concrete wall and door several times, the whole time not liking the fact I was not in the room seeing what was going on.

After a few minutes of summoning my nerve, I walked out the door and began to take what I thought were shots to the arm, leg and abdomen.  Near the bed, I visualized a gun pointing at me and being shot in the forehead and falling, loosing consciousness!  I was dead and no longer had any thoughts, until I thought, why would I think that?  I checked my forehead and other impacted areas of my body and then sat up on the bed wondering what was going on.  I did not like what was happening.  I got my pipe and looked at it and thought if this is what is going to occur when I smoke, smoking is no longer any fun.  Too afraid to do anymore, I sat on the bed, in a corner, against a wall, with a pillow in my lap looking around and listening for noise—any kind of noise, trying to imagine someone experiencing their actual death by being shot.  It’s a traumatic, traumatic experience.  Something I never want to go through, ever again.

When morning came I headed for my car to make another drug purchase.  In between the third and last gate, I must have kicked a stone which went into the grass causing me to jump thinking I was being shot at!  I bent over slowly to make less of a target searching where someone could be in a position to shoot me.  Eventually, I decided against going out and made it back to the safety of my apartment, if it were safe at all.  After all, weren’t I being shot there just a few hours ago?

After waiting awhile, I opened my door and spoke to the landlady who was on the property doing some cleaning in the open court-yard, to report I was leaving because of the theft.  She made it clear no one had ever broken into her apartments before.  She mentioned she heard about the incident the night before and alluded to perhaps it being my fault for the break-in.  I told her I was leaving and would not require the return of security or unused rent and would assume the responsibility.  She seemed quite relieved and appeared she did not expect me to have done that.  When she left, I went out again to procure my last purchase of drugs.  I planned to pack my belongings and at five o’clock, be on my way to rejoin Mayra.  While out and waiting for my contact to bring me the drugs I called my boss just to report in.  He seemed quite concerned hearing about the break-in and told me I should get out of there as soon as possible and could imagine it being a frightening experience.  We hung up with him assuring me I was well-liked at the company and it was about time to think about another raise in my salary.  That would be fine now since I’d be able to make it to work, but for now, I was doing drugs for the last time.

Arriving home, I checked everything to make certain no one had disturbed my things, loaded up my pipe and inhaled another hit.  What I experienced yesterday occurred again, the pressure and strangeness of  complete silence, then as before, a voice, this time my boss, without an accent, threatening to shoot me because I broke yesterday’s promise not to smoke again.  I began appealing, out loud and tried to convince him I would not break the promise if he extended forgiveness for my error.  I heard the clicking of the gun’s trigger then the firing of bullets very close to my body, feeling the compression of air as they whizzed by my head, legs and arms.  I identified marks on the walls I had not noticed before, knowing this time I was going to die.  Just hours short of never having to do this again.  Just hours short of finally regaining my life with Mayra.  Just hours short of happiness and I was being doomed to hell!

I used to hang shirts that were on hangars onto the curtain rod, to block any possible viewing spaces in the sheer curtains.  I went around pulling them down, damaging the rod.  I didn’t care, I wanted to see the gun and identify the person who kept taking my life.  I found a stick and began batting at the bullets as I heard them being fired.  I ran and fell against the opened closet, falling against the door and brushed aside the Venetian drapes and saw my landlady in the courtyard walking down the walkway, looking perturbed wondering what could be the reason for this banging noise.  I spoke in a loud whisper to my aggressor, hoping no one could hear my one-sided argument.  Then, for how long, God only knows, the high wore off as well as the paranoia.  The bullet sounds I identified were drops of water falling from the shower head in the bathroom!  If there were any marks on the walls, it was due to my striking it thinking I was swatting bullets!  I recognized now what she must’ve thought hearing the noise inside this room, “He’s insane!”

I opened the door when I thought I appeared normal, even though sweat not dripping but rivers cascading into my eyes.  My only remark, because I believed now she knew what I had been doing was, “Why do we treat ourselves so badly?”  She began some new-age philosophical reasoning I could neither understand either because of the jargon she used or my mind was still too fried to put together sentences and form a thought.  She managed to have her ground caretaker enter my room while she was talking to me, her not thinking I noticed her eye signal to him, and him coming out to say all was okay.  I told her I was going to start packing but would return tomorrow morning to retrieve whatever I left and would broom-sweep and mop leaving the place as I found it.  And I did.

When I arrived home to Mayra, I did not know how broken a man I was.  I almost fell asleep driving over and too tired to remove things from my car into the house.  While sitting on the bed I noticed, and she noticed, something was not right.  I had trouble controlling my limbs particularly my legs.  They just wouldn’t keep still.  Later, she would claim I was asleep but I argued I was awake when I made the derogatory statement about the president being reported on the news on television. I couldn’t eat but managed to take a relaxing shower and fell into a sleep so badly needed.  I knew my agitation was due to lack of body essentials:  food, water and sleep.  Having lived through the stress of having my home broken into complicated with chronic drug abuse played havoc on my nervous system.  I know of two persons, one using a wheelchair and the other a cane due to smoking Crack and now, I thought, I was headed for similar circumstances.

In the morning, Mayra made me aware how disturbed my sleep was with the constant movement and talking and I thought I was at peace! I made my way back to the apartment, removed the remaining things, swept and cleaned and celebrated the destruction of my pipe.  I first put it to my lips, but too afraid to light it for fear of repeating the two last trips I took, and I knew even a little residue would create the desire to go and do “just one more” as if that were possible.  I covered it and the other paraphernalia with clothing and dropped it into the trash.  Yes, I found my glass stem only a week before but I wanted us to part now.  I was headed toward death with a certainty and I was currently on a reprieve and I knew it.  I locked the door to the apartment and placed the keys in the pre-arranged spot and turning back before getting into my car, was glad this trip only lasted one month.  Never again.  Never again.

Chapter 13

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