I would think about those words often over the years, praying at different junctures to understand its meaning. It wasn’t until September 12, 2002, when I would pray not to understand any longer, but for it to happen for me. To surrender. But, before then, I’d still travel the road of addiction to the point where in June 1993, Louisa and I would talk and she’d tell me she was leaving the area to move back to Long Island and I could reside in the home, if I wanted. Perfect timing because I sure didn’t have any money for rent and our house would not cost me anything. I could live there until the credit union took it.
I entered the home, this second time, similarly to when I entered it the first time. The difference was there was more the first time! Louisa took anything and everything she could, even the refrigerator. I couldn’t even get a cold glass of water except from the tap. Everywhere in the house were holes. Holes in the ceiling where light fixtures and chandeliers had been. One could say a word and it would come back to you as an echo. Nothing! Everything gone except in the family-room, a cot with a mattress, a television eating-tray and a 19” color television seated on the floor, in the same room which before held enough electronic gadgets to cause a techie to overdose. In my office, no books, not one book, not one from the immense and proud library I once collected. Not even garage door openers. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was depressing to see my end result. For a moment I got a glimpse of what Satan would experience when he’s confined to Earth for 1,000 years. Nothing!
Somehow I managed to get money here and there still feeding my drug habit. Now I could smoke in the comfort of my own home, without disturbance, yet I still suffered from paranoia although taught how to not let it affect me. I had chosen to allow it to do so. For me there was a certain quality of the high having to deal with fear. It made it exciting. What people can’t understand with Crack is the adventure is not in just the actual using but in the hunt and acquiring the drug, and second, whatever fun or experience one could generate once you smoke it. I knew no police would be coming for me now. Who would even care to arrest me? I was nothing now. I had no reason to fear the loss of anything for I had lost everything already. What could they do to me? Put me in a room somewhere where I would be given clean clothes, cold water and food three times a day? That’s more than I had now, actually more preferable. My home turned into a house and technically although I had a key it wasn’t even mine anymore. I couldn’t pay for its upkeep.
Louisa would stop by every other week or so and take me to the supermarket where she’d stock up foodstuffs for me which needn’t be kept refrigerated. For my appreciation and gratitude I’d manage to steal money from her purse when she wasn’t looking, thanking her later for the food and waving good-bye as she began her 95 mile, one-way journey back to Long Island, an almost two hour trip. She’d be home before I would because I’d be out walking 4 miles, one way, to get into town to make a drug buy with the stolen money—too cheap and addicted to spend money to put a few gallons of gas into my gas tank.
Once, when I did manage to put some gas in my car, I drove around trying to trick someone into actually giving me the drug for examination but I would speed off after giving them a balled up bunch of singles of no more than $3.00. One time this young kid, no more than fifteen or sixteen years old asked if I’d rent my car. No way! Are you kidding! Not my Maxima, my last gem, my hold-out of things which represented the golden days of yesterday. Yet, when I drove off and rounded the corner, I considered it. I went home and removed anything I thought might be of value then drove back to find him to see how much he’d offered and on what terms. I did find him and we negotiated my receiving $30.00 of Crack in exchange for him to use the car and returning it to me by 9:00 p.m. What he didn’t know was, I remove the fuses of the car’s external lights, but if driven in the city, because of the street lamps, he’d never notice. The car’s internal lights would operate properly. My thought being, if he didn’t return the car before it got dark the police would get him and return the car to me. I dropped myself off at my own home, so he could see where I lived, with his promise he’d come back and gave him the phone number to the house to call me before coming.
I enjoyed the drugs having resolved within me I would probably not see the car again and wondering why hadn’t I held out for a better price? If I were going to sell such a nice car so cheaply, I could have done far better going to a car dealer if not the junkyard, certainly better than just $30 and it would have been legal since I owned the car outright. It’s the foolishness of addiction. Proper planning doesn’t count, not when you are “jonesing”. Not when you hear another voice beckoning you to do what you must to feel what you wanted to feel. You’d sell anything and in some cases, anybody, to get a couple of hits.
I went to bed after I finished, laying there because after smoking I can’t sleep anyway, wondering what to do about my new predicament when the phone rang. It was him apologizing for having the car later than agreed and that he was on the way. I told him no problem, glad he called and I would be expecting him.
That morning, I went to the driveway to see if my car was there, hoping he’d left it and the keys because I eventually did fall asleep—he hadn’t! I got dressed to take a walk into town to search if he parked it somewhere. The closer I got, I began to think how futile this would be. It’s probably in someone’s garage getting repainted or worse, chopped up for parts to sell. After a depressing walk back, the phone rang. It was someone from a youth probation office asking me to stop down. I asked for the reason of the call and was told some youths were pulled over last night, reportedly in my car, by the police, for operating a vehicle with no lights. So, my plan did work. Now I hoped there wasn’t a chase and they’d damage it. There wasn’t. The driver, the one I traded for drugs, told them a “crack-head” gave them the car for drugs. To shore up my reputation after hearing my description, I assured her I was no “crack-head” but could she give me a minute. I put down the phone and slammed a door for effects, then came back and pretended amazement my car was stolen and I hadn’t known until now. I did confess I lived in LaGrange, and often kept the key in the ignition because it’s a safe neighborhood. Who would ever think to come all the way out here to steal a car? I don’t know if she bought my story but I did go down to the office, wrote out a complaint, then retrieved my car from the police impound lot, not having to pay since it was reported stolen “now” and I was a victim reclaiming my vehicle. I doctored up an insurance card to show valid coverage, was given my key and warned to keep my car locked in the future. Yeah, right. I’d use the car again but for a different purpose.
I checked and had about half a tank left thanks to the kid, no money, no food, no cold water, no life, nothing I could see worth living anymore. I knew I would never try pills and alcohol again, but heard people dying in their cars, and it was painless. They would fall asleep never waking. How many times had I heard people dying in their bedrooms because the garage was underneath and the car left running?
I drove the car into the garage and closed the door behind it. The windows were high enough and the position of the house, on an incline would prevent anyone from seeing and preventing me who might have been a casual observer. They would have needed to actually come up the driveway to gain entrance to the front or back door on the deck, and to actually be able to see inside the garage, probably wouldn’t notice me sitting in the driver’s side if I pulled the seat back and lowered it, and I did. I wrote a little note saying “good-bye” explaining this was what I wanted, so don’t be sad for me. I found a hose from the laundry room that was connected from the now gone dryer to a vent leading outside, perhaps the only thing Louisa did leave. It fit perfectly after some adjusting, running from the exhaust into the back window behind me. I locked the garage door and the house doors, closed the door leading to the garage, sealed the car to keep the exhaust fumes inside, got into the car, locked my door and started the motor. This was about ten in the morning. I hadn’t slept much the night before so it was easy for me to fall asleep after reclining my seat, and I did.
Four hours later I awakened, looked at my watch and confirming with the car’s clock it was sometime after two in the afternoon. I sat up briefly barely able to see because of the condensation on the inside of the windows. It was hot, I was sweating, ears ringing, eyes tearing and difficulty breathing and very drowsy. I smiled knowing this time I would be successful and laid back, for the last time.
While asleep, I dreamt approaching a door which had a little window covered with a curtain and tried the door handle and found it locked, so I knocked. I heard a voice on the other side asking me what I wanted and I responded wanting to come inside. The person’s voice told me to go away! I waited for a few moments and knocked again wanting to gain entrance when the same thing happened again with the voice telling me to go away. Really wanting to enter beyond this door, I knocked harder and more persistent and the curtain pushed away not revealing a person’s face but only darkness and a voice and I pleaded again, to please let me come inside, when the voice yelled:
“Listen, you have come here twice before asking to be let in. I can’t let you in. You see, a man named Jesus stopped by here before you came and told us you’d be coming and not to let you in. He said something about Him having the key and you were not permitted in here, so go away!” The curtain fell back into place and the door remained locked.
Afterwards, Aeisha’s face, Louisa’s daughter, came into my mind. I woke up audibly hearing myself saying the words, “I have to see you grow up.”* I looked around, the car completely filled with exhaust fumes and smoke. I tried opening the door and when I couldn’t I realized I locked myself in. I tried to turn off the motor but couldn’t form my fingers properly to grasp the key. My head was hurting, my eyes tearing and vision blurred. My ears hearing strangely, so strange I cannot describe it other than to say it sounded as if I was hearing under water. I shifted my body to move out of the car and fell onto the floor. I was paralyzed from the waist down! There I was lying on the ground, half in and out of the car, no strength, wanting to close my eyes and sleep, so I dozed off again. Later I awakened and now had better movement of my lower extremities, turned off the car and stumbled into the family room. I’d left the television on and the person spoke sounded as if they were talking underwater! I glanced at my watch and could make out it was just passed six in the evening.
Two hours later I was okay. The noise stopped in my head. My limbs were working normally and I wasn’t tired anymore. My depression still with me and I knew if I had had a gun I would have used it. I felt so much pressure to just end it all but didn’t know how. Nothing was working for me. It was like death even rejected me.
I walked the next day to St. Francis Hospital and begged them to help me, explaining I was suicidal, but I didn’t tell them what I had done for fear of being sent somewhere like the unpleasant experience I had in February when I swallowed pills. They admitted me for what would be a three day stay for evaluation. I was able to detox, have nourishing food and three days later began to feel better about my situation enough to walk back home. I took the scenic route which took me past the house which held the mystery the night I experienced absolute fear on Cottage Street. This time the house was boarded up. Apparently the police did come and took some kind of action. Each step closer to home I gained strength and the willingness to develop some kind of plan to pick myself up. By the time I got home, still no plan, but I did have the television, so I watched and watched, slept and watched some more.
Louisa stopped by, again, to take me to the store. It was camp meeting and she and her mother spent the time at Hyde Park’s Victory Lake Camp. I was glad to see her and already developing a plan to get to that purse. I knew she’d have some money for me. When we got to the store, I pretended something was in my shoe, so I took my shoe off saying I’d be right behind her. There it was! No stone or pebble, but one hundred dollar bills. Several of them! All I needed was one. So, one, I took. I was so anxious to get back home to say “good-bye” to her I didn’t permit her time enough to buy all she wanted, for me. All I kept thinking was getting enough Crack to keep me for awhile. I would not be able to eat anyway.
After wishing me well and my thanking her, I started my trek again into town. No gas in my car. I spent it trying to kill myself. As I walked, I passed the convenience store I thought to rob if Louisa didn’t stop by. I planned to take a bat, no disguise or even an attempt to do so. A place where I had come often, whose employees knew me and probably where I lived, with a bat demanding money! My plan was to rob it then announce where I was headed if they wanted to call the police to arrest me. Had they refused, I’d probably would have used the bat to break up something, maybe, just maybe I’d be desperate enough to hurt someone, too! Maybe. Things weren’t looking too good for me.
I had a hundred dollars, which meant five twenties, or ten tens, or twenty fives. It meant a lot of Crack. That’s what it meant. If I get some good weight, then I’d have enough to carry me for quite awhile. Food or other needs weren’t even a consideration. By Wednesday night, five days later, I would be back to where I was even before Louisa stopped by over the weekend. No food. Depressed. Wondering if it were time to get that bat and go swinging.
Thursday, July 4, 1993, no gas in the car to kill myself, hungry and desperately wanting a glass of cold water, I thought and considered the likelihood of getting it from a toilet. That water is always the coldest water in the house, except if you have a refrigerator, and of course, I didn’t. In the afternoon, I could hear my neighbors splashing in the pool, smells of their barbecue wafting through my windows, so I closed them to prevent the smells stimulating my hunger pangs. Certainly if I asked for something they would have given it to me, a Christian family, but I was too proud. Even though the family-room was partially underground, this summer was so hot, and my room was beginning to get to me. The heat and boredom and just sitting around waiting for what? I didn’t have any expectations anymore.
I reached for the stem, knowing there would not be even a remnant of any drugs left but when you’re desperate, you don’t stop trying. There I was, sitting on my cot, in a darkened room except for the light of the television, with a bent piece of broken hanger trying to force the burnt piece of copper Brillo to the other side after scrapping for remains of Crack resin when the stem broke into halves. Since both ends were already broken, they cut deeply into both palms, bleeding profusely with blood dripping onto my filthy jeans, with enough light to see them actually dripping blood and black spots forming just above my knees is when I heard a voice, aloud, say to me,
“Why don’t you pray to Me?”
Here I was, in that same room, exactly six years ago when I spoke to Him to reveal Himself to me. Now, He was talking to me, asking me to pray to Him! I put the pieces of glass down, looked at my palms bleeding and becoming sticky and could smell the metallic odor of blood, when I heard His voice again,
“There were hands once that bled just like that, which bled for you.”
I began looking upward realizing something was happening in that empty room. Again I heard His voice,
“Why don’t you pray to Me?”
I got up from the cot, turned around, kneeled and bowed my head. Having spoken to hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of people if you consider the radio broadcasts and how eloquent I could be, yet I was not able to muster something poetic or profound, but just these words,
“Lord, please save me.”
Then I heard these words, just as loud and clear as if He were standing right beside me, say,
“If I send you somewhere, will you go?”
I looked upwards, thinking of my situation, knowing death had failed me and so has everything else, and needing a change, an opportunity, I spoke loudly and if the windows were opened I’m sure the neighbors would have heard my response,
“Lord, if You send me somewhere, I’ll go.”
After I prayed and answered the Lord, I got up off my knees and what normally does not happen when doing Crack happened for me. I went to sleep! I went to sleep peacefully. I no longer struggled with being hungry, thirsty or the normal “low” feelings of depression I usually experienced when I did not have anymore Crack to use. I went to sleep!
The following morning, Friday, July 5, 1993, I awakened not knowing what to expect or what I would do. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty nor was I depressed. I went around the corner to the room which had been my office, looking around remembering more pleasant days. I leaned against the little shelf built under the windows permitting me to rest comfortably and looked at the cars traveling by, when I noticed movement through the bushes. It was someone walking up my walkway to the front of the house. That person looked like Karen! But how could this be? She does not know where this house is. I must still be hallucinating, but I knew I was not hallucinating when the doorbell rang! I left the room and went up the stairs to the foyer and opened the door not knowing quite what to expect when in fact it was Karen, looking at the columns and other areas of the house outside. She looked at me seeing my startled expression and asked if she could come inside. I opened the storm-door and stepped to the side. She looked around again in amazement and mentioned how it was true. I asked her what she was referring to and she confessed what she had heard about my life prior to her being involved with me, and my achievements and my home; similarly, when Queen Sheba visited King Solomon for the first time. She now knew I had been something once before other than a drug addict and the evidence was apparent still, but I was perplexed how she found me and even more so, why did she come. What was even more surprising were the following words she spoke,
“Roy, I never wanted to see you again except in court for a divorce, but, your ex-wife called me last night!”
“Louisa called you?” I interrupted because I was truly shocked. Louisa never wanted to have anything to do with Karen and felt maybe she had something to do with my final decision to leave her, giving our marriage no chance, and although Louisa and I separated and divorced amicably, we were still friends. In my mind I felt Louisa still had hope for us and expressed such hope in the many things she had done and apparently still was doing for me.
“Yes, she called me,” She continued. Karen’s phone was unlisted and those who knew it were told upon penalty of death, never give it to anyone, without first getting permission, and I never would have thought to give it to Louisa for any reason,
“And she told me to come see about you. I told Louisa ‘you were her husband first’, but she made it clear she had done all she could for you, but ‘he is your husband now and go see about him.’ and after giving me the address and directions, she just hung up!”
I later learned, from Louisa, the night of July 4th, she was awakened and God spoke to her to call Karen. This was something she didn’t want to do but was willing to follow what she believed was God’s direction in her life. She managed to find someone who knew Karen and got the number and called her to tell her to help me. The time of her being awakened was the same time when God was speaking to me. He was preparing me to receive help and when Karen spoke these next words, I knew, then, divine intervention, my Red Sea, my Fiery Furnace and Lion’s Den experience was being given to me, and I have reflected on this many times since. The following words came out of Karen’s mouth were,
“If I send you somewhere, will you go?”
I looked at Karen with unbelief. I just knew without a doubt God was now working a miracle on my behalf. I looked at her, in the eye, and said,
“Yes. If you send me somewhere, I’ll go.”
But, I doubted anything would happen. This was a holiday and nothing would be open. Karen turned around and left and when I closed the door, I didn’t believe I would see her again.
Later in the afternoon, I was walking through the house, still remembering the furnishings and better days when I heard God tell me to pack a bag. Still following His spoken orders, I got a few things together and Karen did return telling me she found a bed for me and they would take me but we had to be there before a certain time. About one-half hour! My bag was packed and no need to waste anymore time.
Before I closed the door, I looked around. Car was still in the garage. My personal belongings, books, etc., those things I brought from Karen’s when I moved, couldn’t be carried with me. The television, cot and tray, the remnant of a previous life, a life that was once blessed and good was over. I closed the door knowing I would never return to this home, never again seeing its inside. Never again to see the computer readout informing me of the solar system’s production of heated water. The joy of my life. The result of my labor. It’s over. Closing the storm-door, stepping back gazing at those columns which meant so much to me and was the condition I would purchase any home, my requirement, to the sales agent, walked down the shaded path to the driveway. This was it. This life was over. A new one would begin, but I was not afraid. The one I was leaving behind was one of luxury and material, and it was also one of sorrow and tried to kill me. I was ready now for whatever was next. Yes, I was up for the challenge.
* I was blessed to be able to see her, Aeisha, in 2006, her 16th birthday when I hugged her and told her I was so glad to see her and to let her know she was part of God’s plan in saving me. I also gave her $50 for her birthday, to replace the $5 I stole from her piggy bank when I was addicted to Crack.