The person who stepped off of that airplane was nobody’s little cowboy!
He was a stranger! A man! Tall and gaunt, with a full red beard and haunted eyes. He was wearing a camo combat cap, pulled low across his face, brand new Levi’s, a western shirt and cowboy boots.
He was my son. But my heart screamed, “My God, he’s a speed freak!”
We knew he’d been heavy into smoking pot and there had been some recreational drugs over the years, but nothing in my imagination had prepared me for this!
Somehow we got through the initial greetings and headed through the terminal to pick up his luggage. It took both men to lift his huge duffel bag off of the baggage carousel and carry it to the car. He kept his leather carry-on bag close to him, preferring not to let me carry it for him, although I offered a couple of times.
“What on earth have you got in here!” Dick wanted to know, as they hoisted the duffel into the trunk of the car.
“Just some tools and stuff I didn’t want to leave where the people I live with could rip ’em off.”
During the forty-five minute drive home we must have talked about a number of things. I remember only one!
“You guys need to know that I never go anywhere without a .45 in my belt. I’ve been hearing voices and basically, I came out here to see if I still hear ’em, because if I don’t, then my old lady is making it with with my best friend and I’m goin’ back and kill somebody. I’ve got an M.14 semi-automatic rifle and a Bowie knife in my bag right now for protection. You don’t have to be afraid I’ll do a Charles Manson and come down the hall in the night to kill you though – I’m more in control than that. If you want me to stay in a motel, I will.”
Dick never flinched.
I can only imagine what must have been going through his spirit as I insisted that none of us were in danger. “You’ve come for a visit after all these years. Of course you won’t be staying in a motel!”
When we got home , me being Mom and food being love – something I learned in my childhood, the first order of business was something to eat. By that time it was nearly midnight.
“I’m exhausted.” I’ve been shooting crystal for two weeks straight with almost no break. When you shoot, you don’t need to eat, or sleep. But when you come down, like I am right now, your body catches up with you. I need to sleep, but every time I try to sleep I hear those voices again. They’re not always bad though. One night a few days ago I was sittin in the bathroom with my .45 in my mouth and I heard a voice say, “Please don’t. I love you.”
“Will you let us pray for you before you to to bed, so that you can rest and not hear voices?” I asked.
“…yeah. I suppose so…”
So we prayed.
As everyone went to get ready for bed, Dick and I stood in his bedroom doorway talking to this stranger while he unpacked. We watched as he took out the M.14, the Cold .45, the Bowie knife, and then enough ammunition to stand off a S.W.A.T. Team for several hours.
Sometime during the conversation he’d let it slip that the voices spoke to him during his flight to California…saying that he was going to be a “STAR.” He also mentioned that he’d been thinking for several weeks it was his destiny to die shooting cops.
But the last thing he said to me before I left his room for the night was, “I love ya mom. Thanks for letting me come out here.”
He threw himself across the bed, still in his jeans and boots, telling me he was going to listen to some music before he went to sleep.
I was still not fully aware of what we were entertaining.
Dick was! He was fully prepared to spend the night with his eyes wide open…praying. I reminded him of our toy boat. I reminded him of all the other times God had protected us.
“Nothing can happen while he’s here. We are in God’s hands. All three of us are in God’s hands!”
And with that agreed upon, we both turned over and went to sleep.
At 4:01 A.M. I sat bolt upright in bed!
Something that sounded like a gunshot resounded through my head. My first thought was, “He shot himself! It came from out by the pool.”
I threw on a wrap and dashed for the hall. The lights were still on in his room, and he lay stretched across the bed sound asleep. He hadn’t moved from the position he was in when we said good night. I checked the house and the yard. Everything was as it should be.
I went back to bed. But, not back to sleep. Dick was still sleeping soundly. I was wide awake! It had finally sunk in!
For the rest of the night I prayed in the Spirit. My mind was begging my Heavenly Father to work miracles, but my mouth prayed as the Spirit directed, in a language I could not understand.
Thursday we drove to Sequoia National Park to show James the Giant redwoods. The trip was, for the most part, surprisingly pleasant. We were getting acquainted with a man who – while tormented by the anger, addiction and hopelessness of a life devoid of love and of God – was warm, intelligent and gentle. Except when he was talking about the past – then the rage and the effects of the drugs were all we could see.
That evening my twenty-five year old son, whom we’d prayed for all these years, sat at the counter in our kitchen and told us what it’s like to “shoot speed.” I won’t even try to describe it for you, It is so horrible to hear, no words are adequate. It is “hell” in the worst form we may know on this earth. Toward the end of the conversation he said, “I’m about this far (holding up his thumb and forefinger, an inch apart) from givin’ my life to God.”
Again that night, we prayed for sound, uninterrupted sleep and protection from the voices. Dick and I went to bed about eleven. James went out by the pool and rolled a joint.
While he was sitting there smoking it, the voices he’d been hearing spoke again. He toldus it sounded like it came from the neighbors yard, behind him.
“GET YOUR GUN AND GET IT OVER WITH. Do what you were sent to do. Do it NOW!”
“NO! I’m goin’ in God’s house. You can’t follow me and you can’t make me do anything.”
The very fact that his demons could come so close to him now was quite a shock. He ground out his joint on the cement and ran for his room.
Follower of Christ, writer & artist.