Sunday, June 4, 2017

(ToM) The Caresitter

Jeffery had been working at the assembly plant in Detroit for six months and had made friends and acquaintances with his co-workers early in his job assignment.

Noted among these colleagues was Mayur who took a liking to Jeffery at the start of working together. Mayur, a hard-worker, was also a hard partier on the weekends. Although he didn't show the effects of the weekend's toll of inebriation when he returned to work each Monday, he frequently related stories of partying to Jeffery who usually listened to the accounts but often didn't give much response to Mayur’s tales except for the week following Labor day weekend. On this particular Monday, Mayur came into work sullen and visibly upset. And when Jeffery asked him what was wrong during lunch that day, the answer came while Mayur was hunched over the table with his hands on his head.

Jeffery listened to the story while eating an apple. It turned out that the weekend prior had been one of the wildest outings of Mayur’s life. It started while he and his friends met at another friend's apartment and had several beers. And during the night the alcohol had run out, so the friend had gotten into his car to buy more at the store. But he never made it back. He got killed at an intersection where a speeding driver failed to stop at a red light and careened, into him. He was expected to have died on impact.

“Man, that's horrible,” Jeffery said. Jeffery was no stranger to death. Before applying at the automotive plant, he was a staff sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and had seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I just don't know how to feel right now,” Mayur said.
“It's like one day he was here and the next he's gone.”
“Yeah, I understand that.” replied Jeffery.
“So what are you going to do?”, asked Jeffery.
“I don't know what else to do but keep doing what I've always done,” answered Mayur. “The thing is we're all a little shook up and depressed over his death. I talked to my buddies last night, and we plan on getting together again this weekend to commemorate Tony's life and drink to his passing. But to be honest, I don't think there will be a single soul there that's stable and emotionally fit to handle the situation.”

“Man, I tell you what. I know I'm not much of a partier when it comes to getting drunk or doing drugs, but if you would like someone to sit in with you guys for a little bit while you all get together this weekend, I would make myself available to come.”

“Jeffery, I think that'd be cool if you did. It'd bring an air of refreshment to the room. I'll tell my friends to expect a guest.”

Friday 10 PM

The lights of a mid-size van shined down the dark residential street of a middle-class neighborhood as it approached a stop sign and turned right after stopping. Meanwhile, at 1309 Maple Grove Lane, five blocks away, the living room of a small one-story house was lit with light and had loud music playing from a stereo which was heard from outside. Inside, the occupants were sitting around on couches and chairs. One woman leaned on the edge of a loveseat and applied a lighter to a spoon full of heroin. A few moments later she placed the spoon carefully on the coffee table in front of her and got an elastic rope to tie off her arm.

At the same time, the van made its way to the last road before it turned on Maple Grove Lane. Less than a minute later, the van pulled up and parked in front of the house. The driver got out of the van with a large bag and proceeded to walk up the sidewalk to the house. In the interior, the woman drew up the syringe and shot herself up with the dope. Laid out on the floor, however, something went wrong. While she was unresponsive and didn't move, her girlfriend panicked and started to scream. The man who walked up the sidewalk and approached the door heard the screams, and after a couple, quick knocks on the door decided just to open it up and walk inside.

Once he entered the house, the girlfriend of the woman who overdosed had her cell-phone out ready to call 9-1-1, but the man told her everything was okay. He quickly walked over to the woman on the floor, and took out something from his chest pocket and said out loud to everyone that it was narcane (a heroin reversal), he injected the overdosed woman in the leg and softly patted her face. A few moments later the woman came to and briskly stood up and said, “Wow, that was a close call. Thanks, Mister.” With that, she walked over to her friend that was standing by the front door, and took her by the hand and exited the house.

“I think you just saved her life, man! I'm Tank.”
The owner extended his hand to shake Jeffery’s and went over to the stereo and turned down the music.
“Yeah, I think she was on her way out for sure.
It's a good thing I brought the heroin reversal, or we might have been dealing with a dead body by now.”

Jeffery finished shaking the hands of the people in the room which were six people altogether. On one couch against the wall sat his co-worker Mayur and two other men he had never seen before. On a loveseat to the left of the couch was the owner of the house, Tank, who had left the room to find another chair for Jeffery to sit on. In two recliners against the other wall sat a man and woman. They looked like a couple out of a hippy scene from the 70's. The man held an acoustic guitar, and the woman had a djembe in front of her. Both wore long hair. The man had a bandana wrapped around his head while the woman's hair was in dreads. Both focused on their instruments and went to softly play after greetings with Jeffery. A few moments later, Tank returned with a fold up lawn chair that he opened up and placed in the center of the room.

“I'm sorry this is all I have.”, Tank said.
“That's alright. It'll suit fine. Thanks!”

The next hour was spent in small talk while those there idly played with their phones while intermittently taking shots of liquor. The stereo which was blasting at full volume when Jeffery arrived was now turned off. Instead, the man and woman with their guitar and djembe softly played their instruments which seemed to serve as background music.

“Okay, I've had enough of the liquor. It's time for some acid.” One of the men on the couch spoke up. He looked to be in his early 20's, and from the night's previous conversation it was learned that he was a college student that was on spring break. While the young man stood up and reached into his back pocket for his wallet, the musicians switched songs. The tune that now played was a psychedelic sounding lick that the woman with the djembe started putting a beat to.

“So Jeffery,” said Tank “You're a straight-edger? You've never done any drugs?” Tank asked the question without looking up from his phone he was using.

“I served as a ballistic infantryman in Iraq, and I saw the kind of things they did to people.”
“Is that right?”, asked Tank.
“The ones who used were usually guys that wanted to escape the reality of what they were facing. You have to think. We were thousands of miles away from friends and family, in a place where death could have been around the corner any second. For those guys, they chose to get high to take the edge off. I didn't.”

So how did you find ways to cope?” asked Mayur as he took a gulp from his beer can.

“I just trusted God and found my peace in Him.”
“Oh.” Mayur shifted his body on the couch and placed his beer can between his legs.”

“God? There is no God!”, retorted the college student who had now taken out a blotter sheet of acid from his wallet and had placed it on the coffee table in front of him.

“Did you ever see anyone over there get bad on any of the drugs they took?” Mayur asked.

Yeah, a couple of men. I don't know what they took, but one went AWOL in the city of Baghdad and got shot to death while the other never recovered from his hallucinations. They had to send him back home and finally discharged him.

“Hah! Weak minds. That's all!” The student engaged himself in the conversation while organizing items in his wallet.

“And religion. It's nothing but a crutch.” he continued. The young man then stood up and returned his wallet to his back-pocket. While he stood up, he walked over near Jeffery who remained seated in his chair.
“The Bible's been proven wrong many times over, anyway. Darwin had it right when he taught survival of the fittest. And soldiers in a war-zone should have been the first to realize that.”

Looking up at the young man as he slowly made his way back to the couch, Jeffery said, “A few who attended chapel during our tour didn't think so. They came believing whom they served. And I remember one fellow, came one Sunday and made his first profession of faith during an invitation to accept Christ. The following Monday night he was killed by a roadside bomb. He left behind two young daughters.

“Mind control, man! Who's to say that the Christian faith is any different than what those terrorists believe?”
After saying those words, the student placed the blotter sheet of acid on his tongue and sat with his head back to the couch and closed his eyes.

“To answer your question is easy enough. One faith is of love, peace, and joy. And the other is like all the rest of the world's religions - They're works based and require a person to earn their way to God. All it takes is a person to open his eyes to the Truth, and he will see.”

A few moments later, the young student slowly glanced at Jeffery who had turned his face to the wall of the living room. When the man followed his attention to the partition that Jeffery directed his gaze at, Jeffery spoke again, “But of course, man has free-will and has a choice to accept the truth or reject it, too.”

As Jeffery was speaking the young man focused his stare toward the wall, and a vision of Jesus stretching forth his nail-scared hands, holding a Bible quickly appeared and vanished before Jeffery started again.
“For the latter of those who reject, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death and the soul that sins shall die.”

Blinking, the young man, still concentrating on the wall of the living room, suddenly screamed in horror as the next vision unveiled itself to him. It was a vision of a man standing in the middle of a roaring fire. Bolting up from the couch, he ran past Jeffery who had his head lowered to the ground, and he proceeded to open the front door and sprint frantically to his car and leave.

Several moments later, the man who sat next to the student on the couch spoke up. “Hmmm. Must have been some bad stuff.”

Tank got up shaking his head and cursing and closed the front door which was left open after the exit of the student, closing out the night to the outside.

Meanwhile, inside the living room, the party rolled on. Tank had left the room to bake a pizza for dinner, and that left the musicians, Jeffery, Mayur, and another student still in the living room.

After several minutes, Jeffery asked the other guy sitting on the couch next to Mayur.
“Do you go to the same college as the other guy?”,
“No. We know each other because our girlfriends are buddies with each other.”
Again, Jeffery asked
“Do you think you need to call him to see if he's okay?”
 “He's a sketchy kind of guy to begin with in the first place. So I think he just needs to come down off the trip and he'll be okay.”

As the two men were talking, Tank walked back in the room with a pan of pizza and sat it down on the coffee table in the middle of the room and said, “Have at it. I'm going to go use the restroom.”

Tank walked back out of the room, and Mayur, Jeffery, and the other student each took a slice of pizza from the pan and began eating.

During their eating, Mayur and Jeffery struck up a discussion amongst themselves.

“Do you usually keep to beer at these parties?”
“Yeah, and by what's all happened tonight I'm reminded why.”

They both laughed and then Jeffery cleared his throat and continued.

“Unfortunately, when people indulge in drugs there are evil spirits associated with them that look forward to opportunities to inhabit the people who use them.”

Sitting his uneaten pizza crust back on the coffee table and picking up another slice, the student who sat next to Mayur chuckled. “Is that so?” he exclaimed

“You can look it up yourself. The Bible uses the word sorcery to explain it. Other texts give the translation to be pharmacai. It's where we get our English word pharmacy from.”

Jeffery wiped his hands and was about to go on talking, but was interrupted by the young man.

“Well, I guess the cool thing then is this prescription of magic mushrooms that I got filled recently.” Smiling, the man reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a sandwich bag.

Without saying anything else, he bent forward to the pizza on the table and started placing his mushrooms on a slice. Then he picked the piece up and began eating while the room began to grow quiet as the musicians took a break from their playing to partake of dinner as well.

A little over half an hour later, the man and woman had resumed their playing on the guitar and djembe. Tank had taken to a game of Tetris on his phone, Jeffery had excused himself to the bathroom, and Mayur was the first to notice.
The young college student who had eaten the pizza with hallucinogenic mushrooms was texting someone on his phone with drool coming down the side of his mouth. Mayur noticed but kept to himself. As Jeffery returned to the living room, the young man gave a quick convulsion as his eyes rolled back in his head. Mayur gave a start as he recoiled away from the man.

“Hey, what the...What's wrong with you?”
Tank, by now, had looked up and put down his phone. He gave a short smack to the young man's arm while shaking his head in disapproval

“It's what I was telling you guys. We're dealing with more than just your friend now.”

The room's attention shifted to Jeffery. The musicians still played. Suddenly, the man non-nonchalantly tossed his smart-phone across the coffee table and looked steadfastly across the room at Jeffery.

“I know who you are!” the man snarled. His voice had now changed to a viciousness that was obviously not the young man anymore.

Softy, Jeffery motioned by putting his finger to his lips, telling the demon to be silent.

Growing agitated and hostile, the man started giving Jeffery hateful looks but for some reason could no longer talk.

Suddenly, without warning, the man jumped up from the couch and pulled out a pocket knife the size of his hand. He opened the blade and gestured violently toward Jeffery.

Just as quickly, Tank rose from where he was sitting and started yelling at the young college student.

“Hey, look here. You're not going to start any fights in my house!” Without turning to face Tank who had been the only one to confront him, he kept his gaze strictly on Jeffery.

Finally, after what seemed a long check between all parties involved, Jeffery stood, pointed to the student, and said, “In the name of Jesus, Go!” With that, he motioned his finger to the front door and waited. A couple of seconds later, the student's body started twisting and turning in place, and he slowly sat his knife on the coffee table and walked past Jeffery to the front door. With his head down to the floor, he opened the door and left.

Afterward, there seemed to be a collective exhaling in the room by all people present, and the music from the instrumentalists began again.
It wasn't long before the party continued.
“It's time to kick it up a notch!” Tank burst out.

Without explanation, Tank reached into his front pocket and pulled out a small baggy of cocaine. Without missing a step, he got on his knees and poured the contents of the bag on the glass surface of the table, piling up a mound of cocaine powder.
Fumbling in his front shirt pocket, he produced a small straw that he drew to his nose as he bent his face down to the cocaine.
“And this is for good times and the departure of idiots!”

For the next several seconds, he inhaled the complete pile of cocaine that was on the table, taking breaths in between sniffs. Finally, he dropped the straw on the table and sat back on his butt, still on the floor.

If there was any indication of what was about to happen next, nobody said anything. Instead, Jeffery reached over to his bag that he had brought in with him and put it in his lap.

Suddenly, Tank took a couple of deep breaths and started grasping his chest. It had taken less than 5 seconds before he was lying on his back unable to speak. Just as fast, Jeffery opened up his bag and took out a difibulator and was over Tank in an instant.

“Clear!” The jolts sent shocks thru Tank's body. It only required two sets and a series of mouth to mouth exchanges of oxygen before he stabilized.

The room was still. The musicians had stopped playing. Mayur began to feel sick.

“What a night! I'm calling it quits, guys. Jeffery, man, you're a life-saver. There would have been at least two deaths tonight if it wasn’t for you. You're welcome anytime.”

Jeffery’s only response was a somber smile as Tank stood up and stretched. Putting his hand on jeffery’s shoulder as he walked past, he said,

“At least I know my place will be in good hands as I turn in. Goodnight, guys.”

Tank gave a wave with his back turned as he made his exit out of the living room, leaving Jeffery, Mayur, and the two instrumentalists the only ones left in the room.

An approximate time later the room was silent. An observant scan of the room showed that both the musicians were passed out in their respective places. The one recliner that the guitar player had been in was still filled with his snoring body as he was kicked back in full recline. The woman who had played the djembe, however, was passed out on the floor near the entertainment center which held the stereo. Jeffery had taken her place in the recliner that she sat in for most of the night and had started to hum a hymn to himself:

"This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought."

Jeffery was slowly rocking back and forth in the recliner as he softly sang the song. He kept singing as he tilted his head back with his eyes closed.

"This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!"

“I think I'm going to throw up.”
Mayur was hunched over in a fetal position, but got up and walked into the kitchen to stand over the garbage can.

Sounds of vomiting roared from inside the kitchen, but in the living room, Jeffery was concluding his singing.

Mayur stumbled back inside the living room and went to sit down on the couch, but missed it, collapsing on the floor with a thud.

Jeffery looked across at Mayur with compassion and waited for him to speak. Finally, Jeffery stood up and walked over to Mayur who was a few moments before passing out and took out a paper pamphlet from his back-pocket and stuffed it inside Mayur’s shirt's chest pocket.

“When you come to, find yourself some greasy food to eat. That'll help with your upset stomach.” Mayur stayed awake to know something was put in his pocket and hear Jeffery’s advice for food but was asleep by the time the front door closed and Jeffery was in his van, leaving the premises.

Around 6 AM that Sunday morning, Mayur groggily awoke to remember Jeffery putting something in his pocket. Feeling inside his pocket, he took out a paper tract that had a color illustration of Jesus reaching out over a large banqueting table, with the title at the top, asking the question. “Are you hungry?”

Rubbing his eyes for vision, he opened the tract to find a $10 bill fall out between its pages. He then remembered Jeffery’s words a few hours before to eat something greasy. As Mayur awkwardly stood to his feet, he took a few moments to read the rest of the tract on how to become a Christian. Scratching his head, he went to the front door and opened it to a beautiful Sunday morning.

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