By: Billy Foster
If you haven’t read the original post on “John D”, please do so before reading this one.
“John D” finally showed back up this past Sunday for the first time since our last conversation. Thankfully, he is still working the job he had just gotten in January, but now he is also painting houses (inside and out). His first job was paying him as a 1099 contractor and he didn’t know it, so that’s why he got the second job.
“Mr. Billy, I had to find some other income. I don’t work a whole lot of hours over there because they ain’t taking taxes out. And, there’s no way I am going to be able to pay those taxes at the end of the year. At least if I cut my hours there, the taxes will be lower. But, I like painting. I’m really good at it. I’m painting a ladies living room tomorrow.”
We talk for quite some time. I like him. But ultimately, I have to ask him…
“How have you been doing with your addiction?”
“I still struggle. I hate it. Mr. Billy, I hate it. But, I have already decided what I’m going to do to hold myself accountable. I’m going to stand out front of the Pink Elephant and hold a sign that says, ‘I’ve Been Clean for 3 Days’…’4 days’…’5 days’. I’m going to stand out there every day after I get through with work.”
“And, I want to go over to the O’Brien House and buy a drug test. They sell them for $7. I’m going to buy one and keep it with me, and if someone comes by and tells me that I’m not clean, I’m going to pee in a cup, drug test myself, and show them right then and there. That’s how I’m going to hold myself accountable.”
“How many days will it say tomorrow?”
“Well, it will say ‘I have been clean for 1 day.’”
“Oh, so you fell off yesterday?”
“Yes sir. But not because I want to. But, you know what, you have to start somewhere. And, I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve been clean for 1 day, because I know how bad I want to see that sign say 7 days… 1 month. You watch Mr. Billy, you gonna see a sign that says, ‘I’ve been clean for 30 days.’”
“So, if I come by Thursday or Friday, I will see a 4-5 day clean sign?”
“You will… you can even drug test me.”
“How about this… if I come by, and see you out there, I’m going to drug test you.”
“Oh, I want you to. That’s the only way I can do this.”
“OK, if I come by and drug test you and you’re clean, you and I are going out to eat. Is that a deal?”
“Yes sir. Absolutely. And you can bet that I’m going to be hungry too.”
Before he left we prayed, hugged, and he rode off on his bicycle. I think he had enough leftovers from our meal to eat for 2 days. I also asked him if he had ever replaced his phone that I took the SIM out of the first time we met. He said he hadn’t because that just makes it that much easier to call his drug dealer.
“Mr. Billy, I don’t need it any easier. I need it to be as hard as possible.”
It’s times like this when I wish I could lie and say that I drove by there this past Thursday or Friday, but I didn’t. I let MY LIFE get in the way of holding “John D” accountable on a fight that he has been fighting for a long time. A fight that he has been desperately trying to win for some time now. “John D” needs me to hold him accountable. “John D” needs all of us to help him fight this fight.
“I need you to do something for me in the meantime. Do you still have that Bible I gave you,” I asked?
“OK… I want you to open it up at least once a day, if not more. I want you to start reading it. Pray before you read it. Ask God to speak to you through the words you are about to read. Listen, Psalms 107:20 says that God sent His word to heal us and to save us from our destruction. To HEAL US. His Word is the Bible. He sent this to HEAL us and save us from our destruction. If you stay in this, God will HEAL YOU! He will SAVE YOU from your destructions. Trust me, I speak from experience!”
“I will. Oh, I forgot to tell you. I finally got my electricity turned on, so now I can read when it’s dark. I still don’t have water though. I have already called about it and everything. It will take $118 to turn it on. Mr. Billy, the sad thing about it, If I could just stay off drugs for 1 whole week, I would have enough money to turn my water on.”
If you are in the Baton Rouge area, I urge you to drive by the Pink Elephant every once in a while. Drive by and see if you can catch “John D” holding is sign. Taking a small step in the right direction in order to conquer a BIG PROBLEM. Apparently, The Pink Elephant is new and is located on Government Street. It was formerly called “Aladdin’s Lamp Antiques” at 2648 Government Street. It looks to be about ½ block from Baton Rouge High, back towards downtown. (He picked this place because he helped the owner do some work before they opened).
I will be driving by today at lunch and after work, and I will keep you updated.
By the way, if you want “John D’s” real name, message me. He would LOVE to hear you speak to him by name.
“Mr. Billy, I want you to come by. I don’t even want anything from you, just talk to me. Just talking to you gives me strength to fight this. I just need you to encourage me. That would help me far more than anything you can give me.”