Thursday, November 6, 2014

The devil you know

I was about half a block from home yesterday when I walked past a gray car with all the doors and the hatch open, a sermon blasting from the speakers. Oh, look, I thought, someone's trying to save my soul again.

It reminded me of my neighbors when LtColEx and I lived on Robins Air Force Base in the armpit of Georgia. Robin would try to save me by blasting sermons at me while he waxed his pickup. I'd blast Led Zeppelin back at him from my little white Chevette. We were obviously taking different stairways to heaven.

Robin and his wife Dixie had a four-year-old named Joshua and a toddler named Jacob. Joshua challenged Dixie's expectations with his incorrigible boyishness. He was one of those  kids who had to push the boundaries. She told me she would beat the devil out of him no matter what it took. She meant that literally.

I watched one day while Joshua called to little Jacob from behind a tree. When Jacob ran over to find him, Joshua smashed him with a plastic baseball bat. Jacob started wailing, Dixie ran out and asked Joshua what was wrong. He shrugged, and Dixie hollered over to me, "Jacob's been so cranky lately. I don't know what's wrong with him." Joshua smiled his mean secret smile, and Jacob just blubbered.

Another time I was reading a book out on my patio when Joshua yelled from the edge of his yard in his heavy southern accent, "Hey, Miss Reticula. Look over here."

I looked. He pulled out his little wienie and wagged it at me. I'm sure I stared at him longer than was appropriate because I couldn't believe what I was seeing, even from the devil child. Finally I came to and said, "Put it away, Joshua. I don't want to see it."

I didn't tell Dixie about Joshua's budding career as a flasher. His demons were not my problem. I can just imagine the hell he dragged them into as a teenager though. From what I could see, the devil felt pretty comfortable there inside Joshua. He wasn't going to leave easily.

My friends' son died of a heroin overdose this past Saturday. The celebration of his life -- the funeral -- is tomorrow evening. He leaves behind two small children, his parents, his sister, friends ... all the people who loved him. He left behind his life as a musician on Youtube. And he also left a legacy of addiction and all that goes with addiction, including his shocking and premature death.

There are devils, and there are devils. The one who beckons from the afterlife, should you believe in such tales, is nothing but a cardboard puppet compared to the devil that is addiction. Robin thought he could save me from the devil by blaring sermons at me; Dixie thought she could save her son by beating the devil out of him. Hard as they tried -- and they tried so hard -- my friends couldn't save their son in this life, much less in the next.

Some devils you read about in books of mythology; this devil that is heroin ... this devil is the real thing.

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