Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir
Just kill me now, LORD! I'd rather be dead than alive, because nothing I predicted is going to happen. – Jonah 4:3

Epilogue: Philadelphia 2005

This is a preview to the chapter Epilogue: Philadelphia 2005 from the book Don't Tell Me What To Do: A Spiritual Memoir by Ron Alexander.
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The train ride back to Philadelphia after leaving treatment is taking too long. I have $200 in my pocket. I want to get high. At the next stop, I hop off the train and flag down a cab to speed me the rest of the way.

When I get to my buddy, Christine’s house, she’s not there.

I call a dealer who meets me at a corner bar with two grams of crack, $300 worth. I go back to Christine’s house, but she’s still out. I decide to sit on her steps for a few minutes. After 20 minutes of waiting, I become more frustrated. I have a pocket full of crack and no place to smoke my stuff. I want to get high—just not alone. The thought of going to my apartment with a large amount of cocaine terrifies me. What if I have a heart attack? It might be days before my body is discovered.

Unable to wait any longer, reluctant to go to my apartment, yet determined to smoke crack, I spot a young woman about to cross the street. She’s attractive, but shabbily dressed, the type, I think, that is probably a crack head. I call out to her. “Hey, would you like to get high?” She walks over. I take a close look at her. Her hands are dirty and rough looking. I know for sure that she is a smoker. “What you got?” she wants to know.

“Cocaine. Plenty of it.”

She takes me to a room that she is renting in a crack house. The house is cluttered with trash, without electricity or running water. I can smell the stench of urine, but I don’t care. I just want to get high. Sitting on the bed in her room, I pull out my stem and pack it with crack. I put the stem in my mouth and light a match to the stem. I suck up the white smoke oozing through the stem, quickly lighting up match after match as I desperately try to inhale as much of the crack as my lungs will hold.

“Can I have some?” the girl asked.

I’m so high, I cannot see her, remember her, nor grasp where I am. My hands are shaking. My ears are ringing. My heart is pounding. I’m thankful for the opportunity to pass off the stem to her. I grab a large rock between my thumb and index finger and hand it to her. She takes the hit. Her head rocks back. Her hand is shaking uncontrollably. She looks at me with glassy eyes and holds out the hot stem, dropping it on the bed, burning a hole in the sheet before I’m able to grab it from her. That’s when door is kicked in. Some guy rushes through the door brandishing an empty beer bottle. “Give me all of your shit, man!”

Before I can make sense of what is happening, before I can react, he cracks me over the head with the bottle. The bottle shatters. I’m dazed by the blow to the head. When he tries to go through my pockets, I punch him in the gut, knocking him back. The girl screams and jumps on him. I manage to get up off the bed, and help her to fight the guy off. Together, we are able to fight the guy back out the door into the hallway.

We run back into her room, pushing a huge dresser up against the door. Blood is trickling down onto my face into my eyes from a gash in my head. I wipe the blood from eyes with a sleeve of my shirt. I’m numb to the pain I should be feeling from being hit so hard. All I could think about was the bag of crack in my pocket.

I pick up the stem off the bed. My fingers are sticky with blood. I take a large piece of crack from the bag, ignoring the fact that my bloody fingers are staining the rock that I am about to smoke. I light the blood smeared stem with a cigarette lighter. The flame crackles from the burning blood. Quickly and effectively, the cocaine soothes my nerves, quieting down the voices in my head.

“Man, you’re bleeding really badly,” the girl says to me. “You need a doctor.”

I ignore her. I reach my bloody hand inside of the bag of crack and pull out another rock. I wipe more blood from my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt. The piece of crack is sticking to my bloody fingertips, making it difficult for me to get it into the stem so I can smoke it.

“You’re getting blood on the stuff,” she says, annoying me. “Let me help you.”

“Leave me alone,” I say to her, just about screaming. “I can flush this whole bag down the toilet if I want to. It‘s mine, not yours!” I’m finally able to get the blood-stained rock into the stem and light it up. I suck long and hard until both my head and heart feel like they’re going to implode. I’ve never felt this way before, never experienced a feeling that my heart is swelling, bulging against my rib cage. I’m fearful that I might die if I take another hit.
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