April 23, 2011 7:40:00 PM
Seems like only yesterday that I wrote about Joe (not his real name). You might not remember; he was the meth dealer I spent a day with some four or five years ago. I made a long road trip a few months ago, where I found him back at work for my client.
Time hasn''t flown by quite as fast for Joe. He was back in the state''s prison system in less than four months after our first meeting. I told you he would be.
During this stretch, he managed an early release for a month or so; however, it wasn''t long before he was sitting in the county jail for six months for what he characterized as a "nothing" parole violation.
Joe and I are fortunate to share a friendship with one of the most caring and compassionate sure ''nuff tough guys I have ever known. Our friend always comes through during these respites with a job, partly because -- believe it or not -- Joe is one of the best at his craft. He still owes my friend a couple of thousand bucks wasted on getting him out of this or that mess. The money never gets withheld come payday.
I was shocked to see how being locked up has agreed with Joe. He''s no worse for the wear ... still has the big smile, charm (mostly con) and good looks. Honestly, you would like him: I do. Everybody does.
When I asked him what happened to get him sent back so soon, he boasted that law enforcement had targeted him based on his reputation as a big-time dope dealer (why not be the best, right?). Truth be told, it was because he got caught in the close vicinity of some precursors while in the company of a known female druggie who he just couldn''t/wouldn''t keep his pants zipped up around.
Although Joe doesn''t qualify for an AARP card, like me, he''s getting old. He''s spent a fourth of his life locked up. He told me he''s tired and, like Marty and Travis once sang, "the whiskey ain''t working anymore."
He allowed that the only drugs he likes are the "go fast" kind, and now with 50 just around the corner, he''s too tired to go that fast. I wish I could believe him, but I don''t.
He lamented that he only got a handful of letters while he was away this last time. Nobody sent money for his commissary account because nobody had money to send. Not bad, I thought. He''s learned that "nobody loves you when you''re down and out," and locked up doesn''t come close to "down and out."
Joe still can''t focus in. He fidgets all the time, his body in constant motion. Carrying on a conversation is difficult, akin to channel surfing. The one subject programmed on that conflicted remote control -- women (and not the church-going kind; or, at least "practicing" anyway).
"How do you see my future?"
Never ask me a question unless you want a straight answer. I''ve saved myself a lot of misery in my old age having learned that sometimes it''s better to ignore them. This time I waded in.
I explained how mayonnaise and M&M''s are my demons. "Go fast" drugs and women are his. I give in to that ole devil Mr. Hellmann (a fitting name if there ever was one), while he can''t resist the pull of the meth and the fleeting comfort of fast women who share his same cravings.
"You''re going back: It might not be this week or three months from now, but you''re going back."
"What can I do?"
"If I truly possessed the wisdom and knowledge to answer that, I''d get serious promoting my alter ego, the Almost Blind Rev. Loo E. Jaxon -- lose down to 170 pounds, get a show on Sunday mornings and make millions of dollars sharing my ministry coast to coast in high definition and surround sound.
"Pray is about all I can say. No matter, you''re going back."
Now here''s the killing thing: Joe wouldn''t shoot you, assault you, steal from you (he''s always worked) or abuse your daughter; however, one day he will find a fast woman, get high and for a while go crazy as a loon. Soon thereafter, a law officer will arrest him, cuff him, look him in the eye and say, "Joe, you''re going back."
Think you and I don''t have a dog in this hunt? Well, we do.
We''re going to shell out our fair share of the thousands of dollars it takes to warehouse him, to keep him from what at this stage in his life amounts to nothing more than him killing himself, be it ever so slowly.
Don''t for one minute think I don''t understand that all addicts and dealers aren''t as nice and likeable as Joe. Still, there are thousands out there that we are paying dearly for everyday that have the exact same story ... maybe not the smile and charm.
I''m all over the map on how best to solve this problem. I won''t even try, because if I declared how I felt today, by the time you read this, I would have changed my mind three times.
What I do know is that Joe doesn''t frighten me, threaten my space or disturb my peace. I know who and what I''m dealing with -- a dope-dealing addict who can''t help himself, just like a hundred alcoholics I''ve known who''ve served liquor to minors, drank up the rent money, ruined their kid''s Christmases, beat up on their wives and never been worth a hoot in hell to anyone.
I got to tell you, pondering this kind of stuff makes ole Rev. Loo E. want to change the focus of his ministry to bringing healing and comfort exclusively to lonely full-figured women and let all the other problems of the world sort themselves out.
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.