I think I have finished my memoir, but I’ve thought that before. I also hope that I have finally settled on a title: Hope for Misfits: A Prodigal Rides the Cycles of Addiction. I am now ready to begin looking for a publisher. I ask for prayers for this search. I have also updated the “Home” and “Author” sections of this site.
I will continue to post non-sequential excerpts from time to time. Some of these excerpts are from the times when I was in a “far country,” smiliar to the prodigal son in the biblical parable. I had to write about this part of my life in order to adequately show the transformation possible through Christ. I realize some portions may be offensive, especially for parishoners whom I served as a pastor. Bear with me; the latter part of the book is about redemption.
I encourage your comments.
Today’s post is an excerpt from Chapter 2:
Getting around Paris on the Metro was a cheap, efficient means of transportation, but, because I am directionally challenged, it was not uncommon for me to get off at the wrong station. Usually this didn’t much matter, especially if I could find a nearby bar. But once I disembarked far wide of the mark and the blunder could have had deadly consequences and even have made a ripple in international relations.
I was by myself as usual and had been drinking for several days. I don’t recall where I was trying to go, but I got off at a station unfamiliar to me. I walked a few blocks and realized to my horror that I was in a predominately Algerian district of the city, an area where most Frenchmen would not venture. Algeria and France had been locked in a battle over Algeria’s independence for years, and Paris was the scene of occasional bombings and other sporadic acts of terror.
I didn’t see anybody who looked like me, but people gawked at me with curiosity and disdain. The mood was dark and intimidating. I was sufficiently sober to comprehend that I was in a precarious environment. I walked with my head down hoping to get back to the Metro station, but I couldn’t find it. Neither could I find a taxi or a gendarme to help me.
I ducked into a bar to ponder the situation. I was good at making friends in bars, at least until the barmen and patrons got to know me.
I entered the next bar I came upon but quickly drew attention, more so than I had on the street. The barkeep shook his head from side to side as he reluctantly served me. I stood at the long counter in the dirty, dim place, gulped the first drink and ordered another. Several men moved close to me and said something I recognized from their demeanor as menacing.
I nodded, trying to pretend everything was copacetic.
“What in the hell am I doing here? I can’t believe this. Is this how I’m going to end?
“I’ll be nice and respectful and not act afraid.”
I drank quickly and chain smoked, afraid to leave and afraid to stay.
The men talked among themselves, and I sensed they were not of one accord.
Suddenly a blade flashed close to my face. The man wielding the dagger was hit on his shoulders and head with a chair. He bounced back up but was restrained.
A frantic conversation followed among the dark-skinned men. It was obvious that two factions were arguing about what to do with me. One faction obviously did not want me knifed and had saved me from that fate.
“Maybe they just didn’t want to kill me in the bar – that would be too messy.
“If only I can get out of this alive, I’ll quit drinking, or at least be careful about where I go.”
But the men dispersed as a hand grasped my right shoulder. I was surprised but elated to see a Frenchman in a black beret and tan trench coat over his suit and tie. He was flabby and about an inch shorter than I, maybe 5’7”. He was sweating and his eyes reflected his anxiety. He ordered me in barely discernible English to go with him. He nodded to the barman and some of the patrons, said “Merci,” gripped me roughly by the arm and led me outside.
My enigmatic rescuer squeezed my bicep as we walked quickly to a Metro where he bought his ticket and mine. Once the train was moving, the agitated man reached inside his suit coat and pulled out a badge and ID card and flashed them at me. I made out the words “Prefecture de Police.”
The plainclothes gendarme called me “a fool” and said that if I had been killed, my death could have caused an international incident. He emphasized that I was important only because I was an American; personally, I was merde. He had risked his own life for a stupid American. He took me to Place Pigalle, got off the Metro with me, and made me swear I would never go back to the Algerian area.
He muttered something as he walked away shaking his head. I think it was, “Le garçon, vous êtes la merde!”
Excerpt from Hope for Misfits: A Prodigal Rides the Cycles of Addiction: