How Do You Help an Alcoholic?

Homeless Guy #2 was released from jail this week.  All of us were surprised, as he already has multiple probation violations on his record.  I’m glad he has been given another chance, not because of his particular circumstances, but just because I believe everyone deserves another chance.  After all, God keeps giving us chances to improve, to do things right this time.  And who am I to argue with God?

Our friend’s next court date is a year from now.  Depending on one’s outlook, that either gives him a year to get his life back together and prove himself, or it gives him 12 months’ worth of opportunities to mess up again.

Upon his release, #2 immediately moved back in with his wife at her mother’s home across the way from us.  The next day, I saw them holding hands, and then they came to pay us a visit.  Sitting across from each other in the living room of the parsonage, this heavily tattooed couple spoke nothing about prison life or about past hardships endured.  Nor did I hear much talk about the future.  It was all about the present, about living in the now.  Still, I heard the usual whininess creep into her voice and easily detected his annoyance therewith as he asked her to stop complaining several times.

Predictably, everything fell apart within the next day or two.  The wife came over here in hysterics, claiming that one of her acquaintances had called the cops on her, not because of anything she had done, but solely due to the woman’s vindictiveness.  “I don’t wanna go to jail!” she wailed.  Pastor Mom prayed with her, calmed her down, got her to leave.

Then it was #2’s turn to visit us solo.  A talented musician, he brought over his guitar and introduced us to a beautiful tune that he said he had just written.  He reiterated that he wants me to help him with his civil case, in which he seeks compensation for injuries incurred during one of his previous stints in prison.  I told him that he has already waited so long that his case has probably been dismissed.  However, I agreed to call the court clerk’s office for him and we were surprised to learn that the judge has ruled that #2 has another month to file his paperwork.  I agreed to help him prepare for court if he brings over all his medical documentation and spends a couple of hours with me to sort it all out.  So far, this hasn’t happened.

He thanked me for my help and vowed his commitment to us, volunteering to wash our cars regularly.  “If you want to do something for me, start going to AA meetings,” I told him.  #2 appears to have had a long-running love/hate relationship with the bottle and I made it clear that he’s going to end up right back in jail if he doesn’t take action.  I didn’t remind him of the night that he woke up in a ditch, soaked to the skin, and came banging on the outside of the parsonage at two in the morning, needing a change of clothes and a ride back to where he was staying.  I did, however, remind him that his most recent stay in jail was due to a parole violation check that resulted from his arrest on public intoxication charges the previous evening.  #2 hemmed and hawed, told me that there used to be AA meetings close by but that there no longer are.  As I was sitting at my laptop, I immediately looked this up and provided him the days and times of three meetings that are held just down the street, plus those of daily AA meetings a few miles away.  He grinned sheepishly.  I knew right then that no one will ever hear him say “I’m Homeless Guy #2, and I’m an alcoholic.”  And I know in my heart that it is only a matter of time before I learn that he is back in jail.

Then #2’s wife began texting Pastor Mom and wouldn’t stop.  The fact that her texts went unanswered did not appear to deter her in the least.  #2 is being mean and evil to her.  She needs us to pray for her.  She wants help in drafting a prenuptial agreement.

Say what? You mean tattooed guy is not actually married to tattooed lady?  Lucky for both of them, if you ask me.

The next time I saw our friend, he asked me what I think of the Kabballah, whether he should study it.  “Is it good or bad?”  I explained that it is probably unwise to get into that staff unless one is steeped in God’s Word first.  I told him about an Orthodox Jewish saying that a man should not open the Kabballah unless he has studied the Torah from childhood through to the age of forty.  But the Kaballah speaks of the center of the body being the stomach, he protested, and when he felt convicted (by the Lord, not the law) while in prison, he felt a distinct gurgling in his stomach.  I pointed out that, being a Christian, the study of Jewish mysticism might not be the wisest use of his time.

Then I saw him again, when he popped his head into the parsonage for just a minute or so.  He informed us that his wife was out in front of the church in the car we had sold them and that the cops were with her.  It turned out to be a false alarm.  It wasn’t their car after all.

As for Homeless Guy #1, he remains in jail.  In his short time there, I hear he has already served one stint in the hospital ward due to behavioral issues resulting from his mental problems.  The district attorney offered him a reduced sentence of 11 years in return for a plea of guilty.  He wisely declined.

The word going around now is that the victim of #1’s crime never actually came forward herself.  Apparently, one of their mutual acquaintances, quite possibly out of malice, called the police to report the alleged rape.  At this point, it is unclear as to who is willing to testify to what.  Rumor is that the alleged victim was seen in #1’s tent several times after the supposed crime took place.  I don’t know whether a judge would even allow such evidence.  I think the DA is going to have a tough time making his case.

Oh, and Homeless Guy #2 is now back to living in his car.  This, I think, is an excellent use of the car, as he does not have a valid driver’s license.  That fact, of course, has done nothing to deter him from driving.  Even if he manages to stay away from alcohol and reports for every scheduled appointment with his probation officer, the cops will eventually get him for driving without a license.

It may be August, but we’ve had some seriously chilly nights recently.  We gave #2 our old quilts.  We finally bought new, heavier quilts (turquoise!) that my wife found on sale.  I’m glad that the timing was just right for someone who needed our old ones.  After all, they were given to us as a wedding present.  As soft and comfortable as they are, they had become torn and ratty following 16 years of hard use.

About halfway through the church service this morning, I heard the door open and turned around to see the dynamic duo walk in and sit down next to each other.  He had his arm around her as if nothing had happened.