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Free From A Different Jail

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“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you…..odd.”  Flannery O’Connor

God works in mysterious ways.  I’m free, but it’s freedom from a different sort of prison.  It’s been a place where I’ve been held captive to a system that has gone off the rails.  And, no, it’s not the church I’m referring to; in fact the church has been instrumental in me getting to a point where I can draw a line and say, “no more.”  The last year and a half was supposed to be spent helping manage and shore up a unique business in this mountain village of Northern California.  Instead too much time has been spent dealing with the worst form of demonic possession you find today, addiction.  I had hoped that my family member who owned the business had managed to shake off the demon before we came out here, but the possession is as strong as ever, and the demon has enlisted the support of friends and family to “help” in ways that will allow the possession to continue.  We call people who drink too much alcohol, “alcoholics.”  In my experience, however, encountering an alcoholic isn’t much different than dealing with someone who is demonically possessed.  Yes, the person trapped in alcoholism is a wonderful person, and is talented, smart, thoughtful and caring.  But the demon is not.  The demon wants to possess and control, to manipulate and to denigrate those around him.  The demon is clever and cruel, always stubborn and often arrogant.  The demon seeks to enlist those around the alcoholic to “help” out of compassion and out of love.  These powerful forces are twisted and bent to suit the ongoing possession, and sadly the people who offer such “help” sometimes get bent and twisted themselves.

When Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, ‘You spirit that keep this boy from speaking and hearing, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again!’ 26After crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, ‘He is dead.’ But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he was able to stand.  When he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘This kind can come out only through prayer.’  Mark 9:25-29

I’ve run into nothing but difficulty since we got here about a year and a half ago, and most of the difficulty has come from the one possessed.   He has rarely been cooperative in the few projects I’ve managed to come up with, and has resisted all attempts at healthy change.  In the midst of this frustration, the church has helped me keep my own head screwed on straight.  I’ve been encouraged and valued by a wonderful community of faith, and it has helped me continue the slog at the family business, where I’ve been increasingly denigrated and minimized, mostly because I’ve seen the possession, have spoken truth about it, and have soldiered on because there just didn’t seem to be much alternative.

The church has reminded me that long before I ever answered the call to come help with the family business, God called me to be a pastor, and equipped me to serve and lead ; I’m called to be with people who walk by faith and whose strength comes from the living grace they receive and then offer in Jesus Christ.

For weeks now,  the alcoholic has been pouring down more and more of the stuff, shot after shot, beer after beer.  I’ve seen this lead to a crash-and-burn with him and each time it’s been more extreme and is now exceeding the flame-outs I’ve seen with the other alcoholics I’ve known.  This one was especially horrible.  We’re talking being run over by one’s own truck.  We’re talking about a DT seizure.  We’re talking about a steadfast stubborness that refuses to acknowledge much is wrong.  The demon is a crafty one.  It knows it can control the people around him as much as it controls him.  The rescue team was called up, yet again, to rescue the poor man.  Once again, lots and lots of $$$$ are being poured into his situation.  Once again, those closest to him endure the nastiest experiences and have their nerves pushed to the breaking point.  Once again, responsible behavior and accountability are set aside. and the alcoholic is coddled, almost as he was when he was a darling little boy.  Rehab is off the table.  He refuses to go to AA, and his chief co-dependent enabler is not likely to force such an action.  He’s been taken out of the environment here, with the hope that this will help.  A lifelong member of AA has told me that the location changes rarely work by themselves.  The possession will continue, whatever geographic change is made.  The demon is crafty enough to know that now is the time to lay low for a while and give everyone the impression that the guy is on the path to being “fixed.”  But the downward spiral will continue.  I’ve told people that I hoped he would have a “pigpen moment,” which refers to the point in the Prodigal Son story when the son “comes to himself” while slopping the hogs.  Whether he does or not remains to be seen.  The good news in all this is that I have had my own “pigpen moment” and have come to myself and realized it’s time to get out of this situation and back into what God called me to do some years ago: pastoral ministry.  I don’t know what that looks like yet, or where that will lead, but the journey has begun.  I’ve officially severed my ties with the business.  Perhaps there is a nearby church that will want to talk with me soon, but I’m thinking the path will lead me in a different direction.    We’ll see.

“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger!’”

Luke 15:15-17

Not Saying My Gig Has Been Anything Like Jeremiah’s, But….

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“Now look, I have just released you today from the fetters on your hands. If you wish to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will take good care of you; but if you do not wish to come with me to Babylon, you need not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go.”   Jeremiah 40:4

I’m beginning to wonder if some version of Nebuchadnezzar’s captain of the guard has been offering me a deal similar to Jeremiah’s.

Perhaps it is so, and I’m like those people you hear about who spend years in captivity, are suddenly set free, but hesitate to walk outside the prison because they’ve been conditioned not to see any other possibilities or are frightened by the sudden expanse of freedom.

 

Jail-cell-open-web

We’ll see.

 

WWJB

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wwjb

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and have a beer.

No Date for the Prom, May Go Stag

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Last week I got an email from an East Coast synod staff person that made me smile as I read it.  “You  have been identified through our ELCA database as a possible candidate for  **** Church…”   It has been just about three years exactly since this same staff person first contacted me with an opportunity to serve a congregation and put my name in their call process.  The candidate profile I’d developed at the time had a link to this blog.  A few weeks later, she emailed to tell me the call committee decided to pass on me, in large part because they read my blog and decided I was too liberal for them.  She wrote that she too read the blog and also had some serious reservations about my fitness for ministry based on a couple of guest posts made by Wylie4Stroke.  It was Wylie’s description of hanging out with me at a bar in Denver that caused her the most problems.  But the liberal bent of the blog also caused concern.

I blew the piety test AND the political test.

What she failed to consider, however, was the way in which I was being quite honest and open about those occasions when I’d swap the clerical garb for jeans and a Hawaiian shirt to go have a few beers with some regular, blue-collar working folks—and how I’d willingly share my vocation and my Christian faith with those folks if the subject ever came up.

That’s how Wylie came to be a blog contributor.  He is a character who would NEVER set foot in a church, but is someone who is smart and curious in his own rough and homespun way.  I grew up with guys like Wylie, went through high school with them, worked on cars with them, and yes—shudder—even tapped a keg with them.  Guys like Wylie didn’t so much lose the faith of their childhood as much as they got bored with or stopped believing in the church as a viable group worth joining.

The larger church needs to learn that it’s OK to step outside the insular, pietistic bubble from time to time, and that it’s also OK to be honest about having a few beers in a bar.  In fact, it’s being dishonest about these things that can get a clergy person in trouble.   I strongly suspect you can find a very tragic Exhibit A right here.   People like Wylie are suspicious of piety, and in my experience so much of it has become the equivalent of the shields deployed by Star Trek’s U.S.S. Enterprise.   It’s something to get you through the minefields and meteor storms of life.  So what happens to a group of pious church folks–dare I say clergy– who go away on a church-sponsored spiritual retreat or conference, where they can count on being safe in a closed group outside the fishbowl?  The cigars, beer and booze come out, as does this sort of cute, rebellious attitude.  Someone gets a deck of cards, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a group of folks acting like they’re at that bar in Denver, drinking, smoking and playing poker until the wee hours of the morning.  Not all of them, mind you, but a surprising number.

Me, I always try to make the most of the spiritual opportunities presented by a spiritual retreat, especially if that retreat is at a monastery.  There’s ample time and opportunity to practice a key spiritual discipline—perhaps the most vital one—by entering meaningful, restorative SILENCE.  I was tempted to say “simply entering,”  but as I’ve discovered, there’s nothing simple about being silent, inside and out.   Try it for just 5 ninutes.  Shut off all the noise around you.  Then, shut off all the noise within you.  No inside chatter.  No music in your head.  Turn it all off.  It’s not so simple, is it?

Anyway, back to the situation of the email that  began this whole post.  I read it over, thought for a moment, then sent the East Coast staff person a reply stating that my wife and I are on the opposite coast now and don’t see ourselves making such a dramatic relocation.

Over the past year I’ve interviewed with several churches and have taken trips to Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Texas to meet with search committees. But each time they have chosen to go another way with someone else, and as I contemplate these events, I have to say that they probably made the right choices.   It’s not that I’m not qualified or not good at the pastoral vocation.  In fact, I hold the opposite to be true, that after some 10+ years of church ministry, I’m seasoned in a way that opens the door to what I think would be the best years of my ministry. And in the first 10+ years, I was pretty good.

But there has to be a good fit between congregation and pastor, otherwise there is simply too much time and effort expended in one trying to change the other and too much emotion spent resenting the relationship.   Life is far too short for such things.  I went into each situation with a desire to receive a call at each place.  At each place I found myself excited at the prospect of being pastor at such a church.  But in retrospect, I was also coming from what I perceived to be a desperate place, a place I was eager to escape, and I saw these places as great potential escape routes.  They were—and are—good, strong congregations on the whole, and I also found I was hungry to have a chance to lead one of them.  While each proved to be a disappointment, I look back and see that in fact there was some wisdom in their decisions to look elsewhere.  At each place there were red flags I chose not to see, some big and some small, which foretold some difficulties in the relationship had they called me.

In thinking back to the Wisconsin visit, I remember my host being as hospitable as possible, and doing everything she could do to make my visit comfortable.  Yet on our way to the church for the official interview with the call committee I saw a Scott Walker yard sign in the car’s back seat.  In the interview she became a suspicious and relentless interrogator, wanting me to explain my involvement in The Colorado Confession.   That was an out-of-the-blue line of questioning, since that document was developed back in ’05 and ’06, and I just attended a couple of information meetings and then signed on to it.  I’d forgotten much of the language of the document, but I wouldn’t back away from its significance or my approval of it.  I think that was the main sticking point for them, though one of the members of the call committee later thanked me for sharing my thoughts on the relationship of the church to our polarized culture.

In Oklahoma, a telling moment came in an end-of-evening conversation with the call committee chair.  He told me he liked what I’d done in arranging a special Muslim-Christian dialogue at my previous church and then told me a story that sounded all too familiar.  One of the church matriarchs was talking politics with him before the ’08 election and warned that if Obama was elected it wouldn’t be long before women would be forced to wear veils and that he would try to place the whole country under Sharia law.  While I was touring the area I got to see all the tornado-sensing equipment arrayed for advanced warning, and also saw a few buildings, trees and fences knocked down by a twister that had touched down a week before I got there.  Despite the exciting opportunities to combine parish ministry with campus ministry, in hindsight, it wouldn’t have been a good fit due to the ultra-conservative climate of the culture and the ultra-dangerous climate of the area.

The Texas church offered the most initial excitement.  It wasn’t too far from Austin, a place I still think of as home.  I’d have been an associate with a guy I had gotten to know and respect while I was in seminary.  They had an active, multi-generational membership and had added a huge gym and rec center on to one end of the church, while maintaining the historic church cemetery at the other end.  Quite literally it had become a cradle-to-grave church and they seemed to be doing a good job of opening their facilities to the surrounding community.  While I was there visiting with the youth director, a community league basketball game was in progress in the gym behind us.  But that conversation stuck with me.  The youth director talked about the difficulty in getting financial support for some creative youth-0riented projects and then noted that it didn’t take any time at all to raise about 65K to add sidewalks and landscaping for the cemetery.   Not a good sign.  Nevertheless, I was stoked to have an opportunity to come in and do ministry in a place where there was such a broad cross-section of young and old, and where they had expanded their worship services to include a contemporary, albeit praise band, worship.  We enjoyed that service, held in the gym, and then went upstairs to experience the traditional liturgy with full choir.  A couple of things stuck out, though I didn’t pay much mind to them at the time.  The first was the rinky-dink and difficult-to-manage elevator they had installed for disabled people.  It was set up more like a miniature freight elevator and one had to make sure everything was buttoned up just right before the elevator would work.  Then you had to turn a key, press a button and hopefully head up or down.  I say hopefully, because getting everything closed and ready was a chore in itself.  A disabled person would have a very tough time using the elevator by themselves, and it was barely big enough to hold a couple of people if there was a wheelchair involved.  I noticed that the traditional service had its fair share of people using wheelchairs and walkers.  On the one hand, I thought this was a good thing, since my wife often needs a wheelchair to get around.  On the other hand, if this is all they could come up with to make the church accessible to disabled folks, it showed that they didn’t care all that much about them.

The handicapped parking in the parking lot was also minimal and not clearly defined.  Someone told me that members needing close-in parking just knew to take one of the parking spots marked “Reserved.”  But what about visitors?  And as big as the place was, I figure that not everyone there actually knows about the ability to take a “Reserved” space.

I think I’m sharing the most about this church because this one is the one that excited me the most and gave me the most hope that I’d get called to a place that could make the best use of my skill sets.  But it goes even further than that.  These “call processes” as we Lutherans term them, are much like dating processes.  It’s more than resumes and interviews; it’s meeting people, seeing how you like one another, envisioning how it might be if you became the pastor at a church where you’d visit people, be with them in many of the joys and sorrows that mark our lives, and guide them as best you could into the future.  In a way, I found myself falling in love with this place.  It was conservative, but also had that very forward-looking, can-do attitude that reflects all the best you can find in my home state.  I could see some challenges, but I could also see myself being happy there for the next ten to twelve years and doing some of my best work in the process.   I thought we hit it off well, and all my instincts told me that they liked me as well.

So I was really surprised to get back home, to Northern California, check my e-mail and find they’d already decided to pass.  The language was official and offered some encouragement about it not relating to the quality of my pastoral skills, they just wanted a different style of leadership.  But I was severely bummed out.     Again it’s a lot like the dating process.  In a weird sort of way it’s like trying to find a date to the prom, finding someone you really, really like, and having that someone shoot you down because they want to find someone they like better.

At this point, I’m not sure I can endure being part of another call process.  It may not matter, since one can stay on the active clergy roster for three years before being automatically removed if there isn’t a call to a church or other recognized church organization.  Here in the small mountain village of Northern California, this doesn’t seem likely to happen.   But you never know.  There may yet be a church out there somewhere that might have a place for liberal pastor who prefers a Hawaiian shirt to wearing some hollow sense of piety on his sleeve.

Scattershooting Thursday

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Spring blooms beautifully here, and unlike other places I’ve lived, you get the full season instead of an extended winter that hangs around far too long until Summer serves it eviction papers.

The daffodils kicked things off a couple of weeks before Easter.

Daffodils 2

Cherry blossoms, the western redbuds, and Calfornia’s version of bluebonnets have followed suit.  The poppies have been blooming on the other side of the mountain for the past 3 weeks and now their orange-yellow flowers are opening here.    In a few weeks, we’ll have the plants going crazy and it’ll look about like this:

Poppies and flowers

We’ve got some birds popping in, a few of them with beaks full of nest-building material.  Here’s one of them after he evidently dropped off his load:

DSCN0571

Watching these little birds go about their nest-making has me considering our own nest here.  It appears we are going to be here for a while.   This past year has seen mostly struggle and frustration–the hope and the dreams that brought us out here have been mostly unfulfilled.  I’ve accomplished some very small things in my time here, and for the moment  it’s nice to see that the spiraling tragedy of self-destruction has taken a break and we’re back to dealing with a functional alcoholic who is making some pretty good decisions.  But sink or swim, the bottom line is it is his business, and the best I can hope for is to help him out part-time for minimum wage.   That just isn’t going to cut it.  The employment options out here are somewhere between slim and none, but I’m in the hunt for one part-time job that may potentially open a door to full-time employment.

There is still the church, which I continue to love and hope to serve.  But recent experience tells me the church may not be as interested in me as I am in it.  I’ll say more about this later.  But for now, I look at the ongoing unfolding Spring here in the Trinity Alps and begin to see that we’re going to be in this area for the foreseeable future.   As I continue to make plans, develop contacts and explore my own business options, I’m thinking that the way to extricate myself from this situation is roughly the same as getting your finger out of one of these:

chinese-finger-puzzle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wylie4Stroke is Back! Part 2

(Editor’s Note:  Wylie continues his story as only he can.  Lord have mercy.)

So anyway, I left you last time at the moment of my arrest at the Poodle Dog Lounge in Austin after a wild and crazy day at the East Austin bike shop run by methheads.

The Travis County Jail ain’t all that bad by national jail standards, or by my own standards, based on the few lockups I’ve spent some time in. It’s definitely not what you’d call a bed-and-breakfast destination for anyone wanting to take in the Austin Scene. While I was going through what they call their “intake process” I struck up a conversation with this female cop who took my fingerprints. She was a good ol’ gal, divorced a couple of times and doing her best to raise two teenagers on her measly cop wage. Jeez. I actually began to feel a bit better about myself while she was talking. Anyway, when she came across the name of the methhead bike shop owner who was pressing charges, she froze. I could tell something was up. It turns out her second ex-husband was a bike mechanic who worked for him until HE got screwed. So she asked me to share some details–off the record–about what went down, and I was more than happy to oblige. Then she continued to type up the intake form, but I could hear that “click-click-click” on the keyboard get harder and harder. She finished and looked up, right in my eyes, and said, “Don’t you worry, hon. You won’t be here very long.” She led me to this little nearby room, with windows on all four walls, and asked me to sit and wait for a while. I figured this was way better than getting in line for a jumpsuit and a cavity search, so I treated this like I was going into a fancy coffee store for a fancy coffee drink. I was there all by my lonesome, and it was weird having everyone kind of glance my way from time to time as they peeked through all four windows. But I could have cared less since there was no jumpsuit and no one with a little flashlight wearing latex gloves telling me to get naked and bend over.
After a long, long while, the lady cop comes back in and says, “Wylie, you’re free to go.” Just like that. I was tempted to ask if she rounded up someone to go over and bust the pair at the bike shop. I was tempted to ask if she had called in an old favor. But when you smell impending freedom in a situation like that, by God you jump on it! So I skeedaddled out of there as quick as greased lightning. Outside, with all the nighttime traffic cruising by, headed to one place or another, I found myself getting on a bus headed to God-knows-where. I really could have cared less, since basically my whole goal at this point was to start putting as much distance between myself and Austin as I could.
The bus turned onto Interstate 35 and headed north quite a ways, before getting off on some road that continued to head north. I finally got off at the last stop, on some street named Wells Branch Parkway, and started hoofing it north. Maybe I’d find a nice place to crash, out of the way, yet near the road so I could start in to finding a ride the next day. Kept on walking through this crazy-ass huge intersection and found myself near a big grocery store and some fast food places. I was starving. Stuck my hand in my pocket and felt the twenty that the lady cop had put there in the release process. I looked at the sign that said Taco Cabana and remembered that a person could get a whole lot of cheap Mexican food with half the twenty, and even a margarita to boot. So into the Cabana I went, and after I ordered, I took my little number and searched for a nice place to sit. And that is where I laid eyes on JD, or the Preacher Man, as I knew him in Colorado. He was sitting there alone, sipping on a margarita and having himself a carne guisada taco.
To say he was surprised to see me was an understatement. But sure enough, the waiter guy brought my food and we sat down together and began to catch up.
He was in Texas interviewing with this church outside Austin, part city-fied, part rural. I asked him how it was going and he seemed pretty excited. It looked like he might just get a job at that church. I was a little surprised that he’d be going after such a place, but found out that his roots were in Texas and that he’d always thought of Austin as home, so this place made some sense in a way. But as he talked I could see a shadow of doubt cross his face. It was mostly a country church that the city had expanded around and swallowed up. These were some dyed-in-the-wool country folk, Texas country folk, and I could tell it might not be the thing for him. But he was excited because I guess the past few years have been pretty rough on him. He had some fill-in pastor work, but that dried up, and then he was down to doing whatever he could to bring some sort of money in. He talked about working at some department store in Colorado, even getting a job delivering newspapers in a few snowstorms. Then he said he got this call from his brother-in-law to come throw in at this bar and restaurant business in some little town out in California. But that hadn’t gone all that well, he said.
I liked his spirit–still do–but I began asking him if maybe it was time for him to start looking at things other than churches if he wanted to climb out of the hole he was in. It seemed to me there just wasn’t much happening for him there. Hell, there’s been times when I’ve told him he just ain’t the type to be a Preacher-man–his head just isn’t square enough, and he don’t have that full head of hair and an endless line of bullshit that seems to be an unwritten requirement for most of ‘em.
Anyway, he gave me his new address and phone, and said I should call sometime. Sure, I said. Then it was time to go find some sort of place to crash, so I wished him luck and left.
Well this has gone on way more than I expected. Let’s just say that down the road a ways, I found myself bored and wondering what to do.  Then I came across that phone number and I figured “what the hell,maybe he’s still there,” and he was. The job fell through, he said, and it left him pretty bummed out–way bummed out. So I said I’d help him out if he wanted, and do some writing on his blog. Lord knows, it’s got some cobwebs, don’t it?
So here I am, back in the saddle, so to speak.
And there’s more. I got really curious about this little place in Northern California, so I’m on my way to check it out. I’d say more about this, but the crusty old hag keeping an eye on the library computers is saying my time is up and I got to be going. Will post more when I can. JD, you’re getting company! –Wylie

Guest Writer Wylie4Stroke is Back!

(Editor’s note:  Recently, an amazing turn of events brought Wylie back into the picture.  I’d not seen him since Colorado, about two and a half years ago.  He wrote a few posts here for me then, and a couple of them still get a lot of interest.  But life took us in different directions and a lot of water has passed under the bridge for both of us.  I didn’t think I’d ever see him again after I relocated to Northern California.   But life does offer some strange twists and turns from time to time; and it was during a particular twist and turn that I bumped into him again–in Texas, of all places!  It’s an interesting story, and I think I’ll let Wylie tell it as only he can.)  

Who woulda ever thought that I’d show up here again.  It just goes to show you never can tell what’s going to happen or when, or who you’ll bump into right after you get out of jail.

I had moseyed on down to Texas about a year ago to see if anything was shakin’ as far as work goes. Thought there might be some bike mechanic jobs down around Austin, since they’re now attracting this big crowd of rich and famous folks, and those are the folks that like to get themselves a big ol’ expensive bike.

Well I landed myself a gig at a place in East Austin that worked on the bikes of mostly hardcore riders that could afford to bring their bikes in for work.  Things went OK there for a while, until I noticed little pieces missing from my paychecks.  Turns out the owner of the shop had a little problem with rock candy of the Breaking Bad variety.  His woman, who handled all the books, was in it so bad she just about crackled when she walked.  My situation worsened when I walked into the back office one day and caught her hitting the pipe.  Normally, I let folks just do what they want–live and let live.  Crash and burn.  It don’t matter.  Except when it’s the gal who’s siphoning off some of my hard-earned money so she can snap-crackle-pop her limp little brain on a limitless supply of meth.  I had a word to say about that, and as you might imagine it didn’t sit all that well.

Next thing I know she started shrieking some crazy crap about me trying to kill her while she reached into her purse and pulled out a gun.  I could tell right then that this would likely be my last day at this job.  I just wanted to make sure I walked out, as opposed to being carried out.  She was higher than a squirrel on a power line, and it wasn’t all that hard to get the gun away from her.  I reckon my mistake was pointing the thing at her to get her to calm down.  That’s when the boss walked in, probably to take a hit off the pipe with his old lady.  He saw me, saw the gun, saw his old lady rocking back and forth and shaking like an old, worn out washing machine on its last spin cycle.  He lunged at me, but was so dumb-ass slow about it I had absolutely no trouble turning the gun around so I could smack him a good one with the butt end of the pistol grip, right above the forehead.  He staggered around some, then fell forward.  Now he’s one of those fellas who isn’t all that tall, but as big around as a redwood tree.  He blotted out the coffee table, which crunched to smithereens underneath him.  Good thing it wasn’t glass, but one of those cheap, fake wood things you get at the superstore, or at Goodwill if you ain’t got the money.  I high-tailed it out of there, not even stopping to pick up the few tools I had at my bench.  I figured it was good riddance to the whole mess I was leaving behind in my rear-view mirror.  Or so I thought.

I shoulda figured Mr. Bike Shop Owner would have a cop buddy on the force who got a lot of free work done on his bike in exchange for some protection.  If I’d just gone to the Greyhound station like my Spidey sense was telling me to do.

But, no.  Somehow or another I made my way to the Poodle Dog Lounge over on Burnet Rd in the north part of town.  It was happy hour and I was starting to feel happy.  I’d gotten myself through a pretty bad scrape and thought it was worth celebrating–and sharing.  I struck up a conversation with this guy, bought him a round, let him reciprocate, and kept that deal going for a good hour or two.  I shared my adventure of making it out of the meth-head bike shop and it looked for all the world like he was duly impressed.  He excused himself to go take a whiz, and about 5 minutes later I discovered that I’d been talking to an off-duty cop who–you guessed it–happened to be buddies with the buddy cop at the meth-head bike shop.   Small world, isn’t it?

Before I knew what hit me, about four uniforms walk in, head straight for me, and BOOM.  I’m on the ground with a knee in my back and my hands in cuffs.

I forgot to mention the other thing my Spidey sense had been telling me:  “Get rid of the gun, stupid!”   Once they found it, those cops got even more serious.

There’s a lot more to this story, but y’all are just going to have to wait till I get around to posting here again.

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