Tales of a Zany Mystic

Chapter Six

Second Arrest - Angels revisited

"The present and the past are perhaps both present in the future and the future is
contained in the past"

TS. Eliot

My assistant helped me pull my life together and encouraged me to pay fines at the DMV so I could drive again.

Then we looked at cars online. I found a 1995 Lincoln Continental Mark VIII for just over ten grand.

1993-1998 Lincoln Mark VIII Photo

On a lark, I took enough cash with me to buy it. We drove to Burlingame and met the owner, a pleasant man in a wheelchair. While showing me the car, I noticed the plates read: CIA. It seems he had been with the department for many years, until a car accident in Europe. He was mysterious, but then we all were. I loved the car, and paid for it in cash. People told me afterwards that any purchase over $10,000.00 must be reported, and he was ex-CIA. Again, I wasn't thinking clearly. I had been and was, in all practicality, a drug dealer, though released by pleading guilty to a felony.

The result was two years of "banking probation". That meant I didn't have to go in for piss tests or have a probation officer. In short, all I really had to do was keep my nose clean. The catch was that I could be visited any time with-out a warrant and searched at random.

I bought the car and chuckled at having a slinky black car with "CIA" plates, knowing what others thought. I was in Heaven, but not for long. My friend in D.C. begged me to provide just one more run. He needed about 8 ounces that he had promised to clients. His own lifestyle had dramatically increased in Washington, where he was "the man". I had to shop around to find someone, as my connections dried up. Unable to get a pound of crystal the size of piano keys, it would have to be whatever I could find, if anything. All prior dealers were either dead or out of business. Through someone I used to supply, I got "lucky".

That night, life seemed hopeful. I "scored" and put it in an empty box in the closet, thinking to myself that I'd be sending it out in a few hours. The next morning after I purchased the car, there was a knock on the door. My heart fell into my shoes when I saw who it was - the same two notorious narcotics officers, "Mutt and Jeff".

This time, they could enter without a warrant and search all they wanted, and did. Once in, they carried on a sarcastic conversation, tearing my place apart from stem to stern.

Belongings were taken out of cupboards, examined and tossed on the floor like trash. What a nice job that is, to destroy other's lives with a self-righteous attitude of "serving justice". I swore I'd get even, and the best revenge is success. My life today and this book is a thank you to those men who played their parts so well. Thanks, Mutt and Jeff

Having been to jail a couple of months prior I knew the drill. I hoped beyond hope they wouldn't go into the closet. Not only did they find the huge stash of crystal, but my new car keys and another $20,000.00 in cash in the safe. I was caught red handed and there was no turning back. My little dog was with me, who I'd trained from a puppy and had bonded with. I called my "helper" to come over and take him from me.

He cried out as I handed him over while I cried out inside with real tears of sadness. He meant more to me than anything in the world. A quick story: During this time, I fell into severe depression and self pity. One night, I took a big hit of GHB, the date rape drug, and was falling off into a coma. He saved my life that night by playing with me, and if I nodded, he tugged on my hand. Of all the things I've lost over the years, he and J.J. were the most precious. Possessions are worthless compared to losing a piece of one's heart. I never got him back, but am happy to say he found a wonderful, loving home. I saw him after my second release, and he leaped for joy being with me one last time. Many thanks, sweet friend.

Again I was taken to the local station on Portrero Hill for booking, a small station with a couple of holding tanks. Dirt and filth seem to be the "decor du jour". When booked, you get a "bracelet" with a number on it. You become that number. Endless hours pass. From there, I was taken to the main station for more hours of paperwork and processing. This time I felt like an "old hand". I braced myself for the onslaught to senses and sensibilities. You can never be completely prepared for the horrors inside jail. I was quickly shooed into a "paddy wagon". Pitch dark, unseemly characters lurked. We were on some kind of run, stopping to get more prisoners. It was so dark I couldn't really see but could hear; one guy was loud and crazy. I sat near the front next to a Hispanic fellow, so scared I huddled next to him like a child, evoking his heterosexual discomfort. He told the story about the "frightened faggot" clinging to his arm. Later we became friends, both laughing about the incident.

I wasn't laughing at the time. Unknown to me my friend Catman, who carried my mattress two months prior, was in the same paddy wagon, high on heroine. He'd been arrested minutes before me and was mysteriously taken to the same booking station. His bracelet number was three numbers apart from mine. The odds of that happening are astronomical. I never saw him there, didn't know he was high on heroine in the paddy wagon, but later met him in the jail’s recovery program. He became my "protector" and mentor for the remainder of my stay. After all, he was my Guardian Angel.

At the POD, sorting began. I hated the pod, but what was next made it seem like vacation at the Hilton. I was moved to the inner sanctum of jail cells, the oldest, dirtiest and most ignored. Carrying my own bed this time, I was shoved into a room of 40 angry, shouting animals. Every bunk was filled, and wherever I wanted to put my mattress down on the floor, I got a threatening look or downright blasted, "Not here, faggot!" Here I was all dressed up and nowhere to go. A skinny kid slept on the floor under the television but there was literally no room at the inn.


A voice out of the blue said, "You can sleep here." I looked down and saw a white guy with shaved head, a "skinhead". The offer sounded good, and with discomfort I laid my bed on the floor next to him. The guy on the other side gave me a filthy look, but didn't act on it. This second act of kindness moved me. I was able to repay him later in recovery and we got to know each other where he also "showed me the ropes". Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. Being empathic I sensed subtle energies, so this continuous blast from the furnace from Hell continually burned the skin off my sensibilities. Twenty four hours a day with screaming, angry illiterate criminals and no way out pushed me to the brink of insanity. Several shared interesting stories about their "criminal careers", so I focused on listening and learning. One Asian guy was there for writing bad checks. He was hilarious in relaying how it started and how cleverly he fooled banks for many years. I marveled at the ingenuity of some of these people, who clearly could be tops in any field.

Days passed. I couldn't reach anyone. Calls were strictly collect. Almost everyone had some kind of "block" on their phone. I couldn't remember phone numbers that had been on "speed dial" and me high as a kite. Technology has its drawbacks. Naturally, I hired the same criminal attorney. I didn't know at the time he thought my case was "hopeless", though he was the lawyer for people with no hope! My previous felony incurred a "slap on the wrist". Here I was, violating probation and caught dealing just two months later. The District Attorney was out for blood, determined to nail my ass as like a sacrificial lamb and a notch in her career belt. It was highly unlikely my release would be soon since she wanted to put me away for life. Whatever loopholes were available, the D.A. closed them. Their office notified my Landlord that I'd been arrested for Felony Drug Dealing. He was warned that if he permitted me to live there, he would be charged as an "accomplice". My belongings had to be boxed and moved out. The apartment was torn apart to the baseboards, including light fixtures, wall plates, carpet and cupboards. The mess had to be cleaned up, repaired and painted as I sat behind bars stewing. Thank goodness I had no clue what was happening.

Relief came when the most obnoxious creatures were transferred to other locales. I heard my name yelled. That meant, snap to now! Others were called. We marched off to another holding tank and were given lovely new steel "bracelets". Names checked off; we were on the move. In a perverse way, this part always intrigued me. I'd given up getting out any time soon. One's case is the main topic of dialogue. No one is guilty, of course. We arrived at what looked like a donated school bus circa 1913. Everything was caged in, including us. I knew what it must be like to be a bird, yet I hadn't sung.

We made stops to pick up others. It was a long ride to San Bruno County Jail. The bus turned off at a freeway with signs advertising million dollar homes. Roads were littered with expensive construction, surrounded by majestic trees and woods. The road narrowed. I wondered if this was what Christ meant when he said, "the way is narrow..." Musings aside, it was the first trip out since my arrest. Regardless of the bumpy bus, my traveling companions, or the lack of freedom, it was a beautiful sunny day. We turned onto a single lane road marked by construction signs and a registration gate.

Once cleared, we continued down the road. Suddenly, an enormous vista opened up. Nestled on the far side of a gaping green valley was a breathtaking site: A stark white building glared at us, majestic in its dilapidated decadence. It was frightening and demanding in its sovereignty: a six story building called “Jail No. 3”.

Built by the Works Progress Administration in 1934, Jail No. 3 is the oldest operating county jail in California, once known as Sunshine Jail Farm. In happier times, it was a haven for alcoholics to dry out in San Bruno. The cranks on five-inch-wide windows are so stiff that some remain permanently open. The boiler burst long ago; a new one sits outside on a rented flatbed truck. At times, the jail became so crowded that inmates slept on tables. In 1989, a female guard opened the cell door to Billy Besk's cell, admitting his rapist, laughing as she let the man out afterward. Billy had been arrested on a pot charge. At the time, there was one guard for 300 prisoners, with two inmates per six by eight foot cell. Alcatraz was built in the same year. If only the walls could talk.

We drove down the bumpy dirt road where scores of construction crews and equipment were building the new jail. In the meantime, ancient is as ancient does. Getting out of and entering any vehicle or building is a process developed by some kind of sadist. Interminable waiting periods were the norm, as some mysterious "magic wand" had to be waived. We sat...and sat. Eventually, someone comes out to "fetch us", after finishing lunch or eating doughnuts. The attitude of jailers is despicable. If they were not wearing uniforms, I'd swear they were inmates themselves. We got the "grand tour" underneath the first floor where "supplies" were stored behind chain link fences. Glancing at the enormous boxes, I noticed rat holes in several as we walked by. That bode well for the food supply. Again, another "staging area", a long hallway with dozens of chairs on both sides of an old fashioned corridor whose doors had glass inserts and hand painted signs reminiscent of an old western. “Set ‘em up, bartender!”

Groups of ten marched into the clothing room, lined up "at the bar" and stripped as two nice men had us turn around, bend over and pull our cheeks apart. It wasn't the least bit sexy. Next, given new outfits, we dressed and marched out to the staging area down the hallway. Once everyone had their butt holes checked for weapons of mass destruction, we could all sachet down the next lovely promenade.

Only a gay person could remain adequately cynical about these surroundings. Most of my “compadres” were just plain stupid; observing anything besides tits and pussy was not in their repertoire. On to another series of stopping points: the "inner sanctum". Slightly more contemporary, this building was like a bad modern art painting, tacked onto its ancient relative. Doors are locked, unlocked, walky-talkies yakked, more keys jangled but not as much as my nerves. The realization I was here to stay loomed on the horizon of my growing awareness. I blocked it out. From there, a series of stairs and elevators as old as the hills carried handfuls of us up and down to new chasms of the jail. We were released into the center of a vast network of dark cells, arranged in tiers like the interior of a Borg ship. One could see to the top floor without actually seeing the floors themselves. It was frightening. I expected Vincent Price to emerge at any moment, knife in hand, eyes glowing red. Another double gate read "2 North".

No sooner had we arrived, booming loudspeakers shouted at everyone to immediately head into “the yard". Here was a scene right out of "Birdman of Alcatraz". We found ourselves surrounded by chain link fences, barbed wire and several turrets 3 stories high replete with guards sporting rifles. It was a sight and a feeling I never thought I'd witness. All were directed to march around an enormous field for exercise.

It was a sorry lot, especially me. The question popped into my head, "How did a nice boy like me get here?" Worse, "How long must I stay?" With no way to communicate to the outside, and no word from my attorney, it didn't look good. A lifetime of "walking on eggshells" to please everyone else taught me how to mind my own business. Others hadn't learned that one. Most were highly confrontational and I found myself being bossed around many times a day. With little to do, I grabbed a can of antibacterial spray from the shelf, some paper towels and began cleaning my small metal storage cube. From across the room, someone shouted angrily at me, "Whachyoo doin?" I looked up quizzically. He went on, "That spray is for the clippers!" Seething, I stood up and yelled, "Just once I'd like it if people minded their OWN business!" He had to be held back to keep from murdering me. Every expletive in the book, and some I hadn't heard about faggots, spewed out like a volcano erupting. How could I have known he'd just returned from court where he'd been sentence to life in prison?

It sounds funny now, but believe me - I was petrified that night. I thought for certain that every black in the house was going to have it in for me after that. Much to my surprise, one of the toughest of the gang leaders came over and congratulated me for standing up for myself. I was awestruck. Seems the entire room had been witness with most on my side. From then on, the group and I bonded; we were now family.

"2 North" is a long rectangular room, double bunk beds line both sides, a bath-room is at the end, and one large shower at the entrance. Two televisions blare from long tentacles extended from the ceiling. Yelling and screaming occur around one set. The other set has Hispanic shows. Scary, possums! This room made the last one seem like a cake walk. Exposed pipes lay bare in the ceiling. Built in 1934, this was the original plumbing. The ancient pipes leaked sewage which dripped onto the floor or on those walking underneath. Many placed blankets in front of their beds to soak it up. Unwashed mops got tossed into one small janitorial sink located at the front gate where we got our pills. One inmate had bandages on his back. A few drops of this “liquid magic” dripped onto his back, creating pustulous wounds that refused to heal. God only knows how many diseases brewed in those pipes over the years in total darkness.

The shower was a big surprise. Normally white fluorescent lights were green from flourishing algae. It grew on the walls and crevices and felt like being in a living green cave. Pill time was one of our "golden moments". Pill call was the high point of my day as it broke up the monotony. One pill pusher was a haughty black lady who was terrified of getting too close to the bars. Sadly, she was afraid of her own people, and was the only one who made us go into the mop closet with infected unwashed mops to get our drinking water. I knew from watching and listening that the pill carts were supplied with distilled water for inmates. She was too lazy to bother. One day, I asked her if she knew what was in that closet. She replied, "You chicken?" I said, "Would you drink that water?" Rolling her eyeballs, she walked away. I could see my appeal to common sense was not working.

Biding my time, I picked my battles. This was one I chose to fight. During a routine interview with the health nurse, I confided my HIV concerns. I happened to mention that, with my suppressed immune system, I was worried about drinking the water being issued from the same sink where the sewage mops were tossed. I told her I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, sensing her compassion and concern. Before I could continue innocently, she asked "who was it?" I broke down and described the woman. She said, "Oh her", under her breath as if it was no surprise, “I’ll take care of it." The next day, "Miss Thing" was there, but this time she had bottled water for the inmates. It was a small victory, but it's not the size that counts.

Bunking next to me on the lower bunk was a black man who looked as if he could kill you in your sleep. Sheepishly, I said something to him one day and he confronted me with my own "stuff'. He said, "It seems like you're afraid of me." His honesty cut through my walls and broke the barriers between us. Stammering, I admitted my fears. Once that came out, we shared some incredible personal stories, and he became a wonderful bunk mate. I liked him immensely. He had a good soul, was very smart and highly intuitive if not outright psychic. In fact, he told me a ghost story about his brother that curled my hair. Slowly, the lesson came home again, not to judge a book by its cover, best not to judge at all. A month passed. Two men came in one evening to push their in-house recovery program. It occurred to me that if I wanted to get out of there, it would look better to a Judge if I was in a program. Besides, it would move me out of the antiquated area of the building, into the "newer wing". By then, I wanted to remain clean, having fully detoxed. I was feeling much better, but waking up to this living nightmare without the help of drugs remained unbearable. I applied and was accepted. The program consisted of three levels. Depending how one did, it could take one to two months per level. Those at the top level had the most rights, freedom and resources. Moving day arrived. More interlocking doors and jangling keys rattled. Finally, I was given entrance into my new domicile. Circular, the center "pod" was glassed in, numerous video feeds to cameras everywhere. This permits one person to see into any "spokes" of the building. One guard is posted at each door, allowing several hundred inmates to be "unsupervised" in terms of staff.

Meals were fun. Fed like a bird, you'd think a meth addict would be gaining weight eating 3 squares, but we didn't receive 3 meals. Combined, they were equal to one Swanson frozen dinner. Puzzled, I didn't make the connection until I realized the same company with the contract to provide meals also ran the commissary. We were permitted to buy $75.00 of goods, mostly junk food and candy. There was no way to get full or feel satisfied without extra "goods", and even then it was negligible. The corporation gets millions of dollars to provide healthy meals, then spends a faction of their contract on food provided to starving inmates, who in turn pay $75.00 apiece to get "junk food". What a racket! Bartering begins. A roomful of people begin screaming, "milk for fruit, cheese for meat", hardly conducive to proper digestion. No sooner had we sat down to eat than an officer began barking orders to get up and clean the tables. By law, we were supposed to have one solid hour for meals. On a good day we had 20 minutes.

Our room was triangular. The narrow part was at the center of the hub, where we were observed from the second floor. It widened towards two doors leading outside to fenced basketball courts. My bunk bed turned out to be smack dab in front of a large glass window one foot wide by 20 feet tall. From the distance, it looked like a church window with golden rays gently caressing my bed. It was about all I got to caress! I felt safe there. A sense of being "watched over" guided me. Several of the black guys I couldn't stand became my best friends. One was a highly intelligent man who was always talking about "cases". Something shifted. Hearing him speak one day, I was deeply moved. His words made sense, and I joined the conversation in earnest. From that moment we were best buds. He was so intuitive, hip and funny, besides being highly evolved and spiritual. My other black friend surprisingly turned out to be gay. He was the only gay I knew, but not "out". Sex was not possible so I thought, since everyone slept in the open and there was nowhere to "do the deed". Instead, deep spiritual bonds developed. I had the greatest respect for these beautiful souls. If we could see the darkness residing within others, there would be real cause for fear, but it's invisible, as is Spirit.

Finally, they let us out into the "yard" within the yard. Someone from the other court yelled out "Hi". I blew it off, not knowing who it was. When I got inside, someone said Catman was here and had said hello outside! I was dumb-founded. He helped me with my mattress during my first arrest where we were cell mates. We were both arrested at the same time and place, were processed just 3 people away, rode in the paddy wagon together and had been transferred to San Bruno. Here, he was in a recovery program with me. We hugged, and he introduced me to his friends, murderers both, who seemed like nice guys. Turns out Catman practically ran the place. Twenty five years going in and out, he and his friends had connections throughout. He said, "I'll watch over you. I've put the word out and no one is to touch you. You come to me for anything." If he hadn't been black, I would have thought he was related to the Godfather. I thanked him, but my trust was in a higher power. Still, here was my "guardian angel" to watch over me. Could that be anything BUT my higher power?

We sat together at meals, and before I knew it, he smuggled in a pound of real coffee which we filtered through tea bags. Butter soon followed, as did some real meat. Other "goodies" were flowing, and life began to get easier as I adjusted to my new life. I had entered with a determination to make the best of this experience and not let it destroy me. This is transformation in action.

I began doing "readings" for my friends quite by accident. Someone was telling me personal details about his family, which I jotted down. Patterns and symbols emerged to my eyes so I relayed what I saw. He was amazed that I knew about certain aspects of his life. As we continued, information came out about many things, including his future. When it ended, I could sense the communication or "channeling" was finished. To test it out, I "read" another person only to discover it worked even better. Soon, word got out and others were asking me for readings. I began to exchange "tit for tat", a reading for some small favor. It's not uncommon to experience a spiritual awakening in jail. I viewed it as a gigantic "commune", and the orange outfits were akin to something Rajneesh might have had us wear. It's an amazingly spiritual environment, being closed off from society. Mysteriously, one of the more scurrilous inmates loaned me the book, "We're All Doing Time" written by Bo Lozoff. Written for people in jails and prisons, I was blown away by its depth of spirit and heart. At the end, Bo published letters from inmates on the most disturbing of problems, out in the open for all to read. I had no way of knowing at the time that I would someday be free and that I'd host an internet radio show with Bo as my guest!

My own awakening was like an instantaneous download into my mind. There was a "template" for a nonprofit organization, complete in every detail. Whatever questions occurred would evoke an image displaying a four dimensional holographic vision. Michelangelo's "David" is said to have arrived in a similar manner. The artist simply chipped away what was "not David". Many who achieve brilliance, such as Einstein, received their information instantaneously from the same Source. Of course, there's no comparison with great artwork such as this, but perhaps we are all great artists expressing our art through life itself, in the process of living. Through awakening and aligning to our own higher selves, we open a channel through which our own keys to greatness unlock the doors. The key won't fit in any other lock but our own, and this is the nature of direct contact with Source within. No one else has our key nor we another's; wisdom is knowing and living this simple truth. First, we must let go of our desire to manifest someone else's Plan. Rest assured, dear reader, we each have our own magnificence which awaits breathing our life into it.

Month three arrived. http://rakelan.bloggar.is/gagnasafn/2006/06/

The program offered many opportunities for those who kept their senses, listened, and played the right cards. I still had two more levels to go through and resigned myself to being there. My lawyer seemed to be doing nothing. In anger, I wrote a scathing letter telling him to get off his butt and do some-thing pronto, or I'd find other representation. In retrospect, I was playing a card for which I had no backup. I had an empty hand, and didn't know it which provided a set of balls the size of Manhattan! My case was almost hopeless, a fact I hadn't been told. He got some motions to get me into court just to get me off his back. I went to court three days during one week which was a tremendous strain coming and going. Court was not my favorite place. One eventually ends up in the "Bull Pen", a small cramped cell outside the courtroom. A symphony of raucous noise penetrates the air. Several times the Court Officer warned the group to shut up or they'd halt court proceedings. One minute in there, hot stuffy and sweaty was one minute too long and it lasted from one to three hours.

During my last trip back to San Bruno, everyone was called to leave except me and an attractive young man. I should have smelled another "setup". We began talking to pass the time, and I mentioned having done readings for others. He asked if I could do one for him, and I agreed. What came out of our private one on one session was nothing short of inspirational. Information is channeled through us, when we let go and step aside. It gets easier with time. Much of this book was written in that state. The details escape me now, but we bonded outside of time and space. I was allowed to see, and share, some of the spiritual "problems" that were holding him back. The energy flowing through me was nothing short of the highest I'd ever experienced, and in that state one is awed and humbled to be a simple channel of light and love, adding one's own experiences to the mix. Thank you, sweet Spirit for using me.

The fourth trip to court, some kind of "deal" was being made. It hinged around my having a certain Judge. However, that Judge was absent and I got the Asian Kamikaze Lady from Hell. I heard the rumor that her own daughter had committed suicide on drugs. Heaven help me. There were only mix-ups and misunderstandings. A bumbling assistant was sent to represent me, and I couldn't fathom why my lawyer wasn't there. Furious, it seemed there would be a better chance speaking for myself. I wanted to RIP the microphone off the stand and plea my own case but held back. The District Attorney continued pushing for a hefty sentence. Finally it was hashed out: I'd have to spend a full year living in a recovery home with two years active probation. Fortunately, from participating in an HIV study, I had won lodging at a hotel in the Tenderloin for two months. The D.A. wanted me remanded back into custody, which meant I wouldn't be getting out anytime soon. The error was finally discovered and I could be released under direct supervision. I also had to "forfeit" the confiscated cash which is what really saved my ass! Corrupt legal systems paid off. Forfeiting money was a small price to pay - a packet of Monopoly money for my life.

Another physical angel entered at the perfect moment. A social worker who contacted me at San Bruno jail became my next "guardian angel”. She promised to be in court to take me directly to a program. I've always liked the "Get Out of Jail Free" card, but there is no such thing. For the first time in months I felt what it was like to be walking outside, in the fresh air. The most priceless gift we have is our freedom. I saw with new eyes. This was the first time I'd been clean and sober for years. It didn't matter where we went from there, I was free and nothing could change that. It's a short drive to Redwood City by freeway. I mused we were going the same direction as the San Bruno County Jail. Yet we were in a car, and my new guardian was telling me all about the place, which she'd selected for being a good recovery home nestled in the woods. She was right. That night I was in a bunk bed with four beds per cubicle. Mattresses and blankets were "normal", pillows soft. I was in Heaven. The best was yet to come. A large woman in her 50's had been cooking there for many years, as had her mother before her. My first meal, compared to the bird feed we had in jail, was a cornucopia of home cooked wonders. Plates heaped with fresh steaming hot food, whose home cooked smells wafted throughout the entire facility. Seconds were available, and I eagerly helped myself. It was a whole new world.

I knew I was in the right place when synchronicity introduced me to my "big brother", someone assigned to show me the ropes. It turned out to be the best friend of my ex-lover Michael, who had himself "whizzed through" the Center many months before. The chances of that happening were astronomical, and we embraced at being reunited. Not every encounter was as friendly. After all, not every day is a Doris Day! Run-ins with others seemed like my new career. No matter how quiet and unobtrusive I tried to be, my "walking on eggshells tricks" weren't working. People resented my rebellious and independent nature. Not one to be "owned" by anyone or anything, I began courageously walking my own path. I hadn't recognized my own truth by molding myself into other’s ill fitting forms. “Fitting in” is not conducive to finding our own truth. I’ve found it ends up working to my detriment, though necessary at times. The best we can do is be ourselves. This is our gift.

One of my bunk mates, a long-haired guitar strumming bisexual former drug addict and whore, reported me for "looking at him lasciviously". Rumors ran rampant as if he'd thrown a match on a can of gasoline. I was shunned and didn't know why. Two days later, thinking I was on my way out, he vanished. Those at the top decided he was the trouble! Another brouhaha occurred when I began taking it upon myself to perform long overdue gardening. Driving up to the place, I reflected, "It must have been beautiful once". Now ramshackle and over-grown, I began pruning trees and clearing undergrowth from a vision of beauty and grace which intuitively emerged. The plants and trees spoke to me. Word got back that I was "butchering" the trees. I was called into the office again. Fortunately, my counselor empathized and cut me a little slack. I turned my attention to other affairs, such as the huge buckets of donated uncut flowers. Having seen how floral arrangements were made, I tried my hand at it. There were many unusual vases gathering dust. Within a couple of hours, there were lovely, unique floral arrangements throughout. This time, I wanted to be noticed. I was ready for a fight. Instead, they asked if I could do this routinely as a chore; screwed again. Unusually large donations began coming in, so I had to enlist others help and ended up turning it all over. It was a good experience in letting go by delegating. What difference did it really make if I personally made the arrangements, cleaned the flowers, or supported others? Nature speaks to us - when we listen. It felt like I was becoming a true spiritual warrior.

A spiritual warrior has sufficient balance to view the world without judgment by living in the moment and by practicing allowance. We don't have to wait to express ourselves, but the baggage must go. I used to laughingly say that my bags were packed for a world cruise - under my eyes! Some things can't be hidden with makeup. "You don't know how much you don't know if you don't know it." I had lived in a dream world of sex, drugs and darkness. Now, walking on hikes through redwood covered mountains, billowy white clouds, the vampire had been slain. However, anyone who has read Anne Rice knows, vampires come back from the dead. My past was soon to resurface.

After one month, in spite of the food, I was ready to leave. Recovery homes work, but few really want to be there after 30 days. I wrote to my lawyer and got the impression that I would be permitted to "do one year" in a live-in program at my own pace, not sequentially. Confident, I told my counselor I might be released, so they told me to pack all my bags. In court, I didn't tell my attorney I'd "checked out". Thank God. Had he known, he would not have been able to argue for my not returning to jail. The court "accidentally" believed that I was secure at Redwood Center! After this last court appearance, just where the bleep should I go? I didn't want to screw up, knowing that sooner or later every move would be traced and known. A light bulb went on. I had "won" the lottery while in jail for 3 months of free lodging. The hotel was in the Tenderloin, but the Social Worker who managed the Project could make all the necessary arrangements on my behalf, getting me situated in long term care. One month of my "freebie" had already transpired while I was at Redwood. That left two months. It was a start. I called immediately and got my butt over there.

I've never been in a Tenderloin hotel for winos, addicts and "bums". Probably not the worst, it was replete with many who had been stuck in a groove so deeply that getting out of the record track seemed unlikely. It’s possible, through repeated bad choices, to “crystallize” with very little chance of change. My room was the size of a large bed, shared with a few cockroaches. They only made their appearance in the dark, so for a while I didn't know. Life there was unusual. One person stepped on a needle buried in the carpet, and most "tenants" were addicts. My counselor tried to get me into Baker Places, which offered long-term live-in housing on a waiting list. It took 3 months, but the day arrived. A new adventure was in store.

Baker Places was a lifesaver. Everyone I came into contact with was intelligent, caring and well-trained. I was placed in a beautiful 3-bedroom home in the Avenues, replete with fireplace, back yard and huge rooms. It was luxurious after the accommodations of the last 6 months. Timing was fortuitous. The house held 5 people, and two were on the way out. A third person, who had been there a long time, began using "crack cocaine" and soon left. Gardening in our own yard kept me centered. I took the initiative to make minor repairs, paint three rooms, and decorate, naturally. Life wasn't a picnic, yet there was freedom to come and go, it was paid for, and there was a network of support to stay clean. The months passed quickly, and a little over a year after moving in, it was time for me to move on. I bought a log for the fireplace and enjoyed the emotional warmth, wondering if I was "ready" to leave. The warmth foreshadowed an unseen storm on the horizon. I didn't know that the roller coaster ride was about to take off.

Thus ends chapter six.
In Chapter Seven, I was about to experience some of the most MYSTICAL experiences of my life - simply from beginning an HIV drug called SUSTIVA.
For me, Sustiva crossed the blood brain barrier, and was like an escalating LSD trip!  Imagine the IRONY of having postponed taking HIV meds for over 20 years, only to discover that when I DO begin taking a "cocktail", it gets me HIGH!
Read on, gentle reader...

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