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Published:October 8th, 2011 21:18 EST

Poem: A Life Lesson in One Night

By Ed Roberts

There have been so many people I have met in my life that deserved to have their story told. Finally after 20 years of trying I am able to share this one with you


A Life Lesson in One Night

I didn`t know what to expect
When we met him that night
He was a former western movie actor
Not someone you`d be able to remember by name
But he did appear in several movies
He also was an evangelist
A somewhat slender man
Who traveled town to town
With a special story to share

He met us in a small conference room
A small group of teenagers from our church
We all liked the idea
That no parents were allowed
It was actually one of the reasons why so many came

We were all sitting at the table talking
When he walked in
He made it a point to stop and introduce himself to each of us
Then he went to the head of the table and set the small black briefcase
That he had carried in with him
On the table

We sat there
Somewhat interested
Somewhat occupied with ourselves
And each other
Basically being teenagers
If you know what I mean
When he started to speak though
There was something about him
That instantly demanded one`s full attention

Maybe it was his stature
Thin for a man who stood almost six foot tall
He wore a black suit and suit coat
With a long sleeve well starched shirt
In a way he looked somewhat out of place
There in the room with us
Who were mostly dressed in blue jeans and tee shirts

He laid the briefcase flat on the table
Swung it around where it was facing us
And said
This is the enemy my friends "
From the case he lifted a small bag filled with a white powder
This is cocaine
Yes, it is real
This is what it looks like "

He them pulled out another bag of powder
This is heroin
Sometimes this is where the cocaine will lead you "

Then one at a time he pulled out different bags
This is speed
These are yellow jackets
These are mollies
I bet you`ve seen marijuana
And this is LSD or acid
It goes by several names "

We all sat there without words
Not beginning to know what to do or say

He continued
Many of you here have heard of these things
In case you are wondering
Yes, I have a special permit to carry them
You see
I know many of you have heard about the monster
This evil that is out there waiting for you
Some of you might be curious
Some of you might have thought
To go out and maybe find out more by yourselves
I am here tonight
So you don`t have to "

We all sat there
And visually examined each of the bags on the table before us
He told us that he`s pass them around later if we wished
Then he paused for just a moment and began to unbutton his suit coat

I`ve shown you the monster tonight children
Brought it here before you
Now let me show you what it can do "

He gently laid his coat over the back of the chair in front of him
And unbuttoned the cuffs of his shirt
He then slowly rolled up both of his sleeves
And held his arms out for us to see

As you can see
I know this monster very well
These scars that you see down my arms
Are needle tracks
Yes, once you get to a certain point
You don`t care anymore
What it does to your body
I could take off my shoes
And show you the tracks down my feet
Between my toes
Basically almost anywhere
And I mean anywhere
Where one might stab themselves with a needle

When I started
It was just a few pills to keep going
You always dream of working on a movie set
Of course once you actually get to do it
You realize that shooting often lasts 10 to 12 hours a day
Sometimes more
And when you aren`t actually shooting
You are spending almost every waking moment
Trying to learn new lines
Lines that writers seem to change
Almost every day

Of course there is the money
Once you actually start acting that is
It does pay well
And when you are between gigs
There are always those famous parties
That you are invited to

Yes
I was in Hollywood for several years
I had a good life
A wife
A new kid
And had signed on for a part
That could roll over to several films
We were finally getting close to that dream
You always hope for

It all changed one night though
My wife was out of town
Doing a shoot in the desert in Arizona
I was finishing up a shoot of my own
We had a sitter on the set who would watch our daughter
She was five months old at the time
I had taken a few pills earlier that day
To keep myself going
Took another when we finished
To slow things down
Before we went home
I know I had a couple of drinks
Before we laid down for bed that night
I`m not sure how many though
I laid her down beside me in the bed
And fell asleep
I`m not sure exactly when

I do remember waking up a few hours later
I reached over for her
And didn`t feel her
I quickly rolled over
And then
Then I found her
Somehow during the night
I had rolled on top of her
She laid there wrapped up in the blankets
Like a small papoose
No, she wasn`t breathing
I had suffocated her
In my sleep

I cried
I screamed
I shook all over
There aren`t really words to describe
Just how this felt

Then of course I ran into the bathroom
And threw up
All over
All over the room
All over myself
I looked into the mirror
And shattered it with my first
I picked up one of the largest pieces
And slashed both of my wrists "

He paused for just a moment
And pointed out the lines that still crossed them both

Then I started painting the bathroom "
He continued
When the paramedics got there
I was running low on paint "

We sat there
All in a different level of shock
And fear
There wasn`t one of us
Who didn`t have tears running down our face

The man slowly started rolling back down
The sleeves of his shirt
He never once looked down
Or away from us

I didn`t come here
To preach to you tonight
I know you probably get enough of that from school
And from your parents
I hope you understand
I came here tonight
To try and help you
Maybe help you understand
Because I have to tell you
There is a monster out there waiting
It is very old
And knows how to reach out
Find those who think they want it
Or need it
Hopefully
After tonight
You all will be a bit more ready
When it reaches out
For you "

There are many special people
That I have met in my life
Many who touched me so deeply
That I carry their story even today
Still upon my heart and soul

I shared here the story of a man
I only met one time
Over forty years ago
Whose memory
Even today
I hold close

I hope his story can reach out
Far beyond the reach of mere words on a page
And become a part of others lives
As much as they have become
Part of mine

Ed Roberts 10/7/11

 



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