After sauna, Hayden and I make our way back to the room. Buster Lumplin is irate that we haven’t given back the phone, but we are not done with it yet.
“What are you thinking?” I ask Hayden.
“I don’t know Liz. I am going to call him and see what happened,” she replies.
While she calls him, I go ahead and shower. After I am finished, Hayden informs me that Jacob had come looking for me. Jacob was once the course supervisor. However, he has replaced Sadie Dell as my counselor.
“I am going to hop in the shower,” she says, as I make my way down to the office.
Jacob greets me and asks me to take a walk around the track with him.
“I just wanted to introduce myself as your counselor now and get a feel for where you are at in the program,” he says.
I want to tell him that I am completely fucked and need more help, but I don’t want to risk my chances of possibly scoring dope tonight.
“I’ve been struggling a little truthfully,” I admit. “I thought that there was going to be one on one counseling to treat my underlying issues. This place feels like summer camp. I went to a 30 day state program. I didn’t get help there either.”
“I understand how you are feeling Liz. I want you to trust me and really know and believe that I am here for you. I realize that I am not a one on one counselor, but I am your counselor. If there is something you need to discuss, you can come see me anytime,” he suggests.
“I realize that you came here with expectations of something very different. We all did. I am excited to move into this position and help the students deal with their feelings,” he continues.
This is a welcomed change. It’s not that Sadie Dell wasn’t amazing, but she never said anything remotely close to this. Truth is, the counselor’s job is predominantly to call the families and report to them daily about our growth and how we are doing in the program. Their job is not to counsel us at all.
“I’ve been craving heroin Jacob. I mean, I am really craving it. I thought once I got into the sauna the drug dreams and cravings were supposed to go away and it feels like they are getting worse. I’ve contemplated leaving,” I confess.
Jacob shares a little bit about his drug history and program. He was a student here at Narconon, before interning and becoming staff (all staff are former students). As we continue to walk, Jacob appears to be fighting back tearing up, as he describes some of his lowest points. He even shares a story about him and Makayla. They were students together in the program before inevitably interning together and becoming a couple as staff. He confesses a time that she was dead set on getting drugs into the center. There was a plan in motion and he expressed to her that he didn’t want any part in it, but moreover, that he didn’t want her to do it. She didn’t, but he explained that people do get drugs here sometimes.
“You still have a choice Liz Khalifa,” he says.
“Liz Khalifa?” I laugh.
“Yeah. That’s my nickname for you. You know instead of Wiz Khalifa?” He laughs.
“I like it,” I admit.
“Ultimately, the choice is yours. I understand that you are having a rough time now, but it will get easier with time. Liz, do you know that you are one of Div. sixes (counselors division) favorite students? Your nightly phone call to your daughter is precious and it is obvious that you are a good mother who fell on hard times and you’re trying to pull yourself together. Remember that your decisions influence her, as well. You are not the only parent here, but you may be the only one who is adamant about calling your daughter, every single day,” he assures me.
“It’s really hard sometimes,” I confess. “I want to do good, but sometimes I feel the darkness pulling me back.”
“Liz Khalifa, you are going to make it. I have faith in your ability to overcome this,” he assures me.
After we are done talking, I make my way back to the room. Hayden is sitting on her bed putting on makeup. It is always fun to watch her. She puts it on so effortlessly. I envy that about her. The amount of times I have poked my eye with eyeliner, smeared eye shadow across my nose or experienced a clumpy mess of mascara in my lashes, makes her flawless application both irritating and remarkable.
“What did James say?” I ask.
“He swears that there was ice on the road. He is leery about coming up here, but I think he can come tonight” she says.
“I don’t know if I want to do this anymore,” I admit. “I just had a good talk with Jacob and for once, it feels like there is really someone here who cares about me. He shared some personal stuff and it got me thinking about this whole thing in a new way. The biggest compliment he gave me was that I was a good mother. I am on the fence. Now it feels like I would be letting him down too.”
“I know. I am on the fence too. We don’t have to do it Liz,” Hayden suggests. “I really don’t want to disappoint my parents.”
“It’s so hard. I really want to get high. It feels like I have heroin in one hand and my daughter in the other. Why do I keep choosing the wrong hand?” I ask rhetorically.
“I don’t know. It’s the drug. It’s wicked. It’s pure evil,” she says.
“It’s the devil,” I concur.
There is a knock at the door before it slides open. It is Keisha of course.
“Is it the 3 o’clock break already?” Hayden asks.
“Yup. Well how are you guys?” Keisha asks.
She looks us both up and down. I wonder if she is observing our appearance for any signs of drug use. She looks concerned and then relieved.
“It fell through,” Hayden volunteers.
“We are debating whether or not we are going to do it,” I elaborate.
“Really? What happened?” Keisha asks.
“There was ice on the roads according to the guy,” I explain.
Keisha’s face contorts to an expression of confusion. “Ice? Do you think that maybe he just didn’t want to drive all the way up here?” She asks.
“I am not sure,” Hayden admits.
I look at Keisha and roll my eyes. I don’t believe for a second that there was ice on the road.
“Shall we go get cereal?” Keisha suggests.
“Absolutely,” I reply.
“I think I am going to listen to some music and draw,” Hayden replies.
“Are you okay? We will talk more about this right?” I ask.
“Of course girl,” she says.
Keisha and I make our way to the lodge. They are out of my fucking cereal. Big surprise. We both pour some Cinnamon Toast Crunch into our cups and top it off with milk before making our way to the table.
“I’m on the fence about that one thing,” I say in a hushed tone.
“I really don’t want you to do it Liz. I mean really, one more time? It’s never just one more time,” she whispers.
Of course she’s right. That is the biggest myth drug addicts tell themselves. They are going to use just one more time. It always ends up killing them, or causing a relapse. My mind wanders to the day we received the news about Angel. My heart speeds up a little at the thought of overdosing and what that would do to my family. It’s strange, but as an active heroin user on the streets back home, I had completely numbed my ability to see or think about what it was doing to my family. Now, being sober, the reality of how that news would affect them, hits me hard.
“I think I should give the card back, but I really don’t want an ethics cycle this way. I mean shit, if I am going to be on ethics, I better get laid,” I joke. We both laugh.
“You should. I doubt you will even get in trouble for it because you are being honest,” Keisha suggests.
After break, Keisha makes her way back to Objectives and I head back to the room. Hayden is still drawing. We hang out a bit with music before dinner. After dinner, Hayden and I sit on our stoop to smoke a cigarette. There is always an ethics officer posted in front of the course room after hours. Right now, it is John Tiger.
I’m not sure what Jacob is still doing here, but I see him walk towards the lodge with Tony Crone. They look agitated. Without warning, John Tiger gets up and calls out to me.
“Liz! I need your help! Sit here and make sure that boys don’t go into the girl’s rooms and vice versa. Watch the courtyard please. I’m sorry this is completely unorthodox but we have an emergency and I trust you,” he shouts, as he runs towards the van.
The commotion has the student’s attention. As I take a seat in the chair, I ponder on John Tiger’s last words before running off, “I trust you.” If only he knew what I had been scheming these last few days.
In a joking manner, I instruct student’s to get on their stoops. It feels exciting playing an ethics officer. I like the authority, even if it is temporary. Gavrill has circled the parking lot twice and the entire ethics division is on foot or in vehicles and off the premises. Without knowing what is going on, it is obvious that we have a student on the run.
I sit for the better part of a half hour, watching the courtyard and instructing students to use the ashtrays, get on their stoops and keep it down. John Tiger is back, along with another ethics officer named Don Adams. Don is usually the night shift guy. He has blond hair, and an athletic build. He is very quiet and shy. I’ve attempted to talk to him a few times, but his conversation is one word responses, or as Book 1 would call them, acknowledgements.
Lately, I have noticed Chanel talking with him a lot after light outs. I think they are starting to really crush on each other. I’m not snooping, but occasionally I come out after lights out for a smoke and more often than not, Chanel is outside visiting with him.
“Thank you Liz for watching the courtyard. We had an emergency and I really didn’t know what to do,” John Tiger says.
“You’re welcome,” I reply.
“No. I mean it Liz. I really shouldn’t have put you in charge like that, but you are older and have your shit together. We never have to worry about you. You stay out of trouble and I knew I could trust you to do this. Thank you,” he reiterates.
My heart sinks. Does the entire ethics department think I am not a trouble maker? I am. Not only have I been plotting getting heroin on the mountain, I am attempting to take my friend down with me and I know that there is a cell phone among the student body. That means there will be plenty of opportunity for others to use it and get drugs into the center. I am not going to narc about the phone because it’s not mine, but I decide to be honest about my card and give it back. Keisha and Hayden encourage me.
“Hayden get rid of that phone before I get back in case they come down and inspect our room,” I suggest. She concurs.
I make my way to the lodge to find Jacob. I am terrified that I might be handed an ethics cycle. Moreover, they report shit to your family and I am nervous about how my father will react upon hearing this news. After all, I have been playing it cool on the phone.
I walk back into the kitchen where Jacob and Tony Crone are raiding the fridge. Tony is of course, decked out in his Michigan gear with one headphone wrapped around his ear and the other hanging down on his chest. Jacob smiles at me.
“Hey Liz Khalifa. What’s going on?” He asks.
“I need to tell you something,” I say nervously.
“Okay. What is it? Are you okay?” He asks.
“Well, I uh, kind of stole my EBT card out of Emma Chadwick’s office,” I confess, while pulling it out of my cigarette pack.
“Give it here,” Tony Crone demands, while extending his hand out and snatching it from me.
“How long have you had this?” Crone asks.
“Two days,” I admit.
Crone and Jacob look at each other with shock and disbelief on their faces. Jacob turns back to me.
“Why are you giving this back?” He asks.
“I had heroin on it’s way up the mountain. After talking to you and after John Tiger told me he trusted me tonight when you guys were running around with whatever emergency was just going on, I realized I don’t want to make the wrong choice. It’s like you said, I have a choice,” I explain.
“How where you getting heroin up the mountain?” Crone asks.
There is no way that I am ratting out Hayden, or the boys about their cell phone. I disregard the question, as if I didn’t even hear it and for whatever reason, they don’t inquire about it again. I’m pretty sure they are in complete shock.
“I don’t want Emma to get into trouble. There was no way for her to know I had stolen this,” I continue. I explain that I had another card and replaced mine with it, so everything appeared as it should when I handed her back my wallet. “Now Emma is going to hate me.”
“I don’t think she is going to be happy about this, but she isn’t going to hate you,” Jacob assures me.
“Am I on an ethics cycle?” I ask.
“I am going to need to report this to ethics, but I am not sure how it will be handled,” he explains.
“You did the right thing,” Crone chimes in.
“Are you going to tell my dad?” I ask.
“I think that you should tell him Liz Khalifa, but no, I am not reporting this to him,” he assures me.
It’s funny, I am about ten years older than Jacob and his words remind me of how immature I am in comparison.
As I walk out of the kitchen I can hear the two of them express their disbelief concerning the situation that has just played out.
“I can’t believe she has had this in her possession for two days,” Jacob whispers.
“I can’t believe she gave it back,” Crone gasps.
I wander back to my room. Hayden assures me that I have done the right thing. She expresses her own sense of relief and assures me that she gave the phone back to Derek Lowry to give to Buster. My emotions are all over the place. This isn’t my first plan to get high since I have been here. I continue to struggle with it. This is the first time I had access to $200.00 cash and could really make it happen. I feel a sense of release and accomplishment in my program. I did the right thing. Moreover, I have the ability to make the right choices and have decided to start making them…