His name is not really Johnny.

Sorry I left you guys hanging. I hope this clears up why my trip ended sooner than planned. I know I left a lot of you loyal readers in the dark, but just know, this is not the end of the story, there are many plans to be unfolded and I hope whoever is reading this is willing to tag along for the next adventure.

Ready, go.

By now I was used to sleeping in my tree so I woke up around 10 AM. I made the routine trip to starbucks, watched a documentary and had a cup of hot chocolate before heading to Ocean Beach.

I only had one book with me, The Old Man And The Sea, and picked up reading where I left off the day before. I guess you can say this is my favorite book. It is also the only book that I ever actually read for the required summer reading during my school years, sorry Coach Neal. Maybe I would have liked some of the others too, who knows. I was sitting just obove the water line where the land makes a dip straight into the ocean. I had to move every five minutes or so to stay under the shade of the Life Guard tower. (I was severley sunburned from too much beach time.)

It was early in the day so not many people were out yet, but that did not stop Johnny from coming up and asking for one dollar and fifty cents. He was a scrawny kid wearing an old tattered Jan Sport backpack. It was tan with a gold and red Eno hammock hanging from one of the straps. In his right hand was a skateboard with big blue cruising wheels.

“I’m not going to use it for anything bad” he assured me, “I just want to get some doritos.”

“How about Subway?” There was one just down the street and I was hungry anyway.

“Hell yeah!”

We were on our way.

We talked about everything under the sun over a nice meatball sandwich and some Doritos. He told me he had been on Heroin for the past three years and that his mom was on it too. In fact she was the one who introduced him to it after smoking weed just didn’t make the cut. He was living in his hammock too, which was pretty cool. It also seemed ironic that he was 19 as well. He told me all about how he would scrape up hundreds of dollars to get his fix every day, which was quite amazing. He’d ask for ten dollars at a time or help people set up there beach gear for a few bucks and managed to get enough to keep him buzzed all day. After a while we went our seperate ways and I assured him that he would be in my prayers.

It was about eleven O’ Clock and I was just getting ready to fall asleep after watching the fireworks over the ocean coming from Sea World’s direction when I heard my name called out in a raspy voice. There it was again. I looked down and saw none other than Johnny, halfway up my tree.

“Tardy, Hey man is it cool if I sleep here tonight?”

“Hell yeah! Come on up.”

As soon as we got his hammock up, I had to help him a little, he didn’t seem to be all there, he went on to tell me what happened only hours before. Johnny’s mom decided that she really did not want to keep on sharing her Heroin with her son so she took it upon herself to fix the problem. As he lay on the coach at their dealers house, she came running at him with a knife screaming that he was the problem with her life and that she was going to end it right then and there. Johnny grabbed his stuffed and made it out the door as she hit the ground, stumbling to get to him.

He was balling his eyes out at this point.

He knew where I was staying and had no where else to go so he rode his skateboard the fifteen miles to my tree.

“Tardy, why are you here man? I can’t believe you are here. You gotta get out of here now. Has your mom ever done drugs Tardy?”

He was spitting out questions too fast for me to keep up, “Johnny, Johnny calm down it’s alright, it’s gonna be alright.”

“Tardy,” he paused for what seemed like forever, mustering his strength to keep talking through the tears, “Why are you doing this Tardy?” I couldn’t tell him. I couldn’t tell him that I left my perfect family to go do exactly what he was being forced to do by the circumstance life had thrown at him.

How do you tell someone you chose to be in their same situation they are in and make it sound like a good idea? Before I could find an answer he begged that I return home. There’s no way I could say no.

The next morning I woke up around 9 AM and he was gone. I called my dad and told him my plan to return and bought a bus ticket to leave the next morning. Johnny had called his Mom off of my phone the day before and I have been trying to get ahold of him ever since, but there has been no response.

I called teen challenge and they were willing to help get Johnny into a better situation, but there is nothing we can do without being able to contact him.

I pray for Johnny every time he crosses my mind, and I hope for the day I get a call from a San Diego area code with that raspy voice on the other end, even if he just needs another dollar and fifty cents.

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