LAMB AND THE WOLF
Drug dealer Jose Alvarez slams the crack head up against the alley’s
brick wall. He has the man by the throat. The massive bulk of Jose picks
the man up like a rag doll. The man’s feet are dangling inches above
the ground. Jose leans in and is nose to nose with the addict. The man
looks into the eyes of Jose and starts to shake all over. He has seen
hatred his whole life. He has seen the worst of life through the needles
and the hot spoons. But he has never seen this kind of hatred. He sees
now in the eyes of Jose. He stammers and finally spits the words out.
“Please, don’t kill me!”
Jose has a sinister smile on his face and talks casually like he’s
at Sunday brunch with the Smith’s.
“Say another word and I will snap your neck.”
The crack head knows he will do it. He has been hurt before by the violence
of Jose. It’s 2:00 in the morning on the south side of Chicago.
The rain is starting to fall on the two men in the alley. Jose tightens
the grip and speaks his last words. “You will give me the rest of
the money tomorrow.”
Jose tightens the grip even more as he looks into man’s eyes. The
addict has no airflow to the brain. He starts to fight for his life now.
With one arm Jose throws the man to the ground. The addict lies in the
alley puddle and sucks the Chicago air back into his lungs. He will live
another day to stick a needle in his arm. He lifts his head up and watches
Jose walk down the alley into the darkness. The addict rolls over onto
his back and lets the night rain soak his face. Then he weeps.
Daylight brings us hope and security. Should we ever feel
unprotected in the light of day? Are we ever really safe at any time in
our lives? Does God use other people at times to keep us safe? Stephanie
Weadows will find this out today. She leaves the office complex she works
at as a legal secretary. Stephanie looks up into the Chicago sky and smiles,
what a beautiful day. On her daily routine she walks down Gladstone to
103rd street and then to the train station. Today she decides to cut through
Stratton Park. Stephanie feels alive inside walking in the park and having
the sun upon her face. It’s Wednesday and she has choir practice
at church tonight. She loves singing to the Lord.
The three of them watch her. They talk to one another about her. They
get up and cross the street and head into Stratton Park after her. The
thugs stalk her like wolves in a dark forest. They have no respect for
anyone. They have no respect for the law. They make their way and move
Jose walks into Stratton Park with his backpack on. He
heads to the back of the park and meets with one of his many connections.
They make their money and drug switch after Jose checks the quality of
the cocaine. Then the two split their ways and Jose heads back up to the
front of the park. Jose does all of his street dealings on foot.
He has made a name for himself on the street. He came from a broken family
and the only person that he can remember that loved him was his Grandmother.
His parents were both addicts and one day his father just left and never
showed up again. His mother wanted nothing to do with her little boy.
She just wanted to get high and be left alone. She died of a drug overdose
when Jose was eleven, and he found her dead in the bathroom. Then he lived
with his Grandmother until she passed away. Jose was fifteen when he watched
them lower his beloved Grandmother into the cold earth. He dropped out
of high school and made the back alley streets of Chicago his new home.
He started dealing the drugs that destroyed his family. But he has never
used the drugs that he sells, he just wants the money. Money brings power
in the dirty streets. Violence comes with the drugs. He accepted the violence
and made it his only companion. By the age of twenty-one Jose was feared
and hated, and one of the biggest dealers on the Southside.
Jose walks quickly through the park. He needs to get the
cocaine spread out through the streets as fast as possible. Jose cuts
through some tall hedges and sees the three thugs coming up on a lady.
He stops in the hedges and watches the thugs surround her now. A man on
a bike rides by and the lady pleads for his help. She is terrified now.
The man on the bike doesn’t even look back. They rip the purse from
her grip now and look for her money. She has no money in the purse. They
pull her Bible out and call her a Jesus freak, then throw God’s
word to the ground like its garbage. They have no idea it’s the
key to their eternal life. Jose walks through the hedges and heads toward
the lady and the thugs. He has $45,000 dollars worth of cocaine in his
backpack. He should be moving in the other direction because this is none
of his concern. He cares for no one and no one cares for him. But something
is pulling him to the lady. He speaks loud and it startles them all.
“Leave her alone and back off! If you leave now I will spare you
The three thugs look at Jose. His bulk and his calmness worry the thugs.
He looks street wise and mean. But together the three feel strong and
unstoppable. They walk from the lady and head toward Jose. With a voice
of authority Jose talks to the three men.
“My name is Jose Alvarez and you three are in my territory.”
The three look at each other and slowly back away. They have heard of
Alvarez and want no trouble with him. They turn and run without saying
Stephanie is shaken really bad by what has just happened
to her. What would have happened if this man was not here to help her?
She turns from watching the three leaving and for the first time gets
a good look at Jose. He steps up to her and they look into each other’s
eyes. For some time they just keep looking at each other. She is beautiful
to Jose. Stephanie feels safe now and slowly stops shaking. She can feel
the power around Jose and knows God sent him to help her. He is stunning
to look at. Then Jose breaks the silence between them.
“Are you ok?” There is earnest care in his voice. He is shocked
at the care.
“Yes I’m fine, and thank you so much for helping me.”
He has never helped anybody in his life. Why is he helping this lady now
in the park?
Stephanie reaches out her hand. “I know your name is Jose. My name
The two shake hands and Jose feels like a school kid on the playground
talking to one of the girls. His stomach is in a knot and his mind is
racing everywhere. She reaches down and picks up her purse. Jose walks
over and picks up her Bible. He holds the Bible and looks at the cover.
She has a sticker on it that reads, “Jesus loves you.”
Jose has never held a Bible that he can remember. It gives him a strange
feeling. He hands it to Stephanie. She smiles and puts it in her purse.
Jose asks her again.
“Look, are you going to be alright? I would like to walk you home
if that’s ok with you.”
“I would like it if you walked me too the train station.”
Two complete opposites and two complete strangers smile and talk in the
Chicago sun. They get to the station and say their good-byes. Jose stops
after a couple of steps and turns back to Stephanie. “I am not a
man of many words. I am not book smart and have no schooling. My schooling
is from the streets and the people on the streets. I have no right to
ask you this, I would like to see you again.”
She is touched by his openness and agrees to see him again. But there
is a term to the agreement. “I have choir practice tonight at 7:00
at the Church of Christ. The address is 1406 S. Taylor on the northside.”
He smiles back at her and the whole church thing is running through his
head. Church! What a major downer he thinks to himself. He’s losing
interest fast in this situation. “Maybe I will see you there, but
it was really nice meeting you.” He turns and this time he walks
away with the $45,000 in cocaine.
Jose unlocks his apartment door and walks in. He has just
unloaded all the cocaine. He turns on the TV and looks around at the mess
he lives in. He lives like he’s poor but has a $115,000 dollars
stashed away. He lives with the cockroaches in his apartment and deals
with the ones out on the streets. He goes to his couch and lies down and
looks at the cracks on the ceiling. After meeting Stephanie his thoughts
have been anything but normal. He cannot get her off of his mind. And
the whole Jesus and church thing is freaking him out. She has brought
a light into his heart that hasn’t been there for a long time. This
one woman has brought so much confusion to his simple way of thinking.
He looks at his watch it is 7:38. He does not have time to meet Stephanie
at choir. Does he really want to meet her anyway? He isn’t sure
about anything anymore. Jose sits up and runs his fingers through his
hair. He didn’t even get her number, just the church address. He
knows it’s best to forget all about her. Jose gets up and leaves
his apartment and heads three blocks down to Herb’s Bar. Tonight
he will sit there and try to drink the memory of Stephanie away.
The Amtrak train speeds down the tracks heading to the northside.
Stephanie looks out the window and watches the Chicago scenes go by, and
she thinks of Jose as she looks out the train window. Daily at work she
meets men in three-piece suits and they do nothing for her. But Jose has
taken her breath away. She knows he’s from the streets just by the
way the three men paid respect to him. Her prayers are that Jose comes
to the church tonight. At choir practice she looks for Jose to come through
the church doors to see her, but he never shows up. Her heart is heavy
for she really wanted to see him again. Choir practice is over and Pastor
Simons locks the front door of the church.
Stephanie, Mary and Lisa walk down to the bus stop. They stand and talk
about church and other things in their lives. Stephanie tells the two
ladies about what happened today in the park. Then she tells them she
cannot get Jose out of her mind.
Jose slowly opens his blood shot eyes. The sun is beating
through the window onto his face. He has one of his monster hangovers.
He knows this is going to happen when he drinks the hard stuff, but he
drinks it anyway. He drinks to numb the pain of the life he has chosen
to live. But the pain never goes away and the reality of life is still
there when we open our eyes. He pulls himself up and sits on the edge
of the bed. He tried to forget about Stephanie at the bar last night.
But the more he drank the more he thought about her. Jose doesn’t
understand the feelings he has for her. He only met her yesterday in the
park. Why didn’t he go to the church and see her? Does he even want
to see a woman that goes to church? Why does the thought of going to the
church give him this strange feeling inside? Plus he feels there’s
no place for scum like him in the church, and he has no place with such
a fine lady like Stephanie. Who is he trying to fool anyway? What would
she say if she ever found out that he was a drug dealer? And what can
he possibly offer her? Jose slams his fist on the bed, gets up and walks
to the kitchen. He makes some coffee to wake up and get the nasty taste
out of his mouth. He has to get down and hit the streets soon. No one
has ever been allowed in his apartment for any kind of dealing. That is
done out on the streets, and on the move. He knows he is on borrowed time
and his luck can run out at any time. He feels they will come sooner or
later and bust him. When they come, he will fight and the blood will run.
Jose pours some coffee and walks over to the living room window and looks
out. He thinks about walking through the park again today, hoping he would
run into Stephanie. Jose shakes his head and drops the whole idea from
his thoughts. It’s weird what a woman can do to a man’s mind
in one day. Because of her he realizes he has deep feelings. Hatred and
pain have covered these feelings for most of his life. He knows men who
are strong and powerful. But when they get around their girlfriend or
wife they grow weak. He hated them for that weakness. She has touched
his life like no one else ever has. For the first time in his life looking
out the filthy window, Jose can feel the beat of his own heart.
Captain Jim Bowens sits in his Nissan Pathfinder waiting for undercover
agent Greene to show up. Jim is in charge of the narcotics division for
the Chicago police department. He’s parked down by the tracks on
the southside. Train cars are on both sides of his car. For ten minutes
Jim sits and waits. Out of the Chicago night Greene walks up opens the
car door and gets in.
“You sure no one followed you here?”
“I’m positive.” Greene doesn’t even look around
to make sure. He has been on the streets for months setting up drug dealer
Jose Alvarez. Jim is worried about his number one undercover cop. “So
the $20,000 cocaine deal went smooth?” Greene smiles at Captain
Bowens. “Don’t worry Jim, Jose and I have become very close.
I believe he’s starting to trust me.” For four months Greene
has been setting Jose up for the big bust. And the break they have been
waiting for has materialized. Greene tells Bowens that Jose is to get
his biggest drug amount yet.
In ten to thirteen days he receives $100,000 in cocaine. And Jose has
agreed to sell half to Greene. Bowens face lights up. This will be the
last deal Jose Alvarez will ever make. “It’s time to make
the bust and put this scum bag in prison!” Greene opens the door
and gets out. “I’ll call you when I find out the drop place
and the time.” Greene slams the door and walks down the tracks.
Bowens watches Greene fade into the night.
Four days have passed since Stephanie met Jose in the park. She really
wanted to see him again. But asking him to come to the church was probably
way too much. But a part of her heart knew he would not show up. And what
would a man from the streets like Jose want with a lady like her. She
paces and looks out the living room window. Stephanie sips on the hot
cocoa she just heated up. She watches as the rain slams against the window
and runs down the glass. Her feelings have been nothing but normal. She
has even thought of walking the streets looking for him. She wants to
push him out of her mind but she cannot.
He was there for her in one of her darkest moments. Stephanie has never
been so frightened and at peace as she was that day in the park. When
she looked into the eyes of Jose she knew she was safe. Has she fallen
in love? She pushes the question out of her mind as soon as she thinks
it. Stephanie tells herself she is stronger than this. Her heart feels
heavy. She asks God to mend her burdened heart. Her cocoa is set on the
table and Stephanie watches the rain again. The tears swell in her eyes
and she wipes them away. Stephanie prays about Jose.
A week has passed since the day they met. Jose stands on the corner of
Taylor and Cermack. The wind is blowing and another storm is rolling in.
Jose looks across the street at the church. He is amazed at the size and
all the stain glass on the front and sides. Is it right for him to be
here now? It feels like he’s stalking Stephanie. She might not want
to even see him now. But Jose has to find out. He cannot go through another
week without knowing and seeing her. His eyes fall on the church again.
Jose feels the fear building inside himself. He must fight through it
to see her. Jose realizes nothing else matters in his life but to see
Stephanie. If she wants nothing to do with him he will walk away and always
remember her. Jose forces himself across the street and climbs the cement
steps to the church door. He reaches for the door and stops. Jose looks
around because the fear he felt is gone. Now a strange peace has fallen
over him. He doesn’t understand, his eyes look up at the stain glass
and he sees a scene of Jesus on the cross. He sees the nails in his hands
and feet, and he sees the blood. He wonders what the man did to deserve
this. Jose looks down at his own hands, pulls the door open and walks
Jose stands in the barely lit foyer of the church. He can
hardly see the painting of Jesus on the walls. There are bathrooms on
both sides of the hallway. Jose walks to the door that leads to the sanctuary.
He looks through the slates in the door. There are people on the stage
and some in the front pews, but he does not see Stephanie anywhere. Dread
sets in as he looks around the church. The ladies bathroom door opens
behind Jose. He’s blocking the doors when she walks up. She speaks
softly so not to startle the man.
Jose knows that voice. He turns with a smile and looks at Stephanie.
She did not recognize it was Jose in the darkened foyer. Her heart feels
like it’s going burst. God has answered her prayers, and brought
Jose to this church. She smiles back at him. “It’s you.”
Then Jose pushes the words out. “I need to talk with you Stephanie.
I am not totally sure what has brought me here. I’m not a good man
and my ways are not like yours. But for a week you have been constantly
on my mind. And I am not worthy to be standing in a place like this. But
I had to see you again. If your feelings are different I will leave and
never bother you again.” Stephanie looks at Jose with a serious
expression on her face and then jumps into his arms and wraps hers around
his neck. She whispers in his ear. “I am so glad you’re here
and you are worthy to be in God’s house.”
Jose sits with her and he feels the shyness in his voice. “Would
you like to get something to eat after your church thing?” She laughs
at him. “We’re done for tonight so let me grab my things and
we’ll go.” Jose meets the people in the church and still feels
the peace he felt when he first walked in. They say goodnight, walk out
of the church together and descend down the steps to the sidewalk. Jose
stops and looks back at the stained glass Jesus. “Stephanie what
did this Jesus man do that was so bad that they did that to him?”
She thinks for a second, “Nothing.”
The two walk down to a café that’s three blocks
from the church. They sit and eat and talk for about an hour and a half.
They talk about movies to music and everything in between. There is a
comfort that surrounds them. They feel like they have known each other
for years. Just being around her makes Jose feels like he has a purpose
now. He knows she walks with God and loves her church. But she does not
try to shove it on him.
For some reason Jose finds that he has questions he wants to share with
her about this Jesus man.
“Stephanie what did you mean earlier when you said this Jesus man
“He was holy and pure and the blood that he shed was innocent. Some
people hated Jesus because he said he was the Son of God. He went to the
cross because he loves us Jose.”
There’s a short time of silence between them and then Stephanie
speaks. “If you would like I can tell you about him.” The
tough side of Jose tells him to drop it and move on to something different.
But there is a small fire starting to build inside his soul and heart.
He still doesn’t understand any of this. Why does he even care about
this Jesus man? Then he looks across the table at Stephanie and knows
why he feels alive inside. Then the words just spill out. “I would
like to know about this Jesus man.”
Jose opens the door and throws his keys on the kitchen counter.
Then walks into the living room and sits in the darkness. He listens to
the sirens outside that are fading into the distance. Is there such a
thing as hell on earth? Jose knows there is. He has been living in it
his whole life. But now something is telling him there’s a better
life waiting for him somewhere. He has been living off the hunger of hatred
for years. But after hearing about this Jesus man from Stephanie his mind
is working in overload. Now he understands what the word hope means. There
is hope now in his life with Stephanie in it.
The last thing she said about the Jesus man was there is hope if we believe
in him. Stephanie invited Jose to watch a movie called “The Passion
of the Christ” with her tomorrow night. To be with Stephanie he
will do anything. But he wants to know more about this Jesus man also.
She hugged Jose and thanked him for the nice dinner. He kisses her on
the cheek and tells her good night. They smile at each other and wave
as the cab pulls away. That was hours ago. Jose gets up, grabs his keys
and slams the door behind him. He walks down the three flights and into
the dark night. Tonight while he’s out dealing with the drugs and
the city scum his mind will be elsewhere.
The next morning Jose’s cell phone rings. He gets
the call he has been waiting on. He’s to meet his connection at
Stratton Park in two hours. The two meet and talk, and $100,000 cocaine
pick up will happen in two days at Hyde St Park. The cocaine pick up will
be at 2:00 PM. Jose and his connection split and go in opposite directions.
Jose is still walking through Stratton Park when he calls Greene and tells
him to meet him at the park at 5:00. Greene shows up at 4:57 and the two
men discuss on the drop off of $50,000 in cocaine to Greene in two days.
Jose tells him the place and the time. Jose leaves the park and waves
a cab over and heads to the movie theatre on the Northside.
Jose tells the cabby to pull over before the light. He pays the cabby
and gives him a generous tip. He’s about eight blocks from the theatre
and takes his time getting there. He’s early for his 7:00 date with
Stephanie. Walking he tries to clear his mind in the Chicago madness.
He makes his way to the theatre and sits on a bench across the street.
Jose looks at the poster of the Jesus man with the crown of thorns on
his head and the blood running down his face. Jose cannot remember ever
thinking of this Jesus man before like he has in the last couple of days.
He always felt Jesus freaks had no guts and were brainwashed into believing
a myth. Now he looks upon the blood soaked man in the poster and is starting
to wonder. Why is he drawn to this Jesus man now? He never cared before
and does he even care now? He watches the traffic fly by and everyone
is in rush. A yellow cab pulls up in front of the movie theatre and Stephanie
gets out. His heart races when he sees her. She is so beautiful. She looks
around for Jose and spots him walking across the street toward her with
a smile on his face. They embrace and then stand in line holding hands
and talking. Now the line is slowly moving as they make their way into
Jose wraps his arm around Stephanie and tells her how beautiful she is
to him. She brings herself close to him and tells him how happy she is
to be with him.
They take their seats and talk softly through the previews.
Stephanie read in the paper today that the movie was graphic and brutal.
She tells Jose some people have left early from the movie, because they
cannot watch what is done to Jesus. Jose thinks of his life and the drugs
he deals. He thinks of the brutality he lives in every day.
Last night Stephanie asked him what he did for a living. He told her he
worked on the streets. He changed the subject back to the Jesus man. Tonight
they hold hands, waiting for the movie to start. Stephanie tells Jose
about the twelve apostles and that one of them named Judas will betray
Jesus into the hands of the Roman soldiers. Finally the movie starts.
From the very beginning Jose is thrown back into his chair in awe. He
knows it’s a Hollywood movie with Hollywood actors, but the story
and the scenes are so real to him. Jose watches and the Jesus man reaches
out and touches his heart. He feels the pain the Jesus man is going through.
Jose watches as they bring him to the town circle. They strip the cloths
off his back and shackle Jesus man to the whipping post. Then the two
Roman guards start to whip the Jesus man. Jose tries to fight back the
tears but the effort is useless. The tears fall, but there is no shame.
Now the Jesus man collapses and they keep whipping him. Jose’s heart
is breaking as he watches. Over and over Jose whispers out loud. “My
The two hold hands and Jose’s grip tightens when they
nail the Jesus man to the cross and then lift him up for display. The
Jesus man dies on the cross. At the very end of the movie it shows Jesus
rising after three days and the nail scars in his hand. The movie is over
and the lights slowly come on. Jose looks at Stephanie and the tears are
still in his eyes. Jose speaks with love in his voice.
Stephanie fights back her own tears.
“Yes he lives Jose.”
“Did the Jesus man died on the cross for me?”
“Yes Jose he died for you and me and for everyone.”
“But they hurt the Jesus man so bad.”
“I know Jose, but it wasn’t the nails that kept Jesus up on
the cross, it was because he loves us.”
Jose and Stephanie get up and hold each other. Jose looks around and some
people are crying in their seats. One couple is still in their seats holding
hands looking straight ahead at a blank screen. Jose and Stephanie slowly
leave the theatre holding each other tight.
The next morning Jose sits alone in his living room. The
movie has opened his heart beyond his own understanding. The Jesus man
is calling his heart, he can feel it all around him. Jose turns off the
TV and pulls out the piece of paper Stephanie gave him. Before they departed
last tonight she wrote this for him and told him to read it when he was
alone. It reads, Romans 10:13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name
of the Lord will be saved.”
The tears return to the eyes of Jose. He gets off the couch and goes to
his knees and starts to talk to Jesus. “I believe in you Jesus man
and I believe you died for me. I call upon you now to please forgive me
for the way I live. I am so sorry Jesus, please help me.” Jose opens
his heart to Jesus and lets him in. He feels the weight of the burdens
that he has carried his whole life slowly lift off. On this day Jose is
reborn to a new love from above. In a rundown Chicago tenant building
Jose finds the Son of God. Jose finds the peace Jesus promises when you
call on His name. For an hour Jose sits in the living room talking and
crying to the Lord. He needs to know more about the Jesus man. Later Jose
leaves the apartment and heads down to Leo’s pawn shop. Jose walks
in and Leo looks at him through his thick glasses.
“Hey Jose what brings you here today?”
“What’s up Leo, do you have any Bibles in here?”
Leo looks at Jose and slowly starts to walk to the other end of the counter.
He knows Jose very well and what kind of person he is. He is one of the
most violent men Leo has ever met and now he’s asking where the
Bibles are. Leo reaches down and grabs the ones he has and puts them on
the counter. Jose looks at Leo. “You know anything about Bibles
Leo?” Leo knows a lot about God’s word. “A little bit.”
Jose explains he needs easy reading. Leo pulls out a Paraphrased Bible
and hands it to Jose. “This one is perfect.”
Jose reaches into his pocket to get his money. Leo reaches over and puts
his hand on his arm. "I want no money for this, it’s a gift
from me.” Jose walks to the door and turns back before he walks
out. “Thank you Leo.” The two men smile at each other. “You’re
welcome Jose.” Leo watches through the store windows as Jose walks
Jose sits at the kitchen table and opens the Bible. He remembers what
Stephanie told him about Jesus and the New Testament. The first four chapters
are about when Jesus walked on the earth. Jose starts in the book of Matthew
and reads for hours. He rubs his eyes and closes the Bible. He walks to
the window and looks out onto the street. He does not understand everything
he has just read. He understands that the Jesus man is loving and forgiving.
He cares for everyone and never boasted that he was the Son of God. Now
sitting in the dark Jose knows there are things in his life he has to
change. And he has to change them now. He pulls the piece of paper out
of his pocket with Stephanie’s number on it. After four rings she
answers and Jose explains everything that has happened to him in the last
couple of hours. Stephanie is so very happy for him and starts to cry
on the phone. He tells her that not all is good. Jose tells her he’s
a drug dealer and explains what kind of life he lives in. Then he tells
her what kind of life he wants now and what he has to do to change it.
And he tells her cannot see her for a week. Then with great sadness in
his heart he tells her he understands if she doesn’t want to see
him again. Jose smiles and says goodbye. Stephanie said she would be waiting
Jose calls his connection and sets up a meeting with him
in two hours. They will meet at the park. Jose reads God’s word
until it’s time to leave. The cab pulls up to Stratton Park and
Jose gets out. He is not afraid for what he is about to do but he is very
nervous about it, because he knows his life will be on the line. The two
men meet in the back of the park and Jose lays it out.
“I won’t be here tomorrow to pick up the cocaine. Tell Assanti
I’m done with the whole drug scene!”
The other man has known Jose for years and he can tell there’s something
“What do you want me to tell him?”
“Tell him I walk with the Jesus man now, I found a better life.
And tell him I will never mention his name.” The other man laughs.
“So now you’re a Jesus freak, Assanti will love this.”
The smile fades off the man’s face and he looks hard into the eyes
“You know him and his men will hunt you down and kill you, you know
way too much. And there’s no place you can hide that he won’t
find you.” Jose looks hard into the other man’s eyes. “Tell
Assanti I will not run or hide, he knows where I live.” Jose turns
and walks away. The other man stands and watches Jose walk away. He pulls
out his cell phone and calls Assanti. “I’ll be there in a
half an hour.” He closes the cell phone and shakes his head at what
has just happened.
The sun is setting and Jose climbs the stairs to his apartment.
He locks the door as soon as he gets in. He goes straight to the bedroom
and opens the closet. He pulls down a duffel bag from the top shelve.
He pushes all the hanging clothes to the right and looks at the three
foot safe. Jose reaches down and turns the combination and feels the tumblers
click. He turns the handle and opens the safe. He remembers coming in
here and looking at all the money and having so much pride in himself.
Now he looks at the $150,000 and it means nothing to him. It’s drug
money that’s all. Jose unzips the duffel bag and puts all the money
into it. He puts the bag over his shoulder and grabs something off the
table. Jose unlocks the door and takes the three flights down to the sidewalk.
The night is dark now and he wants to take no chances so he runs through
the back ways and alleys to his destination. Jose walks up to the condemned
building that runs the whole city block. He’s looking for something
to put the money in. Jose finds a small metal drum full of garbage and
dumps it out. He opens the duffel bag and puts all the money in the drum.
Then he reaches into his pocket and pulls out the lighter fluid and matches.
Jose soaks the money, lights a match and throws it in. He sits and watches
the drug money burn and thanks the Jesus man. Another burden slowly lifts
off his shoulders.
Assanti lights the big Cuban cigar he has clinched between
his teeth. The man watches the smoke as it rolls to the top of the nine-foot
ceiling. He hates coming here but he has to. He works for Assanti but
wishes he didn’t. Assanti is a drug lord and hatred and greed run
through his veins, not blood. He puffs on his cigar and listens to the
story the man tells about his meeting with Jose. Assanti waves the man
to leave his office after he’s done telling him the info. He leans
back in his leather chair and thinks on what to do with Jose. Assanti
tells his two bodyguards to leave his office also. They leave without
a word spoken and wait in the next room. He knows the two are just waiting
on the word from him to hunt Jose down and kill him. But the whole Jesus
thing has made Assanti stop cold in his thoughts. Assanti thinks of his
brother now as he sits alone in his office. The two of them used to run
the drugs together. They worked from the bottom to the top in the drug
world. They had everything they wanted, and people were hurt or disposed
of if they got in their way. One day his brother came up to him and said
he wanted out. He told Assanti he walked by a church and heard the people
singing. He stopped and listened because he knew the song. Their mother
used to sing it to them when they were kids. But something drew Assanti’s
brother into the church that night. His brothers’ empty heart was
filled with love and peace. He said he found a man called Jesus Christ.
It was ten years ago when Assanti’s brother turned straight and
left the life of drugs. Now he has a wife and three kids. And he still
walks with Jesus Christ. At first Assanti hated his brother for leaving
and doing his Jesus thing. But now the two brothers are very close, and
now Jose Alvarez has found the Lord too. He just drops out like his brother
did, but by doing this there is still $100,000 in cocaine that needs to
hit the streets soon. Assanti knows he can get it out with no problems,
the real problem is Jose knows too much about Assanti and the drugs. The
ruthless side of Assanti tells him to erase Jose out of the picture now.
However Assanti is no fool when it comes to the Lord and the people that
walk with the Lord. He might not walk with the God like his brother walks
with God, but he does have respect for the man upstairs. He has made up
his mind on what to do. He calls his two men into the office.
“Jose Alvarez has put me in a very touchy situation. We will keep
an eye on him and follow him for awhile. We will see if he walks with
the Jesus man he talks about!”
Captain Jim Bowens speaks through the small microphone
and asks Greene if he can still hear him. Undercover agent Greene tells
him “loud and clear.” Greene is walking to the drop off spot
to meet Jose Alvarez. The long hair covers the earpiece in his right ear
and the mic is in his front pocket. He’s amazed that the mic is
the size of a pencil eraser. This time they’re to meet at Logan
Park. Greene talks loud enough for Bowens to hear. “This Alvarez
punk sure has a thing for parks.”
Greene crosses the street and makes his way into the park. In a voice
that Bowens could barely hear Greene said. “Let’s play some
hard ball and put this street scum away.” He walks to the back of
the park and finds a bench and sits down. Greene sits the brown paper
bag he’s been carrying beside him. He reaches in and pulls out a
pop and opens it. Inside the bag is another pop and the money for the
cocaine. The adrenaline flows through the body of Greene now as they’re
getting close to the bust of Jose Alvarez. The park is staked out. There
are undercover cops everywhere. But when you look around everything seems
normal. Greene has no gun on himself because he knows Jose carries no
gun. As soon as the deal is made the team will swarm them. Greene looks
at his watch and Jose is a half-hour late. It’s not like Jose to
be late. He’s never late. He lights a cigarette to calm his nerves
but it doesn’t help. It turns into an hour and Greene calls Jose’s
cell phone. But there is no answer on the other end. He sits for three
hours calling and waiting for Jose to show up.
They wait until dark and then Bowens calls off the bust. The whole set
up just falls apart. They were so close. Greene grabs the bag and walks
out of the park. He will never see Jose Alvarez again.
Jose’s cell phone rings and he looks at the number.
Greene is calling wondering where he is. Jose takes the phone into the
kitchen and puts it on the counter. He opens the drawer, pulls a hammer
out and smashes the phone to pieces. He has Stephanie’s number memorized.
The other numbers he will never need again. Now the waiting game starts.
Jose will stay in his apartment the rest of the day and tomorrow. He will
wait for Assanti’s men to come hunt him down. With child like faith
Jose prays for strength and protection. He opens God’s word and
finds in the back a listing of different chapters for certain words. Jose
looks up fear and picks out Psalm 23 from the list and reads it.
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
The chapter touches Jose’s heart and it gives him
hope and strength in his fear. He reads the one sentence out loud to himself.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”
Slowly calm comes over Jose and he knows that no matter what happens God
is with him. Two days go by and Jose sits in peace. No one has come near
his door. The two days have brought him closer to the Jesus man. The more
he reads about Jesus the more he understands that he was a man of forgiveness
and love. Jose knows he has to live by these two powerful ways now. Today
Jose will seek love and forgiveness. He will call Stephanie on a pay phone
today and look for a man he has hurt in the past.
Stephanie walks to the kitchen and pulls the coffee out
of the cupboard. Her eyes are sore and red from crying. For two days she
has lived through a mental hell worrying and praying for Jose. She is
deeply in love with him. Even after he told her the kind of life he was
living, she still loves him. Now he puts his life on the line to walk
with Jesus. The tears swell in her eyes again and she asks God to protect
Jose. The cell phone rings and she prays its Jose. She hurries to the
living room and flips her cell phone open. Stephanie’s voice is
The man’s voice on the other end says ‘Hi’, it is Jose.’
He tells her everything is fine so far. She falls apart on the cell phone
and starts crying. He tells her he has to go find someone and get it straight
between the two of them. There is silence on the phone. The two have not
known each other long, but they have already been through so much. He
should have waited for a different time to tell her, but the words fall
out of his mouth. He tells her he loves her and then he hangs up the pay
Assanti’s men watch Jose as he talks on the pay phone. For two days
they have sat and waited for Jose to come out of his apartment building,
but he never did. Today he finally appears and goes straight to the pay
phone. The two men in the car would love to run down Jose and take him
out of the picture, but they will do what Assanti tells them. For now
they will just watch his every move. Jose gets off the phone and heads
down into the worst parts of the Southside. He’s looking for Jim,
the crack head he has brutalized for years. For hours Jose looks in the
back alleyways for Jim. He asks whoever he sees if they have seen Jim.
Finally someone saw him stumble into the next alley over about two hours
ago. Jose walks over to the next alley and looks down it. The alley runs
down about three hundred yards and dead ends into a loading dock. The
loading dock has not been used in years. All the lights have been broken
out. It is pitch black down there. Jose walks down the alley into the
darkness. Jim’s coming down from his daily high as he sits in the
alley’s filth and garbage. He looks up and sees a silhouette of
a man coming down the alley at him. The man is big and powerful. He knows
its Jose Alvarez. Jim remembers he never gave Jose the money he owes him.
He wishes Jose would just kill him and put him out of his misery.
In the dark Jose sees the outline of Jim sitting under
the dock in the corner. Jose crouches down about three feet from Jim.
Shame overwhelms Jose as he thinks back to the last time that he ran into
Jim. He had the man by the throat off the ground slammed against a brick
wall. He hated the crack head then. The hatred that controlled his soul
is gone now. Jose prays and asks the Jesus man to help him with the right
words. No man has said a word yet and Jim breaks the silence. His voice
shakes as he speaks.
“I don’t have your money Alvarez.” Jim’s mind
is clearing now as he’s coming down from the cocaine, but he cannot
come up with any excuse to save himself from a terrible beating or death.
All hope in this world is slipping away from Jim. Now he pleads to Jose.
“Instead of beating me to a pulp today please do me a favor and
just kill me!”
The words cut through the heart of Jose like a blade. Jose has been selling
cocaine to Jim for years. Jose speaks in a tone that Jim has never heard
“I do not care about the money anymore. I am never going to lay
a hand on you ever again. I tracked you down today for a reason. I have
something I want to tell you. I am not messing with your mind and this
is straight from the heart.”
The panic and shaking that Jim feels slowly starts to fade the more Jose
“Jim, I am sorry I have hurt you physically and mentally, and I
am sorry I shoved the cocaine down your throat that helped with your addiction.”
There is silence between the two men now. Jose reaches into his pocket
and pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to Jim in the darkness. “This
is my address. If I can do anything for you let me know. Jim I am truly
sorry.” Jose stands and turns from Jim and starts walking from the
darkness to the light. He stops and turns when he hears Jim call his name.
Jim walks from the dark and stands face to face with Jose. “What
happened to you Jose? You have changed, haven’t you?” Jose
sees the streaks on the face of Jim where the tears have rolled from his
“Jim I walk with the Jesus man now.” Jim just looks at Jose.
Jim’s mind is confused on what’s going on here, but something
tells Jim in his heart that he can trust Jose now. Jose puts his big hand
on Jim’s shoulder. “Jim when was the last time you ate anything?”
Jim tells him maybe two days ago. “Let me buy you lunch Jim.”
He looks at Jose and then he says “okay”. The two men walk
out of the alley together.
They watch from the vehicle as Jose and the other man come
out of the alley. The two men follow Jose and the man as they walk to
a run down diner on Wilson and Harrison. Jim goes to the washroom, cleans
up and combs his hair back. He needs a shower bad. But he needs to eat
more than anything right now. Jim looks in the mirror and doesn’t
even know the person he’s looking at. His weight has dropped down
to about a hundred and twenty pounds. He knows he’s slowly dying
inside. The cocaine is eating him alive. He needs help but doesn’t
know where to go or who to turn to. Jim leaves the bathroom and sits down
and picks up his coffee cup. It shakes are so bad that Jim has to set
it down. Jim asks the waitress for cola with a straw. He is blown away
that he is sitting and eating lunch with Jose Alvarez. He hated Jose,
but for some reason that hatred is starting to pass away. The waitress
brings the burgers and fries. The two talk and eat. Jose watches Jim’s
hands as they shake holding the burger. Jim looks across the table into
the eyes of Jose. He used to see hatred, but now he sees kindness. Then
the words Jose speaks to him grip his heart. “Jim is there anyway
I can help you?”
The days fly by and Assanti’s men have quit following
Jose. Assanti finally decides to call off his dogs. Jose knew they were
there following him, but he also knows he is blessed nothing ever happened
to him. As each day goes by he gets closer and closer to the Lord. Daily
he dives into God’s word and learns more about the Jesus man and
his never ending love. Today he will finally see Stephanie again. The
days have been hard not being able to see her, but he wanted to keep all
trouble away from her. Jose does not know where his life will take him
now. He has decided not to look back on his former life, but to look forward
and keep his eyes and heart on the Jesus man.
Jose grabs his duffel bag and puts his Bible and a blanket into it. He’s
to meet Stephanie at Stratton Park for a picnic when she gets off of work.
He hits the stairs, gets a cab and goes to a deli close to the park. He
walks to the park with the food and sets out the blanket and waits for
Stephanie. He looks up at the blue sky. Everything looks different now
through his eyes. He now sees the awesome creation of God all around him.
Jose sees it in the flowers, in the grass, and in the massive sky above
him. Then he sees her walking up the path to him. She is smiling and walking
faster the closer she gets. Jose tries to sit and wait for her, but he
cannot. He gets up from the blanket and runs to Stephanie.
They hold each other tight and their lips meet. They love one another
deeply and tell each other ‘I love you.”
Together the two sit on the blanket and have a picnic in
the park. They talk about all the things that have happened in the last
week. Jose pulls out his Bible and shows Stephanie, he tells her how he
went down to Leo’s pawnshop and Leo just gave it to him. She smiles
and stretches her hand out. Jose hands the bible to her.
“I want to show you something in God’s word that I read the
other night. It reminded me of us.” She turns to the book of Isaiah,
chapter 11:6 and reads it to Jose.
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with
the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little
child will lead them.” She smiles and closes God’s word. “The
beginning of the verse sounds like us.” Jose smiles and kisses her
hand. “I must be the lamb and you are the wolf Stephanie.”
She smiles back and laughs.
“You’re very funny Jose Alvarez.”
Four years later Jose stands at the grill in his backyard
and turns the steaks over. He shuts the lid, turns and talks to his close
friend Jim. His friend has been clean now for four years. Jim knows without
Jose’s help he would probably be dead today. That day in the diner
Jose asked Jim if there was any way he could help him. Jim pushed his
fears aside that day and asked Jose to help him beat his addiction. The
two men talked in the diner that day for hours. They decided Jim would
move in, and Jose would help him break the chains of cocaine. That day
Jim found a small piece of hope in the man he used to fear. When they
left that day from the diner they stopped at a small grocery store on
a corner and bought the things they would need to last out three days.
Jim was about to go to the depths of hell mentally and physically, but
he knows he must go there to survive and regain his life back. Jose thinks
back to his journey with Jim to the depths of hell.
Jose sits in the recliner in the bedroom with his Bible
on his lap. Jose is young in his Christian walk, but he knows he needs
to pray for Jim continually. Jim is sleeping, if that’s what you
want to call it. Jim’s head moves back and forth and words of no
meaning slur from his mouth. The man is drenched from head to toe in sweat.
Jose gets up and grabs the towel again and wipes off Jim’s face
and forehead. The bruises and scratch marks are visible now up and down
Jose’s arms. Out of nowhere Jim will fight with Jose to get back
out on the streets and get his cocaine fix. But he is no match for Jose,
he collapses back into the bed from exhaustion. The two agreed that no
matter what Jim says or does he is not allowed out of the apartment, no
matter what happens. Jose has the keys to the apartment locked up in the
safe in the bedroom closet.
Jim falls deeper and deeper into another nightmare. In
his dream he is in a run down building, he can see the rats moving in
the darkness. The cocaine is in the bedroom upstairs, but he must fight
the dark shadows that block the door to the cocaine. Jim shakes as he
climbs the stairs in the dark. He can hear the dark screams getting louder
the closer he gets. At the top of the stairs he looks down the hall and
sees the door and the beast from hell that is blocking it. Jim is in his
own mental battle as to what he will do. He wants to run for his life,
and at the same time he wants the cocaine to feel the high. Jim chooses
the cocaine and runs down the hallway screaming and swinging his arms.
The beast attacks him, and Jim fights with all he has. These are the times
in the real world that he lashes out at Jose. Jose covers up as Jim hits
him again and again, over and over he screams in agony. Then Jim just
quits swinging and screaming. Jose puts his friend back onto the bed.
In his nightmare Jim thinks he has beaten the beast.
His nightmare continues as he reaches for the door. Jim slowly opens the
door and looks into room. He walks into the room and sees three men sitting
around a coffee table with a glass top on it. The only light in the room
is from a candle on the table, and from the man wearing the white robe.
Jim goes to the table and sits opposite from the man in the white robe.
The light vibrates off the man and fills the room. The light comes from
within. He looks side to side and sees the cocaine on the table. The two
other men are spreading the cocaine out and getting it ready. Out of their
pockets they pull out the needles and the spoons. Jim looks across at
the man in the robe. There is a peace that overflows Jim when he looks
into his eyes. He knows the man will not touch the cocaine. Jim speaks
to the man.
“Who are you?”
The man smiles at Jim and puts his hands on the table with his palms facing
up. Jim looks down and sees the scarred over holes in his hands. He looks
from the scars and up into the man’s eyes again. This time Jim feels
love like he has never felt before.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I was
here before all and will be after all. I am the everlasting. I knew you
Jim before times were created.”
One of the other men takes his spoon and starts to heat it over the candle
flame. Jim talks again to the man that shines brighter than an angel.
“Are you going to take the drug?” The Son of man smiles again
at Jim. “No Jim, this is not of my world, but it is of your world.
This drug will take you to the depths of hell and back. Over and over
it will take you there and then one day you will stay there in the depths.”
Jim looks over to the man on his left. The eyes of the man are sunken
into his sockets and there is only skin and bone left on his body. His
face is unshaven and the sores are all over his face and arms. Jim’s
heart leaps into his throat when he finally recognizes the man. That man
is himself. The man in the robe speaks again and Jim looks his way. “My
father gives everyone free will to do as they must, and a free choice
to live the way they choose.” “Jim you have the choice to
take the drug or not.” The man in the white robe stands lifts his
arms up and the room turns brilliant white. Everything in the room is
gone, except Jim and the man in the robe. He walks over to Jim and puts
his scarred hands on his shoulders. “I am Jesus, the Son of the
living God, and the truth to life. Search for me and you will find me.
Search with your heart and you will find salvation. I love you Jim, I
always have and I always will.”
Jim’s awakens and looks at the ceiling. The nightmare turned from
horrible into something heavenly. Jim lifts his hands and sees they are
still shaking, but he has made it over the first hill to getting clean
of this cocaine addiction. Jim clenches his teeth and fights to hold back
the tears. He fails and sobs uncontrollably.
Jose awakens and his neck is stiff from the recliner. He
looks over and Jim is sitting up in the bed. The two men smile at each
other. Jose reaches over and the two of them shake hands. Jim mouth feels
like the Sahara desert.
“Do you have any coffee Jose?”
Sitting at the kitchen table Jim tells Jose about his dream with Jesus.
Days later Jim comes to know the man in the white robe as his Lord and
Savior. Jim believes now that Jesus used Jose to save his life.
Jim stands in his friends’ backyard clean with the
love of God in his heart. “The last four years God has blessed us
Jose.” “Yes he has Jim, yes he has.” The back door opens
and Stephanie steps out onto the porch and smiles at Jose and Jim. In
her arms she holds Amy their little girl. Jose smiles at his friend Jim,
then he smiles at his wife and daughter. Jose looks up to the heavens
“Thank you, Jesus man.”