I could almost feel what Brian Nichols would have felt right then - the awful burning in his nostril and sinuses, the tears coming out of his eyes. It was really, really painful snorting that stuff. It was just miserable.
I turned back toward the bathroom now and looked over at him. He was standing up by the counter, facing the tub and looking down. I tried to read his face. He didn't look like he had even flinched. His eyes weren't running. His face was still. He wasn't gasping. Usually that burning lasted for a while. Well, man, it sure hurts me to snort those drugs - not him, I guess. When he looked over at me, I saw a little trace of white powder on the rim of his nostril.
Without saying anything, Brian Nichols walked past me out of the bathroom and turned into the living room. I glanced over at the guns lying on the counter and went to sit down on the vanity stool. I just hate guns - hate those things lying there right now. Two lines were still laid out near the picture of Paige and me; the rolled-up twenty lay off to the side near my pink zipper pouch and the tin. I looked at the lines and thought to myself, "When I was free to do whatever I wanted, I was a total prisoner to that stuff. Now I'm a hostage and I'm freer than I've ever been in my whole life. I'm really, really done."
Then I thought: "Okay - I'm stuck in this apartment with this guy. So I guess I can really be myself now. I can let out that person inside of me, the one I've been afraid to be. Right here I can live proclaiming the name of Jesus. Who cares if God isn't popular or whatever? So what if -people would call me a holy roller? They're not here right now. It's just me and this guy and you, God. We're in here. And I'm done with those drugs. All of that is over. I'm living for you."
I heard Brian Nichols walking in the living room and then the kitchen. I stood up quickly right then and stepped toward the shower. The curtain was partially open, so I leaned forward and looked into the tub. No blood in there. Good. Thank you. I just didn't want there to be blood in my bathtub. I sat right back down and waited. I didn't see his sneakers or dirty clothes on the floor anymore, so he obviously moved those somewhere else. I wondered what time it was - I just had no idea. Maybe an hour or two had gone by. Maybe less. I couldn't gauge.
Brian Nichols walked back into the bathroom now, carrying a twelve-ounce can of Coors Light and another pack of cigarettes - Marlboro Lights. He must have gone out to the truck and gotten those.
"Want a beer?" he asked, holding his up. Then he stepped to my left, reached his arm over the counter, and lit that burgundy candle next to the picture of Paige and me using his pink lighter.
"No, thanks," I said. I didn't want beer - I sure wasn't going to sit back and party with him. All I wanted was God right now. I wanted to make God smile, like it said in my Purpose-Driven Life book. That's what I wanted.
Brian Nichols walked over to the toilet and sat down on top of the lid. I figured he was still more comfortable staying at the back of the apartment in a room with no windows, but at this point I began to think the police really weren't coming. I was amazed, totally amazed, that none of my neighbors had heard me scream. Or maybe someone heard me but then thought it was nothing. I didn't get it. I was screaming my lungs out. Oh well, God, I trust you. This is your thing in here.
Leaning back on the toilet, Brian Nichols was only a few feet away from where I sat on the vanity stool in front of the sink. The toilet was to the right of the sink, and all the way to the right, against the wall, was the bathtub. He stared straight ahead and took swigs of his beer. He really did look pretty relaxed. "He's just done that ice," I thought, "which is going to speed him up. And now he's drinking beer to slow down a little." As long as he stays mellow like this. Just let him stay calm and not start acting crazy.
Back when I was getting messed up on ice twenty-four-seven, I used to try and slow myself down. Not with beer, though. With Xanax. Mack and I had discovered Xanax about two months before he died. He smoked pot every day, and once he found Xanax, he started taking that pretty much daily too. Mack was angry. He was moody. He was always looking for something to take the edge off. And I was going to do whatever he did. That was just the kind of wife I was.
On Friday nights Mack and I would rent a limo with a bunch of friends and go out drinking and doing drugs - lots of times taking both ecstasy and Xanax. The combination made me feel free to do whatever I wanted, as if I didn't have a care in the world. Mack was a lot of -people's hook-up for ecstasy. A guy we knew went to Atlanta to get it and then distributed the pills to a few -people to sell; Mack was one of them - so we were pretty popular. The first time I met Mack we were at a party at a friend's house, rolling on ecstasy.
After Mack died and I dove hard into ice, I would do Xanax with that too. I would crank my body way up on ice, then slam it into reverse with Xanax. I did it all the time. I sped up. I slowed down. Up and down. It was amazing I lived through all that. I could already count three -people I knew who had died that way - mixing up drugs.
Sitting on the vanity stool now, I felt a wave of gratitude to God come over me. For a second I couldn't believe I was sitting here - that I had actually made it this far. I mean, I wasn't dead. I was here in this apartment and in my right mind. I wasn't crazy from those drugs and off in some loony bin somewhere with permanent brain damage. For some reason I was still here. It was amazing to me right then. Aunt Kim always said I had nine lives. Now if I could just make it out of this apartment. If I could just have another chance to do things right. If you're willing, God, you can bring me out of this. You can get me out of here so I can raise Paige and live for you. I'm ready to do it. I want to do it!