Rating: PG-13 for drug references and some language.
Summary: A very short piece concerning Charlie's choice between being a rock god and being with God.
Please Note: This story deals with issues of spirituality and focuses on the Christian religion. If that offends you, you don't have to read it. I'm giving you fair warning.
"You're gonna be a rock god."
It took some time for those six simple words to sink into my mind. I didn't really understand what that meant, at first. All I thought was that it seemed somehow wrong to refer to any god who was not The God in a church. I ushered Liam out quickly before he could defy Him any more and bring any wrath upon either of us. Liam wasn't worried, which didn't surprise me in the least.
My mind absorbed the words pouring from his mouth without really understanding. All I heard was "recording deal." It was what we'd been striving for, wasn't it? What we'd been working for since the beginning of Driveshaft? It was our dream come true, so why wasn't I grinning ear to ear like a loon as Liam was?
Perhaps I already knew, somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind, what those words meant. Perhaps I already knew the choices that lay ahead of me. That night when I went home, alone this time, not accompanied by any sexually curious birds, the words of the priest ran through my mind over and over again.
"We all have our temptations, but giving into them… that's our choice. As we live out lives it's really nothing by a series of choices, ennit?"
Only a few hours ago my choice had been final. Quit the band. It was so simply, so obvious. I couldn't remain a faithful Catholic while in a rock band, surrounded by temptation too strong to resist, and there was no way I could stop answering to God. Now, suddenly, everything was up in the air again. I had given Liam my word that I would try it. Record an album, go on tour, the whole nine yards. Had my choice already been made? Was agreeing to join the band akin to agreeing to give up God?
I had hoped my two lives, rock god and Godly man, could coincide. After all, how hard could it be? When the tour started, I did all right. For about two days. Then my resolve crumbled. Satan found a hole in the wall I had created around myself and wormed his way into my heart, telling me to do things Christ shuddered at. As the days progressed and Driveshaft grew into a thing, a real band, not just an out-of-reach dream, Satan's influence on my actions grew in equal proportion. I lost all control and just followed Liam's lead. He had never been as into the church as I. He suffered his way through the Catholic school Mum and Dad put us in, he recited his catechisms and went to confession and had his First Communion, but he never really felt any of it. Not like I did. He didn't know Christ, and even though I prayed for him he never did come to know Him. Now I, too, had turned my face away from the light, away from Him.
I lived a sinful life and was unapologetic about it. Long gone were the nights spent in agonizing remorse after doing wrongful things. I had sex with a different woman every night, sometimes multiple women, and drank away my guilt. Then, just as the bloody band was falling apart and I began to miss my life with Him, I met my first real addiction. The first night I tried heroin was like going to heaven and enjoying every promised pleasure, tenfold. Every night after that only got better.
Liam cleaned up his act, somehow dragged himself out of the darkest depths of despair and turned his life around. Whether it was through Christ or through his own efforts I'll never know. I was too busy getting high and trying to keep Driveshaft alive to notice or care. When Liam moved to Australia with his new family I stayed behind in England chasing my addictions, propelled by Satan. There are long periods of time I have no recollection of, probably spent in the dark corners of clubs with intoxicated women piled on top of me, hiding me from the disapproving eyes that followed me everywhere. I used the band's name to get into the good places until people started asking "What the bloody hell is Driveshaft?" and I had to accept the fact that I had become a nobody again.
Music remained my only source of real joy, and I continued to write even though half the stuff I wrote was absolute crap, written during hangovers or insane highs. Never did my dream of reuniting with Driveshaft leave me. I imagined amazing comebacks, top-of-the-charts singles and albums, sold out stadium tours, and a life of never ending fame. It was naïve of me, it was stupid of me, it was ridiculous of me, but the heroin convinced me otherwise. As long as I had a little baggie in my pocket and a lovely woman telling me how great I was, my life was complete.
Or so I told my self. But there was still something inside of me that grieved and ached. I knew something was missing, and I thought I knew why, yet refused to admit it. I let my own bloody pride cloud my judgment, as usual, and it was slowly killing me. Growing up, I never feared death. I looked at it as a good thing, since my Bible promised me so many wonderful things in heaven. Now I feared death above all else, because I knew where people like me went. He would turn His face away from me and say "I never knew you." Then I would be thrown into the fires of hell where people grind their teeth with pain and burn in the lake of fire for all eternity.
I didn't want to burn in hell but I felt like it was too late to turn back. I had done too much, sinned too greatly, denied Him for too long, and I would have to pay the price. Until then I might as well enjoy life as much as possible, right? So I went for the prettier women, bought the better liquor, sold myself for the better drugs. All the while I was crying and dying and shriveling up inside.
The enticing promise of the return of Driveshaft, the offer for an eight week tour opening for another band, was almost more than my wasted body could handle. It rekindled the old flame within me and reminded me of my initial, untainted love for music, which had gotten buried deep within me along the way. My mates, the drummer and the guitarist who hadn't left me, were game, and all I had to do was convince Liam. He was my older brother, and since I had done so much for him, I didn't see why he wouldn't do this favor for me. The rejection hurt me. More so the offer for a place to stay. I didn't need his pity or his help. I was quite fine, thank you, and I didn't want some sodding do-gooder who had once boasted of the orgies he hosted and was now trying to put on the façade of the good father.
Still boiling with anger, hurt, and a desperate need for a fix, I stormed away from Liam, his wife, his daughter, and his perfect life in Sydney. At the airport I snorted in the bathroom, got on the plane, snorted in the bathroom again, and can remember nothing else until waking up in the sand and standing on a beach beside the wreckage of the plane.
My stash did not last long. Trading with Locke for my guitar had been a good idea at first, until the withdrawal set in. I was distracted for a little by the cave in and my chance to prove myself worthy to Jack only to be hit with it twice as hard that night. Locke's promise never left my mind, the one about asking him three times and receiving my drugs. Yet there was another promise in my heart that had greater power over my thoughts and actions, one that ultimately led me to throw the drugs into the fire, and with them throw Satan out of my life.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life."
After I watched the drugs burn away, gone forever, I went to sit next to Jack again. In my trembling hands I held the cup of water. When I held it to my lips I tasted not water but wine, the blood of the Christ, and I knew that He was back in my life. I had made my choice, my final choice, and at that moment I chose to pray. I chose to pray for forgiveness and I chose to ask for His help, and He chose to answer.
Author's Note: The Bible verse quoted is from John 3:16.