by Derek Nast 

What need is there to revisit these past couple of weeks, its majority had been messed up enough as it was. I’m just thrilled that it’s all behind me. But then again, I suppose the here & now gives reason to why I’m seven stories high at the moment, staring out over the city of Denver and to the Rockies beyond. “But why now? “am I able to see the beauty of a purple mountains majesty. Why do I endure the masses simply to recognize such an amazing sunset, at the end of a hard run?

Leaning over the railing taking in an opposite view to this extreme close-up of Denver’s skyline towering above. The sight of the metropolitan, one I had come to know and blend with since I was 13.  Although at twenty years old, the perception of the life I barely cling too, became further tainted. Sure, there existed the seedy spot, along with the drugs, not to mention the addicts who kept it in circulation. Many would call this a matter of supply and demand. Although the mounting greed and desperation was completely visible, when only a year ago, so much was different. My cousin along with the new faces in the clubs, bars and venues for all to be seen. Life had quickly become about a routine appearance. It was now the life we’d chosen to follow. Every show, DJ, connect, and woman, seemed in constant flux although what had never wavered, was a cycle of pills, ketamine, coke, and chards. Drugs which most of us sought to intensify these nights out.

The meth wasn’t exactly a recent development, so much of it influenced by the strippers from day one. It was fair to say the consequences may trek far heavier. This would bring me to the moment at hand. I can’t honestly say what I hope to achieve, but it is something I’m compelled to do. Reaching for the notebook from under my arm I opened it at random.

To this day, I’ve no recollection of what piece I read. When reading aloud it bared all heart and soul projecting this to no one in particular, but to a world at large. This is how life was in the aftermath. Nearly 11 years later I still struggle to comprehend how I could attain some form of peace when in search of this Image of GOD.

What was to follow an experience high above city streets ultimately brought about a significance to which there lye’s little explanation. It is commonly thought that some things are better left unsaid, (But no, not this.) The truth to this singular experience remains unto my heart through and through. Without a doubt, this was indeed the seed to my salvation.

There has been but few times walking through the doors of Kazmoo’s when the night was absent of a party in progress. Our circle had become well known at the weekend event (Sunrise Sunday’s). An after party, to all after parties. When arriving the scene was merely another empty neighborhood bar on a weekday night. A short middle-aged woman went for her purse on the stool beside her, ready to leave. There sat an older gentleman at the far end of the bar while Debbie kept occupied stacking glasses. When spotting me from afar the pain was clearly written on my face. Granted, many of us who clicked at Kazmoo’s were known for the occasional rough appearance. But tonight, I came across exceptionally worn.

Before seating myself at the bar, a shot of liq was readied, with a beer to chase. Alongside Debbie’s gesture followed the words. “Have a seat Hon, you need it”.

Thanking her, I slammed the shot glass down on the bar-top. Really, the shot was gone so quick, I never even tasted the beer. (In truth, drinking, was never at the top of my list.)

But at the moment, it seemed the sensible thing to do.”
“Is it really that bad?”
“Yeah Deb, and then some” She held her stare momentarily, the type of look which said without words, “I’ve been there too kiddo. Welcome to the club”

Her unspoken message was preceded by a genuine smile. With nothing more to say.

Her attention returned to the bar while thoughts from the past two weeks crept once more.

I haven’t a clue how long I sat there, staring at the polished bar top before I noticed a hand upon my shoulder. When turning to see who dare disturb this self-loathing state of depression. Clearly Debbie wasn’t the only to witness my pain. Be it the gentleman seated at the other end of the bar. All I wanted was to be left alone. “Right?”

I managed to make eye contact with the old timer, it was when I got a closer look. I realized he wasn’t nearly as old I first assumed. Granted there was grey which emerged from beneath his auburn hair, and a few lines to go with age. The man was certainly twice my age, maybe then some. Perhaps it was a mixture of the hippie/rocker attire which gave that first impression?

Who was I to judge though? Either way I’m sure I had him beat. In response to his question.
Why not throw out one in return? or offer up sarcasm as a form of clear-cut dismissal.
There were a number of ways he could respond. In return I could have lied to him. Leave it
to emotional desperation, to compel me otherwise.
“Everything alright son?” This hadn’t stopped my first words from coming off sarcastic.
“Sure why not”? There was no reply, he just waited for me to correct myself.
“Actually no, far from it.”
“Yeah, you sure look it.”
“Thanks.” Replying weakly.

It seemed difficult to keep eye contact. I had a feeling that a lecture in life lessons was about to ensue. Surprisingly, his next words were straight to the point.

“I take it you smoke”?

His remark was more of an assumption, than a question. I was still uncertain of his intentions. Again, silence loomed as I took a couple more pulls of my beer, all the while, my eyes cautiously upon him.

“Alright, I suppose, me and Mary Jane will find a spot out front”

“Ok.” Turning to the bar I was able to see him walk out the front entrance in the mirror’s reflection.

 I was definitely skeptical as to his angle, though extended use of methamphetamines can certainly increase paranoia. I don’t feel this was the case as to why I felt weary of the man.

The type of casual demeanor was common among club kids, it was fair to say that the events of these past weeks made me far more hesitant than need be. There was no doubt I needed to space out, try to get out of my head. The old man’s invitation proved the opportunity.

Stepping out into the cold and around the corner I spotted the old timer along the side of the building, just to the left. He was in the process of lip locking with Mary Jane.

  I positioned myself along the wall next to him but didn’t speak, he simply handed me the spliff in silence. Only after several tokes, he spoke up.

“Pretty dead tonight. Is it like this often?”

The question clearly indicated he was a first-time patron. I sure as hell haven’t seen him before. But then again, it’s hard just distinguishing one day from the next.

“Honestly, I don’t come here much other than on the weekends.” I replied.
“Seems like a nice enough place.”
“Yeah right, if you saw a weekend party, you change your tune. Sure, but it’s nice enough.”

   He flashed a quick smile then hit the last of the spliff, dropping it down to the ground and stomping it out. Just then he extended the offer of a drink back inside. When waiting on more booze to add to a good enough buzz, the stranger returned to the booth gently pushing a tall draft towards me. I just had to know.

“So, what’s your name?” This stranger hadn’t answered right away, nor did he hesitate, it was almost as if it was none of my business.

‘The name’s Samuel, and yours?” By then I realized how I never even introduced myself.
“The name’s Reid.”
“Well Reid, drink up.”
And drink we did, afterwards thanking the man anything but enthusiastically. Over the next half an hour our conversation transitioned from one subject to the next.

It wasn’t till the two of us touched upon matters a bit closer to the heart, when I began spouting off at the mouth, offering a monologue of my own. At its end I produced a question of greater magnitude.

“So Samuel, what do you believe?”
“Are you asking me? or is there something you’re in search of?”

Thinking to myself, all I wish for is to be amongst God’s presence just as the many who have come to know him. It was safe to say, his question in return was spot on, more specifically what did I search for? Sitting across from Samuel, I remained silent, before questioning him again.

“Do you believe in a god?”
“Reid, I believe that there’s only one God.’ He continued…
“I only wish for God to reveal himself to me, just as he’s revealed himself to all of those who believe in him.”
“Then ask him son.”

I thought to myself, it’s just that simple. The seconds passed, convincing myself that it couldn’t happen. What could it hurt to try? Then again must I forfeit control over my life. Would that be so bad? Especially, when living in a downward spiral.

Looking to Samuel he rose from the booth and approached the bar. With no sign of Debbie to top off my glass, I had to assume she went out back for a smoke.

  Looking at Samuel on second glance he was face down texting on his cellphone. With my eyes focused to the bar top, the defeat from these months prior weighing down. The only thing I could think to do was take a leap.

While praying I surrendered to God pleading that he make his presence known in my life, and to do so abundantly. Asking that if I were to fail in strength, he always guide me. Opening my eyes and lifting my head, I expected to see Debbie or even Samuel, but I saw neither. Returning to the booth with an empty glass in hand Samuels sat half full on the table.  Unconcerned by his absence I simply figured he was somewhere close by. However, he never returned. With what occurred next, some might say is considered a matter of perception. That it is in the eye of the beholder. Then, came great beauty from the heavens. Flipping through an assortment of my own works, I came to a halt, the one to start it all. (OUTCOMES)

Beginning to read the piece, the jukebox behind me began to play at the very same time.
The song was one I knew quite well from my adolescence “Collective Soul, The World Know.”
This combined experience, was difficult to describe for its entirety to be understood.
When further elaborating upon “Outcomes”,
The piece originated from a fiery monologue filled of emotion to the listening ear of a friend.

I spoke upon the pain turmoil of my youth. It was then when I broke down in tears as Cara said to me. “Reid, that was so good you should write that down.” I responded.

“I don’t even remember everything I just said.” But what she told me, was. “I do.”)
 Since then, I can still recall the intro. “What if the things that had been done to us or the actions of our own, had resulted differently?  Better or worse outcomes?” And as for the ending.

(Once the storm had calmed, I realized how I’m not such a bad guy after all. I only had issues just as the other 6 billion people on this planet. But the fact remains that the past cannot dictate who I am now, or for that matter, shall become. I’ve considered that despite certain people, events and environments incorporated, there is not a thing I would change. Because where one road ends, another begins.)

 As I read those first words to Outcomes so had the very first note played. From its start, to its finish, the music’s melody and lyrics beautifully matched the material in front of me. Moving from one sentence to the next I became lost, completely. As if I was reliving some confusing part of my life with having attained the insight of an adult. The song to play was merely the soundtrack. Towards the pieces end as I read the last word, the last note played. As the music began to fade I sat upright and turned my head to the side to release but a single tear, whispering to myself. “Thank You.”

Raw God Experience: Epilogue

This had all come to manifest because I chose to believe in an experience of God providinga means to understand his grace. Be it through a single event I could’ve chose to ignore his message, but instead the moment was embraced. A perception which allowed me to feel a greater significance in life. If this were to occur to any other individual under different circumstances, it could not hold the same degree of value.

Now, to that 21-year-old kid holding so much hurt in search of knowledge beyond what I presently know. Genuine beauty manifested so raw, ready to be unveiled. Events were to transpire unexpectedly, changing the course of my life. I simply wasn’t able to understand its impact then.

From that divine day at Kazmoo’s I’ve gone on to experience an abundance with a Raw God, each illuminating in their own fashion only because of the first. Through the years ahead, whether it be addiction, incarceration, separation, starvation or more of the all-around pain.

Too many times in regard to sin I opted to give in, but never choosing to give up. When recently journaling. “Only when losing hope, have l truly failed.” When ultimately growing weaker or defeated, I must call upon my renewed strength, owing every bit to a singular experience, a cry for help. While I am confident that it is a Raw God to forever remain.

About the Author:

Originally a native of the Midwest, at 35 Derek Nast has resided in Colorado these  past twenty years. A purple mountains majesty has long since been his home. As a free writer Derek views practice as a constant, alongside trial & error. Currently he has completed a manuscript, collection of poetry and short stories.