I have recently been in conversation with someone I have known for years. Until just recently, I had thought he was just some street punk who finally decided to straighten up and fly right.
As it turns out, this guy left home and hit the streets at the age of 11, making his way by stealing, begging, using and selling drugs and prostituting himself to gay dudes.
Sometime around when he was 15, an adult tried to rape him on the side of a road. He fought off the attack and made his way into Washington, D.C.,
There, he came up on the street, sleeping in a tree in Dupont Circle when he couldn't find someone to put him up for the night. Usually this was in turn for the pleasures his body afforded his host, and if he could he would leave while his host was still asleep, absconding with the host's valuables. He was not above outright armed robbery, and was arrested a few times; but the charges were almost always dropped due to the victim's not wanting it to come out in court that he was gay.
In 1989 at the age of 18 he found out he had HIV.
I gave him food and shelter twice, in 1987 and 1991. He never tried to rip me off, and I suppose this was a combination of the fact that I was sincere in my concern about his well-being and that he knew I was a former policeman. I told him about Jesus and Salvation, but he just blew it off as a fairy tale. But something always told me that the young man had a conscience, and that even through his drug-addled haze it was eating at him.
At the end of his last stay as my guest, he revealed to me that he was a wanted man. I urged him to let me take him to turn himself in.
Of course, he refused.
Later in the Fall of 1991 came our last face-to-face meeting. His legs were covered with lesions, and he had an open sore which he described as "a missing piece of meat". I thought I was talking to a walking dead man, and departed in sorrow.
One day a couple of years ago, I became curious as to what had become of him. I googled his name and found that he now operates a handyman/home remodeling business in nearby Maryland. He finally ran into someone who managed to convince him that God is real and life is worth living. I contacted him and found that his mentor has passed away. He is struggling to keep a roof over his head, Still, he keeps his faith in God.
His HIV is under control. He does not have a detectable virus load, and he is hoping to find a mate and father children. He and I are in the beginnings of negotiations to ghost-write his autobiography. He is the only former drug addict I have ever known to rise above his addiction doing everyday, common business and labor rather than becoming a "drug counselor".
If I do indeed write his auto-bio, it will be marketed and sold under his name, and not mine; and all money will go to him. After all, He (and Jesus) did all the work, after all.