They happened to stop a lady who knew my mother.
"Have you seen Todd Bridges in here?" they asked her, thinking she'd be able to recognize me from TV, not knowing she was a family friend.
"No," she said. "He hasn't been here."
After checking the store, the officers jumped back into their squad car and drove away. As soon as they were out of sight, that lady ran to a pay phone and called my mom.
"They're looking for your son," she told my mom.
My mom wasn't at all surprised to receive a call like that. She'd prayed, and cried. She'd come to family therapy sessions when I was in rehab. She'd bailed me out of jail when she could, and visited me in jail when I was denied bail. But nothing had done anything to turn me around. At the time, I was so far gone that I couldn't register anything beyond how low I was feeling about myself, and how the drugs—whether it was crack or speed or pot—made this pain go away. I couldn't hear what she was saying when she begged me to get sober, and I certainly couldn't understand how much I was hurting her. But no matter how dark my life got, my mom never gave up on me. When she learned that the cops were after me, she called my house. And when she got the machine, she left a message for me.
"Whatever you're doing, stop it now. The police are looking for you."
I didn't ever get that message.