By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"I never thought we really had our act together, and by the time I tried to back out, I was told by the people who sent us that it wasn't a possibility and that bad things would happen to me if I did," Furey says. "It was one of the stupidest things I've ever done. I did get some good coke out of it, though."
Following his near-bust, Furey's days as a street-level drug pusher were over—though he continued to use like a fiend, committing random thefts in a quest to remain high. He got a gig driving a truck for Budweiser at age 25, with routes all over Huntington Beach—up and down Beach Boulevard, liquor stores, dive bars, extinct hallowed haunts such as the Golden Bear. Furey soon married his girlfriend Therese, a slender, brunette beauty, the little sister of his longtime friend, the coke dealer who introduced him to his favorite poison. He'd known Therese for years, lived next door to her for a time and became smitten.
Though the couple suffered because of Furey's drug addiction, they started a family. A son, Gabriel, was born, followed by twin girls, Sarah and Bridget. Although he had a steady job working for Budweiser, Furey was stealing beer to buy coke, sometimes lifting about 100 cases per week and selling them on the side for cash. "If you trusted me, I'd steal from you," he candidly admits. He kept hundreds stashed for drug money while pitching in as little as $60 each week to take care of his family.
"He'd dropped a lot of weight, and the connection was gone," Therese says. "Something was going on with him that I was afraid of, and I feared he was going to either overdose or go to jail . . . but I loved him."
Despite being a hopeless addict, Furey still had a thirst for religion. He had stacks of books in his dingy home library about Buddhism and Hinduism, and he studied Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. Furey often experimented with LSD to gain a "higher consciousness."
When he was 29, his childhood friend Kirk, who converted to Christianity while he was in college, came back into Furey's life. They talked about gospel, the Apostles and God whenever they were together—Furey mostly just humored him, he says.
One day, Kirk took Furey to El Camino Park in Orange, where he led his sick friend in reciting the Sinner's Prayer. "I was expecting bells and whistles and bombs and whatever, and nothing happened . . . except I didn't feel high," Furey says.
Instead, the only real effect of Furey's studies of an all-forgiving God seemed to be his decision to go on a huge drug-and-stealing binge for which, he reasoned, he would ultimately be forgiven. The addict was living a dual life, now going to church on Sundays and being around people who looked and acted perfect and seemed so nice. It was as though they'd been given some sort of "magic sprinkle dust" that made them act that way, Furey says.
After giving birth to the twins, Therese decided she had to take the kids and leave him until he got clean. Old photos of Furey holding their daughters, his eyes glassy and coked-out, are hard for him to look at now. But, at the time, Therese's decision to leave made him livid.
Finally, Furey experienced a life-altering change at a local fleabag, the Big A Motel, where he holed up after moving out of the family's house in Orange. He sat knee-deep in the frothy, emerald water of a mossy Jacuzzi, mentally replaying his lifetime of drug-addled screw-ups. Depressed and angry with Therese over the split, he went back to his room, fired up some porn on the crappy color TV, sat on the edge of his bed and cut up more lines to snort. It was in that dark moment, Furey says, that God spoke to him, an unmistakable booming tone that tingled the hairs on the back of his neck and straightened his spine.
"What do you want out of life?" the voice asked, its echo filling the room.
As soon as he heard that question, Furey says, he burst into tears.
"I was 29 and a half years old. I had nothing going on in my life. I just wanted my kids," he says. The next day, he agreed to go with Therese to Care Unit rehab, formerly in Orange.
By 1985, Furey had sobered up and was busy giving testimony of his struggles for sobriety at three different churches through a Christian 12-step group called the Overcomers. He became a model employee at his job; he had even 'fessed up to his boss about the beer he had been stealing for years. Miraculously, the boss excused it and didn't fire him, though perhaps it's fitting penance for a recovering addict to drive a beer truck for a living.
The young gun in the Overcomers impressed the organization, particularly an early mentor and group ministry leader of his, an older vet named Jess Maples. When Maples died abruptly a year later, Furey was elected to run Maples' 12-step Christian group, even though at the time he would describe himself as biblically illiterate. "I had this drunk guy in a meeting once, and I [thought I] was quoting from the Bible, and he goes, 'Hey, dude, I don't know everything, but I know that's wrong!' And that's been my walk with God pretty much," Furey explains. "I've been in it and learning while I'm doing it."