money comes with acquisition bonuses. If you can get a half-dozen or
more people to sign up and pay the franchise fee, you get a check, a commission on the sale of nothing.
My first book came out in October of that year, and for a while I couldn’t
follow Jackie around because I was on book tour. I funded the tour
myself, with the dwindling money from my advance. I gave readings
in book stores and at book fairs and universities, and I was interviewed
for newspapers, radio and TV. Despite the abundance of press and good
reviews, sales were slow. Still, when I got to New York and met my editor for a cup of coffee and to tell him about the new book I was working
on, he said the story idea was “tantalizing,” and I felt confident in myself
and my future.
One day when I was far away from Kansas City, Jackie recorded a
live spot about health for an AM gospel station, a weekly gig that paid
her $25 a pop. With her car still in the shop, she borrowed her mom’s to
get to the station, and she was in such a hurry that she forgot to lock it
up. When she came back out to the parking lot, she found a note on the
front seat that read, “Jackie you are so beautiful, from haircut to freckles.
Maybe we could have lunch or dinner sometime.” There was a phone
number but no name.
This is kind of spooky, she thought. I’m not calling. But she did, and
she got his voice mail: “You’ve reached Reverend D. R. Johnson.” She
vaguely recalled striking up a conversation with a man in the station’s
lobby while she was waiting to go on air, but she couldn’t picture him.
He’d said he was a preacher. As the message played, she thought, OK,
now I’ve called, what do I do? She didn’t want to seem eager. The tone
sounded. “So now I know who left me the note,” she said. “OK, so I guess
you’re welcome to call me back.”
Her phone rang five minutes later. They met at a park in a neighbor-
hood full of mansions just south of the Country Club Plaza in Kansas
City, at 8: 30 on an Indian summer night, and they walked around and
talked. They sat in the grass near the top of a knoll and watched a Great
Dane and a Jack Russell terrier fight over a floppy Frisbee, and they
laughed and laughed. She asked him how he came to know the Lord,
and he said he grew up in a Christian home, but he’d fallen away as a
young man and nearly died drunk driving. It was long past dark, and
she asked him what time it was. He looked at his cell phone. “You don’t
want to know,” he said. It was ten after 1:00 in the morning.