John and Joan Archer believed that his retirement from the army and the end to incessant moving would foster an even stronger family unit for the Archers. However, after moving back to Fitzgerald, Georgia, they soon realize that small town life does not promise to be a utopia. Subtle changes begin to occur in their family dynamics and in their children.
At first, John and Joan do not recognize the signs of Doug’s addiction because they are camouflaged by Doug’s natural charm and their own denial. Throughout the next ten years, they suffer much heartbreak as Doug enters one drug rehabilitation facility after the other, all proving to be futile.
Along this path and along Doug’s own odyssey, the family members learn to lean on God and to trust His guidance.
. . . The thunder, lightening, and the wind echoed my anger and terror. . . “Okay, God, you have my attention. What do you want from me? Haven’t you punished me and my family enough? What have I done that’s so awful to deserve all the things you’re doing to us? I go to church, teach a Sunday school class, and tithe. Just what do you want from me?” I dropped to my knees sobbing from shear desperation, hoping a bolt of lightning flashing about me would strike me dead.
. . . God had spoken . . . Those words seared into my mind, until all other thoughts dropped away like burned flesh . . . “I want you.”
. . . Doug walked to the pay phone where he stood for several moments staring. Then as if he had won some private debate, he picked up the receiver. He had no other choice . . . Clean streaks trailed down his face as he began to weep. Reflexively he lifted his arm to dry them when he noticed the stench. Looking down at his clothes, Doug surveyed the filth, not the kind one gets from playing football or working, but a foulness from wearing the same clothes for days on end. Looking into a nearby storefront glass, Doug was shocked by the stranger peering back at him. He moved closer to study the scraggly beard, and the long, greasy hair. When did this happen? How had this happened? A new desperation prompted him to discover the culprit, but he needn’t look far because the culprit lay in front of him. He was to blame. He and drugs.
John Ross Archer, Sr. retired as colonel from the U. S. Army where he served 23 years. Archer wrote one other book, Pegasus. The inspiration for Surviving the Gauntlet: an Ideology of a Drug Afflicted Family arose from his family’s passage through the younger son’s drug addiction years. Archer, of Tifton, Georgia, is also a member of the Gideons Association and an avid motorcyclist. He was married for 49 years to Joan Jamerson of Sylvania, Georgia, and has two sons, one daughter, and five grandchildren.
Lori Bohannon Ansley has been a high school English teacher for 21 years. Surviving the Gauntlet: an Ideology of a Drug Afflicted Family is her second writing venture with John Archer, the first being the novel Pegasus. For Surviving the Gauntlet, Lori drew upon her relationship with God and her own life experiences with people fighting drug addiction. Ansley lives in Sylvania, Georgia, with her husband of six years, Tommy. They have three sons and one daughter.