"I just can't figure it out. How many tries is it supposed to take to quit smoking?" Nathaniel asked his son Preston.
Preston shifted uncomfortably on the couch, and combed his fingers through his hair. "There's no set number. You just keep trying until it works."
Nathaniel shook his head. A few locks of dark brown hair streaked with gray fell over his forehead. "I don't know." He sighed. "Maybe I'm just too old and set in my ways."
"Old? You're a walking time-bomb, Dad. If you don't quit, you're likely to die of a heart attack. You'll just have to prove that you can teach old dogs new tricks." Preston bit his lip. "I've got to get going; I'll look some stuff up on the Internet for you. Maybe I'll find something that will help you out."
"Thanks, Prez. I appreciate all the help and support you provide." Nathaniel escorted his son to the door and watched him drive away.
As soon as he rounded the corner, Preston opened his glove box and pulled out his stash of Marlboros. He felt the tension began to seep out of his body as soon as he placed the cigarette between his lips, even though he had yet to light it. He flicked the lighter and drew the flame into the cigarette; after several puffs, he held the cigarette between his first two fingers and let it dangle out the window.
Guilt engulfed him. His father thought he had quit smoking years ago, and now he was looking for help with his own addiction. You won't be able to help him until you conquer your own problem. Preston shoved the thought aside. He's older, and his heart is bad. He needs to quit or he could die. I'm still young--I have plenty of time to quit. I'm just not ready. He sucked in another lungful of tobacco and blew the smoke out slowly.
When he arrived home, Preston sat at his computer, staring at the black screen. After nearly ten minutes he finally reached into the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a thick file folder. The folder held every bit of information he had ever found on quitting smoking. He had it all--nicotine patches, gum, hypnosis, prescription drugs, quitting support groups and websites, hot lines, and testimonials. When I'm ready, I'll know exactly how to do it. Preston flipped through some of the pages until he found some information he thought might help his dad. Then he sent his father an e-mail. The stress of his hypocrisy forced him to light up again.
Preston walked to the backyard and retrieved his hidden pack from the tool box in the shed. He was grateful that his wife, Loren, who also believed he'd quit smoking, had an appointment, so he could smoke in the comfort of his backyard instead of finding a reason to drive somewhere. Flipping the lid back, Preston counted his remaining cigarettes. Five? Now I'll have to figure out how to get some more, soon. His brow furrowed when he noticed a folded piece of paper tucked inside the carton.
He pulled it out and read in his wife's handwriting, although she'd tried to disguise it: Alma 60:23 Cleanse the inner vessel. Apparently I haven't been as sly as I thought. But if she knew, why didn't she confront me and toss out the cigarettes like she did before? Preston started to remove a cigarette from the carton, but then stopped. He replaced the carton in its hiding place and returned to the house. When he found his scriptures, he looked up the scripture from the note.
He read the verse and then went back and started at the beginning of the chapter. As he read about Moroni's struggles against the Lamanite army and the lack of support and supplies from the government, Preston began to see that he could not provide support for his father as long as he was held prisoner by his own addiction. He also saw that, although Pahoran could not fight off the king-men on his own, when he and Moroni joined together, they were able to defeat them.
Preston called his wife, knowing she wouldn't answer because of her meeting. "I'm ready to cleanse the inner vessel," he told her voice mail. Then he called his father.