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Grapevine : January 2011
six policemen---yes, six---came for me the next day and I was duly arrested, handcuffed and carted away. Sometime in the next couple of days, after mulling over some ques- tions from a social worker, I finally accepted the fact that I am an alco- holic, but I didn't know what to do about it. I had known for a long time what I was and I couldn't say it out loud, even when I was drunk. This was different. I hadn't had a drink in several days and physically, I was rea- sonably sober. This was a deep down recognition of my condition. Several years earlier, at the "re- quest" of my boss, I had gone to one AA meeting, but didn't get much out of it. I thought there might be help there. I'd heard that most prisons had AA and some sort of psychological counseling. I decided to go back to the so- cial worker and ask for help with my problem. I said, "I want to change one of my answers. I'm an alcoholic and I would like to request any help this facility has to offer. I don't ever want to come back here." That was Tuesday, my third day in jail. It would be a month before I would see any of that help, because as a new prisoner, I had to wait until I was transferred into the general pop- ulation. In the meantime, I started talking to some of the other inmates about it and looking for answers wherever I could find them. A week later, I found an answer to a question I'd never thought to ask. I was out in the yard, playing a game of doubles handball. One of my opponents was a young man of 18 years. His name was Brian. It was his first time in "big boy" prison, after doing several stints in "juvie." He told me that he had been in AA when he was 12, but he couldn't stay sober, and he now considered him- self a hopeless drunk. We were playing with Brian's ball. It was a small, blue, rubber ball that cost 50 cents in the prison commis- sary. We got to the commissary once a week, on Monday. He had bought the ball the day before. Someone hit a wild shot. The ball went high in the air and, as it fell, landed in the razor wire that sur- rounded the yard. It stuck. The ball was now ruined. It had a hole in it, as the razors were extremely sharp. That ball was now completely useless. I can't stress that enough. Useless. Brian went crazy. He started shouting, "My ball! My f---ing ball!" He then went on to curse God and man and everything else. After using some language that would shock a dockworker, he did a most amazing thing: He reached down and took off one of his shoes and threw it at the ball. As anyone could have foreseen, the shoe got stuck in the wire. As anyone could have foreseen, the guys in the yard, watching this, began to laugh and question Brian's intelligence. I believe someone men- Grapevine 23