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Grapevine : July 2011
IHAD my last drink on Christ- mas Day in a maximum security prison in Texas. The homemade wine, commonly referred to as "hooch," was concocted mostly from items bought at the com- missary, along with ingredients inmates who worked in the kitchen had taken. All the elements would be placed in a plastic garbage bag and hidden under someone's bunk to fer- ment for about four or five days. The result was always a mystery. Some- times, it tasted smooth like fruit punch. Other times, it reeked like moldy bread. We'd drink it, of course, regardless. One time, a bad batch of hooch got our entire cell block vio- lently ill. That Christmas, we produced a very good batch of hooch. The football games were on TV in the dayroom and we celebrated the holiday. By halftime, we were all buzzed when an argument over the game broke out. We were so drunk, we were oblivious to the officers who came to break up the commo- tion, seized the hooch and wrote us all up and placed us on cell restric- tion. A few days later in the day- room, I noticed an inmate sitting alone at a table with an envelope I presumed contained legal docu- ments from his case. He often sat alone with his books and papers. He called me over, asking where IwasfromandifIknewwhenI was going home. I was waiting to hear what the parole board decid- ed, I answered, but, at the most, it would be three years. He told me that whatever they decide, doesn't really matter because I would be returning to prison anyway. I was still trying to figure out how to take that one, when he con- tinued, saying I was there because of alcohol and if I couldn't stop drink- ing here, then how was I going to do it out there? I had to admit, the man had a point. My friend reached into his en- velope and pulled out an AA Big Book. We read a couple of the stories together. I told him I appreciated it, but I wasn't so sure about AA. He asked me to be open-minded, and in- vited me to the AA meeting held on Friday. At the meeting, we read Bill's story. I was surprised at how much When a couple of guys started bring- ing a meeting into the county jail, they asked if I wanted to join them. I had not turned down a ser- vice request yet, but had no desire to see the inside of a jail again. 12 July 2011