Over chow I asked Grit, “Do you mind if I ask how long you’ve been down?
“Sixteen years on this sentence. And I was locked up in Folsom before that.”
“Grit’s no joke,” Iron Man said. “He was known for stabbin’ folks. He always had two shanks on him back in the day in the chow hall. He’d raise his shirt, show his two pieces of steel, and say, ‘I’m strapped. I’m ready for anythin’.”
“Yeah. When I’m on the shit, I’m nuts, I’m crazy. Back then, I was the kinda guy who’d stab you fulla holes, then sit on your body and eat a sandwich while you bleed out.” Grit raised his right hand and improvised chewing a sandwich.
“Do you think you’ll make it on the streets here soon?”
“Yeah. I’m done with that lifestyle. I’ve changed my ways. I’m a whole different guy than I used to be. As long as I stay off the shit, and keep my eyes on God things are gonna be alright.”
“Where are you gonna stay?”
“I got a letter out of the blue from my ex-wife. She wants me back. I’m gonna be livin’ with her and my sons in Prescott Valley.”
“Is your mind prepared for the outs after all these years?”
“Yeah. I’m off the shit. I’ve been clean for several years. I don’t want any problems. I’m gonna be released to my wife’s house. That’s a real blessin’.”
A few days before his release, Grit received some bad news.
“It was,” Grit said, “all arranged for me to go to my wife’s house in Prescott Valley. Now DOC is sayin’ no, I hafta go to a halfway house in Sunnyslope for ninety days. That place is run by ex-cons who actually sell dope right outta the joint. This is fucked-up, man. They’re sendin’ me right into the middle of a bad situation. Man, I don’t wanna get high. I don’t wanna do dope no more. But if it’s right in front of me - I’m an ex-addict - how am I gonna stare at dope all day and not do any?”
Iron Man’s face, usually stoic, was steeped in concern for Grit when he said, “You can only go from where you are. When you start at square one, it’s bad enough. But when you send a guy who wants to do good into a pit of snakes like that howthafucks he possibly gonna do any good with his life?”
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