Sunday, January 17, 2016
“In DeLorean’s Shadow”
Paradise author Stephen Arrington is, at this writing, “on the short list for a presidential pardon.” Just how that came to be is told in Arrington’s new memoir, “In DeLorean’s Shadow: The Drug Trial Of The Century By The Sole Surviving Defendant” (in Amazon Kindle ebook from Drugs Bite Publishing, drugsbite.com).
When automaker John Z. DeLorean, whose DMC-12 was featured in the movie Back To The Future, was arrested, he “was charged,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “with conspiring to distribute $24 million in cocaine in 1982 in an attempt to salvage his flailing company.”
There were two codefendants. Morgan Hetrick, writes Arrington, “was an aviation-engineering genius. … Seven years before the troubles, I taught him to SCUBA dive. Originally, Morgan was like a father figure, but then he turned into a mentor gone bad. He claimed to be the #1 cocaine smuggler on the West Coast.”
And Arrington: “A Vietnam vet, Navy bomb disposal frogman proudly serving his country until an addiction to marijuana in Hawaii flushed my naval career and life down a toilet.”
DeLorean was eventually acquitted, but Arrington, Hetrick’s unfortunate sidekick, was sent to Terminal Island Federal prison for half a decade. He refused to be a snitch. In the book he explains why DeLorean was not guilty.
His good behavior and extraordinary skills (from diving to firefighting to nurturing a small patch of green grass in the prison yard), and his appearance in the Doonesbury comic strip, opened opportunities both inside the wall and out. He saved a man’s life; he became a chief diver for the Cousteau Society; and he married Cindy (proposing in a parking garage standing in a puddle of oil).
Becoming a Christian in prison began to reorient his life and produced a growing conviction “to talk with youth about hope,” “the kind of hope that changes lives,” coupled with the development of “discipline, commitment, fitness, a desire and intent to succeed, pursuit of adventure.” The story he tells is very human, inviting, invigorating and most assuredly hopeful.
Arrington is a scheduled interview guest on Nancy’s Bookshelf, hosted by Nancy Wiegman, this Friday at 10:00 a.m. on North State Public Radio (91.7 FM, KCHO; mynspr.org).