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Vacaville and the General



CMF exists in the town of Vacaville. Author, David Corbett, and I have been going there about three years. It’s a dedicated group of writers living in an old prison medical facility. On our way to class we walk down a long hallway filled with inmates in various states of mental and physical disrepair. For some reason I don’t find it depressing, rather life affirming in a bizarre way. Don’t ask me why.


Anyway, our class has some stellar writers, among the best we teach. Highest of standards. Last week a few of the fellas came in quite...emotional. They’d just attended a sit down meeting with a three-star General who flew cross country to meet them. Seems CMF has this unique program, the only one in the world, that counsels enlisted servicemen and women from nearby Travis Air Force Base. Seems a lot of the guys were getting dishonorable discharges with problems with discipline and attitudes.


So a program was set up so that these guys could talk to some of the convicts. Billy sits down and tells it to them straight. Don’t fuck up or you’ll end up like me, 20 years inside. He maintains it’s not a scared straight program. When the General got wind of the program he just had to meet these guys, guys locked up like criminals but still serving their country. Apparently he gave quite a moving speech. 

“I cried,” admitted Cole, who was surprised at the General’s reaction. My response was “I’m not. You guys have more power and expertise in life than you’ll ever realize. You constantly inspire us with your writing and insight.” Then we had a great class...


Kent Zimmerman