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  • Gail Wilson Kenna

To Take the Wrong Road (Equivocar El Camino)

Dear Bishop Tolliver: While your son creates a card for my daughter, Lucinda, I will try to say in a few words why he and I are in Retén La Planta in Caracas, Venezuela.


It is not the drug alone that drove our madness, our insane monomania to consume. The drug is an illusion that grips the mind at the height of its wondrous delivery, which if habitual, brings the fateful urge, one beyond all reason, to break society's usual restraints, sail over the edge, and drown in cocaine's flood gates. This in part is why your son Robert and I are imprisoned in Caracas. Yet please know as an Episcopal bishop and father, that your son's art and his spirit are godsends to so many of those incarcerated in this prison. This is something that speaks to the decency and goodness of your son, for which you can be deeply proud.


Release by Christmas. Claro que si! Bob and Nate

Here in La Planta, I have spent months reading Herman Melville's Moby-Dick. The narrator, Ishmael, survives the Pequod's fateful voyage under the mad and monomaniacal, Captain Ahab. But is Ishmael the same child-man-orphan at novel's end as he was in the beginning? I do not have an answer; and Melville offers no certainties. But I will say this. Your son and I will return home with a clearer view of who we are and what we value.

Men on shore gaze to sea. Men at sea gaze to shore. And men in prison stare through bars at the open sky. Many prisoners reflect on their folly and cruelty, and some realize that what the human heart wants is its chance to love. Bob and I are painfully aware of how we debased the chance given to us in our daughters. But as to why debasement should be so deeply desired and have sent us over the edge is an existential dilemma for which I have no answer. Who understands any human's descent into darkness, though the world of philosophers, theologians, historians, psychologists, and countless others have written and continue to write about the mysterious behavior of human beings?

I do believe this, Bishop Tolliver.

Bob and I will leave here as wiser men than we were at the time of our arrests. Please offer prayers that soon we and others will leave Retén La Planta; that international pressure on Venezuela will cause changes to the country's judicial and penal systems. Lastly, my personal thanks to you for contacting Lucinda and offering to help her in sending letters to me through the Canadian embassy in Caracas. With gratitude this May day of 1993, Nate Moore


Next week: Heartfelt thanks to Herman Melville for his last work of fiction, Billy Budd

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