From the October 2013 magazine.

October 2013: The African Queen

An old movie about a drunk gets his attention before and after his own river of booze

One night, sitting drunk and alone in front of the TV, the classic movie, The African Queen came on. All I really remembered of the film that night was that I thought it was great that the main character, Charlie Allnut, played by Humphrey Bogart, lived alone on a broken-down little river steamer in the middle of Africa with case upon case of gin. The rest of the story was lost to me, as was the rest of the night, but from that point on, that was what I aspired to. That became my dream. I wanted to disappear to live on a boat in some far-flung wilderness with cases of gin and live out a short, drunken life in absolute isolation. Living with my active alcoholism in society wasn’t working, so now I had a plan B! All I needed now was to save up enough money. Yes, I thought, that was my ticket out. Of course, the years went by, and being the alcoholic I was, the drinking and hard times continued and no money was saved.

Finally, one morning after a grueling bender—and 40 years of drinking—I had that moment of clarity so few alcoholics have. I earnestly prayed to God to help me get off liquor. For the first time in my life I listened quietly for an answer to my prayer, and from that moment on I surrendered completely to a life of sobriety. Reflecting back now, I believe that seeing The African Queen that night actually may have kept me from blowing my brains out during my darkest hours.

-- Kevin B.

Annandale, Virginia

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