This new cannabis related memoir by former marijuana lifer Billy Dekle and his wife Kay reads like a high action novel. But it really happened.
Followers of this site and my work might know that for over a decade I was an advocate for federal prisoners serving life sentences for marijuana. Billy Dekle, co-author of this book, was one of those prisoners. (Learn more about federal life sentences for marijuana and how that is even possible -- it's NOT what you think!).
After serving over a decade before being granted clemency by President Obama, Billy is now a free man and reunited with his wife Kay, his co-author in this book.
As marijuana lifers go, Billy was one of the “lucky” ones in that he had a wife and family that stood by him and were waiting for him when he was released. Even though there was a big possibility that would never happen.
A number of times over the years that I corresponded with Billy he would tell me about his amazing wife and how much he needed her. And about his admiration of her for holding their family together.
Both of them bare their souls in this book. Those contrasts makes it especially interesting. You get the adventurous exploits of an aviation buff and pilot who became a marijuana smuggler. And the wife who lived the other side of the equation, never knowing when or if her husband would come home.
The country song “A good Hearted Woman in Love with a Good Timing Man” came frequently to mind while reading it.
But it is more than that. Throughout they both love each other. Albeit in different ways.
Kay, despite being emotionally tormented, always showed grace, strength, and resilience, not only by being a good mother, but also by educating herself and growing in situations where others would have folded.
Theirs is a love story that has spanned decades. Without giving the ending away, they are now, finally, living happily ever after. But it wasn’t easy.
Billy and Kay’s two stories intertwine to create a compelling narrative that’s hard to put down. Beyond a peak into devastation the war on drugs paired with a sometimes reckless spirit caused this family, it’s a glimpse into a significant part of cannabis history. Anyone who smoked weed, especially on the east coast in the 80s and 90s, could very well have Billy Dekle and other smugglers like him to thank for it. I for one am thankful they did what they did. Although it was dangerous work with serious consequences to those involved, both here and abroad. Without them progress on this issue would have never happened.
Over the years, I worked with many prisoners who claimed they were going to write books. None of them, at least that I have seen thus far, actually had the skills to write a book. Billy Dekle is the exception.
He originally penned much of this book while incarcerated, in order to tell his father the stories of what had happened. And also to discuss aviation as Billy was a pilot and both were aviation buffs. If you are too, you will especially enjoy this book.
Flying High with Gringo Billy is the first of a trilogy. Part I of a marijuana smuggler’s career, if you will. We have two more books to look forward to. As I know a little bit about a few of the stories that are yet to come, I can’t wait to read about them in detail.