Last Call

The career of Dallas sportswriter Jim Dent was skyrocketing, then booze and bad behavior caused a hard landing

There are still moments, however, when the frustration of his situation manifests itself in the familiar Dent rant. Recently, after doing a telephone interview with Galloway, Dent was unhappy with one of the questions his old friend had asked: "Is this the end of Jim Dent?"

The author admits he's growing weary of interviewers quick to portray him either as someone to be pitied or as Public Enemy No. 1. "I haven't murdered anybody, or robbed a bank, or molested anybody's children," he argues. "I made some mistakes that have only hurt me. And now I'm going to pay for what I've done and then get back to work. I'm a strong person, and I'm going to make it."

Dent doesn't even wait for the next question to be asked. Yes, he insists, his drinking days are over.

So now he waits, marking time, attempting to nurture a patience he's never had, forcing himself into a positive frame of mind about the remainder of his life. It isn't, he admits, always easy.

And at night, long after the cell doors have clanged shut and the lights have dimmed, he falls into fitful sleep and welcomes a recurring dream. In it he is standing in Chicago's historic Wrigley Field; a soft breeze is floating off Lake Michigan, and the sweet scent of ivy wafts from the outfield walls. He's never quite sure why he's there, but fond memories of previous visits romp playfully through his mind. He's alone. He's happy.

And he's free.

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