The year is 1968. Eugene (Tree) Hairston, an eighteen year old from the ghetto in Portsmouth VA, joins the service to get away from his abusive family. Serving in Vietnam, Hairston runs headlong into blatant racial discrimination and angers his superiors by reporting it. A sergeant, who loses a promotion because of the report, has Hairston bound and beaten, takes him up in a helicopter, and shoves him out into Viet Cong territory, to his probable death. Miraculously, Hairston is rescued three days later is given the option to leave the service.
At home, his untreated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder completely overtakes his life; the only way he is able to cope is by using drugs and alcohol. Unable to support his family or his habit, he turns to criminal activity and eventually becomes a successful drug dealer. His many attempts to get clean and sober fail; eventually he serves three prison sentences: for burglary, armed robbery, and drug dealing.
In an effort to change his life, Hairston moves to Tampa, Florida, where he ends up living on the streets for eight long years. This book follows him through his desperate addiction to the moment his life changed.