Saturday, November 21, 2020

Those Waves

 In the ever present now things will always rise and fall, they will ebb and flow, yet now and then one of those waves i wrote about many moons ago will catch me off guard and bring feelings and emotions bubbling to the surface, it can happen in the most unexpected places and unexpected times. Yes most of the time i can see them coming, certain days on a calendar, certain times of the day, one does not forget but one does learn to deal with it in order to go on. 

I'm still at my gig as an indentured servant to the wealthy, the responsible sort and the elderly who take the current pandemic seriously. I've had more than a few conversations with people in there late 70s/early 80s and i find i enjoy it. I see their thirst for some human interaction not done over a phone or computer and there is a part of me that understands that i need it as much as they do. I drop off their groceries and talk, listen to their stories about kids and grandkids, maybe talk about politics depending on the sign in their yard. For the most part i don't see many of the people using this service but when i do it's usually someone in the aforementioned age group. I always have my mask on and if they need me to actually bring things into their place i do, they probably don't realize i'm as old as i am because as one elderly woman told me, "you're aging well sweetheart." I got a good laugh out of it and wondered for a moment if she wasn't hitting on me. 

But this is about those waves, the ones that catch you by surprise and leave you trying to catch your breath and retain your composure. It happened yesterday, i took a batch and immediately thought i'd regret it. Having done this gig long enough i can tell when something is going to be a pain in the ass and the trick to picking batches is minimizing the effort while maximizing the pay. Granted this gig runs my ass and when i go for a full day, meaning 5-6 hours, i'm usually spent. And so i took a double batch, meaning two orders at once, with a low number of items, which usually means i can knock it out quick. The second order was only two items, a pie and some cat food and when i read the note with it i should have turned towards the water and looked for the wave. 

There was a note for each item. The woman who placed the order stated that the cat food was superfluous, added on to reach the minimum required and i could refund it if i wanted. The pie, on the other hand, was for her father, a strawberry rhubarb pie, it was his favorite and it was his birthday. She desperately wanted to get it for him and if they didn't have it out front could i ask to see if there were any in back. Reading the note is when the wave hit. I thought of my father, not something unusual as i think about my father alot, but this one struck me for some reason. 

They didn't have the pie. They would bake some later but unfortunately the gig economy does not allow me to wait for it. For some reason it just hit me, i thought of staying at my father's old place after we had moved him to his assisted living home, a place where he laughed about being around all these old people. I thought about bringing him a pizza from his favorite joint in order to get him to eat. Bile Duct cancer was a strange thing, it usually didn't kill the afflicted, they usually starved to death, not eating because the taste of food became strange or "fuzzy" as my dad had said. As i stood in the store i could feel my eyes filling with tears. Suddenly i was doing all i could to hold my shit together. Since i'm in there often one of the women who works there asked if there was something i needed, if i was alright, i'm fine i said, just trying to find a replacement item. I walked to an empty aisle and wiped the tears from my eyes and got my shit together. It didn't stop there. I found myself having to hold it together until i was done with the delivery, hoping i wouldn't see the woman who had ordered the pie for her father. 

In the two and a half years since my dad died i've learned more about that day. I remember talking to my sister that day while following the Breadwinner as she ambled the aisles of Target. My sis said our father was tired and not to call him until later. I never got that chance. It was my sister who would call me less than three hours later to tell me had had fallen. I knew. What came to light later was the fact he told the nurse he didn't need his meds that morning, that he was okay without it. That he was doing laundry when he died. That most likely he was going to change that laundry when his heart failed. As with all people at assisted living homes he had a buzzer to hit that he wore in case of an emergency and i often wonder if he thought about hitting it and then thought better of it. Understanding the end game, having just walked by the pictures of his three grandsons and his children, that it had been a good run and that it was okay to go. Yes it's a myth that i've concocted in my mind but knowing my old man like i did it seems plausible. He was the most dignified man i knew and for some reason the gut tells me this is true, that he went out on his own terms and not in a hospital bed hooked up to machines, in a way it makes me happy. 

And so when i dropped off the pie at the front door i quickly hit the "Order Complete" button, made for the car and pulled down the street before i saw anyone. I pulled over and took a deep breath, i smiled as i whispered "i love you Pops" to the universe, then added, "wherever you are", and then drove on thinking about how my dad would have had a good natured laugh at that tall and sensitive son of his, a quality we both had but he was better at concealing. A quality i never recognized in him until i was older, until we went through the trials of his wife walking out and the war of divorce... i miss my old man but in my loose and minute knowledge of the universe i understand, i still talk to him frequently even if that is really only talking to myself... but those waves...

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Wilderness Years - The Glimmer Twin

 And now back to our program... the summer sauntered on and i was a busy man. The new five pound deal had done exactly what i thought it would do and i now had three independent contractors looking to work that move every time they showed up. Of course one of those was the Billy Goat and the Billy Goat besides being a dirty fucking hippie was also a colossal pain in the ass. I'd begun to learn that the Billy didn't have much sense or more correctly that he did but he liked to pick and choose when he used it... but more on that later. This story isn't about a man with the world's most disgusting toenails, it's about a beautiful young woman. Dare i say there is a soft side to the hard guy who stars in this show, if he had one weakness it was most definitely women and if you wanted to take that further those women tended to be brunettes. Hence when a doe-eyed young brunette finally kicked her hoodrat to the curb the wheels were most definitely put in motion. Add in the money pouring in and our (anti-) hero was full to the brim with piss and vinegar. I understand innately how money and power can corrupt the soul but i also recognize that there is a time, however short it may be, that it can be used to bring beauty and joy. This is that part of the story. 

Little Blonde was now relegated to the role of sidekick. While it was an interesting experiment she went back to being nothing more than another dancer in my mind. Yes one could say that this is a callous and somewhat misogynistic way of looking at things but i was a male living in a callous and misogynistic society. This is an attempt to dig at the truth and the truth is often ugly and unflattering and though i thought i was some kind of enlightened individual way back when i wasn't. I hung out in strip clubs for fuck sake. These places are human meat grinders for all involved, particularly the girls working but i saw more than my fair share of broken men sitting at the bar in those places too. And so i went to work on Veronica... in my cool, calm and calculated way. Of course we have to remember it wasn't like i was single. I wasn't. To say i'm not the man you'd want your daughter to date is an understatement. Yes i can play the game, be the charming and well-spoken gentleman when need be but for the most part i was more tomcat than anything else. Sometimes though even i could be caught off guard and act something akin to human. 

It wasn't long before i would clandestinely check the schedule posted on the wall to see what nights Veronica was bartending. I also knew on her off nights there was a good chance she'd stop by the Little Corner Bar before heading out to the club with her crew. It wasn't lost on any of the dancers that i was spending more time at the bar instead of the stage though i still made sure to spread the money around. I had a standing order at the Little Corner Bar that if Veronica came in while i was there that i had her drinks covered. Ever the player i told the bartenders not to tell her who was buying them but it wasn't hard to figure it out. The more we talked the more it smoldered. I kept mentioning to her about a ticket to London, she kept saying yes. I suggested we hang out some night, she said she would love to, almost like a date she laughed. Almost, i said and smiled back. When she wasn't working she was hitting the clubs and partying like any 20yr old would while i was usually working the bars and slinging the weed. It probably didn't hurt that the bar she hung in was the place i ran. I was the fucking Don in the place and you fucking toed the line or got the boot. I bought drinks for whoever and received many in return out of respect for a ranking hood. Even those who didn't know knew that my clout on the street was large and not to fuck with me. Apparently some women find that sort of thing attractive. 

Of course one must dodge the potholes and pitfalls that can plague an endeavor like this and while i was most adept at keeping my shit wired tight there was always the unpredictability of humans. Before that first "date", when if pressed i could say it was all just harmless flirting with a local bartender, there was an episode at the Little Corner Bar. It was a Saturday afternoon, the Waitress was there back before she morphed into something else (i'm sure one can guess her name now). I had moved out of the 759 and now lived with the Waitress in the a swankier part of town a few blocks from my old place. My Lawyer who was not really a lawyer but a nickname stolen from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, was there and we were doing a bit of early afternoon drinking on a beautiful summer's day. Veronica rolled in pie-eyed, most likely having been up all night after candyflipping (taking ecstasy and acid together) she stood looking at me and smiling, Frannie was behind the bar doing her best not to look nervous realizing that i was there with my girlfriend while the girl i was pursuing was out of her head and not realizing what was going on. To say it was a mildly awkward and uncomfortable ten minutes for our hero here would be an accurate statement. Veronica, killed her drink while it began to dawn on her why i wasn't my normal flirtatious self, she had a brief and hushed conversation with Frannie at the end of the bar  who told her to get some sleep and then she waltzed out the door, the whole time gazing at me while i pretended not to notice. Needless to say the Waitress noticed.

Through the hard lens of hindsight and the like i can say unequivocally that i'm a fucking bastard. I was not and most likely never have been the guy you'd want your daughter to bring home. Of course that made a lot of daughters want to bring me home but as i've said before i was about as faithful as an alley cat. Slinging weed makes one a local celebrity and we all know the trappings that come with being a local celebrity. As soon as Veronica was out the door the Waitress turned to me and asked what that was all about? As usual i put on my best look of bewilderment and innocence and said, what was what about? It was not lost on the Waitress that i tended to be good at drawing female attention (for a homely geezer) but i went on to explain that she was a local bartender and looked to be rocked off her face on E's and whizz or something. Frannie, ever the professional herself and probably worried about my business hitting a snag, hence her tip jar not as full a few nights a week, chimed in and stated that Veronica was a good kid but was out of her mind on shit right now. She probably thought we were someone else. As the crisis subsided i bought another round and asked if anyone wanted to shoot pool. Divert, deny, deflect. I was first division when it came to that shit. 

Needless to say the next time i saw Veronica i laid into her a bit. What the fuck was that bullshit? i said, laying the old steely gaze usually reserved for some fuck up who didn't have my money. I had it right for the most part, she could barely remember what happened because she had been up all night and was still going on an ecstasy/acid cocktail. I explained to her the situation and how that shit wouldn't fly. I had a budding empire to protect and that she could enjoy the fruits of my labor from that empire or we could be acquaintances who passed on the street with a polite nod and hello. She understood. Back then it was all a game to me, attempting to live like my beatnik heroes and one Henry Charles Bukowski. What i didn't realize was how much power i had. Here i was basically laying out the rules to a young woman, The Mistress Rules so to speak. Seeing that she was genuinely sorry i softened my tone and told her it's cool i just need to be smart about shit. I then asked about hanging out. She said she was off on Friday. I asked what time i should be over and what she'd like to drink. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Mushroom Diaries - vol. 8

 Readjust, realign, reset, whatever i call it it's basically the same thing and since we're all staring down the last week of the regular abnormal before what could possibly be the grand poobah shit show of abnormal i thought it might be a good time to put things in perspective, the short version, it was time for another dose of magic to help with the calm and clarity that will be needed over the next week or so. That said. I already voted so on that day i don't have to worry about the shenanigans that may take place... but back to the trip.

The beauty of the fungus is that it gives one the ability to travel through space, time and mind. As usual this one took place on my couch, i did my usual watching of videos on the tube while i waited for them to kick in, filled up two large water bottles to keep myself hydrated on my inner journey, took a hit from the pen containing a strain called Lucky Charms and sat back and waited for the sun as they say. Then as the sun began to rise (in my mind that is) i turned off the lights and sat back to the lovely glow of the telly, not that i was watching but when not looking at it the box throws some lovely shapes and hues onto the far wall. I laid there and felt the twitching synapses and stretching muscles, the sound of my breathing at times startling due to the fact that i was lost in thought about any number of things, any number of former lovers, any number of former places lived, days and nights spent in different parts of the world, and then it really started to kick and i drifted in and out of thoughts that i'm not sure how to put into words, images and feelings and sometimes this profound sense of lovely nothingness which gets me thinking/not thinking about non-existence and wondering if this is what it might feel like and if it is it's not so bad, in fact it's a feeling of peace and beauty that on coming out of can make one think that there might be something to all this hell on Earth bollocks if one buys that line of thought... but then one hears the wind outside and sees the moon shining through a crack in the shade and the faces of my sons and father drift in and fucking hell if there isn't an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness and realizing the that through these little excursions that one can sense both and understand the cosmic accident that is oneself...  or in other words, the world is a beautiful place and i am no longer afraid to die (an actual band name from a band i've never listened to), that the though i can't be sure what's next sometimes i feel as if i've gotten an idea. 

It was during this time that an old record popped up in my mind, a record i hadn't listened to straight through in some time and so through the advent of technology i dialed it up on the telly so that i could sit back and listen to it. A record with a brilliant cover that i gazed at for some time taking in all the things i'd never seen or forgotten i had. The record is Ritual de lo Habitual by Jane's Addiction and though it was the last time this band ever created something i enjoyed and for lack of a better word loved what they created in my mind was a masterpiece, a work of art worthy of being held up and studied and digested and cherished. The second side or last four songs, are almost like a suite, they fit together perfectly, they are movements that reflect life and the pain and beauty that reside within that realm. And so i sat back and listened...

And what did hear? i heard everything, i heard notes and phrases and sounds that i had never heard before because unlike in my youth, when i often listened to this record tripping my face off and naked with a girl i wasn't wrapped up in something else, it wasn't just cool background music to fuck to or air guitar away at late into the night and next morning, this night it was something else entirely and as i sat there listening it dawned on me that this was my equivalent to a modern day symphony, a piece of music that brought out the passions and emotions of existence, that laid them bare and left this listener to get out of it what he wanted or needed. It was what beautiful art can do to a soul, it can cause one to think about things and work towards a deeper understanding of their existence. Sound to deep for a rock and roll record? I'd disagree, namely because i wouldn't call it that, i'd just call it music and while that music might not speak to everyone it spoke to me because that piece of music and i were of the same place and time while the themes and ideas discussed by that piece were timeless, hell we're all timeless, we're here and then we're gone but are we really ever either? 

And so it goes... if you'd have told me that sometime in my late 40's that i'd experience some sort of psychedelic renaissance i don't necessarily think i'd have laughed, psychedelics have always been my favorite when it comes to altering the perceptions and it was a bit of karmic luck that i happened to strike up a conversation with the twenty-something lifeguard at the pool, who then just happened to have a connection and being new to the realm of psychedelics asked the old head (me) about them, what i thought, what dose to take. From there it was all a matter of time and when given access to them i took full advantage, stocking up so that i didn't have to worry about running out. These days i think about doing some reading and taking my own spore prints and giving the grow process a try.
We'll see. I'm inherently lazy and when it's easier to make a call and grab an ounce it tends to put all my grandiose plans on the back burner. That said i don't plan to stop. And while i've taken a more philosophical/spiritual approach to the taking of these gorgeous bits of fungi i do look forward to the day when i can hop a train and head down to the North Shore and see the Lips or Father John Misty again. Until then it will be the inner journey out. Just me and my cats and the sound of one hand clapping. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Wilderness Years - Stiv and Me

 Like most businesses the business of moving contraband comes with it's own hierarchy. There is usually some sort of power dynamic so that one knows who does what and who controls things. With Stiv and me there was a bit more of a partnership than a boss-employee relationship. Stiv may have had the connection to the mother load but that meant fuck all if you didn't have a way to move it. I was the way to move it and though  under normal circumstances i would have been the underling in this situation i was more the equal. I mean Stiv may have had the winning lottery ticket but what good does that do you if you're stuck on a deserted island. Stiv couldn't move an ounce a week if he tried whereas i was now moving double digit pounds every week... and that number kept going up and up. Needless to say the relationship that Stiv and i had was one of mutual dependence and contentiousness. 

Many of my upstanding friends back then who worked in the straight world used to comment on the amount of business acumen i possessed. Granted as i've stated numerous times, i never wanted to be a businessman but that's what i had become and while i wore cargo pants and Carhartt coats instead of a three piece suit, my skills in the business department were razor sharp. Don't let the scruffy appearance fool you or better yet let it fool you. Beneath the flannel shirts and long hair i had become a shrewd operator and when Stiv let slip how much he was making off every elbow out the door i was more than pissed. Of course i didn't let on, this is chess not checkers, but it was duly noted. The situation would soon come to a head as the amount of gear increased and my merry band of pound movers aka the Weight Crew began clamoring for a discount. 

The weed game is not the powder game and the mark-up on grass in nowhere near as much as on those little (or big) bags of powder. To be honest, back then, the weed mark up on a pound at the wholesale level or thereabouts was probably somewhere between $50-$150 a pound and when you got to the higher end of that range the shit had better be fucking good. Mass grown outdoor weed ranging from brown brick schwag to the good to high end midi i was getting was never the get rich quick scheme that the DARE crowd and local news and law enforcement would have you believe. Combine the fact that moving pounds of weed as compared to ounces or kilos of blow was a bit more tricky due to the size and sometimes smell and sometimes i wonder why people did it at all. Then i remember there was still a shit ton of money to be made thanks to our Uncle Sam keeping the shit illegal. And so when i found out that my buddy Stiv was marking up each elbow sold to me by $400 a pop i was less than thrilled. Not to mention the fact that the weight crew was now beginning to ask about discounts. Many of my worker bees were blowing through a pound or two every week and sometimes faster than that. They were also getting numerous requests for larger amounts on their end which meant they needed more and every time they ran out and had to wait for me and arrange a pick-up just meant money being lost... or at least temporarily delayed. 

Of course i'd be remiss if i didn't mention that my mark up was rather high but the fact was it was good gear and the further down the food chain you went the more you paid. On my end i was clearing a nice $250 on every elbow i sold so it wasn't like i was exactly doing shit for free. In fact had some of my more savvy worker bees known (see Billy Goat) they may have been a bit upset about the fact. Then again i looked at it as the charge for the risk i took. Stiv dealt with two people. He went and saw his boy and then drove back and saw me. I dealt with more people than i could fucking count, hence my risk was exponentially larger than Stiv's. 

So when the Billy Goat and some of my other large movers began asking about discounts for larger amounts i took my plan to Stiv. The plan was to cut price by $250 per elbow if said vendor could buy at least 5 at a time and they had to have the cash to do it, no credit. Of course when i broached the subject to Stiv he scoffed. He was raking in the cash and didn't see any reason to change or take less to which i told him the economics said that if we moved more we'd make more. Not all of it would be sold at the discount price and each week i'd bring the books to let him know what was sold for what amount. These days i had expanded to have three guys moving pretty decent amounts while i also had a gaggle of people moving anywhere from a quarter pound to a pound at a time. What my plan did was split the profit between Stiv and myself. We'd lower the price to what he charged me and split the money, basically each making two bills on the pound but netting a cool grand each time it happened, that was a grand profit in the time it took to count the fucking money. What's not to like about that? I also argued that i was taking a pay cut as well but didn't view it as that because it was all one deal. I looked at the profit margin on a deal by deal basis. While in theory i could make much more breaking it all down and selling it small, i could make a lot more faster by selling bigger amounts. 

At the time this was the most contentious debate Stiv and i had engaged in. While i didn't drop the fact that he needed me to keep making money i hinted at it. Fact was i could go back to the nickel and dime shit i was doing before and still be supplementing my income. The other fact was i didn't want to do that because like Stiv i was enjoying the money flowing in. He had to work with me on this or risk me saying fuck it. I had to give the impression that i was willing to say fuck it with enough conviction to make him believe me. I mean how many people would willingly walk away from that winning lottery ticket? In the end? Stiv agreed to my plan. What else could he do? i was the golden cash cow who was filling up his shoeboxes with money. Without me he had shit. All the weed in the world and no way to move it. I picked up 20lbs that day and told him once word got out we'd need more soon. He nodded and said he'd put the call in. I drove back to my place to alert my crew the happy news.  

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Wilderness Years - Cargo

 September of 95, the week of my 25th birthday, i drove back from Ocean City in a rented Crown Vic coming down off a smack, Jagermeister and weed bender that left fuzzy gaps in a memory already filled with fuzzy gaps. Landing at the 759, within days i had scored my first quarter pound and hit the ground running in the weed business. Then came that list of colorful suppliers, all of whom served their purpose but who fell by the wayside leaving me to persevere out of stubbornness or stupidity. Now in the new millennia, at 29 and approaching 30, i had outlasted them all to be standing at the precipice of hoodrat weed dealing king. An endless supply of gear, an ever growing list of customers both large and small, money flowing like water, the balls were getting bigger and brassier with every passing day... and let me just say the days were long and lived hard. The hustle was non-stop and if truth be told i loved every minute of it. 

The average weekday (barring Wednesday, my day off to be spent with a girl some may have heard of) went something like this... get up at 6AM and get ready for work, shake off the hangover and get stoned, make a lunch, bag up any weed to be sold at work, drive my $400 car across town to the warehouse in No Man's Land, a few times on the way there i'd be forced to pull over and puke out the driver side door, a few occasions i made it to work only to sit in my car and pass out only to be awakened by my co-worker knocking on my car window, punch in and toss boxes all day, at lunch or second break i'd play basketball at a hoop we'd set up on a pallet that we'd put on a forklift, being an ex- hot shit hoops player i used to school my coworkers, actually beating every team in a two on two tournament with my teammate being the worst player in the warehouse (and walking away with the money bet). Finish work at 3:30, shirk OT, drive home and start taking calls. The first order would be getting any weight taken care of, that crew being the ones allowed to show up at my place in order to count money and get their shit. I had now made a rule where after 5 customers to the apartment everything else was moved to the pub. Stack up the small orders and tell them to meet me at one of two bars, bag and weigh shit, handle more weight, eat a bit of dinner, take the final orders, bag and weigh a few extra sacks just in case and then head to the bar between 7-8PM. Hit the bar and do business which would usually be wrapped up between 9-11PM with the odd straggler hitting me late. The rules were you got me between 4-10PM on the weekdays, this wasn't the coke business so if you wanted your weed you acted like a human and got me during working hours, after 10 you were pushing it cuz by then i liked to relax and hang at the bar or make my way to what was becoming my second home, Anthony's Lounge. 

How did i carry all this you ask? Well let me explain. I'm almost convinced that in the back room of the low budget fashion world some stoner started pushing cargo pants and while they've been maligned by those hip kids and fashionistas i will say unequivocally that they are the best thing to ever happen to the drug trade. I owned a few pairs of them because i used the pockets as a system. One side would all be quarter ounces with the occasional ounce packed in but usually the ounces were left in the car. When needed i could run out and grab one and this being the city no one really took notice of a guy running out to his car from the bar a couple times a night. The other pocket would be half ounces and eighths. Divided this way to make sure that no one got the wrong bag and that both customer and dealer were happy. While i can't remember the brand, these particular pants had an extra pocket below  the left cargo pocket that was also good for stashing an ounce or a few eighths or the extra quarters. I'd have all the orders packed into these pockets while the emergency extra sacks would be tucked into the secret pocket. There were times a quarter pound or more were stuffed into those pockets. In the winter the famous Carhatt immortalized in it's own post years ago would also be stuffed with bags of weed which usually meant that i smelled like a drug dogs wet dream.

Now if the weight crew couldn't meet me at my place i'd have them meet me at the bar as well. I'd put the pounds or half pounds into the trunk, wrap them in grocery bags and be off, handing the bags to my crew right there on the side street next to the bar. It was getting to the point that on some nights i'd sell a pound or two of weed while sitting at the bar on top of the small stuff. All the while i'd have to keep track of the money flowing in and the gear flowing out, all of which was done mentally while imbibing copious amounts of booze, burning a joint or two on the bars back porch, the occasional sweetie of Xanax or Valium and yet somehow i kept it all straight. Not once did i fuck up the money though sometimes it might take me a few minutes when i got home to get it all figured out, but then i'd do the books, take my cut and head to bed. 

Once i was off the clock i'd hang until whenever i dragged my ass home but i usually didn't get home until after midnight when i'd gobble down a drunken snack, pass out, then get up and do it all over again. Friday nights were reserved for foosball and Playstation FIFA with the boys and if you were lucky enough to get an audience and score you'd better come correct and not act like a fuck-up. For the most part i had an excellent clientele who knew the rules and understood the roles. That being said there were always the odd pain in the ass or fucking moron who'd run afoul of the King of North Oakland, a faux pas that could get them exiled from the kingdom though not many ended up on that ship. Of course there were always a few fuck-ups but that's the cost of doing business in this business. 

Friday, September 25, 2020

The Wilderness Years - The Glimmer Twins v. 2.3

 It was mid-summer when Veronica had gotten her wish. She got out of the stripping side and was now the waitress and part-time bartender at Anthony's Lounge aka the strip club in your uncle's basement. It was around this time as well when she mentioned how she had moved into her own place and had broken up with the hoodrat boyfriend. I smiled and told her that was an intriguing development. It was the last summer of my 20s and the decade had been a rather interesting one to say the least. From the dissolution of the nuclear family, to being a migrant beach worker, graduating from college, dropping out of grad school, having two stints in the game and then moving back to the city with the intent on fully getting back in to the game as a plan to get out of debt. From there it was frat boy uptight marketing douche, Hippie Jack, Cocaine Mike, Max and Ruby and now Stiv, the new partner in crime who had put me in a position to move as much as i could as fast as i could. Now on the cusp of decade three i was moving into uncharted territory. 

The Little Blonde experiment was coming to an end. She was like a kid with ADHD hopped up on sugar (or cocaine in this instance) who really was not interested in what one would call intelligent conversation, not that she needed to be, she was doing just fine being Little Blonde. The simple fact was that any interest i had in her was purely sexual, which of course lumped her in with about a dozen other women i knew at the time. Let's just say i wasn't the most enlightened gentleman and had a tendency to think with my dick instead of my brain on occasion... well probably more than on occasion but that just went with the territory. There were certain women who were attracted to the full-time criminal half-ass poet types and who was i to deny them these experiences. Or at least that's what i told myself. 

With the money spigot turned on high i was prone to doing stupid things. Not stupid in the sense of getting myself busted but stupid in the sense of the bravado of young bulls... or bullshit as some might call it. It was around this time Mr. Gulfboot announced he and the missus would be moving to the States from merry ole En-guh-lan and so with the prospect of a free place to stay across the pond sliding away i decided i should take a trip over. Having already used up all my vacation time at the warehouse i put in a request to take a ten day leave which had it not been granted may have resulted in me turning in my resignation. Quitting the square world would have suited me just fine at that point but there was still that thought that i needed a gig just to keep me honest (so to speak) and that having a paycheck and paying taxes made me look good to the powers that be, not that the powers that be knew of me or gave a shit about anything i was doing though i'm sure the local fuzz and narc types may have been interested. And so with my unpaid leave approved i set about getting my shit together for another trip to South London. 

And so i began to plan my trip. It was a slow night at Anthony's when Veronica was behind the bar and Lil Blonde was dancing, probably a Tuesday or something when i mentioned about heading back over. I told stories of my first trip as Veronica listened intently between grabbing beers and pouring drinks while Little Blonde pretended to feign an interest and most likely having no fucking idea where Great Britain was on a map. At some point i said, "wanna go with me?" and while i said it first to Little Blonde i could see Veronica's head turn as she mixed another Jack and Coke for one of the Tuesday night sad sacks. When she came back over i looked her square in the eye and said, "what about you? you're single now, wanna go to London? I'll buy your ticket."  We locked eyes and she smiled and said of course she would in a joking fashion and we laughed and i stated i knew she thought i was kidding but i'm not. By this time Little Blonde realized she had been relegated to the sideline and was watching intently until she heard her name called to the stage. Veronica was beckoned to make another drink and we all went back to our regular Tuesday night. 

From that point on there was no more Glimmer Twins in my eyes there was only one. With Veronica it was more than physical, we clicked, had chemistry. She was close to ten years younger than me but in her short time in the city she had become street wise. She was smarter than she let on. It was obvious now who i was pursuing and though Lil Blonde might have nursed a bruised ego for a minute or two she knew we had nothing in common while Veronica and i had something else. 

It wasn't hard to see where my energy was being put and when Veronica asked if she could score some weed i smiled. Sure i said and handed her a quarter ounce. When she asked how much i coolly said, nothing, it's on me, just let me know when you need more. Really? she said. I shook my head. Of course if you ever want to hang out and burn one let me know. She smiled and said she wouldn't mind doing that sometime. We were sitting at the Little Corner Bar that night. The place i basically ran. It was one of the only places she could get in because she was only 20 but Frannie the bartender was sympathetic to her cause as well as mine. Frannie liked my visits because her tip jar overflowed when i did business there. She also knew my interest in Veronica. I bought Veronica a drink and we talked and then she headed out to go to the clubs with Lil Blonde and some other girls. After she left Fran grinned at me, better be careful with that one Kono she said. A Cheshire cat grin spread across my face, you know me Fran, i'm just a nice guy. She guffawed, shook her head and went back to washing glasses.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Wilderness Years - The Glimmer Twins v 2.2 Rainmaker

 It was the first summer of the new millennium and it was turning into a scorcher. not in the actual meteorological sense but in the sense that the world was a big old fat oyster and i was a hungry drunk. Four years earlier i was the best foot soldier around, a kid who could move shit and whose biggest problem was keeping a steady supply. Now it seemed the stratosphere was the limit. An endless supply, a cache of underlings moving a decent amount, still working the nickel and dime business as i hung at the bar and played foosball and threw darts. The money was rolling right in and my average week saw me making anywhere from seven bills to a grand, i was what one would call hood famous. Yeah it made one a bit leery but it also came with it's benefits. The guy who was comically nicknamed the North Oakland Player was now moving into a different realm. I was beginning to run shit. 

My hood came equipped with two strip clubs. The girls always went back and forth between them, usually working one night at Anthony's Lounge aka your perverted uncle's rec. room replete with wood paneling and mirrors on the wall or the Cricket, which was aspiring to greater heights while never coming close to achieving them. It was the poor man's Gentleman's Club or in other words a fucking dive as well. Conveniently they were a block away from each other. It was around this time that Veronica had stated she was looking to get out of the stripping side of things, opting instead to being the waitress and fill in bartender at Anthony's. Her hope was to move into one of the full time bartending slots partly because as she put it, she felt guilty lying to her parents. She also began to insinuate that all was not well with her little hoodrat boyfriend and that he would soon be taking a seat on the curb. Ever the poker player i nodded and slyly said that's too bad while not meaning a word of it. 

The Glimmer Twins liked to work together and since the club owners new they drew in the locals they often obliged. When dancing at the same time they often spent a good amount of time touching and simulating certain acts that drove the guys crazy. With my weekly cut seemingly always growing i had no problem dropping a decent amount of cash in the clubs. I looked at it as a public service, as anyone who has frequented these places know there are many stories about the degrees being pursued and the soon to be massage therapists who only needed a few more classes before they could exit this business. Being the gentleman i did my best to help and while i was not one for the lap dance i was one for tipping well at the stage even when i wasn't sitting there. Which brings us to how our hero here managed to get the balcony of the Cricket shut down. 

By this time i always had money and had no problem spending it. Often times i had what one could refer to as an entourage, usually just one or two friends who'd tag along knowing that their expenses would be minimal. I'd buy the drinks and buy them dances, give them money to tip, i didn't care to me it was all free money and while it may seem like i was frivolously blowing cash (i was) i was also smart enough to squirrel a decent amount away each week. The student loans were getting overpaid to the consternation of the loan company who were sending me notices that i didn't have to pay this month to which i promptly sent them another check. There was money finding it's way into accounts a little bit at a time. Sixty bucks here, a hundred there, you'd be surprised how a few small deposits a few times a week can add up. The kind of sums that wouldn't draw attention, the kind of sums a waiter or bartender might put in the bank. It helps to sell weed to people in the banking industry who would explain exactly what kind of things would draw the red flag, always a master at keeping the bases covered i was putting all my education in slinging into practice. 

And so it was that i began to take up residence in the balcony of the Cricket. I would get my drink and climb the circular black metal staircase up to the top where i'd pull up a table right by the pole. I was always one to enjoy a good pole trick and after being in the hood so long most of the girls knew me and the ones that didn't were tipped off by the ones that did to the fact i was a good tipper and nice guy. Though now with the cash spigots turned on i was stretching my legs a bit, playing the part of the laid back player. The Glimmer Twins would often come up to the balcony to hang out when they weren't onstage or giving a lap dance. We'd sit in the balcony smoking one-hitters of weed and drinking, i'd toss bills on to the stage, not in the NFL style of riot starting by tossing a bunch of one dollar bills but tossing down one at a time. The minimum was a fiver and usually it was a ten or twenty. These clubs weren't your upscale cash grabs and while the girls made decent money they were used to the George Washington being tossed their way. The twenty dollar lap dances got split between the house and the dancer so they got ten plus tips. I used to talk to them about the money, the fact was a good night could net them $200-300, usually Friday or Saturday but sometimes the odd Thursday. Early in the week if they broke a hundred it was considered a good night. They got two free drinks but after that they had to pay though usually some desperate admirer would get their drink. 

My residence on the balcony was short lived though, Squeeze, the big, black, bull dyke owner was hearing about all the dancers hanging on the balcony with me, in particular the Glimmer Twins but other girls were coming up as well. They weren't working the crowd as much, or that was the thinking, and instead were getting high and drunk with the derelict in the balcony. Now and then i'd get the odd eyeball, most of the guys in the club didn't know what i did outside the place but the assumption was i had some shit going on and i'm sure a lot of them probably thought i was moving powder. Needless to say the fact i could sit up top and toss down bills marked larger than $1 was bruising the egos of certain regulars. And so it was that one fine day i walked in and the balcony had been roped off. I turned and looked at Squeeze and laughed, "what the fuck is this?", she smiled back, "had to close it down, seems some shit was going down up there." I shrugged and said, "that's cool, i get it." Then i smiled and walked out the door and down to Anthony's. Squeeze looked a little disconcerted because she knew the girls and the bartenders liked me, liked the money i spread around. It wasn't as if i would never go back in the place it was just that i had always preferred Anthony's but the balcony bit was good fun. 

Years removed and many hours pondering the events of these years has led me to the understanding that this was the first real taste of the corruption of the soul, so to speak, that this game gives to you. There were always flashes of it but when you're scraping by as King of the Nickel-Dimer it usually results in the odd female here or there letting you know that she'd like to sleep with you. Or as Craig Finn so eloquently put it, guys go for looks, girls go for status. There was a certain status in the nickel-dime era, i was still the hook-up, the guy who always had weed but now i was moving into different territory and with that territory came both greater risks and greater rewards. It also came with power. Power among my customers, power among my friends, power on the street and in the bars. I had always been what the hoods call a face in my end of town but now i was moving up, i was THE MAN for all intents and purposes it was just i was the rare guy in this game who didn't blow off all the little customers looking for their eighths or quarters or ounces. I could have mind you as the weight business was expanding by the week, in fact the earnings from that end were easily doubling or tripling what i did with the small stuff. Call it loyalty. A lot of these people had been coming to see me for a few years now, in a way i felt i owed them as much to keep doing the little stuff because what they didn't know is that they were the ones who kept me afloat. Let me eat, drink, and be merry, to survive back when it has hand to mouth on a regular basis. Besides we all know how much it sucks when a good connection disappears. The balcony escapades though, were just the beginning.