Monday, September 27, 2010

The Wilderness Years- Riding in Cars with Junkies

Business 101, you take what you can, you learn from the guys you deal with as you come up, if you're smart you eliminate all the superfluous bullshit, all the mistakes you watch them make and steal all the stuff they do right and in the end you just might come away with a little bit of money. After a mistaken attempt at graduate school and a summer making fries i was back in the burgh and i had a plan, had it before i ever even got back into town, see i had dabbled in this business before and i knew what to do, knew i had a market and knew that if i was reliable and fair i could get myself out of debt, maybe even get some new clothes, a decent place of my own instead of the constant flophouses and roommates but i'm getting ahead of myself. So let's settle into a nice red Naugahyde seat at the bar, in Wilson's Tavern, a melting pot of alcoholics and misfits in the cesspool that was North Oakland.

See i hit the ground running and already had a connection, nice college boy, a frat boy now pretending he was an accountant, he was tight and cheap and his prices sucked but in order to make money you have to have product so it was him i was stuck with for the time being. The weed was shitty but it would do for now and one day while passing the time in Wilson's i ran into an old acquaintance, if you could even call her that, she worked at the bagel store i had worked in a the year before grad school, she was a hippie and i could tell she'd be there for a few days just for the cash and then she'd be back living the hippie dream, she stayed quiet and didn't talk much but she seemed to pick up quick that every time i took out the trash i came back stoned, she was sitting at this bar with her boyfriend, a guy twice her age with long hair and a big, bushy beard. I'll call him the Dead Hippie, a name i'll explain later but one that's pretty much self explanatory, we got to talking and realized we had a lot in common, of course since the time i had worked at the bagel store my hair had turned into big natty dreads so he figured i was right up his Dead Head alley and while i didn't mind the Dead i was a punk rock kid at heart, we soon found that we were both businessmen and that he had something i might like to see. The next day we were back making an under the table exchange to see if i'd be interested in signing on and i didn't even need to see it to know that i'd be interested... i could smell it right off. We talked price and it was much better than what i was getting but still to rich for my blood so being the enterprising young man i was i needed to raise capital and quick. Told him i'd come up to his place the next day.

The next morning i ran down to the bank and took my first step towards becoming an entrepreneur, i cash advanced one of those credit cards they liked to dole out when one was in college in the early 90's, the credit cards companies not yet figuring out that many of these cards would end up never getting paid but i was the responsible sort and i knew if i could flip enough in the next month or two that i'd be able to pay it off before they really fucked me with their interest rates, at the same time every time i paid it off i was adding cash to the fund, building my capital from the ground up, on my own, an independent contractor. The bank teller counted out my 1200 and i was on my way. Later that day i picked up a half pound of good grass and i was on my way.

I wasn't a business major and never wanted to be a businessman but in later years guys in legitimate business would shake their head at my ability, tell me that if i could ever put what i did on a resume i'd be pulling in six figures cuz i had some razor sharp business acumen. It was about always having product, being the most reliable guy on the street, not being a fuck up and keeping shit straight, rule one was don't fuck up the money, rule two don't smoke it all away, rule three get a safe and drill it to the floor so no enterprising fuckheads could rip you off, there was a lot of shit that went into this business and that's why 75% of the idiots doing it failed miserably and ended up owing money or skipping town. The Dead Hippie unfortunately fell into that category but he was a good guy and did his best to keep my supplied. And now i will digress...

Christmas time and this young derelict had no where to go, i couldn't make it back to C-town and didn't want to run the old man around on one of our rare days off, so i told him i loved him and stayed in the Burgh, on X-mas eve i hit the state store and called the Dead Hippie, things had been going good and i had paid off my credit card and was banking a little money as well, had money to go to the bar and was picking up customers every day, i was the righteous guy with the dreads, my shit was good, it weighed and the price was right. I walked to his house and handed him a fifth of his favorite bourbon, Jack Daniels, even produced a 20oz. Coke for his favorite cocktail, needless to say it about brought him to tears cuz in this game you don't see alot of humanity, people are in it for themselves and will fuck you good and hard the first chance they get. He mixed himself a drink and handed me a beer, packed the bong and began to spill his heart out, telling me i was the best thing that had happened to him in years, (his young girl had since left that day we first met at the bar and he had fucked up with Mr. Big to the tune of about 5g) he told me that i had helped dig him out of that hole, told Mr. Big that i was a fucking all-star, that he had me to thank for getting his money back and that i was a top notch earner, told me if i hadn't shown up he wouldn't have known what to do, that he now actually had some money stashed away and as we sat and smoked and listened to one of his many Zappa bootlegs we drank to another good year, i mean here was a guy who had no one, had his cat and his best friend Louie and that was it, was taken aback that i had thought of him on x-mas eve and shown up with a bottle. The goods times slip by fast though in this business and by spring he had fucked up again and been cut off by Mr. Big temporarily, let his thug neighbor know where he kept his money one drunken night and low and behold not a week later it had disappeared.

Which brings us to the title of this little diddy. The last thing the Dead Hippie wanted was me to jump ship and find a new supplier, he knew i was getting offers, i was good at what i did and people who knew people were always mentioning my name, which is good and bad but i needed to have shit, i mean what's McDonald's with no fucking burgers? people were amazed that when the city was dry i was still holding on to something, didn't raise the price like a dick just went about my business like i normally would. But now i was hurting i'd been a day or two and i couldn't drum anything up, the drought had come and i knew that stoners were fickle or at least i'd fear they'd be fickle and take their hard earned cash elsewhere, so DH lined up a score, primo shit he said, good price, his friends just needed the money up front and they'd run and get it and bring it right back. Who were the friends i asked? Frannie and Ollie he said. Are you fucking kidding me? you want me to hand 1900 bucks to a couple of junkies and expect them to show back up with my shit? I was fucked. All the shit about gleaning the good shit and eliminating the bad was flashing in front of my eyes. It was like five alarm fire bells going off in my head, every rational bone screaming don't do it. I said i'm going with them or it's no fucking deal, i heard some muffling in the phone line and then i he said okay, meet us down at Wilson's in an hour.

An hour later after draining a scotch and water and a beer back i walked out to inspect the car, a piece of shit Datsun, i made sure all the brake lights worked, made sure the turn signals worked, Frannie the girl was a little put off but i was their meal ticket, without me they didn't get their cut which meant tonight would be spent begging for credit or withdrawing, Ollie was actually a good guy except for the fact he was dating Frannie and had a bad habit, they both sat there scratching and fidgeting and Frannie kept looking at her watch and saying we need to hurry and soon we all piled in and off we went, Frannie driving. So picture if you will a frazzled looking dirty blonde junkie speeding down city streets while here pony tailed junkie boyfriend made small talk about how good the shit was while in back sat an old Hippie smiling and saying right on and a 6'4 inch, dread locked white boy thinking he should jump out of the car at the next light and run the other way, his 19 bills being like children he was about to abandon to a couple of fucked up wastoids jonesing for a hit. I could barely hear Ollie's gibberish the bells were so loud in my head and this was the good part of the trip.

I soon discovered that Frannie had no fucking idea where she was going and the phone was going off and said connection, who must have been holding their junk as well, was telling her to hurry up cuz he had shit to do. Now of course Frannie was running red lights, stop signs, speeding through school zones, abandoned the use of turn signals, went the wrong way down a one way and was passing people on one lane city streets. It was at this point that i said drive fucking safe or let me out and Ollie sensing his fix getting away started yelling at Frannie and Frannie in turn started yelling back and hitting Ollie, the DH just shrugging and smiling and saying shit like "alright man" and me knowing in no uncertain terms that i was going to get fucked on this deal, that if i was smart i should have just given them 50 bucks, told them to go get a fix and drop me at the next fucking corner but for some reason i rode it out, sweating, nauseous, jittery, for all intents and purposes looking more like a junky than the junkies who were still having a battle in the front seat until finally we pulled up in front of some apartment building and the price of the shit changed.

Walk. That what's my spidey-sense was telling me, get out and tell these fucking muppets to get fucked and have fun going cold turkey tonight, find the nearest bar and get ridiculously fucking drunk. Instead i told them that they weren't getting any more money, told them i didn't have it and that if they wanted they could drive me back, see while all this shit was happening i kept enough of my wits to ask a pertinent question, when did the price go up? and while they both stammered and stuttered Ollie blurted out, Uh when we just talked to him, i smiled and said that's funny Ollie cuz i like you and all but you weren't on the phone with him she was and i'm getting a real bad feeling about this gig, they both scratched their silly junky heads and finally Frannie blurted, well we ain't making shit off of this and we was just trying to score a little, it was like a favor to DH and all but fuck it we'll just bail. That's cool with me i smiled and before you knew and against my better judgment they'd say we'll see what we can do and took the money and went inside.

See when you hand almost two grand to some complete idiots you start to question just who in fact is the complete idiot. I got out of the car and walked to the corner and back, got back in and grilled the DH about the chances of me getting fucked on this deal or the chance that they were nodding off in this dude's Lazy-Boy, another 15 minutes passed and i wanted to puke and then out they came, grocery bag in hand and smiling, pupils like little pin pricks and i knew that this was not good, they handed me the bag and we drove back towards the bar as they smiled and laughed and lit cigarettes. I sat in back not saying a word. I had developed a very useful ability, i could weigh shit with my hand, literally i could reach in a bag, grab a handful and be within a gram or so and as i held this bag in my hand i knew it was well short of the 448 grams it should have weighed. The ride back was all shits and giggles and they all yucked it up but the DH could tell something wasn't right.

We pulled up outside the bar and i said stop. I'm sure it was a buzz kill to Frannie and Ollie but i said no one gets out of the car till i check my shit, i watched the nervous glance go back and forth i opened the bag and looked at my product. What the fuck is this? i asked. The DH was silent and absolved, i knew he was just trying to help me out but the other two were on the hook. My fucking hook. What? Ollie stammered, i smiled and said, what was that shit you two were spouting about all bud, top notch shit? this shit half fucking shake and though it's decent it ain't fucking 19 decent. Frannie of course pulled the incensed, fucking do a prick a favor and get fucked huh. I shot back, look here sweetheart i got some more news for you, the shit is light and when i get out of this car i'm gonna fly home and weigh it and when i find out for sure it's fucking light you best be out of North fucking Oakland and stay out. Maybe i should check your fucking pockets, maybe somehow it just fell in there or something huh? Listen man, Ollie stammered, this ain't cool. Your god damn right it ain't cool Oliver, would you like to step out of the car and let me show you just how uncool it is and how uncool i can fucking be. Get out screamed Frannie. Gladly i said and i stepped out with the DH and they peeled away. Sorry man, he mumbled. You were just trying to help mate i told him.

I walked home kicking myself, knowing i knew better, the shit was 37 grams light and when you are a fledgling small time hood that's more than enough to fuck you. Profit margins are slim in the grass game especially at the lower levels. Mistakes can take you out of the game faster than cops. I'd get through this one and might even manage to make a little off it, turn the bad into good. But i'd learned a few lessons, lessons i would remember, like never ride in cars with fucking junkies.


Anonymous said...

best bedtime story, ever.


Man, I just love your stories! Sort of like stuff from Pulp Fiction, but you lived it and was able to tell the tale.

Thank you.

sybil law said...

There's not much worse than a junkie, for sure. Selfish little pricks.

JMH said...

Great story. I want the audiobook version. I'd like listen to it around Christmastime with the lights twinkling and a DVD of a fireplace playing on the TV.

I'd listen to it on repeat, drinking Manhattans or something with Kahlua and creme de menthe and gently pulling on a pipe that tastes like pine trees and feeling the story change with every loop. You'll need to speak slowly to fill the time.

Kono said...

Daisy- i put you to sleep? oh man.

Fuzzarelly- Much thanks and it has kind of dawned on me that my life was not all that normal back then, though i didn't know it.

Sybil- yeah them junkies can be real fuck-ups but you do find that sometimes they are good people with bad habits. I've met one or two who were that way.

JMH- i will do my best Burl Ives.

nursemyra said...

Sadly, I could see that ending coming from the start.... ah well, live and learn

Anonymous said...

Didn't your mother tell you not to get into strange junkies cars?

Anonymous said...

oh, not like that! the kind of story that gets me all fired up, too pumped full of adrenaline to sleep... so i need, ummm... er... some help and distraction before i can not off in a happy, relaxed state...

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I know this post is over a week old but I didn't want to start it until I had the time to pay it the proper attention it deserved. I'm glad I waited. Got any more like that? You've got skills.

Kono said...

Nursie- me too.

Dolce- my mom told me alot of things and i believe i ignored all of them, haha.

Daisy- as we say out on the street, "i was just fuckin' wit ya"

UB- Much thanks and yes there will be more of this ilk.