And so Stiv became a regular customer. Two zips at a time was a nice way to move a decent amount for a guy at my level. I was still what one would call a Nickel and Dimer, nothing huge, the occasional quarter pound of gear but mainly i had to break it up and move it in smaller amounts to maximize my profit margin. I'm not sure how long Stiv was a customer but it was probably close to two years or so before he informed me one day that he was leaving. Stiv and his girlfriend were moving to the Pacific Northwest. The problem was that his guy now wanted to meet me because he didn't want to be left without a connection. Stiv had explained that i was pretty good with this shit and understood the game and that the guy would have no problem dealing with me, in fact he told the guy i could set it up so that the only person he'd see is me. Problem was Stiv didn't want the guy to know how bad he'd been gouging him for the past couple years and so politely asked me to jack up my normal price. I laughed and stated that shouldn't be a problem (i'm not inclined to turn down more money in my pocket) and that's when it came to light just how much the Stiv tax was. This would also be useful information to file away.
The meet and greet was arranged and i met Jeff the engineer in the same bar where i'd usually meet Stiv. There was the usual small talk and bullshit and i explained to Jeff that i would do my best to accommodate his wishes but that he may have to meet me in a couple bars closer to my place. Talk then turned to Stiv and his impending departure and we wished him well in his journey out west. Like most Rust Belt lifers he stated he couldn't wait to leave and was never coming back. I knew from experience that half the time they ended up right back here and even worse off than when they left. But what did it matter to me? Nothing really, i didn't loose a customer and it worked out that i would actually make more money. Pretty much win-win in my book. Jeff seemed like a decent enough guy and so at the end of the meeting we all shook hands, Jeff took my number, and we wished Stiv well.
Stiv's move to the Pacific Northwest didn't exactly go as planned. He took a job with as a handyman, a factotum on a small boat that worked the Puget Sound. They did work for the people who lived on the tiny islands that dotted the Sound, painting and fixing things and landscaping and anything else that needed done. Stiv said it was actually a pretty cool gig and after a few months his boss put him on his own. He'd go out and work on the houses and the theory was they'd get even more done and make more money. It was all going swell. Except it turned out that while Stiv was out helping his boss's business expand his boss was circling back to Stiv's place and banging his girlfriend. Turns out the boss didn't have to try very hard as when the news finally broke it was the girlfriend who seduced the boss. It was a usual damp and dreary morning when he was told by his girlfriend that she was leaving him and and moving in with his boss. He said his boss apologized and said he didn't mean for it to happen and stood sheepishly to the side while his girl gave a stinging diatribe on his shortcomings and what a loser he was and how she was glad to be rid of him. The boss understood if Stiv wanted to quit but as Stiv stated he was fucked. He needed the job so he could save some money and head back east. So for the next six months Stiv worked for the guy who stole his girlfriend.
When he had saved enough money he packed up his stuff and headed back to the Rust Belt, the one he left forever roughly a 18 months before. Engineer Jeff and i had gotten along just fine. He knew he was being gouged and i did cut him a break, it was still $25 more an ounce then i normally charged but i figured if i went above and beyond the norm so he didn't have to see anyone the fee was justified. Stiv had returned home and began to pick up the pieces. For a guy who was as jaded and cynical as he was the whole experience out west didn't exactly improve his disposition. He moved into a place above an old ex he was still friends with, she owned the place so she cut him a break on rent for a few months while he got back on his feet. Then he got a call from an old band mate who had tracked him down, he had a few questions for our guy Stiv.
Cheetah Chrome, as we'll call him, lived a on farm a little over an hour away across the state line. I never met Cheetah but from what i gleaned he was a pretty nice guy who wanted to help out a friend who was down. The main question was did Stiv still have his (commercial driver's license) CDL? You see Cheetah and his associates where looking for someone to drive a rig back from the southwest, the fee for the run was 50k, which immediately sent up Stiv's antennae who then asked, what am i hauling back? That's a lot of cash for a run like that. Cheetah told Stiv not to worry but that ostensibly it was furniture and that's all he needed to know. As it turns out it was furniture along with what i estimated was a few thousand pounds of grass, not only grass but what one would call pretty damn good outdoor midi. Now our guy Stiv was a shrewd and intelligent fellow and while he wasn't interested in a run like that, the risk being too great, an idea did cross his mind. So Stiv and Cheetah spent the night at the farm playing music and drinking beers and in the morning before Stiv returned home he floated his idea to Cheetah.Stiv inquired about how much a pound might cost? Cheetah chuckled from what i understand and stated that they only moved weight, like a minimum of a hundred elbows at a time sort of weight but since he and Stiv went way back he could do something for him to help him out. That's apparently where our hero came up, you see Stiv explained to Cheetah that he knew a guy who was always moving shit and figured if the stuff was better than what that guy was getting he could kind of take over as the supplier. He didn't know how much that guy moved or if he even needed a connection but if he could show him something that would be excellent. If it worked out great and if not he could figure out a way to move it or bring it back up and return it. Cheetah didn't see any problem with that, he did explain to Stiv that he'd be doing him a favor because this wasn't the sort of amounts he and his crew normally dealt in but it was cool, they were friends. And so Stiv stuck a pound in a backpack and headed home... (to be cont.)