After the giant hash filled joint we all sat back and giggled at what a time it had been. It being our last night Gulfboot let us have the bedroom so that we could get a decent night's kip before leaving. My voracious sexual appetite had necessitated a break in the festivities, Veronica had told me she needed a rest and i understood as since she had landed that Saturday morning we had been going at it in almost porn star like pace and fashion. So on our final night in Inglaterra we lay in bed like a normal couple, or at least as normal as the situation would allow. Again she talked of what would happen when we got back and again i said we could worry about that soon enough and the conversation turned to all we had done and seen.
As with most things in my life there was a soundtrack to this trip, very Anglo-centric to say the least. The Masterplan by Oasis and the new record from this little Irish band called U2, All That You Can't Leave Behind, were in heavy rotation. In his youth Gulfboot had moved to Dublin, he was living off the dole and loitering about the places he heard the band might be hanging. One day as he sat drinking who should walk in but all the members of U2, he laughed as he told me he had gone full Bono back then, cultivating the look from the Joshua Tree/Rattle and Hum period, long hair and all. As he sat at the bar he approached the Edge and asked if he could buy Bono a drink. I told him i found it hysterical that a kid on the dole was buying a millionaire a drink. The Edge looked over and said, Paul.. this lad here would like to buy you a drink. Paul smiled back and said Guinness.
Oddly enough the Joshua Tree record, probably like many my age, was a massive record in the story of my youth. I was 16 when it came out dating Wendy the Wabbit, dubbed so by the concerned mothers of my working class burb due to Wendy's appetite for sex. Of course i believe it lasted all of two months but this record was huge at the time and provided some lovely background music for the sex in her blue Chevy Caprice. Fast forward to October and One-eyed Bobby's dad, a radio station bigwig, procured us tickets to see U2 at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. I had just turned 17 and it was the first day of basketball conditioning for my senior year of high school. After practice i raced home and showered, donned my army jacket with all it's writings and markings, scraped together the last of my weed and ran out of the house and hopped in my friend's car. Little did we know we'd be somewhere in the first ten rows, are jaw steadily dropping at the ushers kept pointing us forward. Being kids we couldn't score any booze and we had raced through the weed on the ride down but luckily the brother and sister next to us were smoking a bowl and upon seeing my puppy dog look passed the pipe to me periodically through the night. Ironically Bono had fallen off the stage in my now adopted city a few nights before and played the gig with his arm in a sling. It was a beautiful October night on the shores of Lake Erie meaning that it started to snow at one point during the show which to this day is etched in my memory.
On this night though it would be the other band that would set the tone. Veronica had been exposed to the lads from Manchester but in her short time in London she'd been given a crash course by various members of the entourage. Somewhere down the line i'd be standing in her apartment and notice that she'd bought the CDs of The Masterplan and All That You Can't Leave Behind, which were lying on a coffee table. As with most things in this life little did we know that this would be the last time we would sleep in the same bed. We talked about the trip, we talked about going home, we talked about the intensity of the past month or so, about the race to get her passport, about how we actually pulled it off and of course, like previously stated we talked for a minute about what would happen when we got back. The truth was neither of us knew. Veronica stated that before the trip she was set on going our separate ways, not socially but intimately, but now she wasn't so sure she could do that. I added i hoped she wouldn't but the facts were easy to understand and the situation complicated. I lived with someone, was marching towards East End kingpin status and in my mind nothing was going to derail the business. Oddly it was the one of the rare times in my life where i actually gave a shit about my job.
As the effects of the mega-joint began to take hold i could hear her breathing change as she slipped off to sleep. I lay in bed, arms wrapped around her, thinking. I had a lot to sort out but at the time i felt i was fucking invincible, bulletproof, i was on my way to becoming the King of North Oakland, or kono, as those in the know would call me. There was no stopping the rise now. I had worked my ass off, i had hustled to pay down student loans and stash some money and was now getting into the position to really make some bank. How much? I didn't know. On my first trip over i had scraped and saved and budgeted, i had a firm grasp on my finances and while i had a cushion it wasn't much, enough to see me through a crisis for a few months until i could hopefully get something sorted but i wasn't loaded. Now almost exactly two years later i had tripled that nest egg with the money rolling right in and a rock solid connection. Supply and demand were no longer something i worried about. I had gone from the guy buying shitty quarter pounds of dirt weed from the uptight accountant, to half pounds and pounds from Hippie Jack, to one or two pounds at a time of good midi from Max and Ruby with the occasional foray into shitty brick weed when needed from Pizza Joe. Now? I was picking up twenty pounds at a time and that number was most likely going to increase. Now i had enough spendable cash to fly a girl to hang with me in England, not a bad second date really. I had the cash to buy all my friends tickets to a match and countless pints. The business was king and having watched too many gangster movies i intended to keep it that way.
So while i lay in the dark and listened to the peaceful breathing of a young and beautiful woman i knew i had shit to figure out. Come morning we would pack up the last of our things, take a cab to Gatwick and be back in the States by mid-afternoon. I listened to the sounds of South London deep into the night. Sometimes you gotta run on adrenaline. Sometimes it's sheer will that gets you through, the belief in your plan no matter how fucked up or flawed it might be. Sometime between dusk and dawn, i shut my eyes and went to sleep.