Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Wilderness Years - Max and Ruby pt. 2

If we were keeping score the rundown would look something like this: since returning to the burgh i had been through four connections. It started with the over-priced frat boy who got nervous every time my dread-locked ass got of a car and walked towards his place, i'm sure fearing his one of his cracker ass neighbors was going to call the cops and get him busted. Of course he lived across the river in one of those quiet enclaves of whiteness where the local fuzz jizzed their shorts when they busted someone with a dime bag let alone a quarter pound of shitty weed. From there the pot gods smiled on our hero and put him on a bar stool next to Hippy Jack and his ex, the girl who worked with me for a week but clocked that i was getting high every time i took the trash out at the bagel store. When Hippy Jack shit the bed Mr. Big cut him off and handed the reins, and ostensibly my skills at hustling weed, to one Cocaine Mike. That would be the same Cocaine Mike who burglarized Hippy Jack's place one night stealing all his money and gear and basically sliding into his spot. And for those just tuning in it was Cocaine Mike who got in a fight with his smacked-out baby mama one night who then stole all the coke he had bought with Mr. Big's money. Cocaine Mike then split town, which might have been the smartest thing he'd eve done. That of course left me scrambling and buying pounds of brick weed from the pizza shop and nonchalantly walking down the street with said pizza boxes as if i had not a care in the world. As the years have worn by and i've taken my good sweet time to type this out the dates have gotten fuzzy but it's safe to say this was all in the first three and a half years of being back in the burgh and back in the game.

Which leads us back to Max and Ruby. The hope was that this would be a relatively sane connection if one can call people in this business sane. I realize i was probably a bit off my nut half the time but i also knew when i could play fast and loose and when to keep shit wired tight. It was a fine line and one lapse in judgement could easily get you fucked good and proper just not in the way one would like. And so began my tenure with Team Max and Ruby. The first meeting was the feeling out, Max and i shot the shit, there was a guarded casualness combined with a slight wariness. Ruby was the common denominator. She had bought weed from me before and i had a sterling rep among her friends, of course i wondered why Max just didn't get into the retail end of it because he could have made more breaking it down and Ruby's crew would have given him a nice base as clientele. The risk ticked up when you got into that game, my game at this point, but i also understood that if you could find a few people to move weight you could deal with say five people instead of fifty and depending on how fast they moved it you could make the same if not more. Basically i was good business sense especially for a guy coming into a new town whose only connection to the place was his girlfriend.

So we sat down and he pulled out the weed. I had gotten the price breakdown so i could bring the cash. This would be the most expensive gear i had bought at this point. I had crunched the numbers and could make it work but the shit had to be good. And it was good. Back before the Green Rush of today, in America there were basically three classifications of weed: schwag or brick, the midi's as we called it which was the top end of normal gear, and then the kind, kind bud as we called it way back when. This stuff straddled the the line between high midi and kind bud. It would move but my price breaks would stop and i'd get some moaning and wailing from the kids but once they tried it i was pretty sure the bitching would stop there. I was right. The shit veritably flew off the shelves. The only problem was Max was basically the middleman for his rather high strung friend. There was no "credit" so it was all cash and carry. With the price being high i had to balance how much to lay out. I was three plus years in and it wasn't like my safety net was all that big. The little safe hidden in my place wasn't exactly bursting open. Yeah i lived alright for a guy working in a warehouse, i always had some cash in my pocket and was paying down my student loans, which was the reason for this whole enterprise, and i was squirreling a bit of money away, part seed money, part savings but ten seconds of bad luck and that would go poof! I also didn't want to have to make a run every few days and of course there was the supply side end of it.

This was not a big time operation so to speak, yes it was enough to land one's ass in jail or maybe prison if you were real unlucky but it was basically a branch of the business these boys ran back at their posh university. Back there they did what i did and ruled the Quad, rich kids getting richer and acting cool, then Max's boy got bumped up the ladder and the opportunity to move a bit more became an option. Now why a bunch of well-off white kids would want to get into this game is beyond me, the Clinton Era put more people in jail for weed than any other regime up to that point. Bill apparently wanting to be tough on crime and dry cleaners. These guys didn't need the money, they weren't in my situation where if i shit the bed and lost my job the distance between my ass and a cardboard box was much closer than i liked to think about. Hell without this gig and even with my legit job the distance wasn't so great. I was the fucking working poor. The taxable income was negligible at best not something any human would be able to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves on. In short a fucking joke. So every week or two the high-strung buddy would drive from near Philly across the state to pick up the money and drop off the gear. Simple enough.

Back in these years i had this theory that those least intellectually or emotionally able to handle this business somehow ended up with the best connections, a hood's take on Kakistocracy. Max was a a mellow guy, laid back and easy to deal with. Sadly his high strung buddy was not. Paranoid, delusional, anger issues, all the sorts of traits you don't want in this business and while i can say that my time working with Max and Ruby was relatively smooth and dare i say pleasant, there was the odd hiccup usually involving High Strung. For the record i never met High Strung or knew his name, i didn't want to know it. That said i was forced to deal with his tantrums, albeit second-hand, but what High Strung didn't understand was that he was fucking with my cash flow every time he had a melt down and in the beginning he seemed to have them a lot.

Exhibit A. Max had given me the green light to swing by. I was waiting on the re-up and was just about out of product and High Strung had just stopped and made the drop. Now apparently High Strung got in the car and began driving home when he called Max and in the course of the conversation Max had mistakenly said 8 pounds instead of 9, the amount dropped off, sending High Strung into a diatribe about how Max was trying to fuck him over and not to sell anything cuz he was coming straight back over to check and maybe even "fire" Max. From the time Max called it took maybe 15 minutes for me to get from my place to his place. I was stoked cuz the re-up meant the train kept running and the truth about this business is the train can derail for any number of reasons at any time so every re-up kept you going for another week or two. I bounded up the steps behind the pizza shop, knocked, and was greeted by Max looking sheepish and bummed. This was early on and i was A#1 client/mover, a position i'd retain throughout this business relationship. He relayed the situation while i stood and nodded and finally said, is this kid a fucking idiot? The fact i was a few years older meant i could call people kids. You're one of his best friends, i continued, and he thinks you're fucking him over? Jesus Christ! Needless to say i did what all good soldiers do. I got back in the car and drove home until i got the call an hour or so later that all had been sorted out and smoothed over, back in business i headed over again. Just as glamorous as they portray on T.V. eh? (to be cont.)


Exile on Pain Street said...

What's going on here? The blog world doesn't have enough of this and too much of that, which is why I drift. Are you wearing your facemask? Not breathing too heavily? How are the boys handling this. Hold fast.

Exile on Pain Street said...

P.S. this would've been us if we hadn't escaped.

looby said...

Cracking tales of the fragility of it, the way you have to double as a social worker and a psychotherapist as well as a businessman.

When I was doing speed more or less full time, the danger I ad was that at times it was seductively easy. There's something about the business that always encourages you to let your guard down. But there was a time when it was good. No alarm clocks, no "appraisals", none of the mountain of shit under which one is buried in an office.

Thanks kono that was fascinating.

Exile -- that loks like a really interesting bok, ta.

Kono said...

Exile- Glad to see you're still kicking! What's going on here? the usual non-sense. Hope you and the family are well. And who from Clevo can forget the lovely smell of industry that emanates from certain hoods or as you drive up 77, i'd have done whatever to stay out of that mill, besides i'm from Parma, the old Chevy/GM plant down on Brookpark is what i'd have been angling for, plus the all the strip clubs were right down the street. I may have to track that one down and read it.

looby- i don't believe there's ever been a accurate portrayal of the street level/low level dealer in Hollywood, telly, the news media, they like to push the narrative of thuggery and crime while not understanding some people do this shit to survive and really aren't "bad" people. Some of us just like drugs, lol!

jonathan said...

Loving this tale Kono and yes it's all the better (and all the more gripping) for being a straight-up first-hand (if understandably, not necessarily exactly chronologically remembered) tale as opposed to something outta the Movies. Looking forward to the next instalment.

By the way- with apologies for posting this unconnected thing here- you were saying over at my place about Ian Curtis... and I have emailed you but not sure if I have got address right for you: so- have yourself a bit of this- from the archives: