Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Wilderness Years - Here It Comes pt. 1

I had to do it again, luckily sometimes it's comes to you. It knocks or calls or shows up on the doorstep. Or as one Henry Chinaski once said, "Dumb luck counts too." And so it was that i set off to find a new connection. They say hard work makes your own luck. It's the myth purported by the the Masters of Commerce from their golden thrones that if you work hard good things will happen. Of course i believe that this theory they posit to the masses in success manuals and paid seminars is complete and total bullshit. Hard work guarantees nothing. It might help but so does being in the right place at the right time, getting lucky, good karma, whatever you want to call it. The Protestant work ethic? that's for suckers. The strange thing is if there was ever a time or a business i worked hard at, in the sense that i actually cared and gave a shit about what happened to said business, it was this one. Maybe it's because it was my own and let's face it, dealing was the first of the so-called "gig" economy jobs. It was up to me if it succeeded or failed. As for the "real" jobs? Fuck the corporation or the wealthy (now-incorporated) owner, i didn't give a shit about them, remember this is a America dammit, and in the words of Jackie Cogan, "America isn't a country, it's just a business. Now fuckin' pay me."

So how did it happen? It started with a "thank you." It was at the 759 one fine Saturday afternoon when the esteemed Mr. Gulboot Johnson and his lady were heading up the stairs to her apartment with a friend, a friend i had never met or seen. It just so happened that on the way up someone was coming out of my apartment and as they exited they said, "thanks man." Now the 759 was like my castle at the time. My old roommates, the good Doctor and his lady had moved downstairs while the soon to be Mrs. G. Johnson had moved in upstairs, i was cool with all of them, my new upstairs neighbor and Gulfboot being fully aware of what i did on the day of this event. Funny thing was that both Cowboy Dan and Hippie Jack used to always say don't say thanks when you're walking out the door, it was a dead giveaway. For someone who kept his shit wired tight i had grown lax in that one area mainly due to the fact i didn't really need to worry about it until Stiv was walking up the stairs that day.

We'll call him Stiv Bators (a nod to the hometown band the Dead Boys). He came up in the Rust Belt punk/grunge scene of the mid to late 80s/early 90s and had been in and out of bands ever since. He was a 10 or so years older than i was and as jaded, cynical, and paranoid as they come. His claim to fame was a semi-successful band who made three records for one of those well-known indie labels who actually move quite a few units in the European markets. They owed a pretty heavy debt to bands like The Stooges and Mountain and pretty much dealt in the hard rock Rust Belt aesthetic that still exists to this day, a genre that might provide some brief local fame but not much else.

And so it was on this day, in an old and battered stairwell, that Stiv became aware of a young hood who one could say was playing fast and loose but who felt he really wasn't. Later that day Gulfboot knocked on the door so we could begin our evening of drinking and hell-raising and gave me the head's up. He had said their friend had been walking up the stairs with them when someone walked out and thanked me and immediately clocked that i was moving something. Gulfboot explained that i was the friendly neighborhood weed dealer and Stiv then asked if it would be possible to meet me at some point. You see Stiv didn't smoke, he was too high strung and paranoid for that, but he knew people who did and saw an opportunity to make some money. Stiv had his reference, a pre-requisite for getting in the door and not long after that day in the stairwell Stiv and i were formally introduced.

The weed business is a funny thing. You deal with a lot of different types and even back before it became more socially acceptable there were closet tokers everywhere. Lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants, bankers, engineers... and then of course the usual crowd of waiters, cooks, retail grunts, students, aspiring rock stars, art stars, bartenders and door men. I was pretty adept at moving between worlds or what the MBA crowd calls, good people skills. Stiv was a piece of work to say the least. One of those cats i'd run into before, a guy who wouldn't admit it but felt jilted by the fact he never became a rock star but instead humped the loading docks of the world like me. He was working for a flower warehouse when i met him. He did deliveries and had a girlfriend and like most of the failed art stars was struggling to make the rent since the rock and roll dream had gone tits up. He was thin with longish brown hair and on rare occasions he might smile or even laugh. Curmudgeonly is probably the most apt word to describe him. He was brusque and gave the impression that he had seen it all and done it all and didn't really give a fuck.

Being the paranoid type Stiv was not much in to meeting at my apartment. He liked to meet at bars, not dive bars but the working crowd bars as i called them, places that filled up at Happy Hour and then slowly thinned out then picked up again around 9 or 10 the closer you got to the weekend. Stiv cut right to it, how much was it and was it steady. He basically scored for one guy, an older guy who was an engineer who didn't want to have to deal with anyone. The guy had money so Stiv tacked on a healthy fee and since the guy bought two ounces at a time Stiv would pocket a nice $150 on each transaction. Had i been more like Stiv i'd have told him i didn't really give a shit about his deal, my deal was supplying, what you did with it after you left was up to you. And so it was that every few weeks i'd get a call and meet Stiv at the bar. I always found it strange that a guy who was that high strung and paranoid wanted to meet in a public place to buy weed when he could come to my place and buy the shit in private but i realized he also wanted to be able to get away when he wanted. He was aware of the that weed buying protocol that says when in the dealer's place you have to make nice and hang for a bit and Stiv wanted none of it. He wasn't that social. I didn't inform him that i wasn't like that. I had a system to get people in and out, yeah some could or would try to hang for a bit but usually i tried to keep the traffic moving. If he wanted to get in and out i could arrange it and did on the few times he had to stop by my place. I believe he thought the cops were outside taking pictures of everyone going in and out my apartment or he'd step onto the porch and be collared by the narc squad. Didn't matter to me. He had the money and i had the gear.  (to be cont.)

1 comment:

looby said...

This is great! I lok forward to the next installment!

I completely agree that hard work isn't always correlated with success. Some of the people I know work the hardest in the minimm wage obs they do receive a survival stipend, at best. It's only the rich that repeat this myth.