Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cash Only

Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family. I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.

Chapter Thirteen

            “Boss, can I holler at you for a minute?” I asked Bull as Snake pulled the case of beer from the table and placed it on the floor in front of his feet.  He pulled four more cans of Pabst from the case after asking Bacardi and Milly if they cared for one.  Bacardi responded wordlessly by pulling her own bottle from the floor and waving it, rolling her eyes.  Milly declined and held up a dirty glass, half full of soda, and what I can only assume was some of her friend’s rum.  He handed Bull his beer and lobbed me a can which I bobbled and dropped.  I cursed under my breath to the laughs of everybody at the table.  Snake and Roxy cracked their cans and swilled deeply.  Bull stood up and walked through the kitchen and out the back door, which was my cue to join him in discussion on the porch.  I got up and set my can on the kitchen counter and bee-lined for the back door.

            I closed the door, and looked up and met Bull’s wide-eyed gaze as he was already inhaling deeply from his glass pipe.  He handed me the pipe, which I rolled in my fingers until the puddle of dope had cooled and recrystallized.  “What’s on your mind, my friend?”

            I held my lighter under the pipe, lit it, and watched smoke fill the glass ball as I inhaled deeply.  I began to talk as I exhaled, handing the pipe back to him.  He didn’t wait for the pipe to cool and just continued to smoke. “Dude, Roxy’s friend has GOT to be raising some red flags with you.  I mean, he’s openly offering you the hardest thing to get for what it takes to make dope, and he just met you.”  I shook my head and paid attention to the butterflies flittering in my head as the dope started to take effect.  He offered me the pipe again, still holding his breath and hit in his lungs, and I took it.  I began rolling it in my fingers again.

            “Yeah, that’s kind of weird, huh?”  He gestured hurriedly for me to hit the pipe again.  “You ever met this guy?  I mean, I’ve heard of him, but I’ve never dealt with him.  You think they’re up to something?”  I held my lighter under the glass ball and inhaled deeply.

            “I don’t know, Bull…” I handed the pipe back to him.  He took the time to let the puddle cool this time.  “But please don’t deal with this fucker.  Let’s drink his beer and entertain his offer, but don’t give him any idea that you’re EVEN interested in anhydrous.  Tell him that you’re out of that business.  I think the illicit exchange of that chemical constitutes a lot of charges besides ‘manufacturing’.    If I didn’t know him, which I clearly don’t, I wouldn’t even offer him any dope to smoke, let alone selling it to him, or buying any of his anny.”  Bull handed the pipe back to me.  “What??  Are you done?” I asked.

            “For now… just hold onto it for a minute.  Smoke it if you want.  Just not in the house.  You might be right.  We shouldn’t even get high in front of this guy.  If Beecher died and Roxy was delivering him to the hospital, you can probably bet that the law got involved.  Roxy is all about protecting her own ass, and she’d fork us over in a minute to avoid DOC time.  Go double check the garage and I’ll bring him back there to enlighten him to my lack of involvement in that whole scene.”

            “Bull-SHIT…” I stammered.  “You think I just want to wander back there calmly, knowing full well that there are three bobcats roaming around?”  I laughed in spite of myself.  Bull laughed too.

“Don’t worry, man.  If they haven’t pounced on you yet, they definitely won’t tonight.  They’re busy with a snack.”  Bull grinned and his eyes resumed their normal, lighthearted appearance.

            “Shit… can I get my beer first?”  I rolled my eyes and Bull pushed the door to the house open with his foot.  He held his hand up as if to say I should go first.  “Oh, hell no… I don’t think so.  I got a face full of mud last time I went before you.”  I laughed.  “I insist… age before beauty, my friend.”

            Bull laughed and took several steps inside only to turn around and catch me eyeballing his right foot which was still on the porch.  “EEEEEE-zay!” he said, laughing.   I laughed as well, and followed him in.

            We were surprised to see that Snake and the girls were passing around a folded piece of foil with a brown puddle of melted dope on it.  Snake had a tooter in his mouth and was inhaling the smoke from the foil.  His eyes were watering a bit, and he looked like he had to struggle to keep the hit in his lungs.  My eyes went wide, but Bull was first to ask, “What the hell’s all this?”  
              He laughed and sat down in his chair.  I reached for my beer, which was hopefully relaxed now after its tumble to the floor, and went to sit down.  Bull reached for my forearm and said, “Nah, man… go finish putting the rest of that carburetor together in the garage like we talked about.  It doesn’t look like you want any of this anyway.  It doesn’t look real good.  Who graced us with this treat?”  Bull’s tone was sarcastic, but he held his lighter under the foil and smoked it anyways.

            “Okay boss, be back in a minute.”  I took my beer and wandered through the kitchen and out the door to the sound of Bull faking a coughing fit and cursing about somebody taking a shit on the foil.  “Thanks for the beers, Snake!”  I hollered as I smiled and headed for the garage.

            Much to my relief I was not attacked by any ferocious bobcats on the way to the garage.  I did hurry though, and waited till I had the lights turned on in the building and the door latched from the inside to open my can of Pabst.  I wandered through the main areas of the building looking for anything incriminating while drinking nervously.  My ears were hearing things both natural, and imaginary.  Being alone on Bull’s property and trying to enjoy a good tweeker buzz was pretty difficult.  I couldn’t find anything else that would lead anybody normal to believe that anything criminal was happening.  In fact, it was a little too clean, so I pulled Bull’s pipe from my pocket and smoked while kicking over a couple of paint cans full of nuts and bolts.  This gave the place the appearance of having been recently used.  I reached into a large cardboard drum of sawdust and wood scraps and flung woodchips and sawdust around so that it didn’t look like I had swept recently.  I finished smoking, cooled the pipe and put it back in my pocket.  I grabbed my beer and made for the door. 

            After locking up the garage and throwing the switch for the electricity to it, I scanned the property outside.  I finished my beer and crushed the can in my hand and tossed it into a pile of old tires near the garage door.  I noticed the barrel was still smoldering from my fire earlier in the night.  Pleased with myself I headed for the relative safety of the farmhouse, and our questionable company.

            After a tweeked and nervous walk back to the house, I breathed a sigh of relief when I gained entrance to the back porch.  I pushed the door open and walked in to sit down next to Bull on my milk-crate makeshift chair.  “We’re all good, Boss... carburetor should be ready.  Bull nodded, not looking in my direction, but listening intently to Snake, whose speech was becoming more slurred and drippy since I had left a little while earlier.  There were now five empty cans stacked in a tower to his left, and three empties in front of Roxy.  Bull seemed to be working on the same beer that he had been given before I left.  He held his can up to Snake and pointed at me.  I still couldn’t tell what Snake was talking about, but he stopped and said, “Oh… yeah… sure.”  He reached in the case, but before he had the opportunity to give me a chance to embarrass myself again, I reached over the table and he put this beer in my hand.

            “Thanks, man.” I offered, and sat back down.

            “Sure, man… “ Snake slurred and went back to hemming and hawing about somebody it sounded like he and Bull both knew.

            “Yeah, yeah… forget all that.  How about you, me and Roxy walk back and take a look at this motorcycle I’m fixing,” Bull offered.

            Snake looked to Roxy, who was already getting to her feet.  She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled her dentures out and slid them back into her mouth.  I found this repulsive and deliberately turned my head to look at nothing on the wall.  I heard Snake getting up and turned to see him pick up what remained of his case of beer and he and Roxy followed Bull out the back door.

            “So, Dayna...” I started, “That was weird, huh?”

            “Yeah, I guess so.”  Dayna was brushing me off, and turned her attention to Milly and Bacardi who were sharing a cigarette.  “Can I have some Rum, Hide-Me?”  Dayna asked.

            For the first time that night, Bacardi spoke up, and said, “Sure thing.  Straight or do you have a soda or something?”

            “Fuck it… straight… I don’t care.”  Dayna was noticeably high, as her head and arms were twitching.  Bacardi handed over her rapidly diminishing bottle and Dayna took a quick sip.  She shook her head violently and exhaled like her throat was on fire.  Dayna wasn’t much of a drinker.  She handed the bottle back to Bacardi who offered it to me.

            “Nah… you don’t have much left.”  I responded.

            “I’ve got another one in the car… no worries.”  She assured me.

            “Cool.” I took a large pull and chased the rum with my now room-temperature Pabst.  “So, what have you two been doing?”

            Bacardi elbowed Milly, who looked up from texting on her phone, which became present as soon as Bull had vacated the house.  She looked up and spoke to me for the first time tonight.  “Oh… you know.  Same old song and dance.”

            “I guess that sounds about right.  You guys know this Snake dude?”

            “Well… I know him,” Milly said, “but I’ve never had anything to do with him besides getting high.  You know what I mean?”

            “Yeah, I guess I do.”  I was becoming uncomfortable with the challenging nature of the conversation, so I just started watching the monitors.  Dayna was crocheting something that looked like a flower.  It absorbed all of her attention, but she was still twitching every once in a while.  After a couple of minutes the monitor switched to a view of the driveway and I saw Snake going into the car he and Roxy had arrived in.  I perked up just as the back door opened.  Bull and Roxy entered the house and sat at the table.  Bull bent over to the corner farthest from me, where his safe was situated.  He entered a code into the keypad, pulled the handle to open the safe and then pulled out another box with a small padlock on it.  It was different than the box he kept locked with the vials of his personal supply.  
            He kept the safe open, sat up, and placed the box on the table and sat down.  He began spinning a dial on the tiny lock and finally pulled the lock off of the latch and opened his dope box.

            Milly, who had immediately stashed her phone when she heard the door open, perked up.  “While you’re in there, can I get a gram from you?”  She asked meekly.

            “Have you got cash?”  Bull’s eyes darted to Roxy, who was pushing her dentures out of her mouth with her tongue and using her finger to push them back in.  This was taking all of her attention, so she didn’t see Bull’s signal to Milly.  “I’m sure that this guy would walk out to your car with you, if that’s where your cash is at.”

            Milly smiled and slapped her hands on her thighs, “You must be reading my mind Bull, because that’s exactly where my cash is.”  Milly started laughing.

            Bull tossed her a gram sized bag.  Without examining it too thoroughly at the table she stashed it inside of her purse.  The front door opened, and Snake walked in with some money in his hand.  He gave the money to Roxy, who tried to hand it to me.  I immediately sat on my hands and said, “Nope.  I ain't your middle-man Roxy... so unless you're just handing out cash, I don't know what you want me to do with that.”  Bull laughed and reached over in front of me and grabbed the cash.

“You guys just want a half gram, right?” Bull asked.

“Well... unless you want to give us a gram for fifty bucks...”  Roxy laughed.

“Um… No.”  Bull counted the cash and handed a smaller baggie to Roxy, who sat back down at the table and pulled out her own, dirty, shit-stained pipe and loaded most of the half-gram into the glass bulb.  Bull turned his attention to me.  “Go get what Milly has for me, will ya?”

“Sure boss.” Milly had already stood up and was anxiously waiting for me to lead her out of the house and to her car.

“Oh… you’ll be her middle-man, huh?”  Roxy barked while exhaling a large hit.

I didn’t answer her, and walked to the front door with Milly and opened the door for her to exit.  Bacardi was close behind.  “I guess you guys are leaving then, huh?”  I asked.  I got no response from the girls and began following them out to a small rusty Plymouth parked on the road in front of the house.  
Milly looked around to make sure we were out of the porch-camera's vantage point and covertly handed me a stack of foil blister packs containing a variety of pills.  I started to understand why Bull sent me to get Milly’s payment.  He didn’t want Roxy or Snake to think he was cooking dope anymore.  
Cash only.  
I still wasn’t pleased that he sold anything to Roxy and her new friend, but it appeared as if they planned on smoking all of it here tonight anyways.  My thoughts quickly turned to getting back in the house while the pipe was still fresh.  “Is this everything then?”

“It should all be there.  Take care of yourself, huh?”  Milly offered.

I rolled my eyes, and turned around to go back into the house, but not without stashing the blister packs in my pants.  I opened the door and went to my milk-crate seat and sat down at the table where Snake had already added another empty beer can to his growing stack of towers.

Bull handed me Roxy’s pipe -- I heated it up and inhaled deeply.  
“I thought you said you cleaned the garage, man?”  Bull asked and laughed.  “That place looks like we just got done building something... or wrecking it.”  He grinned at me.

“Yeah… it was a quick clean-up.”  I retorted.

“We’re gonna have to go back and finish that up there in a bit,” Bull was dumping sarcasm on me now.

“We’re gonna have to do more than clean it I guess... that building is a trap,” I muttered.  “Snake, give me a beer, huh?”  I asked.

Snake cracked another beer, looked in my direction, swilled half the can, belched loudly, and slurred, “Sorry, man… this was my last one.”


This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo