Pioneers pt. 5
Eric and I could not stop talking about the trip. It was Disneyland and Vegas and the super bowl combined. It was a life changing event. We desperately wanted to go on that journey again. I made several trips to the avenue during the next week to look for her. I told myself it was just for the acid but every time I saw a punk rock girl loitering in a store front my heart would flutter.
Gina was nowhere to be found. I hadn’t seen her since that night. It was just as well. I would have made a fool out of myself and proclaimed my love for her. However we felt about each other, she didn’t want to hear it.
After a week of frustration, Eric and I struck upon a plan that would satisfy a couple of our needs. We’d become dealers. If we could get a hold of a couple sheets of acid we could sell the individual hits for a profit and get high ourselves. Plus the extra money would come in handy for me.
As much as I enjoyed crashing at Eric’s neither of us had any illusion that it could last forever. I needed to get my own place eventually and this was the best option available, short of getting a job. It was a stellar idea and practically foolproof. The resale market was all around us. All we needed was the product.
The Space Port was alright for buying grams of weed but if you wanted exotic items in bulk you needed a professional. We’d have to go to the Market and find someone to help us out. In our exuberant naivety it seemed so damn simple.
Eric insisted on wearing dark sunglasses because they made him look cool even though it was cold and overcast. It was my job to make eye contact with all the wrong people, which I did as we wandered aimlessly through the fish market and underground shops. You can’t just ask strangers for drugs.
We were standing on First Avenue foot sore and bored when a middle aged black guy walked by me and said, “Cola?”
I shook my head no but Eric who had enough of the game spoke up. “We need acid.”
“Acid?” The man asked.
“You know, LSD.”
The man looked us over carefully. “How much?”
“Fifty hits, two hundred dollars.” I said. I had it all figured out. If it was good I’d sell for double. If it was weak I’d sell for five dollars a hit and at least make my money back.
“I can get it.” He said. “But, it’s not here. We’ll have to take a cab.” He waved his arm and a yellow cab pulled up. The three of us piled into the back seat and headed east towards Madrona.
Halfway there the man leaned over to Eric and asked, “Are you blind?” Eric still had his shades on. “Take them off so I can see your eyes.”
He complied and the man reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a short metal pipe that he handed to Eric.
“Smoke this.” He said and looking at me said, “You too.”
We both smoked weed all the time and it was nothing new to have a dealer offer us a toke during a transaction. I’d be rude to refuse. When I took my turn though, I noticed right away that this was not marijuana. It seemed to have no taste at all and my mouth and throat felt numb to the smoke. The feeling I got was stunned not high. A fog descended on my senses.
The taxi came to a stop in front of a well-worn house on a street of tired residences. It might have been either Olive or Pine Street. I could see the lake at the bottom of the hill.
“I need to make sure you two aren’t cops.” The man said. “I need to see your wallets.”
We handed them over without argument. He reached into each and took out all the money then handed them back to us. He leaned over to the driver and whispered something into his ear and slid him a couple bills.
As he opened the door and proceeded to step out I asked, “Are you going to get us our acid now?”
“It’s in this house. You wait here. I’ll be right back but do not come looking for me. If it takes a while, it takes a while.”
I watched as he bounded up the steps. Instead of going in the front door he walked around the side to the back and he was gone. Once he was out of sight the cabbie kicked us out onto the sidewalk and drove away. Eric and I stood there patiently, just as we’d been told, clueless and oblivious.
Time passed inconsequentially. We both wondered what was taking so long but the truth of the matter escaped us completely. Eric squinted as the afternoon sun peaked out through a blanket of grey clouds.
Just then, a large woman with huge breasts wearing a tank top and no shoes in forty five degree weather rushed towards us with her hands cupped in front of her as if she were carrying water.
“Here.” She said to Eric who accepted her gift which turned out to be several dollars in dimes, pennies, and nickels. “The guys up the street have guns. You need to leave.”
I don’t even know if we thanked her. Our addled minds were so susceptible to instruction we just took the money and walked away. She might have saved our lives but we couldn’t appreciate it at the time.
Reality began to sink in once we got a couple blocks away. It never once occurred to us that we might get ripped off or that we didn’t know what we were doing or who we were dealing with. We were total amateurs.
We started the long walk home. At first it was just to find a bus stop that would take us back to the U but we needed cigarettes and we only had enough change to do one or the other. We could either ride or smoke. We smoked.
Inside the first bodega we could find there were limited options. They had penny candy and forties of beer and fortified wine and two brands of cigarettes.
“Do you want Kools or Newports?” I asked Eric who was beginning to grasp the severity of the situation we had put ourselves in and found no humor in the foolishness we had displayed.
“Does it make a difference?” He asked.
“No it doesn’t.” I replied.
Hardly a word was spoken as we travelled along busy roads, the whirring of traffic created a constant din in ears that were polluted by exhaust pipes and inner dialogue. The journey up the across the bridge took forever on foot. Occasionally, we’d stop to have a smoke but we couldn’t talk about it.
I was gutted by the whole experience. I’d lost half of all the money I had in the world. Eric lost a good chunk too but he could always ask his folks for more. My mistakes cost me much more dearly.
It was dark and we were overly tired when we got back. Eric groaned as he turned the key in the door. The last few yards had been the hardest. I collapsed on my bed while Eric filled his bong with clean water.
We spent the rest of the night getting high and listening to music. Every time I tried to bring up what had happened Eric cut me off and changed to subject.
“I can’t believe any of this.” I’d say.
“Blue Monday is a dance record and I don’t know how I feel about that. Joy Division was great and so was Movement. I liked Power, Corruption, and Lies but I don’t want New Order to become a pop band. What’s your opinion, Ryan?” He’d offer in reply.
The only acknowledgement I got was once after a particularly strong rip that caused him to cough like he was choking on a tinker toy he stood up and yelled. “That son of a bitch stole my Ray Bans!” We all deal with tragedy in our own way.
The next day I was napping alone when a sturdy knock struck the door. It repeated and grew louder. I panicked and thought it might be the police. I ran around the room hiding anything that could be considered incriminating and nervously turned the lock as the door pushed in on me.
It was Gina and as soon as she saw me she shoved me hard in the chest. She had run into Eric who after some coaxing told her the whole story and it made her mad, not at the guy who ripped us off but because we were so careless. After lecturing Eric she stormed over to give me a piece of her mind.
“What the fuck?” She cursed at me. “You are so fucking stupid. You could have been fucking killed. Do you know that?”
“We weren’t.” I said and she shoved me again for being smart.
“Why didn’t you ask me to help you?”
“I couldn’t find you.”
“Well then, you fucking wait. You don’t ask some stranger to get you drugs. Fuck!”
Her fists were clenched. She wanted to take a swing at me. I should have been remorseful or at least prepared to duck. Obviously she cared for me and was worried about my safety but she was so cute when she was mad. Her face was red and her blue eyes turned beady black. Her body shook like a cat in a box. I was so turned on I wanted to squeeze all the rage out of her.
“You are so fucking lucky.” She said.
“Say fuck again.” I grabbed her and held her tight.
She pushed me away so hard I fell over backwards.
“Not a fucking chance.” She said and walked out the room slamming the door behind her as I lay on the floor.
I knew I had a lot to learn and I’d made some pretty big mistakes and took some unnecessary risks but I was sure I still had a chance.