Tuesday, June 02, 2009
I expect this one may generate a few comments. Feel free, but all unapologetic polemics will be answered with both barrels.
Many times in the past, I've written bits about my former drug usage. I'm not especially proud of it, but neither am I ashamed of most of it. It was just something that occurred, much of it seeming not out of the ordinary for the time period and the neighborhood. If I said I was sorry I did it, for the most part I'd be a hypocrite. When I was an asshole while on drugs, I've clearly stated as much. If you've read about me doing drugs and I didn't call myself an asshole, then you can safely consider that part of my experience as something I enjoyed and for which I feel no need to apologize.
Similarly, I've mentioned the fact that I was a drug dealer for a little while. Same applies to that - neither ashamed or especially proud. It was just something I did. The time period in which I did it lent an air of revolutionary fervor to the activity. I, and my partners, truly felt we were not only not harming anyone, but also doing folks a service. Actually, for the most part, that's still pretty much how I feel about those times.
One of you - I won't name names, since she may not want to be publicly connected, even remotely, with such subject matter - during the course of some private correspondence, asked me how I came to stop dealing drugs. After giving that person the answer, I re-read it and thought that it might make an interesting post. So, here it is.
(If your mileage varies greatly - if you or someone you know has had hideous experiences with drugs, or currently has a problem brought about by addiction, or in any way finds my attitude flippant and uncaring - let me assure you that I'm not dismissing your concern or hurt. Everybody's story is different. I'm just telling you mine.
I've had a close and dear relative die as a result of an overdose. It has been my experience, though, that most of those who came to a Dead End, via drug abuse, had serious problems to begin with and the drugs were just the handiest exit for them to take. Again, your experiences may differ greatly and I'll not argue concerning your feelings.)
So, having given you every disclaimer I'm willing to give, here goes.
Reader - "Often you have mentioned your drug dealer days. What led you to give up this occupation?"
Confluence of events. First off, I was busted. I was lucky, in that the times were more mellow and the cops I dealt with were fairly mellow, too.
I'm 18, I think. If so, it's 1975. We (meaning me and my partners) were standing on our usual streetcorner, nickel bags ($5) of weed stuffed in our boots - the style then was cowboy-type boots or something similar, with bellbottoms, and you could slide 10 or 12 small brown envelopes (they were "bags" in name only, at that small a price) down into your boot for safekeeping - and we were just hanging, waiting for customers. We dealt other things occasionally - acid, mescaline, what-have-you - but weed was our major stock. That's all we were holding that night.
Well, someone in the neighborhood must not have appreciated our presence, as a Boston police car came screeching around the corner and pulled up right in front of us. Two officers hopped out, threw the three of us up against the chain link fence we were standing near, turned us around, kicked our legs out to "frisk" position and patted us down. Satisfied that we weren't armed, they went through our pockets. We all had personal dope pipes on us - nice pieces they were, too, customized by us with little brass knick-knackery - and the cops took them, took apart whatever pieces they could, and then threw all of the pieces in different directions, into the vacant lot behind the fence, on top of a nearby apartment house rooftop, down a sewer, whatever (and I was pissed, too, and just about to give them some shit about destroying my personal property, when the smarter portion of my brain kicked in and said, "Stupid! You've got enough dope in your boot to do serious time! Play nice!")
Then they told us to take off our boots.
We did. Of course, they then had their hands on about three or four ounces of weed, nicely done up in little brown envelopes, ready for sale. They could have truly busted our asses at that point and made our lives miserable. Instead, the times being looser then (and maybe with them not wanting to tie themselves up with paperwork and a court case that would probably result in nothing more than suspended sentences, since we didn't have any priors) they ripped open every bag, dumped all of our goods down the sewer - there were some mighty happy rats that night - and told us to use our fucking heads and not have them have to come back again or else next time they'd book us. Then they got back in the cruiser and drove off.
Of course, we didn't give up the business just yet. We had too much time and money invested. Besides, they had just put us in the red for the week by dumping our shit, so we had to hustle to make up that loss. We devised a plan whereby we hid our goods off of our persons. We'd stow everything under five or six big rocks in the vacant lot. And when someone wanted to buy, we'd tell them that there MIGHT be a nickel bag under that rock over there by the abandoned shopping cart. And if there's more than one, just take one, leave five bucks under the rock, and be sure to tell your friends what a righteous deal you got.
The second thing that happened was that we dealt some stuff that was hideous and frightening, even to us.
We had all done many different drugs. We did a little of everything we sold, basically. If you bought from us, you knew that we had tested it first. You weren't going to get screwed with a bag full of oregano or some caps that were bogus. We sold only what we felt was righteous stuff. We weren't interested in hurting anyone for a profit. We believed that everything we sold was basically benign. Sure, with any illegal drug you took a chance, but we trusted our clientele to have brains enough to know what they were doing.
So, we got hold of some angel dust and started selling it.
Angel Dust, in case you're not familiar with it, is the animal tranquilizer, PCP, mixed with an inert smokeable substance, usually dried parsley (although some idiots would ruin perfectly good weed by mixing the two, which probably still happens and is part of the reason marijuana has a worse rep than it deserves in some quarters.)
We had all done Dust once or twice; some of us more than that. And it is a DANGEROUS drug. Make no mistake. It can kill you. It acts on the central nervous system, of course, and smoking it is unbelievably effective at delivering the goods. It can pretty much shut down your lungs if you fuck up. But, we were teenagers and invincible and had come out the other end of every experience we had with it, so...
Anyway, we started selling this batch before we tried it out. Then we sat in a buddy's basement and sampled some ourselves. Let me tell you, I have never been more zombified in my entire life and it was the last time I ever did that shit. I sat and stared at a painting on this guy's wall for two hours solid. It was a mythological bird, a phoenix, which he had copied from a record album cover by Grand Funk.
I thought that bird was coming alive and coming off of the wall any moment. I was alternately fascinated and terrified. When I regained my senses a bit, I knew I never wanted to go through that again. The rest of the guys had similar feelings. And we decided then and there we'd sell off that lot of dust in one fell swoop, to anyone who wanted it for personal use ONLY, and was knowledgeable enough to handle it, but we would NOT deal it out in little parcels to our regular folk. As a matter of fact, we told everybody who came to buy weed that if they had bought some of that dust, or knew someone who did, it was deadly dangerous and we wanted them to return it for a full refund.
We sold the remainder, at cost, to a guy who very much knew his business - he was addicted to the stuff to begin with - with the warning that it was the strongest batch we had ever encountered and he should be extremely careful in using it. He was an addict, but a smart one, so he was cool with it and enjoyed himself greatly so far as I know. But we couldn't live with our consciences had we dealt that stuff in small doses to someone who might literally have killed himself.
So, those two situations, happening about a week or ten days apart, were key in the decision to shut down operations. We didn't do so immediately, but we let things peter out, dropping back to strictly selling weed for a while, then liquidating our final stock and cashing out.
None of us was getting rich from this, by the way. Sure, we had a few bucks in our pockets at all times, but we sold basically so that we wouldn't have to pay for our own stashes. We gave very good deals, always offered a money-back guarantee, and our mark-up wasn't huge. We figured if we could have as much as we ourselves wanted, and give good deals to everyone else, then whatever cash we got on top of it was just a cool bonus.
And that's the story. I don't know if it's all that compelling, but it is true. And I probably need it to be out here someplace so that I can link to it, as convenient shorthand, in future postings. So, here it is.
Soon, with more better stuff.