21 October 2014

Sometimes a Stroll Down Memory Lane Takes You Into a Small Room Where You're Really High and a Maniac With a Huge Knife is Keeping You Captive

It really should have been a clue.

You’re in a small room with a friend and two bad guys. A transaction for cocaine has just been completed. You’ve got the the slick well spoken bad guy named Ray who you met once before and have connected to via a mutual friend, Jerry. Then there’s the other guy. He’s what you would call a crazy motherfucker. There’s no doubt that he’s done time. He’s huge, well over 6’4’ and made of muscles. He could squash your head with his hands. He is not a smart man just a dangerous one. The don’t-give-a-fuck type. He’s liable to do anything at anytime, you just don’t know. Worse, he’s got a knife in his hand. A very sharp hunting knife with which he could take off your hand with two whacks, maybe one. You’re also pretty sure he’s got a gun. So there’s that.

You’re with Jake who you don’t know that well, just gotten high with him several times and you’ve come along on this deal as a favor and so that you can get some free blow. Jake is nervous. It’s his money.

The coke and money have been exchanged. It’s time to book. But this monstrous asshole doesn’t want anyone going anywhere just yet. “This ain’t like no regular guys in suits business. We sit, we talk we have a drink we get to know each other a little first. Maybe we find we wanna do business again.” Ray, the dealer, he just sits and nods to this like whatever.

So big dummy pulls out this bottle of tequila. And then four glasses. Not just small shot glasses either. Like regular drinking glasses. Now you can’t even remember where the fuck you are. Oakland maybe. Jake drove. More like weaved. And you’re in this tiny room in these wooden straight backed chairs with one big window looking out on a parking lot. The table is metal. You sit next to Jake and across from Crazy. “What the fuck is this place?” You wonder and realize you’re pretty high already and that’s not a good thing right now. Or its the best. Meanwhile Jake is very nervous and you wonder if this is going to make things worse or is he nervous because he knows what’s coming.

You don’t really think about dying or even getting hurt. You can’t get that far in your thinking. You’re just feeling trapped in this room with some big maniac who has a hunting knife and probably a gun. Like what the fuck did I do to deserve this? Oh yeah I came along on a drug deal, dummy. See because is not you it’s me. Or was me.

The big palooka pours the tequila. “To life!” he says and I know as he upends his glass down his gullet that I’ve got to make a game effort to drink as much of the tequila in my glass as I possibly can in one swallow.

I do.

Glasses hit the table hard. The soft burn works its way up from my stomach. A few seconds later my head jimmy jacks around and I feel god damned good. Then I kind of shake my head and I’m still in the room and so don’t feel so good.

“We really need to get going,” Jake says, his voice coming from some other galaxy.

I endorse this notion and start to get up. The big ape puts a paw on my shoulder and slams me back down. “There’s no fucking rush!” he shouts. Oh hell, now he’s angry. But that passes quickly too and he smiles.

The other guy says “calm down, Snake, take it easy. No need to shout, the boys ain’t goin’ anywhere yet. Right boys?”


We nod but all I can think is: Snake? Seriously? That’s when I notice the snake tattoo on his arm. It just seems too fucking obvious. It may seem a bit funny but his size and strength is no joke. Me I'm about 5'7" and as an ex athlete I'm in decent shape but don't match up so well against Snake. As for Jake he's my size only really skinny and doesn't look like he ever so much as played checkers let alone lifted a weight. So the two of us together are over matched by Snake. By a long ways.

“We have another round!” Snake proclaims. At this rate I’m going to pass out before we get to the car and Jake is going to have none chance of driving.

Thankfully Snake doesn’t fill the glasses all the way this time. Maybe half way. We drink to life again. There’s conversation now and I’m part of it. But my consciousness is deep in my brain and all the words are echoing and I don’t know exactly what I’m saying and sure as shit don’t know what anyone else is saying. But I see myself there. Talking nervously about some shit. I wonder for a second if Snake maybe will kill us and take the money back. If so is he just fucking with us now? But Snake is telling us what fine men we are. How cool and stand up we are how he likes us and feels we're trustworthy. We're like real men. "You're not a couple of pussies like I thought you'd be." Gee thanks, I think and can't imagine how we've earned such praise. Meanwhile he keeps fiddling with that knife. He loves the sucker. And Ray over there sitting as cool as you please seemingly bored by it all. Will he save us if Snake turns on us or let him slice us to bits? Ray just doesn't seem to care what happens. He's on a whole other high where earthly matters are of no concern.

Jake has to pee.  Ray leads him to a toilet and I’m left in the tiny room with Snake. I wonder what Snake does for fun. I wonder if he has a girl. I wonder about his parents. I wonder what Snake was like as a little kid and if he’s killed anyone and if he finished high school and if plays the violin. I don’t know why I wonder about the violin. Maybe because I’m an idiot. I have to be an idiot to be here.

Snake talks the whole time. No idea what he said. The single light in the room glistens on his perfectly bald head.

I decide that Snake is a complete moron and that it sucks worse than anything that I’m totally in his power.

Ray and Jake come back. Ray looks really scared. Or is that my imagination or the tequila or what I was drinking earlier in this evening when I was safe in sound in Kip’s -- a Berkeley bar -- waiting for Jake and thinking there was nothing to going to a coke buy.  Of course the coke we sampled when we got here may be playing a part in my paranoia. Not as much as Snake’s knife but still.

“I don’t feel so good.” Jake says.

“You mean like your stomach?” I ask. Now I’m worried on another level. There are levels of worry I’m dealing with. Along with outright paranoia and mild concern and pure terror and stark raving fear. It is raving, boys.

“Maybe we should go,” I say.

“Stay!” Snake hollers.

Ray says: “You ain’t gonna be sick in here are you?”

Jake looks in his lap and shakes his head no.

I have no fucking idea what’s going to happen next.

“This’ll help,” says Snake and pulls out — from where I don’t see — the biggest blunt I’d ever seen.

“This shit’s for real, man. Panama Red.” He proclaims.

Ray closes his eyes and nods like there's mellow jazz playing in his brain.

Panama Red is some nasty weed. It has much more of a kick than regular grass. We’re fucking in for it now, I think.

Snake lights the fucker up and we’re all toking away following Snake’s lead by taking deep long drags.

Now my head is all over the place bee bopping around the room. He stabs me with that knife I won’t feel a thing. But I’m scared shitless just the same. I detest Snake with every fiber of my being and like him like an old friend. I’m hopelessly devoted to Snake because the only way out of this room is to make nice with him. Fucking Stockholm Syndrome.  God, or whatever is out there, let me out of this and I’ll finish my goddamned masters degree. Be a boy scout all the way.

Now Ray is babbling like a maniac. On and on about women. I want to go home. I want out. My sphincter is inhaling and exhaling and has a life of its own and I’m not 100% sure its still part of my body. Jake looks so far out of it that I doubt he can ever be brought back to Earth from whatever part of the solar system his brain is occupying.

I fantasize about snatching Snake’s knife and cutting his throat. I fantasize about a field of daisies. I can’t tell if my right hand is still part of my body. I look at it in wonder. At least Snake hasn’t cut it off.

Snake. He is the worse human being in the world. And when he reaches over and hugs me and holds my head in the crook of his arm I am willing to do anything he asks. Because I’d have to. I’m totally enraged and servile and a baby rabbit in a tiger’s maw. Help me, god or whatever.

He releases me and it feels like a reprieve but I also he realize he can grab me again and this time twist. But then…

“Man I gotta go. I need to find me some bitches.” The speaker is Snake and this feels like the happiest moment of my life. The volatile behemoth has suddenly remembered the farer sex and wants to defile some poor woman.  My relief is indescribable but is tempered by the feeling that he may insist we join him or he may change his mind or he may kill us before he leaves or maybe Ray is going to shoot us. Who knows.

Snake no sooner stands up then he collapses into a heap on the floor.

“That motherfucker could never hold his shit, man,” Ray says. “You put any amount of booze and weed in him and the big asshole folds up like a cheap tent. Shee-it.” Ray stares at him with disgust.

“I better get Jake home, he’s about to go himself,” I say. Ray barely looks at us as we go out the door.  I keep expecting a bullet in the back as we walk out into the cool night. We’re in the industrial part of Oakland. It takes us 20 minutes to find where we parked even though its just half a block away from where that tiny room was. We are in a panic the whole time. Jake constantly seems about to cry and I want to squat and shit right there. Out of bald faced fear.

I don’t know how the hell Jake drove us back to Berkeley. But he did. So what we do? We went up to Kip’s and drank until closing time. And man I still had another four years of drinking and using ahead of me. Imagine that.

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