04 February 2016

This Time in College When I Met a Vietnam Vet who was Selling Weed and How Strange it all was

Junior year at Chico State, this is in the mid 1970s, I go with this friend of mine, Gary to some guy’s house. Gary is going to buy some weed. The two of us had been sitting on his front porch drinking beer for the last hour and needed to do something. It was too early in the day to get roaring drunk.

So we go to this guy’s house. It’s pretty nice, at least compared to what I’m used to as a college student. Gary raps on the door and I hear this voice yell, “who is it?” like he’s half mad and half annoyed. Gary hollers his name and looks down intently at his feet. I’m kind of looking around at the yard and the trees and noticing the well groomed lawn. I’m seeing everything through a late afternoon beer buzz which makes the world a little duller but a little nicer.

Finally we hear footsteps and the door swings open. “Hey Corbyn,” Gary says real friendly, which is the way Gary is with everybody.  Corbyn kind of mutters a hello and says for us to come in. I’m introduced and Corbyn acts like he couldn’t give a shit about meeting me. He doesn’t look like my image of a guy who — as Gary told me before — sells a lot of weed. He’s got short hair, a mustache, and glasses and wears a plaid shirt and brand new jeans and shuffles along in real fancy looking slippers like your rich uncle would wear. He’s got tawny skin like he spends a lot of time in the sun. In fact looking at Corbyn you think he's an accountant on his day off, a well-to-do accountant who jets to Bermuda all the time.

Corbyn sit and indicates we should do the same. He finally bothers to look at me and its like he sees right through my bullshit right away. There’s something about this guy like you can’t fool him and he’s smarter than everybody else and there’s no way in hell you could win an argument from him. I look at Corybn and think: “would it kill this motherfucker to smile once?” He really does look like he hates everything and anything he has to do — especially for someone else — is just a royal pain in the ass.

“So what’s your deal, man?” he says to me. I’m thinking, what the fuck? I mean who ever says that to anybody especially someone you just met. “Me?” I finally say which I know is not exactly brilliant, because of course he’s obviously talking to me, but like I said I got a pretty good beer buzz going.

“Yeah, man. You.” He says the “you” like he’s spitting some shit out of his mouth.

“I’m just a friend of Gary’s come along for the ride, so to speak.” I’m thinking there’s no way that answer can’t satisfy him but there's no way any answer could satisfy him.

“What’s the deal here, Corbyn?” Gary wants to know, still grinning like he always does.

“I don’t know that I feel all that comfortable with him here,” he says eyeballing me.

I’m offended by this but there’s also something about this dude that makes me think maybe I shouldn’t be here, maybe I need to figure out what the hell is wrong with me. If he doesn't like me maybe it's a reflection on me.

“He’s cool,” Gary insists.

Corbyn looks at me like he’s studying a suspicious package. Then he shakes out a Winston from a pack he’s got on this wooden coffee table we’re sitting around. Finally he turns his attention 100% to Gary and it’s now like I’m not there. What a mind fuck.

The two of them talk for awhile then Corbyn goes to another room for a minute and comes back with the marijuana. “Mendocino Red,” he says and drops in on the table. Gary gets a wad of cash out of his wallet and hands it to Corbyn who doesn’t bother counting it. I guess people know not to try to fuck over the guy and I guess people who buy from him know that whatever he’s selling his quality shit.

I’ve been sitting there getting bored and feeling the buzz dissipate. “Let’s go back to my place and fire some of this shit up,” Gary says, breaking into an even bigger smile than usual which hardly seems possible.

As we get up to leave I look at Corbyn like we’re gonna shake hands or at least say goodbye but he’s just studying his cigarette. Meanwhile I still have this feeling that he sees right through me. How can anyone have any secrets from this guy? I wonder. Fucking be impossible, I respond.

So Corbyn mutters a goodbye and Gary and I step outside and there’s this kid looking up at us. He’s like about six years old and has a snot bubble coming out of one nostril. “Hey Lonny,” Gary says, but the kid just stares at us with this goofy expression like he’s nuts or something. When we get into his car Gary tells me that Lonny is Corbyn’s kid and that Corbyn is the dude’s last name and his first name is Virgil but he prefers everyone call him Corbyn. He also says that the guy did a bunch of tours in Vietnam and saw a lot of combat and a had lot of buddies get killed and saw some real horrible other shit, which I suppose to be guys getting their nuts blown off or their legs or whatever by stepping on land mines. He also says that Lonny is a little bit retarded and that his mom isn’t married to Corbyn but they live together and she’s a nurse. I ask why Corbyn was so rude to me and Gary says he figures that having been in Nam will mess with anyone and sometimes he's just like that with people he's never met before. But, Gary adds, the guy sells primo weed and doesn't jack up the price.

By the time we get back to Gary’s my buzz is pretty much gone, plus I’m suddenly starving and just basically feel like shit. Having an afternoon high die off will do that to you. Gary’s pretty much feeling the same so we fire up a doobie, have a beer and go to Taco Bell where we order and eat like half the menu.

After that I’m feeling pretty good again and so too is Gary so we head over to a party a friend of ours is having. It’s kind of a bummer because there aren’t a lot of chicks there. Still Gary hooks up with this girl he dated once and I end up drinking tequila shots with some frat boys.

It’s sometime after midnight and I’m totally wasted and dancing with this skinny chick who’s looking nicer and nicer by the minute when the door swings open and there’s Corbyn. Gary has just come up from the basement where I guess he’s made it with the girl he was. He immediately asks Corbyn what’s up as does this guy who lives in the house who doesn’t know Corbyn and isn’t crazy about some uninvited stranger suddenly appearing so late in the evening. Corbyn says nothing but pulls out this big ass gun and points it straight ahead and then slowly moves it to one side and then the next like he’s showing he’s got us all covered.

“What the fuck, Corbyn?” Gary says and for once he’s not grinning.

Then Corbyn takes the gun and sticks it into his mouth and pulls the trigger. But there’s just a click. Half the room probably just about shit their pants. Corbyn laughs like a total lunatic and then turns and leaves. That gave us all something to talk about and wonder about for the rest of the party which we did. Much to my chagrin the skinny chick took off right after Corbyn's bizzaro visit.

Gary and this girl he’s with drop me at my place around 3:00. On the way Gary’s talking about how weird the whole scene with Corbyn was and that obviously the guy has mental problems. By this time I'm sick of the whole topic and I feel like I really hate Corbyn and wish I’d never seen the asshole. More and more I'm remembering how rude he was to me and how shitty he made me feel and I really could give a crap he was in Vietnam that's not an excuse for being a dick.

It was three weeks later when I go into this bar after my class and see Gary nursing a beer looking real somber. I ask him what’s up and he tells me he just heard that Corbyn was taken to a mental hospital after pointing his gun at Lonny and laughing. Lonny’s mom loved Corbyn and all but evidently she wasn’t having any of that shit, now way.

“That’s a real bummer,” I say. And I genuinely mean it even though I hated Corbyn. It totally blows that anyone has to go to the loony bin and that the little kid and his mom had to deal with that. So I repeat, "that's a real bummer."

“Yeah,” says Gary. “Now I don’t know where I’m gonna get such good dope.”


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