As luck would have it, Tecate Flats turned out to be a goldmine. Throughout the duration of my addiction, I had a fortuitous knack for attracting people—more specifically, men—who not only facilitated my habit, but subsidized it. I’ve often wondered how long my junkie career would have lasted if I’d been forced to work at it.
It was a Saturday night. Mia, Tits, and I headed over to Tecate Flats in search of stimulation. When we arrived, Flaco and Rico were sitting in the main yard, listening to Dire Straits, which was odd, since I’d only ever heard Tejano playing on that boom box. They looked ridiculously happy, almost too happy.
“Que onda!” they yelled, grinning ecstatically.
“What the fuck are you guys on?” Mia asked, smiling and motioning with her hand. “And where’s mine?”
“No shit!” Tits laughed. “You guys are flyin’!”
The mammoth bosom was stuffed into a low-cut postman’s vest she’d swiped from a mail truck earlier in the day. Rico—who had a Pablo Escobaresque penchant for pubescent girls—took one look and was smitten.
“You are in for a real treat tonight, mis amores,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Come on, hop in the Caddy.”
“Where are we goin’?” Tits asked with an angelic look on her face.
“That, mi amor, is a secret,” he said, smiling slyly.
“Well, when are we gonna be back?” she asked, putting a cigarette into her mouth. “My dad wants me home by midnight.”
“Then we shall get you home by midnight, Cinderella,” he said, lighting the cigarette.
Since Mia and I had no curfew to speak of, it didn’t matter where we were going or how long we’d be there. It could have been a weeklong cruise to the Mexican Riviera for all we cared. Our parents would have flipped and contacted the authorities after a few days, but that was beside the point.
After bidding Flaco adios, we piled into the tricked-out Biarritz and were on our way. A half hour later, we pulled into the driveway of what appeared to be an auto body shop.
“I have been wanting to bring you here,” Rico said, driving around to the rear of the building, “but needed to be certain I could trust you.”
My curiosity was piqued and running at full tilt. The first thought that popped into my head was CHOP SHOP, but I couldn’t figure out why he’d brought us there.
“Okay,” he said, quickly surveying the area, “vamos, rápido!”
We quickly got out the car and made a dash for the door, where we were greeted by two men, both decked out in garb similar to Rico’s.
“Buenas noches, Jefe,” one of them said, kissing Rico on the cheek.
The other followed suit.
After conversing in Spanish for a few minutes, Rico made the necessary introductions. Then he clapped his hands together and said, “Okay, mis amores, are you ready to party?”
“What do you mean?” Tits asked naively, batting her eyelashes.
The coy act had been going on since she’d shaken Rico’s hand, and it was all part of a well-calculated scheme. Biologically speaking, Tits was merely 13—practically a baby—but in siren years, she was pushing 30. The girl was a ruthlessly skillful operator who was only interested in what a man had to offer, and this man, quite obviously, had much to offer.
“Allow me to show you what I mean,” Rico laughed, wrapping his arm around her waist.
Without further ado, our hosts escorted us into a spacious cement-lined room that was strategically hidden on the opposite side of the building. As I walked in, I nearly croaked from shock. Inside that bunker, was a mother lode of cocaine, bag after bag after bag, from floor to ceiling—it was breathtaking.
The girls and I let out a collective gasp, which caused our hosts to burst out laughing.
“Omigod! Omigod! Omigod!” Tits exclaimed repeatedly.
“Someone fucking pinch me,” I said, gaping at the magnificent vision that sat before my eyes.
“Woooo hoooo!” Mia yelled, pinching my ass. “Let’s party, man!”
Which is precisely what we did. Unfortunately, my vivid, often paranoid imagination was lurking the entire time. The fact that Rico was obviously a major-league drug trafficker—while certainly thrilling—was a bit unnerving. I was coked-up out of my gourd, and in my mind’s eye, kept seeing graphic images of my own murder preceded by hours of rape and torture. Of course, it was only delusional nonsense that was being fueled by the drugs, but as I’d find out later, it wasn’t entirely illogical.
Around midnight, we piled back into the Caddy and headed home. Planning to make a move on Tits, Rico insisted that Mia and I be dropped off first. Much to our surprise, he gave us a fat bindle as a parting gift. And if that weren’t enough, he asked if it were enough. The guy gave new meaning to the words “chivalry” and more important, “munificence”—as we’d soon learn, when he began to feed our habits regularly and liberally, seemingly out of the “goodness” of his heart. It seemed too easy, too perfect, which it was, of course, but I’m getting ahead of myself again . . .
Mia and I thanked him profusely and got out of the car.
As we stood on the stoop of her father’s house, waving goodbye, a head popped out of the front door.
“And where have you two been?” the head asked, staring into our vastly dilated pupils.
It was Mia’s brother, Heath, who was ten years our senior. He knew we were soaring, but wasn’t sure how we’d gotten off the ground.
Mia answered with a grin and two words: “Fat Wallet.”
His eyes lit up like asteriated sapphires.
Fat Wallet was code for cocaine. Mia and Heath’s father was a diehard jazz fan, with an extensive vinyl collection that had to be worth a fortune. Whether records were spinning or the pianola was playing, the joint was always jumpin’ whenever he was around. Amid it all, Mia and I had discovered that Fats Waller was a hoot and a half when you’re high. One night, while searching for a flat surface on which to mince cocaine, Fats beckoned from the phonograph. From that moment on, whenever cocaine was snorted under that roof, he joined in. Mia dubbed the ritual “Fat Wallet.” She had a knack for paronomasia, and was also a skilled parodist. She could have given Weird Al a run for his money any day of the week.
After snorting through the eightball in record time, the three of us hopped into Heath’s truck and set out on what would prove to be a near-disastrous cocaine search.
“Okay, guys,” Heath said, pulling into a 7-11 parking lot in Garden Grove, “I’m not sure if it’s cool to bring you along, so just hang out here for a while.”
Mia and I got out of the truck, and walked around to the driver’s side window.
“How long are you going to be?” she asked.
“Ten minutes max.” And he was gone.
She and I went into the store to buy some water, and after chatting with the cashier for a spell, went back out. Seconds later, a police car pulled into the lot, and merely seconds after that, Heath’s truck appeared. The instant he caught sight of the black-and-white, he gunned it, leaving Mia and me in the lurch. My initial feeling was anger, but his reaction was perfectly understandable. He was wired to the hilt, and unlike us, if he were busted he’d go straight to County.
We watched as he sped off into the night.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” Mia whispered, glancing over at the cops, “before they spot us.”
“I’m right behind you,” I whispered back. “Whatever you do, don’t turn around.”
We sauntered aimlessly along the eerily quiet boulevard until reaching a Jack in the Box restaurant.
“Detour,” she said, grabbing my arm. “We’ll lie low in here until Heath comes back.”
“How the hell is he supposed to see us if we’re sitting in Jack in the Crack?” I asked, in a slightly annoyed tone.
“It’s Itch in the Crotch,” she laughed, “and we’ll just have to be on the lookout for him.”
Once inside, we planted ourselves in a rear booth. Within seconds, a police car pulled into the parking lot. Seconds later, two patrolmen got out.
“Are those the same fucking cops from 7-11?” I said, peering out the window.
“Sure as hell looks like it,” Mia replied, glancing over at them as they walked in. “Malloy and Reed.”
“Shit,” I whispered, “they’re coming over here.”
“No they’re not,” she argued.
“Yes they are.”
They were now standing right over us, and oddly enough, did bear a resemblance to Malloy and Reed, with an extra thirty pounds of adipose tissue apiece.
“Hello, girls,” Malloy said, looking at his watch. “Kinda late for you to be out, isn’t it?”
When you enlist as a juvenile delinquent, it’s imperative that you learn how to deal with the police. Number-one rule: never, ever, under any circumstances, volunteer unsolicited information. While you should remain cooperative throughout the entire interrogation, being overly forthcoming will only make you guilty in the eyes of the law.
“We’re waiting for our ride,” Mia replied politely.
“And who’s coming to get you?” Reed asked.
“When’s he supposed to be here?”
“Any minute now.”
“Alright,” Malloy said. “Just stay in here till he arrives. It’s not safe for you to be wandering these streets at night.”
“We’re not going anywhere,” Mia said, smiling. “Thanks.”
They nodded and walked away.
Ten minutes later, there was still no sign of Heath.
“Maybe we should ask the cops for a ride,” Mia said, chomping on some ice.
“What if they figure out that we’re high?” I asked, obviously.
“They won’t,” she said, trying to convince not only me, but herself as well.
“How can you be so sure?”
“I can’t, but if I have to sit here for one more second, I’m going to fucking snap. I need a fix… another line… another something… anything.”
“I hear you loud and fucking clear,” I sighed. “What the hell, let’s give it a go.”
We slid out of the booth, and approached them.
“Excuse me, officers,” Mia said, after clearing her throat. “Do you think you might be able to give us a ride home?”
“Where do you live?” Malloy asked.
“Out of our jurisdiction,” he said, shoving a handful of fries into his mouth. “Can’t do it.”
Unbelievable, I thought. When you actually want them to lock you up in the back of their car, they refuse.
“Are you sure you can’t make an exception just this once?” Mia asked, smiling flirtatiously.
“Nope,” he replied gruffly, shoving more fries into his mouth. “Call a cab.”
I was livid. I felt like shoving those fries up his fat ass, and couldn’t help glaring. Luckily, he couldn’t pry his piggish eyes away from the grease feast that lay before him.
“Okay,” Mia mumbled, “maybe we will.”
“Good luck,” Reed mumbled back, through a mouthful of milkshake.
“Isn’t it bizarre that they’re not harassing us?” Mia whispered, as we walked outside, entirely directionless.
“They’re too busy stuffing their fat pig faces,” I said, loud enough for them to hear. “We’d better get the hell out of here. I bet you a billion bucks that once they’re done, they’ll be on us like white on rice.”
Besides hitching a ride—which was unwise, given the area and time of night—the only option was to head back to 7-11, and hope that Heath would return at some point.
Five minutes later, there he was.
“I’m so sorry, you guys,” he said, leaning out of the window. “Those cops freaked me out.”
Mia and I got in, and fastened our seat belts.
“Don’t sweat it,” she said, smiling, “I would have done the same thing myself. So, did you get the goods, or what?”
“Uh-uh,” he said, shaking his head, “he’s tapped out till tomorrow.”
“Aww, man!” she exclaimed. “That’s a bad fucking trip!”
“What the fuck are we going to do?” I asked, thinking about the inevitable crash that was waiting in the wings.
“We’ll figure it out when we get home,” he said, retrieving a joint from the ashtray and handing it to me. “In the meantime, spark this baby up.”
Once back inside the safe confines of the house, we discussed our quandary at length, but couldn’t reach a solution. Until Heath broached a precariously interesting idea, that is.
“I have some morphine left over,” he said contemplatively, “but I’m not so sure I want to give it to you guys, it might kill you.”
Earlier in the year, he’d been involved in an accident that had broken both his legs. Needless to say, he suffered varying degrees of pain throughout the duration of his recovery. At the most excruciating point, he’d been prescribed liquid morphine.
“What the fuck are we waiting for?” Mia said, motioning with her hand. “Let’s do it.”
“Uh-uh,” he said emphatically, “I couldn’t live with myself if you croaked.”
“Yeah, but if you croak too,” she said, smiling slyly, “you won’t have to live with yourself.”
It was a morbid line of reasoning, but she did have a point.
I can’t tell you with any certainty what happened next, but it was strikingly similar to the phenomenon that occurs when you’re put under for surgery.
At 2:30pm the following day, I was jarred awake by a blaring clock radio. Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash” was pervading the room at full volume. I found myself lying faceup on the top bunk of a five-foot-long, child-size bunk bed, with Mia sawing wood in my face. I was unusually drowsy and hadn’t the slightest recollection of how I’d gotten there. It was extremely disconcerting. During my seven years of chemical servitude, it was the only time, no matter what I’d ingested, that I ever blacked out.
I rolled Mia aside, stumbled down the miniature wooden ladder, and switched off Bobby D, then reached up and shook my snoring bedmate until she was conscious.
“What the fuck happened?” she asked sluggishly, rubbing her eyes.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” I yawned. “I’m going home. Don’t forget, you have to read The Great Gatsby by tomorrow morning.”
“Fuck!” she exclaimed. “I haven’t even opened it yet! What day is it?”
“Are you sure?”
“Motherfucker! There’s no fucking way I can read that fucking book by tomorrow morning!” She paused for a moment and pursed her lips, which meant she was scheming. “Hey, I just thought of something.”
“And what’s that?” I asked, yawning again.
“Didn’t you read it?”
I knew exactly what she was hinting at, but I was in no storytelling mood.
“Yeah, but I’m in a fucking coma at the moment. I can’t even remember my name, never mind a book I read when I was ten.”
“Just give me a brief synopsis,” she begged, tugging on my shirt. “Come on, please? I’ll be your best friend?”
“You are my best friend,” I said, heading for the door. “Go buy the Cliffs, or better yet, rent the film, the one with Alan Ladd, if you can find it.”
She looked at me with helpless doe eyes and an adorably tragic pout. Many a sap fell victim to this little ploy, but it never worked on me, for I knew her too well. What’s more, I’d been known to use the same ploy myself.
“I need more sleep,” I yawned once more, walking out. “I’ll call you later.”
She mumbled something in French, then rolled over and resumed sawing wood.
The instant I stepped out into the blinding sunlight, I saw a trio of beaming faces waving from the garage across the street.
“Good morning, sunshine!” one of them yelled cheerfully.
It was Ganja Ron, Green Bud, and Burnout Jackson. They were neighborhood denizens and buddies of Heath’s. I think you can deduce from the nicknames what they were all about. Each was invariably stocked with the most potent marijuana around, which they thoroughly enjoyed sharing with the girls and me. Running into one of them was a real score, but all three at once? A hat trick—although I wasn’t so sure about the timing.
I forced a smile and waved back.
“You look like shit!” Ganja Ron yelled, holding up a hefty bag of weed. “Come on over, I’ve got just what the doctor ordered!”
Like an idiot, I dragged my carcass across the street.
When I entered the garage, I heard Tangerine Dream’s Phaedra playing softly on the stereo. Ganja Ron was not only hooked on drugs, but also Kraut and Prog Rock, which according to him “facilitated the journey.” Exactly where he was headed, I never knew. I doubt he knew either.
“What the hell happened to you?” he asked, laughing. “You look like you just went fifteen rounds with Marvin Hagler!”
Green Bud and Burnout Jackson were laughing too.
“It’s a looooooong story,” I replied, shaking my head. “Do yourself a favor, unless you’re in a hospital, don’t fuck with Sister Morphine.”
“Ahhhh,” they said in unison, nodding their heads.
“So,” Ganja Ron said, “you wanna get high, or what?”
“Why the hell not,” I yawned. “If I’m lucky, maybe it’ll finish me off.”
“I scored a half pound of that Golden Thai I smoked with you last month,” Burnout said, raising his bushy, overgrown eyebrows and grinning. “Remember that shit?”
“How could I forget?” I scoffed.
He was referring to a premium breed of opium-laced marijuana, which had caused me to believe that the half gallon of vanilla ice cream I was devouring was changing flavors with every bite. First it was butter pecan, then peach, then pistachio, then chocolate malted crunch, then pecan praline, etc.…
“Should we use Dr. Phibes?” Green Bud asked, pointing toward the workbench.
Dr. Phibes was a bong that Ganja Ron had built from scratch. What set it apart from other bongs was the respiratory mask attached to its body via a plastic hose. Can you see where this is going?
They took several turns apiece loading Dr. Phibes. After three rounds, I could barely stand, but continued to inhale the pungent fumes anyway. The rest is a blur. All I can remember is asking Ganja Ron for the time, and his answer verbatim: “A heckle past a frair.”
I often wonder why I remember this useless crap. I looked at him confusedly, then staggered out of the garage, crawled across the street, climbed back into the bunk bed—the bottom bunk this time—and fell into a deep slumber until the following morning.
[An excerpt from a work in progress]