You pack twenty bricks of black hashish from Lebanon in an empty air canister as part of your scuba diving equipment. We call it the King’s Hashish because every brick is stamped with a gold crown. You ship your diving equipment from Tel Aviv to your parent’s vacant winter home in Sarasota. You pick it up there and drive it back here in the trunk of a rental car. Such a cunning plan! Working together we sell out in ten days, netting four times our original investment minus expenses.
I like hashish, any kind, but the King’s Hashish is my favorite. I smoke it and the desert heat builds inside me. I feel strong, invincible like Wonder Woman. We keep two bricks for ourselves. I make hashish brownies from the recipe in the Panama Rose Cookbook.
That night, when we are naked in bed, I hand you a brownie. You chew steadily, a look of great pleasure on your face. I take my time, allowing it to melt in my mouth.
“A nice surprise, the brownies,” you say. “You know how I like to surprise you,” I answer. Bending my head, I kiss your sex, caressing it with my tongue, licking, sucking.
”Don’t stop, don’t stop,” you say. You reach your hand around, find my back hole, enter me there with your fingers. Those nimble fingers!
We have such a good time we decide to take a vacation at a fancy hotel in New Hampshire not far from Mount Washington. I bake more brownies. We reserve the bridal suite for a week. In the daytime we hike gorgeous woodland trails. In the evening we have dinner sent to our room. We drink champagne and eat brownies for desert.
Back home, you tell me there is no hash left, but I smell it in your mouth when you kiss me good-bye in the morning. Once I know you have a stash in the house, it isn’t hard for me to find it. It was at the bottom of your sock drawer, a single, swollen white sock beneath the neatly folded pairs.
In my hand is the evidence of your deceit, your treachery. O devious one! You wrapped it in saran wrap to stifle the odor but it was so strong. I smell it through the wrapping. I can see where you have been chipping away at one edge. You’re so sly. This isn’t the first time you lied to me.
I know about your dalliance with Sima, the stripper who lives in the middle of the block. Our next-door neighbor, Mary, was walking her dog one midnight when she saw you and Sima kissing in front of her door. “We women have to protect each other” is what Mary says when she tells me. It was on a night you were supposed to be playing poker at Siggy’s.
I try to find excuses for you. Maybe it was only an “innocent” kiss. Ha! Maybe it wasn’t you she saw smooching with Sima, maybe it was some other guy. Ha, ha, ha! Maybe I am crazy, so crazy I create a “give him the benefit of the doubt” file in my head for you although deep inside me I knew there is no doubt.
A month after that, you make a deal with Fingers the Thief. You knew I think he is a dirty rat and won’t do business with him. You buy Qualudes from him, sell them without saying a word to me. I find out because one day Fingers comes over here when he can’t find you at your studio. He tells me about the deal, says you still owe him cash. “Ridiculous, ridiculous!” I shout and kick him out.
It was just when I was expecting you back from Sarasota with the hash. You are two days late. Despite your perfidy, I am very happy to see you when you walk in the door safe. Besides, I know we have lots of work to do so I forgive you. More fool I!
Now this lie about the King’s Hashish! You cheat! You worm! You and I, we had a pact never to lie to or conceal from each other and to always split fifty-fifty. I keep my part of the bargain. I risk my life too. How many times did I go to Bolivia and bring coke back in my snatch No more! I’ll never trust you again! Never!
I get my alabaster pipe from its place in my jewelry box and the single edge razor blade I also keep there. My mother, a venerable seamstress, taught me how to use a single edge razor blade to slice through fur, leather, silk without leaving as much as a tiny snag.
Now, every morning as soon as you leave, I get the sock from the drawer, open it and before returning the King’s Hashish to its hiding place, shave off just enough to fill my pipe. Without a magnifying glass no one can tell if even a sliver is missing.
I go sit in my rocking chair in front of our big picture window. I love to sit here and look out on the street. I light the pipe, inhaling freedom with every puff as I rock back and forth, back and forth, planning my escape from you, O Devious One!
From my chair, I see all the way down the street. The Duffy’s on the corner were the first to sell their house. They sold it to a hippy commune. Fisherman Jim who lived in the Cape Cod bungalow next door doesn’t like hippies. He moved in with his sister in Quincy and sold his place to a big family from Southbridge. They came here because the father got a job in the textile mill. Other neighbors didn’t like the color of that family’s skin, so they sold their places too. Pretty soon there were “For Sale” signs all up and down the block. We used to know everyone here, now we know maybe six of our neighbors. My life with the devious one is a failed dream. I won’t be sorry to leave here. I’d better make a plan, a good one. If he catches me leaving with “our” money he’ll kill me.
There’s 30,000 dollars in hundreds in the safe deposit box. I’ll take about half because all the bills won’t fit in the false bottom of the Louis Vuitton suitcase we had made special to hold cash. I need a safe place to go to hide out and make plans, a place he won’t look for me. I’ll visit my friend Dahlia, my old trail buddy from P-town. I’ve mentioned her to him a few times, but he doesn’t know where she lives now or what she is doing.
Dahlia and I used to drive down cape in her old Thunderbird, picking up good-looking hitchhikers. Not one ever refused to go with us to the Truro pinewoods for some fun. We would flip a coin to see who would go first. Now Dahlia lives up in Maine, in Bangor, has a vintage clothing store she named “Grand Illusions.” I phone her, tell her my problem. “Come on up” she says. “Stay as long as you like.” I won’t need much, a
t-shirt, jeans, my black leather jacket, my cowboy boots. My typewriter can go in my backpack. I’ll get anything else I need when I get there.
Better treat him like Keith Richards tonight so he won’t suspect a thing. I’ll go to Angioletti’s, get the coconut shrimp he likes with all the fixings. I’ll buy a bottle of Stoli, his favorite, then I’ll go to the bus terminal to check the schedule. When he comes in I’ll greet him wearing the pink see-through nightgown with red lipstick on my nipples. He’ll be overjoyed.
I’m so thrilled with my plan. I’m standing up, dancing around the room, still holding the pipe. I make myself calm down. The pipe goes back in the jewelry box. I shower, dress, put money in my purse and I’m out the door.
I notice a new “For Sale” sign across the street in front of the O’Conner’s house. There’s a blue Chevy parked just down the block from the commune. Two men are in the front seat, one fat, one thin, the thin one reads a newspaper. They have clean-shaven, flat faces. They look like cops. Maybe they’re staking out the commune. Maybe the hippies are selling pot? What do I care, I only care about getting out of here.
In Angioletti’s the shrimp has gone up $1.50 a pound. In Fairfield’s Finest Liquor the Stoli has gone up a dollar. Inflation has hit this dying New England town. At the bus terminal I buy a ticket on the Greyhound, leaving three o’clock tomorrow for Bangor.
I’m wearing my vampy outfit. When he walks in he doesn’t even notice. He’s smiling like a baboon, a big sloppy grin on his face. He grabs me under the arms, whirls me around.
“What’s with you? “ I ask when he sets me down. You find money in the street?” “Even better,” he says. “On the radio today I hear the Feds passed that controlled substances act. Everything we sell is now illegal, even the acid, even the reefer. We can raise our prices, we’ll be millionaires.” Then he takes a look at me. “What’s with the lipstick on the tits?” he asks, “You promising me a good time?”
“I missed you so much today, ” I tell him. I bat my eyelashes. I even lick my lips. He reaches into my cleavage, pinches a nipple. “We still got blow left,” he says. I manage to keep smiling. “Let’s eat first” I say. While we eat, I keep refilling his glass. Maybe if he drinks enough he’ll pass out right after dinner.
No such luck. When we get to bed I climb right on top, easier to squeeze the sap out of him like that. I have to pretend he is Keith Richards to keep on riding him up and down. In the background I hear Keith singing, faith has been broken, tears have been shed, let’s do some living before we are dead. When the creep comes he moans like he always does “Ooh-Baby.” I pull myself off him. In a minute he’s snoring.
In the morning I wake up before he does, bring him coffee in bed to get him out of the house as quick as I can. After he splits I grab the Louis Vuitton suitcase and head out to the bank. The Chevy’s on the corner again. When I pass Mary on the street I just say “Hi, see you later.” I wish I could tell her good bye, thank her. She did me one big favor.
When I get back, I pack quickly. I take forty hundreds out of the suitcase filled with money and tuck twenty in each of my cowboy boots for whatever emergency may arise. I get the stash and put it in my backpack on top of the typewriter. I know it will bring me inspiration.
I am just going down the stairs when I hear a shot, and the front door bursts wide open. The fat one holds the gun. “Going someplace Miss?” he asks. The skinny one adds, “We’ve been watching you for weeks. Where’s the boyfriend? You on your way to meet him? When we see you go back and forth with that fancy suitcase we knew something is up.” I am shocked, speechless. How could I be so stupid, so involved with my romantic drama, I didn’t even think to consider the threat right in front of me.
I find my tongue. I try to defend myself. “Uh, uh, uhh..,” I stutter, “I’m not going to meet him. I’m leaving him. I-I I’m running away. I hate him. He makes me do bad things, he beats me all the time… ” The fat one cuts in, “Next she’ll be telling us she’s pregnant.” That hadn’t occurred to me. “No, No, I just want a better life,” I can hear my voice go shrill.
“Take the backpack off and put it on the step below you. Put the suitcase there too,” the thin one orders. He rips open the backpack, finds the stash on top, opens it, smells it.
“You’re in big trouble now,” he tells me. “We got you in possession of a controlled substance. Now let’s see what’s in the suitcase.” He finds the hidden compartment right away. He whistles when he sees all the money, then he hands the suitcase and stash down to his partner. “Thirty-five years in jail” the fat one says.
“I just want a better life, another chance,” I plead. “I’ll stay clean, I will, I promise, I promise. Keep the money, no one will ever know. Please, please. Let me go!”
I start crying. They exchange looks. I have never seen two such ugly men. The skinny one opens his jacket, unbuckles his belt.
“There is something……” he says.