Friday, January 18, 2008

Day seventeen...The Shell game. Pt. 1

I've been in a lot of trouble.

Not just in the last few weeks. Not in the last few years. But for a majority of my life.

I was reminded of this today as I spoke with the lawyer (we'll just call him Steve) who represented me almost twenty years ago.

I had to call him and ask a pertinent question regarding my 1989 OUI when I destroyed a two year old car my Mom had bought me only a few months prior. I destroyed the car because I was drunk, full of Valium, and stoned out of my mind on some very potent black hash. A real bright bulb I was. I had gotten the Valium from a guy I worked with at a Shell convenience store named Joe.

Let me tell you a little bit about Joe.

Joe was a piece of work. I say was as I haven't seen him in 20 years and for all I know he may be dead. I suppose I don't really care either way.

Joe was a vast man. 5'7 and about 400 pounds. Greek or Italian I'm not sure. White cap a la Dom Deluise, big beard, heavy breathing, profusely sweating and everything. We had to wear bright yellow polo shirts while on duty. I'm going to assume you can picture how awful a sweaty, 400 lb man in a bright yellow polo shirt looks. Joe didn't care. Not about his appearance. Because Joe had a little action going on the side that our manager definitely did not know about.

Joe sold pieces of the wall.

Which wall you might ask?

THE wall. The Berlin fucking wall.

Remember that this was 1989 and it had only recently been torn down. Well, Joe was helping to clean up the mess by selling cue-ball sized chunks of it on the overnight shift. He bought them through the mail and he'd bring a few in each night. Each piece had a letter of authenticity (from whom, I can only guess) and each chunk came in its own decorative box heralding "Own a piece of history" on it. At approximately 11:05 pm each night a few 'certified' rocks were carefully positioned right next to the gum and partially obscuring the March of Dimes can. I think they were at least ten bucks each. Tax included.

Joe moved a lot of rubble at that Shell. And he was a scratcher to boot.

Every night, before he came on shift he would buy about 50 or so scratch tickets all from the same roll; the roll I was working from. His gamble was that at least one of those tickets was a fifty and a majority of them were at least good for a few dollars. He was almost always right. And my scratch ticket count was almost always off.

Joe began trading me Valium for weed. It was a great match. And that's where It all started to go wrong. I loved the look of the pills. So perfect. Rain slicker yellow. Just thick enough to look powerful. And that cutout "v" in the middle. Such refined style. Hell, they might as well have been designed in Italy.

And so it was a cold and rainy December evening in 1989 when F. Alex Johnson finished his 11th Bud Light draught at the Sunset Room. That was the 'seniors only' bar at Southeastern Mass. University where Alex was a sophmore. He had popped a very stylish Valium at around beer #7 because he had nothing better to do. He said "Seeyuh laaaterrr" to his friends at the bar and bumbled his way back to his new car. When he got in he put in a cassette of XTC, his favorite band, and fired up some black hash.

An hour or so later he woke up and put his seat belt on.

"Time to get the hell out of here."

He turned onto Rt. 6 and headed past Lincoln Park. "If they hadn't started charging a two dollar admission, that park would still be open." He thought.

And he kept driving.

And he passed out.



And then it was quiet.

As he pressed on the release button on the seat belt he fell to the ceiling. Yes, he was upside down. He was also on the wrong side of Rt. 6. He could see the headlights coming towards him and thankfully they slowed down and eventually stopped. His left hand was sticking through the windshield and the wipers were on. The rain was coming down a little harder and he could feel it on his hand. It stung like hell.
Soon the silence was broken by the sound of voices yelling for him to spit out what he was trying to swallow. He had been pulled out of the car by the owner of the liquor store across the street and now he was stumbling around in a circle. The red and blue lights reflected off the slick road like fireworks over a canal. His gag reflexes got the better of him and he started to cough. The little baggie fell to the ground and the paramedic picked it up. be continued.

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