$12,000 Loan
Author: Jay Molina

Chapter 3
$12,000 Loan

$12,000 Loan

 

“I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy

because I’m easy come, easy go, little high, little low.”

- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

 

            The door is very plain.  White stickers spelling ‘REEVES   C’ are all that decorate the dark brown door.  Poorly hung rainbow Christmas lights line the doorway.  There is a sound of crunching snow that gradually becomes louder as the two residents of Reeves C approach.  “I’m always afraid that one of these icicles is going to fall down and kill me every time I walk in,” says one of the residents, pointing to the roof above the front of the door.  The other resident proceeds to jump up and knock down some of the large icicles.  “Dude, don’t do that!  Those things could stab you,” says JMo.  The two residents crash through the door, ducking to avoid the dangling Christmas lights as they do.  Miles enters first, followed not far behind by JMo who’s carrying a pack of the cheapest cigars he could get at the gas station.  A few minutes earlier, JMo told the Middle Eastern cashier, “Pack of blunts, please.”

            “What kind?” said the clerk in a monotone voice, a strong accent from his country of origin.

            “Whatever kind you recommend, my man.”  JMo was in a very good mood.  The clerk turned to the display behind the counter and almost without looking grabbed a random pack of cheap cigars.  Now JMo’s marching down the stairs holding the pack up in the air above his head like he’s leading a parade.  Miles crashes down on the couch (JMo’s bed from the night before) and rubs his hands together in eager anticipation.  “Grape,” JMo proclaims after analyzing the box and reading the scent of the cigar.  He opens the box, takes out one of the cigars, and smells it like he’s professional cigar smoker.  Then he throws the box down onto the table.  Miles gives the box a glance for a split-second wanting to realign the box, but he restrains himself.  JMo goes over to the T.V. and opens one of the drawers in the console.  “Fuck!”

            “What do we got?” goes Miles, as JMo holds up a mostly empty plastic bag with green, powdery remnants lining the bottom of the bag.

            “I’m all out. You got any?” says JMo’s now scrunched up face.

            “No, I’ve been out for a while.  I talked my dealer, he said to give him a call sometime today.”

            “So call him up.”

            “It’s ten in the fucking morning! When do pot dealers start their shift?” Miles has only recently started smoking a lot because he only recently started living with JMo, so he’s new to marijuana scene.  He doesn’t know all of the “ins and outs” of the business.

            “Dealers are always on duty, son.  It’s not like they have a store that opens at a certain time and is closed on Memorial Day.” JMo’s mind is on smoking, and he will try and say anything make that happen.

            “I’m not calling him now,” Miles rebuts, “because then he’ll think I’m a pothead if I call him at 10 a.m.”

            “But you are a pothead.”  JMo doesn’t understand the dilemma.

            “No. No.  You’re a pothead, I just smoke on occasion.”  Miles is insulted.

            “Oh yea?  What’s your occasion for right now, the garbage man picking up our trash?” says JMo thinking he’s about to win the argument.  Many a time JMo thinks he has Miles beaten, but Miles is quick on his feet and can usually manage to force a stalemate.

            “The occasion is that we just made our highest total for a can day.”  JMo stands there for a few moments speechless.  Knowing he has gotten out of defeat, Miles puts his feet up on the coffee table and smiles.

            “Fuck.”  JMo throws the empty marijuana bag he had been holding onto the floor, mainly to get back at Miles, knowing Miles won’t be able to last long without having to pick up the bag.  “Then I’m going to my guy’s house to buy some.”  When JMo gets it in his head that he’s smoking, he’s smoking.

            JMo makes a move for the stairs, but before he can take a few steps Miles shouts, “No, wait.  You can’t.”

            “Why the fuck not?”

            “Because I told my guy that I’d buy an ounce this time, not just a half ounce.”

            “Your point?” asks a confused JMo. It doesn’t take much to confuse the simple kid.

            “I only have enough money for a half,” explains Miles. “You have to chip in to get the other half with me.”

            “Okay.”  JMo has a solution.  “I’ll just get a half from my guy now, and then chip in when you get a half from your guy.”  Miles is slightly taken aback; he doesn’t consider this a feasible option.

            “But you’re broke as fuck.  You don’t have that kind of money.”

            “Oh, I didn’t show you?” responds JMo who suddenly has his big gap-toothed smile back on his face

            “Show me what?” asks a perplexed Miles.  JMo turns and sprints up the stairs towards his room.  In a moment Miles hears him barreling back down the stairs.

            Before JMo is back in eyesight Miles hears a voice shout, “I’m a high roller now, baby!” JMo emerges from the bottom of the stair case holding a thick wad of cash.  He’s slapping it against his hand like he’s a mobster.  Now JMo fans the wad of cash like a deck of cards.

            “Those are all twenties!?” marvels Miles.  He has never seen that much cash in person, and the last person he would ever expect to be holding it would be JMo.

            “Hell yeah, muthafucka.”  JMo is reveling in the moment, usually it is Miles who has money.

            “You finally did it didn’t you?  You finally robbed a bank?” Miles asks sarcastically.

            “Noooo, I just got my student loan for the semester,” answers JMo.

            “But isn’t that for, ya know, school?”

            “Yea it is.  I paid for the tuition.  This is the cash leftover that I’m supposed to use for textbooks and school supplies, shit like that.”

            “I take it you won’t be using the money for ‘shit like that’,” remarks Miles, making quotation marks in the air with his fingers when quoting his friend.

            “Dude, textbooks at college are the biggest scam I’ve seen.  They charge you 200 dollars for a textbook that you don’t even use.  And then when you sell it back to them they give you 20 bucks at the most!” says a passionate JMo.  “I don’t understand how they get away with it.”

            “Oh, I completely agree!  Such a scam!” states Miles.  “That’s why I just steal all my textbooks.”

            “Yeeeaaa,” JMo says slowly as he nods his head and bumps fists with Miles.  JMo starts slowly moving for the stairs. “Now that I have money, I think I’ll get a real nice bottle of wine.  From now on no more cheap beer, I’m drinking classy.  What kind of wine should I get, red or white?”

            “Why not both?” tries Miles.

            “Both?”  JMo hadn’t thought of this. “Interesting,” he says as he strokes his beard of a few-days growth.  As he leaves Miles puts the country music station on the T.V.

            JMo gets back into his car and begins to take the same route that he took to go to the Ghetto Chop.  It’s a sight to see JMo when he’s driving by himself and in a good mood, which is his current situation.  He likes to blast the radio and sing at the top of his lungs.  If he doesn’t know the words to a particular part of a song he either makes up his own lyrics or just mumbles what he thinks the actual words might be.  All of this while dancing as much as anyone in the seated position could dance.  Don’t worry though, he still maintains control of his vehicle.  A singing, dancing JMo was a better driver on icy roads than most people were on dry roads.  “Everything in life has got a rhythm to it, you’ve just gotta find it,” he claims.

            The current radio station goes to commercial, causing JMo to scroll through his presets.  He uses his right hand to find a station playing Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, while navigating his car down the road with his left hand.  He starts to sing along, trying to imitate the popular scene from Wayne’s World.  Except in Wayne’s World there were four characters to sing.  “Galileo! Galileo! Galileo! Galileo!” he sings, voice alternating between the high-pitched and low-pitched parts.  When the electric guitar breaks out JMo starts banging his head up and down as if he’s at a concert, his dark mop of hair bouncing up and down as he does.  He is not at all concerned that he’s going 30 miles an hour and losing sight of the road every so often.

            After a few more minutes of driving JMo pulls into the driveway of a rundown looking house behind a beat-up navy blue Ford Focus with a peace sign bumper sticker.  The light green paint coating the house is chipped all over, and one of the gutters is dangling loosely from the roof.  It is a small house, there are only two windows, one on each side of the front door.  The left window is broken.  JMo guesses that a baseball or rock went through it at some point.  He walks down the driveway around to the back of the house, the dealer preferred for his clients to come through the back door.  JMo hadn’t bothered calling his dealer.  He figured that his guy would be home at ten in the morning.  Stoners are not particularly a morning people.  JMo gives several hard knocks to the back door.  Those were the wake-up knocks, so a few seconds later he gives a couple more knocks just to be sure.  He knows that his guy home, evidenced by the car in the driveway.  After what feels like a minute JMo assumes that he’s being ignored by the sleeping dealer, so he turns to head back to the car.  His head is down, spirit dejected.  His good mood has left him as quickly as it had come.  Each step he takes is very slow, holding out hope that he will hear the door open at any moment.  Just like when a golfer putts the ball to the very rim of the hole and the ball seems to defy gravity as it hangs on to the short cut grass, the golfer will very slowly approach the hole, thinking if he walks slower the ball will have more time to drop in. This was JMo walking back to the driveway.  Finally he hears the creak of the screen door from inside the house.  JMo’s good mood is back; he puts one foot behind the other and does a fancy spin move he saw Michael Jackson do one time.  JMo smiles when he sees his dealer slowly crack open his door.

            “JMo?”

            “You know it,” JMo excitedly responds and steps in to the dealer’s house.  There are empty pizza boxes, some open, some not, lying around the floor of the dealer’s den.  JMo spots one that still has a slice in it.  “This fair game?” he asks as he points to the box’s location on the ground.

            The dealer doesn’t really know what JMo’s talking about, he just answers with, “Uh, sure, whatever dude.”  JMo snags the slice off the ground and checks to see if it meets his standards.  He tries to fold the slice it in half; if it bends without the crust snapping in half then it is still fresh enough to eat, according to JMo.  The slice passes the test to his delight.  “Dude, it’s so early in the morning,” complains the dealer.  “What are you doing here?”  He’s wearing a gray sweatshirt, pajama pants, and purple tinted glasses.  He has long brown hair that is pulled back into a ponytail at the moment, and a pointy goatee that hasn’t been cut in at least 4 months.  JMo really likes the fact that his pot dealer looks like a pot dealer.

            “Yea, I was supposed to go to class but then me and my friend decided it would be way better if we just smoked a blunt instead,” says JMo with pizza in his mouth, still chewing.

            “Word,” says the dealer, not yet awake, rubbing some of the crust out of his eye.  “You been downing them Twinkies?  You look like you’ve packed on some L-B’s.”  JMo takes another huge bite of pizza.

            “Thanks, good to see you to, dude,” the response is muffled by his breakfast.

            “Come step into my office.”  The dealer turns and sleepwalks into his bedroom where the window is covered with a blanket.  It is pitch black, and when JMo enters the room he can smell the marijuana.  “So you want the usual half ounce, or can I sell you the full O-Z?”  He has a very slow pattern of speech.

            “Just the usual half.”  JMo remembers that he has to chip in to get a full ounce from Miles’s dealer.  The dealer opens up a draw containing many plastic Ziploc bags.  Each bag contained either a half or a full ounce of marijuana bud.  The dealer grabs one of the bags and hands it to JMo, who slides it into his jacket pocket.

            “Same price as always?” asks JMo.

            “You know it.”  JMo takes out his stack of cash and hands over seven 20 dollar bills.  “Damn, you’ve got a lot of cash.”  The dealer is surprised because he has been friends with JMo for long enough to know who he’s dealing with.  He’s more accustomed to JMo paying with a lot of singles.  One time JMo gave him 5 dollars worth of change.

            “It’s my student loan,” JMo gloats.

            “Buyin’ weed with a student loan.”  The dealer’s words are slow and drawn-out.  “That’s sounds like a good idea to me.”  JMo hands the bills over to his dealer who counts them.  The dealer gives JMo back a 10 dollar bill.  JMo looks at the bill and chuckles because someone (most likely the dealer) has drawn devil horns onto Alexander Hamilton with a blue pen. 

            “Can I get a receipt?”  This is JMo’s attempt at a joke, but the dealer is not awake enough to comprehend.

            “Huh?”  Before JMo tries to explain his witty humor, he hears, ‘You’ve Got Mail!’  The dealer checks his phone; he’s received a text message.  “Looks like you’re not the only one who wants to get his day started right,” he says to JMo.  “I’ve gotta make a house call.”  The dealer offers his hand out.  The two slap hands and do a semi-handshake.  “Thanks for your business, my man.”

            “No, thank you.  You provide a great service to the people.”  JMo and the dealer leave the pitch-black bedroom and out the front door.

            As the dealer is closing the door he says, “Tell any of your friends looking to buy about me.  I could use some extra business. Economy’s rough now a days.”

            “Sure thing.”  JMo says this to be polite, but knows he and Miles will be buying from another dealer very soon.  The pot dealer/pothead relationship is very sensitive, like a monogamous relationship.  JMo gets into his car, cranks the tunes, and heads towards the wine and liquor store…

 

            Meanwhile, back at Reeves C Miles has been trying to watch T.V., but he keeps taking longer and longer glances towards the floor where the plastic bag thrown by JMo lies.  He tries to change his body position so that the bag is not in his line of sight.  Miles gives up on that plan after a few unsuccessful shifts of position. There is no avoiding it, the bag is on the ground right under the T.V.  Miles impulsively stands up to pick the bag off the floor, but immediately sits back down.  “No, can’t do it. Then JMo wins.  And you know he’ll comment on it when he gets back.  I’ve just got to resist the urge,” he says out loud to himself.

            Miles checks his phone to see what time it is.  While JMo was gone, Miles went ahead and texted his dealer to ask if he could buy some weed.  He takes another look at the plastic bag and stands up again.  “Fucking bag,” he says as he walks over to its spot.  After standing over it for a moment, staring, he finally reaches down and snatches the plastic bag off the floor.  “Fuckin’ JMo.”  He throws the bag away.

            Miles hears the front door open and footsteps down the stairs.  “Hello?” yells out a voice that is not JMo’s.

            “Down here,” shouts Miles.  A guy with a brown ponytail and a long goatee enters the living room.  “Wow, that was fast.  I didn’t think you’d be up so early.”

            “Yea, one of my other clients went to my house and woke me up,” the dealer states.  “This is a one-time deal.  I never make house calls before noon.”

            “Damn, I just texted you,” Miles says while looking at is phone to check the time.  “You’re faster than Dominos! And they only give you 30 minutes.”

            “Well I’m gonna back to bed, so here you go,” the dealer hands over a plastic bag full of marijuana to Miles.

            Miles takes out a stack neatly organized bills from his pocket before saying, “Can you wait a few minutes?  Me and my friend are splitting this, so he’s got the other half of your money.”

            “Will he be back soon?  I really wanna get back to bed.”

            “Yea he should be back any second.  He’s going to be anxious to smoke.”  Right on cue the front door opens and slams shut.

            “I come bearing gifts!” shouts a low voice from atop the stairs.

            “Speak of the devil,” Miles says to the dealer.

            The voice starts singing the popular Joseph “Afroman” Foreman song, Because I Got High. “I was gonna go to class, but then I got high,” sings the voice.  Loud footsteps caused by heavy work boots descending the stairs echo through the small apartment.  JMo emerges from the staircase with a big smile, jacket and aviators on, holding a bottle of Chianti in his right hand and a bottle of Chardonnay in his left.

            “JMo?,” says the dealer in bewilderment.

            “Whoa, dude.  Why are you here?” asks JMo.  “Thought you had to make a house call.”

            “This is my house call.”

            “You two know each other?” asks Miles.  The three of them are standing awkwardly close to each other in the living room.

            JMo says, “Yeah, this is my dealer.”

            Miles responds, “This is my dealer.”  A second passes before light bulbs go off in the heads of the two college students.

            “Wait a second, we’ve had the same dealer this whole time and we thought it was two different guys?” clarifies JMo, mostly to help better understand the situation himself.  “This means all those times you said your weed was better than mine was bullshit.  I knew it!”  This is a pleasant surprise for him.  Now he’s got some ammo to use against Miles.  JMo lifts the wine bottles above his head in victory, smiles, and lets out a short giggle.  “Told you my shit was just as good.”  Miles can do nothing but look at the ground.  He has no comeback this time.

            “JMo, you cocksucker,” interrupts the dealer.  JMo is not insulted, just confused.

            “What did I do?” he asks with a puzzled look on his face.

            “You didn’t know that I was Miles’s dealer.”  It takes the dealer longer than most would to say a sentence.  “That means you thought you were going behind my back to buy.”  The dealer is obviously a little hurt.  “You said you’d tell your friends about me.  You’re a lyin’ cheater.”  JMo is still confused at why the dealer is upset, and now his arms are getting tired from holding the wine bottles for so long.

            “C’mon dude, you’re a business man, not my girlfriend,” pleads JMo.

            “Or a Chap Stick,” chimes Miles.  JMo gives Miles a nod of approval.  The dealer gives Miles an incredulous look.

            “Right, it’s like McDonalds doesn’t get mad at me when I go to Burger King sometimes,” adds JMo.

            “I’m just a little hurt.  I thought we had a special thing.”  JMo and Miles look at each other as if the dealer is the crazy one in the room.  “Whatever, I’m outta here, just give me my money.”  JMo takes out his stack of twenties and makes his second transaction of the hour with the dealer, who turns and marches up the stairs before he even slides the cash into his pocket.

            “I’ll be calling you in a couple weeks!” yells JMo up the stairs before the door closes.

            “Well,” says Miles with a grin, “That was awkward.”

            “Enough chit-chat, lets smoke our weed.  Who’s do you want to use, yours or mine?”

            “Are you serious?” says Miles.  He can’t quite tell for sure if JMo is joking, he’s seen him make much more foolish errors.

            “Well you say yours is better than mine,” laughs JMo.  He’ll use this joke every time they smoke until this current supply runs out.

            “Enough.”  Miles won’t hear the end of this for quite some time.  They sit down on the couch and look at the two bags of marijuana they have just purchased.  JMo grabs the bigger bag and takes a little out of it.  Then he picks up one of the cigars and removes it from its individual plastic packaging. Rolling a blunt is an art form for people who smoke weed.  It takes a lot of practice to get good at it.  JMo wasn’t that good at it, but he was willing to practice a lot.  First he licks up and down the cigar like an envelope while slowly rotating it.  The dollar-cigar had to be nice and moist, otherwise the wrap would fall apart when you tried to roll it again.  Then JMo takes his Swiss pocket knife and slices the cigar long-ways, letting all of the tobacco fall out onto the table.  Once JMo has finished removing all the tobacco from the cigar wrap, he reaches for his grinder, a small metallic cylinder with a marijuana leaf on the top of it.  He throws their freshly purchased marijuana he had removed from the bag into the grinder and proceeds to grind it up.  After a few seconds of twisting the grinder like a waiter serving fresh pepper at a restaurant, he dumps it out onto the cigar wrap.  Once the weed has been evenly distributed over the wrap JMo rolls up his sleeves.  Now comes the hard part. Anyone could have done these first steps.  JMo hunches over the table, and then very slowly and carefully lifts up the wrap to a few inches in front of his face.  With his thumbs and forefingers of both hands he slowly begins to roll the blunt.  Miles is watching in silence, trying not to disturb the man at work.  Up and down, up and down JMo rolls, trying to make the blunt as round as possible.  Finally he rolls it up and seals it closed. 

            Turning to Miles he says, “This may be my best work yet.”  JMo holds up the marijuana-filled cigar and analyzes it.  He glances toward the television briefly and begins to smirk.  “Ah, I see you picked up that plastic bag.”

            “That’s enough out of you.”  Miles knew that was coming.  JMo picks up a lighter and holds the flame up to the end of the blunt.

 

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