“Hey man, I need you to drive me to the corner to get some cigarettes.”
That was my punishment for showing up late to the party. Granted, I had been drinking, but I was way more capable to be behind the wheel for the half mile drive than anyone else. What could happen in such a short trip?
Walking out of the store, my buddy Elias is talking to some guy at the pay phone. He was a talkative chap, especially once he had fully entered into a drug induced bender. The guy at the pay phone looked vaguely familiar…
“Elias, lets go.” I holler as I got the driver seat of his Dodge Omni.
“Hey, remember this guy?” To my amazement, Elias is bringing the pay phone man over to his car.
“This is Mike. He went to school with me.” Elias was a year behind me, but we had both been out of high school for some time now. I nod, say hello, and mention its time to go.
“Mike and his friend Jason need a lift to McArthur, I told him you would drive them.”
Great. This was not the time for a road trip. Even though I was late to the party, I was already quite a few drinks deep. Before I could object, Mike and Jason were in the backseat. I give Elias a “WTF” look.
“It’s cool man. They promised to get us high.”
With that said, our half mile drive turned into an adventure.
Once driving down the state route, I realize that due to the laws of “Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon,” we all knew each other by a few degrees here or there. Mike went to high school with Elias. Jason was the cousin of a friend of mine that I had lost touch with over the years. All was fine and dandy. Then I notice a car zoom onto our bumper. The headlights looked like a Crown Victoria, and since I was the resident gear head car enthusiast, I knew that it was. Elias was turned around in the front seat, seatbelt to the side, talking feverishly with his hands to the two in the back.
“Hey man, now might be the time to turn around a chill out a bit.” I nervously state.
At this moment, everyone in the car turns around to look at the lights behind us. Being a few drinks in, I knew that nothing good could come out of this. I also knew, that Elias was possibly carrying some sort of drug that was not legal to be carrying around. Who knows what the two in the back are carrying? If I remember right, this Jason guy has done some time in jail. I was vaguely starting to remember some of the small town gossip.
“Seriously, lets all chill for a minute, we are coming into town.” Sweating bullets, I am.
Calling McArthur a town is almost silly. More like a tiny collection of a few homes, total population is probably under two thousand. Driving into the burg, one of the first buildings you pass is the Sheriff department. Since the car behind us is still riding our bumper, I am towing the line with my driving etiquette. Once we start to pass the Sheriff’s office, lo and behold the car behind us WAS a state trooper. I catch a glimpse of it as it turns into the driveway. I breath a huge sigh of relief.
“What’s wrong with you man?” Elias is barely holding his eyes open as he asks his query.
“Nothing, nothing at all man.” I turn on my turn signal at the only stop light, no need to mess up now since we just dodged a state trooper bullet.
“It’s right up here man, take a right, go into the area behind the trailer park. You can pull over here and wait.” Jason seems like he is on a mission, he really hasn’t said too much on the trip. I pull the Omni over, Jason tells his buddy Mike it’ll only take a few minutes, then he runs off across the street, crosses the dark yard and goes into the house with all of the lights on.
Elias and Mike are reminiscing about high school. Mr. So n So was this. Mrs. Yada Yada was a bitch. This type of conversation bores me, so I stare across the way to where Jason is, which I can see right into the house since the screen door is open in the front, and all of the windows are open as well. Jason is talking to a tattooed man in his tighty-whiteys, and at times it looks pretty heated. I am pulled from my observations from time to time by Elias laughing his drunk laugh. Makes me chuckle every time. Jason and the underwear man are both standing now, not too far apart, and it almost looks like they are yelling. Jason bursts out of the door, and runs across the dark yard to the Omni to chat with Mike.
“It’s this big man!” Jason holds up his hand in the OK symbol. “I just need twenty more dollars and we are set!” Mike is hesitant. After some pleading from Jason, Mike hands over an Andrew Jackson, and Jason runs back across the yard. At this point, I realize that I am driving a drug deal. I slowly glance over to Elias, and mouth the words, “What the fuck?!?”
“It’s cool man, don’t worry about it.” Elias always had a way with words.
Jason and the man exchange something, give a bro-hug, and Jason is out the door and in the Omni with a huge grin on his black teeth. “YOU BOYS WANNA SMOKE SOME CRACK?” Jason holds up a ZipLock baggie with something the size of an aquarium pebble. It finally hits me hard. Mother of God, I just drove a crack deal. And with that, we start our journey home.
Since I just drunk drove a drug deal, and had been drinking, I decide to take the long way back, foregoing the state highways and the inevitable free ride in the back of a Crown Vic.
Jason is pretty jazzed. “You boys ever smoked crack?”
“No, not really my thing man.” Even though this is all going to shit really quickly in my head, I am still trying to be polite.
“Thats cool man. You know, good for you. Don’t do drugs. Drugs are bad.” Jason starts to sound like the local DARE officer giving us a lecture about how drugs have ruined his life.
“You boys have a pipe we could use?”
“No, sorry man.” Is all I can reply while trying to stay focused on driving. Elias is almost asleep riding shotgun.
“No worries man. Hey, if you see a can on the side of the road, stop so we can pick it up to use.” It seems like this tiny piece of crack is really burning a hole in Jason’s pocket. As we are driving, Jason starts pointing out all of the cans on the side of the road.
“Look, there’s one!” Pointing over my shoulder.
“Crap, sorry man, I didn’t see it.” And this goes on for the duration of our drive.
Back to Hamden, back to the gas station where this all started, Jason and Mike are on their way. Before they are out of the Omni, Jason convinces Elias that for twenty dollars, he can get him some fresh grown marijuana and a lot of it. Before I can answer for him, he shouts, “COOL!” and hands over the money. We all wish each other a good night and go our separate ways.
Back to the party, our corner store trip turned from five minutes to over an hour, we are greeted with a very loud, very drunk, “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN?!?” I pop open a beer, as the entire surreal journey has made me sober, and Elias starts spinning the tale as only Elias can. He is a master storyteller. Everyone is laughing at our surprising journey, and hanging onto every word that is flowing out of Elias’s mouth, until the very end.
“Wait a minute, you gave a crackhead twenty dollars???”
Needless to say, that money was never seen again.