Sunday, March 1, 2015

The D.C. Dead Show (part I, before it all got strange)

Springtime in Indiana can, in some years, be more cruel than the bitterest of winters. The snow doesn't simply melt, with the heating of the hemisphere, but is washed straightaway by the rains. Looking out the window, you can watch the white recede and the grass grow green again. Soon, there is the light green of new growth. Still the rains fall, leaving the new verdant lawns soggy and inaccessible. Being stuck indoors during a blizzard or overly long freeze is tenable, even expected. Being shut up indoors for weeks while the world is once more springing to life is intolerable. I am remembering one such spring and the lengths my protracted exile from nature had driven me.
One day, as I was debating the construction of an ark, a wee bit of blue appeared to the south and west of Muncie. The rain had gone to a drizzle. It occurred to me that I hadn't been in the woods for quite a while. Trees and plants and moving water have always been energizing to me, relieving the encumbrances of daily life.
I grabbed a sack of smoke and pointed the Buick at that patch of blue.
East Central Indiana is unlike the wooded hills where I grew up. Both are corn country; acres of fields dotted with wooded areas. Muncie has less wooded areas than southern Ohio, and I had no luck finding one that looked accessible. They were all small, one acre plots, well back from the road and across muddy fields in view of the farms that possessed them. It was while I was searching that the downpour returned.
Lighting up another joint, I meandered the farm roads and sodden highways back to town. A short ways from the little city, I found a row of greenhouses, set among an orchard. I don't remember the name of the nursery, but decided to avail myself of the greening vibe and pulled into their parking lot.
I entered the first of four long glass buildings and, finding it occupied by a cashier and several middle aged women, moved along a connecting arch to the next. I did so until I found myself in the farthest, and likely least populated. I sparked another doob and wandered the aisles, absorbing the surrounding life with each of my senses. At the rear of the building stood a group of young trees, and I sat down among them, inhaling their fragrance with that of the sativa burning at my fingertips.
The sudden voice that broke my reverie startled me. “That looks like a great idea, I do that as often as I can”. It turns out, that was no sprinkler system I heard behind the trees, but a hippie with a hose. He introduced himself as David while he availed himself of the proffered joint. I told him of my quest for a woods and how it led me to the nursery. He invited me to follow him home on his break to sample some indica and I complied, following him to Tenth street.
We chatted at length, and he showed me his “paintings”. Less art than craft, they were the product of oil colors floating on water that he dipped paper into. They were pleasing to look at, yet still, there was no artistry involved. In the end, he sold me an ounce of the sticky stuff we'd been smoking. His wife was livid that he would bring a stranger to his home and conduct business. I had short hair at the time, and was sporting wire rimmed glasses, a collared shirt, and a watch; not exactly the uniform of my people.
I was about to leave, when he invited me to join him and some friends and travel to a Grateful Dead show in D.C. In a couple of months. At first I declined, but when I searched my mind for an excuse, I found I had none. I had no girlfriend or job so, “Hell yeah” I said. “Sign me up”.
On the appointed day, Dave picked me up in his bright orange high top VW bus with the giant daisy on the front. It was only then that I found that his “friends” were one single individual named Bill. I knew Bill. I used to sell LSD to Bill. Bill was an odd cat.
Bill was a big fella who dressed exclusively in pastel bedsheets. He wore lipstick, eyeliner, and nail polish, all in black. He had some kind of vampire thing going on. Had they used the word back then he would have been Goth, all but for the weird ass pale blue bedsheet.
I used to meet him at his mother's house. She would announce that his drug dealer was there, and he would appear and take me to his basement and we would do business. His mother holds a position in city government and, to this day, calls any former associates of her son “drug dealers” and holds them responsible for his heroin addiction years later.
He only went in for two or three hundred dollars at a time. He constantly demanded a better price. I told him if he spent more, or paid up front when I placed my orders, he could halve his expenses, but he wouldn't go for it. Eventually I noticed the bills he would pay with all had a red magic marker dot in the lower right hand corner of the reverse side. I discussed this with the people I dealt with on the supply side, paranoid that I was receiving marked money and giving fair warning to those it trickled up to. I was advised to discuss it with him, rather than cutting him off. I followed instructions, failing to grasp the greed that motivated the individual on the supply side.
Bill denied marking the money, or noticing it had been marked. He assured me that the bills in question came from an assortment of people and the marks must be coincidental. I couldn't buy his excuses, but continued doing business while I tried to figure things out.
Actually, it wasn't me who noticed the marked bills, but a weed supplier on 8th street who pointed it out. He turned out to be an undercover agent for the DTF, but that's another story.
Before I met Dave, the situation with Bill solved itself. The Dead were coming through town in May and Bill was going to follow the pipe dream of twenty five dollar sheets on the dead lot. He focused all his finances in this direction and ceased dealing with me. He later told me he found the fabled twenty five dollar sheets, but they turned out to be plain blotter paper. No LSD was on them.
In the van, on the way to the show, Bill told me he intended to find the people who sold the bogus doses and force them to take them back. He didn't. He ended up ripping people off and selling those sheets as individual hits to unsuspecting Deadheads. I remember him justifying this, but don't remember the details of how. I can't think of much that is more reprehensible in the LSD trade. I let my friends know, that they shouldn't deal with Bill.
That was how the D.C. Trip started out. Dave, had a case of Sunny D, his “art” and some other crap that he planned on selling at quite a markup on the lot to fund his third of the expenses. He later told me he had his wife's permission to attend based on the projected profit he would return with. I had saddled myself with just the kind of capitalist hippies I abhored.
I had cash in my pocket and two hits of that fantastic blue paper with gold stars, and a mop up. Mop ups are sheets of very heavy (almost cardboard) that they throw in the pan to soak up whatever is left of the LSD when they lay sheets. For every ten sheets I ordered, I got a sheet of mop up. Mop ups are awesome. Let's say maybe 800 micrograms or more instead of the already 350 mics my people regularly laid.
We stopped in Virginia to pick up hitch hikers. One had his leg in a cast. Dave said it was in hopes they would kick down some gas. After ten hours or so in the van with Bill and Dave, it was apparent that they were in it for the possible profit, not the show.

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