jerry stood at the kitchen sink. a bit off to the side of it in front of the bay window. the sky was cloudy grey and he could see the tall dormant sycamores in the dim early morning light. their long leafless limbs reaching upward. he was eating a hot dog.it was nestled in a single piece of wheat bread. his early morning dog consisted of swiss cheese, mustard, mayo, along with bread and butter pickle slices and a handful of potato chips on the side. it usually served as his go to breakfast. though there was something to be said about grits mixed with creme fresh, parmesan, and topped with a fried egg covered with a generous dollop of his homemade asian chili sauce. finishing the sandwich he chased it with a glass of milk. the glass emptied the carton.
he rinsed off the dish and glass then set them in the sink to be washed later. probably after dinner. probably being the operative word. it was time for work. not work in it’s usual sense. jerry hadn’t worked in several months. though he had a job. a semi full time job working for a janitorial service. one afternoon he decided to not go into work. that one afternoon had stretched into a month or more. he hadn’t bothered to call the office. and they hadn’t bothered to call him. the company keys still sat in a drawer by the back door. he’d been living on his GI bill college benefit. a meager sum to be sure. he would probably have to go back to work soon because he’d given up on going to school as well. once the VA realized he was no longer in school that check would stop. that would probably happen soon enough.
it really didn’t matter to jerry. not much did. what mattered was having enough money to live on with enough left over for a few quarts of colt .45 and some decent smoke everyday. cigarettes too. the real ones. not the crap in the can or bag which left you to roll your own. he’d been doing that for the past couple of weeks. if there was one thing that would get him back to work it would be his need for ready made cigarettes and decent smoke. one could always scrape up enough cash for some malt liquor. regardless.
his job that morning was to go through some stems and seeds one last time in order to cull enough weed to get him through the day. he thought there was a slim chance at finding enough for at least one large joint. jerry pulled the baggie of seeds and stems from the cupboard along with some rolling papers and a shoe box lid. he sat at the kitchen table and slowly went went through what was left in the baggie. it had started out as a couple of ounces of some very nice jamaican weed. heady stuff. he’d scored it along with several grams of peruvian flake back when he had what could almost be said plenty of cash. sort of. jerry had paid for the smoke but the coke had been a credit deal. a credit deal which would soon become payable.
the only sound in the house was the seeds dropping onto the shoe box lid. he’d lift one end up where the seeds lay and slowly lift a few up with an old playing card. a jack of diamonds. the process wasn’t unlike panning for gold. that analogy wasn’t lost on jerry. the seeds ended up at the bottom and the dope, which was lighter, stayed up on the top. he kept it up for a half hour or so until all the seeds from the baggie had been carefully gone through. then he carefully picked over the stems once again. when he was finished he figured he had enough for a nice after dinner smoke.
the problem being there wouldn’t be anything to get him through the day. as he was still sitting at the table rolling up his last lonely joint the phone rang. jerry glanced at the phone as he licked the glue on the rolling paper and gave the smoke a last flick of the fingers. he dropped the blunt on top of the seeds and got up to answer the phone.
jerry? it’s sid.
the coke on credit had just come due. he bolstered up what he thought was some bravado but doubted sid was buying any of it.
hey, sid, what’s up?
not much. look, the reason i’m calling is i haven’t heard from you and my end is looking for their final payment. i need my money.
ah, shit. yeah, man i um been meaning to get down there. you know work school and all…
yeah, i get it. when can i expect you?
tomorrow evening at the latest.
ok. i’ll be seeing you soon then.
you got it. later, man.
jerry hung up the phone. said, shit, and realized he wasn’t going to be heading down to sid’s place anytime soon. or anytime at all ever again for that matter. sadly, it meant no more flake for sure. ah, well. at least smoke was easier to find. you just needed some cash. thankfully, sid had no idea where he lived. no idea other than the city. sighing he went back to the table. as he was about to toss the stems and seeds out a thought hit him. tea. he’d never done it but he could brew up some tea with the stems and seeds.
he filled pot up with water and sat it on the stove. he turned on the burner and went to the fridge. he found an old lemon with some life left in it and sliced it up. by the time the water was boiling he was looking forward to his home brew. he turned off the gas and dropped the lemon slices into the hot water. then he carefully put the stems into the pot. he used a spoon to get them submerged. he followed with the seeds. putting a lid on the concoction he left it to steep. he needed some music.
he thumbed through his LP collection searching for something that fit the mood and the day. he settled upon frank zappa’s semi jazzy, ‘waka jawaka’. long instrumentals that made him think of rain and snow. very soothing. the music filled the house. jerry sat on the couch almost drifting off to sleep. the sound of the turntable turning itself off roused him. he flipped the LP over then he started side two. he figured the tea had sat long enough and went back into the kitchen.
the kitchen smelled of something. almost unpleasant. he lifted the lid on the pot and the smell grew stronger. it was tinged with lemon. the water had turned a dark color and was still warm. jerry thought of english breakfast tea. he found a mug and carefully poured some of the liquid into it. smelled it. held his breath and drank. he nailed the cup all at once. cringed a bit then thought it wasn’t all that bad. just different. he filled the mug again and drank. ok, he thought, now i wait.
while waiting he finished dressing and decided he should hit the grocery store while he still had some cash. filling the car’s gas tank was also in order. deciding he wasn’t feeling anything from his tea he thought it had been a waste of time and energy as he turned off the music and headed out the door to his ride and the store.
the drive to the store was uneventful. though as he was parking he began to feel THC jolts up his spine. by the time he got inside the store it was obvious his shopping trip was probably a big mistake. he was getting blown away. not a bad thing but he wasn’t so sure about getting home now. he was also sure a shopping trip alone and high wasn’t a good idea as well. as he turned to leave the floor rose to meet him and began grow wavy. great. just fucking great were his thoughts. things were going to get weird.
as he got to the exit he realized not scoring some malt liquor for that night would be stupid. hopefully there was something at home for dinner. he turned around and made his purchase. the checker turned out to be a pretty young thing around his age that he hadn’t seen or noticed before. hopefully, he’d remember her.
carefully driving home he tried to remember when he had been this stoned before. the nam probably or before that a trip into l.a. to see the kinks live after taking some mescaline. he’d thought he was surfing and shooting the pier while going under the 405 and 10 underpass. his passengers hadn’t been very happy to hear that.
making it home in one piece was a relief. he put the colt .45 in the refrigerator and noticed some zucchini. dinner he thought as the phone rang. with any luck it wasn’t sid again. had he given the checker his number? he had no idea. he picked up the receiver.
it sounded like his work partner, larry mitchell.
yep. man, where you been? pete’s been fucking wondering and worrying.
ah, yeah, i bet.
you know the keys and all.
safe in a drawer in the kitchen.
ok. you planning on coming back to work? it’s been a while to say the least.
at least it finally dawned on pete to find out just what the fuck was going on. good ole pete. more concerned about the swinger parties he attended than anything else.
fighting the high he said, tuesday. he thought today was saturday. though he wasn’t sure. at any rate, tuesday was their day they did the floors at a local denny’s. lots of change on the floor under the tables and in the creases of the booths. gas and malt liquor money.
yeah, see you at 2. the usual.
fine. i’ll tell pete. later, man.
as he hung up the phone he realized there was more tea left in the pot on the stove. it was going to be a good rest of the day of whatever day of the week it was. yeah, a good day.