The Game Begins
That winter, once I was free from school, my life took a dramatic turn. In February of 1979, I found a much more effective way of making money than manual labor, and it gave me more leisure time than I knew what to do with, which allowed me to explore the Mojave even more. Late one evening when I was the only attendant at the gas station, a guy I'm going to call "Le Mans" pulled his car up to the pumps. He was a regular customer who usually got a fill-up and paid in cash. He never let an attendant pump his gas or even touch his gas cap. He also wouldn't let anyone wash his windshield nor check his oil, and he didn't like for attendants to even ask. The reason he acted this way was because he was obsessed with his car, an old Pontiac Le Mans. But this time, he was just standing by his car when I got to him.
He explained that he was in a bad situation and needed to get out of town for about six months, but he had no money, not even enough for gas. I loaned him money for gas before, but this was different. One or two days was fine, but not for six months and not with him leaving town. I couldn't do that. But he had an angle. He had something I had never seen before. He opened his trunk and, inside a brief case, was a brick of hashish in this odd, pinkish/orange cellophane-looking wrapper.
He asked me if I would be interested in buying ten grams of this hash for $50. He claimed that was half price, since it normally sells for $10 a gram.
10 grams of hash. Wikipedia
I gave him a counter offer. Since I had never sold drugs before, and I'd never even seen hash, I wasn't sure I could get rid of it. So I offered him a $100 loan, in which I would hold twenty grams of hash as collateral. If I was successful in selling it, we would be even and he would owe me nothing. However, if I hadn't sold it by the time he returned to town, he could take the hash and pay me back the $100, or begin making weekly loan payments, plus the standard vig. He took my offer, and just like that, I was both a loan shark and a drug dealer.
My problem was that I had no idea who would buy this hash.
The next day, I wasn't alone on my shift. The lady I mentioned above, Vicki, was also scheduled that evening. It just so happened that she was one of only two adults who I knew locally that used controlled substances recreationally. So, I broached the topic. I asked her how I could measure, divide, and sell hash. That's when I found out why that guy was so hot to get out of town. He had very likely stolen the hash from a member of a southern California motorcycle club that I shall refer to as the Brothers. (An entirely fictional motorcycle club I just made up, not to be confused with any particular motorcycle club that may have a similar name. Wink-wink-nudge-nudge, say no more.) Also as it turned out, Vicki and her husband sometimes rode with these Brothers.
I was more than pleased to hear this news, as I was very familiar with biker culture. I asked Vicki if she could get me a meeting with the gentleman who was the victim of the theft. She said she believed she could. And she did. Upon meeting the guy, let's call him Chet, I handed him the hash. I told him I expected nothing in return. I was just doing the right thing. He liked that. We talked for half a day and drank some beer. He asked me what I would do if I saw that dude that I got the hash from. I told him I would collect my money plus the vig. He liked that too.
As it turned out, Le Mans hadn't stolen directly from Chet, but when you steal from any of the Brothers, you steel from every Brother. Chet would make sure it found its owner.
A few days later, Chet showed up at the gas station just as Vicki and I were getting off work. He wanted to know if I was interested in making a little spare money. Of course,we know the answer to that question. He asked if I could borrow a bike for a short ride. I looked at Vicki and she smiled. I told her this would happen. She volunteered to loan me her 1975 Harley Sportster for a day, if she could drive my '66 Mustang home. Deal! I told Vicki, "Just don't stomp on the gas, treat her nice, and she'll do the same for you." That was my first ride with Chet and my first of many rides with one of the Brothers.
Chet and I rode out to a farm camp near Cantil, California, where Chet introduced me to a guy. Chet told him that I would be making the weekly pick-up for a while. The guy threw a hard look at me, then nodded to Chet. For the next 6 months or so, I collected $500 every Saturday from that Cantil dude. Each week, Chet would give me $50 as my sip of the juice. At seventeen years old, I was now part of an arrangement that probably saved my life a few times.
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