Burning Harmless #2

Burning Harmless

Taylor kills it again with the second edition of her Burning Harmless series.


I dealt blow. Really nice blow.

I didn’t set out to do this whole drug-thing. I think it’s Sol’s fault–I’m pretty sure it’s Sol’s fault.

In my head, I wasn’t a drug dealer. I was a tiny, middle-class white girl from the suburbs who lived in a cookie-cutter house, taking care of her senile uncle. Drug dealers were shitbags. Drug dealers sagged their jeans or looked like those anti-meth ad people. Drug dealers knew stuff about chemicals and gangs and cartels; I knew good blow from bad blow and a few fun facts about weed and how to get high off banana peels, but that was it. Sol kept me pretty ignorant most of the time. He said it was for my own good. It irritated me at times because I never felt like I was in any sort of danger, even though Sol had tried to convince me to carry a gun. I told him I had a pocket knife and a big fucking mouth. I figured I was okay.
Most of my clients were scummy professional types who hated their families and didn’t know what they should actually be paying for their drugs. The worst I had to deal with at that time was a few guys who kept offering to pay me for a handjob; I’d give those ones the blow I cut with a little more baby laxative than was ethical. I did the same with the trophy wives. I hated them on principle and they were always dieting anyway.

Even though my means of employment was less than admirable, I still functioned normally. I bathed. I looked healthy. I ate pretty much enough food. I had all my teeth. I did acknowledge that I had some crazy in me, but that happened before the drugs. I wasn’t winning at life or anything, but I felt like I lived pretty much like anyone else.

Sol was my dealer once upon a time, and a genuinely nice guy. He was the son of a Wall Street stockbroker-type and a Puerto Rican cleaning lady. His biological dad was married, and paid his mom to keep quiet about the extra ‘services’ she was providing and dispose of the evidence. His mom moved out to Texas and had Sol instead. The dad was always talking about “repaying” her. I guess his mom had really loved the guy or something and still cried about losing him. After 26 years, I figured she would’ve gotten over that shit. I thought it was stupid, but I still looked at him like a fucked-up Robin Hood.

Sol eventually became my supplier. He called me a business partner, but I knew better than that. I was just unassuming. Sol had a few years of bad decisions on record, and even though his stakes were higher, my risk was lower. He would give me blow and I would be the face that handed it over. It was easy money and I came to trust Sol.
And I really, really liked drugs.
All of this probably makes me sound like a lowlife. Maybe I was. I probably was. But I didn’t see it that way. Sol didn’t let me.
“Look, you’re doing these guys a favour,” is how he first pitched it to me, “You’re not going to hurt them. Shoot them or whatever. Rip ’em off. Someone else might.”

Sol had sold me his plan like it was a used car he’d been sitting on for months.
“And where would I meet these guys to give them said drugs?”
“At your house. They’d come to your house.”
I laughed, “No way.” At that time, I was one of the handful of people that Sol sold too out of his house. Everyone else met him in places like parking lots or at bus stops. Sol had been caught that way once, when his neighbours got suspicious.
“Hear me out,” Sol was putting together an eight ball for me in the next room, but I could hear his grin, “Your uncle is the perfect excuse for the traffic.”

My Uncle Dick thought he was the messiah. I don’t know the entire story, but I do know that he dropped a lot of acid in the sixties and that he once got kicked out of the Motor Vehicle Department and arrested for stripping naked and re-enacting his birth when he changed his name from Richard Eugene Millay to Richard Richard Richard.

It was pretty well-known around our area that my uncle thought he was the second coming of Christ. Most people just chalked it up to dementia, which was unfortunate because they’d smile and thank him when he’d tell them stuff like: “Remember that green is no more green to you, than it is to me. God’s love told me you needed to hear that.” Sometimes he made a little sense if you thought really hard about it, but not usually.
“I don’t follow.” My uncle didn’t get many visitors.
“Don’t worry,” he called in the most patronizing voice he could have used, “I’ll take care of it, babe.”
Sol came around the corner. I had been right about his grin. He ran a hand back through his hair, “Just think about it. It’s just some nice guys with too much money who wanna get high.”

I think a therapist could come up with some weird stuff about Sol and his decision to sell drugs to rich dudes, because of his dad being one of them back in New York and all, but it sounded perfectly reasonable to me.
But, I mean, a lot makes sense when you’re doing uppers.

The night of my naked train wreck display, Sol told me the dumbest fucking thing I’d ever heard.

“Where does it come from?” I don’t know why I cared. I guess I really didn’t. I was just nosey.
He wiped his index finger across the mirror between us. We spent a lot of time in his bed, like this.

“I’m stealing it.”
Sol was grinning. Wolfish. Hungry.
I just stared. He had to be lying, I thought.
“I’ve been stealing it.”
He wasn’t lying.
It was the first time I’d ever probed for details that didn’t affect my part of it. When my teeth were numb, shit fell out that wasn’t meant to. My stomach was turning.
It was the first time I felt bad about what I was doing, and I was feeling bad for skeezy drug lords–probably from the Fifth Ward–who, most likely, also operated things like under-age prostitution rings and conducted armed robberies.
I imagined. I mean, I’d never lived anywhere but upper-middle class suburbs. And if the guys Sol was taking this from were anything like I was, maybe they were really nice people just trying to get by.
All I could say was: “Poor drug dealers.”

Sol did another line, “What about poor addicts that I sell to’?”

My cheeks started to burn–I’d seen lives fall apart in front of me. A grown man had cried in my lap that day because his wife took his kids when she found out about his habit. Of course, she’d also found out about his two girlfriends and potential love child, but still: I contributed.
Sol was right. My empathy was misdirected.
Then I did another line. Then I thought some more
Then I got angry.
I was angry because Sol was right. I was angry because this was his stupid idea in the first place.

I probably should have explained myself, but I had run out his front door instead.


Burning Harmless #1

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