So I was living with my dad as a young man in my early twenties. I was working at Walmart, and my life was gradually going nowhere.
He came down with terminal cancer, and so it came down to me to look after him. He had been making an alright living till the housing market crashed.
We had struggled all our lives until he finally got sober. Then his concrete coating business finally caught some steam. Though it was all under the table.
I tried many times to urge him to try to make it legit but he was always too paranoid about making any waves to attract the attention of the IRS. But nonetheless he started making some decent money. Of course we never moved out of the hood. But we had money. For a while anyway.
Then one day I got the call. He had wrecked his van. His new work van. Had choked on some coffee and passed out. Hit a palm tree and flipped the van forwards. 10 grand down the drain on the van. 30 grand hospital bill.
Not long after that the recession hit. South Florida was one of the first places to feel the hit in our real estate market. For decades the expansion seemed infinite.
We had a family friend who paid 30k on a place in 1990, fixed it up slightly and sold it for 120k in 2002. We watched as bulldozers moved in and entire gated neighborhoods started being erected by the city block.
By the time the bubble finally burst, overnight there were suddenly 30 story high rises sitting on the sun kissed coast with no tenants. Entire cookie cutter gated communities had been laid down block by block with no seeming return on investment. And now there were far too many of them to justify further building. And so dad’s business slowed to a crawl.
Not long after that he started pissing blood and so finally felt convinced to go to the hospital and get checked out. That’s when the prognosis came. Bladder cancer spread into the bone. A year or less to live. And so it was written.
Even though my dad was sober for 10 years, he knew I drank and could tell I was also smoking weed. Occasionally he would hint to me he wanted some. “You know, they prescribe that to cancer patients…”
I would suggest maybe I get him some, and he’d say no. Eventually, I decided to just get him some anyway. I explained to him he shouldn’t suffer more than he needs to.
He was already on oxy and fetanyl, and that didn’t properly offer him relief. The weed finally gave him some appetite, and we would smoke a blunt and watch Family Guy and actually enjoy ourselves a bit.
My weed dealer was a Jamaican guy from work named Sebastian. After work, I followed him to his apartment to pick up an ounce. Since I was buying for both me and the old man, I divided the bag into two equal sized smaller bags, as Sebastian rolled a blunt.
He was constantly smoking blunts. Anytime I hung out with Sebastian, I knew I would be getting blitzed.
He rolled blunt after blunt, and would hardly seem get high. Then he’d complain he wasn’t making enough money selling weed.
The conversations between me and Sebastian were very simple, very predictable. In short, he always had problems. Problems he liked to articulate outloud, pontificate over verbally.
Unfortunately, though he had problems, problems he liked to share, I rarely had answers.
But luckily enough, it didn’t matter, because he did. He had both problems and answers. And he would articulate them outloud.
As Sebastian fleshed out his problem-and-answer laced monologue, we continued to pass the blunt back and forth.
I started to really feel it. I looked at Sebastian and he didn’t seem at all phased. His eyes had the same dim, bloodshot expression they always had. And he continued to speak.
Meanwhile, I could hardly keep my composure while pretending to follow his train of thought. I felt like I was balancing an angel’s asshole on my head.
His girl came out from the bedroom and took one look at me.
“Boy, you look ZOOTED.” She announced.
“Go back in the room,” Sebastian told her calmly. “Me and my man here have something to discuss.”
This got my attention. He asked me if I would like to make some money on the side. I asked him what kind of money.
He responded I can give you $200 to walk into a building, use your name and your face, and walk out of the building with a prescription for some pills.
At first I was skeptical, but over time, Sebastian convinced me that this was an easy job. That all I was doing was taking the risk of putting my name and face out there. And that there was so many people who are doing the same thing that the likelihood of this ever coming back on me was virtually nonexistent.
He then asked me do I have any friends who would also be interested in this deal. I told him that I did and so I recruited my friend Will.
It was before sunrise that I arrived at Sebastian’s apartment. He rolled a blunt once I got there, and we started smoking it. He asked if we could use my car if he paid for the gas. $100 extra on top of the original $200, I said, cause of the added risk. $50, he offered. $100 or nothing, I insisted. He didn’t bite. Alright, then, $50.
We rode off into a haze of blunt smoke and South Florida sunrise. Will and his family had moved out of the hood and into a gated community. We approached Will’s complex, and I observed that all the houses had the same profile. Neapolitan coated concrete walls, Spanish tile roof.
There is something grotesque about Floridian architecture. It’s all like some cheap plastic imitation of a classical Mediterranean city that has stood through endless cycles of oscillating empires and barbarian warlords.
Except this is all brand new. All contrived. All shoe horned into the image that Floridan bosses and city planners are trying to cultivate as the ultimate tropical tourist destination.
Planning for tourists means faking just about everything. People hate confronting reality while on vacation.
The trees are imported. The architecture bastardized and contrived. The people imported from every corner of the country and various Caribbean and Latin American countries. The culture borrowed from the homelands of these transient souls. None of this existed before air conditioning, Disney and cocaine.
Sebastian and I pulled up to Will’s house early in the morning on a weekday. I knocked on the door and waited. Eventually Will came to the door, and he was holding a folder with some papers in it. He told me to hurry up and let’s get in the car and go.
We got in the car, and his mom came bursting out the front door of his house. She took one look at the car, at me and Sebastian, at Will nervously trying to hurry us along, and she began screaming at Will in Haitian Creole. I looked at Will.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Just drive” he said.
“What’s going on… Why is she so mad?”
“Drive!” He looked at me with some desperation.
So I put it in reverse and pulled off. His mom started screaming even louder and even took her shoe off and threw it at my car. It missed.
After we cleared that scene I turned to him.
“The fuck was that?” I asked him.
“It’s nothing,” He responded “I told her I was going for a job interview.”
We went and picked up two more guys. Will’s cousin Hondo and some dude named Tyron down in Boynton. Then we got on 95 south and made our way towards the doctors office. We stopped off in Pompano for some the fake MRIs.
We would stop off near some dodgy looking concrete complex with some dude puffing a black n mild outside looking like he’s posted up, and Sebastian would get out of the car and go greet them. Somehow he knew all these people. The rest of us were in the dark, left waiting, wondering…
Then we’re back on the highway. The closer to Miami you get, the more of a bumper to bumper disaster 95 becomes. Finally we get off at the exit.
I pull into the parking spot in the complex in front of the the doctors office. As we exit the car, a Sherrif’s car passes by and honks the horn.
“The fuck is that?” I ask Sebastian.
“Don’t worry about it.”
We go in the office. After a series of hallways we’re led to a room with blank walls lined with steel chairs. No motivational posters on the walls. No medical charts. Just brim to brim steel chairs with junkies seated on them.
“Wait here,” Sebastian tells us as he enters the office. We look around. We sit down amongst the human filth.
“I can’t wait to get some blues” i hear one of the junkies lamenting to a friend. I look in his eyes. I see the same basic hunger I feel in the arc of my soul.
Eventually I’m called in.
“Ohhh… You guys even got a white boy!”
Yeah, they got me. Any other brilliant observations you cunt?
Once it’s all said and done we’re to go fill out the scripts at a local pharma that plays ball.
The scripts went through smoothly and we got the pills. Or they got the pills, so we got the money.
I was feeling good about myself when I strolled into my place $250 dollars richer
As I entered the room and saw my dad’s face. It was still and lifeless with florescent beams bouncing off it, with a slight expression of discontent.
He turned to me. “Hey, this is crazy.” He pointed at the TV
I went around side him and watched. The TV was showing federal agents raiding a concrete building. Turns out it was a drug bust. Pills. Turns out it was a building 3 blocks down that doctors have been operating out of for years, with patients coming all the way from WV.
It dawns on me then that it’s cause people like that, that my dad’s medicine is limited. People like us, that make the innocent suffer for our vanity.
“That’s terrible..” I exclaim to my father.
“Those scumbags.” He looks up at me pleadingly. “Don’t they know people are suffering?”