more from stewart meyer’s the lotus crew









 l Not Too Long Ago, N.Y.C.—-l





T lit a thick reefer of golden-red Jamaican and looked out the window at a perpetually teeming Sheridan Square. He hadn’t been out of the joint long enough to adjust to having so many options and didn’t know what to do first. He was about to throw on his jacket and take a walk when the buzzer sounded. That was rare. The bell plate downstairs was a dummy. In order to ring you had to remove the plate and connect two wires underneath. It was either Alvira or one of the Rastas bringing him some cake from the ganja shops. Praise Jah. He glanced at a mirror that afforded full view of the front stoop. It was Alvira.


T clicked into his business personality as he buzzed the door open. Mr. Sparks waited for footsteps on the stairs.


“Alvira, I thought you stepped out of the circle, m’man.


You’re two days late.”


“Yeah, I had a little blowout while you were gone, T. Figured I committed myself to being a good boy once we start, so I’d party one last time for—”


“You have a habit?”


“Naw. Didn’t run that long. Just three or four days. I feel fine, baby. I’m ready to go. You have the number set up yet?”


T shrugged and passed Alvira the reefer. “You know what makes a pro in this business, Alvira?” he said with convic­tion. “A dealer does not use. That’s either a law of physics or it should be, dig?” Tommy’s sharp liquid brown eyes, were fixed on his friend.


Alvira had his own thoughts on the matter, but outwardly he agreed. He had no business contradicting T. When it came to the trade, T was usually right. Out of sheer respect for his partner’s financial expertise, Alvira nodded emphat­ically.


“I remember a cool that worked for me years ago uptown, back when 1 was running that Doublesmile bag.


“Yeah, before you went to the can. That had to be three years ago.


“Yeah. So this cool would meet me once a week, and I’d pass him the medicine all bagged and ready. Fifties, with the Doublesmile logo stamped on each sealed quarter-gram bag. He’d hand me the cake from the last bunch, and I’d hand him the new material. I never once counted the cake, Alvira. It was always on the money. This was cookin’ for maybe six months. The two of us were splitting over four grand weekly behind this number, so I just assumed I was the best friend this cool ever had and he’d never fuck me over, you know? So one day 1 show and he’s got the shorts. Some riff about his wife’s sick and he dropped two grand on specialists. But while he’s talkin’ I can sense his condi­tion. I figured he just had a little blowout like the one you’re talkin’ about . . . ”


Alvira flushed.


” … So I told him we’d split the shorts and handed him his next week’s material as if everything was natch. I never saw him next week. Alvira. Never seen him since. Imagine blowin’ that kind of weekly turn for a lousy burn.”


“Pretty shortsighted,” Alvira conceded.


“Fuckin’ stupid is what it is. But when a man’s usin’ he’s not there anymore. You ask him a question and Jones an­swers for him. Tell him to expel Jones and he says, ‘What Jones?’ I been in the game too long for that sound, Alvira. I don’t want to hear it from anyone. Certainly not a friend.”


Alvira’s eyes tightened. “If youre worrying about me, T, I’m steppin’ out of the box. I know myself. If I say I’m gonna do it right, that’s what’ll happen. I didn’t try’n hide my blowout, and I didn’t do it on credit.” Alvira looked towards the door. “If I’m going to worry you let’s chill it out right now—”


T put his open palm up in a bid for silence. “Don’t talk Iike that, Alvira. I set this up for the two of us, and that’s the way the play stays. I trust you. That’s rare on this planet, but I do. God knows why. Just an instinct I guess. If I’m soundin’ down on you its because I know our friend Mr. Jones too well. 1 don’t want him workin’ against us. You’re gonna have to face some tasty schmooz in this game. Every time we reup material well have to sample it. Extreme caution is in order or Jones will make his pres­ence felt. Believe me.”


I hear you.”


”This is a chance for us to take some real steps forward, Alvira. We’ll triple our cake on the first play, and youll get acquainted with my supply people so you can negotiate fu­ture buys without me. We’ll be sittin’ right if this goes down. Think about it.”


“Oh, hey, I think about it all the time.”


Alvira broke eye contact to fumble for a match. He lit a Three Castles and sat back, relieved that T had turned his attention to preparing another reefer.


A slight tremble passed through Alvira, and he recog­nized the modulation of his system from opiated to mild yen. A gentle hunger, not a fierce need. Another few days and he’d’ve found himself in trouble.


“Here, Alvira, this reefer’s laced with freebase. Should distract you from the blowout blues.”


Alvira sat back comfortably in a soft blue chair by the window, dreaming about his first sniff in the school yard long ago. He’d felt better at once, as if some great abstract adjustment had been made. Boyhood chalk on the street for years. A lot of time had passed since hed played handball on the factory wall, watching the workers perform their ted­iums through bleak dirt-smoked windows. Alvira swore hed never end up like that. It’d be like doing time without a conviction.


“Alvira, you seem miles away. Dreamin’ about all the cake you’re gonna make?”


“Just dreamin’, actually, about a pinch of powder to the wind on a gray afternoon years ago,”


T knew the ritual. A pinch of powder to the wind for the souls who’ve slid into Endless Nod 



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