“Dennis deals,” said Pat, “I think.”
“I think,” Pat repeated. “Ask him.”
Dennis had the disheveled appearance of a stoner, but I had never pegged him for a dealer. In the few months I had known him, almost a lifetime in the video arcade business, he’d never alluded to anything stronger than the three two beer we drank for free. I thought he was a burn out, a young man of little ability wasting away the final days of his potentially short life. He didn’t have the hustle to deal.
“I’m looking for a bag,” I said, one night as we closed the arcade.
“You don’t want any weed,” Dennis said.
I explained to him that despite my academic successes and recent marriage, I had been a wake and bake pothead for most of the previous five years. Some people may be demotivated by cannabis but I was released from a crippling anxiety by the soothing cool smoke of a hearty bud. Straight, I was a mess but stoned, I became spectacularly productive. Every drug affects every person uniquely. The only reason I was asking was because my usual connections had bugged out of our college town for the summer.
“Nope,” he said. “You don’t want any weed.”
“Yes,” I replied, “yes, I do.”
“Sorry,” said Dennis. “I’m not selling you any. You’re doing great. I’m not going to help you fall.”
A few weeks later, Dennis quit the video arcade to take a job driving a forklift at the plastic factory. Dennis came back to the arcade the next day. It only took him a few hours on the job to drop a ten thousand dollar die. That was the end of that chapter.
Six months later, I read in the local newspaper that he had been arrested. Pounds of weed, pounds of coke, pounds of smack, big bags of pills, dozens of guns. Thirty years ago and he’s still in jail. Society came down hard on Dennis for being a bad guy. But he wouldn’t sell me a goddamn dime bag.