Hold on to My Feets
by LaKimbra McKinley
Table of Contents|
parts 1, 2, 3, 4
I called Francine and told her about the visit from the gangsters. She suggested I call the police. Although I respected her opinion, I didn’t call. Instead, the following day I bought tape and picked up boxes from various supermarkets and stores.
Although we were already trying to sell our home, this situation was definitely going to speed up the process. I called up a few friends and ordered pizza. We had a moving party. In the wee hours of the morning, we backed the trucks up to the garage and loaded them.
After the house was packed from top to bottom, we drove to storage and put everything into a 20 by 20-foot space. I gave Francine all the cooking utensils and patio furniture. Putting my things into storage was another monumental feet accomplished.
I drove to the Four Seasons resort in Santa Barbara and checked in under an assumed name. I ordered room service with a plate of crab legs, salad and a bottle of Dom Pérignon. I sipped champagne and dipped crab legs into a lemony butter sauce while I browsed through the catalogue of services, deciding which ones I would like.
Although I wanted to invite Francine, I wasn’t a hundred percent sure of her safety or mine. I also needed my environment to be still and peaceful. After enjoying a little retail therapy, I thought about my next moves. First priority.
I missed that parking lot of a city called Los Angeles. The last day, I packed my clothes and set out an outfit for the drive home. Then I remembered I was scheduled for an early afternoon massage. I rushed downstairs to the massage pallor.
“Hello, ma’am, I was running a little late,” I said to the masseuse.
“Only five minutes, not bad, but some people — whew — fifteen or twenty minutes late, big problem,” she said jokingly.
She showed me to a room then asked me to change into a robe and flip-flops. After I changed, she turned down the light and lit candles. I lavished in the serene ambience as soft jazz played in the background.
She stood on a stepstool and poured warm oil on my back. The massage was so relaxing I fell asleep. Then a set of cold hands squeezed my shoulders and slapped at my back haphazardly.
“You tried to fly away. Now I find you living like a celebrity, eating crab legs, having nails done and now massage. But you have no job? How you can afford such nice things?” She whispered in my ear.
“Madame M,” I said then I turned around to look up at her.
* * *
She grabbed my windpipe and ordered me to get dressed. At gunpoint she escorted me to my room to pack. Then we drove back to Lancaster and finally to a shabby remodeled house in the country. Smoke and the fellas were waiting to torture and drug me.
Repeatedly they asked for the weed and money. They must have whipped me for nearly an hour before they stopped. They kept me there for two days. Because the house had no plumbing, I had to relieve myself in the field behind the house. It was the only time I felt I had freedom.
Outside I gathered a pocketful of poppy seeds. Once inside the room I went to work crushing the small seeds into a powder. Next I put them into an old apple juice bottle with water. Three hours later I strained off the liquid using my shirt. I removed the carbon filter from the air conditioner and strained the liquid again this time through the filter. I let it sit in a dish for 24 hours.
After siphoning most of the liquid I was careful not to disturb the sediment that caked on the bottom. I set the sediment in the window. When it dried I poured the powder into the chignon and waited for an opportunity to strike.
It was the third day of my capture and the day I was supposed to be shot. I needed to devise a plan to get close to their food or drink source. Smoke was a big dude and a little on the lazy side. If I asked him for something, he always told me to get it myself. I waited until he was sitting good and comfortable in his favorite chair.
“May I have a glass of water?”
“Can you get me something to drink? I’m thirsty.”
“I wish you would have asked me before I sat down and got comfortable,” he grunted. “Mo, you lazy. Get it yourself.”
Great! I sauntered to the kitchen casually with my hands in my pockets. I opened the refrigerator door and saw Smoke laughing at a television show through the opening in the refrigerator door.
I poured the opium first into Madame M’s wine bottle and then into the cherry Kool-Aid the guys loved so much. One hour later they were all dead. I cleaned my fingerprints then called Francine to pick me up. Francine said the realtor had been calling.
After trying to reach the realtor for a couple of hours, she finally returned my call. The realtor said an offer had been made and Reginald had already signed off and now they just needed my signature. I told her I would be happy to sign off as well. Whew, that chapter of my life was over.
* * *
I went to the local drugstore to buy hair dye and scissors. I dyed my hair amber lights and cut it into a short wavy style. I drove fifteen minutes north on the I-14 freeway heading to Lancaster. The car’s clock read 5:07 a.m. when I finally reached the stop where I had hidden my stash. It took me thirty-five minutes to dig up the other half of the money and weed.
I went to breakfast while I waited for the realtor to call. She called an hour later, as I was finishing up. I drove to the office to sign the documents, and she said the money should funded in two days.
Afterward I adjusted the rearview mirror and pulled out of Lancaster for the last time. I turned left onto the freeway, this time heading south of the I-14 with more than one hundred pounds of marijuana in the trunk and eighteen thousand dollars in my purse. A feeling of exhilaration hit me as the wind blew through my hair.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought about all the crap I had gone through. Afterwards, I came to the realization that I was better for the wear. Never again would I let someone define me.
Lancaster taught me to see people for who they were: imperfect human beings. And as far as my relationship went, it reeked a foul odor and was in need of life support or a shotgun. I chose the latter.
Sometimes the ending of one thing could be the beginning of something beautiful. I drove some five miles before something drive-worthy came on the radio. “Hey that’s my jam, now that’s what I’m talking about.” Young Joc’s “It’s Going Down” came on. That was Tim’s favorite song. I smiled and thought of Tim.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a motorcycle cop. After a quick come-to-Jesus moment, I knew I had to stick the landing. I turned a frown to a smile as he passed.
I arrived at the Wiltshire Embassy Hotel an hour later. Finally alone in my room, I picked up the Bible and read the first scripture it opened to Luke 14:28, which reads, “What man does not sit down and calculate the cost before he builds a tower?”
Hence I studied the product and the industry. I kept my ear to the streets, my feet to the pavement and my butt at the gun range. I called my 9-mm Glock Ruth, after Ruth in the Bible, because where I went, she went.
Then it came to me to re-establish old connections. I called two of my old college roommates and arranged to meet them at a coffeehouse in Santa Monica.
* * *
Back in the day, all of us passed the dutchie on the left hand side. I took a chance, hoping they still might have connections. I didn’t tell Crystal or Lauren how I acquired the weed or that it was mine. I told them I was trying to help a friend broker a deal. It was less cumbersome that way.
Lauren confided that her uncle owned two dispensaries on the west side of Los Angeles. She called her uncle Jason and arranged for us to meet. I gave Lauren a quarter-pound and Crystal an ounce.
I met up with Jason two days later. He was sitting at the bar when I arrived. He was built like a defensive lineman. I sat beside him and introduced myself.
He called the waitress to escort us to a VIP room. I stuck to the same story as I told Lauren and Crystal. He ordered a Long Island ice tea for himself and a lemon-drop martini for me. We exchanged pleasantries and made small talk about the weather, the horrible Lakers and the up and coming Clippers free of Donald Sterling.
Let me see what you got,” Jason said.
I pulled out an ounce of the finest buds and laid them on the table. I grabbed my purse to keep Ruth near. After he examined the weed, he brought it to his nose and took a whiff. He put a small bud into the bowl and took a toke. He coughed just the way I thought he would and declared it “fire.”
“What strand is it?” He asked inquisitively with one eyebrow raised.
“It’s a Sativa,” I said smiling devilishly, “but I also have an Indica.”
He called for his assistant, who came and handed him a black briefcase with thirty-five thousand dollars. A week later he introduced me to his friends, who also owned two dispensaries. They, in turn, introduced me to their people, and then business started to boom. I doubled down and sold each dispensary ten pounds.
I developed a system of never deviating from the routine. I only dealt with distributors referred by Jason, and I never left home without Ruth and my cousin Big Yank.
The novelty of hotel living had worn off. I needed stable living for my children, and they needed a mother. Two weeks later I found a house halfway between both of their schools.
I made a down payment on the house after I sold my last forty pounds of the one hundred pounds that I had started out with. I had kept it in a freezer at a storage facility in Pasadena. I frequented dispensaries, attended weed conventions and met with growers. I needed to establish connections, learn the business and the product.
* * *
The day my divorce became final, I was on a cruise heading toward the Fiji Islands. I went to debrief and do me. I spent countless hours lazing on golden beaches, snorkeling in clear blue waters and dusting my toes in white sands. At last, my skin finally did turn golden brown.
I celebrated with a beachside massage and drank exotic blue drinks with fancy umbrellas. I bought special stationary and wrote three letters. I mailed the letters on the way back in Florida.
I anonymously wired Tim’s fiancée twenty thousand dollars and Ant’s mother the same, to offset the cost of the funerals. It was the least I could do. When I got back to Los Angeles, my children moved in with me.
Two months later I opened up “Choo Choo Espresso,” a coffee and teahouse. It’s a family-run business. It’s a steady income, and it’s a good crop rotation to go from selling marijuana to brewing coffee. “Hold on to my feets,” I tell my kids, “we’re moving up.”
This bitter earth, what strange fruit it bears. Today you are young and tomorrow old. Get a hold of your life, dream under a full moon, dance under the stars and jump at the sun.
Copyright © 2014 by LaKimbra McKinley