Green Haze

It's a short story. Mentions the use and selling of marijuana. Kind of hard to really explain it, so just read it. :)

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1. Green Haze

     

    Leaning back, I’m stretching out my legs before settling comfortably on the bus seat. My legs feel itchy where the seam of my diabetic socks hugs my knees tightly. I hate having to wear them but it comes with old age, I suppose. I haven’t been on a bus in years, and I remember when I was in my twenties living in Baltimore. I had an apartment in downtown, and I didn’t have a car, in fact most of my friends back then didn’t either. We all rode the bus, and bus fare was cheaper back then too.

   I’m on my way to visit my granddaughter Ashley for the week, she just got her first apartment in Queens a few months ago and she’s excited to show it to me. I haven’t seen her since her 21st birthday back in January. Now it’s the middle of summer, and the heat is casting a light mist of smog over the city, which I can see from looking out the window next to me. I remember living in Baltimore and I could see thin film of green smog over the city back then. I feel so nostalgic.

   I remember that one day in the middle of July when I was riding the bus on my way home from grocery shopping. People weren’t as concerned about the suspicious-looking asparagus green haze that settled over the city for most of the year. It was just fine as long as you didn’t have asthma or something. Besides, I grew to find that smog endearing for some reason. I would always see that view from my seat on the bus, looking out the window, seeing the buildings and metal all rising up to meet the gossamer olive layer of smog, which seemed to make the city feel even hotter during the summer.

   I had bags of fresh vegetables and groceries all packed into my backpack and several bags which I used to help me carry all of that from the store back to my crappy apartment, which I shared with my boyfriend Tom. Everybody called him Tom Cat, but I didn’t know why. I never asked, but I think a buddy of his told me it had something to do with a pet mouse named Jerry that he used to have when he was a kid. Anyways, while I worked as a waitress in an upscale restaurant in the nicer area of the city, Tom sold dope to get by. It paid pretty well too, if we sold enough to really make a profit instead of smoking them all. I never had a problem with grass, in fact I smoked it myself. I started smoking grass when I first met Tom. Tom had so many friends as a result of his occupation. It seemed like he knew just about everybody. Tom said he liked selling grass because it lets him meet new people and he preferred that to working a thankless job like I did. My mother hated the fact that I was with somebody like Tom who was technically a drug dealer, even though he only sold dope and not the more dangerous ones like cocaine or anything.

   I got off my stop at the corner, and carried the bulky groceries up the flights of stairs to our apartment on the 5th floor. The area we lived in was pretty run-down, there were a lot of gangs and violence and the like. The green smog was slightly thicker in this part of town as well. The apartment we stayed at was pretty cheap and it looked cheap as well. The shoddy red brick had faded over the years and there was no elevator or anything. I opened our door, and walked in to our little slice of paradise. There were posters of the Beatles and other psychedelic ones on the walls, which I thought went well with the ugly dark shag carpet we had. Greenbean, our boxer mix, eagerly greeted me at the front door. She was jumping around excitedly, but she knew not to bark when Tom was on the phone.

   As I was putting the groceries away, Tom was on the phone with a friend of his. That’s what Tom called people who bought dope from him, his “friends”. That was why Tom had so many friends who weren’t really friends at all. I had just finished putting the carrots in the fridge when Tom finished his conversation on the phone and hung up. He walked over and gave me a welcome home kiss, “Hey Mary Jane, welcome back baby”. That’s what people called me back then, Jane is my real name but everybody aside from my family called me Mary Jane. We all had nicknames for each other. 

   “Teddy is coming over in a bit to buy three ounces. I managed to talk him up from one ounce,” he grinned, looking a bit proud of himself. I nodded my head casually in response. I might’ve met Teddy before, I didn’t know, Tom knew so many people that it was hard to keep track of them all. Our apartment is usually pretty busy as a result.

   About an hour later, we heard the doorbell ring. “That’ll be Teddy,” Tom muttered and he let him in.

   “Tom Cat!” Teddy greeted Tom in a pleasant tone. Teddy, a short man with tense shoulders and twitchy eyes. He had dark tan skin and thick black hair. I heard Tom say with mild surprise, “Hey, didn’t know you were bringing a friend.” Another man came into the apartment after Teddy. This one was very tall, dark skin, and had a big black Afro with bell-bottom pants.

   “This is my buddy Jim, he wanted to buy some grass too,” Teddy explained.

   “Ok, far out.” Tom shrugged his shoulder nonchalantly.

   The three of them sat down in the living room, with Tom in his own chair and the other two sitting on the couch. I joined them and sat in my own chair across from Tom. Greenbean settled down next to me. Tom rolled us all a doobie and we sat back for a few minute passing it back and forth.

   “This is some ace dope,” Teddy murmured.

   “Right on,” Jim agreed, chuckling a bit.

   We stayed like that for a bit and a while later after Tom had just finished giving the two men their grass, we heard loud angry knocking on the door.

   Greenbean’s ears went back and she looked nervous. Teddy and Jim exchanged anxious looks. Tom, looking mildly concerned, went up to answer the door. No sooner had he open the door when a man with dark skin and angry green eyes came barging in our apartment, shouting, “Teddy! You dickrod! You jacked my money, didn’t you?” He shoved Tom aside and went straight for Teddy, still sitting on the couch.

   Teddy responded, “Hey now Lucky D, don’t have a cow man! I didn’t take your bread, dude.”

   The man, who was apparently called Lucky, whipped out a gun and pointed it straight at Teddy’s forehead. Lucky’s nose was flaring in anger. “Don’t try to fake me out, I’m no doofus.”

   Jim, who was still sitting next to Teddy, looked so freaked out. “I think I’m gonna float on out of here,” he muttered and tried to get up to leave.

   Lucky looked over at Jim, “And I know that you helped him steal my money. Sit your ass down!” Jim whimpered a bit as he sat back down next to Teddy.

   “This is getting too freaky-deaky for me,” Tom murmured as he wrapped a protective arm around me. Greenbean stood in front of me protectively. She was growling at him, which Lucky didn’t like because he kicked at her head hard. She fell to the floor with a sharp whimper.

   “Greenie!” I screamed. She crawled under the table and stayed there, shaking in fear.

   “Here’s the skinny, nobody is moving until I find out where my money is at,” Lucky announced fiercely.

   “But we don’t even have anything to do with this,” Tom reasoned.

    “I don’t care,” Lucky said indignantly. He kept his gun pointed at all of us, looking mad as hell. I was utterly terrified, to say the least!

   I don’t remember how long it lasted; it felt like only minutes or hours, I couldn’t tell. Lucky, Jim, and Teddy argued back and forth the whole time. I clung to Tom’s arm as tight as I could, as if it would somehow make me feel better.

   Then I heard Jim raise his voice, I couldn’t quite catch what he said but at that moment I heard a loud gunshot. I screamed. I heard shouting and a groan of pain. I was afraid to look, but I managed a quick glance. There was blood seeping through Jim’s shirt. Lucky had only grazed Jim’s arm, but Jim was clutching it with a look of pain on his face. I saw Teddy’s face pale, he was probably thinking he’d be next, and that Lucky was more serious than he thought.

    Lucky then pointed the gun at Teddy’s face. “Now tell me, fool. Where. Is. My. Money?” His livid olive-green eyes were almost like slits.

   Teddy looked back at Lucky fearfully; he didn’t know what to say. After a minute of silence, Lucky impatiently screamed at him, “Where is it? Tell me or I’ll blow your brains out!”

   At that moment, Greenbean came out from under the table where she was hiding and lunged at Lucky, clamping down on his forearm. She took him by surprise and he dropped the gun, which fell to the floor. Greenbean had a fierce hold on his arm, and no matter how much Lucky screamed or hit at her she didn’t let go. I don’t know what possessed me then, it was almost like someone took control of my body for a bit. I quickly snatched up the gun and held it up to Lucky. I have never even held a gun in my entire life before. My hands were shaking so badly and I could barely hold the gun straight, but I knew what I had to do. I closed my eyes and squeezed the trigger and the bullet went through Lucky’s head with a loud bang. It all happened so fast. He immediately stopped moving and shouting and went stone cold still. He slumped down to the floor and fell on his back; his eyes still wide open, staring at me with shock. The gun slid out of my hands and fell to the floor. For a second, nobody moved. I stumbled and slid down to my knees. I could see his eyes, just staring at me, unblinking. It was so unnerving. It was like a mist of death settled over them, a foggy haze over dead green eyes. It was like they were staring at me and me alone, silently asking, “what have you done?” I felt a tear slide down my face when the realization of the situation finally hit me.

   Greenbean went over to where I was, still kneeling on the floor. She was licking my face and hands, making sure I was ok. Relief finally spread all over me like a warm shower running down my back. I wrapped my arms around her and sniffled. “My baby, I’m so glad you’re alright,” I whimpered.

   Tom finally spoke, and all he said was, “Shit.”

   “Is he dead?” Teddy tentatively asked.

   Tom walked over closer to where Lucky’s body laid on the floor. “I think so,” he confirmed. “He ain’t moving any more.”

   “Good,” Jim spat. “He’s better off that way.”

   Tom went over to where I was and he gave me a gentle squeeze on my arm. “Are you alright, baby?” I only nodded in response, I didn’t trust my voice just yet.

   For a bit, everybody just took a breather but we weren’t sure what to do. None of us had ever killed a person before. Jim suggested, “Should we call 911?”

   Teddy shook his head. “You think the fuzz would trust a bunch of tripped out smokers?”

   Tom nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I don’t think the man would trust the word of cats like us.”

   “So what do we do then?” Jim said.

   We all stayed quiet for a moment because nobody wanted to say out loud what we were all thinking of. “We need to get rid of the body,” Tom proposed bravely.

   Teddy and Jim nodded in agreement. It took a little while but they all worked out a plan: Teddy and Tom would take the body and dump it somewhere, while I stay here and patch up Jim, who was no good because of his arm. They wrapped Lucky’s body in two big garbage bags and wrapped it with duct tape. Luckily it was dark out by then, so the two of them were able to sneak the body out and into the trunk of Teddy’s car.

   While the two of them went off to take care of business, I took out the first aid kit and cleaned Jim’s wound in the kitchen. Luckily it was only a minor graze, and if he took care of it right he might not even need stitches. Neither of us spoke for a while. After I was done wrapping a gauze and Band-Aid around his arm, Jim said quietly, “I’m glad you did it. Thank you.” He didn’t say what exactly but we looked at each other and I knew he wasn’t talking about the Band-Aid. Greenbean stayed close to my side the entire time.

   After an hour, Tom and Teddy finally came back. Tom immediately went over to me and gave me a long hug, which I needed.

   “What took you two so long,” Jim inquired.

   “We had to go out far enough out of this area. We found a landfill just outside the city nearby so we shoved his body in some old refrigerator that was lying around,” Tom explained.

   Teddy said, “Even if the fuzz finds his body, there’s no way they’ll track it back to us. They’ll probably think he died in like some kind of gang war or something.”

   The four of us stood in the kitchen, staring at each other.

   “Nobody can know what happened tonight,” Tom stated gravely. We all nodded in union. There was no need for more words, and after a bit Teddy and Jim left. There were still bloodstains on the wall and carpet, which Tom and I stayed up late to clean up.

   We never spoke again of what happened that night, and we never wanted to. I think we both just wanted to move on and pretend that never happened. But I will never forget. That night and for a few nights afterwards, I dreamed of wide green eyes staring at me. I could never forget how his eyes glassed over and that I was the cause of it.

   After that, as we expected, Teddy and Jim never stopped by again. We never found out if Teddy or Jim really did take Lucky’s money, but I don’t think it really mattered. Two months later, we read in the newspaper that the police found Lucky’s body in the landfill after a few people complained about the smell, but as we thought, they merely blamed it on some gang feud or another. They didn’t continue the investigation. A year went by before Tom and I broke up mutually, and I took Greenbean with me. Eventually I met my husband, had children, started a new life, and I never looked back. But sometimes late at night, when I’m trying to sleep and I close my eyes, I can still see the green haze on those eyes, gazing open wide, staring at me.

 

 

 

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