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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Name This Novel - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 – Weight
It was an arrangement that suited us both, but truth be told, Doug came off a lot better than I did. Two gallons of anhydrous could run twenty thousand dollars on the black market. In exchange, I got five pounds of primo, which, even at the best of prices, would only be worth ten thousand or so.
I didn't care about the differential, of course. Five pounds lasted me almost a year, unless I sold half of it to friends. Needless to say, I was pretty popular on campus, and I had no shortage of girlfriends, either.
That's not really why I did it, though. More of a side benefit. I was studying mechanical engineering, and it really extended my ability to study deep into the night and remain focused.
One of my professors, a cultural anthropologist, once told a class I was in that pygmies in Africa only cultivated marijuana, hunting and gathering whatever else they needed. But the weed enabled them to stand for hours on end at a riverbank, spear upraised, waiting for a fish.I always thought that was really cool.
“Got your phone?” Doug asked.
I nodded. He refused to own one, himself. Said there wasn't anyone he wanted to talk to that bad. Plus, he didn't want his movements tracked, which was pretty prudent. He actually didn't want me to bring mine, for a time, until I pointed out that most hunters and fisherman now carried them, and it wasn't anything he should worry about.
“Double or nothing,” he said. It wasn't a question.
“Give it to me.”
I handed him my iPhone.
“When's the last time you checked it?”
I thought back. “Yesterday morning when my alarm went off.”
With barely a pause, I said, “Four thirty-seven. Temperature eighty-four.”
He touched the weather icon and nodded to himself, then went back to the clock.
“Wrong,” he said, holding it up. The display read four thirty-eight.
My shoulders slumped. I had just lost my five pounds. More distressing, I was wrong for the first time since I had discovered this particular talent.
“Just fuckin' witcha,” he said, laughing. “It changed when I was looking at it the second time.”
“Goddamn it.”
When I was about sixteen, I had discovered that I always knew the exact time. Doug said it could be explained by quantum mechanics, and that I was a mutant of sorts. I had thought I was psychic, and he said it was the same thing, just different terminology.
I just considered it a neat bar trick in my first year of college, until I realized that people were genuinely unnerved by it. At best, they thought I was cheating, somehow. Either way. I learned to keep it to myself.
“Let's go inside,” Doug said.
We sat down on his two director's chairs, and he handed me a bomber, lighting one of his own. “How's Dora?” I asked.
Dora was his grand experiment. A seven year-old pot plant. He wanted to know what a plant did if it was never harvested. As far as we knew, it had never been tried. But surely it occurred in the wild, somewhere.
“She's 'bout eighteen feet. Eleven inch diameter trunk. Still budding.”
“Circumference,” I corrected him.
“Shut up, college boy,” he said, holding in a hit.
I smiled. It was so rare for him to make a misstatement, I had to relish the moment.
“Stayin' at the camp a while?” he asked.
“Yeah. Gonna go huntin' with Tommy and Shannon.”
“Gonna kill Old Buck this year?”
I laughed. “I'd like to see him.”
Old Buck was a local legend. Doug was one of only three people who had claimed to have seen him, and he was convinved one of them was lying. He was an albino deer that was somehow as old as I was. He said it was a twenty-pointer, and actually had a long white beard.
He also said he would kill anyone who shot Old Buck, so the idea of me hunting him was also something of a running joke. Doug considered it to be the spirit animal of the region, akin to the great white buffalo of Plains Indian prophecy. I did want to see him, someday, if not get a picture. It was like hunting Bigfoot. But Old Buck was real.
“Give this to your boys,” he said, throwing me a small ball of pink crystals in a tied-off plastic baggie. Tell them I said, 'Welcome to the one percent.”
I gave him a look bordering on suspicion.
“You told me never to touch the stuff.”
“Do as I say, not as I do. Or not. It's your life.”
“Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” I said. “Aleister Crowley.”
“Yabba dabba fucking doo. Fred Flintstone,” he said. “You're not doing it, anyway. Just delivering it. On the other hand, you're a grown man. Pretty good head on your shoulders. I'm sure you could try it and not get hooked. Besides which, it's not like you could get more if you wanted to.”
“That shit is everywhere,” I said.
“Aw, now. You insult me. This is exclusive. Medical grade. Accept no substitute.”
“Why, after all these years of warning me against it, would you be more or less encouraging me?”
“Shit, I don't know. Why do I do anything?”
“Good point.”
“I guess I'm just proud of this batch. I've worked twenty years on this formula and process. And I'm a firm believer in 'Try anything once.'”
“I might try a little...”
“If you do, come back and give me a review.”
“Alright. Can I get my weed? They're waitin' on me. We're gonna try and get to the stands before dark.”
“On the way back to the boat, 'bout halfway, you'll see a stump. Lift the top off of it. What you seek can be found there.”
“Thanks, man. Want to come? First day of bow hunting season starts today.”
“Naw. I hunt when I need to. If I was to start followin' the laws, I'd feel emasculated. Like you boys,” he said with a grin.
“Change your mind, you know where to find us.”
He nodded. “That I do. Y'all have fun. Try not to kill no one.”
With that, I left. I found the stump he had told me about, but I never would have suspected it had been cut and hollowed out. The top lifted off, and inside was my five pound bundle. But when I pulled it out, there was another one beneath it.
He had known he was going to bet me, and he also knew I was going to win.

It was shaping up to be a very good year.