Mike is a high-powered pot grower and dealer living in the East Bay. He is 28-years-old and holds a BA in US History from one of the top Liberal Arts Colleges in the US. He worked a series of “straight” jobs post-graduation but decided a home-grow high-grade marijuana operation would pay better when a friend offered to set him up. He’s an academically erudite drug dealer who writes short stories when he isn’t slanging pounds. This is his bad choice. (The names have been changed).
Last year, I was working part-time for a children’s camp but made most of my money growing and selling weed, sometimes cocaine too. I was desperate at this point. I was new in the game and needed to make more money, which meant selling more weed. I started posting ads on this website Budtrader.com; it’s like craigslist for weed.
So this guy named Tom responded to my ad. I called him up and he sounded like a real square on the phone. Tom said he was a UC Berkeley student and wanted to buy a quarter (¼ pound of weed), which seemed like a safe move. We agreed to meet at UC Berkeley campus the next day. But the following morning he changed the order up, he wanted to buy two P’s (2 pounds) instead. That was kind of weird, but I didn’t think about it, and told him 2 pounds was fine.
Problem was I didn’t have 2 pounds. So I went to my boy’s house, he’s also a dealer, and asked him to front me the extra 1 ¾-pounds of weed. He asked if I knew the guy. I said I’d met him a couple times. I lied so it wouldn’t sound like a bad idea and he gave me the weed.
Then Tom changed the meeting location. He said, “I’m going to this study group in Alameda, can you meet me there?”
Alameda is a pretty safe city in the Bay area. So, I figured ok, no problem. He told me the address and I drove out there.
I had the two pounds in a backpack. I thought, shit, I’m about to come up. At this time pounds were selling for a high fucking dollar; I was about to make $6,400. But only a ¼-pound of it was mine. The other 1 ¾-pounds were my boy’s.
The address was a sprawling apartment complex. It had been projects back in the day. Now it looked decent, but it’s really just shitty apartments. There were easily 30 buildings, it’s fucking huge. It was about two in the afternoon, a nice day. The sun was out and people were walking around.
I called Tom when I got there and met him in front of the building. He was a white guy with a chinstrap beard that ended in a long goatee. He looked bummy: unkempt, shaggy, brown hair; sagging pants; sweatshirt. Tom was an ugly fucker. I remember his teeth were small and dirty. He was looking around a lot, a dead giveaway in hindsight.
I started asking questions as we entered the complex through an outdoor hallway that lead to a flight of stairs.
“So, you go to UC Berkeley?”
Yea, he said.
“What’s your major?”
“I’m just doing my GE’s, my general requirements,” he said.
That sounded fishy because he went to fucken UC Berkeley, and there’s no such thing as doing your general requirements at UC Berkeley.
I asked what his major was again.
“Oh, I haven’t really got one yet,” he said.
“What year are you?” I said.
“I’m in my last year.”
I started to get this bad feeling. I’m thinking, this sounds really off. Also, he wasn’t dressed like a UC Berkeley Student. Tom looked like the type of white guy who spends a lot of time around black motherfuckas. I had begun to regret going into the apartment complex but I was still unsure if it was the standard issue nervousness that comes before doing any big deal or a more serious premonition. Then he dropped the square white-guy accent and started talking like one of the brothas’.
“What’s up though brah, can I see it?” He said.
I opened the backpack.
“It’s all there?”
“Ok, fo sho. We got this study group going on in my boy’s apartment, wanna’ go in there?” He asked.
“I don’t like to go into apartments and I don’t really know you that well,” I said.
“I feel you, I feel you,” he said.
I asked if we could do the deal in the hallway. Tom said that was fine.
We reached the staircase and started up them, me first. The stairs were concrete slabs with a gap in-between each one. Every floor had a landing with a door leading to a long hallway of apartment front doors. At the second floor, I started feeling real weird, likethis doesn’t make sense. I stopped him right there and said, “Hey man, I don’t want to go any further. How about we go back outside?”
He said, sure.
As we turned to leave this fat dude came down the stairs. He had a hood covering his face and was walking with his head down in a rush. He bumped into me hard as he passed and I’m all, “Excuse me bro.”
He said “Yea, no problem.”
Then Tom shoved me against the wall, while the hooded guy pulled a pistol and put it to my head.
“Turn the fuck around!” He said, “You know what the fuck this, right?”
“Yea, I know exactly what this is,” I said.
He said, “Yea bro, don’t say nothing or I’ll blow your motherfucking brains out. I’m not playing wit your ass. You fuck around nigga I’ll blow your brains out.”
“Ok man, it’s good.”
“I’m taking your backpack,” he said.
I said that was fine.
I had two phones at the time, one business one personal. I was smart enough, well maybe I was stupid enough, to hand him my business phone. He said “Nigga, don’t play with me motherfucker, what’s that in your pocket?”
Tom searched my pockets and took my other phone too. The gunman acted pissed, he said, “Nigga I will blow your shit out right now, fucken with me like that. You fuck with me again nigga…”
He kept saying nigga this and nigga that, I thought maybe he was a black dude. I turned around and saw he was an Asian guy with a bunch of gold teeth. He caught me looking and yelled to turn the fuck around.
They had my two phones and the backpack, for some reason they let me keep my wallet, and they’re ready to leave. I was tripped-the-fuck-out. I thought, oh shit, I saw their faces, this is where they kill me, I’m gonna die in this hallway, my mom is gonna fucken cry.
The Asian guy said, “Stay right the fuck there! Keep your hands on the fucking wall!”
“That’s fine. You’re good brah, you got it,” I said, trying to keep calm. Then I turned and asked, “Hey man, do you think I can leave after this?”
“Yo nigga shut the fuck up! There’s another motherfucker on the other side of that door. He’s going to take care of you next,” he said. He was talking about the door next to me that lead into the second floor hallway. Tom was already gone, the Asian guy started backing down the stairs with the pistol pointed at me.
I waited for a third guy to come through the door. I thought, I’m about to get kidnapped, they’re gonna kill me, or kill me in the apartment, they’re gonna take me to my house and rob me. The door was hinged to swing outward so I pressed my hands against it, blocking it. Then the Asian guy stuck the pistol through one of the gaps in the staircase, aiming at my knee.
“I will blow your fucken knee off right now so you can’t walk,” he said.
“You ain’t gotta do that. It’s fine man, it’s good,” I said.
“Yea nigga shut the fuck up, I’ll do it right now. I’m about to blow your shit off so you can’t walk anymore,” he said. Then he pulled the gun back through the gap and ran down the stairs. I was alone.
I didn’t move for maybe ten seconds, it felt like for-fucken-ever. My heart was beating so bad I thought I was having a heart attack, like when you sniff too much coke and your heart beats so fast you start panicking. I was sweating badly. I ran up the stairs and waited to see if anyone would come through the door below. No one did so I went back down, opened the door and entered the hallway. My mind was racing what am I gonna do? Knock on someone’s door and say “help I got robbed?”
I decided fuck it, I gotta get out of here right now.
I descended the same stairs. Apparently, I hadn’t waited very long, when I reached the bottom these fools were walking 30 yards in front me. They glanced back and I took off running. I jumped in my car nervous as shit and split as fast-as-fucken-possible.
I drove directly to the AT&T store and canceled my phones. Then I went home and drank a tall-can of Steel Reserve 211. Next, I hit a bar and downed shot after shot of tequila with Pacifico backs. I was so hyped-up I drank way more than normally possible without throwing-up. The next day I had a horrible hangover. I owed $5,400 dollars, which I didn’t have, to my friend who had fronted me the weed and I could have lost my life.
I started getting queasy and my stomach knotted up. Kind of like going to a test you didn’t study for. I felt totally unprepared. Like I was someplace I shouldn’t be, like walking into a fight with a big man and you’re thinking, I’m going to lose this fight.
WHY DO IT ANYWAYS?
Part was greed. I thought, man, fuck it. I’m gonna’ make this money and it’s all going to be worth it.
Then I thought, what am I going to do now? Am I just going to walk away? You’re already out of the car. You’re already on their turf. It’s a really hard call to make because if you’re wrong and you walk away, then you just fucked yourself out of money.
ARE YOU A BETTER DEALER NOW?
No, it just made me extremely paranoid. I have dreams and anxiety attacks about this shit.
What scares me the most is last April, someone got shot in that same hallway, doing the exact same thing in the middle of the day. I know it is the same building. I’ll never forget the address: 535 Buena Vista Ave. The guy was shot at 535 Buena Vista Ave. I already know it was the same guys. They killed a man for weed.