Extract from Cherry Smack
They visited Snook as planned; a hard to the core Rasta, the epitome of cool. He lived in a rundown tenement off Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. His flat was on the first floor. Prostitute and dealers hung in the stairwell seeking game. Incense burned above Snook’s door marking a free zone. In the hall hung a framed oil of Haile Selassie, Jah; the incarnation of Christ. On the side stood hydroponic Aloe Vera prune pots, sprouting stems with purpose.
“What do you use them for?” He cut one revealing a clear gel like inner.
“Try it,” Jimmy took a bite.
“It’s a bit harsh at first, raw. You can use it on skin, hair I usually mix it with, pineapple and honey and drink it.” Snook led him down the corridor to the back room and opened a bulky white fire door. He was immediately hit by the familiar woody tones of skunk. Eyes fell on a clinic clean hi-tec lab, rows of marijuana plants 4ft high, bristled under dedicated HSP lamps, sectioned by PVC curtains. Silent overhead steel extractors pumped scent through to window vents.
“You sell this stuff?”
He nodded. “I got some clients waiting, come.” They went back to the lounge. His neighbour, Eli an orthodox Jew sat there, side curls hanging beneath his Hasidic hat, smiling politely, waiting for the main event. A large porcelain bowl was bought in by Snook and placed on an ornate glass coffee table. Mohammed, a regular, dressed in a white thwab, placed a green bong filled with water alongside. He stood wrapping his Gutra head scarf round his head and afterward poured hot mint tea into shot glasses. Eli cracked a bottle of vintage Johnny Walker and glugged four lowball glasses, Mohammed began stuffing the bong with grass.
“What are you?”
“I was baptised went to Sunday school.”
He pointed to his head and heart. “Being a man of faith is in here and here,”
“I got the badge and threw it back.”
“You’ll find it again one day, we all do, Shukran,” he said bowing his head.
Snook reached into a clear plastic bag and piled mounds of grass into the bowl. He ground the herb finely crushing all the lumps and seeds onto long rice paper skins. He swilled whiskey in his left hand and with his right rolled a tight spliff about the size of a slim cigar.
“Don’t you roll J’s you know tobacco mixed with a tiny bit of grass?”
He laughed “Nah, Ital, solid,” In the background Al Jeel, repetitive whaling Arab music played through tinny radio speakers. Somewhere in between inhaling the bong, knocking back whiskey Jimmy, head numb, eyes heavy took off soaring into bright empty space. Snook lit the blunt and passed it round.
Jimmy had a tug and coughed. “Yeah, yeah it’s potent.”
The air was thick with swirling pungent smoke. These guys were heavy weights and chained smoked spliffs like cigarettes. The small talk was over. They sat there saying nothing, phasing in and out of reality, blowing thick chemical fumes into swirling sunlight. The absurd suddenly made sense. Sat in the middle of a hydroponic garden, sharing weed with men of faith, seemed completely natural. He was oblivious, higher than an interstellar kite, indeed if they pulled off masks to reveal Alien faces he would not have bat an eye lid. He had left the surreal behind long ago and was now gleefully drifting into the ether. Rawl prodded Jimmy.
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