Thursday, January 6, 2011

The day they pointed the shotguns at the pregnant girl. © 2011 Dakini Verona

The day they pointed the shotguns at the pregnant girl © 2011 Dakini Verona

 “Hi, I'm Rebecca. Call me Rebecca, Becca, but never Becky." Funny how those little things stick out in my mind. When I was introduced to my “old man’s” friends that is what I remember. Her name was Rebecca. She had long shiny vibrant red hair, which fell just below her shoulders. She had soft full lips that when stretched into a bright radiant smile revealed teeth that were impeccable. She seemed more like a loving older sister than a hard assed drug dealer.  

I guess that was because she was always kind to me. 

Rebecca’s “old man”, Daniel, was a drug dealer. The typical kind. Not the happy go lucky pot smoking, acid dropping dealer. Oh, no. He was the hard edged, gun toting, tough son-of-a-bitch cocaine dealer.  His clothes were dirty and his long stringy hair was flat and greasy. You know the type, the ones you see in the movies.  I am sure that not many of you have come face to face with this type of a scenario, so I will try to give you as many details as I can, or want to remember.

The year was 1973, the place was the San Francisco Bay Area. I had been a runaway hippie and was trying to find my way off of the streets.  I was 5 months pregnant and living in a beautiful Victorian home in the Fillmore district of San Francisco with Kevin. Kevin was a hippie that I had previously dated. Dating in those days meant hung out with, had sex, got high and maybe lived with. I had left Kevin after a series of violence that scared me away. That had been in the previous year, in 1972.

The child I was carrying was not Kevin’s, but he wanted the world to think it was. I found it strange that he wanted a trophy pregnant girl on his arm. Most guys wanted a beauty queen; or at least the stereotypical bombshell. I was neither.  I could not understand his reasoning, but I guess Kevin had his own demons which he decided to keep hidden. I went along with the farce; after all, I was not with the baby’s father any longer. He and I had only been “together” for less than a month when I first left him and went home to my parent’s home. When I found out I was pregnant I returned to Berkeley and tried to feign reconciliation. I left after 2 weeks. Even I had standards. He was a worthless bum taking advantage of free spirited and desperate hippie chicks.

So, there I was. With Kevin. Kevin was one of those guys with an “Italian Stallion” attitude. The kind that populated the small town in Upstate New York where I grew up. Mostly assholes. You know the type: abusive, alcoholic, distant, what more can I say? I was the one that chose the life and chose to be with him. It was familiar and I was comfortable with it.  It was rather ironic that he refused to “touch me” in a sexual way, once I was pregnant. He professed that it might hurt the baby. I remember lying on the bed with him next to me, overwhelmed with a feeling of “lovelessness”. Meanwhile a new being was rapidly growing inside my swollen belly. The loneliness was unbearable, but I thought it best for the child to have a home. Best for me to be in a somewhat stable environment. Little did I know what was in store for us across the bay in Berkeley.

In the time which lapsed since Kevin and I had been together, he had developed a new vice. In addition to his abusiveness, he now snorted cocaine. As I look back on that time in my life, I have a better understanding of our relationship. If you have ever known a drug addict, you will know that the addiction holds more power over the life of the addict then the will to live. Kevin was falling deeper and deeper into the pit of his addiction. He and our neighbor upstairs would be up all night snorting lines through make shift straws using $20 bills. I know, most people use large bills, but hey, they were sort of hippies. As you know, hippies were never known for having large sums of money. It was not only against the belief system of many, but due to lifestyle, not feasible.

The sense of paranoia filled the air. I may have been a bit more sensitive to the energies, due to my condition, but I know for a fact, that there were things he heard and felt that were not really happening. At one point he was screaming and running around the house, pulling the blinds, locking all windows and doors and telling me not to speak a word. I was supposed to use sign language or a notepad. He was convinced that our place was bugged. One night I awoke to hearing him in the bathroom, flushing his entire stash down the toilet, because he knew they were coming in to raid the house. I didn’t realize how serious this was until I noticed that he was no longer snorting the white poison, he had graduated to shooting it directly into his veins. I found myself in denial. I did not know where to turn. What was I to do? Pregnant. No friends. No family to speak of. Alone. Totally alone. I did not think there were any options open. But then I had one of those life defining moments. You know the type that changes your path, whether you are ready or not.

Kevin had taken me to Berkeley to meet with his dealer after flushing his entire stash of coke. We had been there before, and it was not a big deal to me. People were always coming and going at a dealer’s place. One of the ways that Kevin got his coke was to deal for these people on the side. So we spent quite a bit of time in the apartment. There was a balance beam style scale set up in the back room and scattered baggies with white powder. Some of them were pure coke, some were cut and some were filled with the cutting agent. I think they said it was baby laxative. We would weigh out each part and mix it together in a big bowl. Then the fun part came, measuring and weighing out the ounces to be sent to the other dealers. Those were only “stepped on” slightly. It was a way that those dealers increased their profit. The middle men charged more and kept some for themselves. It was a known fact. Then there were the baggies that were to be sold on the streets. These were “spoons” which actually were slightly less than a gram. I sucked at math, but quickly learned that there were 28 grams to an ounce and that meant 28 “spoons”. If you cut it, you could add a few spoons, increasing your profit. Such is the math of drug dealers.  

Not only was I a drug dealer in training, but I was also getting trained on how to cook. Becca had taught me how to make biscuits, using Bisquick. On this day, she was teaching me how to make barbeque chicken in the oven. We had a batch of chicken pieces slowing baking in barbeque sauce. The tangy sweet smell of the sauce filled the air in the apartment. We were all sitting in the front room talking about nothing that was of any importance. A knock on the door revealed a few familiar faces who had come to conduct “business”. I was sitting on the floor in the front room, among the group. Someone went to the back room to get the product, when suddenly the door of the apartment was violently kicked in.

Several hooded men entered the room, in their hands were sawed off shotguns. They were demanding drugs and money. They room filled with darkness, I am not sure if that was from lights being turned off or if there really was a dark cloud that engulfed us. The intruders were serious in their demand, but Daniel and Becca were not about to give them what they wanted. It was a true standoff. I was sitting on the floor, Indian style, in the circle of people that had just been passing a joint. I remember feeling that everyone scooted back from me, leaving me exposed in the center of the circle. The intruders took this opportunity to try and use me as leverage and without further commentary pointed their guns at me. I could feel the tension tighten on my body as though I was being held in a vice. 

I held my breath and although I was not religious, I could hear myself praying to any gods that would listen to save me from this crisis and spare my child.   They again demanded the goods. What seemed like hours passed with no progress. I could hear the heavy breathing of the intruders and realized they were already running on adrenaline. I prayed that they would not in their anxiety pull a trigger. I looked at Becca and Daniel and pleaded with them silently with my eyes. I was frozen in fear and began to go into shock.  

The world went blank at that point. When I came to my senses, I realized that the worst was over. The intruders had left. No guns were fired and I survived that incident fully intact. 

The conversations which ensued were ramblings of madmen. They blamed the hit on the government or the police.  Daniel and Becca quickly made plans to escape the city, recovering the hidden cash which was  stashed away. They talked about taking a plane somewhere. They were going separately. I packed my few belongings and left that night, never looking back. I still have flashbacks of that day whenever I hear that song “Daniel”. You know the one, Daniel’s leaving tonight on a plane, I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain, … must be the clouds in my eyes”. 

Funny how the mind works.

I left the streets for good that day.

1 comment:

  1. I red a book called What Cops Know bout Chicago cops and their stories. Fascinating book. But your account reminded me how drug dealers feared other drug dealers far more than they feared the cops. they were armed to the teeth to fight off competitors, not cops. One time the cops burst in and the crooks were scrambling till they realized it was JUST the cops. They felt somewhat relieved then. It really is insane on the streets and this was published in 1900 about.

    Yet, there are pushers who have been selling for years in the same place in LA, so it is told and I, to be honest, believe them. There are sellers who are part of a sanctioned network and there are those who are not. They are the ones doing lots of running. Lots of drugs come across the border with permission. Law is an interesting word in our time. Be careful of it ;-)