In the Shadows with MMJ

October/ 1984/ 1:00 AM

Michael backed his car into the shadows across the street from the local bar so we could smoke a joint and check out the action before going in for a drink. Near closing time, dancing room only, the plate glass windows on the front of the bar pulsed with rock & roll, providing us with an in-depth view of the fishbowl and the sinewy current therein.

Michael finished twisting the joint and motioned for a light. As I reached for my pocket, a roar of approval emanated from the crowd as a man we did not recognize (whom I will refer to as Brewser) came flying through the saloon style doors, landing on the deck in a heap of rubble. A girl we knew came out on the deck, shaking her finger, admonishing Bruiser for his unwanted advances.

Disheveled, Brewser warbled up, adjusted his trousers and stumbled back in the bar for round two. An argument ensued and no sooner said than done, Brewser got tossed through the doors again, landing on his ear. Cursing God and the world around him, he ambled up, which was no simple feat.

I remarked, “Do you suppose he’s gonna try that again?”

Michael chuckled and replied, “The only way to know where the line is to cross it.”

Brewser clambered to his feet, shook the bats out of his belfry and pushed his way back in the bar. A major ruckus followed, and regulars of the bar used Brewser’s head as a battering ram and launched him through the swinging saloon half doors. We watched in awe as Brewser took flight, his head bouncing off the bumper of a car in the parking lot. Needless to say, Michael and I felt compelled to do nothing but sit and wait for his next Bruiser move.

Brewser grabbed the hood ornament and pulled himself up, leaning on the car for support, rubbing the knot on his head. Suddenly, he turned toward us, growled, focused and staggered into the street  heading our way. Just before he got to where we parked, Brewser veered off to the rear end of a  Chevy Nova, grumbling through his pockets, producing a key ring, which he fumbled twice before successfully opening the trunk of his car.

For a moment, I thought Brewser was going to crawl inside his trunk and pass out, but lo and behold, he retrieved his car jack, you know the kind, three foot tall, hollow, case hardened steel. Brewser slammed his trunk shut and erupted loudly, “I’ll teach those mother****ers to mess with me!” then walking tall, back towards the bar.

Michael, who had never lit the joint says, “Watch this,” and beckons to Brewser abruptly. “Hey you, come here.”

Brewser’s head spins on his shoulders, his body follows. “Who the **** said that?” he fumed, and raising the jack high in the sky, headed our way for a chainsaw massacre. Just as he was about to smash out our windshield, Michael holds the joint up in plain view and says, “hey buddy, got a light?”

Mystified, Brewser is taken aback. “Huh?” He replies.”

Michael holds the joint and lighter out the window at arm’s length.

"Light this up will ya, let’s get stoned."

Brewser, in the moment and caught off guard, leans the jack against his hip and follows Michael’s lead. He takes a puff and then another. When he tries to hand it back to my friend who says, “Go ahead hit it again.”

The next thing we knew, Brewser, transformed and introspective, assessed his situation. “What the hell am I doing?” He mutters, massaging the knot on the top of his noggin, “I gotta go apologize to those people.”

And with that, Brewser turned, shuffled back to his car, put the jack in the trunk, ambulated sheepishly out of the shadows, across the street, up the deck steps and back in the bar. I held my breath, but we could see through the plate glass windows; the same fellows that had thrown him out on his ear were shaking his hand and the girl that had cursed him to kingdom come was smiling kindly and patting him on the back.

I had been smoking weed since 1969, but that was my first hands on experience with what I later came to appreciate as medical marijuana. For years to come, I always kept a joint on hand, waiting for the opportunity to arise, where I could apply the same technique that my friend had so aptly applied sometimes-saving people from themselves, one joint at a time.


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