When Life Give You Lemons Take Some Pills
With just a month left of school before our last official summer vacation we had become psychedelic travel agents. We tripped on Acid, Peyote, and our favorite, mescaline. Mesc. Ken was selling a lot of mesc lately and one particular batch was cut into Nestles Quick and half the student body was buying little containers of milk to make “chocolate mesc.” It was so cool, drinking chocolate milk that exercised your laugh muscles to near exhaustion and stretched the boundaries of your mind. We laughed and tripped for two weeks straight drinking chocolate milk mescaline everyday. You could tell who was tripping and who wasn’t just by looking in their eyes. Ken and Artie had become closer and closer and Ken had become his number one salesman. Anyone wanted pot or pills or hallucinogens went to him. I was beginning to get just a little worried because he was not as careful about it as he had once been. Its not good for too many people to know, but he was making pretty good money and he always had plenty of buzz. He bought a scale to keep in his room and now he was weighing the drugs out himself. He had become a full fledged dealer and people were getting more and more demanding of him. I was really glad summer was coming because school had just become to dangerous. Carrie and I had completely cemented our relationship and everyone was sure we would get married after school. Marriage wasn’t in my immediate plans because everything would have to wait until Ken and I cruised across Rt. 66 and documented the journey. Maybe then I would send for Carrie. She knew this and was not happy about it, but she also knew Ken and I had planned this long before we started going out. For now we would enjoy the summer baking our bodies in the sun at the beach, water skiing, swimming, and just cruising the Long Island Sound by day, and partying our asses off at night. Cavalieri’s slowed down for me as well because the managers son worked there part time in the summer so my days got cut. It didn’t bother me too much, of course I had less money, but I had more playtime.
Carrie and I had gotten very serious and I felt like she was the love of my life. So funny that someone who has been a female friend for years suddenly becomes the most important part of your life and you begin to make your plans around them. But that was exactly what I did. We tripped together, went to concerts and movies either high from pills or so stoned we sometimes forgot where we were. I had become a cooks assistant and head suds buster at Cavalieri’s. This was promising to be the best summer ever, and it was just about to begin. Still, I was looking forward to going to work on this warm spring evening if only to get away from the chaos of daily life. At Cavaliers I was in a separate world which had a total different set of characters that somehow seemed somewhat refreshing. I had become a central figure in the restaurant and had achieved the enlightened feat of reaching a new plane of visiting a parallel universe. It was a culinary Mecca which absorbed my inner spirit and astral projected me to another world.
I had learned quite a bit at Cavalieri’s, Jimmy had sort of taken me under his wing and shown me his paternal side. He had become my sensei, my benefactor of cooking. Even Andre had begun teaching me although I suspected his motives were more about getting me to do his work. But I had become the kitchen protégé in line to one day have dominion of my very own kitchen. All the basics plus some tricks on soups and sauces. The more he taught the more I absorbed. I became a gastronomic sponge soaking up the “tricks of the trade”. I was learning as I was earning.
When I walked up to the back door of the kitchen I was surprised to find it locked. I peered in the grease smeared window but it appeared all the lights were off. I double checked my watch then looked to the parking lot. Jimmies car was parked in front with a few other cars so I walked around to the front. Fuck man I hope Jense isn’t gonna yell at me again for using the front door but what else was I to do? I opened the door and what I saw was rather perplexing. Across the dining room at the bar sat Jimmy, Andre, Didier, and even Rod the bus boy all getting served by the bartender John. I walked up and noticed an almost deathly glumness in the room and on their collective faces. “Hey, whats up? The back door is locked.” Jimmy broke the ominous silence and said “Zeet down JD. We gots some bad news today. Johnny, give JD a cervesa .” My happiness was rapidly being replaced with worry as John poured me a cold beer. It was Didier who spoke up next. “Jense and Laura have run off with all the restaurant’s money. They broke into the safe, took all the cash, emptied the cash registers and disappeared.” I felt my face turn a whiter shade of pale. “WHAT??” If I told you I was stunned I would have been doing the emotion a terrible injustice. More accurately I was shocked, flabbergasted, bewildered, in a funk and totally blown away simultaneously. My entire world and every world within a hundred light years had been rocked! I looked intensely from face to face hoping one of them would reveal the fact that they had played a fabulous joke on me but none offered a scintilla of a smile. “Jeeeeesus fucking shit! When, what, how did, did you call the cops?” Didier being the manager took control again and explained everything as the news slowly seeped into my cerebellum. He had come into work this morning and found the front door open and the alarm shut off. The cash register was open, there was an empty bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne on the bar with two empty glasses. He ran to the office which was also wide open as was the safe door. He called the cops first, then Jense. Jenses wife said he left for work early and should be there by now. Didier started doing the arithmetic and called Laura whom he had expected of having an affair with Jense. The cops came and took away the champagne bottle and glasses but it was pretty obvious what has happened.
It was a lot to digest. So many things raced through my mind. “Wow! Laura and that fucking airhead asshole Jense? They took all the money? They took ALL the money? Wait, what does that mean?” “It means JD that we ain’t got no more restaurant. No mas trabajo amigo.” I looked at Jimmy with an empty confused stare. So that was it man. No more job. No more Laura. No more money coming in. No more Cavalieri’s. It was painful. Didier explained that the restaurant would have to withhold my paycheck until the investigation was over. The six of us sat at the bar and drank for hours until finally it was time for everyone to leave. We said good bye to each other, and Jimmy and I talked at his car for another 30 minutes as he assured me when he found another job he would call me. But I knew this was the last I would ever see of Jimmy, or any of the other people who had become such an integral part of my life. My restaurant family was getting divorced. Now they would all just be a speck in my memory bank. Feeling sad and somewhat broken I walked home. Actually I sort of stumbled home having consumed more than my share of the free flowing beer. The summer was barely beginning and Cavalieri’s was done, over! I stopped off on the way at Kens and scored some ludes to help me forget all the bullshit of the day.
When I got to Kens room he was flying high and slurring even worse than me. “Hey bro, what’s the matter? You look like you been crying or something. Here, take 2 of these.” Ken had handed me two white tablets that looked like huge aspirins. “Jesus shit man, what the fuck are these monsters?” I trusted Ken to the end so I downed the tabs without waiting for a reply, but still I was curious. “Those were morphine tabs bro, gonna kick your ass six ways to Sunday.” Artie crushes them and snorts em up his nose. Says it gets him way fucking high. I think he shoots them in his veins sometimes too, but fuck that man, none of that shit for us.” I was beginning to wonder how much he really meant that or of he was only trying to convince himself, but that shits for another time. “Hey man, fuckin’ Cavalieri’s closed. That chick Laura ran away with the dickhead floor manager and took all the fuckin’ money. They even downed some Dom Perignon before running off. Now I ain’t got no job. Sucks man!” Ken seemed shocked but had a hard time convincing his face to respond that way. Almost vacant. “Whoa! Holy Jesus fuck man! Oh you are really gonna need those fuckers tonight. Here, take some weed home too.” As always Ken knew what I needed and he lit up a bowl and handed me a small baggie of preamo weed. We puffed the weed in his chamber pipe and in the middle of talking I saw Ken nodding off and falling asleep. I couldn’t help but notice some fresh bruises on Kens arm and it made me sad. I snuck out of his house quiet as a mouse and walked home. I had no doubt his old man was beating him now. Man things were changing way too fast. But for now, I’ll just head home, smoke another bowl, and dig this new morphine high.