It’s important, in life, to have a few Scumbag Friends 1not really my term, I heard Pete Holmes use the term recently and decided to use it here. I’d have previously said “Petty Criminal ...continue. People you can go to when you have a terrible idea that’s also illegal, who can guide you along the way, and don’t pass judgment. I had quite a few Scumbag Friends in Phoenix, especially towards the end of my time there, but none so insane as Joey. This is a kid who once vowed to spend an entire week drunk 24/7 — I mean, he woke up, drank until he could barely stand, passed out, woke up and repeated. By day 3, he was coughing blood. By day 4, he told us in detail about his “liquid bloody shits”, while single-handedly working his way through a bottle of Jack Daniels.
In early 1999 (while living in the shithole), my live-in girlfriend Janice, my friend Kevin (of the dick piercing story), and Bethany (also of the dick piercing story) decided we needed to just get the fuck out of Phoenix and on to greener pastures. We decided we should all live together in a place in San Francisco. That’s where we belonged, we just needed to find a way. The problem was that none of us had a job. Amongst the four of us, I at least had career skills (web design), but at the time I’d only really done freelance, never professionally for a company. We were in no position to pull this off. Our only plan for making money to finance this idea was to sell drugs. This is where Joey comes in.
Joey knew a guy who worked the counter at a veterinary clinic, and could “accidentally” leave the back door unlocked for someone to sneak in and clear out their stock of Ketamine. You might know the street name better as “Special K”, a cocaine-like powder you’d sniff up in lines and about 10 minutes later you’d feel like you just took 12 shots of Everclear for about 20 minutes. It’s generally used in a liquid form, injected into small animals to knock them out. But, if you pour out the liquid and heat it up, it turns to a fine powder, which makes insufflation 2the scientific term for “snorting” possible. Joey knew the whole process, and would provide us with stock if we sent someone to meet his friend by the back door of the vet clinic, in exchange for 3 vials, post-cook.
The math was pretty good. Kevin picked up a case of 50 bottles of Ketamine. At 1mg per ml, a 10ml bottle would yield roughly a gram. You could sell an uncut gram of K at the time for about $150 (sometimes more if you were making $20 bags and managed to sell each bag individually instead of bulk). This score would net us about $7,000. That was, we theorized, enough for the 4 of us to live rent free in a 2-bedroom apartment for over 3 months 3if you’re skeptical on the rent cost, here’s a PDF that shows the amounts – skip to “average monthly rents”. After that, we’d only need to make about $500/month each to stay there. Easy peasy!
I decided if we were gonna cook up some K, I should make a special space in the apartment for it. I had a little breakfast nook in the shithole apartment that had, thus far, gone unused. I stole some milk crates from the back of grocery stores, then headed to Home Depot for a slat of thin lacquered wood to set on top. We now had our cookin’ table.
We worked tirelessly over the course of 2 days to powder up the liquid vials, place them into amounts that could reasonably sell for $20 a pop, and we were all set.
We wouldn’t be very good business people if we didn’t at least try the supply before unloading it. So, over the course of the next week, there were many “taste tests” amongst our crew. At the time, I had this crappy front-projector system that we’d fire up, put on Dark City, do some lines, and just trip the fuck out. I did a few lines and felt the effects, but I was spoiled by my LSD days, so I wasn’t too impressed with the 20 minute high. Kevin discovered how many lines it took to hit to hit a “K-Hole”. In a K-Hole, it’s like Being John Malkovich. It’s like you’re seeing the world through your eyes, but you’re powerless (and unwilling) to actually move. I saw Kevin sitting cross-legged on the couch, leaning forward, completely still. At one point, his body leaned him forward beyond his center of gravity and he fell face-first onto the floor. Still cross-legged. Still with his hands at his side. An hour later, he stood up and said “man… that was wild”. My first and only K-Hole (aka intentional overdose) lasted only about 30 minutes, but I had no desire to try that again.
With our product built and tested, I just needed to send Kevin off to a rave with a bundle of K bags to unload it on the Phoenix rave scene. As luck would have it, there was a huge rave going on in the desert between Phoenix and Tuscon just a week away. We could get most of it unloaded in one night.
Problem was that Janice (my girlfriend) really wanted to go to a rave for the first time, and she wanted to make sure Kevin didn’t fuck it all up. I was apprehensive about this idea, but they both made the argument that with 2 people, they could unload our entire stash in a single night. And, since there were so many people, they wouldn’t have to sell in bulk and might be able to get more than our $7,000 estimate. Err.. after our “testing” (and Joey’s “finder’s fee”), more like $6,500.
I relented, and put Janice in charge. She was a little less of a loose cannon than Kevin, so I figured she should hang onto the bags and Kevin could periodically check in with her for a fresh batch, give her cash for his last haul, and all would go smooth. She’d hold onto the supply, he’d be the distributor. I told her to never give him more than 10 bags at a time to unload, but that if she was feeling up to it, she was free to do some distribution herself while there. I sent them off, with their pagers (as cellphones were still pretty uncommon in those days), and stayed home while they went off to carry out the plan.
That night turned out to be a turning point in many people’s lives.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||↩||not really my term, I heard Pete Holmes use the term recently and decided to use it here. I’d have previously said “Petty Criminal Friends”, but I think Scumbag Friends works better here|
|2.||↩||the scientific term for “snorting”|
|3.||↩||if you’re skeptical on the rent cost, here’s a PDF that shows the amounts – skip to “average monthly rents”|