Dave had been trying to get in with the local cartel for years: The Wyler family. The only time he had ever caught their attention was when he ratted on a guy in the organization that his sister was dating. The guy had been ripping them off in coke sales. Dave dropped the dime, and sure enough, nobody ever heard from his sister’s boyfriend again, but it didn’t get him any closer to joining their ranks. See, nobody likes a rat. Not even those who benefit from his squealing .
The Wyler’s had a family tattoo they wore behind their right ear. It was of a Barbary lion, and if you had the tattoo it meant you were in. Dave wanted that tattoo more than anything. He’d even tried to draw it in pen behind his ear a few times, using a mirror, so that he could feel what it was like to be one of the boys, but his renderings always ended up looking like smeared shit.
Dave had a new plan, though. This time he was sure to get himself noticed by the Wyler’s, and he’d finally get some steady employment instead of being some asshole, schmuck assistant manager at a grocery store. He pictured himself pulling out guy’s teeth that wouldn’t talk, or roughing up the kid who came up short on the money. That was what he wanted to be more than anything, a tough guy.
This new plan to get noticed wafted in right under his nose. Some hippy kids rented the house across the street. It wasn’t long before the smell of their grow operation started stinking up the block. One day, when the hippies were out, Dave snuck around back, and had a peek over the fence into the yard. Holy shit, he thought. It’s the goddamn emerald triangle back here. Hundreds of cannabis plants flowered in row after row of tired and cracked black pots.
Dave didn’t know dick about weed. He was going to take off a few boards on the hippies’ fence late at night, steal all of the plants in the back of a U-Haul truck, and stash it at a storage unit until he figured out how to turn a profit on it to impress the Wyler’s. Fortunately, just before he was about to go through with his scheme, he let Howl in on his plan. Howl was an ex-con, gulf war vet, and a bandana wearing heavy stoner.
“What the fuck will you do with a bunch of unharvested bud?” Howl asked.
“To who? Who the fuck is going to buy unharvested bud?” Howl said lighting a joint. “Only thing you’ll do is fuck up the crop.”
“What do you propose then?”
“Let the hippies do all of the work. Let them harvest the bud. Let them dry that shit. Let them trim it. When it’s all done, and ready to toke, that’s when we make our move.”
“How long will that take?”
“Judging by the smell, a few weeks.”
Dave wasn’t thrilled about putting his plan on hold, so he took out his dissatisfaction on the customers at the grocery store, but Howl knew about pot. He knew how to move it, and if Dave could turn a tighty profit on the bud, he’d be on the fast track to getting that Wyler tat.
Howl worked recon for a few weeks. He’d climb onto the roof of Dave’s house, and stare down into the hippies’ yard with a pair of binoculars. Finally, after he’d gathered enough intel to make an educated decision, Howl green-lit the operation.
“For some lazy ass hippies, they sure have been working hard to get that weed ready to roll,” Howl said. They trimmed it outside, and now it’s hanging in the garage, drying.”
Dave rented a U-Haul truck, and he and Howl waited. After a few hours, they saw the hippies pile into their hippy bus, and drive off to do whatever hippy shit hippies do. Dave packed his pistol, and Howl grabbed his lock picking kit. They scurried across the street, and had the front door opened in no time.
Turning a corner into the living room, they came face to ass with a couple of the free loving, free loader type loadies caught in the act of coitus. Dave wouldn’t have minded watching if the lovers were into that kind of thing, but the guy reached over for his piece. Dave got the draw on him, and put a bullet in the hippy’s forehead.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” Howl said as the woman began screaming at the sight of her recently deceased lover. “What the fuck?”
“He went for his gun,” Dave said. “It was us or him.”
“Well, now you have to dust her too,” Howl said. “She’s a witness.”
“Seems a shame,” Dave said, raising the gun, and shooting her in the head. “Sorry about that, lady.”
“The only shame is the size of your brain, asshole. I’m not trying to catch a murder wrap.”
“Shit, this place is nice inside,” Dave said. “Look at that big ass flat screen TV, and that spacious leather couch. I thought hippies lived on dirt floors and made beads out of potatoes or some shit.”
“Come on, let’s get that dank loaded into the truck before those other Summer of sixty-niners return.
Dave and Howl opened the door leading into the garage, and a wave of stinky bud odor crashed over them.
“Jackpot,” Dave said. “Serves these beatniks right, stinking up my goddamn neighborhood.”
“Hold on,” Howl said, examining the drying buds, hanging on rows of strings throughout the entire garage. “You have to be fucking kidding me.”
“It’s fucking botrytis.”
“These motherfuckers are some serious amateurs. This stuff aint worth shit.”
“What the hell do you mean?”
“This is what I mean,” Howl said, taking a bud off the string. It had brown patches of death on the outside, but when he ripped the flower apart, the inside was filled with a fine brown dust that floated into the air. “Gray mold. Also known as bud rot. If you don’t catch it early, it spreads like fire through your crop.”
“Can we still sell this shit?” Dave asked.
“These idiots must have been watering the leaves at night or something. Fucking morons.”
“Can we still sell this shit?” Dave asked again.
“It’s all fucked and worthless. You know something?”
“You were right.”
“This house is way too nice for a bunch of dirty ass amateur hippies, who can’t even grow weed.”
“That’s what I was saying. Did you see the size of that TV in the living room? You could park a bus on it.”
“How can these peace lovers, who can’t even grow nugs correctly,” Howl asked as they returned to the dead couple in the living room, “afford all of this really nice shit?”
Howl reached over the dead couple, grabbed a leather-bound suitcase, and opened it. Hundreds of little white bindles dropped to the floor.
“We better haul ass,” Howl said, and quickly gathered up the white packets on the floor, and returned them to the suitcase.
“Hey, Howl?” Dave asked, pointing at a small black security camera on the ceiling. “What the hell is that?”
“Fuck it. We got to go.”
“Hold on,” Dave said, and reached up, and unplugged the device, and put it in his pocket. “We have to cover our tracks.”
“The video footage isn’t stored on the camera, numbnuts.”
“Then where is it stored?” Dave asked, and kicked the dead guy. “I bet he knows. Where’s it at? Or I put another hole in you.”
“Christ, Dave. The poor bastard’s already dead. Let’s bounce the fuck out.”
“Oh, shit,” Dave said, pushing the dead guy’s head to the side with the barrel of his gun. “This aint no moonbeam.”
A Barbary lion was tattooed behind the dead guy’s ear.
“Come on asshole.”
Howl slipped out the front door with the briefcase under his arm. Dave stumbled out of the house behind him. As they stepped off the porch, a long black car pulled into the driveway. The barrel of a long gun stuck out the back window, and the cracking sound of two gunshots pierced the marijuana scented air.
Bio: Morgan Boyd used to live in Santa Cruz, California. Now he lives somewhere else with his wife, daughter, cat, and carnivorous plant collection. He has been published online at Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, Near To The Knuckle, Coffee and Fried Chicken, Tough, Pulp Metal Magazine, Spelk and in print at Switchblade Magazine. He also has stories forthcoming at Yellow Mama and Story and Grit.