Martyn was a dope pig. He didn’t start out that way, it just kind of happened. You might say he evolved into a dope pig.
Unlike Darwin, however, who stretched change over millennia, it happened to Martyn rather sudden like. He was a British tourist one day, an American dope pig the next. The way it occurred was he flew from Heathrow to LAX in the summer of 1968 with a pack on his back and a bedroll, his passport and several hundred American dollars, the minimum required at the time. He had absolutely no idea that the following day he would be in Long Beach where he earned his label and where he stayed long after his holiday travel time limit expired.
Martyn never got to Mexico, he never got to New York, he never even got back to Los Angeles where there are some pretty good museums, yet it was probably the most exciting five months of Martyn’s young life. The good news is he survived the experience. The bad news: thirty-eight years later he needed a new liver because the old one, the one he took with him to LAX and then to Long Beach, the same one he continued to use for, literally, the rest of his adult life, was damaged during that interlude, a brief aberration in what turned out to be an otherwise mundane if spotless life, by Hepatitis C, a curse upon his generation, but one which was unknown and unnamed in ’68 when Martyn was free, white and 21.
Back then it was sex without condoms, there were no incurable blood borne diseases, carpal tunnel didn’t even exist and the ozone layer had just begun to leak only nobody knew it. A nostalgic period, wouldn’t you agree? Them days is gone.
Fredrick was a college student at the time. He came by Tony’s to pick up a half brick from KC who was Mark’s cousin. Martyn had moved into the rear shed by then and was sharing his cot with Nancy, a former nun.
Let’s run through that again.
Fredrick was an undergrad in literature at the nearby state college. Several of those who lived in the house on Ximeno went to school there including Nancy. Those in school survived on student loans except Fredrick who worked at the school cafeteria, in factories over the summers, and never borrowed money. As a result, he had frequent cash shortfalls and supplemented his income by selling baggies of smoking dope.
There was some question Fredrick would ever actually graduate. He was an indifferent student who would probably have gone straight into the workforce if there wasn’t a war on. As long as he carried a full semester’s schedule, his draft board gave him a student deferment which allowed him and his girlfriend to smoke dope and have sex without condoms. Fredrick enjoyed both these activities a great deal, preferably performing them in close succession to one another, in propinquity as he was fond of saying. Remember, even though college was a draft dodge, Fredrick was majoring in literature and had to know words like that.
Fredrick and Cathy smoked dope because they were A. too young to legally purchase alcohol although that would soon change and B. they abjured alcohol as only young people who smoked dope could in those days. Their scorn equated alcohol consumption (with the exception of very cheap red wine purchased in gallon containers with screw on caps) with something their parents did: sit around in bars or consume great quantities of gin and vodka at cocktail parties.
Anyway, Fredrick went over to the house on Ximeno to score. He usually found Tony ironing in the living room, as he did this day.
You already met Martyn. Now there’s a piece of work.
In the bed with Martyn was Nancy, who really was a former nun. She dropped out of the sisterhood and left the cloister although she remained a devout, if lapsed, Catholic. She realized late, about age 21, that her true calling was equally divine, but of a completely different sort than that of the church. She was a gifted mathematician and wanted to reach a higher level of understanding than the Mother Superior felt Nancy should aspire to achieve. So she quit the nunnery.
Nancy met Tony and Sweet William in an art class she took as an elective. She soon had a room of her own in the big old house on Ximeno.
KC (No one knew if his real name was Casey, as in “Trouble ahead, trouble behind / And you know that notion just crossed my mind,” or if it was spelled with two letters, a Kay and a Cee, and if that turned out to be the case, what the letters stood for, such as, maybe his name was Kenneth middle name Colchester. KC’s cousin, Mark, never told anyone whether or not KC was KC’s actual name. Someone would ask, what’s your cousin’s name? Trying to sneak up on the question, like. KC, he’d reply. But what’s his real name, the name his mother gave him at the hospital when he was born? He wasn’t born in a hospital. Where was he born? On the living room floor. So what’s his real name? KC.) was dealing bricks that year. He wanted to make a lot of money fast. Since he no longer went to the office, he let his hair and beard grow long. This was in the days before Rastafarianism hit the mainland so no one yet knew what dreadlocks were. KC had dreads. He had dread beard, he had dread head.
Fredrick came by the house to pick up half a kilo, 1.1 pounds of aromatic Michoacan sensomilla which he ordered from KC the week prior. When he placed the order, KC was annoyed Fredrick only wanted half a brick. “Why don’t you buy the whole thing? I mean, it’s only 90 dollars. A whole kilo. Ninety bucks. Then I don’t have to cut it up and weigh it out and you can’t bitch I shorted you.”