Before I get on with the main body of the column I would like to comment on Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, which we saw last week on channel 4. Was Chris Morris creating havoc with a new Brass Eye series; I'm still none too sure.
Although the subject of the show is about ecstasy, I think it is still pertinent to my line of work and regular column. How the show was ever commissioned aside, what questions did the show ask and answer? For me it seemed to say to loads of people take MDMA, and actually, it's really pretty safe. I do question Professor David Nutt’s motive however; he was fired for claiming that taking ecstasy is less dangerous than riding a horse -- does he have an agenda of proving his previous claim? He claims previous research was biased as it set out to prove the extreme dangers of ecstasy use -- does Prof. Nutt try hard to prove his theory of the positive effects of MDMA?
Did the show promote the use of ecstasy by glamorising it to youths, do you think? Did it advance scientific understanding of the effects of the drug on the human brain? Was the show eye-opening and thought-provoking, or a pure ratings grabber?
Finally, if the show proves the dangers of taking ecstasy are limited, should it be legalised as a result; regulated to increase safety, and provide the government a much-needed new revenue stream by taxing and licensing of the production and sale?
I'm not too sure of the answers to those questions above. but I still think Prof. David Nutt is a quality bloke! If he fancies a night out throwing some shapes whilst geeking out to some banging house, he knows where to find me.
Anyway. Back to my usual column.
Dave was really getting on my nerves; it wasn’t his fault -- his girlfriend freaked out about having a baby; moved into his flat and began making the place baby-friendly, meaning I had to move back into my place...which was not such a chore, but I hated being alone and as I always had "company" over, the growing operation had moved to a wardrobe in the main bedroom. It was going to be a small but regular yield to sell. I was still working construction and money was still rolling in; the pinch I felt was the loss of product, my lump sum of profit, and that my friend that had stabbed me in the back.
If Dave did call, it was to ask what I was going to do about Chaz, or when was I going to sort him out? The trouble was I was unsure what to do; I wanted to batter the little prick one minute, then try to understand why he had stitched me up the next. Everyone knew what had happened; the regular joke in the pub was simple.
“Nice trainers; heard they cost you 6 grand, ha ha” one of a number of variations of the joke; everyone knew I had been ripped off by Chaz; everyone knew I had seen him in JD Sports; everyone knew because Dave told his missus and she told everybody she knew, and even some people she didn’t.
It didn't worry me that people knew -- after all, it meant that if Chaz ever showed his face again, I would soon find out. I'd been back to Lakeside but never saw him in work; I was told he was living with his Nan near Upminster but how big is Upminster -- it's not like I could just drive around looking for him or his crappy Vauxhall Nova. Jim had to know where he was but there was little chance of him telling me; he seemed to fall out of touch quickly after Chaz nipped off with my freshly harvested gear. I am not sure if he felt responsible as he was a lot closer to Chaz; they had been mates since they were at school together.
I couldn’t tell if Jim knew anything more and quietly hoped he didn’t. On the phone to my Uncle Mick, I told him of my dilemma and he said I should try to get in touch with him and try to get some of the money back -- that was the most important thing in his eyes, recoup as much of the cash as possible. Battering Chaz, whilst it would have felt good at the time, was not worth risking any amount of money for.
I told a few people that I wanted to speak to Chaz, to try to sort it out, but there was no reply to these requests; apparently he had not been seen or contacted. Rumours about his location often filtered through to me, but for weeks I did not see or hear from Chaz.
Chaz was not menacing; he was quiet, kind of shy and always managed to look like he was slumping over. He also had an annoying habit of always wearing a hat, be it a cap or a woolly hat. Chaz was pale and with a gingerish look; not totally ginger, but over 50 per cent, I'd say. He was game and always pitched in when it kicked off, but his wire-like frame lacked power, and being larger and older he would not want me to start anything. I really had no idea if he was even getting my messages. But I continued to put the word out to a few people that knew him, just in case.
I sat in my flat after an exhausting day on site, followed by traffic all the way out of town. I contemplated my evening -- pub, takeaway, xbox session? When my doorbell rang, the usual barrage of paranoid and anxious thoughts flooded in, and the peep hole revealed a familiar female. It wasn’t until I opened the door that I fully recognised her. It was Chaz’s older sister Terri, a stern looking girl with a reputation for being tough, which she demonstrated by stomping into the flat and instantly quipped:
“Right, you have got to sort it out, my Chaz don’t owe you nuthin” she.
“Fuck off Terri, you know what he has done, and you know why he ran away; I just want my money, I have not gone after him have I?"
"You have told people you are gunna get him, he didn’t run away, he moved to our Nan’s place as it was easier for him to get to work” she appealed angrily.
“Whatever Terri, why did he keep hanging up on me, why has he not come back to the boozer in months?” I could not believe she thought I would buy that.
“And, anyway, Chaz said he did all the work, you owe him."
“Bo**ocks do I, that was my flat, my equipment, my investment.”
“Yeah but he was there all the time, he took the risk.”
There was no winning this argument -- she did have a point, but he had agreed, and he was basically getting free rent and would have taken a cut of the profit and some weed to smoke. Plus I did not like arguing with Terri, although I have described her as stern and mean, she did have one, or should I say two assets, and marvellous they were, always a lot of cleavage on show as well.
“Anyway!” Terri had now taken over the conversation. “Chaz is at home, mum has not been well, he has been back a week and won’t go out.”
“Well tell him to give me my skunk back,” I offered as a solution.
“He can’t; he sold most of it and he did not get a good price and got ripped off, one guy bought a large weight and only paid for about half, Chaz can’t get hold of him now, he don’t know what to do...he has some money for it, though.” Terri kept talking, and talking.
Chaz had sold the majority of the weed; the rest was smoked; he had a few mates around him who helped him get through a lot of the weed and now the skunk has gone, so those guys hardly given Chaz any cash -- of course he was mugged off!
Terri told me that they could give me £1,200, as that was all they could get between the family, with Terri reminding me their mum was sick. She eventually offered £2,000, to which I accepted, agreeing to meet Chaz if he wanted.
The money was delivered in two batches, and in total I was given £1895, of the most abused looking notes I have ever seen; Terri both times coming on her own, it seemed like each visit allowed Terri to push the limits of acceptable cleavage levels in public. But no Chaz.
As the days passed, I could not help but wonder if I had been had again -- did they have more money; had Chaz really been done over twice, or had he spent it all and now has nowhere else to go? Or was I a drug-dealing scumbag who took money away from a family who were at the time caring for their sick mum?
Chaz was illusive; I saw him on the high street driving about but never for more than a second; his abilities were ninja-like. I was still not sure what I would do if I did see him; I was still extremely angry, but at the same time missed having him as a mate -- before all this I really liked the kid. Luckily Chaz was not giving me the opportunity to find out, his avoidance of me seemed like lasting.
As Saturday nights go in the local this was a lively one; two of the youngsters had already had a tear-up over a game of pool, showing off in front of the new barmaid who had no interest in their pissing contest. I had not seen it as I was in the snug, but it had left the pub with a charged atmosphere; the music was drowned out by rowdy chants and mock arguments, the current world record for people in one place dropping the “C bomb” was shattered by 9pm. The teenagers in the pub were looking for something to set them off; the friends of the two groups eyeing each other up. The sensible thing was to go home before it happened -- I had surely drunk enough for the night, and had even knocked back a few Aftershocks, which was definitely a sign I should have already called it a night.
The last slip of an extra unwanted beer and the potential royal rumble of underaged drinkers in the main bar not materialising, I tiptoed and swayed to the door contemplating a fag for the walk home; it had been a good night, charged and intense but fun. Looking at the floor as I left the boozer, I first noticed a snazzy pair of Nike trainers, and as I looked up, Chaz was in my merry gaze. In that drunkish state my dilemma was forgotten and I offered a half smile at Chaz and decided to walk past. It all took me by surprise, too much to deal with whilst contending with the lingering aftertaste of a red Aftershock.
Chaz on the other hand planned his welcome on this occasions, as he lurched towards me I half wondered why he was going to hug me.
As the apparent hug was startling enough, I had started to recoil from Chaz when I realised he was not being friendly, the punch bounced straight off the side of my head, and although it stung, it did no damaged whatsoever. Unfortunately, in the one second it took to register, Chaz punched me again, this time to the back of the head. tTo be honest, I think he opened his hand; it helped me realise I was bent over at the waist and Chaz was extremely close after slapping the back of my head.
In a swift and ulgy movement, I pushed my shoulder into Chaz and quickly wrapped my arms around the back of his thighs -- Chaz, the skinny ginger git, was stronger than I thought and as I tried to lift him from my doubled-over stance, I slipped up his body. Chaz was skinny and seemed slippery and we ended up face to face; being slightly taller I was still slightly bent at the waist. People smoking outside the pub had informed punters inside, and we soon gained an audience. It felt like I had been bear-hugging him for ages; as I tried to lift him one more time I was able to wrap my leg behind his and push backwards -- unfortunately Chaz did not release his high grip and pulled me towards him as we both fell towards the paving. I should say unfortunately for Chaz, that is.
As Chaz hit the floor, his head cracked backwards, closely followed by my shoulder that bounced his head once again against the concrete slab; my full weight compressing his chest. His lip had split and the blood mixed with spit had smeared on one of his cheeks; it was bleeding a lot as he jumped quickly to his feet; quicker than I would have gotten up. The audience quickly turned into umpires, stopping the fight and steadying Chaz, while a few of the teenagers and mates came over to me. I could not tell you what they said, the noise sounded muffled, and I was shell shocked at the last 60 seconds' worth of events. But then, I soon got angry. As I did not seem hurt, given I was standing 10 feet from Chaz, a few locals helping him, I ran over and threw a pathetic punch. It connected but there was nothing on it. We were quickly separated, and I was ushered inside the pub and quickly given a JD and Coke. Every man and his dog giving me their two pennies worth, too.
The activity outside the pub died down, and I propped up the bar stewing over the wrestling match we had just had, with more JD and more Coke, easing the pain and anger. A few of the youngsters came up to me, telling me I had “fucked him up” and “he was a mess”; I guess they were trying to help, but really I was not in the mood to celebrate -- I should have been at home, I decided.
I stayed in the pub until closing time, and then for a few hours more, meaning the hangover hurt more than usual, but the main pain came from not understanding what had happened, and what had made Chaz decide to go on the attack -- I was the person who had been ripped off, after all.
Chaz explained to people that I had tried to mug him off; that he had done all the work and deserved the profits for his work. He had worked himself up and believed his own bullshit story; he honestly thought I had wronged him. He wanted all the rewards without the financial investment.
We bumped into one another every once in a while; in the same shop or street but other than that he did his best to stay away. Occasionally his name came up in conversation; someone somewhere had a drink with him and he would tell them he missed the boys and wanted to come back down the way. I told people I would not ever have a problem with that.
Jamie Snoll is a pseudonym for a drug-dealer born and bred in Essex, who offers up a view from the different side of the law to our Friday columnist Matt Delito. Check back this Friday for Matt’s next episode.