by S. J. Moyer
PART1 An out-of-control addict plans a first armed robbery, but things go wrong.
|“I LOVE YOU BABY, CAN I HAVE SOME MORE?”
The fact that I was broke wasn’t going to keep me from getting another fix. Addiction had quickly taken me to a dangerous and unfamiliar place. I was about to commit my first armed robbery.
Praying that he would be home, one August evening in 1972 I phoned a heroin dealer named Barry. A few rings, and a voice said, “Yeah.”
“Yeah, who’s this?”
“It’s Skip, man,” I said, bent over, clutching a cramping stomach with one hand.
“Hey Skip. What do you need, man?”
“You got three bundles,” I asked, wanting to be certain that the payoff would be worth the risk.
“It’ll take me bout an hour, but yeah, I can swing that.”
“How much for it?”
Barry raised his voice slightly with a fast, “You know how much, man. One seventy-five each. That’s five hundred twenty-five bucks.”
Careful not to provoke the smallest suspicion, knowing that negotiating a price would make the deal sound more realistic, I said, “I’m a little short. I got 480. Can I give you the rest later on?”
“You know I don’t give fuckin credit, man.”
“Shit Barry, you know I’m good for it. I’ve always been square with you. I never did you wrong. It’s only 45 bucks. I’ll give it to you by morning. All I gotta do is sell a few bags to get that much.”
The phone went silent for a moment, and I knew Barry was thinking it over. A few seconds later he said, “Alright, man. One fucking time I’m gonna trust you. But look, I better have the money by tomorrow.”
“You will. I give you my word.”
“Your word ain’t shit, man. What I want is money. It’s money that fuckin talks.”
“OK, man. You’ll get it in the morning. Where do you want to meet?”
“Same spot as always, bout an hour.”
“OK, I’ll be there,” I said, slamming the phone down as I felt a sudden urge to throw up.
I knew I had to be careful. Barry had a reputation within the drug circle of being someone you didn’t want to mess with. The word on the street was that he would hurt you quick if ever you crossed him. And his image fit that warning. A towering, bearded man, Barry had Manson-like evil black eyes that peeked out between long strands of black, greasy hair. Cross and skull bone tattoos decorated long, dirty, tobacco-stained fingers. A 12-inch serrated knife holstered in a scuffed motorcycle boot completed an intimidating sight.
The “same spot” Barry referred to was along a twisted, unmarked dirt road in a heavily wooded area of Baltimore County. An hour later I was speeding along that road, set on robbing Barry of his drugs. Janis screaming “Take it. Take another little piece of my heart, now baby.” Clouds of dust trailed my 69 Beetle, dimming a moonlit sky.
At last spotting Barry’s black Thunderbird, I swerved my VW to the side. I got in his car to make the deal, disturbed to see that his girlfriend was sitting in the rear. Having to keep an eye on the both of them was going to complicate things, but I knew there was no turning back. Barry mumbled something from beneath a hair-covered face and then handed me the package of heroin. I ripped open one of the bags, slid a finger through the white powder and tasted it to make sure that he wasn’t trying to rip me off at the same time that I was trying to rip him off. Satisfied with the quality of the dope, I jerked a 38 revolver from my knee-high boot, saying, “I’m sorry about this, man. But don’t move or I’ll shoot.”
I wasn’t prepared for what came next; an empty face told me that Barry wasn’t the least bit frightened. His girlfriend gasped but said nothing. Suddenly confused, I couldn’t speak, didn’t know what to do next. I only knew that I wasn’t going to shoot him, couldn’t shoot anybody. And I began to sense that Barry knew that too. The pistol was getting heavier all the time. This wasn’t working out the way I had hoped. I was the one who was terrified, not Barry.
Shoving the package of heroin into my right boot, I reached for the door and backed out of the car slowly. I continued moving away from his car and toward my own, taking slow, careful steps, alternating between keeping an eye on Barry and his girlfriend and turning quickly to get my bearings. Barry was right behind, sliding across the seat and out the same door. He moved toward me. I tried raising the gun, but it was hopeless. He kept coming, saying, “Believe me, man, you don’t fuckin want to do this. Let’s talk about it.” He was right, by now I was having second thoughts, more concerned about getting home alive. But there was no life without heroin and I wanted Barry to just shut up and let me take his. “I’m telling you man, you don’t fuckin want to do this,” he warned again, edging closer with the words. I wanted to speak, by now wanted to ask if we could just forget the whole thing, but the words wouldn’t come. Blood pressure skyrocketing, head throbbing, trees and cars spinning round and round, I nearly blacked out from fear. I vomited. Barry, now standing right next to me, reached out and put his hand on my shoulder as if to comfort me, as if to say that he understood. He recognized surrender in my swollen, tearing eyes, reached for the gun, and then reached down and yanked the heroin from my boot.
As Barry walked me back to his car, he first commented about the size of my balls, and then added, “Man, you’ve got guts. I fuckin like that!” Seated again in his Thunderbird, I was sure my life was over when he stuck the cold barrel of the gun against my forehead and cocked the hammer, spinning the cylinder with his free hand. I closed my eyes; offered a silent prayer to a God I never knew. A very long minute later Barry released the hammer and lowered the revolver. I moaned.
Turning to his girlfriend, Barry smiled, then handed me the pistolstill loaded. Not having strength for words, I reached for the door when Barry startled me with, “Wait a minute, man.” I turned toward him, looking down, afraid to make contact with evil eyes. “Here,” he said, passing me six glassine bags of heroin, and then adding, “I dig your fuckin style, man. You can pay me later.” In seconds flat I was in my car.
Spinning wheels, clouds of dust trailed my 69 Beetle, dimming a moonlit sky, as Neil Young pleaded from 8-track tape, “I love you baby, can I have some more? Ooh, ooh, the damage done.”