The weed is never very good: old, dry, powdery and harsh with a noticeable peppery flavor. Kept ground up and loose inside a tiny wooden cigar box (with the Zig Zags) in the middle right desk drawer. The odd thing is, it gets me incredibly stoned and causes immediate dry mouth coupled with a scent of burning bell peppers that lingers in the nostrils.
After being impatiently gestured at by Vince repeatedly, while still in the middle of telling him a story, I quickly hit the joint. I immediately fall into a violent coughing fit. Coughing and choking, unable to speak, tears running down my face. Vince jumps up and grabs the toothpick joint out from between my fingers. He gives me a sidelong glance and lets out one of his half-whispered chuckles, shakes his head in mocking disbelief.
"Oh, my son. My son!" he says, plunking down in his office chair as a low rumble, more felt than heard, passes through the old bricks of the building. A packed bus or a garbage truck, an ascending stutter of bass, heard after another of Vince's breathy chuckles--the only sounds in the dimly lit office, other than my asthmatic gasping and the quick shush of my inhaler.
"You've gotta learn, kid" he says, looking away at the seventies-style console television, which sits off to the side of his desk in an alcove. And where porn videos always seem to be playing with the sound off.
As the last of my asthma attack dies down, I realize he's smoking the whole joint himself. He has a quiet satisfied smile on his face, his arms lying loosely crossed on his chest. I turn to see what he's watching so intently on the old TV. The film features a woman I recognize named Juanita, one of the club's "featured dancers".
He passes me the stunted butt of the roach, then squints to light a cigarette. As the initial cloud of cigarette smoke dissipates, I can tell that he is thinking back, remembering.