On the Train 19 – Redlands

Redlands, CA

Olive Street

I wake up to an empty home. I clean up and get a call from Barney sometime before lunch. He’s coming to pick me up; he doesn’t want me or anyone to be around when Gigi’s mom comes back to the house. I ask him why, and he tells me about this time when she walked in on him having a threesome with Gigi in her bedroom. It’s been awkward ever since.

He takes me on a random drive around town. While on the road, he asks me how wild he thought things would get while I’m out here. I didn’t really know what he was getting at. Before we parked the truck on an open strip of road somewhere, Barney tells me that Al Gore bought up a bunch of property in this area.

I had to put the pieces together myself, and despite my comfort in drug procurements, meth is not pot, and your average meth dealer is not a cool hippy-type. They’re criminally-charged, deranged, and insecure.

We’re two white guys with North Face jackets and jeans walking through a suburban jungle. Barney walks alongside me with his 64-ounce cup of diet coke, telling me about the nature of fear. He must have smelled it on me… He tries to reassure me by saying “you need to control that fear, and not be controlled by it.” As insane as that sounds, walking together through this dangerous neighborhood, I get the idea.

“Look at the pictures on my phone, and go walk down to that red car over there and see if anyone’s inside.” We approach a corner, and he points to the red car with tinted windows at the end of the street, 500 yards away. I ask him “I can’t go in with you?” and he says “No, but I’ll be quick, in and out, before you’re back.”

I take his phone and begin snapping pictures with it. I lose my fear of the neighborhood as my artistic eye dilates. In this neighborhood, many things are worth photographing. An American flag is torn and twisted up in a gated fence, surrounded by tropical brush, palm trees, and overgrown garden décor. I had just snapped a picture of the American flag.

A man who looks like a biker with black sunglasses on appears behind the fence, breaking through the jungle of tree brush that made up his backyard. “Excuse me; are you taking pictures with that phone right here? If you are, you’re gonna’ stop right now.” Barney appears from around the front of the house, takes his phone back, and says, laughing, “Dude, you can’t be taking pictures out here.”

“If he takes anymore pictures, I’m gonna’ have to knock his ass out.” Barney’s voice flutters as he says “it’s alright, I’m deleting them.” The biker asks me “what are you doing here?” and Barney replies for me, “He’s with me.” I say “I’m just along for the ride” and the biker says, “ride’s over; now get the fuck out of here.”

“Don’t ever put me in that position again,” I tell Barney when we get back to the truck. We sit there a few minutes to hash out the last ten. He tells me I have nothing to worry about, because “he knows me.” The rest of the ride was relatively quiet, aside from Barney’s reassuring comments about drugs in California.

We go back to his place on Olive Street, and I put on a James Bond flick. Barney disappears into his bedroom to smoke his meth. I watch him. He digs deep into the folds of his ass to pull out a tiny ball of saran wrap. He carefully cracks it open to examine the product and sets it down on a book while he shuffles round for his pipe. His pipe looks like a ball lollipop, discolored by smoke and resin. The ball is blackened under a point where the meth is deposited. He picks up the delicate collection of white and drops about a third of it into the ball. He shakes it around to make a small island of meth. He sparks a flame, and before he smokes it, says “you might want to try this, it’ll clear your sinuses right up.” He then proceeds to hold the flame for several seconds under the pipe and inhales a thick cloud of white smoke.

He smoked that little island of meth twice, rotating the ball in his hand, burning all the resin inside. And then he proceeded to work on his website. I lost sight of him as I watched the movie and passed out an hour in. I wake up around six, and Barney is still plugging away. Without looking away from his laptop, he tells me we’re picking up Gigi after work and going to a place called Eureka!Burger for dinner. My spirits are lifted; I love burger joints. I also feel less sick, so I’m motivated to go out and make the most of it. We pick Gigi up at the hospital a half-hour later.