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‘The Way of the World’
Columbine Joe, the Liquor Store Clerk
Okay, you promised a book, and I want a book—something funny to show the kids and whatnot—but I’ve got to give up the cruddy stuff too?
[Frowns, strokes beard, shakes head “no” then nods head “yes”]
Okay—let’s see if we can be really general—generously general on the time frame here, since, when this happened, I officially had my act together and had come to Jesus.
[Rubs beard as author gives blatantly false assurances]
Darn, brother, this is hard. Have to pity those Catholics. It’s one thing to come clean with the Lord, but—darn, okay.
I was divorced, working in a liquor store making seven dollars an hour—and mind you this wasn’t that long ago. Seven bucks an hour does not go far. And the ex-wife has them taking a ridiculous amount of child support out of me. I’m literally making less than my child support. Forget garnishment, that would never cover it, bro. I had to pay the lawyer, every month, or, go, to, jail!
The world is the world and I was living in it—and thankfully still am. Hopefully the Lord understands.
I’m working behind the counter at the liquor store making seven an hour, so what else can I do but sell weed? It’s the same customer base. I don’t have the stuff on me—it’s behind some bottle of gin that never sells.
I tell the customers—my private customers—that they have to buy something from the store—which is only fair because I am on the owner's space and time, and is prudent besides. So I was generating tax revenue, and volume for my employer. They would come in, buy a forty for two bucks, drop a ten on me, and would be out the door with a little something extra.
After a while it turned into real money—after a little while I should say. It didn’t take long. People find you. So, honestly, even after partaking a might myself, I was still making multiple times more in cash than I was on the job. The system was basically making me do it. I either I go to jail or make money—a lot more money than I’d ever make working a job—to make the child support.
[Extends open hand like he is pushing on a door to test it]
Now, you would think—a lawyer being sharper than the ordinary tool—that this lawyer would know, based on the amount of cash, and the denominations that I was bringing to him, where the money was coming from. So, this lawyer will wash my money for free as long as he’s getting his piece of the action.
After a while I started moving other stuff for associates, mostly powder. I prefer the powder because you can cook it up, sell it as rock, and make a big profit, where, with the pills, it’s pretty much like selling beans.
Then I got engaged.
[Stands back, strokes beard, nods with scrunched face]
There can’t be any secrets in a true union. So I told my fiancé. When she found out how much I was making she got nervous—so I stopped. I did, though, pay for the wedding with the proceeds, put that money into a church.
The world is the world, brother.
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Add Comment
MannyDecember 2, 2015 1:02 AM UTC

James. Thank you for your kind invitation to share my "non-materialistic" life. I am greatly flattered, but do no believe I have one. I will check with my accountant and verify. Until then, keep up the outstanding writing. Best regards, Manny.
MannyNovember 24, 2015 10:48 PM UTC

When people ask me what I do for a living I like to tell them: "whatever it takes." Absence of money is the root of all evil. Good stuff James. Thank you.
responds:November 30, 2015 4:25 PM UTC

Good for you, man.

If you ever want to send a brief account of your non-materialistic life for publication on tis site email me at