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Billy Pud’s Shot
The Old School Urban Buzz: A Harm City Classic

Last night some of the young people at work were discussing sly methods of intoxication. Billy Pud immediately came to mind. The Pudster was in his late 30s—we surmised—back in the early 1980s. Based on what he was ingesting then, I doubt if he is around now. In those hallowed days of yore shoplifting for resale was not the business that it is now. People generally stole for their own pathetic needs. Crack cocaine would soon change that.

To prevent alcoholics from drinking the lemon extract, and vanilla extract [40% alcohol by volume] we stocked those items up front. Today the spices are often around back, as no one that has discovered drugs gives much of a dookie about a shot of candy flavored booze, and people that actually bake do not buy their groceries on buses and in barrooms. Ironically, one section that rarely saw shoplifting back in the day was the bar soap/shoe polish area. The use of those products simply entailed too much work for those inclined to steal. Now, of course, bar soap is a hot shoplift and resale item.

One day Ronbone, a fellow clerk and roommate, called me over to the white-painted cinderblock outside wall of the store, and pointed at a loaf of white bread that was no longer white, at least not in the center of the slices. He explained to me the following process as he slit the bag with his produce knife and flipped through the slices of bread like the soggy cards of some giant ink-stained deck.

Billy Bud, tic upon the body economic, and flea upon the body politic, had hit on a plan for getting his buzz on. After he had scrounged or begged 37 cents for a loaf of our cheapest bread, he would pocket a bottle of liquid shoe polish, open the bag, tail the bag at the base like a condom, and then pour the shoe polish into the bread, which—slice-by-dutiful-slice—filtered the ink from the still poisonous alcohol, netting a shot worth of clear liver-killing nectar, which would be sucked from a hole poked in the base of the bag.

So Sonny, if you think you’re a bad character for sneaking a flask into a bar, think again.

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