“So, yeah, at the bridge come off toward Rio Nido along the river”
“Uh-huh” Phone between my chin and shoulder, I am writing this down on the back of an envelope, my pen is running out so I’m scribbling furiously to get the ink to flow again.
“And then go, like, past where Rio Nido starts and you’ll see like this lodge, onna them Rio Nido tweaker lodges on your left, make a left, and then another left at the tweaker pool,” I laugh at this “and you’ll recognize the house because it’s the only one that’s bright green”
I think ‘well that’s appropriate’ but “ok, I think I got it” is what I say, despite that his instructions included no road names and two references to tweaker architecture.
Later as I’m leaving I look at an online map and realize that this area is one of the compounds in the forest, with all streets named “lane 1” or “canyon four”, a maze of houses, their layout chosen not by human planning but by the location of the giant redwoods with whom they share occupancy.
There’s no way I’ll find it without more information. I dial his number. His roommate picks up.
“No, they’ve already left. I’m watching the baby.
“Uh, do you by any chance know, say, the address to the house I’m meeting him at?” I say, careful to sound neutral and dumber. When the roommate talks it’s clear he is a gentlehippie.
“Aw, no, I don’t, but I don’t think it would help you anyway, it’s so crazy up in there, it’s like a maze, I’ve gotten lost in there every time. I think it’s on Canyon Something, though”
“Thanks, that’s helpful.” I say, trying not to let the sarcasm bleed through.
At the Rido Nido tweaker lodge, I make a left. It’s clearly a lodge. A-frame. Sign: “Lodge”. Who would stay there, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that designation means it’s meant for tweakers. Rather, it seems to be a front for tweakers. This becomes apparent to me when driving onwards…
…there it is. In all its glory. The tweaker pool.
A swimming pool half-filled with mucky green water, deflated grey ball sitting at the corner, pool ladders detached and rusted, sitting by the side of the pool, all surrounded by a chain link fence. A faded sign “Pool”. As I’m staring at the remarkably aptly described tweaker pool, its description becomes even more accurate as a toothless, shirtless, shiftless man in faded blue jeans wheels a cart carrying a white industrial liquid container and an empty five gallon jug they use for watercoolers across the dirt road.
He squints at me. I drive on.
The road can’t decide on dirt or pavement. In my rearview, the tweaker pool recedes and I watch the man rattle his cart into a garage, his neck tattoos only visible from the rear. He peers out the door after me, and closes it.
I am stunned at how easy this was to find. No GPS. No Google Maps. Just tweaker pool.
He greets me at the door, there are four full size boxers, one with swollen nipples, also greeting me. And his baby, and babymama and babymama brother and brother’s friend, and two other people making a deal. And 11 puppies (they inform me a few times that 2 of them died… labor was so long that they drowned in their mama) in a kiddie pool in the other room. Puppies they’ll later sell for two grand a pup. And two giant exotic lizards, whose names they tell me but I forget. One from Australia and one from South America.
State of the art lizards in the wrong continent.
They mention the mice feeding copiously. The boys flirt by trying to impress, disgust, overwhelm. In the other room there are plants, beautiful green cannabis plants. The house is dingy, they bring life.
I notice that every time I come to the house they change the music. Usually to reggae, sometimes to hip-hop. I’m not sure whether they’re reacting the dreadlocks or whether they just want to look cool to me. I know at their age I’d want to look cool to me. At least brother’s age. He and she are older, close to my age I think, but maybe it’s just that I drop money to him, and he’s the most respected of the group so seems older. Indirectly, I pay for their state of the art lifestyle. And lizards.
Brother’s friend is reading a letter from a Brazillian pen pal. I get the idea that these letters don’t arrive as often as he’d like.
“Dude, she sent me a picture!” he exclaims. The whole room crowds around. “She said she wants me to visit, but not for too long, she’s got roommates, and school”. The usual hoopla over her femaleness and Brazilianness ensues from the guys. I am amused knowing they only speak about a female like this if she is 1500 miles away.
I watch a quarter pound being sold to him for $500 and then buy a quarter ounce from him for $100. Themz the breaks.
I should get my 215. Go scrip. But no. I must brave the tweaker path to pick up barely acceptable weed from a trashy kid from Ohio who moved to NoCal to sling dope, talks big, and seems to have a problem using a scale. It’s really not simple to be a good dealer, and he’s one of the worst I’ve had, but has a good heart, so what the hell.
I take a few pulls on a hookah outfitted for weed that brother’s friend brought back from Israel – $15! It pulls nicely. Water, red and gold plated base and thickly woven red cover to the tube, still plastics used, but the mouthpiece has a built-in glass spiral to cool the smoke.
It’ll be a nice drive back, on the windy road through the redwoods, shifting into the rolling hills of where I’m from.
As I leave he and brother are on the front porch
“I hate this house.” He says.
“Me too.” brother usually agrees with him.
“It’s so boring here.”
“Maybe we should get a couple canoes and some beers and hit the river.”
“That sounds fun.” brother says.
“Yeah, go cabrewin’!”
“Yeah, that’s cool, go caboozin’!” brother exclaims.
“Naw, I don’t think I’d make it back up the river if it was caboozin’”
I choose this time to pipe up “You mean caboozin’ is one way and cabrewin’ a round trip? End up in the Pacific, floating off towards the Farallons?”
“Hey, I end up in Hawaii the way I am when I booze up.” There is a pause, both of them take drags off of their cigarettes in unison. I take this as a cue to leave. As I get into my car, I turn back
“Well, have fun you guys, enjoy the cabrewin’. I hope ya don’t end up ka-yakin’”
I see no tweakers, or anyone for that matter, on my way out of the compound. The pool looks just as bad from the other side.
Later the beauty deepens as I spread the story. JB tells me about a conversation with one of his geek friends – a game of 20 questions only the questions are limitless and the objects are random, and in this case he chose “tweaker pool” as his object.
Fast forward 1.5 hours into their conversation:
“So, it isn’t just an undermaintenanced swimming pool”
“So of the set of swimming pools that are undermaintenanced, this one is so because the person or people responsible for its maintenance are using, procuring, selling, or manufacturing methamphetamines?”
I wrote a whole book about California:
Another story about Northern California: Mendo
Like stories about buying drugs? Here’s more:
1: Drugs and Sex: The European Lovers: Hookup
2: Christiania: Christiania
3: Hasidic drug dealer: Padding the Pushke
4: Route 36 cocaine bar: Route 36
5: Mezcal: Ruta Del Mezcal
6: Sugar: Gateway
7: Happy Pizza in Cambodia: Happy Pizza
8: Bhang in Delhi: Cannabis in India: Bhang