October 24, 2002

Jake's Beer

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2002

We lost Jake somewhere after dropping the second hit and just before the third hit of liquid acid. Angela didn’t seem overly concerned. She just kept smiling and announced in her lazy central Texas drawl, "We’ll find him, when we find him."

"I’m sure we will. But in what condition and where?"

Jake is not your typical irrational psychotic, suburbia angst ridden, prescription drug stealing, green-haired dreadlocked narcoleptic, monkey smelling freak from Nowhereyouheardof, Oregon. He’s got a bad fucked up side too. And whenever we foolishly leave Seattle to go to Vancouver, something always goes wrong and once again, the frenetic Cannuck air must have triggered something in that shriveled head of his. One second he was standing right behind me showing me a picture of Tito Puente in a elf costume, and then gone! Vanished, disappeared. Leaving me in a house of young MDMA snorting castoffs and rejects from the local skater club, kicked out because they could NOT skate, but look the part, so they desperately keep on living the lifestyle. Street kids feverishly sucked in by the relentless undertow of the massive waves of Americana that simultaneously wash up on the shores of countries worldwide with sad sour faces and simple sponge brains soaking up every tasteless commercial and swallowing one MTV-Hollyweird shit sandwich after another, destined to helplessly accept their slack oriented, consumer spoon fed lives in Mooseland. A scrappy bunch of future hooligans and statistics, a few of them, the most coherent of the lot, were eagerly trying to sell me bunk pharmies, a pathetic attempt to hustle a Hustler, that I chuckle at and brushed aside like an old house fly on it’s last heroic flight before death. Amateurs. Skater kids substituting freshly swiped over the counter diet pills and passing them off as Percosets. Fourth grade stunts. Skater genius number three forgot to wipe off the DEXI-THIN logo on his stash.

"Didn’t get that e-mail, eh?" As I make a swatting gesture, nearly setting his backward baseball hat straight.

"What are you talkin’ aboot, eh? These are good Percs, eh!"

"Great, Gretzky, keep ‘em for yourselves."

I quickly snag Angela before one of those half pint pinheads drags her off and forces her to drink a beer, spiked with a bad combo of cough medicine and the drug du jour, the date rape drug of the week, what ever Mack from the docks sells them that day. Oh, you bet it works. Ask around. Works real well on the plaid wearing "wild" and "liberal" girls from the local Catholic high school.

After driving around for a while, in circles around downtown Vancouver, going nowhere in particular, I decided to go see Tako. We were on our way to her loft in the first place, until Jake took us off the path on nothing more than a bad drug deal, never worth an ounce of discussion ever again. To hell with Jake.

Tako has a calm and soothing effect on people. Her loft is also her studio where she paints elaborate flags and wind socks. She’s having a dinner party for some of her friends and we were very late, as is.

Tako didn’t answer the door. I rang the bell several times and there was no answer. Tako’s studio is in a not so good part of Vancouver. Old Chinatown is less Chinese these days and more Vietnamese and Laotian. Her place is located above an old laundromat that sometimes dubs as a low profile spot to conduct a few shady drug deals. Nothing big time, a few bags of commercial British Columbia homegrown nugs or a few stems of magic mushrooms from time to time, maybe even a Happy Pill or too. Nothing more, just your local, casual potheads, the art poseurs and former American pension stealing, stock option selling dottcommers, looking for refuge north of the border.

I ring the crusty doorbell again. No answer. Angela turns the handle and the large metal door opens. She gives me a funny, but playful look and I follow her inside, up a long cast iron stairwell. The delicious sounds of early American Jazz standards are echoing its way into my ears, and the pungent smells of high-grade kind buds, mixed with stale aroma of cigarettes and cheap rum tickle my nose hairs and bumps of geese flock to my arms.

Her studio is dark, except for a few candles and green Christmas lights that illuminate the walls. A group of people is sitting at the table making hand shadows and sipping fruity cocktail drinks with those cheesy tiny pink umbrellas and Tako is standing on her couch showing someone a large photography book. She looks up and sees us, and in one motion, jumps down off her couch and hugs Angela.

"I’m so glad you finally made it. We were starting to worry, maybe you got stopped at the border!"

"Jake," I maffled, with a tight scowl on my face.

"I figured. Here’s maybe this will calm you down."

Tako hands us a small dish with three delicious mini chocolate chip muffins sparking with liquid Sunshine and calling out to us.

"They are extra special. I’ve had one after dinner, and I was waiting until you guys to come to give you your treats."

Angela and I looked at one another and snatch up a muffin each. With one left I say, "Fuck Jake," and popped the last and my second muffin. Tako and Angela saunter off like two cats and start talking about something I’m not interested in. The green lights are casting odd shadows on the ground and ceiling as I walk into the kitchen to get a Molson. I drink down a quick gulp, and realize there was something peculiar about Tako’s refrigerator. Before leaving the kitchen, I take another gulp of beer, slowly open up Tako’s fridge in dramatic Hitchcockian fashion and close it quickly, with the excitement pumping my heart faster, the sweat soaking my hand and fingers. Holy fucknuts! I chug the rest of my beer open up the fridge and yell out, "Jake what the fuck are you doing in there?"

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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