Join The Club

Chapter 21, Blog 4

By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang


As he retreated into the black hole of a room, I was sucked in, too. Five others sat in the darkened cell. I think there were five. My eyes hadn’t adjusted. A few thick, scented candles struggled to light the place. Three people, they each had to be at least 75 years old, lounged on beanbag chairs. One guy, a silver-haired Asian, sitting next to a turntable – yes, a turntable – puffed on the biggest joint I had ever seen.

“Here, Sonny, want a hit?” He held out an ornate, golden clip overburdened by the fat joint. Most cigars weren’t that big.

“No, thanks. I’m in training.”

“Me, too,” he said. “Sit down. Sit down. We’re debating Dickens, good and bad. Originally, he was serialized in the newspapers of the day, you know.”

I sat on a scarlet pillow. The sweet smell of marijuana clouded the room. As my eyes adjusted, I saw I had tripped back about 40 years. The walls held posters depicting Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and others I had forgotten. A couple of black lights threw their special glow in the far corner.

“Is that Deep Purple?” I asked, pointing toward the turntable.

“Say, that’s very good,” said the man with the joint as “Smoke On The Water” hit its stride. “You’re not quite as young as you look. They don’t make music like that anymore, do they?”

“Just how old are you?” asked a smiling, orange-haired, white woman perched on a black beanbag. I think her hair was French braided.

“Claire, that’s really not a proper question to ask our guest,” said the man with the joint.

“I thought he might be interested in joining our club, that’s all,” she said.

“You’re having a meeting?” I asked. “Should I wait outside?” I felt embarrassed and intrusive despite the beginning of an air buzz.

“That’s all right,” she said. “We’re almost done.”

“You said training?” asked the man with the joint.

Before I could reply, the little black man, now sprawled on the bed with his head propped up against the wall, answered.

“That is correct, Frank,” Nurmi piped up in a high-pitched, annoyed tone. “Apparently, your hearing aid is still functioning.”

“What’s your club?” I asked, hoping to change the subject.

“The Monday Afternoon Cannabis Book Club, of course,” said Frank. Trying to pass the joint and not lose any of the smoke he had inhaled. “It is Monday, isn’t it?”

… man oh man, don’t say Rockard didn’t warn you …

Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang

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