TO MARTY GREEN, cocaine was like a well-dressed, clean-figured call girl clicking smartly down Fifth Avenue with the hem of her Halston skirt swinging out just so, her left arm resting on a $500 Gucci shoulder bag, and a reputation for some very unholy appetites.
Green decided to take a fling, knowing it was going to cost but hoping the adventure, the class, and the pointers he picked up would be worth it.
It happened at a Christmas party with a few of his friends from the old neighborhood in Silver Spring - now real estate spectaculars, store owners, bankers, doctors and downtown lawyers only a little less successful than himself.At 33, Green had just had been made a junior partner in a firm with real Calders in the waiting room, ex-models as secretaries, and clients whose names appeared constanly in the newspapers.
Green felt he had a certain chi to acquire and maintain.
Over the years, his closest adviser on these matters was a former singer who now owned a chain of record stores. The record store owner was the avant-gardist of the old crowd, with his suede pants, designer shirts, Jaguar XKE. That evening, with the temperature outside hovering around 20 and two feet of new snow on the ground, this old friend took Green into the upstairs bathroom of the Cleveland Park colonial and on a hand mirror laid out with a gold razor-blade four perfectly regular two-inch lines of coke.
He said he had paid $100 for it. There was a little less than a gram, about the same as the amount of sugar Green's diet allowed for his morning coffee.
The care he took with at it could have been diamonds. He stepped back like an artist from a painting, and took a mintfresh hundred dollar-bill from the pouch on his belt and began to roll it into a tight tube.
Green liked the trappings. The coke, glowing softly on the mirror, he wasn't so sure about.
His friend slowly rolled the C-note and sought to reassure him.
"Think of your mind as a camera lens. The image is a little blurry, a little out of focus. This will make it sharp enough to cut you." He made a fiercely precise focusing movement with his hand.
"Oh come on. You mean it makes you better than you are?"
Green's friend's smiled a 500-kilowatt smile, moistened his little finger with the tip of his tongue, touched it to the coke and then to Green's gums. It was numbing, like sub-zero snow, and bitter as Green's first taste of beer.
"You'd be absolutely amazed at the people who do this stuff," said the record store owner. "People that you know . People that you read about Sigmund Freud. Sherlock Holmes. I heard somewhere that Jack Kennedy used it."
For two years now, Green had been vaguely aware of the secret blizzard of the coke fad filling up the more exotic corners of Washington. He'd read the famous quote by Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, on the excitement of campaigns: "It's like a good shot of cocaine, right in the nose." There was the time a liberal activist actor sailed into his law offices with a gold coke spoon on a thin chain around his neck.
And of course, as a lawyer, Green was aware of the increasingly spring-like legal climate around coke.
They snorted the lines, maybe the most expenisve split-second of consumption Green had even spent. "It's the Rolls Royce of drugs," the record store owner said." The Catherine Deneuve of drugs."
There was something of a magic drip in the back of Green's throat. The air, through his cleaned-out nostrils felt like liquid oxygen. Waiting for the rush, Green was only a little disappointed to realize that what he felt like was putting in a good day's work in the office. Maybe the best day's work of his life.
His friend giggled: "They call it the Thinking Man's Dristan."
If the truth were to be told, Green had never liked grass. He never turned down a joint at a party, but he just wasn't terrifically fond of the muzzy, nowhere feeling you got with it. Nothing was ever accomplished with grass. You always ended up silent as a deaf-and-dumb man, staring at the patterns in the carpet or the drapes, listening to the same record over and over again, and wolfing down huge amounts of Oreo cookies and Twinkies.
Green never said so, but sometimes he felt that grass was bad for the country, that if Americans stayed zonked out on it for too much longer the whole strenous gunslinging muscularity that had made them special would turn to flab.
Grass had no glitter, no sharpness. It had no class.
Now, coke was something else. Grass and coke were so different, in fact, that there was something of the Classic Dichotomy between them, the yin-yang tension that produces the harmony of the world. Coke was on the muscular, masculine yang side. It was seduction by reasoned argument, where grass was seduction by touch.
It was logic, where grass was instinct, classic where grass was romantic, an answer where grass was a question.
It was Jimmy Carter, where grass was Lyndon Johnson.
Green also found there was a strange, secret satisfaction to paying $100 for an innnitesimal amount of illegal powder. Five years ago he wouldn't have had the money to spend. Now he did. Maybe it was as simple as that.
Green's friend showed him how to fold his new gram of coke in tinfoil - fresh unlined tinfoil cool and shiny as Fleetwood Mac singing "Gold Dust Woman." He pressed the tinfoil into sharp, precise creases, folding it in half over the coke, then folding the ends in, then making a little fold to seal it, then in half again one last time. With the tinfoil in his pocket, Green felt one up, almost as if he were carrying a peice. Or had just walked into Dontinique's with Christine Keeler on his arm.
All right. He'd give it a whirl. When they came back downstairs to the party, Green's wife looked at him oddly. Later in the kitchen, she cornered him and asked: "What were you two doing up there? You look like the cat that swallowed the cream."
"We were just talking," Green said, fingering the square of tinfoil like an amulet.
Users like Green - young professionals looking for a classy way to spend their money - are beginning to take coke out of the shadowy underground subculture peopled by mysteriously rich Wild West dealers, glamorously deracinated rock and movie stars, moving through places like Sunset Strip and Acapulco. They are putting it into Bethesda and Georgetown, broadening its base and diluting its fetishes. Coke is going middle-class and, like Green himself, is slightly middle-aged now, not quite so sharp and dangerous as in the old days of the late Sixties and early Seventies.
Still, the idea of coke being "the drug of choice," as the DEA likes to call it, the fad and fashion drugs of the Soaring Seventies, is as misleading as calling Moet & Chandon champagne a fashionable wine. Coke costs more now than it ever has, about $60 to $100 a gram, and only a tiny rich minority can afford it. It is snob appeal that gives coke its present cachet, not fashion. Two Harvard scholars, Lester Grinspoon and James R. Bakalar, even conclude in their new book Cocaine that "the cocaine situation is symbolic of the death of the counterculture" because "no unworldly hippie" can afford it. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports in a recent study that only 13.4 percent of 18-to 25-year-old - the heaviest drug users - have ever tried coke. In contrast 52.9 per cent of the same population has tried grass.
Talking about "status" and "snob appeal," it's easy to forget coke's possible hazards. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, it has been responsible for twenty-six deaths in the last five years. Coke can in extreme cases dissolve the septum that divides your nostrils and bring on paranoid psychoses ad sensory hallucinations known as "coke bugs."
Laboratory experiments using cocaine in animals indicate that the drug, while non-addictive, has one of the highest reinforcement rates known. Coke doesn't lie around. Of you have it, you use it.
Take the rat test, for example, where, given a choice of dope rats chose caffeine 250 times, heroin 4000 times, and cocaine 10,000 times. In another experiment, two monkeys were hooked up to a device that dispensed coke into the jugular veins at the push of a lever. As described by Grinspoon and Bakalar, "the course they followed was a rapid but erratic increase in consumption ending in convulsions and death within thirty days. The pattern was self-adminstration around the clock for two to five days, followed by exhaustion and abstinence for periods to twelve hours to five days.
With amphetamines, the pattern was similar but the monkeys lived.
These are extreme cases and situations, of course but it was because of this type of data that cocaine was out-lawed in the early 1900s, that and the uneasy feeling that it was getting out of hand, spreading through, all types of social strata and causing the "impulsive lower classes" to turn to crime and corruption.
The South American coca leaf, the raw material of cocaine, has been known to the European world ever since the conquistadores saw Indians chewing them back in the Elizabethan days, and dismissed the practice as a squalid native vice.
A couple of hundred years later, however, more broad-minded travellers to South America [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to extol the invigorating qualities of the leaves and in 1802 a German ascertained the chemical formula of their active-ingredients cocaine.
in 1884, Sigmund Freud weighed in [WORD ILLEGIBLE] his classic paper. "On [WORD ILLEGIBLE] which he described the effect of cocaine on himself as "exhilaration" and lasting "eupholia," which does not differ in any way from the euphoria of a normal person." He recommended that coke be used to wean morphine addicts.
"It was only a matter of time before coke began to be used in tonics (yes it was an ingredient of Coca-Cola), prescription medicines, cigarettes, sprays, ointments, tablets and injections. By the end of the century, bartenders were lacing drinks with coke and peddles were hawking it door to door.
Along with a puritanical suspicion of anything used for just plain fun, one of the main reasons for the subsequent coke crackdown was that by 1890 at least 407 cases of cocaine abuse had been documentated in medical literature - complete with various lurio symptons such as "destruction of the soul," compulsive scribbling, senile appearance, and "cocaine intoxication" while could include sponstaneous abortion and twitches.
Freud claimed that such abuse [WORD ILLEGIBLE] occured in conjunction with morphine addiction, but he did not know about the ominous case of Dr. William Housted the Johns Hopkins surgeon who invented nerve trunk anesthetic in 1884 using cocaine as the anesthetic, apparently began injecting it for pleasure, and became "addicted."
Of course, everyone knows these days that cocaine is not physically addictive in the sense that opiates are. It is classed as a stimulant (with the amphetamines) even in that most conservative of manuals, the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Drugs of Abuse. . But says, the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] "due to the intensity of its pleasurable effects, a strong psychic dependancy can develop."
William [WORDS ILLEGIBLE]
Marty Green's name and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] identifying details [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] changed. [WORD ILLEGIBLE] gasm."
Whatever. Anyway, Halsted's dependency was strong enough to put him on a hospital cure that apparently left him addicted to morphine for the rest of his life. He was able to function professionally, though, which is more than he could do with coke. During the bad coke years he cancelled important lectures, left his New York practice, seemed "brilliant and gay no longer," and published gibberish like the following:
"Neither indifferent as to which of how many possibilities may best explain, nor yet at a loss to comprehend, why surgeons have, and that so many, quite without discredit, could have exhibited scarcely any interest in what, as a local anesthetic, had been supposed, if not declared, by most so very sure to prove, especially to them, attractive, still I do not think that this circumstances, or some sense of obligation to rescue fragmentary reputation for surgeons rather than the belief than an opportunity existed for assisting others to an appreciable extent, induced me, several months ago, to write on the subject at hand the greater part of a somewhat comprehensive paper, which poor health disinclined me to complete."
But the outlawing of coke, according to modern authorities such as Grinspoon and Bakalar, failed completely to differentiate the bulk of recreational users from the few cases of serious abuse. Halsted could easily have been using more than five grams a day, whereas the recreational user rarely gets above a gram a week. When thus moderately used, they say, "there is little evidence that [coke] is likely to become as serious as health problem as tobacco." What happened, they conclude, was that a kind of irrational anti-coke hysteria swept the country, from which we are only just beginning to recover.
As to why coke is back now, no one is really quite sure.
Which brings us to Dr. Norman Tamarkin.
A Georgetown University professor who ran a Veterans Administration clinic for heroin-using Vietnam veterans, Tamarkin believes the dangers of opiates have been similarly overrated. "Heroin doesn't enslave," he says. "The addiction mystique is largely baloney. It's much harder to lose weight than to kick a heroin habit."
Tamarkin thinks that in five years, "people will be playing with heroin the way they are playing with coke now. People tend to get excited by that which is new and considered a little dangerous."
As the Washington metropolitan area's latest user of cocaine, Green would be of far less significance to the police and the Drug Enforcement Agency than he would be to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), which has also recently become interested in the legalization of coke.
Attorneys like Green, clambering up the various Washington corporate ladders - which in this town are based largely on political connections and influence - are in unique position to throw their weight around. As Keith Stroup of NORML puts it: "Coke users around here now are very often well plugged into the system. They are not dropouts, like the grass smokers used to be. They have influence, and they know how to use it."
Pro-coke lawyers have already filed scores of briefs and affidavits arguing that coke should not be classes as a narcotic under federal law (along with opiates such as heroin and morphine) but as stimulant (with the amphetamines) which in fact is less harmful than alcohol, barbiturates, and many other prescription drugs.
They have a powerful ally these days in Dr. Peter Bourne, the Carter Administration's chief of drug abuse policy. Bourne recently made it clear to a House committee that he thinks the criminal sanction may be the most serious consequence of both marijuana and cocaine use, and added that his office was "very carefully reexamining" national cocaine policy.
A sometime Aspen resident, Bourne was outraged a couple of years ago when the DEA launched "Operation Snowflake" there, arresting thirteen of his neighbors and seizing $3 million worth of coke. "Operation Snowflake reflects a long-standing and in many ways completely inappropriate preoccupation with cocaine by the Drug Enforcement Administration," Bourne wrote at the time in the Washington Drug Review. "Cocaine, once a component of many tonics, and of Coca Cola, is probably the most benign of illicit drugs currently in widespread use. At least as strong a case could probably be made for legalizing it as for legalizing marijuana."
"Short-acting - about fifteen minutes - not physically addicting, and acutely pleasureable, cocaine has found increasing favor in all socio-economic levels in the last year . . .," Bourne went on. "In Washington, D.C., it seems to be an increasingly popular drug in professional circles . . . Yet it appears that we are in danger of blindly allowing drug enforcemtn laws to be used arbitrarily to victimize individuals when the interests of an agency are more at stake than the interests of society."
DEA officials now edgily deny that coke is their "number two priority" (second only to heroin), as Bourne claimed it was back in 1974. Local statistics, at least, seem to support them.
The number of cocaine dealers and users in Washington has doubled in the last few years, narcotic agents estimate. But the number of persons arrested by DEA agents on cocaine charges in the District last year (twelve) was only about half of the 1975 total. (Metropolitan police filed only twenty-one charges for cocaine distribution last year. In 1973 they filed fifty-nine.) DEA coke seizures in Washington have risen from about three kilograms in 1974 to more than thirteen in 1976, but remain such a small proportion of the total as to be almost meaningless.
"We try to work up the ladder to the big boys," says Marino H. Milano, head of the DEA's Washington office. The trouble is, there are very few big boys in this town. It is considered a "consumer city" by those in the trade, full of nickel and dime social users like Green. The big boys are to be found mainly in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.
The legal climate, too, is in a thaw. Last December a judge in Boston threw out a coke possession case because he said the federal laws classifying it as a narcotic were too strict. An Illinois judge ruled such laws were unconstitutional. District narcs perfer to avoid simple possession charges now because usually simple possession charges here usually result in a suspended sentence, whereas five years ago you would get time. DEA agents now try their best to get a Virginia charge in a case because, as one area dope lawyer puts it, "judges over there are rednecks and you have much better chance of putting your man away."
The chances of coke users like Green even coming to the attention of narcotics agents are tiny anyway, they say, because such people usually buy and sell among friends. A "circle," as agents like to call it, such as Green's Christmas party group, will commonly pool their money, score an ounce of coke for about $2000, and then "just buy and sell back and forth." The person who arranged the buy might make enough profit to pay for a couple of grams, but no one else in the circle would expect to make any at all. It would all be very friendly and completely airtight.
Green first heard th joke shortly after Joe Swiderski, owner of Sylvester's Restaurant, at 1129 21st St. NW, allegedly sold a DEA agent three ounces of cocaine on the third floor of his establishment:
"Do you know how to tell you're in a Polish cocaine bar?"
"You get busted . . ."
The maitre d' and three waiters got busted on coke charges over at the swanky Palm Restaurant, 1225 19th St. NW, too, at the same time, but the implication of the joke was clear: at most cocaine bars in Washington, you don't get busted.
It wasn't long before Green could tell a cocaine bar the minute he walked into one. There is a special rhythm. People move fast and light. There are not many of those long shaggy-dog conversations you hear commonly in neighborhood bars. Not enough time for those. You jump on people's words almost before they are out of the mouth. The bartenders are always on motion, snappy in tailored shirts and brown Levi corduroys. And there is a flat, hard gunfighter's expression that everyone tries hard to develop. Very yang.
Style is very important; style in clothes, style in manner. But most important of all is the purity of your coke.
The music is fast and light too, and in the best places is perfectly in sync so that you are wrapped up in a total environment even before you toot. You took in the john. One of the infallible indicators of a cocaine bar is the way people go to the John in groups. There is not too much drinking either. Guys with a ring on each finger and showing a lot of turquoise will sit with a full glass of chablis in front of them, talking to the high-speed barmaid in machine-gun little bursts of conservation:
She pauses for a split second, then turns and is moving away as her answer floats back: "Hi. Where've you been ," Cool, in spite of the emphases. Hard.
She tours the bar with quick smiles for everybody, returns and he lets go another little string of words:
"Remember that talk we had earlier . . . and all that?"
She nods brightly and is off again.
"Well, all that stuff is beginning to come together now . . ."
She bends over the bar toward him, washing a glass. "Is it a bulk thing or . . .?"
But before he can answer she's on her way to the tap.
When he finally leaves, the glass of chablis is untouched. She pours it away.
Green made a couple of stabs at turning his wife on to coke - in the privacy of their own home - but she never seemed to develop any real . . . understanding of it. It was like watching a kitten with some catnip.She'd play with it for a while and then forget about it, never really entering into what Green regarded as the strenous mystique of the drug. Under coke, Green's main feeling toward his wife was impatience. She wasn't quick enough. She said on her part that coke made him overbearing, insensitive and loud. It gave their sex a kind of desperate quality. It was obvious after a while that she was beginning to feel threatened by coke.
Green took to going down to a certain Georgetown bar after work for a glass of chablis and a few toots with the record store owner. This was a cocaine bar par excellence, where many of the bartenders were smalltime dealers waiting for the big connection that would set them up in Key West waterfront homes for the rest of their lives. For a while the custom had been to tip these bartenders a dollar bill with a couple of toots of coke rolled up in it, but then the management had gotten antsy. It was okay to accept the tips, the management decreed, as long as they were turned over to the manager for destruction. Every few months a ploygraph test was administered to the bartenders to make sure they were obeying, and those who failed were either fired or busted from behind the bar. Most of the record store owner's friends had been busted. They joked that the coke tips turned over to the manager for destruction were in fact destroying him.
When the bartenders and their friedns were flush after a good score, they would take a late table at the River Gauche Restaurant, blow themselves to a $500 meal, and top it off by snorting eighty per cent pure off the bottoms of their wine glasses. They'd buy engraved silver coke vials for their ladies and new leather jackets from Georgetown Leather Design and take off for vacations in such Cocaine Culture Capitals as Aspen, Colorado; Key West; or Bogota, Colombia, where if they were lucky they could score again.
Everybody was always full of scam ideas and led complicated domestic lives. The more complicated it got, the better they enjoyed it. "Coke kind of forces you to have fun," explained a tall, blond gentleman with a foulard tie, Lobb shoes and a tightly furled umbrella.
They all swapped coke stories incessantly. Green made it a point to remember six or seven:
A photographer in the Washington bureau of a national magazine met a reporter in the Washington bureau of a major newspaper for lunch in a fashionable Chinese restaurant. In an envelope embossed with the newsmagazine's logo, the photographer passed the reporter eight grams of coke. In an evelope embossed with the paper's logo, the reporter passed the photographer $700 in new century bills. The reporter listed the meal on his expense account as "lunch with source."
A comedienne in town for a two-night stand ran out of coke two hours before her second performance. A male friend who happened to be in a position of power ordered an employee to find a gram quick. The employee called his wife and ordered her to rush their last gram to the boss's house.They all tooted up and went to the show; the boss clapped so hard he spilled the rest of the gram.
The chic young couple went for dinner at the Jockey Club. "May I bring you something more?" their waiter begged at the end of the meal. "Well," smiled the woman. "Do you have any coke?" The waiter looked into the breast pocket of his tuxedo. "I'm sorry, made moiselle. We are all out."
A young doctor working as head of a hospital emergency room obtained a gram of 100 per cent pure pharmaceutical cocaine from medical supplies. He took the gram to a mid-summer party in Annapolis at a house on the water. At about 1 p.m. he and a girl went for a canoe ride with the coke. At dawn, four hours later, they found themselves somewhere on the other side of the bay. And out of coke.
Two local coke smugglers arranged to rendezvous at a suburban airport where they kept a plane. On arrived at the appointed time to find the other had not shown. Terrified he had been betrayed, the first man abandoned his car and slunk two miles through the wooods to a phone booth, where he called his girl and told her to come get him. Back home at last, the phone rang. It was his friend, who had arrived at the appointed time, figured he'd been betrayed and panicked, abandoned his car, a slunk through the woods to a phone booth and called his girl.
A Washington restaurateur bought three grams of coke from a friend, who secretly sold his wife a fourth and told her: "Wait till he thinks he has run out, then give this to him. He'll love you forever." To spice the situation, he told the restaurant about the secret deal. The restaurateur finished the three grams, waited for his wife to produce the fourth. And waited. "I know you got some more," he finally said. His wife told him the sad news: she'd used it long ago. That was when he threw the chair through the dining room window.
A well-known avantgarde artist lived in a large, bare loft downtown with his bed enclosed by a kind of packing case four feet high and six feet long. Someone brought him a few grams of coke and for a couple of weeks he was . . . very busy . . . doing a lot of painting at night, working days as an errand boy for a downtown delivery service, and getting about two hours of sleep. His coke finally ran out and he suddenly got the feeling he didn't want to see people. He took a bottle of water and the phone into the packing case where his bed was, and waited it out for a day. Next day the feeling was even worse. And the next. After a few more days in the packing case he began to realize he was going to need help to get out of there. He called the D. C. psychiatric hotline. They said he had to get on a bus and go to the hospital. He told them he couldn't even get out of the packing case. "Take it a step at a time," the hotline people said. "First swing your legs out on the floor . . ." They talked him as far from the packing case as the phone cord would reach. He was able to make it the rest of the way.
More in the line of a myth than a bona fide story is The Party at some South American embassy. Hidden from from the hoi polloi at The Party, in an inner sanctum, is a scalloped silver bowl full of thousands of dollars of coke. There are little coke spoons in each of the scallops. The protocol is to form a friendly circle around the bowl and dip in at exactly the same time. "In many parts of Latin America coke is part of the culture," a Washington dope lawyer explains. "If you are a State Department official entertaining your Latin American counterpart, coke after dinner is a nice, friendly, diplomatic touch. They tell me you can order it right up from the narcs."
The DEA says that the diplomatic pouches, which are immune from search and can be as large as a crate full of household goods, are a "major" pipeline into the city for Latin American coke.
In 1974, for example, twenty-two persons, including the chief petty officer of the Chilean Navy assigned to the Chilean Embassy, a University of Wisconsin professor of agriculture (later acquitted), and assorted other members of the Chilean Navy were arrested and charged with smuggling $32 million worth of coke into Washington in diplomatic pouches and military aircraft. The Chilean government admitted the traffic but said the foreign service had not been involved. Five of the Navy men were convicted in Chile.
The trade is so highly organized in Bolivia that a cocaine runner named Alberto Sanchez Bello was able to get diplomatic papers from the secretary to the presidency himself.
Other diplomatic smuggling cases have involved a Venezuelan embassy employee, an Argentinian embassy employee, the son of the Panamanian ambassador to Taiwan, and a Colombian vice consul.
Marino Milano, head of the DEA's Washington office, says he is working on more.
Six months after the Christmas party, Green and the record store owner are sitting around Green's mirror-topped coffee table, with a four-inch Mount Everest of coke between them. It is an ounce, worth $1500 in the bulk buy that the store owner said he arranged through heavy sources in Miami. The bulk arithmetic is favorable: $70 a gram instead of the $90 you pay piecemeal.
Looking at the incredible conical pile and its icy reflection, Green feels more luxurious and satisfied than ever before in his life - like waking up newly wed in the honeymoon suite of the Ritz in Paris. He realizes how much of his recent existence has been taken up worrying about coke: where the next gram was coming from, the rate he was using it (about a gram a week at this point and . . . steady ), how muh it was costing, how pure it was. Especially how pure it was, because with lousy coke you had no class at all.
The business at hand is to divide the pile into two equal portions. Green's wife is so sure Green is going to come out on the bottom of the deal she has chosen to boycot by going to the movies. What little liking she had for the record store owner evaporated when he had his dog "put down" to save money for coke buys.
"Look at his eyes," she told Green. "They're dead. Burned out. He's lost sixty pounds."
Actually, Green himself has heard that the record store owner spent $8000 on coke in the last three months. As well as having his dog put down, he's given up his XKE and cut his business overhead to the bone. It certainly is hard to get a laugh out of him these days.
The record store owner lays out some lines, clears his clogged nose with Dristan spray, and they toot. Green's nose goes dead and he feels like he's taking the first dive on the Coney Island Cyclone.
"Well?" asks the record store owner.
"How do you want to split it?"
"Ummm. You divide it and I'll choose the pile."
They look at each other and start to laugh until Green's cheek muscles ache and feel like iron bands on his face.
"You can have the whole thing for $1000," the record store owner howls.
Green's signature on the check is barely legible.
Showing off the stuff in Georgetown a few days later, Green is told by a very embarrassed bartender that what he paid for is a speed (amphetamine) and procaine cut, accounting for the dead feeling in the nose and the jagged energy. There might easily be no coke whatsoever in the mixture.
Green flushes the stuff away, trying to tell himself that his feeling of loss is completely out of proportion to the fact. He's not flushing away a ticket to Paris and a prepaid honeymoon in the Ritz.
Besides, he still has the "bullet," with at least half a gram in it.
A few weeks ago a friend flew in from Aspen with the "bullet," a little aluminum cyclinder with a conical end like a Vick's inhaler. There was a chamber that calibrated out a nice toot from the general supply of coke in the body of cylinder. Out in Aspen, coke freaks used their bullets in the chair lifts and on the ski trails. "You got a nose full of snow and two feet of new snow on the hill and that's as close to heaven as you're ever going to get," his friend told him.
The bullet made it easy to carry and use coke anywhere, although it was still pleasant after a big dinner to lay out nice ceremonial lines on the mirror-topped table (which he had bought in Georgetown for the purpose) and pass the century bill around. He found the bullet in his jacket pocket once in his office at about 7 p.m. the night before a big case, and tooted there for the first time. The mound of briefs and affidavits and background he had to plow through melted like spring slush.
He decided it would be just as easy to store the bullet in his jacket pocket more or less permanently. So far he has never argued a case nor written a brief with coke, but he's used it a couple of times for heavy lunches and once for a set of tennis.
Which he won.