Discovering a Maine Island’s Drug Pipeline
The people in The Village — Eliza, Bo, Summer, and the gang — have elevated the art of partying to permanent rolling status. Just like there are poker games that have been going on for decades, with the participants joining in for a few hours or a few days and then departing to go to work or vacation in Miami or get married or die or something, only to be replaced at the table by someone else who keeps the game alive, the party at The Village has been actively under way since the first hippies occupied the first shack back in the early ’60s. Sometimes the party expands like a brush fire, enveloping everyone on the south end of GSI in the frenetic energy of its blaze. Other times, the party dwindles down like abandoned embers, glowing softly among just a small handful of people equipped with guitars and bongos and grass. It will shimmer like this for days sometimes and then flare up again when the right combination of people, energy, booze, music, and drugs intersect on the beach.
After watching this pulsing party do its waxing and waning thing a few times, going brown dwarf around a few joints and then supernova around an influx of coke or acid, but never quite disappearing altogether, it began to dawn on me that this end of the island must require an impressive supply of illegal but decidedly widespread drugs.
Now, I don’t do much in the way of drugs. I’ve been known to dabble a little, but mostly I think drugs are for people who want to escape from life — and I want to live life fully, with all its pain and elation. Still, every time I’ve headed southward to see what The Village people were doing, the drugs have always been plentiful and cheap.
So finally I asked Bo about it. The outrigger canoe doesn’t head to the mainland all that often, and the Villagers would generally rather join a Glee Club than be caught crossing on the Bourgeois ferry, so where do all these drugs come from? It seemed like a wonderfully journalistic thing to ask. Journalism is, after all, the art of asking nosy questions.
Bo, who isn’t terribly talkative in his finest moods, looked up from his bongos, scowled, and said “Floyd.”
At first, I thought he’d said “flood,” and I had visions of bales of weed and Zip-locks of coke washing up onto the beach alongside the desiccated crabshells and the frayed strands of polypropylene rope. But then I remembered hearing something about a guy on the island named Floyd. Floyd Houlton.
Oddly enough, Floyd lives in the proper town of Grand Seal Island. He’s a Northender. A subject in Henry Coffin’s fiefdom.
Floyd runs the Pop’n’Squeak.
“The Pop,” as everyone calls it, is a convenience-store-pizza-parlor-video-rental-ice-cream-bait-and-ammo-porn-magazine outlet on the southwest edge of town. It’s a low, rectangular building made of whitewashed cinderblock with small windows scattered along the walls. The windows are blocked by shelves of ancient and decaying products or smattered with careless paint, making it almost impossible to see in. Floyd lives in a little apartment in the back.
The store is open random hours — whenever Floyd is possessed by the elusive entrepreneurial spirit — and the only way to tell is by the status of the pink-neon “Pop’n’Squeak” sign over the hollow-core door at one end of the building. Floyd remembers to turn the sign on most of the time when the Pop is open, and off most of the time when it’s closed.
Floyd is the twenty-eight-year-old son of Suzette Houlton, Grand Seal Island’s Economic Development Coordinator. He stands under five-foot-six and weighs over 250 pounds, all of it surly, unfriendly flab. He has dark hair that apparently has never been sullied by contact with shampoo, and his clothing, which seems to vary only slightly from week to week, looks like it came straight from the bargain bin at Goodwill. I doubt he bothered to wash it even then.
I stopped by the Pop after Bo’s tip, and I decided to scope out the place under the ruse of buying a fresh, personal-sized pepperoni pizza hot from the ovens of the Pop’n’Squeak.
I had to drive the Island Car past the Pop on three different afternoons before the welcoming neon glow beamed its cheery greeting from over the door. But at last I caught Floyd in a somewhat diminished anti-social mood, so I pushed open the cracked and duct-taped front door and entered the Pop.
First-time visitors to GSI’s beloved Pop’n’Squeak will notice several things upon arrival. One of them has to do with the floor. It is covered wall-to-wall with linoleum that was undoubtedly scavenged from some Midwest grandmother’s laundry room. Beige. With brown speckles. But its most striking feature is a degree of stickiness that would put mucilage to shame. Similar to the muck found underfoot at poorly managed matinee theaters, the slime that coats the Pop’s walking surfaces is composed of familiar elements: The mostly dried residue of Sno-Cones spilled long ago. The moist mess created when someone leaves a paper cup half-filled with Pepsi for far too long, allowing the wood fibers and the sugar to combine into something never seen on the Periodic Table. The inadvertently exploded bag of flour. The molten chocolate bar. The slice of pizza that landed cheese-side-down. The deposits left by kids who sucked down too much stale cotton candy and flat 7-Up. All of this and more, over the years, has coalesced into an adhesive layer on the floor, and Floyd has apparently never given it sufficient attention to spur him to invest in a mop.
The second thing that the observant visitor will notice is that nearly everything on the shelves has expiration dates that make Christopher Columbus’s provisions seem vibrant and new. Roaring up behind that discovery is the realization that a significant percentage of the merchandise is no longer manufactured and in some cases has actually been recalled for health and safety reasons. On one shelf is a haphazard collection of Tylenol products with easy-open caps.
These and other observations bring two potent questions to mind:
1. How does this place make any money?
2. Who in their right mind would order a pizza here?
I was determined to discover the answer to the first question, and pursuing the second question seemed like a viable — although personally risky — idea at the time.
I approached Floyd at the counter.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — WomynFire982: reminds me of some frat houses I ventured into once. why can’t men keep a place clean?
Comment — Orson Van Dyke: It is a violation of state and federal law to sell products beyond their expiration dates. I would be happy to investigate the proper procedure for reporting violations for you.
Comment — Amber4295: Eeew! I wouldn’t shop there if you paid me.
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.