In Search of an Island’s Pot — Pourri
Previously, in Island Wars… Donovan Graham, a young and hungry journalist, got a job blogging for a small newspaper that sent him to Grand Seal Island to cover a military spat between the U.S. and Canada. When he wasn’t challenging a Navy destroyer in a wooden rowboat, he bought a derelict car, found a crumbling house, and developed a taste for parties in the hippie enclave on the south end of the island. He also wrote a blog that insulted nearly everyone in the buttoned-down town to the north, which caused his editor to suspend his blog until he figured out his mistake. Click here to read earlier entries, or read on to see Van's latest update.
The Coffin dinner-dance blog entry cut me off in mid-Floyd. As I mentioned, the cheery proprietor of the local general store — Floyd ain’t. I stepped up to the counter and introduced myself.
“I know who you are,” Floyd said slowly, his eyes never rising from a pornographic comic book. “Gonna buy something?”
Fully prepared to sacrifice a bit of personal wealth — and probably longevity — in the name of journalism, I declared that I would like to purchase a nice, hot pepperoni pizza, size small.
Floyd gave me a look that was abundantly clear. Apparently the profit margin on a small pizza is barely worth tearing oneself away from the cartoon adventures of Miss Kitty and Her Posse. Impelled by the demands and expectations of American commerce, however, Floyd snorted and opened a chest freezer. He pulled out a small, rectangular specimen that had obviously been extracted from a glacier somewhere in Greenland and stored in Floyd’s freezer for the benefit of future scientists.
He tossed the Brick of Frost into a grubby microwave nearby, punched a button at random, and returned to his comic book. I went off to learn more about the store.
Four minutes later, the microwave beeped. Floyd didn’t move, engrossed by the upbeat antics of Miss Kitty and her friends, so eventually I opened the microwave myself.
The snowblock had been transformed into a cardboard box boasting that it contained a personal pepperoni pizza. Apparently, that transformation took place within the first thirty seconds of the cooking process. The remainder of the four-minute microwave blast had been devoted to converting the pizza into something that would be considered edible only by explorers trapped in the Arctic and hopelessly cut off from their food supply. And even they would have eaten their less nimble friends first.
Things steam when they come out of the microwave. That’s a good thing. But this pizza box was smoking. I dragged it out of the microwave with a couple of wrapped straws and let it return to a normal state of matter on the counter. Then I opened it.
The disc inside was small, black, and bubbling. Wafting from the top were toxic fumes that the early dinosaurs would have found refreshing. I slid the whole mess into an overflowing trash can next to the counter.
Floyd didn’t look up from his comic.
“That’s five bucks,” he said, “and next time, cook it yourself.”
A small, faded, handwritten sign taped to the freezer revealed that the price of a small pizza is $2.49, but in the interest of journalistic enterprise, I decided not to argue. I put a five on the counter. Floyd left it there, but I got the distinct impression that he would have chewed my arm off if I had tried to take it back. My fondness for my limbs exceeds my fondness for money — it’s a maturity thing.
I then realized that I had no idea what to do next. How do I begin asking Floyd about his possible involvement in the illegal drug trade? This is the crux, the moment of truth for journalists. Bridging the divide between casual chat and formal interview. I needed to get good at this transition, but little in my Eastern Maine journalism classes provided me the necessary navigation tools. Still, some options came to mind:
• “Thanks for the pizza, Floyd. Got any cocaine to go with that?”
• “Nice place you have here. You must sell a lot of pizzas to keep it up.” (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)
• “Pepperoni is OK, but I’m really interested in something a little stronger, if you get what I mean.”
I discarded each approach as I thought of it, so finally I just blurted out: “Hey, Floyd, I’m heading down to The Village later. Do you know where I can get some pot?”
Floyd slowly turned away from his literature and fixed me with a cold stare. “Selling marijuana is illegal, dipshit,” he informed me. “You’re lucky I don’t turn you in.” As I was contemplating the Kafka-esque absurdity of Floyd Houlton calling the cops and reporting me, which would be a bit like the U.S. President accusing Finland of bullying the rest of the planet, Floyd went back to evaluating Miss Kitty’s audacity and physical flexibility.
I stood at the counter for another moment, but apparently the conversation was over. Unwilling to risk my life on the purchase of another tasty snack, I eventually turned and headed for the door, my feet making smacking noises on the sticky linoleum.
As I went out, two sour-looking kids in scruffy sweatshirts shoved past me, heading in. Through the open door, I saw Floyd lead them, wordlessly, through a dark door in the back.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — WomynFire982: gross. i don’t know why i read this blog.
Comment — Orson Van Dyke: I did some research, and I found out that selling items past their expiration date is indeed a violation of established law. You should contact your local health officials to report the problem.
Comment — Gemstone: Maybe Floyd isn’t as bad as you make him sound. At least he’s putting down roots on the island. You might want to do more research before painting such an unflattering portrait of someone.
Comment — Edith5545: Oh, dear. He sounds dreadful!
Comment — SunTanDude: Awesome, Van! Keep shooting till you score!
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.