I met Ray Pinnox at the counter. It took a lot of guts to sit with ones back to that door. Counters were not originally installed like this. Nobody wanted their back to the door, especially on the corner of Asbury and Langford.
The owner was a fence, who regularly borrowed against the joint to cover gambling debts or raise bail for one of his kids. The loot came to the back door, and the money came out of the cash register. The canned hams he bought showed up as diced ham in western omelets. A bag of free groceries might get the seller enough for a rock or bag of dope. I don’t now the details, but I ate the omelets.
The clientele was elderly, mostly Black, there was no other place closer to their home, which had been turned into a war zone and drug supermarket by a well crafted pogrom with the support of both parties and the community itself.
The community was managed artfully, and brilliantly. Genocide was a slow process. There was more than enough time and money to make it work. Genocide was high art, supported by both parties and the patriarchy. There was hardly a person there then, who had not lost family. Brave boys, missing fathers, stepped up to earn prizes and wound up ground up.
Ray and I sat with our backs to all of it. Phil Konvitz ran the rackets, and was at times the owner of the joint where we sat. Phil was the son of a Rabbi, who was fair, but aging. All the old folk who knew those rules, loved him. There was an established order, and dope was dope. The kids learned or died. No body could tell them anything. The elders watched, looking for talent...for hope, as they were believers. They walked through the streets and got to and from home safely. Yet there was a regular body count all around them. Kids were dying. Kids were having babies, and dope was everywhere, and also the driver of the post industrial economy on the west side.
It was perfectly executed. Hundreds of thousands of dollars found the small city each week. Moms and dads from all directions drove in to score and out again to thier upscale suburban homes. Ray and I were not looking. We knew.
It was just business, this genocide. The kids were dying to get a piece of it. It was their casino...the house always won. Why not legalize it? This genocide, I mean. Let’s get the dope out of the hood and into the doctors office, and let the chips fall where they may, and they have. The dope will still be there...when the doc cuts you off. You can still drive into the hood and score. Business has never been better. The death has spread out of the hood and into the upscale homes and it’s not just the poor kids now. American Ignorace...new diagnoses...new disorders, new magical cures for people of all ages. Dope! Packaged for all possible disorders peddled to parents and given to tiring children and demanding elderly, as seen on tv.
Genocide. Ray and I sat with our backs to it. Raytheone. Paybacks, are Old Testament. We were not watching, we already knew.