Life Is Stranger Than Fiction; Although this novel is a fictional story, it vividly details the realistic everyday struggles of a small rural town fight against gangs, drugs, and drug dealers.
Being elected as Marion’s Police Chief in 2000, Stephen Hogan constantly strived to keep illegal drugs off the streets but it was hard. This was a small rural town of only eight thousand residents and everyone in the town was mostly kin. When a crime happened, it took extensive police work to solve because the people of Marion didn’t to talk to the police. Tonight, the chief lucked up on a major drug bust. As he patrolled Highway 5 on the edge of town, a U-Haul truck suddenly appeared over the hill going eighty five miles per hour in a forty five mile per hour speed zone. The police chief’s black and white Crown Victoria police cruiser came to life and rapidly emerged from the hiding spot behind the Marion Motel sign. Chief Hogue aggressively pursued the fast moving U-Haul truck for four miles. While chasing the speeding truck, he noticed the suspicious actions of the two people inside the cab of the truck.
‘Man, get rid of that joint; we got company coming,’ Billy Grey demanded. He’d not noticed that he was speeding but when he looked down the speedometer was just pass eighty and now there were blue lights flashing behind him. ‘Man, I hope he don’t search the truck.’ His heart started beating rapidly in his chest like a drummer doing a drum roll solo. This was his first trip as a drug runner. ‘Shit, Fuck, Damn, I don’t want to go to jail in Alabama.’ Shaking like a leaf in a strong wind, Billy nervously dialed Frank Riggers, his boss, on the cell phone. ‘Mr. Frank, we just got pulled over.’
The conversation between the two men was quick but loud. Frank instructed the driver what to do, ‘You, two, just keep your mouth shut. Lawyer up and shut the fuck up. I’m sending someone now to take care of the situation. So shut up and don’t fucking worry.’ The conversation ended and Frank Riggers was not happy.
Adam McKenna nervously sat in the passenger seat of the U-Haul. Rolling down the window, he flung the half smoked blunt out of the truck. Seconds later, he pulled the .357 Smith and Wesson from the waistband of his pants and slid it behind the seat. ‘Is that everything? Man, why were you fucking speeding? Shit, you know this is Alabama and the cops here will stop you for anything.’ Bending over, he searched under the seat. ‘Where’s the fucking ounce we were smoking from, Billy? Damn Billy, we’re dead for sure now.’ He was scared and started weeping like a baby. ‘I won’t survive in prison, Billy.’
Billy purchased some of the same high-grade marijuana for the trip from New Orleans to Atlanta. He paid Frank three hundred dollars for an ounce of Purple Kush. Frank had cautioned him to leave the stuff at home. He didn’t like for his drivers to smoke drugs while working on the clock. ‘Man, I hate I have to get rid of this stuff. I paid too much for it,’ Billy protested. Slowly, he took the weed out of his shirt pocket, rolled down the driver side window and tossed the open plastic baggie. ‘There; it’s gone now stay calm; All the weed is in the back, so they have no evidence on us. Remember, Frank said to say we work for ‘There In A Hurry’ delivery service, delivering packages. Just delivering packages.’
Momentarily floating in the air, the half-full baggie smashed against the windshield of the Chief’s police cruiser and became snagged in the windshield wipers. The wind expelled the marijuana from the open clear plastic sandwich bag before throwing it to the side of the road. Angered by the actions of the suspects, Chief Hogan’s Crown Victoria sped up. Getting right behind the truck, he turned on the loud speaker. The sound of his angry voice thundered through the speaker. ‘This is the Marion police. Pull your vehicle over to the side of the road.’ A quarter of a mile later, the truck pulled to the side of the highway. While waiting for an additional officer to arrive, the chief ran the tags of the U-Haul. They came back clean.
A few minutes later, another police cruiser appeared. Upon searching the back of the truck, the chief and Sergeant Cedric Milner discovered the truck was loaded with three tons of top grade marijuana. The marijuana was packaged in individual ten pound bales, wrapped tightly in gray cellophane and packed neatly inside the truck. This was the largest drug bust in the history of Marion. With a hint of excitement in his voice, Sergeant Milner radioed Corporal Stacie King at the station, ‘Hey, we need three more cars ASAP.’
Randall knew he was trespassing but since his crack habit kept him broke, he was forced to stay where he could. After he discharged from the Army, Randall started drinking heavily and smoking crack cocaine. His wife left four years later. He spent twenty-three years in the way of danger as a sniper only to come back to find his wife in the arms of someone else. He thought about killing them and himself, but decided it wasn’t worth it. Tonight, while sitting in the building looking out the window at the rain, he put the last small ivory colored rock on the end of the glass pipe. The dark room momentarily brightened as the match ignited. Quickly, he brought the burning match to the end of the crack pipe. Taking a long hit, he held his breathe. Slowly, he released a semitransparent cloud of smoke from his lungs. He felt the effects of the cocaine come over him.
The fire station sat right behind the Marion police department. It was Randall’s favorite spot because it gave him a perfect view of the police department. The fire station also had a few old cots he slept on. On the nights he stayed in the fire station; he could see everyone they brought into the police department. Suddenly, the bright blue lights from a police car flashed in the window and Randall quickly slid down so he wouldn’t be noticed. Unseen, he watch the action outside the window as four Ford Crown Victoria cruisers pulled to the back of the red brick police building. They were followed by a large U-Haul truck. Because this small town police department didn’t have an evidence room large enough to hold a shipment this big, the chief decided to use the old fire station next door as temporary storage. Since no one in town knew of the drug bust, it would be safe until morning.
Unseen, Randall looked out the damp window as the deputies pulled the U-Haul truck up to the fire station bay door. The wheels screeched to a halt. Because he was up on the second floor, Randall couldn’t see what they were doing so he carefully pushed the window up to hear what they were saying. As they pulled the truck into the bay, Randall overheard the officers loudly discussing the drug bust and how excited the chief was about making a huge dent in the drug traffic. One of the officers excitedly held up one of the bundles and exclaimed, ‘Well, there’ll be a whole lot of weed heads mad tonight because all this weed will be going up in smoke.’ Someone laughed. The man continued, ‘They won’t get to smoke this.’ He handed the bundle to the other officer to put back in the truck.
Randall could not believe it as he continued to listen, ‘That’s a lot of weed they just put inside here.’ He slowly sat back against the wall by the window. The euphoric high from the hit of crack rapidly vanished and he came down. Looking at the pipe and laying it in the palm of his hand, he used a piece of wire to push the brillo screen further up the pipe; then from the other end to push it back down. He thought to himself, ‘Man, I wish they would hurry up and leave so I can take another hit.’ Using the light coming through the window, he carefully scraped the last crumbs from the old business card into the open pipe and impatiently waited. Finally, the large bay doors of the fire station slammed shut and the police cruisers sped away. He struck the match and savored the last hit.
Around ten thirty that night, Randall eased out of the first floor window of the fire station. His body craved another hit. He knew Marion and knew where the crack addicts hung out. On his bicycle, he traveled to the alley behind the C-Store off Thurman and Vine but no one was there. Randall traveled all over the small town; nevertheless, he couldn’t find anyone willing to share a hit. Reluctantly, he used his last two dollars and eighty-five cents and bought him a beer and returned to the fire station. Finishing the beer, Randall decided to try to find a hit again. This time instead of climbing out the window, he chose to go downstairs and out the backdoor. As he slowly inched down the cold chrome fire pole, he wondered if they left someone inside the building to watch the truck. Moving as quiet as a mouse, Randall walked through the building toward the backdoor. As he entered the fire truck bay, the strong aroma of the high-grade marijuana drifted into his nostrils. ‘Man that is some good smelling weed. I wonder if it’s as good as it smells.’
Slowly walked toward the U-Haul, Randall looked around to see if any police was there. There was no one; he was alone. Walking toward the rear of the truck, he took the handle and pulled up. Surprisingly, the rear hatch came open immediately. Placing his hands over his mouth in excitement, he momentarily held his breath as he slowly took in his discovery. ‘So this is what bales of weed look like,’ he said as he rubbed his hands over one of the oblong shaped bales. ‘I wonder if it is any good.’
Taking one of the bales of weed off the truck, Randall closed the door and retreated to his hiding spot. After fighting to open the tightly wrapped package, he took a few buds to smoke. He carefully broke the weed down and stuffed some in his pipe. However, because he was using a crack pipe, the weed would not smoke right. Because he needed a high, Randall resourcefully retrieved an empty coke can out of the trash and used it to smoke the weed. He indented the center of the can and poked a few tightly grouped holes in it. After placing some of the weed inside the dent of the can, he lit the weed and sucked the smoke out of the open end. Within a few puffs, he was high. Only moments after smoking just a little of the high-grade weed, he became almost comatose from the effects. Nevertheless, this was not fulfilling the need that his crack addicted body screamed for; but he had an ideal. ‘Man, I bet I can sell most of this weed before the night is over and make me a bunch of money. There’s a lot of weed in that truck. If I take a few of them, old Chief will never know.’ He quickly returned downstairs and retrieved twenty more bales of marijuana. Retrieving his backpack, he took his few clothes out and put them inside an old paper bag. After stuffing the empty backpack with the marijuana, Randall slowly walked with his bicycle to the Hill carrying the two hundred pound back pack.
Pickens Hill, one of the popular meeting spots in the small town, sat on top of the highest elevation in Perry County, a few miles southwest of the police station. In Marion, if you wanted something to drink after the only liquor store closed or something to smoke, like weed or crack, you went to the Hill. Fifteen minutes later, Randall walked inside Bobbie Evans’ trailer behind the BBQ Shack Restaurant. She knew who the weed smokers were in the neighborhood. Most of them hung out under the tree across the street from Shorty’s Corner Store. Carefully, he opened the barely used bale and emptied the contents on the table.
‘That’s a lot of weed, Randall,’ the middle aged woman excitedly said as she picked through, cut then weighed the marijuana buds. ‘Where you get this from,’ she questioned. Bobbie Hogan and Randall graduated from Marion Westside High school in 1976 and remain close friends. She married Robert Evans after high school but after fifteen years, they divorced. Both of the children from the marriage were grown and on their own, so she lived by herself. She laid the plastic sandwich bags and placed the kitchen scale on the glass table. ‘I know the perfect spot for you to sit up and sell from tonight. We can go to Snake Creek and sell outside the club.’
‘That sounds good, Bobbie but how are we going to get way out in the country to Snake Creek. It’s not like I can ride my bike twenty six miles out there with you sitting on the handle bars.’ Randall laughed and continued to package the weed. He decided that it would be easier to sell small amounts, so he made a lot of twenty dollar and ten dollar bags. He asked ‘May I have something to drink?’ When he finished using up all the sandwich bags, he counted and separated his stash. ‘I wish you had more bags than this. Well, at least I got …’ He stopped to count the bags. ‘Twenty-five dime bags and forty double dime bags; if I sell out that’ll be over a thousand dollars.’ He sat back and imagined the money in his hands. ‘So, how’re we getting there, Bobbie,’ he asked again.
‘I don’t know,’ she snapped loudly as she walked from the kitchen. ‘I was just saying something, trying to give you some ideas.’ Bobbie returned with two ice-cold twelve ounce Milwaukee Best beers from the refrigerator. Giving one to Randall, she suggested, ‘Let’s walk over to the fire pit and see who comes by.’ Grabbing her cell phone and her purse, she continue to talk, ‘I can make some calls and see who wants to buy.’ Randall stuffed the bags inside a gym bag he borrowed from Bobbie; then stored his belongings and the backpack in the bedroom closet where he sometimes crashed when he was on that side of town. ‘Are you ready, yet?’ Bobbie asked as she opened the front door.
By this time, it stopped raining and a bright white half moon peeked from behind the few remaining dark storm clouds in the night sky. Part of the traditions of this small rural town was the almost nightly meeting or gathering around the fire pit by the big oak tree. The pit was an old cinder block four foot by four foot trash pit. Years ago, someone had taken the time to block it in with fire bricks. Later someone added the chimney and the heavy cast iron cooking grates. In the summer, people from all parts of town would gather to barbecue, drink and talk. In the winter, they did the same except the fire from the pit heated the people as well as cooked the meats.
Five minutes after leaving Bobbie’s trailer, they arrived at the fire pit. However, it was still early, so no one was there. Finding some old milk crates under the tree, Randall took a seat and waited patiently for the neighborhood to come to life. Impatiently, Bobbie decided to walk across the street to the store to see if any potential customer were there. As usual on every game night, the store was crowded with people watching the basketball game on the television set. She slowly walked around the stuffed store searching for someone she knew that smoked weed. After a while, she spotted Richard leaning against the upright drink cooler. After talking with him and some other people in the store, she came back to the fire pit with three sales.
‘So what you got,’ Richard Moore asked. Standing six feet ten inches, he towered over the rest of the men. ‘Bobbie said you got some fire ass weed.’ The rest of the people that was with him in the store followed them across the street and gathered around the pit. After smoking only a third of a fat Swisher blunt with them, Randall made three twenty dollar sales. Happy because he had made some money from the weed, Randall decided to try to find some crack to buy. However, the word was quickly spreading in the small town that Randall had some fire weed. Before he could leave, he made four more sales. Ten minutes later, he made twelve. Later that night, Jackson Walker, one of the local crack dealers parked his lime green 1963 Ford LTD under the tree and blasted his music. Randall smoked the rest of the blunt with him and sold fifty dollars worth. After some of his friends and family, a large crowd gathered around the Ford and a full fledge party broke out. By three o’clock, the next morning, Randall sold all sixty-five baggies.
A few hours after making the drug bust and completing the required paper work, Chief Hogue walked out the backdoor of the police station and headed for the fire station to tag and photograph the evidence. Upon opening one of the bay doors, he slowly walked toward the truck. However, something did not feel right. He walked to the truck and checked the doors. He continues to the rear of the truck. The rear door was closed. ‘Maybe, it is just my old age.’ Suddenly, the faint scent from the smoked weed hit him like a brick. ‘It smells like someone been smoking weed in here.’ Immediately pulling out his Mag Lite heavy duty flashlight, the chief slowly followed the scent of the weed through the building. He carefully and silently checked each room. As he walked into the sleeping quarters on the second floor, the scent increases dramatically. Quickly, the chief pulled out his gun as he carefully walked into the room. The first thing he noticed was the cot where Randall previously sat smoking from the open bale of weed.