The Detroit Experiment, late September, 1983
The one thing Nick could not shake about his exploits in Detroit was his first hit. As was the custom of his secret circle of high profile inheritors of the city’s reigns, a weekend meeting to share in large amounts of coke and alcohol was underway.
In a quiet middle class neighborhood, on the West side, sat State Representative Melvin “Bunky” Grimes’ two story house. With a fairly large front yard and a long driveway that led to a garage where Bunky kept his 1958 Daimler four-seater, it was an impressive residence from the curb. Actually, it sat on a double lot allowing for a sumptuous garden on the north side.
This is America, what a state legislator does in the privacy of his own home is no one’s business. What goes on goes on. It just so happened that the discussion inside the house was about the upcoming middleweight championship between Marvin Hagler, the reigning champion and Roberto Duran, a formidable opponent. Among the interlocutors were Ozzie, Linda Rose, Deborah, Anita, Bunky’s wife, Bunky and Nick. All of the above were ‘somebody’ in his or her respective fields. All were seated in the living room enjoying music. On the cocktail table was a small bowl loaded with coke. Each one present had contributed 100 bucks for the blow. Etiquette held the turn taking and size of the lines, everyone was polite…and high as the Georgia pines. The men contested facts about each fighter and came to announcing bets because of this or that detail that would win the match. The women were making fun of the men, argument as entertainment. It was a nice evening, an Indian Summer night and all was well.
It was a little past 11:00 pm when the doorbell rang. Bunky looked at Nick and said, “He’s here!” in a whisper. “Whose here?” asked Nick. Bunky went to the side door, off the kitchen and to the driveway, and let in a man and a woman who were very well dressed. The man was early fifties and the woman was a younger thirty something. She was wearing a full-length mink coat and pointed stiletto heels. She was the taller and quite beautiful. Bunky introduced him as Paul Landy, a former Tuskegee Airman and pilot for the stars. Paul had an air of confidence that resonated with the group. There was something kept under the surface, like what was really going on, in his demeanor. After a few drinks and chit chat, Bunky announced that we were retiring to the basement (fully finished with bar and lounge). That was all he said.
Once downstairs, Paul takes off his coat and goes to the bar. He opens a small black leather pouch takes out some things, a sandwich bag full of cocaine first and then some glass objects and what looked like a dentist’s tool. He asks for some water. He turns to the yet-to-be-named woman accompanying him and asks for the ‘torch’. “Oh! I’m sorry!” he said, “This is my good friend Deidre,” to which everyone laughed and said hello. Deidre reaches into her bag and pulls out a small propane torch and a click striker. As she hands Paul the tools, her coat opened to reveal her bare skin, as she was wearing nothing but bra and panties, expensive stockings trimmed with lace at the thigh and earrings. All took shocking notice. Ignoring this, Paul begins to fool around with the coke in a test tube; he had a captive audience. Everybody was riveted to his one-man show (with assistant) as he lit the torch and held the tube just above the tip of the flame. As he proceeded, he talked about the process of freebase. He explained how the powder would turn to an oily liquid, and it did; then, when all the oily bubbles clotted together into one oily bubble, it was time to use cold water. When he poured the cold water into the test tube and spun it like an old red wine, the substance turned white as if by magic. The party began to chatter about what had been demonstrated. He then picked up another glass object. It was a globe with two narrow, protruding tubes with one resolving in a bell shape and the other straight. “I use five screens,” he announced and held it out for people to see. He then took a razor blade and began to chop the white lump of base into small chunks. “Let me try it out, I’m the test pilot,” he said with a chuckle. Paul then put a piece into the bell-shaped tip and held it over the flame of the torch, like the test tube. The stuff began to sizzle and then he put the thing in his mouth and began to inhale the accumulating smoke. Everyone was frozen in place watching each detail. Paul blew out a long thick, white cloud of smoke and just stood there as if contemplating. It was completely silent in Bunky’s basement.
“Ok, whose next?” he suddenly said, regaining himself. “Bunky?” Melvin Grimes stepped up and repeated what he had seen and in turn, each of the excited group took a draw from the glass object. “I don’t feel anything,” said Linda Rose when she finished. “Well I certainly feel that shit!” said Bunky with enthusiasm. “Nick, don’t you want to try it?” he asked. “I don’t know about this shit,” Nick quipped. “Aw come on Nick…you sniff it don’t you?” encouraged Bunky. Nick hesitated. Paul held up the pipe and put a larger piece in the tube, held it over the flame and motioned to Nick to come. “If anything happens to me, all you motherfuckers are going to jail!” he joked. Nick took a long slow pull from the glass and while doing so, Paul said hold it in for a second, which Nick did. He blew out the smoke hard as if to make it reach Deborah, across the room. Within seconds, he was coming out of his clothes. Nick got a blast for the first time and it would tell him and the others what happens to a person hit in the brain with freebase. All he said was “Oh shit! Oh shit!” When he pulled his pants off he had a massive hard on. He didn’t give a damn who was watching, all inhibitions were gone. He just wanted to put his member into something soft and warm…immediately. And he said so. After a while, with repeated turn taking at the bar, others began to get comfortable: blouse unbuttoned, pants removed, within minutes everyone was nearly naked and feeling something quite different.
This is America. What goes on in the privacy of one’s home is no one else’s business.
Sound: Heavyweight champ Leon Spinx responding to questions about his exploits outside the ring.
Music: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bright Moments