Someone else was watching. Ida Thuga stood in one spot while rocking back and forth on her heels. Thumbs were tucked behind her belt, she pushed down to revealed a stretch of bare stomach that neither shirt covered.
Ms Thuga continued to make the rounds, appearing finally at the table of the risk taker. Her fingers closed on the back of an empty chair.
“You're working up to something,” she said.
“I haven’t the nerve, really,” he responded, “but when I need the stuff I have to stretch a little … have to. Anyway I'll get toasted outside. Be gone in a minute.”
Most of the weed was dark green. The rest had a rich, brown hue. Here and there were crushed yellowish or rust-colored leaves from ...view middle of the document...
Finishing up, he folded the baggie and dropped it into his shirt pocket. With hardly a glance left or right he headed for the back patio.
Ida Thuga took her break with the pool shooter. They sat near the patio at the end of the bar. The shooter piggishly embraced her knee with fingers that moved up and squeezed higher on her leg. Preemptively lifting her he bounced Ms Thuga against his chest and lumbered towards the door.
“Come on,” he said. “I'll take you for a ride. Let’s put you up on my shoulders where you can really see. Now don't tell me you’re hankering for that guy by the fireplace.”
“I want to talk,” she protested.
“You can do that. I won't leave you up there.”
“There's something I must say about how he does things.”
“I hate it but you won't be satisfied until you get what counts.”
“Don't be mean to him.”
“Sorry, but you’ll have to leave that alone.”
A floppy hat fell from his head. He set her down to pick it up. When he got it on he grabbed Ida by the muscle of her rump and twisted her around towards him. She yelled something incoherent and the dealer studied her for a moment. Eventually he transferred the hat to his back pocket and threw Ida over his shoulder. Coming out the back door himself, Biff saw the fellow carrying her around like that. Amidst guffaws from deep in his throat the regular made as if to dump Ms Thuga into the garbage bin.
Biff studied this from a picnic table opposite on the patio. He could see past them down the alley to where it met the street and people walked along in conversation . A breeze dipped the branches of nearby trees. The lovely nightfall was sufficiently stimulating and Biff wasn't drinking. Our stranger, meanwhile, was getting the bumps out of the joint he'd rolled. He worked it back and forth between thumb and fingers as he sat alone, ignoring the beat of the imaginary jack boots of public safety patrols.
“What if somebody comes back here,” a patron wondered aloud.
“Then I take a walk,” said the narcotic imbiber. “You want some?”
“Actually, I’ll sit this one out.”
The hedonist lightly licked the joint so it would burn straight and slow and not stick to the lips. “I've only had to butt out once around here,” he commented.
“You’re rather nonchalant about a clear illegality.”
“Who can tell? Does it get unmanageable on occasion …? So what, you say. I mean, it's not what I'd be looking for but heck, if they fancied rounding up the whole bunch of us it wouldn't take a lot of effort.”
“Yeah, everybody knows that.”
The joint had a deep Southeast Asian aroma and the effect on died-in-the-wool booze hounds was none too pretty. Several gave him the death stare as he put his feet up and threw back his curly head. Biff rose straighter on his side of the patio, wary of the contraband. Its essence spread everywhere on the wind, mingling with a Harvey Mandel tune from beyond the door.
Nothing could cover the smell. He'd have been better off in some apartment with a kettle of herbal tea brewing on a...