Green Light Means Run as Fast as You Can
Part Six in an Eight Part Series
Rex painted all of his flashlights green. All of his lanterns too, just like the light bulb on the back porch.
He had this crazy idea that it helped the plants grow uninterrupted.
Rex had a lot of ideas about a lot of things.
He also said that antifreeze and battery acid would make the amphetamines that he cooked stronger, more effective. Well, he might have been right about that, they sure did sell a lot of it.
Even with it readily available on drugstore shelves in the form of alertness enhancers and diet pills. Thirteen years ago, when fellas came back from the war looking for the stronger stuff, chemists and cooks alike stepped to the task.
Rex, who had always been industrious, set out to recreate the kind of speed that they had all had access to while overseas. What the Jerry's were using, His recipe had only improved over the years.
Rex had been living in Chicago when Hearst's campaign to make hemp illegal to grow in most states had kicked off. The marijuana tax act in '37 had taken it out of stores long ago now.
But he himself had grown awfully fond of smoking it in the jazz clubs all around the city.
He and a buddy of his even started growing a small field of it right around the Chicago area before he had made the move to the wild California mountains to start cooking and growing full time.
The cops found and torched that field several months ago, well before it was ready to cut. All that work up in flames. Oh well, he had plenty out here now.
He'd brought with him a bunch of seeds to plant upon the agreement that he would make batches of methamphetamine, liters of moonshine, cut the cocaine coming up from Mexico, and spin up tar made from the local California grown poppies. His boss was in charge of supplying the Chicago area. They ran goods through LA, Vegas, and Kansas City. Bootleg vices of each and every variety. Sure amphetamines were easy enough to get off of the shelves in the stores for cheap. But he could make it fast, and lots of it, for even cheaper. The truck drivers couldn't get enough of it, the housewives in Chicago and LA loved it. Gave them just what they needed to get through their day, the right help to finish the task.
And smokable hemp had been easy enough to come by until that bastard Hearst pushed to have it outlawed all around. Now they were calling reefer a "gateway drug". As in gateway to the use of harder drugs. Well, Rex was just fine with that. Made it easier for him to sell the harder drugs.
Pounds of cocaine came from Mexico every month and it was his job to cut it up. And when Rex's boss caught wind of a group of Chinese immigrants growing opium poppies way out in the California mountains, well naturally he wanted a piece of the action.
Rex had grown up farming. He knew his way around a crop. Growing plants was growing plants as far as he was concerned. Be it reefer, poppies, or corn, give 'em the right environment, water, and enough sunlight and you're in business.
Rex's daddy had been a shiner during the prohibition, that's where his education on the fabrication and distribution of vice had originated. When Rex was fifteen he'd gone to work full time running guns for the Chicago Mafia. There he had discovered his love of chemistry. Not long after he got promoted to manufacturing explosives. And after an accident that took his left thumb and most of his hearing, they retired him to vice manager. That meant drug runner. Not yet quite as profitable as guns, but safer for now. Plus it had the added benefit of getting him the hell out of Chicago and into sunnier weather with all of the reefer he could smoke.
The one downside was that they kept sending idiots to work for him. Rex had told Chicago repeatedly that he didn't need any wet-behind- the-ears city slicker getting in his way so this time they'd sent some ignorant Okie instead.
The guy, Davy Houston was his name, had just been let out of state prison. They had him on trial for the rape and murder of an eleven year-old girl in Kansas. Davy swore up and down that he didn't do it, and somehow he had got off. He scouts-honored that he was innocent. But Rex knew a liar when he saw one.
Davy showed up in the summer, they sent him to help with harvest. Showed up with a lot of incompetence and ignorant questions. The plants were getting big and a lot of work would have to be done before they cut, dried, packaged, and shipped the crop.
About six weeks in, right before his harvest date. Rex had caught Davy snooping around in his locked workshop. Claiming he was looking for yard tools and he had found it unlocked. Rex knew this was a lie. Davy had already been told the tools were kept in the shed not the workshop. And Rex would never leave his workshop unlocked, even when nobody else was there. The workshop was where he kept the unshipped narcotics, growing and cooking supplies, not to mention where he stashed his savings. Nearly ten thousand dollars of it. Rex had been putting money back since he got to California, he worked so fast and so hard, he was certain that nobody would miss the little bit he was skimming off of the top. Now maybe, Davy was a dope fiend, it was either that or he was a shifty little thief. Either way he had to go. Rex called his boss about it the very same evening.
"The guy's not competent or trustworthy." Rex relayed. "If he makes off with the goods, don't say I didn't warn you." Rex's boss said they'd send him a replacement worker the following week, and he was free to give Davy the boot.
That night, when Rex donned his green tinted flashlight to check on the marijuana plants, he had an uneasy feeling. Where had that little Okie bastard got to? Rex hadn't seen him in a couple of hours. Had he overheard his phone conversation with Chicago? He walked up and down the rows of towering plants, swinging gently in the breeze, shining his green light up, down, and in between them.
He thought he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. Rex whipped around, peering with his spotlight to the edge of the field into the woods beyond.
He turned and moved swiftly through the field of swaying cannabis straight to his workshop. The door was still locked. He popped the lock open and flung the door open. As he shown his flashlight inside, casting an eerie viridescent glow on the wooden floor, he saw it. A two foot square hole cut in the back of the shop's wall, the corner floorboards had been pried up and left askew. His cash box was missing from its hiding place. With that no good little shit Davy, nowhere to be seen.
Rex burst through the cabin, snatched his shotgun off of its shelf, grabbed a box of shells and his truck keys. He would call his boss later. He jumped into his rumbling green pickup, and tore off down the mountain, his green-painted flashlight still in his hand.
That little fucker couldn't have gone far on foot. Even if he had been lucky enough to have hitched a ride out. Rex wouldn't stop until he'd found him, retrieved his funds, and skinned the cocksucker alive. Even if he had to follow Davy all the way to Oklahoma, Rex was set on getting his money back by any means necessary.
He barreled down the mountain driving into the night, he passed very few other cars. They were pretty remote, intentionally tucked away from any city in the wild foothills of the Sierra's.
Rex had time to think as he drove, maybe Davy hadn't left the property at all yet. Maybe he was still hiding out in the woods, counting on Rex to take off into the night, sending him on a wild goose chase. Shit! Rex slammed his fist into the steering wheel. He couldn't report the theft to his boss on account of he'd been skimming the money in the first place.
Wait, calm down, he told himself. What if he was to tell the boss that the money was from an extra deal he'd just made. he hadn't mentioned anything about it due to the fact he didn't trust that slimy little character… what if, he called his boss and told him that it was THEIR money Davy had stolen. That way they could dispatch Kansas City boys on his ass. Sure they knew what town he was from, or they could find out. Rex chuckeled to himself, "Oh you better run Davy boy, you better run as fast as you can.
Satisfied with his now much improved plan of action. Rex turned around, and headed back up the mountain. Yeah, he thought to himself, why should he miss out on his harvest when the whole Davy debacle had been their fault in the first place. "I'll just tell them that my cut had been part of what was stolen along with the thirty gold pieces I've had stashed for years. At least I stand to get a part of it back. I can stay here and continue on like it's nothing." He thought to himself. That way, he could keep putting money back and let them do the dirty work of hunting him down.
Maybe he'd request they bring Davy back here so he could skin him after all. The thought of that brought a smile to Rex's face as he climbed the hill back to his property. He could see the chartreuse glow of the porch light beckoning him back home. Back to his plants, his reefer, and his proprietary blend of methamphetamines.