How to really cleanup on an island.
Lee was always scouting the newcomers for his next sailing candidate. When he took the opportunity to be the barber on Lojwa, he recognized a major need immediately. Weed was extremely rare. When he saw the island with it’s lush growth next to ours in the east, he knew he could grow primo herb there. He’d just need an assistant. All he’d have to pay him would be a half ounce every week.
He could also spot a fellow stoner from a mile away, even if they hadn’t smoked for weeks. It was easy to find stoners in the military those days. Most of the young soldiers got high. What was even easier was to find the ones who didn’t get high. That was important. They were the ones that would rat you at and get you in trouble.
When Johnson came in for a haircut, he could tell right away that he was a stoner. He also could tell that he was one who stayed on Lojwa and worked instead of one of the many others that left six days a week to clean up the other islands. He could also tell he spent a lot of time in the sun.
“So. Do you snorkel,” Lee asked.
“Everyday,” Johnson answered.
“What time do you go out?”
“I always wait for the guys to get back from clean up to go out. We’re not allowed to go out alone. Of course, I agree with that rule. It’s not a good idea to ever swim alone, especially in shark infested waters,” Johnson answered.
“Do you sail,” Lee asked.
“No. But I want to learn.”
“Tell you what. You let me snorkel with you guys, and I’ll teach you to sail on Sundays. What do you say?”
“Hell, yeah,” Johnson answered. “You know where the 309th hooch is? Just come on in around six. That’s when everyone’s getting back and there’s always a couple that want to snorkel.”
“Great! I’ll see you then, and I’ll teach you to sail this Sunday, if you want to learn. Do you get high?”
“I would if I could,” Johnson answered. “But not since I got here. I can’t find any weed.”
“I’ll roll us one. It’s almost lunchtime. We’ll go smoke it and then take care of our appetite!”
“Excellent,” Johnson answered.
Lee pulled a bag out from under the seat of the barber chair after locking the door. He expertly rolled a small, pin-sized joint. “This is some low-grade Hawaiian, but it’ll knock your socks off.”
They walked to the ocean side of the island, and stopped short of the lava bed that separated ocean from sandy beach. The tide was low, leaving them far away from the breakers. Lee lit the joint. It was so tiny that he consumed almost half of it with a single toke.
“It only takes one hit if you hit it right,” Lee said, holding his breath and passing the joint to Johnson.
Johnson followed Lee’s lead and finished it with one long toke. Lee took the roach and put it into a Manila envelope. As they walked toward the mess hall, Johnson started feeling the effects of the weed. This was the most stoned he’d been in his life.
“Really, Lee? Low grade? I don’t know if I can even maintain enough to each lunch right now!”
Lee laughed. “We’ll stop in the shop and kick back back for a few minutes, if you want to.”
“No, if I freak out in the line, just tell I’m dehydrated or somethin’.” They both laughed.
They got their lunch and sat down. Johnson hoped he wouldn’t see his First Sergeant. He didn’t care if he saw the commanding officer. He was a WO2 and didn’t care what the soldiers under him did, as long as they got their work done. Top, the First Seargent, was a hard ass. He wouldn’t try to discipline a soldier under him in the traditional sense, but he would make his life difficult for a few hours.
They got through lunch and separated at the the Barber Shop. Lee went inside the air-conditioned shop and Johnson went straight to his desk in the hooch. Top wasn’t around. Johnson took advantage of it and did nothing out of fear of screwing his paperwork up. Instead he kicked back and actually “tripped” for about thirty minutes. “Damn, that’s some good weed,” he thought.
At around 5:00, the first crew from the LARC’s came in. They went straight to dinner and Johnson went with them. He stopped and knocked and told Lee to meet him in the mess hall. He was just finishing a haircut.
“I’ll just meet ya’ll at the hooch. I gotta stay open till seven. I forgot to mention that.”
“That’s cool, We’ll be in the channel. Just come on out and meet us there.”
Johnson kept up with the time and got out of the water at around seven and waited for Lee. When Lee came walking up ready to snorkel, they went back out and caught up with the rest of the guys. Afterwards Lee joined them in their hooch and drank with them. From that day on, Lee became a fixture in the hooch after snorkeling till he was ready to go back to the comfort of his air conditioned barber shop each evening.
Shen Sunday came, Lee and Johnson signed out a Sunfish sailboat. Lee took control of the sail and instructed Johnson on how to tend the rudder. They sailed to another island that had foliage on it. No other sailboats were around it. Lee expertly guided the small sailboat onto the beach.
They climbed out of the boat and stretched their legs. Lee pulled a waterproof ammo box from under the stern. “I keep my lunch and smokes in here,” he explained. “Let’s go harvest.”
“Harvest what,” Johnson asked.
“Weed, my man, weed.”
Lee led the way to a bush that had nice buds on it. He showed Johnson how to prune the plant and pick the buds. In total, there were six plants in that general area. Everyday a helicopter flew over these islands, but they never thought to look for marijuana. They would have had a hard time spotting these plants because they were so sparse.
“This is how I REALLY make money. Betcha can’t guess who buys most of my stuff. Officers. Captains and down. I got three of ‘em that come to me. They take whatever they don’t smoke and sell it to others for a pretty penny.”
“Is this what we smoked the other day?”
“Yep. Primo shit. I learned to do this at a young age, and ain’t got nothin’ but better at it.” Lee produced a joint from his cigarette pack and lit it. Johnson got just as high as he did before.
“The stuff I pick today has to dry first. But I never run out myself. There have been times when I can’t come through for the college boys, but I just tell them my source dries up from time to time. They don’t know nothin’ about me growing it myself. They think it comes from the states or the Hawaiian cooks. I like to keep it that way.”
They lay back on a blanket on the beach for a couple of hours. They ate the lunches or snacks they had packed and went snorkeling. Lee put the ammo can back under the stern.
“If anyone asks, that’s my lunch box. But no one ever asks,” Lee explained.
When they got back to the barber shop, Lee rolled a couple of pinners and gave them to Johnson. “Thanks for the help. We have to smoke sparingly for obvious reasons, but we’ll go every Sunday. I’ll fix you up every week. And anytime you want to get high, just come on by. You can bring a friend if you want to.”
The harvest was getting increasingly better as time went on. Lee was giving Johnson a half ounce each week after a month. Johnson sold a couple of joints on Enewetak each week when he made a trip over on the J-Boat to get parts. The money he made on those two joints was substantial for someone living on the wage of a junior soldier. The rest he smoked with his friends.
He and Lee got an early start the last Sunday they went out. They seldom saw ships on the ocean, but that day they saw four. “That’s odd. We hardly ever see ships out there. I wonder if they’re taking a different route to go around a typhoon. It is typhoon season.”
They harvested the buds, lazed around for a while and started back in. Small storms were known to strike occasionally, but this afternoon they were getting pelted by several. They were being struck by a squall.
“Maybe we should get on an island and wait this squall out,” Johnson suggested.
“We can’t. If we don’t make it back by dark, they’ll come looking for us and we’ll have to hide the weed somewhere. We’ll be okay,” Lee assured him.
Another storm struck suddenly with violent winds. As usual, Lee dropped the sail. When the storm passed, they found they were dangerously close to the reef that separated lagoon from open ocean. Lee raised the sail hurriedly, but was unable to overcome the wind and current that was rapidly taking them out to open water.
Lee was a good sailor, but his skills couldn’t overcome the peril in the small Sunfish. Two hours later, they lost sight of the small atoll. As night set in, they lay back and smoked a pinner. Johnson didn’t enjoy the high. The next morning he politely declined Lee’s offer when he passed a joint. He never got high again.
Several months later, a Japanese trawler found the Sunfish with only the remains of Johnson aboard. He'd tied himself to the mast and wore his dog tags identifying his body and the dog tags of Lee, who was no longer on the boat.