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Station 3. Bruce falls down

Wood carving by Susan Hagen, story by Mike Walsh

After graduating from high school, Bruce's family enrolled him in an expensive private college near his hometown. Most of the kids at the college had lots of disposable income, and most of them wanted to party. Bruce quickly realized that the campus was the perfect place to sell drugs. He had a few connections in town, so Bruce started doing some small-time dealing.

At first he dealt mostly pot, but he soon branched out with acid, mushrooms, speed, ludes, and reds. Bruce's business didn't take off, however, until he started dealing coke. The more he sold, the more the students wanted it. Soon he was dealing coke almost exclusively.

Bruce had so much coke business he rented the basement of one of the frat houses and set it up as his office. He barely had time to go to class. He did, however, manage to keep his own coke usage under control. He got moderately buzzed almost daily, but he didn't snort enough to kill his profits. It was a sweet deal, and he was careful not to do anything to blow it.

Some of his customers became heavy users, buying several grams per week. They came around making buys at all hours of the day and night. One guy bought five hundred dollar's worth in one night and then dropped out of school a few days later. Most of his customers snorted the coke, but a few were smoking it too.

Bruce didn't feel responsible for them. They made their own decisions and were responsible for their own problems. He never forced coke on anyone. He had simply met demand for a product. If he hadn't sold them the coke, someone else would have.

During the summer following his freshman year, Bruce started doing a bit too much coke and his profits shrank. He went on a two-week binge and kept several of his friends high for free as well. To make matters worse, one kid disappeared after Bruce had fronted him about five grams. Then Bruce's car broke down, and it cost him $400 to repair.

Eventually, Bruce was in such a financial bind that he didn't have enough cash to buy more product. If he didn't have any product, he couldn't make any money. Bruce asked his grandmother to loan him two thousand dollars. He told her the money was for summer tuition, and his grandmother gave him the money.

Bruce immediately copped an ounce and was back in business. Unfortunately, Bruce had started freebasing by then, which got him higher than he had ever been. By the time the ounce was gone, he didn't have enough money to repay his grandmother.

Bruce then did something that he had never done before. He asked his coke source to front him an ounce. He knew he was taking a huge risk, but it was the only way he knew to get out of the jam. His source agreed, but he warned Bruce that he would "fuck him up big time" if he wasn't repaid promptly. Bruce said he understood.

Unfortunately, Bruce wasn't able to move an ounce without consuming a major portion of it. By the time the coke was gone, he didn't have enough to repay his grandmother or his source. In the meantime, his grandmother had somehow found out that he wasn't registered for summer classes, and she demanded that he repay her immediately. She called him several times, accusing him of being a thief and threatening to call the cops. His coke connection was calling too, and Bruce knew the guy owned a handgun and wasn't adverse to violence.

Late one night Bruce packed up his belongings and took off. He went to Miami. He found work in a restaurant and did some dealing on the side. No one from his hometown or his family knew where he was.

Two years later Bruce came back to town. He wanted to make peace with his family and get back in college. He got in touch with a few relatives and swore that he had gone clean. They were glad to hear it and planned a celebration for him. He went to the frat house and visited a few of his buddies there. As he was leaving, his former coke source, the guy he had ripped off for the ounce two years before, walked in with about ten other guys. Someone from the fraternity house had ratted on him.

Bruce made a run for the back door, but they grabbed him before he could get away. They held him on the floor while his former connection beat his knees in with a fire extinguisher.

"Your debt has been paid," the guy said before he left.

Bruce spent the next few weeks in the hospital. His relatives canceled the party and refused to visit him. They'd had enough of Bruce's drug problems.

When he could walk again, Bruce returned to Florida. He tried to quit dealing altogether, but about a year later he was picked up with close to an ounce of coke in his possession. He knew better than to identify his source, so he spent the next eighteen months in the Dade County Jail.

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