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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Journals of a lumpen-proletariat—Tales from the crack-house—part 1

This is a part of a series I started earlier this year about the life of an underclass of a people known as the lumpen-Proletariat.[1] Not all of the lumpen-Proletariat take part in criminal activities but many in this story do. This story has an admitted prostitute and at least two drug dealers. This is not meant to encourage drug dealing, use or prostitution. It is only written to show how these underclass-persons live.
This was a story told to me by Red Rob Blogger. Rob is a tall skinny white guy who likes to wear red striped shirts. Rob is a teacher, who lives in a working class neighborhood and he owns his home.  Rob was going into the Club Soda House on the south end of Broadway Street one day during the middle of the 1990s, a period of time when crack was still with us. It was early in the day and Rob was looking for something different to do. The Club Soda was a working class bar on a street known for prostitution. A lot of lumpen proletariat people were known to go to this bar including prostitutes, low level drug dealers and lots of addicts.

The bar had one long room. It was always dimly lit, although that is not unusual in a working class bar. It had icky yellow walls and it was sparsely decorated with common beer signs. As he
was walking into the bar he came across a girl he knew as Chelsea. He had met her a few times in this bar in the past year. She was a tall heavy-set black girl, wearing jeans and a white blouse.
“Hi Rob,” she said. “What are you up to today?”
“I’m just hanging out looking for something to do,” he answered.
“You need a date today? I’m working as a hooker now.”
“No. I don’t think so.” (Actually Rob found Chelsea very attractive, but felt funny about paying for sex).
“There must be something you want today. How ‘bout a blow job?”
“Well that might be fun.”
“Right now I’m going to get myself some rocks (crack cocaine). If you want to come along and help me pay for them we can get high and then the blow job.”
“OK,” Rob said. (Rob used to do a lot of coke in the late ‘70s and unlike the crack people who smoke it in modern times he shot quarter grams at a time. So cocaine of any type was something Rob could take or leave.)
So they drove about seven blocks up the street to a duplex about a block off the main street. It was a red brick building. When he got in it was a normal two room apartment, sparsely decorated with light-blue walls. Living there was a young-short-thin black man named Dave. He was wearing a plain brown shirt and jeans. He had no electricity or any other utilities. He had a lit candle in the living room he was using for light.
“Hey Dave!” said Chelsea. “What do you got for us? I have $20.”
“I got these,” Dave said. He then took out a bag of some rocks and spread them on the table.  
“They are $20 a piece.”
Chelsea took a rock and they went to an empty room, right off the kitchen, to smoke the crack. While They were there a young black couple came in. It became apparent that Dave’s customers were starting to walk in.
As Rob and Chelsea went into the side room, she pulled out a glass pipe. It was nothing more than a glass dropper that had had the rubber part pulled off and the glass point snapped off. There was a piece of steel wool inside the glass tube. She put the rock on the opened end of the tube. Then she lit a yellow bic lighter and applied the flame under the edge of the tube to heat the rock sitting right inside it.
After a few seconds the rock began to melt and sizzle, leaving a stream of white smoke. Chelsea drew the smoke into her mouth until her lungs were full. Next Rob took a puff. The smoke tasted a lot like baking soda, since that is part of the ingredients in crack. The coke itself has no real taste, but it tends to numb the tongue and everything in the mouth that it touches.
The smoke causes an instant speed-like rush. By now he noticed that Chelsea had tiny drops of sweat all over her skin. She had a strange look of desperation all about her every time she got ready to take a hit of the crack.  
This was the first time Rob ever went to a crack house. There was something exciting about being in such a dangerous place. The penalties for selling crack were stiff so getting caught in such a place would be extremely dangerous. To take such a chance, for Rob, was really going to the edge of life as we know it.
After a few puffs they went to the main room. By now young small-thin black girl named Green Eyes came in. She was wearing a purple ruffled blouse, skirt and some gold jewelry—earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
“Whose red Ford Ranger is that outside?” said Green Eyes?
“That’s mine,” said Rob.
“I need to go make a deal,” Green Eyes explained. “If you let me borrow your car for about 30 minutes I’ll pay you back with about $40 worth of rocks.”
“Why don’t you let her use it,” Chelsea said. “We can walk to my friend’s house. It’s only a few blocks from here. That way you’ll have more dope to smoke.”
Rob thought it over and decided—“what the heck. You can use it.” He then gave her the keys.
After Green Eyes left with the car, Chelsea and Rob started down the block to go to her friend’s house.
“I have to warn you,” Chelsea explained. “I tend to get arrested a lot. I also like to help other street people when they get in trouble. I know what that is like to be in trouble. If I can help my friends out with money or favors I do what I can.”
“That sounds reasonable,” Rob said.
Rob thought to himself that hanging out with Chelsea could be dangerous. He wondered what kind of foolish things she did to get caught. She seemed like a nice persons but someone who was not the least bit cautious.

To be continued…
-សតិវ​ អតុ

[1] This term has been used by both Karl Marx and Mao Zedong (泽东). It represents a sub-class of poor people who may work, full or part-time or may not work at all. They are below the actual proletariat and they often use criminal activities to survive. Mao took a much different approach to them. While Marx wrote them off as being useless, Mao had a different view:

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