You can feel the heat from the moment you walk upstairs. MW likes to pretend it’s just you he shows this to.
“I can’t show this to OB,” he says. “He talks too much.” It kinda smells weird, although not how you think it would considering what he grows.
“Why… tell me then?” you ask. “You can, but why me?” You’ve not known him long. A few months.
“I’m a good judge of character,” he says.
If you can remember the street name, you will always have this on him. A little friendship insurance policy. But you know you’ll forget.
He opens a bedroom, expensive clothes strewn on the floor and small bed, tags still attached. The smell is stronger here, more distinct. At the back of his room, a small cupboard houses a heavy lighting system, wires duct-taped to the walls, beaming heat down on a gathering of small, spike-leaved plants. Not quite the haul you were expecting, considering his previous bravado.
Moments ago, you were sat in your car with him as he “dropped something off” for his mates. “You know who I am, right?” He had asked.
You did not just ask me that, you had thought.
“I’m one of the biggest drug dealers in Oldham.”
Stood looking over his modest grow, you think, You’re clearly not, mate.
“I’ve even got a shotgun in the other room.”
Part of you thinks he might pull it on you if you ask him to show it, just so you don’t blab, so you nod approvingly. You both go back to the car, then to some random house where you wait outside while he dives in.
A year passes. It’s a Tuesday. You wake up to a news bulletin on national radio. There’s been an explosion in Oldham. A house has been destroyed in the Shaw area. You know a few people in the area and check Facebook for updates as you can’t remember who exactly lives there, a few people you know, you think. A girl you know has been rehoused, along with her boyfriend and baby. Hours later, it emerges that a toddler has died in the blast.
Six months pass. You’re in a pub with some local friends, including OB. They know MW better than you do. OB mentions the plants that MW grows. He found out, or MW showed him, around the same time as MW showed you. He had a few grows in his house, apparently- more than what he let you see. There were other cupboards, other lighting systems.
When the house exploded, just doors away from MW’s place, the street was evacuated for days. The council freed up some emergency accomodation. MW and his neighbours were ushered out of their homes, terrified. MW definitely was, but for a different reason to most people. He expected a knock on his temporary door at every moment.
But it never came.
After a few days, MW was one of the lucky residents to be allowed back into his home for good. His house wasn’t damaged by the blast, but the authorities had thoroughly checked all of the properties.
MW opened the door. He looked around. Everything in his hall looked the same. He didn’t need to see the downstairs rooms. He wanted to check on his paydirt.
He felt the absence of heat that had pumped from his room. He opened his bedroom door. The cupboard door was wide open, now housing nothing but unplugged systems, going cold. On the opposite wall his pots had been lined up, plants hacked off at the base of the trunk: a big fuck-you from Greater Manchester Police.
He asked around his neighbourhood, discreetly, in ways a dealer learns how to. It emerged that, on his short street alone, the police had found six other houses in the evacuated area growing weed. Out of respect for the family of the infant who’d died, and to avert bad publicity, the police made no arrests.
MW was left with a choice- start his operation again and risk a bust in 6 months time, stop growing altogether, or move his operations elsewhere.
You don’t really talk to him much these days. You don’t do the same thing, go to the same places or see many of the same people any more. He’s a dad now, like so many of your friends, but really, he’s a bit of a twat- that being why you’re not in contact.