The apartment was a very busy place. I could not figure out who was actually living there and who was just hanging out. There were certainly a lot of people about all the time. Guys and gals would just come walking in at all hours as if they had been living there forever. The girls were all beautiful and of course all belonged to the sister sorority of Kappa Alpha. Naturally the guys were all KAs. I was the only ‘independent’ around, but they didn’t really seem to mind. (I think Kim John told some of them that as soon as the fall semester began I was going to enroll in McNeese and pledge Kappa Alpha. He was shocked to find out a few weeks later that I had been telling all who asked me of this that No, I had no intention of pledging Kappa Alpha or any other fraternity, Not now, not ever.)
After I found a room which didn’t have too much of a lived-in look and got settled, I sought Kim Jim out and began asking him what was the scam. There had to be a scam because no way could he afford to live in such a place. Not the Kim guy I knew. Not the Kim dude who hated hard work above all other things on Earth. No ma’am. There had to be a scam.
And there was, in spades.
Kim James and some of his roommates (I had finally figured out who actually lived in the apartment—two other guys full-time and some girls who drifted in and out, “short time”) were tending bar at the largest joint in town. A University hang-out of course. And of course they were skimming the till. One of the guys worked part-time during the day at a convenience store and whenever there was a need for groceries or booze, or gas, or toiletries, or whatever else they had in stock, Kim Bill and the Gang would just roll up, load up, and leave. Very convenient, this convenience store. They had embraced the promise of the ‘Cashless Society’ long before it would become popular years later. Call them ‘Pioneers’ in this regard.
That explained some of Kim’s Bubba’s new found opulence, but not all. The take from the bar couldn’t possibly cover the rent, free food, booze, and gasoline notwithstanding. I confronted Kim James and told him that if I were going to remain in Lake Charles he must tell me everything that was going on. He had every intention of doing this and I knew it, but I also knew he wanted me to get a taste of the lifestyle for some days before he told me the whole deal. Kim Charles had never been difficult to figure out, at least for me, but then, I had known him since I first moved to Honey Grove years before. Backing up a little: Kim Sam and I had always flirted with, and engaged in, larceny during High School and had pulled many scams over the years. The practical jokes we played on Honey Grove ISD are legion (and legend) and still remembered to this day. There was the time late one night when we broke in and emptied all the books in all the lockers (almost 300 lockers) and piled them all in a long, narrow hallway running past the chemistry lab…took all the next day to sort them out. Classes cancelled… Kim Bart and Lance heroes (everyone knew who did it, but no one had any evidence)
Anyway, Kim Jim and I had always been bad boys. We planted marijuana all over my grandfather’s 100 acres in Winnsboro one spring, dreaming of a bountiful harvest making us, by my calculations, at least one-hundred thousand dollars. Our crop failed however and we had to figure out another way to make money. Since I have never been afraid of hard work, I took to hauling hay, a respectable profession, but hot and dusty and brutal work. I loved it. I worked on ranches year round after school as well. Kim Buford would never have any part of hard, honest work, so he muddled about best he could, usually borrowing money from me whenever he was in need. But we were never ready to give up on the potential profits of the pot business. We just put it on hold for a few years.
Since Kim’s Paul’s reputation in Honey Grove had become, shall we say ‘tarnished’, he decided to move to Lake Charles and begin anew. Lake Charles was perfect. Big enough for one to blend in (The necessity of which Kim he never did fully understand, nor could he have, even if he did), yet small-town enough to feel like home. By the time I arrived he had established a thriving pot dealing business. He was making money. A lot of money. But he wanted more, and his suppliers were not able to keep up with his demand. He explained in great detail how his operation had come to be and where he wanted to take it. Kim Gabe always sought my counsel because he knew I would keep him out of jail. I was the anchor: the guy who would force him to recognize folly, even though he generally traveled through life wearing blinders. He wanted me to remain in Lake Charles and help him grow his business. Having no good prospects at the time (I had been trying in vain to get an overseas gig in Sinai for almost a year) I told him I would stay and help him. My only requirement was that he took my counsel and when I told him something was ill conceived, poorly planned, or just too dangerous, he would listen and follow my instructions, and never “get stuck on stupid.” He anxiously agreed.
There is too much more, if anyone would like to read.