The Heavenly Hash Smoke Shop was everything promised by the crumpled receipt printed with cheap smeary ink. He had driven across town and parked in the rundown shopping center. The curling faded Bob Marley posters taped in the dusty storefront window contributed to the overall neglected appearance of the smoke shop.
Pulling open the front door got him blasted in the face by a puff of eye watering incense, which did little to mask the strong smell of marijuana permeating the cramped space. There was a single customer in the shop who took in his authoritative bearing and left empty handed, prompting a tongue lashing from the proprietor.
“That’s just great officer, you just ran off one of my regulars.”
“How did you know that I’m a in law enforcement?”
“Oh, please man, I can smell Johnny law a mile away. “
“I’m surprised you can smell anything around all this stinkweed. It smells like you’ve been smoking your own product.”
“I happen to have glaucoma. I got my medical marijuana card right here.”
“Relax, I’m not here to bust you.”
“Good, ’cause I paid my dues last week. If you know what I mean.”
“Explain it to me. Are you implying that you paid protection money to someone on the police force?”
Blackhorse approached the counter, eyeing the man intently. The aging hippy’s face was barely visible framed by a mop of long stringy hair and bushy unkempt beard. Bifocal glasses made his eyes small and indistinct. Still, the fear in them was plain to see. The man’s lame attempt at a smile failed miserably. He laughed nervously. Smoke wafted up from a smouldering stick of marijuana parked in an ashtray at his elbow.
“Sorry, detective I think there’s been a miscommunication.”
“Not at all, you just indicated that you paid someone a bribe and I’m just asking you to identify that individual.”
“You’re killing me man! Can we just forget I said anything and start over?”
“That depends on whether or not you tell me something useful. Otherwise, I might have to go back to the precinct and launch an internal investigation into your corruption allegations,” threatened Blackhorse.
“Whoa man, I didn’t make no allegations.”
“That’s not how I see it nor how I’ll retell it.”
“Alright, all right man, what do you wanna know?”
“Fill me in on this psychedelic trance festival. What’s it all about?”
“It’s called a psytrance festival actually and it’s all about exploring the soul.”
“Let me guess, you use drugs to for your little exploration,” sneered Blackhorse.
“Spoken like a real square. You make it sound like the festival is just an excuse to do drugs. Naw man, this thing is for true psychonauts…you know sailors of the soul. The music alone can take you on that trip.”
“Are you trying to tell me there aren’t drugs circulating freely at this thing?”
“I am not confirming nor denying the presence of…chemical enhancements. All I’m saying is that you don’t need drugs to induce altered states of consciousness.”
“Let’s just agree to disagree on that point. Listen, I’m sure you’ve heard it through the grapevine that I’m looking into the murders of those men in the forest. It’s my understanding that they were in town to deal drugs at this psychedelic festival or whatever you called it.”
“How the hell should I know what they were in town for? I ain’t no mind reader. I didn’t even know them. Never met ’em.”
“Look…what is your name?”
“Name is Dan Withers, but everybody calls me Smoky.”
“I see why they call you smoky, because you’re trying to blow smoke up my ass. Why is that? Do you have something to hide? I was trying to be accommodating and ask you a few quick questions here in your little drug den. But, if you’re going to stonewall me, then maybe we need to move this interview to the precinct. Maybe I’ll cuff you and give your customers a little show. I’m sure that won’t affect your business,” Blackshear snapped.
“Whoa chill out detective. I’m not trying to get over on you. If I knew something, I’d tell you.”
“Why are you lying to me? I know for a fact that you saw at least one of those men, because one of them had a receipt from this shop in their pocket when they died. And why didn’t you mention the fact that one of them bought a bunch of baggies from your shop?”
“A lot of people pass through here. I don’t remember everybody that buys something from me. What’s the big deal anyway? Last I heard, it wasn’t illegal to buy sandwich bags.”
“Cut the crap Smokey. You know damn well what your customers use little glassine bags for.”
“Hey, I just sell products. I got no control over what people use them for. Look detective, I’ll level with you. Just give me your word that you won’t tell anyone that what I’m about to tell you came from me.”
“I don’t make promises like that Smokey. If you know something, you’d better tell me, because if I find out later that you withheld information vital to this investigation then I’ll book you for obstruction of justice,” warned Blackhorse.”
“Alright man damn, I didn’t say I wasn’t gonna tell you. Those men brought some drugs to town to pay off a debt to Dakota. Instead of turning it all over, they cheated her. They bought those baggies ’cause they had skimmed off a little bit of the drugs to sell on the side. Even offered me some if it. Soon as I found out it belonged to that witch, I told them I didn’t want anything to do with it. Glad I did ’cause when she found out they shorted her, she poisoned them.”