“Please have mercy, Holy Space Reverend!”
I was sitting on a throne made from melted fiberglass theme park characters, a warm M4 carbine my thugs had looted from The Machine Gun Experience and spray-painted gold resting in my right hand. In my left, I held a gas station Mike and Ike dispenser on an iron pole that had become my sacred scepter.
“The Good Almighty doesn’t show mercy to bitches that can’t pay for crack, and neither do I.”
My alligator, an 8 foot long maneater I named “Christmas,” stirred hungrily at my feet.
One of my men appeared at the doorway.
“Sir, urgent phone call.”
He handed me the iPhone (also spray-painted gold).
“What is it?”
“Hey man, how’s your summer vacation in Florida going?”
I looked down at this groveling wretch, the mountains of cocaine, and the pallet of blood-stained dollar bills that sat on the floor before me.
“Um. It’s going good.”
“When are you back? We were thinking of getting a few guys to float the river next week. You in?”
Gunshots rang out from the edge of my compound. The drug addict yelped with alarm as one of the guards grabbed our grenade launcher.
“I’m gonna have to call you back.”
Three weeks ago, I landed in Tampa to begin a family reunion in a little beach house near Siesta Key. I had been preparing for alternating periods of mind-numbing boredom trading out with the incessant screaming of children. The board games alone made me want to hitchhike to Miami and become a male prostitute to a fat Cubano just so I would feel something again. And there was no alcohol. God, there was no alcohol.
First night there, I walked out in the middle of charades to hit the seedy liquor store I saw on the drive in.
“Try to be back before the lemon tarts finish baking, sweetheart!” my grandma called out after me.
Several minutes later, I walked out of the liquor store with a bag of grain alcohol. An upstanding individual with eyes like a beehive and ears like a flying elephant approached me.
“Hey boy, you want to buy some crack?”
I strongly considered it.
“No thanks, I prefer my coke without a side of AIDS.”
The man pulled something out of his coat.
“Well how about a ticket to Heaven?” he asked with sweaty desperation.
This got my attention.
It turned out the man, a guy named Tito, had been selling pieces of brass doorplate onto which he’d scrawled with a Sharpie “Admit 1 To Heaven” to junkies all up and down the Gulf Coast for $99 dollars apiece.
“Listen, I don’t want any of your crack,” I started. “But how about you and I go into business together on this ticket to heaven thing?”
“Uh, see, Jesus gave me these tickets behind the KFC and said to sell them so I could get me some money to go to outer space. I met an alien named Stevie who said if I got the cash together he’d take me and my wife to his planet that’s made entirely of drugs…”
“That’s great. We’ll put that on the business card.”
We found Stevie, a helicopter tour charter pilot who ran drugs on the side, and got him in on it too. Stevie knew a jeweler in Sarasota who agreed to do some legit engraving and polishing on a bunch of copper bars to enhance the believability of our product. I bought myself an all-white suit and accompanied Tito to every transaction, promising to save the addled customer’s soul for the low fee of $400 (got to up your margins, kids).
“You simply present this ticket at the pearly gates and you’re in,” I told the druggies. “Go do as much crack and murder anybody that you want!” Then Tito’d sell them the crack, and the money would pour in.
Soon, I had consolidated all the two-bit beach cartels in Central Florida into an empire that stretched from a park bench in Daytona to behind the WaWa near Sea World. Junkies everywhere flocked to become members of the Church of Crack Jesus, and gas station robberies to fund the price of my admission tickets were at an all-time high. I moved into Tiger Woods’ old place and ran my operation from Windermere, where I could hunt manatees from an airboat with Christmas or go gorge myself on Disney churros any fucking day of the week.
But all empires eventually fall. A joint effort between the DEA and some megachurch that had lost a lot of their congregation to me swept over my mansion, forcing me to abandon ship in an inflatable Mickey Mouse raft. I trudged, soggy and ragged, back to the door of my family beach house. They were so engaged in a game of Monopoly that they hadn’t even noticed I’d been gone.
“Saved you a lemon tart, sweetums,” Grandma cooed, pinching my cheek.
I guess the bright side of all this is that I didn’t die. I have a funny feeling the property values in Heaven aren’t what they used to be, though..
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