The Hashish Junkie


(with apologies to Richard Brautigan)


When in Amsterdam I had a friend who became a hashish junkie as the result of being busted. He and his old lady lived on a riverboat moored to the bank of one of Amsterdam’s canals. Every night he sent her out to hang around the Phono Bar, selling hashish for two-and-one-half guilders a gram to his customers. He couldn’t deal anymore because he had been busted so many times. There was no money left for a lawyer. There wasn’t even enough money to get him out of the country. So he stayed on the boat and became a hashish junkie.


One morning I went over to his boat. His eyes were a dull red as usual. They looked up at me from under lead-weighted eyelids. I had never seen his eyes more than half open.


“Did you get the bread together?” he asked.


“Sure,” I said. “It’s here in my backpack.”




He was in the process of pressing some Moroccan kief. He told me once how he took low-grade hash and pressed it so it would sell better.


“For tourists,” he had said. “They think if it’s hard it’s got to be good. They’ll buy anything. If you want good smoking shit I’ll take you to Leo.”


He stood up unsteadily, stumbling at the slightest pitch of the boat, which rocked in the wake of a passing motorboat. He donned his disguise: a black stocking cap into which he stuffed his hair and a pair of dark sunglasses.


“We’re off!” he said.


We left the boat with him still adjusting to walking on land. Leo lived three blocks away, on the other side of a square crowded with faceless people. There were a few cops in the square. Bored with their duty they merely stepped aside when we walked by.


“Good day,” said Leo. He had massive hands with huge red blunted fingers. The fingers looked like slugs attached to his hands. He instinctively reached for a black brick of hashish and a butcher’s knife.


“How much?”


“It’s for him,” my friend said.


I pulled a large bill from my backpack and handed it to Leo. He nodded and the red slugs wrapped themselves around the handle of the knife which severed a generous slice from the end of the brick.


We split.


My friend led the way across the square. One of the cops didn’t even bother to step aside. He just stuck his chest out at us like a stuffed pheasant.


When we got back to my friend’s boat we sat down in the hold to smoke a joint. To him the rolling of hash joints was as much an art as a necessity. An American who claimed to be Bob Dylan’s joint roller had appointed him a member of the Order of the Perfect Joint. And three-paper hash joints were his specialty.


First he got out a candle and lit it with a stick match. He ran the head of the match along rough edge of the table and it burst into flame in a sputter of sulfur.


He bit off a gram-size chunk of the hashish. Sticking it on the end of a pin, he twirled the chunk in the candle flame. The hash got hot and crumbled easily in his fingertips.


He pinched a few strands of shag tobacco from his pouch to mix with the crumbled hashish and carefully poured the mixture onto a waiting scrap of tinfoil. When he was certain that the last grain of hashish had been brushed from his hand to the tinfoil, he plucked three leaves from a package of cigarette papers with the finesse of a tailor tugging at his needle. Then he stuck two papers together end-to-end and pasted the third laterally on one side.


The joint was ready to be rolled.


Like the devoted practitioner of an ancient craft, he had prepared his makin’s perfectly.


His old lady came down the steps into the hold and said in an accent filled with French, German and hipster, “Now you will finish pressing the shit?...Hein?”




Ja, always later,” she sighed.


When she sat down it was as if she’d not spoken at all. He added a final touch by holding the tinfoil in the candle flame until the hash started melting and then poured the mixture evenly into a crease in the papers. “There’s always time to smoke a joint,” he winked at me. Timothy Leary could not have stated it more succinctly.


He rolled the mixture back and forth in the papers a few times. Then he folded the paper over and wrapped it into a cone. With his tongue he licked the gummed edge and sealed the joint. Grabbing the loose paper at the open end of the cone, he shook the mixture down toward the closed end. He twisted the loose paper closed and was now ready to begin another day’s oblivion.


A gram of good hash should last you some time, but he smoked several each day, so his hash joints were the essence of pure potency. And though you usually roll a hash joint at least half tobacco, he never used more than was necessary to keep the hashish burning.


He created his own hashish reality and was able to eliminate himself in it.