Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dragons, Cell Phones, and Paranoia

Back when I first started writing I wrote a story about a man who had odd flashbacks of a former life. In the present day he’s an OCD drug dealer who is so paranoid that he nearly spends more money on security than he makes selling drugs.  Weird things happen, and as in so many of my horror stories, people die terribly and without explanation.  But that’s part of the story; to be left wondering what just happened, and to have some unknown evil still loosed upon the land. I like that kind of ending even if it does make some of my readers a little loopy. Slay the dragon, they tell me, but I like dragons.
Back when I was selling pot, and some speed, I was as paranoid as anyone out there and more so than most. I was never busted and that was because I had a very strict set of rules I lived by and I paid attention to who was coming to buy from me, and how they found out I was selling. At odd times I would stop selling, clean house, and go on a health kick for a week or so, just to confound those who were watching, and there is always someone watching. The people who really sell drugs for a living, those people making a living doing it, they don’t like anyone taking their business. That where small time dealers get into trouble with the law. A small time dealer also gets into trouble with the law when a customer does something stupid and gets busted, and the cops want to know where the pot came from. Most of your friends, and in this I refer to those people you drink and smoke pot with, will roll over on you when faced with a fifteen hundred dollar fine and some possible jail time. The key is to keep up with who is in trouble for what. That and hiding your stash as far away from your point of sell that you can. I hid my stash in my next door neighbor’s shed. I pulled a metal panel loose and hid the stuff in a plastic bin. The shed was so packed with junk he would have never noticed it, and it was off the property where I rented a duplex. I was never really good at selling drugs because I didn’t trust people and people never trusted me. But I was good at keeping from getting busted.  Ultimately, if you want to not get into trouble for selling drugs you have to stop selling, and using, drugs. That one of life’s Great Truths.

I do love me a tangent, do I not? Anyway, in this story that I am rewriting, the protagonist is using security that was unavailable when I first wrote the story. Technology has grown up a lot in the last twenty years, and the idea of setting up a drug dealer with the toys available today is fascinating to me. A person can very easily set up a dozen cameras, listening posts, encrypted texts, and even intercept law enforcement cell calls. I like this. If I had been able to get my hands on this sort of paranoia reinforcing equipment, I might still be in business.  But to get away with this sort of thing a dealer has to know the nature of the business, and the nature of nature.

Take a five gallon plastic bucket and drop it in the middle of the woods and there isn’t a predator within a mile of that bucket that will get near it. Most prey animals will avoid it like the plague. Anything new is a danger and most people who get busted by the cops get busted because they let someone new into their circle. I knew a woman who worked with the cops and she had a very simple method of finding out who was selling; she asked. She would call someone she knew was holding and ask who was there with them, and invariably, people would tell her. I didn’t find out until later what she was doing, and why, but she never popped me and she did get most of the people she and I smoked with.

Of course, going back to the story of the man who flashbacked and was paranoid, he’s perfectly paranoid up until he realizes he’s in way over his head with what has happened. It’s like what would have happened to me if the local police problems I had trouble with turned into Seal Team Six. Paranoia when properly expressed is mission specific. Our intrepid dealer is looking for proportional trouble and gets something a great deal larger. Of course there are the troubling flashbacks that never really get explained or tied into the story, except the reader discovers the source of paranoia.  Nearly everyone you will ever meet will tell you they would really love to discover the supernatural is real, or see aliens land, or see something truly otherworldly, but this is all based on the assumption that whatever is seen is benign. What if you found a unicorn and the damn thing stabbed you with its horn? Nature hates anything different or new. Generally speaking, anything that pops up in anyone’s territory is chased away or killed. The idea that aliens, or ghosts or creatures we had no idea existed are going to stand around and be great conversation pieces isn’t very logical.

So what if you started having visions of a life you lived previously and the visions became more and more clear each day? Would you think you were insane? Writing is like that sometimes when a story just resurfaces for the hell of it, and wants more toys. Suddenly, the essence of the story becomes something of this time, and this place, and the past is gone. A story about someone with reincarnation issues is reincarnated. Art imitates art, and in the end, the story remains the same, just as the life in the story did.

Take Care,


  1. So very true....

    Paranoia is bred when one is doing what they shouldn't be doing. "How do you live your life when no one is watching?"

    One of my favorite characters, Atticus Finch, wanted his children to know he was the same in town as he was at home. If we all had that philosophy, there would be no need for paranoia.

    Unfortunately, most people cannot answer "the same as I do when someone is watching" to the question I posed, above. Your friend who worked with the police couldn't.

    I do not fear what I have no proof of, in terms of aliens, reincarnation, behaviors I cannot control, etc. I only fear what I witness mankind do.

    I don't look to slay dragons. I look to provoke thought and I try to "tend the garden" which I am a part of.

    A great write, Mike. As a side note, technology has definitely thrown a "monkey wrench" into your basic drug dealers. In my school there are cameras on every corner of the building - inside and out - literally. Those in the drug business probably have taken it as a personal challenge to become more creative in their tactics - there, paranoia must serve them well.

    1. I have always thought there was no way that technology favored the law. Even if they do have cameras everywhere those cameras have to be manned by people, and those people are fallible. Or at least not as paranoid as those who have a reason to be.

  2. The cameras pretty much run themselves. Of course what is seen can sometimes be open to interpretation, but often, it is what it is.

  3. I agree, Mike, the more cameras there are, the more confident and complacent the authorities become. They watch like crazy for awhile, then develop an attitude that the cameras alone will deter any shenanigans. Strangely, they also become confident the areas between cameras will be clean by halo effect.
    Paranoia is always fear of the unknown, never what we know or think we know. I can prepare to face a known threat, but not an unknown threat.

    1. I think in my case when I was dealing it was the fear of the known. I knew what the cops would and could do and all I planned and prepared for was that, and to a degree that was totally overboard

  4. Yes, but that healthy fear of the known keeps you safer. Paranoia comes from the realization, if there's an unknown danger, you won't be prepared.