I, a bold and wild IT tech at some local newspaper, sauntered out into the newsroom the other night about 11:30 and was surprised to find a reporter there. It used to be pretty common for there to be people in the newsroom until well past midnight; but not so much anymore.
This one was a rotund ‘gamer’ kid, his Nintendo controller on his desk beside him, impatiently refreshing one of the two monitors he sat in front of – one displaying the newsdesk email inbox, the other his tweet-aggregator.
I asked him what was up, and he said there had been a stabbing at the Beverly Crest Hotel, and he was hanging around for an update from the police media liason.
The whole Beverly area has always been one of the skeeziest ‘hoods in the city, aside from maybe Inglewood, McCaulley, Boyle, Abbotsfield, Eastglen, Londonderry, Rundle Village, or pretty much anywhere near a transit centre in Millwoods.
The Crest’s rundown hotel has changed names, is what I learned from talking to the reporter-gamer. I think it’s a Travel Lodge now, but it’s still the divey two-story walkup I remember.
I was once present in a Beverly Crest hotel room where the World’s Tawdriest Gang-bang™ was taking place, as some Mac’s Convenience Store clerk-ess worked out her attention-seeking behavior and daddy-issue disorders in a tequila fog.
(And, before you ask, hell no I did not take part. Not only because “ewwwww”, and “disease”, but because I won’t participate in someone else’s downward spiral; just like I wouldn’t offer my lighter to a street-corner lunatic who was trying to blow himself up).
The place was also home to a sleazebag bar, which is what I and my typical teenage friends were referring to way back in the day when we said “the Crest”.
The bar is gone now, I learned from the reporter/gamer. Closed due to public pressure and replaced by a public library.
A tear formed in me one good eye, and I wiped it away with me hook. “Shit, man. The ‘Crest is closed?” the re/gamer nodded affirmative.
“That used to be a real good place to buy drugs”.
* * *
The Beverly Crest hove into view, big red neon sign marking its location at the bad end of 118 avenue.
The parking lot was full, the parking lot was always full back in 1980, but you could always fit one more Chevy Nova with a pack of underaged-ne’er-do-wells in it, and we snaked our way in.
I had somehow drawn the short straw and become the ‘designated scorer’, between my high school pals – the Ginger Pizza-Face, and The Guy Who Would Be Dead Before The End of the Year – so I got out of the car, carrying the money.
We were on our way to some party… somewhere… I dunno. I’m not even sure what time of year it was; I want to say summer.
Our mission was to buy some acid (or LSD, if you prefer – do the kids still call it ‘acid’? I want so much to stay current here) and for various reasons, I was the buyer this night.
Personally, I think we should have sent The Guy Who Would Be Dead Before The End of the Year, because he was tougher than both of us put together; but he had this baby-face that would have got him ID’d immediately. The Ginger Pizza Face was exempt because it was his car, so into the Beverly Crest I went.
The Crest was basically one big bar, but it was split. Divided in half, at the time, into two drinking rooms; and with separate entrances for each.
The way the neighborhood demographics worked, it was kind of local lore that half of the place was the “cowboy” bar – a country and western themed lowbrow dump – and the other half was the Indian Bar, which mostly served natives. Indigenous peoples, if you will.
It was understood that a person of my hue did not go into the Indian bar, unless you were really, really, ruh-huh-huh-heeeally, looking for trouble.
So I hit the bar (cowboy side) and breezed past one of the giant bouncers that an upscale establishment like that inevitably employs: big boys who wear their skull-rings to work.
I bought a beer and cruised the joint, and hit the games room until I spotted a likely source. A man in a baseball hat (with broom-handle mullet sticking out, of course, this was Alberta in the 80s, after all) asked me if I was looking to score, and I said “Yeah. Got any acid?”
He didn’t, all he had was pot and downers, but he knew who did, and took me over to the right guy; another man in a baseball hat (with broom-handle mullet sticking out, ‘cuz Alberta) with a denim vest.
We became intsa-bros, and sat down at a table and talked money, and everything was going swell, but here’s the weird part:
For some reason, he took the goods out, and put them down on the table between us, right there in the middle of the bar. A five-gram vial, half full of Blue Mikes.
I don’t know if it was some sort of show-offy thing or what, but there it was: a little glass vial of microdots on the table between us in the bar at the Beverly Crest.
I only wanted five hits; two apiece for me and The Guy Who Would Be Dead Before The End of the Year (Ginger Pizza Face was driving, so he only wanted one. That should be funny, but for some reason, it’s not :)~
The bar’s band had started playing at this point (country music, natch), and things were getting loud.
I passed a wad of money to denim-vest and reached out to touch the vial, and everything went stupid, all out of the blue.
A gigantic bouncer’s left hand with a skull ring on it slammed down on the table between us (damn near split the cheap particle board of the Beverly Crest table), and a gigantic bouncer’s right hand picked me up – literally picked me up, mind you, I am not hyperbolizing here – by the back of my shirt, and a really scary man screamed in my face:
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? YOU DON’T PULL THIS SHIT OUT IN THE OPEN IN HERE!”
The gentleman had mistaken me for the seller, and my denim-vested cohort as the buyer. Don’t know why.
The bouncer was incensed, and hyped up to fightin’ levels, and in no mood to listen to reason, so I just said “bluh-bluh-bluh”, because I thought I was going to go to jail for sure, this time. Instead, though, one of the strangest things I have ever been a part of transpired.
The bouncer, still holding me by my shirt-back, picked up the vial and poked me hard in the chest with it.
He shook me hard enough that I can still remember it to this day, and yelled in my face “YOU TAKE THIS SHIT AND GET LOST AND DON’T EVER COME BACK HERE” and drag-pushed me toward the door. I clenched the vial and said, basically, yes sir! yes sir! as I was pushed through the steel doors of the Beverly Crest bar into the parking lot.
My friends were conveniently in front of the place as I was thrown thought the entrance – sheer chance, as it turned out, they had just been circling for half an hour – so when I ran to the car and crawled over them into the back seat and shouted GO! GO! GO! they weren’t ready for it.
“Did you get the stuff?” asked the Ginger Pizza Face, oblivious to the fact that I had been thrown through the doors after being frogmarched by a giant bouncer; and also that the real owner of the acid was being held back at the door, by more bouncers who had descended on the scene.
That poor bastard was the only real victim in this story.
As the additional bouncers kept him inside, he was shouting “Hey! Hey! Hey!” unable to properly explain the situation. What was he going to do, say that it was his acid?
We bolted from the parking lot, the Ginger Pizza Face, the Dead Guy and I. The acid was not especially high quiality, as it turned out.
I have not been back to the Beverly Crest since 1980.
* * *
The portly gamer-slash-reporter finally got his email notice from the police media liason, and copy/pasted it into the template that shoots our news onto the company website. He composed a quick “tweet”, as required by newspaper rules (they have to fulfill a quota of “tweets”)
“A guy stabbed another guy at the Bveerly ceRst LOL” and hit the send button, and his shift was, at long last, done.
I asked the tweety/gamey/reporter kid if drugs were involved.
He didn’t know.
© 2013 Wade Ozeroff