Quincy sat on the toilet, browsing through Instagram looking for a new tattoo to honor his dad. He took another hit of the exotic strain of Indica weed. Every deep inhale tingled the nerves in his body like electric snowflakes. His limbs felt light as a feather as if he could levitate from the porcelain throne as smoke filled the room.
He remembered it like it was yesterday. Stark white walls. A pungent scent of sage in the air.
The nurse fanned her hand whilst chuckling. “Let me know if you need me.” She walked out of the room in a hurry.
“Hey Q,” the middle aged woman dressed in hobo chic gave her nephew a hug.
“Your mom is on the way,” she whispered as she rearranged the rose quartz and sapphire crystals around the room. She was a licensed practitioner of natural medicine and a true believer in energy healing.
“How you doing?” There was no answer.
Quincy stared at his dad in the bed, his stiff body almost lifeless. He softly touched his dad’s forehead. His dull dry skin was a solemn sign of things to come.
“Q ?” His mom had been standing behind him for a few minutes.
She gave him a hug from the back. They all knew it wasn’t if but when his dad would pass on. Not the best doctor or any amount of prayers helped when his father got sick three months ago.
The next day Quincy’s dad passed away. Soon after the phone calls started.
‘Quincy hasn’t been in class for the last week. Quincy’s been suspended for fighting. Quincy was caught smoking in the bathroom.’
He lost motivation and purpose, with a chip on his shoulder the world was his playground and there were no rules he wouldn’t break. His teenage life became a series of do or dies.
“Swing by later. I got some work for you.” Quincy nodded then rode his bike towards campus. He stopped at a gas station and headed straight to the bathroom. The Smith and Wesson handgun easily detached from underneath the water tank. It looked old but was never used. He went to a nearby park where his dad used to play chess. The cool air kissed his cheeks and made his nose run. It was getting late and he rode off into the sunset. He travelled behind the apartment buildings, in the alley ways. With only his eyes visible through the face mask, he searched for his target. There was no honor among thieves today.
The shots rang out in rapid succession, ripping through his associate’s legs. Blood splattered on the adjacent car and street. He grabbed the bag of money and ran with his bike, jumping on when he accelerated. The black and bloody cotton ski mask hit the bottom of the trash bin.
“I’ll take that work,” he said as he rode into the night.
His mom worked 80 plus hours at the nursing home, so this time his auntie was tasked to pick him up from the police station after they questioned him for hours.
She took him to a safe space, her favorite vegan restaurant.
“Q, you can’t keep doing this to yourself.”
“Yeah. I know,” he said with his head held low.
“Listen, I have a friend who’s in the medicinal marijuana business; I want you to call him. I think he can help get your life on the right track.”
“Yes auntie.” He had always given his aunt another level of respect because of her tumultuous life story and how she overcame all odds. She was the cool one in the family, but wasn’t one to test. So he took her words to heart and their interaction developed into an interest in alternative medicine.
“I hear you.”
With the guidance of that family friend he started his own small business. It had been almost one year since he opened the Smoke Shop, an alternative medicinal health food store.
He didn’t notice the fumes coming from the cracks of the walls as he flushed the toilet. He slowly opened the door between him and the fire. The skin on his hands singed and he fell back onto the dirty bathroom floor.
Billows of black smoke filled the store within minutes. The old building sprinklers were just for show and hadn’t been tested since he bought the place.
The toxic air consumed his lungs as he trembled in shock. His reaction slowed by the weed, he coughed until he choked. Quincy stood up and turned on the water, drenched his clothes, shoes, and hair. He hunched down and closed his eyes. Covering his mouth and nose, he ran into the flames. He woke up on the sidewalk, his skin sizzling, his eyes boiling red. He struggled to keep them open.
“Yes, come on.” When he managed to open them, he saw clear blue skies. He swiveled his head to the side, focusing on dozens of beautiful women dancing like no one was watching. Using his arms to prop himself up, he came face to face with an ebony woman. Her long thick dreads snaked down her back. She squatted down to help him stand up.
He stood up but then he realized he was naked and ashamed.
“No need to panic. Just breathe, in and out, “ she whispered in his ears.
Quincy looked her up and down.
She escorted him to a small room with an oval window. The space was filled with beautiful plants and colorful flowers. She made a fist and a ray of light came through the window illuminating the room, lifting his naked skinny frame several feet into the air, but it didn’t burn his skin but melded into his body. Giving him a charge of energy. He laid on his stomach for a few minutes.
“You’ll be fine. Here’s some clothes.” She pointed to the wall which had a matching pant and shirt similar to hospital scrubs with an African flair. He looked at the outfit and rose to his feet. He felt different, almost torn apart and put back together like Dr. Seth Brundle in the Fly.
“Where the fuck am I ? “
“Where do you think you are ?” she asked.
He looked around the room and noticed two blocks of concrete across from each other and a mahogany table between them covered in green vines.
“Here have a seat. I am the alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end, but you are what is between. You can call me Heka.”
“OK. Where is here? I must be dreaming or I’m dead.”
“Well you’re both. Life and death are one in the same, nothing but dreams. “
Her eyes giving off a soft emerald glow. She hovered to the front of the window.
“So you’re God?” Quincy looked at her in disbelief.
“What the fuck? I’m not into religion, but this isn’t how I pictured you.”
“I look different to each person. I am a reflection of your experiences.”
“So why am I here ?”
“Smoke inhalation. Your shop burned down.”
Quincy put his hands on his head, realizing what she was saying.
“Fuck. The last thing I remember is.” His mind drew a blank.
“Quincy, why do some people have it all while others suffer ? It’s not God’s will, it’s a result of human greed and insatiable desire. Power is intoxicating and money is the chaser.”
“Tell me something I don’t know. Cash rules everything around me; it’s the bottomline that matters.” Quincy’s voice raised.
“OK then. I have the power to change things as I see fit, but it’s like tipping the first domino in a stack. Setting off a long series of cause and effect in the human network. Your dad’s death was a result of the cascade.”
Quincy felt a lump in his throat and his eyes well up.
“You know I prayed so hard to you. But you never answered. I thought you were all powerful. But actually you’re not in control.”
“You’re right I can’t control you and I don’t have any desire to. You have free will. The perception is that life is under some divine order. That is partly right. There is an algorithm I have put in place, but things will go as they will; or should I say as you will. But when things don’t unfold like anticipated, I get called upon.”
Quincy looked at Heka with resentment.
“You love getting on your knees and pleading, begging for a miracle. Whatever I do, it’ll be a quick fix, a bandaid on a bullet wound. Eventually, you have to get to the root of the problem and deal with it head on. Your dad wasn’t willing to do that.”
He looked at her with glazed eyes and no response.
“You’re dad is proud of you. Don’t disappoint him. It’s time for you to go back now. I have seen some things in your future. Your work in genetic modification of cannabis may have some catastrophic effects. Listen to me when I say be very conscious of the decisions you make. Remember, man’s laws are meant to be broken, but the laws of nature are unforgiving. You will change the world, only time will tell if it’s going to be for the greater good.”
She floated away as Quincy fell down into a dark abyss, splashing into the ocean.
He opened his eyes to a sea of familiar faces. His family and friends stared at him with relieved expressions.
“Thank God,” his mom chanted with clasped hands. “Thank you Jesus.” Quincy stared back at her with annoyance, rolling his eyes and taking a deep sigh.