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Aaron hung up the phone and turned to the group of workers busy taking down one room, and setting up another.  “She’s raising the rent again; third time this year. How does she know exactly when I harvest anyway?”

“So much for the great deal of three rooms for $500 a month,” Lewis B. Toklas said, picking up a large, black container and dumping the root ball with cut stalk into a trash bag. “We tried to warn you, dude. Three, bedrooms just aren’t that cheap around here. That bitch is working it and good.”

“Yeah, sticking it to the grower,” another worker said. “That’s fucked up.”

Cannabis landlords were fast becoming the new slumlords without reproach in the underground grow scene.

Referred to with distain as “Green Dragon Lady,” the slumlord in question was a mite on the tender leaf of the industry, an evil pot plantation belle, reigning over her personal kingdom of green.

“She knows you can grow more,” Lewis said, picking up another pot, his pants stretched to their limit, revealing a deep canyon of skin.

Giggles filled the once sober room, but the fumbling, oblivious Lewis continued. “She knows you will grow more. That’s the unspoken deal and everyone knows it. What’s so funny?”

Aaron brought the room back to reality and gave Lewis a wink and a nod for pant adjustment.

Lewis straightened up and with reddened face, continued, “The ad might as well have said, ‘Three grow rooms available, rent to be increased per season. Be ready to take it in the ass without complaint.”

Now the giggles turned to howls. They could always leave it to Lewis to add levity knowingly or not.

“I’ll have to put lights in the laundry room,” Aaron thought out loud. “Lewis, do you still have that 250 gallon fish tank in your garage?”

“Sure, you going to watt-up?” Lewis enquired. “That thing sucks power like a mofo.”

“Have to,” Aaron said. “No choice.”

“The house across the street was occupied less than two years before it was flagged by PG&E,” Aaron said, adding another layer. “It only took five seasons for them to notice. Dagon Lady ups the rent faster than we can safely up our wattage, greedy bitch.”

“What’s her story again… trash?” someone asked from the back of the room.

“Daughter of Joe Hanley, king of trash,” Lewis said.

“Her family was neck deep in the County dump,” Aaron added. “This entire neighborhood is built on landfill.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?” someone asked.

“Like we have any control of where we are or what we can do. We are slaves to the plant with no respect!” Lewis laughed, half-heartedly.

“We are the new gay marriage,” another added.

“Just another kind of ‘the man,’ right?” Lewis added.

Aaron began rattling off a check list… “… Fans, plywood, wiring, another Hum-D… this is going to cost me.”

Lewis stepped outside and listened to the collective hum of the neighborhood’s energy usage. Capacitors high atop electrical poles glowed, sparked, and sizzled in the evening mist, while the neighborhood streetlights dimmed and lit up again in a wave of power surges. It was a neighborhood alive with the buzz and hum of electricity faking sunlight for the indoor grow in the never-ending race to meet supply and demand.

“I can feel my skin vibrating when I work this place,” a young woman with large, ivory spacers in her ears said, stopping and tossing a large bag of soil from her shoulder to the ground in front of Lewis. She had handmade patchwork pants on and a tattoo of peacock feathers around her neck. “The electrical charges here are a bad vibe. It’s like being inside a microwave oven. It’s affecting my Chakras.”

“Sixty percent more energy usage – that’s what PG&E says it takes to run the big lights in an average grow house,” Aaron countered, joining them with a fatty.

“I’m 60 percent doomed,” she said, hoisting the bag back onto her shoulder and continuing inside the house.

“How vast is the Dragon Lady’s Kingdome?” Lewis asked in bellowing gamer-speak.

Aaron smiled and looked out across the sea of what appeared to be mere homes, lit up and handed the joint to Lewis.

“Let’s see,” he said, exhaling. She started with that strip mall, one apartment building, the row of houses on the other side. I don’t know, man, she’s got it all,” Aaron said, taking a deep hit and passing it back.

“Supply and demand gives her an edge, huh pal?” Lewis accepted it back and the two puff, puff, passed to the rise and fall of energy before them. “Renters unite,” he added, raising the joint high, “We are mere indentured servants at this point, pal.”


Author’s Note: This story was inspired by a real landlord and neighborhood in Humboldt County, California.

℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞ ℞

Editor’s note: Sharon Letts began her love of gardening in Southern California by her mother’s side, watching as she buried fish heads at the base of roses.

At 24, Sharon hung her shingle, “Secret Garden,” planting flower beds for dainty ladies. Gardening led to producing and writing for television with “Secret Garden Productions.”

Today Sharon continues to write about gardening and all that implies, advocating for the bud, and writing for many magazines, including DOPE (Defending Our Patients Everywhere).

She also pens “Road Trip: In Search of Good Medicine,” touring MMJ states, following the Green Rush.


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