I Was Once a Drug Lord by Nigel Byng

A teenage boy in a gray hoodie sitting on a gravel curb with a wall filled with graffiti behind him
Image Source: Canva Pro

“Hi Jimmy.” Her voice rang in my one good ear.

Sweet Jesus, she had seen me, and there was no avoiding her now. I waved and walked to her counter.

“I came to renew my license.”

“You could have done it online, Jimmy.” Charmaine peered at me from over the top of her glasses.

I shrugged. “It gave me a chance to come see you.”

“Such a charmer.” She flashed a huge grin and pretended to bat her eyelids.

Her fingers danced across her keyboard, and suddenly she stopped.

“Theodore Septimius Severus Johnson.” She said it slowly. Then raised an eyebrow at me.

“What can I say? My dad was a history fanatic. All he read was history books in prison.” I looked around to make sure no one had heard her.

“So why on earth do we all call you Jimmy?” If I had a dollar for every time, I was asked that.

“That is a long story. Maybe I tell you another time.” I feigned a laugh.

“I have all the time in the world Septimius Severus. You can tell me over lunch.”

I was about to give an excuse, but she grabbed her handbag, and was walking around the counter before I could respond.

We sat at a small diner opposite the DMV, I watched as Charmaine ordered more salad than I could eat in a month.

“I’m all ears Emperor Severus.” She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs.

“I had the shortest drug dealing career in history. Many people don’t know that about me.”

“You? …A drug dealer?” She laughed so hard the entire diner paused and looked at us.

“I was thirteen.” I waited for another interruption, but she only leaned forward on her elbows and made herself comfortable.

“My old man had just come out of prison, a second spell for robbing a toy store.”

She snorted a giggle and rolled her eyes.

“By the time I was twenty, my old man had spent more time in prison than I had been alive. Anyway, while he had been away, I rode his good infamy all the way to becoming a little terror in the neighborhood. I was slinging dope and making money. Someone had to provide food for the kids.”

“What about your momma?”

“I met her probably four times in my life. She was always in rehab. That’s why they called her Betty Ford.”

“You be lyin Jimmy.” She squealed with delight, slapping the table. “Quit your foolin.”

“I’m dead serious. Would you allow me to finish my story?”

She nodded, her grin growing ever wider.

“So, there was this halfway house, with about ninety recovering drug addicts. All funded by the government. They were even given a little stipend. It was free money. I had it made.”

“You mean the old half-way house near the Mosque?”

“That’s the one.”

Charmain rolled her eyes. “Jimmy, you were a bad little boy.”

“Problem was, there was this big old caretaker that worked the nightshift. His name was Brinks. Huge guy. His belly could never stay under his t-shirt, and his pants could never stay on his waist.”

“You mean Mr. Bartholomew? They called him Brinks from his rugby days. Cause he was built like them armored trucks.”

“Well, my ninety ready-made customers, were being kept inside because he would enforce the curfew.”

She leaned back as the waiter dropped off our food, then she shoved the dishes to the side, and gestured for me to continue.

“Well, my dad saw me agitated, and without asking what was going on he said, ‘you make sure if you draw first blood, that it’s the last blood.’

“I never really knew old man Johnson. How is he doing?” She reached over and held my hand.

“He went back to prison, five years this time. Says he only came out for a vacation. Dad don’t belong on the streets.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Jimmy.” This time her eyes were laughing.

“Once I had the old man’s blessing, I grabbed my knife, and I rode on my little scooter to the halfway house. It was two in the morning when I got there. Mr. Bartholomew was the only person at the reception desk. His chin was resting on his chest, and I could hear him snoring from outside. This was going to be easy.”

At this point in my lunch break, I realized I had an audience. The other customers were listening attentively. Even our server had propped herself against the table next to ours. Charmaine was holding her breath.

I sit back in my chair and cleared my throat before continuing. “So, I walk through the front doors, my hand on the handle of the knife. I had my chest all puffed out, listening to some Biggie Smalls in my headphones. But Mr. Bartholomew was nowhere to be seen.”

“Where did he go?” An elderly customer asked.

“Old Brinks had doubled back and blocked the exit. You know how big he is? Back then he was twice that size. He grabs me by the collar and lifts me clear off the ground. Peering into my eyes, while my feet were dangling, he asked me, “What you want here at this God-forsaken hour, young blood?”

“Ooh boy, you were in for a whooping.” Charmaine did the owl neck thing.

“I swing my knife at him, and he shoves me clear across the room. I had nicked him under his chin.”

The old lady slapped her hands to her cheeks in horror.

“I charged at him, determined to take him down. Next thing I knew, he has this big leather-covered bible in his hands, and he smacks me like Sammy Sosa on steroids. Busted my ear drum.”

“Oh, dear lord.” The waitress snapped and dropped her menus.

“When I woke up, I was strapped to a gurney being wheeled into an ambulance. Brinks didn’t press charges. In fact, he never told the police what had happened. He came to my house later that week, dropped off the scooter and some of my drugs. Told me that was the last chance the lord was giving me. I been a good boy ever since. Even when I’m bad.”

“So why do they call you Jimmy?”

“The big old Bible was a King James Version. James…Jimmy. You know how boys are.”

The elderly lady got up and applauded. “The Lord has done a remarkable work with you Pastor Johnson.” She leaned over and kissed my forehead. Charmaine just sat there staring at me in disbelief.


Nigel Byng is a freelance writer, living in the USA. His writing can be found on Signs of the Times Australia, or on his personal blog Helping you to Succeed where he displays his love of fiction under his pen name, Jerome Kenrick. Follow him on Instagram at @hyts_daily.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. mcconn41 says:

    I loved the story. The eavesdropping customers added a fun dimension to this tale of redemption. Well done!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. byngnigel says:

    Thank you so much.


  3. DeNiM says:

    This is fantastic! Oh, brilliant!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. byngnigel says:

    Thank you Dev. Waiting on you to drop a story for us.


  5. Don’t normally take much notice of stories posted on the web but I liked this one Nigel!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. byngnigel says:

      Thank you sir.. glad I caught your attention. 👍👍


  6. jonicaggiano says:

    Wow Nigel this is an excellent story. Waiting to see what was going to happen next was hard to do. I loved the way everyone got drawn into the story and you along with them of course. The ending was particularly amusing and just so funny. You are an amazing story teller. Looking forward to the next one my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. byngnigel says:

      Thank you, Joni. It is always nice to hear from you. We miss you my friend. I truly appreciate the feedback. Looking forward to your next blog post.


  7. michnavs says:

    I too am in disbelief here….you were able to flawlessly incorporate another charater out of the blue…bravo bravo Nigel…your story telling skills is beyond brilliant…

    And oh, this is my favorite to date.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. byngnigel says:

      Thank you Mich. You made my day. It’s been a long rough week. Writing is truly my escape, and getting to share with Terveen and MasticadoresIndia is always a privilege.. thanks for reading my friend.👏👏.. will try to keep the stories coming.

      Liked by 2 people

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