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Tuesday, 7 December 2010

image for Grandpa Ganja's Emporium (The Tasting) #7

FADE IN:

BETH checks stock in display cases and rearranges things in preparation for their 10:00 a.m. opening. GG enters from the backroom carrying a mug of coffee and a fat pot cookie.

He points at the case she's working in.

GG
That muffin's upside down.

BETH
Our clients will never know the
difference-or care if they did know.

GG
But it's a matter of aesthetics, of
symmetry. An upside down muffin reflects
on every muffin in the case. Throws
the whole display out of balance.

BETH
Nobody balances muffins, Grandpa.

GG
I do.

BETH
That isn't your first cookie, is it?

GG
Implying what?

BETH
That you're stoned again.

GG
Again? Don't you mean still?
Just breathing the air in here all
day would turn a cigar store Indian
into a pothead.

BETH
Now you're mocking Indians.

GG
What?

BETH
You're saying Indians are potheads.

GG
Some of 'em are. They come in here
all the time. I read that Sitting Bull
and all of his Indians at the Little Big
Horn.

BETH
And that's why the Indians won?

GG
That and because Custer's men were all
hung over from boozing all night.

BETH
You made that up.

GG
I did not. I saw it on Wikipedia. Sitting
Bull himself wrote it so I know it's true.
(bites cookie)
Earl not in yet?


BETH
No. He said he had to get new glasses.

GG
What for?

BETH
Because he can't see with the ones he has?

GG
And new glasses will help him see?

BETH
Yep. He's even getting bifocals.

GG
Does Ben Franklin know about this?

BETH
Know what?

GG
That his bifocals can cure blindness?

BETH
(shakes head)
I need some of that coffee.

GG
(cup & cookie down)
Here, I'll get it.

He goes to the coffee table and pours a mug of coffee, adds just the right amount of cream, and takes it to her at the table.

BETH
(reflecting)
Earl never talks about his vision, does
he? I mean, how it happened.

GG
(offers box)
Cookie?

BETH
Why not? If it's good enough for a
cigar store Indian it's good with me.
(takes cookie,
reflects)
It might have been an accident. He's
got some scarring around both eyes. Like
maybe he had surgery.

GG
(shrugs)
He's a good man with some really shitty
luck.

BETH
(smiles warmly)
I like him, Grandpa. He thinks I'm
a pretty blond with blue eyes, tall
like a model, no makeup…

GG
Jesus, maybe Earl isn't blind! He
described you exactly!

BETH
(laughing)
He's too kind-and so are you.
(more businesslike)
It's ten. Time to start healing the sick.

GG
(moving to door)
L.A.'s version of Blue Cross. Couple
more years and the whole country will
be stoned and they'll have to close half
of the hospitals for lack of sick people.

BETH
Don't tell the insurance companies
or they'll bomb this place.

GG swings the door open and the usual motley crew enters and takes up favorite posts. Pot is sold, smoked, eaten, praised, debated, and cut up in chunks and carried home in a sack. Guitar music fills the air and commingles with the smoke and peals of laughter fill the spaces between them and healing continues apace.

An hour later EARL enters wearing his new glasses that are just as opaque as his old ones. He stops in the doorway to sweep the room with a commanding gaze but since he doesn't have a gaze he settles for striking a pose and turning his head for all to see.

GG
Hey, Earl. Beth says you got new glasses.

EARL
Yep. Got all the extras, too. Safety
glass, bifocals, tinted lens, designer
frames, UV light protection…

GYPPER
(not Gipper)
Holy shit, man, the only thing you're
missing is X-ray vision and a mindless
fear of kryptonite.

GG
Come on, Earl, you need an infusion of
THC before you come down and scare the
shit out of everybody.
(to BETH)
Beth, give Earl a cookie and only
charge him half price.

BETH
What if I charge him double? He isn't
going to pay it, anyway.

EARL
Well, I've never been so insulted!

GG
Yes, you have. How about the time…

GYPPER
Hey, what time does the tasting start?

EARL
If it has anything to do with taste,
it'll start right after you leave.

GYPPER
Talkin' taste? Look at you, man. Wearing
a striped shirt with plaid pants and
one shoe black and the other one brown.

EARL
What? Oh, shit!
(looks down, pats self)
That's what I get for dressing in the
goddamn dark!

GG
Relax, Earl. He's putting you on. You
look like a model for GQ.
(to Gypper)
Say, Gypper, what's with the name?
You play for Notre Dame?
GYPPER
Naw, that's Gipper; I'm Gypper. They call
me that because I used to work in the
health insurance industry.

BETH
Because you gypped people?

GYPPER
Yeah, but I got fired. A barrel of holy
water tipped over on me and washed
away my sins. It made me an honest man.

BETH
That's awful!

GG
Tragic! How's a man supposed to live
in modern-day America with a curse like
that on him?

EARL
Man, what I want to know is, where'd you
find a barrel of holy water?

GYPPER
At the Blessed Bleeding Stigmata parish.
They just got a new shipment in and I was
stealing the barrel.

BETH
What were we talking about?

GG
The tasting?

BETH
Oh. The tasting starts at three. We'll choose a panel from the audience to
judge the pot. All entries are from bud grown within L.A.'s city limits so we can
promote local growers and raise more
tax money for the city.

1st VOICE
Oprah gives the audience free gifts!

The smoke eddies and builds.
EARL
(taking coat off)
I'll give you a free gift you…!

2nd VOICE
Yeah! Put some pot under everybody's chair!

3rd VOICE
Or pass the cookie box around!

GG
(aside to BETH)
They're turning ugly. We may have to
send for The Nuns.

BETH
(aside)
Wait. I'll pass the regular cookies
around. It's all image, anyway.
(calls out)
The man is right. If Oprah can give out
gifts so can we.
(box up)
Free cookies for all! Take one and pass
it on! Compliments of Grandpa Ganja!

The duped dopers eagerly empty the box and eat the cookies as our heroes move behind the counter and look on.

GG
Maybe we should just sell regular
cookies. Make more money.

BETH
Spoken like a neocon asshole.

EARL
(accusingly)
You gave 'em regular cookies, didn't you?
GG
So what? They're already stoned. Any
more pot would be excessive stoning
and that's outlawed by the Geneva Convention.

EARL
I suppose you're going to give me
a regular cookie, too.
GG
I wasn't going to give you any cookies
until you pay up.

BETH
Here, Earl, have a pot cookie. Just
don't blow our cover.

EARL
(takes cookie, shakes head)
Man, I've got half a mind to take my
business to another pot store.

GG
You can't. I put your ass on YouTube
and warned every pot store in L.A. If
you show up they'll sell you shake
with twigs and seeds and zero THC.
You'll come down like Icarus with his
ill-fated aerobatics.

BETH
Just ignore him, Earl. You're our
oldest regular and a fixture here.
This is a union shop and you've
got seniority rights.

EARL
Hear that, Gramps? You mess with me
and I'll call a goddamn strike and
picket this place 24/7.

GG
(sighs)
This power to the people business is
getting out of hand. I'm going to
shred some incriminating evidence
before the feds raid us again.

Grandpa leaves and BETH and EARL move to the table where a machine roller and sack of pot await their attention.
BETH
We've got to roll some more joints.
We'll need at least 100. Good thing
we've got a machine for this or we'd
have carpal tunnel syndrome all the
way up our necks.
EARL
A Hundred Js. That's a lot of money.

BETH
They're slim Js. Besides, the PR will
pay for it and more.

EARL
Good. Maybe I can get a raise out of
that cheap old geezer.

BETH
A raise? Grandpa isn't paying you anything
now.

EARL
That's why I steal cookies. I eat 300
bucks worth a week and I want to throw
in some hash and maybe some Panama Red
now and again.

BETH
(seriously)
Earl, uh, are you okay? I mean, do you
need money or …?

EARL
(touched, smiles)
No, Beth. No. That's really cool, though.
It's just shtick, you know. Keeps my mind agile. I have enough money. I steal pot
just to mess with Grandpa.

BETH
(warmly)
He thinks the world of you, Earl. And so
do I.

EARL
(gruffly)
Hey, what's this? We got work to do here.
People out there need their medicine. In
fact, I'm feeling woozy myself. Maybe
a bowl of Panama Red would restore my
health.

BETH
And mine. Two bowls coming up.
BETH fills pipes as EARL listens.

EARL
The pay's not so hot but the fringe
benefits are great.

BETH
(pipes ready)
To our health!

BETH lights EARL'S pipe and then her own and both inhale mighty drafts of life-giving smoke and add another day to their life expectancy. A second hit and the THC stirs sleeping endorphins that race through their brains rousing
pleasant thoughts and warm feelings of well-being. That done, they fall to work with a will.

At 2:30 the place is filled with stoners of all races, creeds, and colors. Many are bandaged, some costumed in foreign dress, some $2000 suits, a lady wearing nothing but a long T-shirt that isn't long enough. Three chairs for the judges are empty, three small boxes hold the feature attractions, and an expectant air drives all the regular air out of the room and leaves behind a mix of expectant air and airborne THC. Needless to say, all are nicely stoned. The smoke continues to build and eddy.

Our heroes confer behind the counter.

BETH
Picked the judges yet?

GG
Yeah. How about Biker Bill? He's a
connoisseur. Amsterdam called him as
an expert on how to improve Dutch pot.

EARL
He invented Mars bar pot, too. Remember?

BETH
Good choice. What about Doc? He'd
add prestige to the panel.

GG
Uh, a thought. Shouldn't we have
judges that aren't already stoned so
they can start with a clean palate?

EARL
We don't know anybody who isn't stoned.

BETH
Yeah. If they aren't stoners when we
meet them they are once they know us.

GG
Good point. So, Doc's in, right?

BETH
Right. One more. I see Bishop Ryan.
He's one of our biggest customers.

EARL
And people trust him because he's not
supposed to lie.

BETH
Of course he doesn't lie. Why would
a priest lie? He represents the
Catholic Church.

GG
You've answered your own question, Beth.

EARL
But choose him, anyway. I like him.

GG
Done. I'll notify the judges.

BETH
And I'll get those brownies out of
the oven.

EARL
I'll, uh, I'll help Beth.

BIKER BILL is at a table across the room. GG approaches.

GG
Bill! How's it going, buddy?


BIKER BILL
Good, good. Did you get your money
from Red?

GG
Yeah, sure. He brought it in himself
three days later. Man's word is his
bond.

BIKER BILL
It's the Code, man.

GG
Code? There's a code?

BIKER BILL
There's always a code. This one's about
a man's word. You expect a man to keep
his word.

GG senses that not keeping one's word with BIKER BILL would be a mistake.

GG
Yeah, well, you know me, Bill. They
don't call me Honest Grandpa Ganja
for nothing.

BIKER BILL
Nobody calls you that.

GG
They will. I've got a publicist working
on it.
(beat)
Say, by the way, we need some judges and I
thought of you right off. You guys have been
up to your ears in pot for decades and
know all about the stuff.

BIKER BILL
Sure. Glad to help. That's in keeping with
the Hells Angels' motto: Nothing's too good for our friends-or our enemies.

GG
A man could take that two ways, Bill.

BIKER BILL
Yeah, I know.

GG
Yeah, right. Thanks, Bill. You're a pal.

BIKER BILL starts for the dais and GG spots DOC near the door. He signals to him and heads that way. DOC is in scrubs.

GG
Doc. I thought you were in surgery
today?

DOC
I am. That is, I was and I will be again
after the tasting. It's okay. I left
my nurse in charge.

GG
Isn't that risky?

DOC
Not for me. What can happen at a pot tasting?

GG
I meant for your patient.

DOC
Aw, he's okay. He's a very rich man and
rich people never die. Ask their heirs.

GG
Anyway, we want you to be a judge. We
need somebody with class that people
respect, somebody who knows what
he's talking about.

DOC
Ah, yes. I can see why you came to me.
You need an authority figure, one that
can tell ditch weed from the real McCoy.

GG
Exactly. Grab a seat up front.

BISHOP RYAN starts past GG and he stops him.

GG
Bishop Ryan! Thanks for coming.

More smoke, denser eddies.

BISHOP
Oh, it's my pleasure, Grandpa!
I can't thank you enough. Your
views on celibacy opened my eyes.
Here, meet my secretary, Gilda.

GILDA is a luscious blond with fake boobs and almost no clothing. Even GRANDPA wants to fuck her.

GG
Yes, uh, how do you do, Gilda?

GILDA
You're Grandpa Ganja! Joe talks about
you all the time. I think we owe you
for our coming together.

BISHOP
Grandpa made me see the light on the
Church's stupid celibacy rule…

GG
Hey, they'll void that rule any day
now just like they dumped Purgatory and Limbo and said it was okay to eat
meat on Friday. It was all phony to begin with. I say get a head start, that's all.
(scopes GILDA out)
And it looks like you did, Padre.

BISHOP
I spread the word, Grandpa. E-mailed
priests all over the country. They're
dumping celibacy and taking up with
strippers and pole dancers in droves.

GG
Why strippers and pole dancers?

BISHOP
Well, those girls are sinners so the boys
figure they can save 'em while they
strike a blow for sanity and free sex
at the same time.

GG
Very thoughtful. Uh, you can grab a seat, Padre. We're ready to start.

The BISHOP heads for his chair and GG gallantly escorts GILDA to a front row seat where he'll have a clear view of all of her not covered by the bits of cloth that prevent her arrest for making men expose themselves as idiots.
GG steps up and addresses the throng.

GG
Welcome to the first Annual International
Ganja Tasting sponsored by Grandpa
Ganja's Emporium and featuring some of the
finest marijuana grown in the L.A. city
limits.

A VOICE
The city limits aren't international!

EARL
Hey, what are you, a geographer?

2nd VOICE
Maybe we should alert the GPS people.

3rd VOICE
Or the politicians that draw up maps of congressional districts.

GG
We call it International in honor of our
Mexican friends who grow most of our pot.
Besides, L.A. is a Mexican city now and
if we offend them they won't let us
live here anymore.

Mexicans in crowd acquiesce with suitable comments. "¿Quien sabe?" "¿Que hora es?" "!Caramba!" and so on.

GG (cont'd)
The plan is simplicity itself. Everybody
will get three joints containing three
different samples. We'll all smoke the
first one, take comments from the floor,
and our judges will comment on each.
(beat)
You all know our judges. Biker Bill is
here from the Hells Angels, a philanthropic
group famous for their work with crippled
folks made that way by members of the
Hells Angels.
(BILL waves fist)
Next, we have Doc, a renowned surgeon who
has won nine malpractice lawsuits in a row.
(DOC high fives BILL
and the BISHOP)
And finally the Bishop himself has been
a pot toker ever since he found out
about the celibacy rule. It was smoke
pot or go nuts and now, thanks to an
enlightened clergy, the good Padre
can do both.
(crucifix up, he
leers at GILDA)
Remember, one joint each. If you
take more Biker Bill will meet with
you after the show.
(beat)
Okay, Beth, pass out the first Js.

BETH advances to the front and starts boxes around. Each takes a single joint and smells it, checks for firmness, and admires its overall beauty even though the joints have little beauty because they were machine rolled and look like Marlboros.

On a signal from GG 30 small fires ignite 30 imperially slim joints that produce 30 hearty inhalations so powerful that much of the air is sucked out of the room. The resulting exhalation shoots enough high-powered THC into the air to stone that cigar store Indian mentioned earlier.

Comments follow.

2nd VOICE
Nice, nutty taste.

1st VOICE
Very smooth.

3rd VOICE
Slow burning, too.

EARL
But it looks like a Marlboro.

GYPPER
How can you tell?

GG
(calls out)
Guess the THC content?

2nd VOICE
Nine-percent!

4th VOICE
Seven!

1st VOICE
Twelve!

GG
Doc, do you want to take this one?

DOC
Mine's a sativa called Durban Poison. 14%
THC. Great medicine. Got Alzheimer's?
This stuff will make you forget you
have it. The bouquet is delicate and
robust at the same time. The first
impression is aromatic and faint, the
second is a jolt as the THC hits home.
(joint up, looks at it)
Earl's right. It does look like a
Marlboro. There's no art, no soul in
a hundred identical joints. It should
be lumpy and too fat or too thin and
crooked. In other words, it should
be unique.

BIKER BILL
But it's really smooth. The smoke is
like vapor. Asthmatics would like
this one or maybe people with only
one lung.

BISHOP
So would sinners who are trying to forget.

GG
Well, that includes just about everybody, P Padre.

1st VOICE
Hey, there's no gift under my chair!


3rd Voice
Yeah, where's our gifts?

EARL
Say what? You're smoking free pot. What
more do you want?

2nd VOICE
Oprah gives free cars away!

GG
Let's move on to the next sample.
That would be you, Bill.
(calls out)
Biker Bill wants your attention.

A hush falls over the room.

BIKER BILL
My sample is a Indica Hindu Kush from East L.A. The THC content is 12%. The grower
is Pedro O'Brien-not his real name-and
he grows under lights in his basement.
He has pictures of the plants here.
They average three to four feet and
produce one pound of bud each. He grows 20 plants
with three harvests a year.


GYPPER
Where does Pedro live?

2nd VOICE
Does he need a partner?

EARL
What? You want to help him smoke his pot?

GIRL
For 60 lbs of pot I'll marry Pedro's
ass!


GYPPER
(to GIRL)
With all that pot what would
Pedro need you for?

GIRL
You mean you don't know?

There is so much smoke people are at windows and front door inhaling with might and main as smoke pours out.

GG
Hear, hear, folks! We're here in
the interests of science and we need
to act like scientists and not like
average Americans.

1st VOICE
Who you calling average?

2nd VOICE
Yeah, there's no need to insult us!

GG
(to BIKER BILL)
Bill, explain it to them for me.

BIKER BILL
Sit down and shut up, pal.

He sits and everybody shuts up.

GG
That's better. There's nothing like
an appeal to reason to solve a problem.
(beat)
Now, we're ready for the final entry.
Beth, if you'll do the honors again.

BETH advances with boxes of Js and the onlookers help themselves.

GG (cont'd)
Okay, light 'em up and start your engines!

Small fires dot the room as lighters are applied to Js and 60 lungs fill with high-octane smoke that visibly jolts the tokers as the THC races to their already addled brains. Some hold on, others are stunned, still others grin like the pro stoners they are and enjoy the trip.

GG (cont'd))
Okay, our final judge is Bishop Ryan,
a man of the cloth who smokes pot to
cure the heebie-jeebies. He recently
had an epiphany that has freed him from
years of ignorance and despair.
(gestures to PADRE))
I give you Bishop Ryan-and this is his
epiphany.
(points to GILDA)

Audience cranes necks to glimpse GILDA and OOhs and ahs fill the air as their respect and admiration for the Bishop
rises exponentially.

BISHOP
Some folks think it's a sin to smoke
marijuana but they're mostly little old lady librarians, never tell the truth about anything.
(mumbling)
You should see neoconS in confession.
Takes 'em an hour to list their sins
and they'll steal the seat cushion on
the way out if you don't watch 'em.

GOP GUY
I resent that! I'm a Republican and I…!

CAMERA on prissy guy with bow tie, etc.

GG
What? Didn't you see the sign?
No neocons allowed in the Emporium.
Somebody throw his ass out!

GOP GUY
(defiantly)
Sir, I know my rights! I'd like to
see somebody try to throw me out!


BIKER BILL stands up and the GOP GUY ducks and runs for the door like the weasel he is. All cheer and make supportive comments. "Asshole!" "Good riddance!" "Fuck you!"

BISHOP
(piously)
I'd pray for his poor soul…
(sotto voce)
…if I thought anybody would hear me.
(roach up)
My sample is an Indica Skunk and you
could get a confession out of a terrorist
in ten minutes flat with it. All you'd
have to do is promise him some more
pot if he talked. I know I would.
(beat)
Its piquant taste adds just enough
spice to make it interesting and the
16% THC could jump start the wooden
heart in a cigar store Indian. I'd
recommend this bud to anybody who's
looking for a jump start or just four
hours in another dimension.

3rd VOICE
Some people say pot's the devil weed.

BISHOP
That's not true.

2nd VOICE
What? They don't say it or that pot
isn't the devil weed?

5th VOICE
Hey, what are you another neocon asshole?

2nd VOICE
I'm just playing the Devil's advocate.

4TH VOICE
Put a curse on his ass, Padre!

6th VOICE
Send him to Purgatory for 10,000 years!

EARL
(shadow boxing)
Where is he? I'll kick his neocon ass!



GG
Relax, boys. It's a fair question. Some
people think pot is evil but they all
have very low IQs. A recent study by Hogan
and Chiller found that anti-pot people
are 17 points below America's national I Q. That makes them just below Lassie in intelligence. They've hardly got enough sense to
get Timmy out of a goddamn well.

ODD STONER
(worried)
Timmy's fallen in a well again?

STONER'S PAL
Quick! Somebody send for Lassie!

BIKER BILL
(disgusted)
Cut those guys off before they call
911 to report Timmy's missing again.

3rd VOICE
(shakes head)
Must be amateur tokers.

1st VOICE
Or pros.

GG
(gathers self)
So, uh, thanks for that riveting report
on your sample, Padre. I'm sure your
appearance here today will encourage
others to, uh, you know, uh, do the
right thing and all.

GG forgets where he's going; only BETH notices. BETH steps in. Room is abuzz, she can't get attention. BIKER BILL sees her plight.

BIKER BILL
(rising)
Hey! Everybody shut the hell up!

BETH
Thanks, Bill.
(to audience)
We still need a judge's decision on
the winner of the three samples! Let's
go back to our judges for a decision.

GG
Let me remind you that all three are
available here at the Emporium as long
as the supply lasts. The Durban Poison
is $10 a gram and the Skunk and Kush
run eight bucks.
(beat)
And now let's hear from Doc and his
favorite sample.

DOC
First, all three samples are very good
pot. Lots of kick and flavor. The Kush
is sweeter than the Durban Poison and
the Skunk is more aromatic. My own
favorite was the Kush but it's a close
call.

GG
Okay, one vote for the Hindu Kush! What's
Biker Bill think about that?

BIKER BILL
I think Doc's right. They're all good but
the Kush has an edge. It's very subtle, though, you have to kind of lean to the
right and concentrate hard and think like a
pot plant to get its full effect. So I vote
for the Hindu Kush, too.

GG
Well done, Bill! Very insightful and
penetrating. Does the good bishop make it a clean sweep?

BISHOP
I do. It was a toss-up between the Kush
and the Skunk but I went for the Tush.

EARL
You went for the tush?

BISHOP
What? No! I said Kush. I went for
the Kush!

BETH
What would Freud think?

The sound of fire engine sirens close at hand arouses everyone's curiosity and heads swivel.

GG
What the…?

BISHOP
There must be a fire out there!

GG
(fanning smoke)
Or in here!

The door flies open and two FIREMEN enter with axes at the ready and wearing gas masks.

1st FIREMAN
Everybody out! She's liable to blow
any second!

GIRL
Don't look at me when you say that!

GG
Hey, wait a minute. There's no fire here.
This is just a lot of pot smoke.

1st VOICE
Yeah, false alarm, man.

2nd FIREMAN
What?

BETH
It's a pot tasting gone awry, is all.
It's medical pot and all legal, too.

FIREMEN take their masks off and sniff the smoke.


GG
See? Ganja, that's all. Just some pot
Tokers holding a seminar.

Cautious FIREMEN look around and inhale deeply as they go. In no time they're stoned and hungry and attracted to the box of pot cookies on the table. Ever the proper host, BETH urges them to have some coffee and cookies.

1st FIREMAN
We can only stay a minute.

2nd FIREMAN
Yeah, they're waiting with the truck.

EARL
Tell 'em to come on in. They can make
sure the fire's out.

GG
And tell them to forget their gas masks.

1st FIREMAN goes to the door and waves his buddies in and in no time a full-blown party breaks out with thoughtful tokers blowing smoke at the FIREMEN while they practice their yoga with deep breathing exercises.

Our heroes meet behind the counter and survey the scene.

BETH
I'd call our tasting a huge success.

EARL
I would too if I could see it.

GG
I say we could have monthly tastings
with special celebrity guest tokers
like Arnold and Woody Harrelson. We'd
get good PR and maybe a reprieve from the governor or a part in a movie.
(bites cookie)
Why, maybe we could get Obama and…

BETH rolls her eyes and EARL shakes his head as they move into their partying guests and GG rambles on.

THE END


Evan Keliher ©2009

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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