The Chief Justice’s Nephew

I met Larry at the office, at Control Data where we both worked. I don’t remember the exact circumstances. Youthful, clean-cut, pin-striped, and moustached, Larry represented the very image of corporate marketing and sales—exactly where he worked at CDC, and somewhat the opposite of my bearded and shabby self. I do remember one of the first things he asked me, once we got past the initial pleasantries, was whether I could get him some pot. He clearly believed that my appearance gave him a clue as to my recreational drug preferences. One of the first things he told me about himself was that his uncle was then the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Nothing like starting off on the right foot…

In those days I rode the bus from South Minneapolis to my job in Plymouth, MN. Plymouth lay northwest of Minneapolis, and to get there I took a bus downtown at about 6 AM, waited about twenty minutes in the predawn freezing air, and boarded the bus that dropped me about half a mile from work. Larry offered me a ride home one evening (by five o’clock, night had long since fallen in the Northland). Invited to join us at the table, he charmed Diane, complimenting the macaroni and cheese and baked beans that made our meal. He really overdid it, but that was Larry’s standard mode. I still hadn’t managed to score any weed for him…

We had a party one evening for our friends, and I invited Larry and his wife to come. He accepted with pleasure. Our friends Bob and Judy, Ellen and Michael, and a few others that I can’t recall, as they figured less in the conversation that night.

We lived in the upstairs floor of a two-story duplex, at the top of a stairway from the entry door. After a few of our guests had arrived, Larry and his wife arrived, fashionably late. Larry’s wife, whose name escapes me, wore a light-brown wool coat, and had her blonde hair pulled back into a tight bun. Larry introduced me to his wife, and then as we climbed the stairs, quietly asked me, “Ron, what’s your wife’s name again?” I told him. At the top of the stairs he grabbed the doorknob, swung the door open, and burst out, “Diane! How are you?”

As the evening wore on, Larry engaged in conversation with Ellen, asking her what her husband did (I doubt if he expressed any interest in what SHE did). Michael was a resident at the hospital of the University of Minnesota. She said, “He’s in healthcare.”

“Oh, and what does he do?” Larry persisted.

“He’s a physician.”

Larry turned to Michael and asked, “How’s it going, Doc?” or something like that.

About an hour after Larry and his wife arrived, our friend Bill (Mad Dog) came on the scene. Mad Dog was a dope dealer. That is to say, he sold grass, weed, pot… That night, he showed up with a grocery bag full of stems and twigs from a kilo of pot he had been cleaning. He sported an Afro-style hairdo that hung out to his shoulders, a shaggy wool jacket, and dirty worn denims. Larry’s eyes went wide when Mad Dog walked in, wider still when he revealed the contents of his bag. Within moments, the Chief Justice’s nephew decided he needed to be elsewhere. Larry and his wife left very quickly—so quickly that she forgot to take her purse along. We found it the next day, and saw her name on checks in the checkbook inside. I returned it to him at work, and that was the last I ever saw of him.