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by Frank Duff

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559 Nathan Abbott Way


On Monday, Lyle was visibly excited when Johnny slipped him the five hits of blotter during break.

"How much do I owe you?"

Johnny hadn't really considered that. Usually he would charge twenty-five bucks for five hits; twenty for a friend. But the news of acid's scarcity threw a whole new spin on the situation.

"Fifty bucks."

"Yeah sure, no problem." Lyle said as he scrounged in his pockets. He immediately produced two twenties, patted his other pockets hopefully and only came up with another four dollars in change.

"I'm going to have to owe you six dollars," he said, "or maybe I can-"

"Don't worry about it," Johnny said, taking the two bills, "forty is fine."

Lyle thanked him and looked more closely at the blotter. It was older stuff, from Vancouver according to Ivan. Only in Vancouver would they put little pictures of pot leaves on blotting paper. They couldn't abide having anything that could potentially be marijuana themed, not be. Not even other drugs.

"I don't know if I'll be able to get more," Johnny volunteered after a moment, "I mean I can try, but no promises."

"Oh, that's fine. I shouldn't need anymore." After a moment Lyle asked, "how much LSD is on these?"

"Huh? There's one hit on each square."

"Yeah," Lyle persisted, "One hit. But how much is a hit? How many micrograms?"

"Fucked if I know. Do you want me to call the lab?"

"Could you?"

Johnny almost laughed, then caught himself. For a second it seemed that Lyle might actually be serious, but finally he grinned. Johnny grinned back.

"Seriously though," Lyle said, "you have no contact whatsoever with the guys who make these?"

"No way, man. There are at least three people between me and the guy in the lab coat. I know it comes from BC, that's it." Johnny recalled what Ivan had told him about the cops working their way down from the labs to the street pushers. "And personally, I like it that way."

Lyle coughed and finished his cigarette. He looked like he had about a million things he wanted to say, and even more questions he wanted to ask, but instead: "We should get back in side before Mohammed starts without us."


After the lecture Johnny introduced Lyle to free pizza in the Physics building. Over a tomato and mushroom pizza that the other students seemed too intimidated to ask for any of, Lyle asked Johnny if, now don't be offended, he had much experience with drug dealing.

"I might know my way around the business," Johnny said guardedly. Every piece of information Lyle let slip seemed to contradict the last.

"You see," Lyle went on, "I'm thinking of getting into it myself, but I don't know where to start."
"Well," Johnny said, "There really is only one place to start. First you need some drugs."

Lyle unzipped one of the many zippers on his pants. This one seemed to actually lead into a pocket from which he drew a vial with a small amount white powder in the bottom. He handed it to Johnny. "Do you know what this is?"

Johnny looked at the vial. It contained some sort of chemical salt. It lacked the yellow tinge common to street grade crystal methamphetamine. Its consistency was very even, but the granularity was not so fine as to be dusty; that contraindicated heroin and cocaine, but didn't rule them out completely. The most likely alternatives were ketamine or PCP. Of course, baking soda was also a solid possibility.

"I haven't a clue," Johnny said at last, handing the vial back to Lyle.

"It's LSD," Lyle said.

Johnny shook his head. "You got ripped off, man. No one sells acid in crystals; that's PCP. Did you buy it in Quebec? They sell PCP as everything. Hell, they'd sell it as aspirin if they thought they could turn a profit."

Lyle changed the subject. "How are things going with Tinka?"

"They're going fine, why?"

"Just wondering. In the interest of full disclosure I should let you know that her and I had a bit of a thing together last year."

"Yeah," Johnny asked, curious despite himself, "what happened?"

"She went insane. Or rather she stayed insane. Be careful, if you don't keep her at a safe distance she'll be the death of you."

Lyle stood up from the armchair and stretched his arms. Then he looked again at the vial in his hand as though he had forgotten it.

"By the way," he said, "I didn't buy it. I synthesized it. This is zero point one two five grams of lysergic acid diethylamide-25 in a tartaric salt."

Johnny felt his jaw go slack. He tried to pull it back up into his face, but it wasn't responding. He stared Lyle in the eyes. Lyle simply returned Johnny's gaze and cocked his head slightly to one side as he stood next to his chair and waited for a response. Finally, Johnny found his voice. "Maybe we had better talk about this somewhere else."


"That's enough fucking acid to kill a horse!" Johnny exclaimed in his dorm room, the door tightly locked.

"Don't think I don't know it," Lyle said, "I've read Dr. Hoffman's book too, you know. By the way, do you mind if I put this in your fridge? It's unstable at warm temperatures. I don't like even having it out of the freezer this long, but I wanted to show you."

Without waiting for a reply, Lyle pulled open Johnny's bar fridge and deposited the small vial between the beer and the soy-milk.

"If you've got that much LSD," Johnny asked, exasperated, "what the fuck are you doing buying it off of me for ten bucks a hit?"

"I want to run some tests on it. See what the quality is, what the dosage is. You know, see what I'm up against."

"Alright, you'd better explain everything to me right now. Make like you're the villain in a god damned Bond flick."

"Not much to tell," Lyle said, "I'm working on my chemistry PhD. You knew that, right?"

"How would I know that? Keep talking."

"Well, I've got a research position under a senile bore who hasn't done any real work since the seventies. My job is to look busy so he can keep getting grant money. Between that and the time I get as instructor for Chem 130, I have a hell of a lot of unsupervised access to the labs."

"As instructor?"

"Yeah. It's such a shitty job none of the real profs will take it. It's taught by PhD students every year."

Johnny nodded as a bunch of things clicked in his head at once.

"Have you heard of Dr. Bronski?" Lyle continued.


"He was researching a way to synthesize a new type of LSD derivative last year. He was following leads that had been left for dead by Hoffman himself sixty years ago. He started a few promising lines of research but never finished his work. He was very old. It was fascinating stuff. So I've kind of been doing my own unofficial research, picking up where he left off. And I figured, what's the harm in supplementing my pathetic Chem 130 pay-check while I'm at it."

"So you make illegal drugs in the U of T chemistry labs?"

"More or less. But only as a sideline to my real research."

"You don't say things like that man. What if I had a tape recorder? Not smart."

"You're not a cop," Lyle pointed out.

True enough, Johnny thought, but still: "I wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole made of asbestos and diplomatic immunity. You're going to get caught. And fast."

"No way," Lyle said, "you should see the labs. They've never even heard the word security, much less paranoia. Hell, I could make like twenty pounds of C-4 without having to sign more than one form, and that would be to promise that I would properly dispose of the motor oil I was requisitioning. If I bought the motor oil at the gas station I wouldn't have to talk to anyone. LSD is even easier because you're dealing in such small volumes. Once you have the LSA the rest of the reagents are totally common compounds no one would bat an eye at. You know, like hydrazine and hydrochloric acid."

"Where do you get LSA?"

"I extract it from Hawaiian Wood Rose seeds I buy on-line. Besides, I've gotten away with making this much already and this alone would be worth what, five thousand, on the street?"

More like ten, thought Johnny. Hell, maybe fifteen; they could set their own price. For a brief moment, Johnny's mind was considering whether Ivan might have contacts interested in buying plastic explosives. The conversation continued for some time but really, from that moment, Johnny was sold.

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