The High Life and Strange Times of the Pope of Pot

A pioneer of marijuana delivery service in New York City, Mickey the Pope had an 800 number and a corps of bicycle messengers covered by a company dental plan. Everything was blissful at the Church of Realized Fantasies—until fame came calling, in the form of radio shock jock Howard Stern.

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  1. There’s a knock at the door and Mickey the Pope, the Pope of Pot, stubs out a joint and stashes it in a drawer. “Gotta go now, toots,” he rasps, smoke leaking from his chipmunk grin, and then he laughs, “Ah-ha-ha-HA!” and then he coughs, a deep black hack that shudders his shoulders. He swallows hard, wipes a tear, shrugs and smiles. A trickle of blood reddens the groove between his two front teeth.

    Mickey hangs up the phone, writes a number in his little book with a green pen. His entries aren’t alphabetical—more experiential, like life, taken in the order that comes, always in alternating colors. He likes things around him to be beautiful, the way God intended. He closes the book, puts a finger to his lips, concentrates. Something to do ... What was it? ... Hmmm ...

    Mickey pans the room, in search of a clue: refrigerator, a stack of chairs, a poster of the Italian rock & roller he has taken off the street, a hot plate with one coil glowing, his desk, a pile of bills, a birthday card. Birthday! Today is Mickey the Pope’s birthday. He is forty-nine years old. Today is also the day before the winter solstice, the last shortening day on the calendar of seasons. This is significant somehow to Mickey the Pope, who’s facing fifteen years in the slammer.

    Since the bust, sales are down by more than half. Expenses, however, remain the same. It looks like Mickey will have to get a loan. He’ll have to ask his little brother to cosign. His brother, of course, will insist that Mickey ...