DEALING or THE BERKELEY-TO-BOSTON FORTY-BRICK LOST-BAG BLUES is a novel very much of it’s time. Published in 1970, it deals with people of the emerging hippie culture and their war with the “pigs,” “clueless” parents, anyone who didn’t embrace the world of pot smoking, dropping out. Filled with the language and mores of the time, the malaise of college life, school is more to avoid the draft than to learn anything.
It was made into a film in 1972 and had a number of notable actors in the production, most of them early roles in their careers. John Lithgow, Barbara Hershey, Paul Sorvino(credited as taxi driver), Robert F. Lyons, Charles Durning, and Demond Wilson(pre- Sanford and Son).
Peter Harkness(Lyons), a Boston college student arrives in Berkeley at the instigation of his friend, rich boy John(Lithgow), on the regular run to pick up a load of ten bricks of grass from a man named Musty. He arrives just in time to see the house raided by the police, who are disappointed to find nothing, and he barely escapes when an officious young officer gives him a hard time about hanging around.
Peter wanders around for a while until he can get hooked up with Musty, who’d gotten advance word of the raid and cleared out. At the new place, he meets a young woman named Susan(Hershey) and rapidly gets close as the “blow” some dope. In the middle of the night, that place is raided. But they seem to be interested in nothing but him.
It seems one of the other housemates had borrowed his rented car and got pulled by the police for a taillight out. The bag of pot under the seat was put off on him, the driver giving them his name and the address of the house.
Peter is in the hands of a crooked FBI agent named Murphy(Durning), out from Boston to investigate the drug pipeline and he goes through a “rigorous” interrogation before Susan bails him out. The charges are eventually dropped as they don’t have much on him. The only fingerprints on the bag of pot were the driver’s.
He returns to Boston with ten bricks of pot soaked in Coke(the liquid kind to mask the scent) in a specially constructed case.
He can’t forget Susan and calls her soon after getting back, immediately starting plotting how to see her again. He can’t go back, even if he had the money, as exams are coming up. She doesn’t have any money either. So he hatches a plot to get her to bring a load East from Berkeley. John needs convincing though. He doesn’t trust women to make the run. “They’ll screw it up.”
An emergency comes up. Musty’s blowing town for awhile, things are getting hot, and if John wants anything, he needs to get it now. John agrees to let her make the run and peter is happy. But unknown to him, it’s going to be forty bricks, in two suitcases, and novice Susan checks them in.
That’s when the trouble starts.
They get lost in transit and when Susan tries to reclaim the luggage, Peter gets there in time to see her being busted by the same Murphy that had gotten him in Berkeley. Murphy had a reputation among people in the drug trade and it was confirmed when news reports mentioned only twenty bricks recovered.
It was Saturday. John can’t get any money to bail her out, even if so inclined, until Monday. She would be arraigned by then. In fact, John was leaving town for awhile himself.
An interesting, but odd book. The writing style is easy to get into and I enjoyed this one.
Now a word about the author. Most of you may know that Michael Douglas was actually a pair of brothers named Michael and the younger Douglas, whose last name is Crichton. The author photo is attributed to Mom.