Chuck would often date the true beginning of Synanon with the dramatic night of the Big Cop Out. It was at this event that Jesse Pratt confessed to having used in Synanon. The truth of that confession acted as a catalyst, suffusing the group and causing others to talk about their shit. So, now, it seemed practically a ritual, that whenever a major beef had been discovered the tree would be shaken a bit to see what else fell out. This protocol would usually include a reference to Kahill Gibran’s observation that no leaf could fall from a non-complicit tree.
“Who knew that Chester was drinking?”, Betty D. demanded again from the group of old timers that had been summoned to the Power House’s game circle. Chuck had just finished beating on Chester for the last two hours because he, Chester, had at last, swilled down so much mouthwash, that even his glib badger-like evasions failed him. Now that Chester had been dusted off, it was time to see who else might be dirty. We dreaded the beacon of scrutiny we knew would soon be turned on each of us in turn.
“ Somebody here knows that Chester has been drinking, Betty continued. It’s not possible that not one of you old timers noticed that this has been going on and on for so long.”
We stewed in the long, tense silence. We avoided Betty’s interrogating eyes and each other’s.
I had participated in this ritual innumerable times and this time it felt equal parts threatening to boring. My quirky compulsion to say the unsayable got the best of me.
I responded, “Well I certainly knew Chester was drinking, in fact, just the other day I said to myself, “ Look, there goes Chester…drunk again. I wonder when someone is going to do something about him.”
I reminded them that Margo, his wife, had been telling people for months that she thought he was drinking. She had called games on him. But no one would believe her. I believed her. I held that I had better things to do with my time. “What do you want me to do make a lifestyle out of proving that Chester is drinking?”
There was a long stunned silence. Then a shifting of the swiveling chairs of my peers to adjust their attack angles in my direction. Their keen senses appreciated that I was essentially dead meat. I braced myself for the ensuing onslaught.
Then CED gruffly cleared his throat and ruled: “ You know, I think I agree with old Hugh over there, what do you when someone lies to you as Chester did? You can’t keep trying to prove…etc….etc..”
I don’t know what else Chuck said after that. I was so happy at that point. I had jumped and the parachute opened. Just like it was supposed to.
You can’t “think” you remember Chester. If you met him, you remember. He was one of a kind, and I loved him dearly. The most negative and lovable old dope fiend who ever walked in the door. In his case, carried in the door the second time. — Jon Lamb
I remember when Chester copped out to drinking mouthwash, he sat on the bench for days in Oakland. People would go by and stare at him on the bench. Whoa look at Chester. Man, he provided great jokes and humor for a long time… along with his fresh breath. I think it was Scope Blue [all his peers will remember this]. even chuck came for a visit and a game —
Susann Bushen Meyer Thomas