State Of Unknowing

Entry by: Wren

17th November 2017
Hendron’s Love Garden

‘You should relax more, Suzie.’ Hendron took a large toke and offered her the joint, but she batted his hand away.
‘No Hendron, you should relax less.’
Hendron shrugged and picked at his guitar. ‘I’ve started writing a new song. Do you want to hear it?’
‘Hendron, you’re always starting new songs, but you never finish them. Can you stop a minute? We need to have a serious talk.’
Hendron looked wistfully at the photo on the mantelpiece. It showed them and their friends from the squat, taken in the days before little Kurt had come along. In his heart he knew that Suzie had been right when she argued that they couldn’t look after a baby in a house where the roof leaked and there was a party every night, but that didn't stop him longing for simpler times. Suzie had secured the Council flat, got a regular job at the hospital and her Mum provided childcare, but she needed Hendron to pull his weight.
‘Why aren’t you at work?’ Hendron shifted uneasily in his seat. ‘You’ve lost it haven’t you?’
‘That manager, man, he never liked me. He…’
Suzie threw the empty mug she was holding at his head. He ducked and ran into the hall.
‘I’ve got to run Suzie.’ He pulled on his denim jacket. ‘I just remembered, I’m meeting Mad Dog. He said he had some work for me.’


Dressed in black leather and wearing shades, his white skin elaborately inked, Mad Dog was barely visible at the back of the Carpenter’s Arms. He bumped fists with Hendron and then bought him a pint.
‘I heard you were flipping burgers in McDonald’s’ he said.
‘I couldn’t stick it. The Man made me put my dreads in a hair net.’
‘No-one likes a hairy McMuffin, Hendron. So you told Ronald where to stick it?’
Hendron agreed, but in reality he had slept in one day and had never been back. ‘So what’s this job you mentioned?’ he asked. ‘Are we getting the band back together?’
‘The band?’
‘Yeah, The Flaming Gerbils. I’m still in touch with Tommo and Wavy Davy. We could play the local pubs. Make a few quid.’
‘Jesus, Hendron, when are you going to grow up? We could barely make it through a couple of Oasis covers at the Student Union ten years ago.’
Hendron muttered into his pint. ‘I’ve been working on a new song.’
‘That’s great Hendron, but that’s not why I got in touch. I’ve got a big deal coming up a week on Monday with a guy called Uri, but I’m going to Amsterdam next week.’
Hendron sniggered. ‘Love the cafes man.’
‘Yeah, so the thing is Hendron, are you any good at gardening?’
‘Yeah. All I need you to do is pop into my flat once a day and water my plants. You can use a watering can can’t you?’
‘I suppose so…’
‘Look, I’ll give you three hundred quid and we can forget about that fifty you borrowed a couple of months back. How does that sound?’
‘Three hundred?’
‘That’s right. Just make sure the soil’s damp – don’t drown them.’
‘Keep the soil damp?’
‘That’s my boy!’ Mad Dog patted him on the shoulder and placed an envelope on the table. ‘That’s my spare key and the address. I fly out tonight. You have to take care of business, Hendron. Don’t live in a dream world.
‘And one last thing, this is just between us, OK? No one else needs to know. Not even Suzie.’


Hendron arrived home to find his rucksack and guitar case on the doorstep, together with a note.

"Dear Hendron,
"We can’t go on like this. I’ve changed the locks. Let me know your new address and we can discuss access to Kurt.

Hendron rang the doorbell and looked through the windows, but Suzie had gone to work. He sat on the step and searched his pockets for a joint and the zippo, but he found Mad Dog’s envelope instead. Well, at least he would have a roof over his head for the next week. Mad Dog wouldn’t mind.


When Hendron opened Mad Dog’s front door the blast of heat almost knocked him off his feet. In the living-room he found an array of lamps humming and fizzing above his head. The heat bounced off the Bacofoiled walls onto row after row of tall, verdant plants. It was a big maisonette and each of the three bedrooms had the same arrangement. Hendron had never seen so much weed in his life.

Hendron sat down at the kitchen table, lit up and wondered what he should do. He had made a commitment to Mad Dog, but the dude hadn’t told him he would be tending a weed farm. On the other hand, if he walked away the plants would frazzle and Mad Dog would kill him. What’s more, he would have a roof over his head. Suzie had said he never finished anything and Mad Dog said he needed to take care of business, maybe they were right?

Over the next week Hendron watered the plants in the morning and worked on his song in the afternoon. Each evening he sent a text to Suzie, but she never replied. On Wednesday he ran out of food, so he pawned his guitar and concentrated on the lyrics. Saturday came and went, but Mad Dog didn’t return as planned. Hendron was sure he would be back on Monday for his big deal.

When there was a knock on the door, the peep hole revealed a dapper middle-aged black guy with a goatee wearing a business suit. Behind him stood a white guy with a shaved head, whose muscled physique bulged through his sports gear. What should he do? Hendron dragged on his joint, but it caught the back of his throat inducing a coughing fit.

‘Hello? Is that Mad Dog?’ The black guy called through the door.
When he had recovered, Hendron asked who wanted to know.
‘It’s Uri and Marley. We have an appointment.’
Hendron opened the door and showed them into the kitchen. The black guy sat down and the white guy put a metal briefcase on the table in front of him. Hendron offered him the spliff.
‘Nice weed. Did you grow this?’
Hendron shook his head and took back the joint. ‘Are you Marley?’ he asked.
The black guy shook his head. ‘I’m Uri, he’s Marley.’
‘Are you Russian, then?’
Uri threw back his head and laughed. ‘Yeah, from Kingstongrad.’ Hendron liked these guys.
‘To business.’ Uri flipped the catches on the briefcase, opened the lid and span it on the table so that Hendron could see inside.
‘One hundred grand, used notes, as requested. Please feel free to count it.’
Hendron took another toke to steady his nerves. ‘I’m cool,’ he said, ‘I’m sure your word is your …whatever.’
Uri laughed. ‘I like you Mad Dog.’ He stuck a thumb over his shoulder. ‘We need to check the stock.’
Hendron led them around the flat. Uri took samples from the plants and carried out some tests with a kit he carried in a small shoulder bag. Marley looked at Hendron and nodded towards Uri.
‘The man from Del Monte.’
‘This is good quality,’ was Uri’s verdict.
‘You have to keep the soil moist,’ said Hendron the horticulturalist. He transferred the money into his empty guitar case and pushed the key to Mad Dog’s flat across the table.
‘It’s been a pleasure Mad Dog.’ said Uri as they clasped hands.


In the train station Hendron took the £300 that Mad Dog owed him and put the guitar-case with the rest of the money in a left-luggage locker. Then he headed to the pawn shop to liberate his guitar. In the park he bumped into Wavy Davy’s teenage brother. In exchange for a joint, the teenager used Hendron’s phone to video him singing his new song.
‘This is for Suzie. It’s called Love Garden,’ he said as an introduction.
Then Hendron went to McDonald’s and used their wifi to upload the video to Youtube. He sent the link to Suzie by text. He was celebrating with a pint in The Carpenter’s when Tommo walked in.
‘Hey Hendron, did you hear about Mad Dog? He ate one too many hash brownies in Amsterdam and fell into a canal.’
‘No way! Is he OK?’
‘Nope, he drowned, man.’
‘Bummer. Did he have any family?’
‘Nah, his Mum passed last year.’ They sat in silent contemplation for a couple of seconds, then Tommo shrugged. ‘So what’s new with you Hendron?’
‘I was thinking about getting the band back together. You know, play the local pubs? I asked Wavy Davy’s brother to pass on the message. You interested?’
‘Great idea Hendron, but I sold the drum kit ages ago.’ Hendron fingered the locker key in his pocket.
‘No worries Tommo, I think I know where to lay my hands on some kit.’
Just then, Hendron’s phone began to ring. It was Suzie.