“Weed Man” in Ellery Queen

I grew up reading Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, so there’s no bigger thrill than appearing in its pages!

My story “Weed Man” is in EQMM’s 80th anniversary issue, on newsstands now. “Weed Man” is about a wealthy white marijuana entrepreneur who crosses paths with his former dealer, a Black veteran who was recently released from prison. Here’s how it begins:

“Hey, boss,” Pete said, poking his head into my office. “We got a little problem.”

“Don’t tell me we ran out again.” I toggled between spreadsheets on my computer. My latest venture, a retail shop called The High Life, was practically minting money, but inventory problems were killing me.

“We are running low, but that’s not it,” Pete said. He stepped into my office and lowered his voice. “There’s this guy. He won’t leave.”

I looked up. Pete was a nice enough kid, a blond surfer who reminded me of a golden lab my family had when I was a kid. He wasn’t any smarter than the dog. “What guy?”

“He’s talking to everybody, telling them he knows you.”

“Really?” I clicked save and shut the files. The last thing I needed was some clown stinking the place up. “He mention going to school with me?”

“No way. He’s too old.”

“Is he high? Or homeless?”

Pete shrugged. “I can’t tell.”

As I headed down the hallway behind the shop, Pete trotted behind me. The High Life was in Westwood, and a sizeable chunk of our clientele lived in the stately Art Deco apartment buildings and luxurious houses nearby. But we were a stone’s throw from UCLA, so we got all kinds of people.

I heard laughter even before I opened the door to the shop. I punched the code in and opened the door. It opened into a sunlit room painted a pale turquoise. There were glass display cases organized in a horseshoe shape around the room. But everyone’s attention seemed to be on a wizened Black man in the center of the room.

“I’m telling you, I taught Erik Tremayne everything he knows about weed,” he was saying. “Once sold him a bag of oregano and he told me it was the best weed he ever had. ‘Course, he was only sixteen then. What did he know?”

I froze in place, feeling like I’d stepped into a dream. He turned and grinned at me, flashing gold eyeteeth. “Hey, Erik!” he called. “It’s Willie the Weed Man. I got outta jail!”

EQMM is available on newsstands and by subscription; you can also buy a single issue online. I hope you’ll check it out!

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