The invitation came two months earlier. A chance for Steve “Stoney” Stevens to plug his new downtown Denver bakery, Honeys on the popular national morning news show, Rise and Shine. They were doing a series of segments on small businesses. The socially awkward Stevens feared public speaking his entire life. Even one-on-one conversations caused discomfort. When he did speak, his voice wiggled nervously, which led to his being ridiculed throughout his school years. His parents split up, due in part to their failure to agree on an effective treatment and by their inability to improve their son’s plight. Stevens withdrew further. About the only pleasure he derived was from his bee collection. He’d capture the bees in a glass jar. He enjoyed watching their frantic struggle to get free. Once dead, he’d peel off their wings and pin them onto display boards. He’d bring them to Show and Tell, preferring the former over the latter.
In his late teens he discovered the wonders of weed. The drug helped like no doctor or therapist. When stoned, Stevens felt relaxed, free, and uninhibited. It didn’t take long for Stevens to earn his nickname. Stoned became his normal state.
“What’s Honeys’ specialty?”
“Finger cakes,” Stoney stated to the heavily made-up, perfectly manicured, mannequin-like show host. “Some customers can’t get enough of them.” Despite the over-the-top lighting, heat, and camera contingency, his voice remained steady and confident. At least, that’s how he heard himself.
The dyad captured by the television cameras couldn’t have appeared more dissimilar. He wore ripped blue jeans and a tie dye shirt. His unkempt hair begged for a cut, shampoo, and styling. He reeked of weed. She, none of the above. The sensual scent applied to her moments earlier in the dressing room was no match for his stench.
“And you’re here this morning to reveal exclusively to our audience the secret of Honeys’ cakes,” the smiling host said. “Right?”
He waved a hand. “Sure, why not?” He had no feel for keeping an audience in suspense. He began answering. “Cann—”
“Whoa!” she interrupted. “Remember Steve, this is a family show and we’re seen all over the country. What’s legal in Colorado isn’t necessarily legal in all 50 states.”
“My bad,” said an apologetic Stevens. “Sugar and spice…” His mind wandered. “And water. About 60%.” He winked.
“And everything nice,” the host said, staring into the camera. “Colorado has exceptional water,” she added before reluctantly thanking Stoney, ending the interview. She didn’t shake his hand.
The line snaked around the block. It had been that way ever since Stoney appeared on the Rise and Shine show. It was beyond his wildest dreams. He hadn’t thought about the supply chain challenges a hundred-fold increase in business would create.
That evening, in one of Denver’s City Park West neighborhoods, a twenty-something furiously toking a roach recognized Stoney. “Hey brother, great interview on television this morning. That plastic-looking thing questioning you wouldn’t let you say cannabis? That’s censorship, man. This is the twenty-first century. What the hell’s wrong with this country?”
Stevens tilted his head. “Cannabis? What are you talking about? I don’t put weed in the cakes. That’d be a real waste. I was going to say cannibalism.”
The following morning, several more corpses, fingers severed, were found near City Park West.
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