Remember the movie “Eastern Promises“? In it, Viggo Mortensen’s character, Nikolai, undergoes a series of grueling tests (including time spent in prison, crude cadaver alterations and disposals, and fighting off murderous, knife-wielding attackers whilst naked in a steam room) to prove his loyalty to the Vory v Zakone mob and earn his official Member Star Tattoos. As an outsider, after all, you can’t just “join” this underground dynasty– you have to fight and prove and earn your way into a lifetime membership.
And so it goes with my local Black Market.
You can’t just move into a new neighbourhood in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia– however sketchy and ghetto-like it may seem– and expect that your new address and postal code will automatically make you privy to the hottest, most secretive information on the block. No way, man– you have to earn that privilege. There’s a whole process to go through, and the Under Lords have certain protocols to follow. Come on. Just because it’s the Neighbourhood Hippie Black Market doesn’t mean there are no rules. Geez!
Well. We have lived in the ‘hood for a year now, and I am proud to report that I’ve officially earned my Ghetto Super Stars! I have put in my hardcore time and aced the dangerous tasks that were put before me:
1. I suffered through a particularly severe bout of tendonitis, which I incurred while scrubbing the residual stains out of our rental refrigerator, bathtub, and cupboards.
2. I deftly dodged the shards of broken glass and leftover needles that were strewn all over our sidewalks and in the park across the road– and I emerged victorious, with nary a cut, scrape, or Hepatitis/HIV+ test to boot!
3. I tolerated many sleepless nights with circles of hippies camped out on our front lawn, and I only called in law enforcement officials on one of these occasions.
4. I suffered through the indignity of– and subsequent confusion over– having our compost bin stolen. Filthy kitchen scraps. Stolen! Three separate times. (Why??)
5. I even remained stoic and unflinching when I learned that one of Victoria’s only murders in the past year had been committed in the building right next door to our suite… if by “stoic” I mean “I freaked the eff out“, and by “unflinching” I mean that “I begged Marty to beam me out of this dodgy apartment– STAT!!” (In any case– I passed this particular Black Market Worthiness test by default, because I was too lazy to pack up shop for a third time in one month).
Anyway. As a final test in the “Eastern Promises” movie, Viggo (we’re on a first name basis now) is put before a panel of Russian mobsters, who sit him almost-naked on a chair and “read” all of his tattoos to determine his worthiness of being branded with the gang’s Signature Star Tattoos.
My final test was similar to this, insomuch as I was sitting in a chair (although clothed) in the company of other people when it happened. However, where Viggo’s tattoos ultimately told the mobsters his story of loyalty, dedication, self-sacrifice, and requisite toughness, I happened to overhear some secret information by accident.
And that, my friends, is how I came to know about the Underground Egg Market.
You all know how much I love eggs, right? Of course you do— my almost-vegan self adores them! So when I heard (accidentally) that I could obtain free-range, basically organic eggs from a place that was only a hop, skip, and a jump away from my ghetto apartment, I capitalized on the knowledge and demanded that the Egg Baron procure me a dozen of those jewels, pronto! The
Drug Egg Lords were none-too-impressed that their secret had slipped out haphazardly, but seeing as I had proven my neighbourhood worthiness on the other tasks they had set before me, they had no choice but to hook me up with a stash.
Victory at last!
Of course, it is legal to keep chickens in Victoria. What is not legal, though, is selling off your chickens’ eggs to the general public, unless you obtain the expensive licenses and necessary farm documents to do so. *The chickens and chicken by-products are meant to be for personal use only.* (Just so we are clear.) This particular Egg Baron works on a generous giveaway plan, at least for those of us who are In The Know, which obviously I am now. This is how the system works:
1. He gives me a dozen eggs for free– out of the kindness of his own, Black Market heart.
2. In my gratitude, I can choose– perhaps, hypothetically– to give him an offering of approximately 3 dollars. To clarify: this is not 3 dollars in return. Likewise, it is not a fixed, 3 dollar cost for a dozen organic and free-range eggs. I would only (perhaps, hypothetically) give this Baron 3 dollars out of the kindness of my own, left-leaning heart. And maybe I was so overjoyed to see these still-dirty eggs in the carton that my hand automatically reached for 3 dollars. Just because.
Here is the dramatic re-enactment of my secret meeting with the Egg Baron:
Me: How can I ever repay you?
Baron: Don’t worry about it– they’re a gift.
Me: Can I give you 3 dollars out of the kindness of my granola-loving heart?
Under Lord of the Black Market: Hmmm… okay. But just this once.
I made a delicious (curried!) omelet this morning to seal the deal. So that’s it, folks– I’ve officially crossed over to the Other Side and am now a mule for the Lesser-Known Underground Egg Market. Don’t think you can find out my source, either– as if I’d ever tell.