We were hanging out at the hooch, waiting for our next drug deal. The hooch was a small house on the North end of town where we arranged drug deals, completed paper work, and waited… waited for the next drug bust. The drug suppression team consisted of two Agents and half a dozen investigators. It was really late, or very early depending on your concept of time. We had been waiting about three hours for a call-back from one of our snitches and we were all getting pretty bored. One guy named Tom had just finished typing up a report when he was handed a cardboard box containing a computerized Wheel of Fortune game. Tom loaded up the game using the four floppy disks in the box and started playing, before long we were all leaning over his shoulder trying to help him win. The old fashioned VGA monitor made Vanna White look like she was made out of Lego blocks, the sound effects were tinny and the speed was choppy, but it was state-of-the-art for 1991 https://www.tragedyinfo.com/james-dean-death-obituary-james-dean-cause-of-death/.
As the game drew on the intensity grew and grew until every eye in the room was watching the screen. The last game board was on display, Tom was playing against the computer and he was behind, way behind. He spun the wheel again and when the ticking finally stopped, it landed on $1000.00. High-five’s were exchanged and a couple of “Hoo-wah’s” accentuated the nice turn of events. A few more spins and a few more high scoring answers brought the game down to the final play. The screen showed the following letters on the board.. “TA – K IS CH – – P”. Everyone smiled with confidence as Tom asked for an “L”. The letter fell into place, and the screen flashed the following letters… “TALK IS CH – – P.” Vanna walked across the screen and asked Tom to solve the puzzle. He turned to the crowd and gave us one of those arrogant, cocky, spike the football in the end-zone kinda looks, then he spun around again and typed two “E’s” into the computer. He hit the Enter button and threw his hands in the air. He began dancing around like Rocky Balboa at the top of the stair case.
When he finally calmed down we gave him the sad news, he had spelled the word wrong and lost the game. Cheap (inexpensive), is spelled “EA”, Cheep (the bird sound) is spelled with two “E’s”. Tom was mortified, but alas.. there was no time for despair and embarrassment.
The phone began to ring and the atmosphere of the room changed dramatically. The snitch was ready, the deal was on, and it was time to roll. We all loaded up and headed for the buy-bust. Adrenalin was coursing through our veins, we were full of energy, focused on the Op-order, busy reviewing subject profiles and checking our raid gear. When we arrived on site the attitudes changed again. We sat in the dark van for half an hour before the radio squawked out the Green-Light code.
Go! Go! Go! We piled out of the van and into the parking lot, holsters snapping, Agents shouting, investigators wrestling subjects to the ground, and the zipping sound that hand cuffs make when they snap around the wrist. These were the sounds that filled the night air as the bust went down fast and furious. When it was all over we began to clear the scene. As I looked across the parking lot I notice a bag of dope that must have been dropped in the midst of all the chaos. Tom was standing right behind it, so I called out to him.. “Hey Cheep, grab that dime-bag”. Everyone stopped what they were doing. A moment of silence celebrated the event. We should have passed out cigars to mark the occasion.. a Nickname had been born.