Saturday, January 16, 2016

Three keys and the Mob

Apropos some fiction

By Ed Rogers

I have known some colorful characters in my life. I have written two novels based on some of them: Boystown and Boystown: The Return [which we plan to start serializing in the coming weeks –The Editor].
    The story below is all true, however. I have changed the names for reasons that should be apparent to everyone.

It was 1979 or 1981 – I cannot remember which. I owned a head shop / record store / frame shop in Clear Lake, California. Throughout my life I have drawn strange people to me, and Barbara Sims was one of them. She was a wonderful, caring person and was dealing with multiple sclerosis as best she could. I have no idea why she took up with me and my wife, but she would always show up after being gone for a month or two as if she had never left. She always came back with stories of where she had been and what she had been up to – some of them funny, some sad.
    My wife and I were in our shop one day and out of the blue Barbara walks in with her friend Jerry. After hugs and introductions all around, she asked: “You want a hit of coke?”
    Hey, free coke—do I want a hit?
    It seems her friend Jerry had a shit load of coke on him. We did a number of lines and he asked, “Where is a good place to eat?”
    My standard answer was, “Tahoe, but it’s a couple hours’ drive.”
    Jerry smiled and pulled out a wad of money that would have choked a horse. “Is there an airline around here that we can charter a plane?”
    I got out the phone book and found one out of Ukiah. We closed up the shop and one hour later we were on a charter flight to Tahoe.
    Tony, the pilot, had brought his wife along, and when Jerry broke out the coke everybody was in for the party. We landed in Tahoe about 8:00 p.m., but after so many hits I had lost count of what day it was. It was the first time I had come by airplane to Tahoe. To land, you come over the top of a mountain and drop onto the landing strip. Doing it straight would scare the shit out of a normal person, but sitting in the front seat as I was and nowhere close to being straight – it was life-changing.
    Tony parked the plane and as we stretched our bodies from the cramped confines of the small plane, Jerry handed Tony $500 and told him not to plan on going back until tomorrow.
    Coke is like a magnet. I guess once in Tahoe we could all have gone our own way, but we stayed with the man with the coke. I don’t remember much about what we did in Tahoe. I only know we ate and gambled and did a lot of coke.
    Coming back, Tony let me fly the plane. It was really cool – my first time. Well, it was my only time.
    Tony let my wife and me, and Barbara and Jerry off at the small airfield where I had left my car, and we headed to our house which was on the lake. By then we had all been up for over 24 hours.
    My wife and I had a place where we built fires and sat on the beach in front of the house. This is where Jerry and I ended up. He pulled out his coke, which had gone down a lot overnight. As he handed it to me he said, “I have two more keys in San Mateo.”
    I said, “You have two keys of coke?”
    “I had three, but I sold one. I need to unload the other two as soon as I can.”
    I told him I didn’t know anyone who could handle that much coke. And I asked him how much he was asking per ounce. He said it had come right off the boat and had never been stepped on. And he would take $1,200 an ounce. Now, I knew that at that time an ounce of coke was going for $2,000 to $2,050. You step on it one time, and you double your money – that was $1,600 profit per ounce. However, I didn’t want to sell drugs.
    The four of us crashed and slept a few hours during the day and ate that night. Somewhere along the line the coke became short and Jerry asked if we could make a run to San Mateo.
    At the time I had a two-seater sports car, and with as much coke as I had going through my blood stream, driving over the Helen mountain pass seemed like a great idea. After you have been up for a large number of hours, time stops having any meaning.
    We went to a house in San Mateo where there was a panel in the wall that, once removed, exposed two keys of cocaine. Jerry pulled out about two ounces and put it in a baggie. He closed the panel and asked his friend who was in the house if he wanted to go back with us. Jerry told him he and Barbara were coming back to San Mateo the next day.
    The three of us headed out in my two-seater sports car. Jerry’s friend was sitting in the baggage compartment behind the front seats. We were hitting coke all the way back. I told Jerry I could check around and see if I could find someone to unload his coke onto. His friend gave me his phone number and we forgot about it until the next day, when Jerry, his friend, and Barbara were preparing to leave in her car.
    Barbara pulled me aside and whispered, “Be careful, Ed, people are looking for Jerry and you don’t want to get mixed up with that shit.”
    I wanted to ask her what the hell she was talking about but she was in the car and gone before I had a chance.

Available from Amazon
It happens that there’s a connection here to my novel Boystown. About two weeks before Barbara and Jerry showed up on my doorstep, my wife and I had taken a trip back to the Rio Grande Valley. I had not seen or spoken to anyone from my home town for over ten years – Harlingen, Texas is close enough for a location.
    I got together with a couple of friends while we were there. One friend became the character Jay in Boystown who flew for the CIA, and the other friend became Antonio who owned the banks. Anyway, it seems that the FBI had them both on a watch list. But the idea that someone might be trying to use me now to set up my friends had not crossed my mind until I was turned down by two dealers I approached about Jerry’s dope. Even at such a good price, they would not touch it.
    I called back to Texas and asked if they might have heard anything. They told me to call back in two days. When I did, one of them told me not to call there again.
    Barbara showed up again in a week or so and I pulled her aside. “What the hell is going on with Jerry?”
    She told me the whole story. She had met Jerry in Miami. He was what they call a mule. He drove a fast boat that met freighters far out at sea and ran the drugs back to Miami. Upon his return this time everybody was in jail. A big bust had gone down, but it missed him because he was out to sea.
    So there he was with three keys of coke and everybody else in jail. Not sure how Barbara got in the middle of this shit, but she did. Anyway, Jerry thinks, What the hell, I need to blow this town. So I guess – because Barbara was from California and he had a good friend in San Mateo – they headed West.
    I am not sure how all this played out, but my guess is that the Mob went looking for their dope, and were not happy with those who had dealings with Jerry. Everybody that bought that dope ended up dead, and I have no idea what happened to Jerry, but I doubt it was very nice. The last time I spoke with Barbara she was heading to France.

Copyright © 2016 by Ed Rogers


  1. Ed, when will it be on Amazon?


    1. Steve if you are speaking of the new book. I have not set a date yet. I still have somethings to tighten up.

  2. Wow. Glad you decided not to sell, and are still among the living!

    1. And I'm glad that he didn't sell, so that he might be colleagues with us on Moristotle & Co.!