NOTE: This is an edited excerpt of a much longer story. This was the beginning of a five year stretch that took my life, turned it upside down and made of me a completely different human being than I was before I met Terry. I was once so young and innocent. As all the tales of my youth, this one is also true. Regrettably.
It was a few days before Christmas. I don’t recall the exact year, but I was about twenty-seven and I was at one of my accounts, a “head shop” … you know, where “drug” paraphernalia was sold. The shop was on the beach, so I left Henry in the car; the passing parade of beauties was enough to keep him occupied.
I hadn’t been through the door for more than a second before I fell in love. There she was, looking into a display case of hash pipes. Red hair, petite, a figure a woman half her age would kill for. She was fortyish, but to me she was the sexiest woman I had ever seen.
Prior to meeting Henry, I was shy around women. But, after spending two years hanging around with him, I had finally learned how to speak to the opposite sex. Now that I knew the ropes, I walked right up to her, gave her the killer smile that never failed and said, “Howdy, may I help you?” I figured if she thought I worked there, she’d be more likely to talk to me.
She told me she was looking for a hash pipe for her son, for a Christmas present. Well, to make a long, embarrassing story short, I came on to her with everything I had. But she wouldn’t give me the time of day. As far as I got was to learn her name and where she worked.
I remember walking outside, getting into my car, and just sitting there. I said nothing to Henry; I just stared at the door of the shop, waiting for her to come out. Henry looked at me and said, “What’s happening? Let’s blow this pop stand.”
“I can’t, I’m in love.”
She came out of the shop, gave me a half-smile, and turned her back on me.
I’ll tell you what I didn’t know at the time. Her name was Terry; she had just gotten out of prison. She had done five years of an eleven-year rap. She had been a member of the infamous “Murph the Surf” gang, named after Jack Murphy, the leader. Jack got all the press; they even made a movie about him. But there were two leaders of that gang. The other was Bobby Greenwood, Terry’s old man. You older folks might remember the “Star of India” heist from the American Museum of Natural History. It was one of the biggest jewel thefts in history. Well, my little love was in on that. The gang all got light sentences because everyone loves a jewel thief.
However, the main reason she would have nothing to do with me was the fact she had a sugar daddy paying her bills. She had three kids from three different men, and I guess it can get scary out there, especially if you’re on parole and all alone in the world. But I didn’t know any of this at the time. All I knew was that I had the hots for a woman that wouldn’t give me the time of day.
I’ll spare you the details on how I won Terry’s heart and got her to throw over the sugar daddy in favor of me.
All right, now we can get down to the nitty gritty. Terry and I got hot and heavy, and eventually I got to know “associates” of hers from the old days. These were second-tier members of the gang. At the time all the shit went down, they were young. But when I met them, they were Terry’s age and just getting out of prison.
Back at that time, almost everyone was smuggling marijuana into South Florida, even the “good old boys” on the west coast, shrimpers, fishermen, and the like. They referred to the bales of pot as “square grouper.” That’s where Sonny, an old friend of Terry’s, was based out of; he had done eight of a twenty-year sentence. So, Sonny and the other guys fell right into the smuggling thing. They were bringing pot in every week. They had a squadron of boats that would go out and pick the stuff up from the Bahamas. They were making money hand over fist with nowhere to put it. That’s where I came in. They thought my business was just the place to invest some of their ill-gotten gains.
Now I’ve got these wise guys as partners. And I have to admit; as far as partners went, they weren’t so bad. Every Saturday, another briefcase of cash was flung onto my desk. It got so I told them enough already. I remember one Saturday I had stayed on my boat because I was trying to avoid that week’s stipend. Well, ol’ Butch tracks me down and says, “What’s the matter with me? Why won’t you take my money?”
I didn’t want to hurt his feelings, so I said, “Okay, Butch, just this one time.”
And with that, he tosses me a brown paper bag and says, “Here’s fifty large ($50,000.00). Thanks for taking it.”
“Don’t worry about it, Butch. Maybe you can do me a favor someday.”
I may have given you the wrong impression about the timeline. It wasn’t until two years into my relationship with Terry that I got to know “the boys.” By then, Terry was living in Los Angeles. I had opened an office out there and rented an apartment. Once there, Terry went Hollywood on me and refused to come back to Miami. She was having a ball; she had hooked up with an old girlfriend, a “fence.” You know, someone who buys stolen goods. Her name was Irene and she once sold me a diamond ring I wanted for Terry, three carats. Got it for $1,000.00! One time, Terry and I were fighting and she took the ring off and threw it at me. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and said thank you. You should have seen the look on her face. Well, being the sport that I am, I gave it back to her. Needless to say, it never left her finger again.
Then things got kinda interesting. But that’s a story for another day.