So what happened when he took you to the back of the bar?
Well, the bartender didn't say much of anything; he just walked me
through the kitchen area and led me into what was probably a storage room
of some kind. In there, well, it was a scene straight out of one of those
bad gangster movies. There was a card table with a guy sitting behind it
shuffling papers, a bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling and nothing
but bare walls and concrete floor.
Literally, my first thought when I entered the room was "Oh Jesus,
I've walked into a cheap mob flick."
I can see why you'd think that.
It was bad, very bad, and I wasn't making things any better. In high
school I used to watch a lot of Humphrey Bogart films so I just sort of
slipped into character without realizing it. I kind of put my hands in my
pockets, threw on a scowl, walked up to the table and said, "Hello,
I'm Jake." I'm lucky though, I stopped myself from talking with the
accent, that could have been embarrassing.
Anyway, he looked up from what he was doing, "Yes, you must be the
guy Little John sent up here to help us out." I just kind of nodded
politely and let him continue. "I don't know how much, if anything, he
told you about what you'd be doing so I want to let you know now that it's
not legal and there are risks. If you're going to back out, I suggest you
do it now."
I looked around the room for a second, out of the corner of my eye I
still saw the bartender standing in the doorway. "I've got nothing
better to do."
"Very well," he said motioning to the bartender to take a seat
beside him, "I've got a job for you that will take about two weeks of
your time. If you do it though, it'll make you a lot of money and it
shouldn't be that dangerous as long as you don't freak out."
I glanced over at the bartender and back to Stan, "Ok."
"You still on board with us?" Stan asked.
The Bogart in me slipped back out, "I'll have to check my day
planner, but I think I'm free for the next few weeks."
That dumb crack only got a chuckle as he reached under the table and
pulled out a small brown suitcase. Carefully, he punched in the
combination, opened it and spun it around to face me. Inside it was several
bags filled with a white powder. Now. I'd never it before then, save on TV
or the Internet, but I knew right away it was cocaine. There was no
"What you see in here," Stan started, "Is a little over
eight pounds of cocaine. The street value of this is well over one million
dollars but to you and me, it's worth a three-quarters a million. Your job
is to get this bag and it's contents to Los Angeles in one week. Think you
can handle that?"
That's a lot of cocaine you're talking about.
I know, it looked to me like it almost filled up the suitcase, though
I'm sure they could have put a lot more in if needed. But it still amazes
me that you can fit one million dollars worth of anything into one
suitcase, just shows you how valuable the stuff really is.
But anyway, I reached over into the suitcase and pulled out one of the
bags and held it in my hand feeling how heavy it was and trying to grasp
what I was really holding. That, of course, really pissed off the
bartender, who was apparently playing watchdog, but I didn't care.
In fact, I really didn't give a lot of thought to much of anything, the
whole moment just felt so surreal to me that I just kept doing what I
thought was expected of me. "Sure," I said.
Stan went to speak but the bartender leaned into his ear. I don't know
if he wanted me to hear what he was saying or if he's just a bad whisperer,
but clear as a bell I heard him say, "Can we really trust this guy? We
don't know him after all."
Stan just muttered something back about Little John and the way I was
dressed and the issue seemed to be dropped. Then he turned to me and said,
"Sorry about that, here's the details. At 5:30 PM, one week from
today, an acquaintance of ours will be waiting in the men's bathroom right
inside terminal one at LAX airport. He'll have a bag identical to this one
only that bag will be carrying $750,000 dollars. Now this is important,
before you switch bags, ask him his name, if he answers with anything but
'Cobra', you get out of that airport as fast as you can without drawing
attention and get your butt and that suitcase back to Charlotte. Anything
besides 'Cobra', got that?"
"Cobra," I repeated, "Got it."
"Then," Stan continued, "You bring that 750,000 dollars
back here within one week, one week, and we'll settle up. For your part,
you get ten percent or 75,000 dollars. Not bad for two weeks work? We'll
even give you a few hundred to cover expenses to get you there, but the
trip home comes out of your pocket. If you need to, use the money in the
suitcase but if more than 75 grand is missing when you get back, we're
going to have problems."
"Sounds easy to me."
"It is, but let me warn you real quick, you run off with that
money, you're dead. I've got guys all over this country, you will be found
and you will be killed. The same goes for if you're caught by the police
and rat us out or do anything stupid like try to sell it yourself. You give
it to 'Cobra' at 5:30 a week from today and no one else. Then, you bring
the money here and nowhere else. Do it right, you'll be rewarded, fuck it
up, you die."
Pretty strong threat?
Yeah, it was and I got a lump in my throat just hearing it. I knew he
wasn't screwing around either. He was dead fucking serious. Sorry for the
So what did you do?
The only thing I could do, I looked at him and said, "You don't
have to worry about that."
"Good," he shot back. He then spun the suitcase around, closed
it back up and slid it across the table, "There you go."
Without even thinking about what I was doing, I snatched the suitcase of
the table and said, "I guess I'll see you in two weeks then."
"One more thing," Stan called out, "I need the license
plate of your car. Just to make sure you're not going to get pulled for
something stupid like a suspended license or too many fucking speeding
Then it hit me. Like a 2×4 my stupidity smacked me right in the back of
the head, I had just agreed to run drugs across country and my car was
parked in a rest stop along I-85. I've never wanted to kick myself so hard
in all of my life.
So what did you say?
I stuttered a lot. "I-I-I don't have a car right now. It's kind of,
uh, inaccessible to me right now."
Stan just jumped out of his chair and slammed his palms against the
table, "You what!?"
"I-I don't have a car, I left it at a rest area along I-85. I'm
"And just how the fuck were you planning to run anything when you
don't have wheels?"
By this time I was really panicking. He was very pissed and that
bartender looked like he was ready to do some real damage to me "I
didn't think about that, I'm sorry!"
"Give me that suitcase back so I can find someone with brains to do
this?" he shouted.
I started looking around the room frantically trying to find a solution.
I knew I needed the job. It was my only break and without the money I was
either going to have to go back home or just straight to jail. My first
thought was to fly, but that's too much money and security is way too tight
for that. You can't just walk into an airport with a million dollars worth
of cocaine these days you know?
You'd like to think that at least.
Then the big idea hit me, "I'll take the bus," I said.
"Yeah, the bus. It's perfect. It's something like two and a half
days from Atlanta to LA it shouldn't be much longer from here. That's
plenty of time, it's cheap, there's almost no security and, best of all,
cops don't pull Greyhound busses over. It's the safest way I can go."
If nothing else this got him to calm down and think, he sat back down
and started whispering with the bartender, even though I couldn't hear much
of what they were saying, they seemed to be nodding their approval. Finally
they broke apart and Stan said, "Well, I guess if you ain't got a car
then you aren't going to run off with the money," he said.
I just sort of smiled and said, "You got a point."
"It's cool by us as long as we book the tickets for you." I
just nodded my head. "Then I guess that's that. I'll call a cab and
have him take you to a hotel. If things go well, I won't see you again for
"Do you want me to take this with me?" I asked holding up the
"Take it, I don't want to see it again." I turned around and
started walking toward the door but he called back out to me before I could
leave, "One more thing, guard it with your life… literally."