I’ve been fighting a head cold for a week and haven’t been able to review.
So, here comes Chapter 4 from my other blog called “Blue Star Adjustments.” I wrote all 18 chapters in one sitting in 2012. I never went back to edit it. It just spilled from me based on incidents in my life.
“GUNS AND PLANES ~ HOW NOT TO STEAL THEM”
As he was yelling at me and pounding the shit out of my car’s dashboard, I stared straight ahead and thought about how long it would take to drive him home. I occasionally glanced to my right as large cracks appeared on the dashboard caused from his fist. “Shit,” I thought…”How do I report this to the insurance company? How glad am I that those fists aren’t using my face as a target?”
His name was Too Tall. And he was completely amped up on cocaine…out of his mind. The temper tantrum was due to the music recording not being on schedule or going in the direction he had hoped.
As I drove, I desperately knew that I had to jettison this guy without getting myself killed. Not out of the car, but rather, our relationship as musical partners. And without him killing me.
He was a Viet Nam vet. A sergeant in the USMC. Did 3 tours. Wounded each time.
Once while sitting at his house, and he was taking a shower…his girlfriend held up one finger to her lips motioning me to be quiet and then disappeared. She returned to show me his Medal of Honor and the citation. I was stunned. He had never mentioned it. He had mentioned that after the third tour, he was recruited into the Clandestine Services for a few years but claimed to have left a few years before we met. That was a clue I paid no heed to…I’m a dumb ass.
Too Tall fit him too a tee. He was 6-‘4, thin but muscular, and an extremely good looking man…perfect for the image of a band’s front man.
I had known him for 6 months when a coup occurred and he took over the band kicking out the keyboard player. We became a trio. I chose his side because I believed if any success was to be had, it would come from his mind and not the keys player.
We hung out almost every day. Smoking weed and doing coke. It was 1981 after all. We made grandiose plans but also solid plans. We worked on new songs and improved the ones already written. He was my mentor. He was Yoda.
And that’s how I fucked up.
“YOU MAKE ONE FUCKING MOVE AND I’LL BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF!!!!!!!”
Those were my words. And I meant it. And as the words came out of my mouth, I came close to peeing myself.
The pilot looked scared. He wasn’t expecting this. And neither was I until 10 minutes into the flight when Too Tall took me aside and gave me my orders….after the plane lands on a dirt landing strip near Nogales, I was to stay in the plane and hold my .38 caliber revolver on him and say those exact words.
Too Tall and an ex CIA friend (who was also a pilot) were offered a nice chance to make a lot of dough in a small amount of time. It seemed so easy. But it had its obvious dangers.
They were to take a four man crew in a stolen single engine plane down to the border of Mexico, land near a very expensive 1980 Sabreline 65 business jet, worth over a million bucks…..And steal it back.
We were in the middle of learning new tunes at Too Tall’s house in Marina Del Rey, when all of a sudden he said: “We need a lot of dough so we can record out songs and have people take us seriously. And we need it now.”
I gave no umbrage to the comment but saw no way for this to happen. Recording at Sunset Gower studios in Hollywood was $250 per hour!
Too Tall interrupted my concentration on a bass line that I thought would be appropriate for the tune and said, “Look. I’m not kidding. We need a bunch of money. And I may have an opportunity for us to get it. Do you want to hear about it?”
The story unraveled and I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. He’s gotta’ be kidding. He can’t be serious. We’ll get killed.
I kept shaking my head saying this was nuts, I don’t want any part of it, I don’t want to go to prison or a Mexican jail, I don’t want to get killed…I really don’t want to get killed.
So there we were…on the tarmac of Santa Monica airport waiting to take off. The two pilots sat up front and Too Tall and I sat in the back.
Once in the air, Too Tall removed his head set and gestured for me to remove mine. The little Cessna was loud and without head sets, you couldn’t hear yourself think.
And now the plan unveiled. Yeah, that’s right. I went on this nut job adventure without really knowing the facts.
He leaned in close and his lips actually touched my ear. He told me that he and the co-pilot would exit the plane after we landed. Our pilot, in the Cessna, would keep the engine running until a signal was given. That signal was that they had gotten the Sabreliner started and made sure they had enough fuel for what was next. A simple wave of a hand from Too Tall and it was a go.
While the co-pilot did his assigned duty, Too Tall would stand outside the jet and keep watch. He had a 9mm Uzi with a banana magazine in it. He also had a Colt 45 caliber pistol in his belt.
My job was to move up to the co-pilot’s seat, next to the Cessna’s pilot and scream the aforementioned threat.
If anything started to go south on us, our only escape was to get back on the plane we came in so we could get the hell out of there. We couldn’t have this guy flip out and leave half our party on the ground subject to something very bad.
It was my job to point my .38 at him and make sure he didn’t leave. I also reminded him that we had another pilot that could do his job; so he was certainly expendable.
We sat for the longest 15 minutes of my life in that cockpit. The gun got very heavy. Why the fuck did I pick a 6” barrel?
And then we heard a sweet sound: the engines of the jet roaring to a start. A few minutes later, Too Tall waved his hands and motioned us over to the jet. I made the pilot leave the plane before me. I didn’t want to get cold cocked from behind because I had pissed this guy off.
We ran to the jet. Too Tall was the last one one. No sooner had he pulled up the stairs, that the jet started moving. The plane had already left the ground before I could clumsily find my seat belts.
We had done it!
We landed at Long Beach Airport. As we got out, two men dressed in casual, but expensive clothes approached us and handed Too Tall a small leather bag. Not a word was said and we headed towards the parking lot where Too Tall’s girlfriend was waiting.
All five of us screamed like banshees as soon as the car left the parking lot. Too Tall unzippered the leather bag and took his small Maglite flashlight and pointed it into the bag.
Divided four ways, it was $31,250 ($88,000 in 2019 dollars) each. Fucking-A.
Our recording money was secured. We headed towards a strip joint in Culver City where we spent about 2 hours doing shots of tequila and tipping the strippers. I got sick as a dog.
I finally got home and then to bed around 7AM. I was exhausted but still crazed from the adrenaline rush. I looked at the clock and it was 9AM and I wasn’t even close to being tired…so I took a couple sleeping pills and 20 minutes later, I was asleep.
When I awoke at 4:30PM, I leaped out of bed and grabbed the plastic shopping bag in my closet and opened it to make sure the previous day was not a dream. There it was: $29,550.
I guess I spent too much partying the night before.
I gave my pot connection a call and asked about his inventory. He had something new that he got a couple days before and it was good, but expensive. I told him to reserve me an ounce. I was on my way over after a shower. It was going to be a good night.
The adrenaline was still lingering when Too Tall called me that night around 11:30. He had another job for us. My chin dropped to my chest. Oh no…..I didn’t think I could do this again.
Hearing the quiet on my end of the phone, he quickly jumped in with, “Hey! Don’t worry. It’s nothing as dangerous as what we had just done…piece of cake and we don’t have to leave town.”
We met the next day at my recording studio. I bought a couple sandwiches from the deli across the street so lunch was waiting for us when he arrived. I was hungry and Too Tall was late.
He showed up half an hour late and amped on coke. He had no appetite which pissed me off.
“OK. Here’s the deal. Last week I was hanging at Lester Hoffman’s place…you know…the entertainment lawyer? We were drinking and doing coke and having a great time. Lester starts bragging about how much money he has skimmed from the profits of his agency. He even took me into his bedroom to show off his safe with the money inside. Phil, there were stacks and stacks of hundred dollar bills. Un-fucking-believable!!
Too Tall said: “I was fucking his girlfriend on the side because she was only with him for his power and dough and great drugs. After all, he’s in his 60’s and look at me. I’m a fucking machine!”
“Well, I got a call from Charlene last night. Lester passed out on the couch and didn’t close the safe. So she grabbed about $60K, gathered up her things, and split. She called me and asked if we could meet. I asked where… and she said ‘The E.R. of Santa Monica Hospital.”
I asked her if she was OK and she said she was fine. I am afraid Lester will wake up and know what I had done.”
Too Tall went on to describe what happened that morning before he met me. Apparently, Charlene checked into the hospital complaining of migraines and they admitted her because her blood pressure was out of control and the docs were afraid she was going to have a stroke.
In the middle of the night, she called the cops. She told them she had inside info on Lester.
Old Lester, it seems, was mixed up with a bunch of gangsters working out of Culver City and Inglewood. She told them she had the proof that the cops needed to put Lester away for a while. Lester was a smart guy but didn’t count on being betrayed.
At 3:30AM, the cops put two uniformed officers outside her hospital room.
Too Tall had gotten a call from Charlene around 5:00AM with a plan to get her out of there and on a plane to South America…a country to be named later.
Our part in this caper would be worth $10,000 ($28,000 in 2019 dollars). Split evenly between Too Tall and myself.
I should have gotten all the dough because I did all the work. I was to be at the hospital front entrance at 4:00PM exactly. The hospital employee shifts overlapped at that time. Charlene was to get dressed and at around 3:00 wait for an opportunity to leave her room unnoticed.
Cops get bored on these assignments. Who wouldn’t? At around 3:45, one cop disappeared and the other was snoozing. Dressed in nurse’s scrubs, she darted out of the room and then made her way to the front of the hospital. She actually got there before me.
I had a bag of clothes and a fake macadamia nut can with a false bottom. Her money, minus the $10,000, was inside the can, inside a bag. Her passport and purse were in the front passenger’s seat.
Too Tall was adamant that I make sure that I put the bag in the front with me and not in the back of my station wagon. Once at the airport there should be no reason for me to get out. Just drop her off and drive on.
Still cocky from the previous caper, I decided to wear my shoulder holster with the .38 revolver…the only problem was that it was summer and warm outside. I threw on a polyester warm up jacket thinking it would disguise the bulge under my arm. Too Tall got angry and told me not to wear the gun. I told him I wasn’t going into this thing without it.
The pick up went without a hitch. We were only 30 minutes from L.A. International Airport. I stopped the station wagon directly out front of the American Airlines entrance. Charlene said her goodbyes and asked where her bag was?
“Fuck! Shit! Cunt! Cock! Piss!”
I threw it into the back of my station wagon and the door was locked. I had to get out, unlock the door, and grab the bag and give it to Charlene. All the while I was doing this, two airport cops were watching me…or rather, watching the bulge under my clingy warm up jacket.
Charlene headed into the building as I started the car. Both cops were standing on the curb near the right front of my car.
A moment before I took off, one cop stood in front of my car and placed his hand up telling to stay where I was.
My window was open and my left arm lay casually on the open sill. The cop never took his eyes off of mine. He walked very slowly until he stopped next to my window.
I was shitting my pants.
The cop leaned in enough that I actually had to lean to the right so our heads didn’t touch. That lasted a few moments while he looked at the contents of my station wagon. He pulled his head out, still staring right into my eyes. I managed to stare right back…although I don’t think I blinked.
He stepped back from the car and motioned with his hand to move on.
I pulled out slowly and watched as my hands on the wheel shook like a palsy victim. I just had a very big scare and was bewildered how I got out of that in one piece. I never told Too Tall about that. But when he suggested that we go back to the same strip joint, I declined and instead, went home and had a quiet dinner and watched some TV.
This was getting out of hand.
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