Category Archives: Jim Winter

Home Again

I’m waiting for Roger. He wants his money. Actually, he wants my money. Marlon left it to me when he died. Somehow, Roger thinks it belongs to him. It doesn’t. Really, it didn’t belong to Marlon either, but I’ll get to that. The important thing is Roger thinks my money is his money. Why?
+++++Roger knows my secret, and he thinks I owe him. I do owe him. That’s why I’m sitting in a darkened apartment on Treasure Island drinking my last vodka. See, Roger has a right to be angry with me. After all, I killed his brother Sam only a month ago.
+++++Sam learned my secret, too. He learned two secrets. First, he learned about the money my friend Marlon hid away. When I said it didn’t belong to Marlon, I wasn’t kidding. Marlon took it from a bank.
+++++At gunpoint.
+++++They never found the cash, and Marlon never went to prison for it. Instead, he ended up in a prison cell in Ohio, which is where I met him. Since then, he became a father to me. Helped me to go straight, gave me a job when I reached San Francisco. His brother Wade became my business partner. The money, however, remained his secret until three days before he died in San Quentin.
+++++Why was Marlon in San Quentin? Well, they never pinned the robbery on him, though no one doubted he did it. They did, however, get him for the murder of his partner, a corrupt Northern California cop who double crossed him. Yeah, forget the money. You kill a cop, even one hated by his brother officers, and the whole of California law enforcement will come down on you sooner or later. They came down on Marlon shortly after I arrived in the Bay Area. So off to San Quentin he went. That’s where he met Sam.
+++++That’s where Sam found out about the money. And me. Only I was no longer me. I changed my name, my look, even my birthday. Sam figured that one out as well. He decided to use that to twist my arm, force me to give up the stash Marlon hid away. I tried to play dumb, but Sam had done his homework. I had done mine. Sam lost his job at San Quentin for blackmailing prisoners. When he came for me, I told him to go to Hell.
+++++So he made the acquaintance of Connie. Who is Connie? Connie was this slim, five-foot-four bar maid, beautiful and so loving. She had a tattoo of her spine up and down her spine. That sounds lame until you learn that the tattoo included a cobra wrapped around that spine. It danced when we made love.
+++++And Sam got to know her. When he realized I would never give him the money, no matter how much evidence he had on me, he took Connie to force my hand. That’s when I gave in. He returned Connie to me when I showed him the money.
+++++He gave me her severed head.
+++++Oh, friends and neighbors, my anger had become righteous. I loved Connie, was about to marry her. I even planned to reveal the truth about my past: my prison time, the invented identity, the real reason I knew Marlon and his brother so well. Connie suspected, maybe even knew, but I wanted to come clean. Sam denied me that chance.
+++++So I killed him and dumped his body in the Bay.
+++++I kept a souvenir, though, a silver Zippo Sam had carried on him. I’m holding it now, looking it shine in the dark. Roger wants it. He wants the money, too.
+++++It did not take long for him to figure out I’d killed Sam. Only Roger has bigger problems. It did not take long for police to find Connie’s body. They’re still looking for the head. I’ll spare you how I dealt with that problem. It did not matter. They found what was left of Connie, and the coroner knew Sam had enjoyed Connie before he killed her. Someone else did, too, and Roger left enough evidence to become a suspect.
+++++So Roger took up Sam’s cause. When he approached me, he said I had everything to lose. He has nothing. He’s right.
+++++And I’m tired. Tired of running. Tired of covering up. I told Roger I would give him Marlon’s stash. I lied. Marlon’s brother has half of it now. Connie’s family will have the other half once FedEx delivers the package I sent them. All that remains is Roger.
+++++He just sent me a text to tell me he’s getting off the Bay Bridge. That was part of the deal. My part was no cops, and I’m true to my word. No cops. No gun.
+++++But I am not unarmed. As soon as he texted me, I reached down between my legs and opened up the valve on the propane tank I bought for this occasion.
+++++There’s a knock at the door.
+++++“Come in,” I say.
As Roger steps into the apartment, I give Sam’s Zippo its final flick.