Jim Biggs and I had been best friends since we were three years old. We caught pollywogs together, played high school football, stood up at each other’s weddings.
Now I was going to see him for the last time. It's never easy when a friend is dying. You hope they'll pull through even when you know they won't. Hoping is helpful but with Jim I didn't have that luxury. Death would come at midnight Friday just as sure as the sun would rise on Saturday. He had exhausted all his appeals; the governor had refused clemency.
Twenty-one years earlier my best bud held up an armored truck, left four men dead and went on the lam with $3-million. He was caught a month later, the money was never recovered. He said he was riding to California in a boxcar with it when the train hit a pickup truck. During the long delay he decided to go to a 7-Eleven down the street. A kid on a bike ran into him, he woke up in a hospital, “flat broke,” as he liked to put it.
“Hello Mr. Adams. How are you today?” the guard asked when I signed in.
“I've had better ones, Joseph.”
“I'm sorry, sir, I understand.”
The guards were always respectful. I'd spot the new ones by seeing the older ones pointing me out. It’s quite unusual for a special agent in charge of a major FBI office to visit a convicted murderer every month, but our bond was for life.
"You know, Porter, other than killing those guys, I only have one regret."
"I'm never going to see the Cleveland Browns win a Super Bowl."
“How are you feeling Jim?” I asked into the phone after four guards brought him to the
condemned prisoners visiting room.
“I'm fine, Porter, Thanks. After all, I've been preparing 20 years for this. I'm ready."
“Been doing anything to take your mind off of it?"
“I have, reminiscing about the good old days. All the fun times we had. Catching fish,
snowballing cars, drinking beer at the Calico Inn."
“What's your favorite memory from back then?"
“The cave. Remember how excited we were when we discovered it?"
“I sure do, what a wonderful place. We smoked cigarettes there, later a little grass, made those torches for light."
“Stumbling onto it was pure luck” he said. “Entrance was so small and hidden, we probably
walked by it a hundred times. I bet people still don't know it’s there."
“You know, Porter, other than killing those guys, I only have one regret."
“I'm never going to see the Cleveland Browns win a Super Bowl."
“Buddy, a baby born today might not live long enough to see that."
We both laughed. I talked with him another 20 minutes, then we tearfully said goodbye.
The execution went off as planned. Both Warden Greene and the news outlets said it was very
smooth, no suffering.
Not quite two years after that I put in my retirement papers and got my passport in order.
Then on a strong hunch I went back to the cave, and a few days later flew off to a new life in
Belize with $3-million dollars.