McKenna's car slowed and made the turn into his secluded driveway at 6200 Carbon Canyon Road. His driver was Bob Berg, an unaggressive born-again Christian nicknamed "Bible Bob." The car stopped as Berg began his entry routine, which involved getting out to open the gate, driving through, then getting out again to close the gate.
When the interior light went on, McKenna pushed himself up to a sitting position. As Berg got back in, Sheridan quietly slid the bolt on his Uzi and stepped from his hiding place. The interior light clicked off. Sheridan was alongside the passenger rear window, which was partially open. He could see McKenna's dark form moving in the back seat. He raised the gun and pulled the trigger. The 9-millimeter clip emptied with the staccato sound of fingers sweeping across piano keys. The window disintegrated. At least 20 bullets thudded into McKenna's torso. Through the broken glass, Sheridan heard him say calmly, almost in wonderment, "I've been shot." With that, the stunned but unhurt Berg slammed the car into gear and shot up the hill. Sheridan sprinted for his own car down the street.
Minutes later, after Sheridan put miles behind him, he pulled into a 7-Eleven parking lot and grabbed a pay phone. "That job you wanted done? Well, it's done," he said. There was a pause, then a man with a British accent answered. It was Amos, Woods' main man. "All right. That's good," he replied.
John Patrick Sheridan, assassin, went out and got drunk.
McKenna's funeral drew a crowd of 300, a few no doubt wanting to make sure he was dead. The coffin was draped in an American flag, and there was a photo on an easel of McKenna on horseback. The spiffed-up monkeys were not there. Mike Woods was not there. The congregation listened to a priest trying to convince them that God's goodness was so vast that even Big Mac's soul was not out of the running, a bet that Vegas oddsmakers would have taken off the board.
As Sheridan talks on the other side of the jail glass, he struggles with emotions that are at odds with the unsavory world he occupied. This new language of "feelings" is foreign, and his vocabulary for expressing them is small. He takes refuge in a gruff, Clint Eastwood-style explanation: "I did what I did and I gotta pay the price."
The paradox of Sheridan's being behind bars is huge. He didn't have to be here. He was virtually untouchable by the law because there were no witnesses to the crime. As he says, "I didn't leave my wallet behind." Certainly, the men who hired him weren't going to snitch. So why is he here now? The answer rests with two things we admire, family and God, and two things we do not, fear and hate.
Sheridan had long been a strip-club hanger-on, which is how he met Amos. The two became drinking buddies. In 1988, Amos raised the subject of murder. "We were friends, and he first asked if I knew anyone who could take care of 'a difficult job.' He kept talking, and I figured out what he was talking about and who was the target. I also knew he was really asking me to take care of it." He pauses. "I told him he was nuts."
Sheridan laughs at the recollection because, at the time, he was snitching for Ventura County cops in an attempt to avoid prison. "I was out on bail at the time on drug charges, and I was, like, going to friends and saying, 'If there's anyone you don't like who's selling drugs, let me know and I'll turn them in.' " When Amos approached with the murder proposal, he unwittingly gave Sheridan a terrific opportunity to improve his standing with police. "Man, if David wasn't my friend, I had a murder for hire. I could have turned him in, and I would have been home free."
But Sheridan didn't. He liked his friend, and could use the money. Besides, he was hard into cocaine and alcohol, and his judgment did not serve him that well--especially after Amos sold him on the idea that if McKenna weren't killed, Amos himself would be "whacked" by Big Mac. After considering it for more than three months, Sheridan went back to Amos and said, "You know that job you were talking about? I can get it done."
Whatever he was thinking--or not thinking--at the time, Sheridan had signed on. However, he soon developed cold feet and approached a friend, who tried without success to persuade the Hells Angels to do the deed. When they declined, Sheridan felt trapped. Veiled comments by Amos convinced him that if he didn't do the killing, he could be in danger himself. So he bought the Uzi on the street for $1,200. ("So much for gun control," he says with a laugh.)