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Authors: Jesse James

American Outlaw

BOOK: American Outlaw
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Gallery Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This work is a memoir. Events, actions, experiences, and their consequences over a period of years have been retold as the author presently recollects them. Some names and identifying characteristics have been changed, and some dialogue has been re-created from memory. The timeline for some events has been compressed.

Copyright © 2011 by Jesse James

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Gallery Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Gallery Books hardcover edition May 2011

GALLERY BOOKS and colophon are registered trademarks
of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at

Designed by Jaime Putorti

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011006187

ISBN 978-1-4516-2785-5
ISBN 978-1-4516-2788-6 (ebook)

For insert photograph credits, see page 361.




To Chandler, Jesse, Sunny, and my beloved Katherine




Chapter 1


Chapter 2


Chapter 3


Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 6


Chapter 7


Chapter 8


Chapter 9


Chapter 10


Chapter 11


Chapter 12


Chapter 13


Chapter 14


Chapter 15


Chapter 16


Chapter 17


Chapter 18










“Oh shit! It’s
! Get ready, get ready!”

I walk out into the bright California daylight, a baseball cap pulled low over my eyes.

“Jesse! Yo! Jesse—look over here, man!”

Jesse James!
Hey, how’s it going, asshole? Got time for a picture?”

Like most pack animals, paparazzi aren’t nearly as charming when they’ve turned against you. In fact, Beverly Hills gossip photographers, seen up close, are snappingly vicious.

“Jess, you like
right? Yo! Jesse!”

I clench my jaw and glance over at my sixteen-year-old daughter, Chandler, to check her reaction. She stares straight ahead numbly as we hurry toward our truck. It infuriates me that my children—Chandler, Jesse Jr., and my six-year-old, Sunny—have to deal with insults that should be for me alone.

But paparazzi never play by the rules. These guys make up their own moral code. And for the last week, they haven’t hesitated to make my life hell.

“Come on,” I order my kids, “let’s hop to it. Let’s go.” Chandler quickly raises her science textbook to cover her face, so they can’t get a shot of her. Smart.

“Jesse! Did you talk to Sandra?” cries a skinny, ragged-looking guy at the head of the pack. “Hey, did you talk to Sandra? Did you talk to Sandra?”

For paparazzi, peak performance hinges on volume and repetition. The loudest-crowing cock rules the roost. They hurl spiteful insults at the top of their lungs, their cracked lips hemmed in by patchy beards and wet mustaches.

“Jesse! Jesse! Are you a Nazi?”

Camera shutters click on full auto. I keep my head down: only a few more yards to the truck.

As we approach my vehicle, I open the doors remotely with a click of my key. Chandler helps Sunny into the backseat. Jesse Jr. hops up front like a champ.

Incredibly, the photographers continue to shoot. By now, each of them have likely taken several hundred pictures of me and my children just on the way to our truck, all interchangeable and nearly identical.

“You know what?” I say. “You guys got all the shots you need today. I’m trying to take my kids to school now, so just leave for a while. Let us have some space.”

“Yeah, you heard the guy!” one guy says, laughing. “Back off! He needs his
!” Derisive laughter follows from the pack of sweaty, middle-aged men.

didn’t screw up, Jesse,” one of the men admonishes me. “
did, okay?”

I think.
Physical violence would feel
right now.
To just dole out a single blow to someone’s greasy temple—or, even
milder, to snatch a camera out of the nearest feeble grip and smash it on the curb, splintering it into black plastic glitter.

But I reproach myself. They
you to punch them. That’s their wettest dream. A paparazzo punched in the solar plexus is a bottom-feeder who never has to work another day. No more endless late nights, coffee breath, melted candy bars on the passenger seat, weaving suicidally through Saturday-night Rodeo Drive traffic because the word is,
Chris Brown
just left Mr. Chow’s . . .

I just grit my teeth, turn the key in the ignition, and pull away from the curb. I glance back at my three kids. Chandler and Jesse Jr. look pretty bummed out, but Sunny, mercifully, seems okay. For a second, nobody says anything.

“Want to listen to some music?” I ask, finally.

“Dad,” says Chandler. “Will those guys be at school when we get there?”

I look in my rearview mirror. “Well, they’re following us. So, yeah, I expect they will.”

“Can’t you lose them?” asks Jesse Jr.

“Not with you guys in the car.”

“How long do you think they’re going to keep following us to school?”

I glance at him through the rearview. “Don’t know.”

As I drive to the high school to drop off Chandler and Jesse, no fewer than thirty cars follow behind me closely. We arrive at the school, and I pull up to the side of the parking lot, as close to the doors as possible.

“Go ahead, hurry. Before too many of them can get out of their cars.”

They gather their things hurriedly, Chandler clutching her books to her chest, and Jesse Jr. tossing his backpack over his shoulder.

“Hey,” I warn. “If anybody at school gives you any crap, just don’t listen to them. It’s none of their business what goes on in our family.”

“Dad, come on. We’re not listening to anyone.”

“All right,” I say. “I love you guys. Go on. Hurry up. Get out of here.”

They flee into the school without looking back. I turn to the backseat, to my daughter Sunny.

“You ready to go to school, Sun?”

She nods. “Daddy?”


“Where’s Sandy?”

I chew my lip as I consider my answer.
Well, sweetie, the truth is, I have no idea. Daddy fucked up, real, real bad, so your stepmommy decided to disappear for a few weeks.

BOOK: American Outlaw
9.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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