Chapter 17

The Assassination of Opie Winston

"I got this…" he whispered looking into the eyes of the only person who really mattered anymore.

Why did he do it?

Well, it was quite simple. Sometimes the Reaper comes to collect and there ain't no point in fighting him. At the end of the day, the Reaper gets what it wants and it's just best to surrender to him peacefully.

From when he was a kid, he was taught to fight. Fight the system, fight the kids that teased him for being poor, or quiet, or a trailer trash. Fight rival MC members, or gang bangers, or for his family or brothers. The list was endless. And frankly, he was fucking tired of it.

So, as he was dragged to the room with the black prisoners waiting, he knew he had enough of it. He just wanted simplicity at its finest and there isn't anything as simple as death. With death everything would be over. All the fighting to hold on to his kids that each day hated him more and more. Or all the tears he had to fight back every day since Donna's death. Or all the anger he had to fight back since Piney died in the hands of Clay. All the constant battles he was fighting within. Nobody knew all the fights he had within himself that each day ate him alive a little more.

But as he surrendered to the beauty of death, he thought about the one person, who loved him deeply and truly. His one true brother-Jax.

His relationship with Jax was always simple. For a while, they were each other's true North but as time went on things changed. Life showed it true dark colors and he only had the club and Jax to tether him from chaos. Mary left, leaving Opie motherless with a drunk Daddy that was too busy with the club to take care of a young kid. So, Opie was truly raised by Gemma as a mother figure and Jax as the brother he didn't have biologically.

Opie could recall all the times he slept in Jax's childhood room, in a cot that Gemma found at the Salvation Army. Most kids would be ashamed of that, but not Opie. He had a roof over his head, clean clothes, and three hot meals placed in front of him every single day. Plus, there was Jax, who was always up for some good old mischief. And it was always like that for a while. Jax and Opie, playing pranks on people, riding their bikes up and down Jax's street or in the garage. At night, both boys stayed up late talking about their dreams for Samcro and what they would do once they had the gavel.

Then Thomas died and Opie knew that he really was the only brother Jax had. Opie made it his business to be there for him, a silent reassurance that everything would be okay at the end of the day. Thomas's death shocked everyone even, his father. By the time school started that year, Piney dragged Opie back to their cluttered filled house, although, Opie didn't want to. Jax's house was his home and deep down it was. But Piney saw the pain that John was in, losing a child, and he made a silent promise to be there for his own kid. And Piney wasn't a bad man. He was honorable and wise but he loved alcohol too much—Opie blamed Vietnam for that. But Opie had to give merit when it was due and Piney tried, at least.

Opie's house was in a dump of a neighborhood filled with the lower-class members of Charming. There weren't any trailers or projects or any of that but the houses were small and dilapidated. Most of the men in the neighborhood worked for the mill making chump change that they either gambled away or drank away. One man was Derek Knowles, the known town drunk, who lived a few doors down from Opie.

Opie didn't care too much for Derek but he felt drawn to his daughter, Tara, who had the same sad eyes that Opie probably had. One day, right before he turned sixteen, he heard some commotion coming from the Knowles small house and he didn't hesitate to go investigate unlike some of his neighbors that just didn't give two fucks. When he knocked on the door, poor Tara looked embarrassed. Opie looked past her and saw Derek passed out on the floor, a mess of vomit everywhere. Even at fifteen, he was huge, so Opie walked past Tara and carefully picked Derek from the floor. Tara led him to the master bedroom. Opie never told anyone about it. That night a friendship and bond started between them.

As time went on, things remained the same. But pretty soon the Reaper made an appearance in Charming in an unexpected way. John Teller died, devastating Jax. Pretty soon the Winston's home became Jax's safe haven. Jax's house had too many ghosts for him. Jax didn't know how to wrap his head around his hero and father dying. There was also the fact that a relationship between Gemma and Clay started to bloomed rapidly within months of John Teller dying. It was all too much for Jax. So Jax did want he did best-escape from his emotions and refused to deal with them. Pretty soon, Jax was the biggest whore in town. Swimming in pussy became his favorite past time and Opie just watched as his best friend slowly self-destructed.

Of course, the universe had a weird way to turn shit upside down once in a while. Opie was absolute floored when Jax and Tara became Jax and Tara. He wasn't the only one. Charming as a whole was shocked.

At first, he didn't understand it. He caught himself scratching either his head or beard every time he saw them together. But then one day, it clicked.

Tara wasn't like the girls Jax had had before. She didn't bow down to Prince Charming. She stood her ground and didn't take shit from anyone, especially Jax. And it was a bonus that she was whip smart and kept Jax on his toes. Jax always did like to escape from his reality and Tara was so far removed from the MC world, that Jax couldn't had made a better choice. Tara was everything Jax needed.

Opie witnessed his best friend flourish under Tara and was genuinely happy for his two friends. Opie was also glad to cover for them whenever they needed to escape the demons that chased them in Charming. Countless times he spent weekends alone in the cabin as Jax and Tara had small adventures in nearby cities or vice versa. Countless afternoons, he spent sitting inside his truck, smoking cigarettes, listening to old rock songs as Jax had his way with Tara inside the cabin. When the couple were done, Opie would just nod and drive them back to Charming. He tried to feel guilty each time he had to lie to Gemma's face but he simply couldn't. Jax was happy and that was more than enough for him.

One day, the club volunteered for one of those charities to raise money for a local church and that's where he met her—Donna.

His heart clenched as he thought of his now deceased wife.

She was the only light in his life for a while. When the club demanded more of him, he knew he would be ok because she would be there waiting for him.

Just like Jax had Tara, he had Donna. While Donna kept Opie grounded, he saw firsthand what loving a club member could do to an Old Lady.

Watching Tara evolved from a bookworm nerd to a fierce Future Old Lady was heartwarming but scary as fuck. At nineteen, he saw the boundaries Tara crossed for Jax and it scared him to see his friend, who he considered like a sister, lose her way. Of course, Jax loved it. His ride or die woman. With every fight Tara got into, more inflated Jax's ego became. Opie saw the pride in Jax's face after each horrible fight. Opie also noted how defeated Tara looked afterwards even though she won all the fights she fought for Jax.

Then, shit hit the fan when Tara tried to get Jax to leave Charming. He knew that Gemma would first kill Tara than let her only son leave her. And he feared for Tara's life at some points. Luckily for Tara, Jax was pretty much glued to her hip. At least when they were walking in their own two feet. Cause the rest of the time, it seemed like Jax was glued to another part of Tara's body. Towards the end of that summer, Opie swore he was going to lose his best friend to San Diego. But fate intervene and they lost two club members right before Tara was due to leave. For the sake of the club, Jax let love escape him when he decided to stay so the club wouldn't crumble. Opie didn't know whether to admire Jax's loyalty or slap him for letting Tara go.

The following years were hard. Hard in the sense that it was difficult to watch his best friend fall apart. Yes, Jax devoted himself to all things MC but he was empty on the inside.

Just as Jax was falling apart, his marriage was rock solid. Donna had two kids within two years of one another and Opie was as happy as he would ever be. Then he got caught blowing up shit for the club and he lost five years of his happiness because of it. In those five years, Jax got married to a junky, Piney became more dependent on booze, his kids grew without a father and Donna became a bitter Old Lady that couldn't make ends meet.

The club helped as much as it could but Donna was a proud woman and hated feeling like a charity case. And Opie hated feeling so helpless as he watched his wife, his Queen, rise two small children by herself with an income of a secretary in Charming's only veterinarian clinic.

Time moved slowly for him in Chino. When he finally got out, things weren't the same. Gone was the youthfulness of life in the MC world. Clay was tyrannical, Piney had pretty much given up his power and gave it to Jax, hoping that John Tellers' heir would make things right. Too bad that Jax was too busy fucking his way through California to really put JT's vision of the club into fruition... at least that's what Piney mumbled once while he held tightly to an empty bottle of Patrón.

The real challenge was Donna, who resented the fact that she was left alone to raise two young kids. That resentment towards him bled over to the club and soon Donna declared her immense hatred for the MC that took five happy years from her and her little family. In one of their most intense arguments, Donna admitted that Tara was right to run-away from Charming and Opie felt his heart drop to the bottom of his stomach. That night he swore he would put family first given that he didn't want to lose Donna like Jax lost Tara. He loved the club but he loved his family more.

So, he took a minimum paying job at the mill, chipping wood for pennies while he watched his brothers earn real money like real men do. He was miserable and everyone knew it. A couple of times he caught himself driving to the liquor store after work, the temptation of drinking his problems away becoming bigger and bigger. However, he swore he would never be like Piney, absent and a drunk so he drove away each and every time empty handed.

Life threw Jax a lifeline in two forms. One, Wendy got pregnant to everyone's but Jax's delight. A new heir to the Samcro throne. Opie told Jax that a baby was a blessing and Jax agreed. Jax wanted a baby just not with Wendy who desperately clung to her cheating husband in hopes of having a fairytale ending in the MC world.

Within five months of the baby announcement, Jax got his second lifeline when Tara surprisingly moved back to Charming. He found out when he went to visit his Old Man and found both them sitting in his childhood living room talking like old pals. Opie was shocked to see her. Nevertheless, as soon as the shock wore off, he grabbed his old friend and gave her one of his notorious bear hugs making her laugh in the process.

They chatted for a while. He was happy to hear that she was a successful surgeon. As Opie spoke to her, he kept thinking about his best friend and how he would react to Tara's return.

Jax was over the moon with Tara's return. Opie saw it in Jax's eyes after he delivered the news, the same day Opie found her catching up with Piney. Even though Jax swore that Opie was the one who broke the news, Opie had a feeling Jax already knew.

Just as things were looking up for Jax, they were looking dismal for Opie. The Winston's debt kept growing and growing, each day becoming less bearable for him as a man. So, he caved. He went back to the thing that held his lifeline—Samcro. He was back in the fold. He was earning. He had his family. Everything was falling into place when that blonde bitch took everything from him in a span of a week.

Stahl's lies caused Donna's death. And he didn't know how to come back from it. Holding Donna's lifeless body in the streets of Charming, bullet holes deep in her head broke something within him. That night, he died with her. His soul left Earth with hers and not even his children could bring him back from that despair.

He thought that killing Stahl would make it all better. He thought marrying Lyla would make it all better. But it didn't.

His life ended the day he buried his wife. He was just living on borrowed time, so to speak.

He meant what he said to Jax in the jail cell. Jax should had killed Clay when he had the chance. Jax should had taken the club on another road.

What is sad about the whole situation was that in a way, Opie projected his happiness into Jax. Seeing his best friend happy with two kids and the woman he loved all his life, meant a lot to Opie. At least Jax got his happy ending, thought Opie for a while.

But then shit started going south and it wasn't about the brotherhood or family—the club became about money and more money. Dead bodies started piling up and Opie simply couldn't wrap his head around it. Why would anyone want to be part of that anymore? And what was more disappointing was that his own best friend, the only person who he loved like his own flesh and blood was behind the cover up of all the bad shit that Clay initiated.

But unlike Opie, Jax still had a chance. It was too late for Opie. Jax, on the other hand, had everything going for him. He just needed to make it right.

That's why, when Opie whispered, "I got this," he felt at peace. Opie knew that Jax would honor his memory—Opie's last wish of setting the club in the right direction.

When the first blow came, Opie just thought of Donna.

It was an old memory but one that he held close to his heart. She had just given birth to Kenny and she was holding their newborn son as Opie brought Ellie to her hospital bed. He remembers sitting Ellie next to Donna. He watched as his whole world laying in that hospital bed. He remembers Donna laughing at something Ellie said, Kenny fast asleep in his mother's arms. He remembers joining them in that bed. He remembers gently kissing Donna's lips as Ellie crawled into his lap.

That's what he chose to remember as he felt his skull cave in. As the life drained out of his body, Opie thought about his beloved Donna and how happy that moment in the hospital was.

Opie smiled before the Reaper came for him once and for all.