Payback. 5

pay-back

Frank McGinley came to England in 1972, but not by choice.

He was born in Belfast in 1946 and by the age of fourteen was the youngest member of the Provisional IRA.

At sixteen he played a major part in the planning and setting of the twenty two bombs that went off in Belfast City centre, killing nine people, it became known as “Bloody Friday”. Two things were sure to happen. He would either be killed by the Ulster Defence Association or the Ulster Volunteer Force. Two paramilitary organisations who were fierce opponents of the IRA.

So he was smuggled out of Northern Ireland and within forty eight hours he arrived at his Aunt’s house in Kilburn.

His orders were simple. Raise as much money for “the cause” as you can by whatever means you think necessary.

For Frank this was easy, every pub, club and bar in North London was visited every Friday. The Irish workmen loved to spend their hard earned cash on paydays, drinking as much Guinness as they could. So when someone came up with a bucket asking for a few coppers for “the cause”, guilt got the better of them and they always threw in as much as they could.

For ten years Frank ran this business with ruthless determination, each month eighty percent of the takings were sent back to Ireland and twenty percent was kept back so he could invest in other business interests in England. The hierarchy back in Belfast were happy with this arrangement knowing that Frank was a loyal member of the team. The consequences of disloyalty were well known.

In 1983 he married Carla, a gorgeous red haired young girl and two years later they had twin boys. That’s when the McGinley empire really began. There was McGinley Skip Hire, McGinley Car Sales, McGinley Landscapes, McGinley Windows and Doors; he was a very successful businessman.

He invested heavily in anything that made money, but was well aware of his patch. He ran North London, it was a postcode thing, god bless the great GPO. If it had an “N” in the postcode it was his, god forbid anyone who tried to sell, trade or rob anything in his manor because at some stage they would deal with the McGinley firm. But, do the honourable thing and “ask permission” to sell, trade or rob and that was okay, you paid a fee and off you went but everything was controlled by Frank.

The first time he heard the name Paul Fletcher was about ten years ago, he was doing well for himself, scrap mainly but then drugs. No problem with that it wasn’t his manor it was Terry Murphy’s. Terry ran the East End; anything with an “E” in it was his. Then he heard about Terry being gunned down by Fletcher, still not his problem as long as Fletcher kept East, business was business.

But the more he learned about Fletcher the more he disliked him; he was a thug not a businessman. He took things by force rather than by graft and brain power. Just like the Kray’s back in the sixties.

When Terry was in charge it was different, there was always a meet twice a year between the “Postcode Generals”.  Terry had East and some of the City, he had North, Charlie Wilson had West and Billy Giles had South.

The “Generals” held a Boxing tournament twice a year for amateurs, they raised a fortune for young kids in their respective areas, they met, talked and had mutual respect for each other, everything was sweet. Then fucking Fletcher took over East.

He refused to attend any of the functions, just sent a fat cheque. No respect!

Frank contacted Terry Murphy in prison, a deal was done. When you come out, we’ll take over East together. This suited Terry, he knew he would need allies when he came out otherwise Fletcher would take him out once and for all. But most of all it suited Frank, it was another revenue stream for the boys back home, it also showed every other “Postcode General” that he was the Commander.

Eventually he and his two sons would take the whole of London.

Now he was sitting opposite Terry at his home in Kilburn. He stood up and walked over to a large display cabinet and took out to Brandy glasses. From a decanter on a nearby table he filled the glasses and handed one to Terry Murphy.

“Welcome home my friend. I hope everything is okay? I hear there was a slight altercation at the pub this afternoon.”

Terry just shrugged his shoulders.

“Nothing I can’t handle Frank. You know what Fletcher’s like, he’s an animal, no class, no respect.”

Frank nodded in agreement.

“I agree Terry, but we must be careful. He is an animal, but animals bite and we don’t want to get bitten now do we Terry?”

Terry laughed. He loved the way old Frank put things into perspective.

“No Frank, we certainly don’t want to get bitten.”

Frankl called over to a young man standing in the corner of the room.

“Mal, come over here.”

The small dark haired man walked over and sat beside Frank.

“Yes father, what can I do?”

“Terry, this is my son Malachi, he’s loyal to the cause, he and his men will be looking after you for the next few days, you’ll be staying in the Edwardian Radisson at Canary Wharf for a while, the boys will take care of everything. Okay?”

“Sure Frank, appreciate it, just want to show that cunt Fletcher what’s what.”

“I know Terry, I know, but slowly slowly for now, one of his men was taken out this morning just after you made an appearance, so he’s chomping at the bit, but no worries, we’ll sort this out all in good time.”

Terry was surprised by the information.

“Who Frank?”

“A low life piece of filth called Danny, I think.”

Terry shook his head.

“Don’t recognise the name. But there again I’ve been gone for six years. Any idea who did it?”

Frank sipped his Brandy before speaking.

“No idea Terry, probably just an internal argument that got out of hand. But he’s with the devil now that’s for sure.”

Frank raised his glass as though offering a toast. Terry did the same. They drank to the death of young Danny.

Frank stood up, Terry sensed that it was time for him to leave and did the same.

“Okay, Terry, off you go now, Mal will look after everything for the next couple of days, I’ll be in touch.”

“Thanks Frank, I’ll remember this kindness.”

“Oh, I’m sure you will Terry, sure you will.”

 

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Payback. 4

pay-back

Paul Fletcher’s wife Jenny and their two young girls were in Portugal. He had a villa just outside Albufeira in a small coastal resort called Santa Eulalia. Jenny took the girls there every year during the school holidays. Paul visited whenever he could but hated being away from his business interests for too long. Their relationship had settled into a nice routine, basically they both did whatever they wanted and were only together because of the kids.

Paul fucked for England. He always had at least three women on the go at any one time. Currently he had a Brazilian pole dancer that worked at his club in Shoreditch, a divorced, former page three girl who lived on the same estate, and Kathy, a single woman who he’d been seeing for over four years. He really liked Kathy, she was younger than him by eight years, and two years ago she told him she was pregnant. She’d expected him to tell her to get rid of it, instead he was overjoyed. Paul was desperate to have a son.  Billy was born eighteen months ago and he doted on him, he and Kathy wanted for nothing. He bought them a luxury two bed roomed flat just a few miles away and took care of everything. He wasn’t sure if Jenny knew about Kathy and the baby, but if she did she never mentioned it.

Paul was in the snooker room looking at the CCTV screens. He walked over to the bar and poured himself a large slug of twelve year old malt, then sat down in his oversized chesterfield armchair.

He sipped the drink slowly so he could savour the taste. He needed to think clearly about the situation. Terry Murphy would be offered a deal by his Solicitor but Paul was sure he wouldn’t take it. There was too much anger in him. Paul remembered the day he shot Murphy, remembered it well, remembered the smell of burning, not just from the gun but from Terry’s flesh as the white hot metal struck his body. He hadn’t planned to shoot him but as always his temper got the better of him.

Six years ago East London was run by Terry Murphy. It was his patch, his territory.  Paul knew when he decided to get involved in drugs he’d have to be careful of Terry Murphy, so he started small. He sold only in his own area, Bethnal Green. But after a few months he realised just how much money there was to be made so he expanded into Shoreditch and Whitechapel. He knew Terry Murphy wouldn’t be pleased so decided to act first. He set up a meet with him, saying it was about time they joined forces and became a real strength. Terry agreed. They met at some waste ground in Docklands. Both agreed to come alone. In these situations it’s all about honour, if you agree and shake hands on a deal then that’s it, no paperwork, no Solicitors, no witnesses, just two men sorting things out.

Paul was sure that Terry would be armed so took along a piece just in case things got nasty. They met. Paul remembered the conversation clearly. It was very short. Murphy treated him like a kid, paid him no respect.

“It’s a bit cheeky Paul, wanting to form a partnership with me. I’ve been on the manor a lot longer than you, why the fuck would I need a partner?”

Paul bit his lip trying to contain his anger.

“Because the area is massive. All the way from Aldgate out to the borders of Essex. There’s a big change coming Terry, places like Shoreditch, Hoxton, Hackney and Stratford are exploding with new money and they’ll all want gear. Gear that you and me will supply. You’ll earn more money with me as a partner than you ever will if you try and do it all on your own. We could carve the area up into two, I’ll even pay you a commission on the profit that I make. It’s a deal that’ll work for both of us.”

Terry Murphy dismissed the idea.

“Look Paul, I’ve let you have a little bit of the action in a couple of places. I’ve been a generous man. I could have come and kicked the shit out of you for even trying, but I’ve allowed it. But now you’re getting on my nerves so I’ve got a suggestion. Either come and work for me like a good little boy or fuck off back to scrap business and stop selling gear on my patch. Understand me? “

He remembered Terry laughing as he said it. Then Paul lost it, pulled out his gun, shot Terry in the groin. Terry went down, a look of total surprise on his face.

“What the fuck you doing you stupid cunt?”

Blood was pouring from Terry’s groin area, he tried to stop it with his hand but the blood was seeping through his fingers. He started to panic.

“Look get me to a hospital, I’ll say it was an accident then after we’ll talk yeh?”

Paul shot him again, this time the bullet tore a chunk out of his left shoulder. The force made Terry spin over on the floor, he was now face down. Slowly he turned to face Paul.  This time his face was contorted in anger.

“You’re fucking mad Fletcher. You want it all? Then fucking take it!”

Paul aimed one more time and shot Terry in the chest. After this Terry didn’t move, his eyes closed and he just laid there. Paul went to the boot of his car, took out a large carrier bag and placed it at Terry’s side. He got in his car and drove away. He was convinced Terry was dead.

He almost was, he was in surgery for thirteen hours then in a coma for nine weeks. During those weeks Paul took over everything that Terry had, all his boys came over to work for Paul. The police had what they wanted, a known drug dealer in what looked like an exchange that went wrong. Once he recovered Terry went down for twelve years.

Paul stood up and refilled his glass. It was three hours since he spoke with Ross, an update was due in an hour’s time. Paul couldn’t wait. He called Ross. Ross answered.

“Well?”

“Just spoke with Dave, Murphy left an hour ago, he got into a car with the two unknown guys and went to an address in Kilburn.”

“Kilburn? What the fuck’s he doing there?”

“Don’t know, but according to Dave he was greeted by an old guy like some kind of long lost son, cuddles and everything!”

The news made Paul Fletcher’s face contort.

“Oh fuck, he’s teamed up with the Irish!”

Ross was confused.

“What’s that mean Paul?”

Paul was shouting.

“It means he’s done a deal with those fucking terrorist cunts over in North London. They’ve been trying to muscle in on my patch for years, Jesus fucking Christ, that’s all I need!”

He hung up.

Paul drank down his whiskey, then poured himself another. He wasn’t much of a drinker but today he needed it. He reached behind the bar and grabbed an old mobile. He dialled a number. A voice answered.

“Yes?”

“Terry Murphy, just out of Brixton, family live on the Island, you know him?”

“I do. I was expecting your call, but not this quick. He only got out today.”

“How much?”

“Ten grand.”

“Done, but do it quick, within twenty four hours!”

“No way, I need two days at least.”

“Okay.. but… get… it… done!”

“I’ll need five tomorrow and five on completion, agreed?”

“Agreed!”

Paul hung up. He sat back down and sipped his drink. For the first time in twelve hours he was beginning to relax. Murphy would be gone in two days.

 

Payback. 3

pay-back

Ross and Dave walked across the road and entered the pub by a side door that led to the toilets. A narrow corridor led them into a  large saloon bar, it was packed. Ross recognised a few of the faces, there was Terry’s younger brother Ronny, his elder sister Louise, his Mum and Dad, some old people probably aunts and uncles and cousins, about twenty people in all. Ross pushed his way to the bar.

“Oi, barman, two large scotches. Hurry up, we’re thirsty.”

The barmen recognised Ross straightaway. He immeadiately stopped serving a group of men at the end of the bar and poured out two large scotches. He put them down in front of Ross.

“No charge Ross, it’s on the house………. everything Okay?”

Ross ignored his question.

“You’re busy today, what’s the occasion, someone died?”

Ross emphasised the “Someone died” bit very loudly.

The saloon bar fell quiet. The barmen spoke softly.

“No Ross, just a bit busier than usual today for some reason.”

He was terrified, he was in a no win situation. He knew that Paul Fletcher would have the hump for letting Terry Murphy have a party in his pub, but there was also no way he could refuse Terry Murphy and his family a drink, it was a hopeless situation.

Ross heard a voice behind him.

“Fuck me, if it isn’t Paul Fletchers bitch!”

Ross turned round slowly. He kept the whisky glass in his hand in case it was needed. As he turned he made a mental note of who was where, if it all kicked off he’d need to know where to start throwing the punches.

In front of him was a short but stocky middle aged man, cropped hair, big smile, mad eyes and a large scar that went from mouth to ear. It was Terry Murphy. Ross was six foot five and towered over the man in front of him.

“I thought there was a smell of shit in here. Well, well, well, Terry Murphy, I thought you were still banged up sucking some screws cock.”

Murphy just smiled.

“You thought wrong old son, I’m out and having a little drink with some old friends. You still taking it up the arse from Paul Fletcher?”

Ross was used to this kind of banter. It didn’t faze him, in fact he quite enjoyed it. It was a game and eventually he would win. He leaned across and whispered to Terry.

“Better than taking a few bullets from him Terry, like you did.”

Terry Murphy went to move forward but was held back by his brother and two other guys that Ross didn’t know.

“Touch a nerve did I Terry, that’s if you’ve got any left after they took all the shrapnel out.”

Once again Terry Murphy wanted to get at him. His brother stepped in and stood between them.

“Not now Terry, not here. Leave it for another day.”

Ross was in control, he knew Terry couldn’t do anything, not today, not in this pub. He drank down his large scotch and very slowly put his empty glass on the bar.

“Come on Dave, let’s go, don’t want to spoil the gay boy’s party. Bye Terry, speak soon yeh?”

Terry Murphy composed himself and shook off his brother.

“Look forward to it Ross, give my regards to Paul won’t you, tell him I’ll be in touch.”

Once again Ross couldn’t wait to get a final dig at Terry.

“What. Just like you touched all the boy’s in prison, not sure Paul would like that, he’s straight didn’t you know?”

Ross heard the commotion as he left the pub. He could imagine the scene. Murphy was now foaming at the mouth, he wanted to get to Ross but couldn’t. Ross smiled, round one to him.

He told Dave to wait, then follow Terry Murphy once he left, keep his distance and don’t do anything silly. Ross drove off to see Paul.

It was about forty five minutes to Paul’s house out in Essex. Paul lived in Emerson Park, the poshest area in the county. It was where millionaires lived, each house was detached and different from the others, you couldn’t buy anything here for under two million. Ross always dreamed of a house here, he lived in Upminster a few miles away, still very nice, but not on the same scale as Paul. But maybe one day his chance would come.

He saw Tony and John parked outside in the Range Rover. He flashed his lights in sequence to let them know it was him and everything was okay. They had a signal, three flashes were okay, anymore and there was something wrong. The more flashes the bigger the threat.

Paul’s electronic gates opened slowly and Ross pulled into the large sweeping drive way.

There was no sign of Paul, but he knew that Tony would have rung and told him that he was here. Paul would be looking at his CCTV, paranoid bastard that he was.

Ross walked round to the back of the house, the diggers had stopped and the garden was empty, the large patio doors were open and Ross made his way in and through the hallway into the snooker room. Paul was there exactly as Ross had thought, staring at his CCTV screens. Without turning round Paul spoke.

“Well, what’s the story?”

Ross smiled and picked up one of the snooker cues and started to chalk the tip.

“I Just made Mister Murphy almost have a heart attack.”

Now Paul was interested, he turned round on his swivel chair with a grin as big as a house.

“Go on, tell me, what the fuck happened?”

Ross told him everything, word for word, from the time he and Dave walked into the Westferry Arms till the time they left. Paul’s face was full of excitement.

“That, my old son is why I fucking employ you, good with the brain you are, quick witted. I’d have just smashed the glass in his face and kept on digging till I hit bone. But you, you did something better, you embarrassed him in front of his family. That’s fucking mustard that is.”

Ross potted two balls then stood up.

“He’s coming after you Paul, no doubt about it, he’s definitely coming, I could see it in his eyes. We’ve gotta be careful. There were two guys with him that I didn’t know, new faces, not from round here and then there’s his brother.”

“His brother’s a fucking lightweight, he’s got no bottle. If he was gonna do something he would have done it in by now. No, it’s the other two we have to worry about, we need to know who they are and where they come from. We could buy them, can’t be too expensive. Murphy won’t have too much dosh stashed away, everyone can be bought.”

Ross knew exactly what was coming next.

“Tell you what, you find out who they are and offer them a deal, we’ll beat any offer that Murphy has given them, they can come and work for me.”

Ross smiled at Paul.

“Okay, you’re the guvnor, I’ll make some enquiries and see what I can find out. But in the meantime, make sure John and Tony are on their game, they’re your boys not mine I just do the gear.”

Paul took the cue out of Ross’s hand and placed in back in the rack.

“Yeh yeh yeh, now fuck off and get this sorted. Let me know what’s happening. Update every four hours Okay?”

“Okay.”

Ross left Paul in a better mood than he had found him, which was rare these days.

As soon as Ross left, Paul called Tom Marks. Tom answered after just one ring.

“Hi Paul, any news?”

“Yeh we found him, he’s in the Westferry Arms in Limehouse getting pissed.”

“Okay that’s good. The pub will be full of Police so best keep clear, while he’s there he can’t do any harm can he. I’ve spoken to his Solicitor and he thinks we can broker a deal, best for both parties.”

Paul laughed.

“Too late for that Tom, Ross has just been in the Westferry and caused havoc, made Murphy look silly in front of all his family. Deal my arse, no deal Mister Edmonds, no fucking deal.”

“Paul, listen to me, everything is going fine at the moment, all the businesses are earning money, everyone is happy. Let’s do a deal with Murphy, give him something, something small, maybe one of the launderettes or something as a gesture of goodwill, we don’t want a war, not now.”

“I pay you for advice you cunt, I do not pay you to tell me to give away my business for free!”

Paul was now screaming down the phone. Tom let him have his rant then spoke quietly but precisely.

“Paul, I’m not saying that, think about it, if you give him something, he’ll end up working for you, what better way of keeping an eye on him.”

There was a silence. Paul was thinking about it, it did make sense.

“Phone his brief, set up a meet, just the two of you, see if you can work out a deal, then get back to me.”

Paul hung up. He would tackle Terry Murphy from two angles, the sensible way through Tom and the other way through Ross. But of course there was always a third and final option.

 

Payback. 2

pay-back

Tom Marks was thirty six and had been Paul Fletchers solicitor for eight years. He’d been repaid handsomely. A substantial retainer was paid monthly and of course there were the “extras”.

There were lots of “extras”.

Paul paid for both of Tom’s kids to go to private school, each costing four thousand pounds a term. Two holidays a year wherever he and the family wanted to go and, of course, always a bit of spending money on the side.

Oh yes, Paul was a good client. But he was also a fucking psychopath. Tom knew that, but it was too late to pull out now, Tom was in far too deep. He was, as Paul would say, “on the firm.”

They’d met through a mutual friend. Paul said he was looking for a good Solicitor to look after all his business interests and Tom was grateful for the work.

They clicked straightaway, they were both around the same age with similar backgrounds. Tom was brought up in the heart of Docklands, working class parents, council estate, secondary modern school, in fact the same one as Paul, but a year’s difference. But that’s where the similarity ended. Mark went on to college, then evening classes, until eventually he qualified as a Solicitor.

Paul was from the heart of the East End, Bethnal Green.  The school bully. He liked to punch people for no reason. By the time he was fourteen even the teachers were scared of Paul Fletcher. He left  at sixteen and went to work at his dads scrap metal yard. Two years later his dad died and Paul inherited everything. It was a good, solid, reliable cash business. In fact so much cash that he didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t long before he was spending the cash on cocaine. Importing in large quantities and selling onto the street. If you didn’t buy from Paul Fletcher in his part of East London then he or one of his men would pay you a visit. There was never a second visit.

The money started to come in so fast that Paul needed Tom’s advice. “ Buy other businesses” was what Tom told him. If you don’t, people will wonder where all the money is coming from. So Paul did. He quickly had a Scaffolding Business, several Cleaning Companies, three launderettes, a Building and Maintenance Company. All with the name Fletcher in the title. Everyone thought that Paul Fletcher was a respectable and successful business man.

From then on it was one big party, lots of wining and dining, lots of women, lots of booze and drugs and Tom went along for the ride.

The first time he saw Paul “lose it” was when the two of them had been on a boys night out at Park Lane Casino. It was four in the morning and they were waiting outside for a cab. The concierge called one over and he and Paul went to get in. Just as the door opened, two other men decided to jump the queue and barged past Paul and got into the cab, both laughing as they did so. That’s when Tom saw the real Paul Fletcher for the first time. He dragged one of the guys out of the cab by his hair. He then proceeded to smash his face on the pavement several times until the guy was unconscious and covered in blood. Then quite calmly got into the cab and told the cabbie to drive away. The cabbie was too scared to refuse.

Then Terry Murphy happened.

Paul told him he was about to make an “acquisition”. A nearby scrap company owned by a notorious eat end crime boss called Terry Murphy.  It turned out to be a “hostile” takeover and Terry Murphy was shot holding a bag containing 12 kilos of cocaine.

The Police never arrested Paul, but he was always the prime suspect. They just didn’t have enough evidence. They also knew that Paul would have the best legal team that money could buy, so they didn’t want the embarrassment of having the case thrown out of court. They were just content to see a known drug dealer taken off the streets as well as a substantial amount of cocaine. Terry Murphy was given twelve years. A year for every kilo.

Within days Paul took over everything that Terry Murphy owned. In fact, just about everyone that ever worked for Terry now worked for Paul.

That was six years ago and now Tom sat in his office wondering what the next step should be. He was worried that Paul might do something silly. He was a hot head, what he should do was nothing. Just wait to see what Terry did. But knowing Paul as he did he thought that unlikely. Paul would want to strike first. Then everyone would be in a pile of shit. He needed to be one step ahead. Have all the answers before Paul started asking questions. He called Terry Murphy’s solicitor.

“Hi Bob, I hear Terry’s out, great news, well done, everything okay?”

“Yeh, got out this morning due to the overcrowding situation. No idea where he is now though, home I would have thought, why, worried?”

“Bob, can I call you on another line, there’s a problem with this one.”

“Okay, no problem.”

Tom hung up and went to the top drawer of his desk, knowing that Bob would be doing just the same. He took out an old pay as you go mobile and rung Bob’s number.

“Bob, that’s better, so what’s the score, should we be worried or has he calmed down now after six years inside?”

“That’s a toughie Tom, you know what he’s like, he never lets go, hard to call. What about your man?”

“Fucking hell Bob, he wants to rip out his throat and shit down his neck, I’m worried he’ll lose it and everything goes pear shaped.”

“Jesus, look I’ll do what I can from my end, you do the same, maybe we can broker a deal that works for both of them. If they’re sensible they’ll see it makes sense.”

“Cheers Bob.”

Tom put down the phone and just for a minute there was a look of relief on his face. Then his mobile rung. It was Paul.

“Hi Paul, I think we can work this out.”

Paul screamed down the phone.

“You cunt, of course we can’t, it’s him or me and it’s always gonna be me!”

“Why, what’s happened?”

“You know young Danny, one of my boys that works with Craig?”

“Err Yeh think so.”

“He’s just been found with a fucking knife in his neck and a kilo of powder in his pocket.”

“Fucking hell Paul.”

“It’s a message you cunt, he’s sending me a fucking message!”

Paul hung up and threw the phone across the room.

The message about Danny’s demise came from Ross. Paul’s number two.

Ross was about as close to Paul as anyone could get. He ran Pauls drug business, especially the dealers. There was a very distinct chain of command. Paul was the guvnor, of that there was no doubt, then Ross, then four main wholesalers; they in turn supplied their own areas of distribution. Each one of these wholesalers had about twenty street men that they supplied, the street men then sold direct to the public. Each one took a cut, everyone was earning.

Street men could earn anything from one hundred and fifty pounds per day to three or four hundred, it all depended on how well they ran their streets and how much gear they sold. The wholesalers would earn over two grand a week easily, all cash. Ross earned at least four grand a week. Paul also gave him a Range Rover. No one knew how much Paul was earning but it was bundles. And of course he had all his other legit businesses as well.

Ross got the call about Danny from one of the wholesalers, who in turn had got the call from one of his street men. Danny was found three miles from the Kilby Estate in Clapton on some waste ground. His throat was cut and the knife was stuck in the back of his neck. In his pocket he had a kilo of cocaine.

The first thing that worried Ross was the amount of gear that Danny had on him. The wholesaler had told him that there was no way Danny got the powder from him and even if he had, there was no way that he would be walking the streets with that much gear on him. That was just plain fucking stupid. So where did it come from? If it was planted by Terry Murphy, where the fuck did he get it from, he’d only been out of nick for a few hours, it made no sense. Ross’s mobile rang it was Paul.

“Any news on that cunt yet?”

“No Paul, look I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s not Terry after all, I mean where the fuck would he get a kilo of powder that quickly, he’s only been out a few fucking hours”

“I don’t pay you to fucking think Ross, I pay you to sort out problems and you’re not doing it are you?”

Ross decided it wasn’t a good idea to take the conversation any further.

“Okay, so what next then?”

“Find the cunt, watch him, see where he goes then get back to me, I want to know every time that cunt takes a fucking shit, understand?”

Then true to form, Paul hung up.

Ross called his four wholesalers.

“Put the word out, I want to know where Terry Murphy is and I want to know straightaway, tell all your boys to look for him, there’s a grand for the first one that spots him.”

It took exactly sixteen minutes before Ross’s phone rang. It was Dave, one of his four boys.

“Found him, he’s in the Westferry Arms, with his family and a few mates having a celebratory drink, apparently he’s been in there for hours.”

“Okay, do yourself a favour and get over there, sit outside, let me know as soon as he leaves, don’t fuck up on this Dave, it’s for Paul.”

“Nuff said,I’m on my way”

Paul thought it wise to call Paul straightaway, he rang him.

“Found him, he’s in the Westferry Arms with family and friends getting drunk, been there a while so they say.”

“Friends?, the cunt shouldn’t have any friends, they all work for me now. Can you believe this cunt, he has got some fucking balls I’ll give him that and he’s a crafty cunt as well, typical, the fucking Westferry Arms!”

“Why Paul, why NOT the Westferry?, it’s near to where he used to live after all.”

“Am I the only one with any brains on this firm? The Westferry is right opposite Limehouse nick, there’s bound to be loads of old bill in there. What a fucking cast iron alibi, he was in a boozer with loads of old bill.”

Paul hadn’t thought of that. Murphy will say he couldn’t have killed young Danny cos he was in the pub along with loads of coppers. The perfect alibi.

“Look I’ve got Dave on his way there now, he’ll keep an eye on him, I’ve told him to stay outside and keep us informed.”

“No, I want him there in the pub, I want Murphy to know that we’re not scared of him. I want the names of everyone he’s drinking with, thinking about it, I want YOU there as well. Terry knows you and will know why you’re there, about time you earned your fucking money!”

Paul hung up.

Ross wasn’t sure this was such a great idea, but no one argued with Paul especially when he was in this kind of mood. He called Dave.

“I’m coming over, park up by the shops and I’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”

Ross was six feet five and weighed over eighteen stone. Paul had originally taken him on as an enforcer. He had a certain way of getting money from people that owed, but he had a good brain. He was good with his hands but he was also very good with his head. Paul promoted him to his number two four years ago. This went down well with the wholesalers. Ross was feared, but also respected, he was a hard but fair bastard, unlike Paul.

Ross arrived, met Dave and told him the plan.

“Okay, we go in, get a drink and make it known that we’re there, let’s see what this cunt’s made of. You make a mental note of everyone that Murphy has a drink with, not just family, but especially friends, be nice to know who our enemies are.”

“You sure about this Ross, you know what Terry’s like, he a psycho, he could do anything, we’ve already lost one and he’s only been out a few hours.”

“Look, he’s nothing now, Paul has everything, we’ve got the advantage, he won’t do a thing, guarantee it, besides there’ll be old bill in there, even Murphy isn’t that stupid”

Payback. 1

pay-back

I wrote this a couple of years ago and never really finished it, so I’m having another go and changing bits as I go along.

 

Craig Williams and Danny Selby were talking outside the old run down Tower Block on the Kilby Estate. Craig was twenty nine and five years older than Danny. Both worked for Paul Fletcher, the local supplier of all things narcotic. They were discussing they’re preferred drug of choice. Craig was adamant about Cocaine. The conversation was like a boxing match.

“Look, the possibilities are endless with the stuff, you can sniff it, smoke or inject it, fuck me you can even drink the shit, it gives you a buzz like nothing else, makes you do things faster than you normally would and makes you as horny as fuck.”

Danny took the shots but came back strong.

“You might feel as horny as fuck, but the problem is you can’t get a hard on.”

Craig countered.

“That’s when you need to take a little blue pill, to help in the downstairs department.”

Danny wasn’t having it. He threw his own combination.

“Yeh, then you’re as stiff as a board for hours, your bird’s red raw, had enough and fallen asleep and you’re still rock solid with nowhere to go.”

Craig came back with a volley.

“That’s when you take your weed, to chill out, calm everything down.”

Danny was bruised but was still punching.

“Yeh but then you’re so chilled out you don’t want to do anything or go anywhere.”

Craig delivered the final blow.

“That’s when you take some more fucking coke!”

The two of them roared with laughter.

Danny shook his head and looked at Craig.

“You are one crazy, fucked up wanker.”

Craig lit up a gigantic spliff, took a long draw then passed it to Danny. He ignored it. He’d noticed someone looking over at them. He was a fair distance away and he had his hood up but it looked like he was looking in their direction. Danny gave Craig a nudge.

“Who’s that guy over there?”

Craig looked over.

“Fuck knows. Can’t make him out from here, maybe he wants some gear, call him over.”

Danny gave a shout.

“Oi mate, you after something?”

The stranger walked a few steps closer and shook his head from side to side. Danny wasn’t impressed.

“Well fuck off then and stop staring you cunt.”

The stranger stood his ground, waited for a few seconds then took a few more steps forward. He was no more than fifty yards away. He just stood there.

Danny looked at Craig.

“Is this cunt for real?”

“I think he’s calling you out Dan, I think he’s taking the piss out of you.”

Craig was winding Danny up, something he loved to do. Danny was beginning to lose his temper.

“Oi mate, you listening to me, I said fuck off, or I’ll come over there and cut your fucking ears off.”

The stranger ignored the threat, instead he very slowly removed his hood and gave then both a wide grin, then turned and walked away.

Craig’s jaw opened so wide that Danny thought he was having some kind of stroke.

“Oh fuck, oh fuck, did you see who that was, did you fucking see?”

Danny had no idea what Craig was talking about.

“See what, you mad fuck.”

“The guy, did you see who it was?”

“No, how the fuck would I know who it was, just some arsehole winding you up.”

Craig was beginning to panic, he started to pace up and down, mumbling to himself.

“It can’t be, no way, he’s still inside, won’t be out for ages yet, can’t be him, not him, if it’s him we’re all fucked, but no way, it can’t be.”

Danny got hold of Craig by the shoulders.

“Will you fucking calm down, you’re beginning to get on my nerves now, what the fucks going on?”

Craig took a deep breath.

“I think I just saw someone. Someone from back in the day. But it can’t be him cos he’s banged up, but it really looked like him, even the way he smiled, that fucking silly grin of his, he looked older but then he would look older, haven’t seen him for six years. I should call Paul.”

Now it was Danny’s turn to panic.

“Look, you know the rules, you only call Paul in an absolute fucking emergency. Call Ross if you have to, he’s the number two, but not Paul, you know what he’s like if you interrupt him, he could be playing golf or be on a beach somewhere, you interrupt him and he’ll go ape shit.”

“Dan, you don’t understand, if I saw who I think I just saw, Paul will want to know straightaway. I’ve got to call him.”

“Well make sure he knows it’s nothing to do with me when you interrupt him.”

Danny walked off, he wanted no part of what was about to happen. Paul Fletcher was one nasty bastard. If you interrupted his day for some silly reason, he was likely to send someone round to re-arrange your face. He’d seen it done, poor Des from the Pride Estate had two fingers cut off cos he called Paul on a Sunday when he was having dinner with his family.

Fletcher was a fucking nutter.

Craig took his mobile out of his pocket, took a deep breath and dialled Paul’s number, it rang twice then a voice said.

“This had better be fucking good Craig or you and me are gonna have a real problem.”

“Paul, Paul, really sorry to call you like this but I thought you should know straightaway.”

“What about, you fucked up junky?”

“I just saw Terry Murphy!”

There was silence for a few seconds before Paul Fletcher spoke again.

“Repeat what you just said.”

Craig took a deep breath before he nervously continued.

“ I just saw Terry Murphy, right here on the Kilby Estate, he was about fifty yards away and he just looked over and smiled at me, then walked off, it was him Paul, I’m sure of it.”

Craig couldn’t say anything else. The phone went dead.

Paul Fletcher was in his garden, he was trying to think but it was difficult with all the noise around him, he could feel his blood pressure rising, suddenly his bubble burst.

“Stop, stop all this fucking noise and all go away for half an hour, do you fucking hear me!”

Immediately the two diggers stopped, the two men jumped off the machinery and were quickly followed out of the garden by four other labourers, they all knew better than to argue with Mr Fletcher.

“Good, now I can get some fucking quiet!”

He was having a swimming pool put in his garden. He was determined that it would be the biggest and best on the private estate where he lived. Next door was the lead singer of some nineties pop band, he’d just had a pool put in his garden, but nowhere near the size of this one and just up the road the ex-Heavyweight Champion of the World had one put in two years ago, but that was tiny compared to what Paul Fletcher had planned.

He needed time to think, he should call his solicitor and see if the rumour about Terry Murphy was true, he would know or at least he fucking should know!

He called Tom Marks. Tom answered after just one ring.

“Hi Paul, you okay?”

There was silence for a few seconds before Paul spoke.

“How much did I pay you last year?”

Tom wasn’t expecting the question.

“Sorry Paul, what was that?”

“How much of my fucking money did your firm get last year?”

Tom wondered where this was leading.

“I’m not quite sure Paul, why?”

“Seven Hundred Grand, that’s how much you cunts took off me and guess what, you can’t even do your fucking job properly!”

“Slow down Paul, what’s this all about?”

“Terry fucking Murphy, that’s what this is all about, one of my boys just saw him on the Kilby Estate, how the fuck can that be possible?”

“No way, Paul, he got twelve years, with a recommendation by the judge to serve at least ten, it’s only been, what, six?”

“Don’t tell me what I already fucking know, just check it out and call me back in ten minutes.”

Paul hung up, he liked to hang up on people, it made him feel in control.

He walked back into the three storey, six bedroom house and headed for the games room. At the end of the long room on the far wall were eight small TV screens, all showing some part of the house, the best CCTV system money could buy. He studied them closely everything was quiet. He made another call.

“John? Are you and Tony outside in the Range Rover?”

“Yes boss, as always.”

“Good, keep your fucking eyes open, you hear me?”

“Yes boss.”

He started to calm down a bit, Craig was a good earner for him but he used too much of the gear himself. He must have imagined it, fucked up junky that he was, he’d probably had some kind of flashback or hallucination that’s all. No way was it Terry Murphy.

His phone rang. It was Tom Marks.

“Yeh go on.”

There was a slight hesitation in Tom’s voice.

“Sorry Paul but it’s true. He was released from Brixton at eight o’clock this morning, done half his term so let out on licence.”

He paused and waited for a response. None came. He tried to soften the blow.

“But he’ll have to report to a probation officer and he’ll be well watched.”

The response came in a loud rant.

“Don’t be a cunt Tom, this is Terry Murphy we’re talking about, he’ll have all those pricks in his pocket, so what happened to the Judges recommendation about doing at least ten?”

“Prison overcrowding Paul, the Home Office is under pressure to get the numbers down so they’re letting people go early.”

“Cunts!”

“Look Paul, you’ve got a team of guys, a great security system in place, he’d be mad to come after you.”

Paul Fletcher laughed.

“You cunt, he is mad! I’m the one that shot him and took over his business, of course he’ll come after me!”

Paul hung up just as one of the diggers started to rev up again in his garden.

He ran as fast as he could through the house and into the garden, he leapt onto the digger and dragged the driver out of the seat by his throat. Once on the ground Paul kicked him hard in the stomach and then again as hard as he could in the face. Blood poured out of the man’s nose, mouth and eye socket. Paul looked down at him and gave him a smile.

“I said take half an hour, it’s only been twenty eight fucking minutes!”

He turned and walked back into the house.

Uncle Frank Swam The Channel

Dunkirk_26-29_May_1940_NYP68075

Uncle Frank swam the channel. That’s what I was told when I was a kid. Not by him, but by his wife, my Aunty Flo. She’d be in the kitchen cooking Sunday dinner and we’d all be sitting at the big table in the room next door. She’d say the same thing every week. “You lot better eat all this up or you won’t get big and strong like your Uncle Frank. He swam the channel you know!”

Uncle Frank would just raise his eyebrows and look slightly embarrassed. He never commented on it.

My earliest recollection of Uncle Frank was when I was five years old. He was the biggest man I’d ever seen and just looking at him made me cry. I’d run to mum for a cuddle whenever he entered the room frightened to look at the giant that wanted to pick me up.

But by the time I was seven he was my favourite of all the great Uncles and I’d look forward to our visits to their large house in Stamford Hill, North London. He was married to my Granddads younger sister, Florence. Although her name was posh, “Flo” certainly wasn’t. She could swear better than most men and could down a pint of beer in seconds. I never saw her without a cigarette hanging out the corner of her mouth. Flo was a formidable woman.  Frank on the other hand was a gentle giant. Well over six feet tall with hands the size of shovels. Car mechanic by trade, he could strip an engine down, clean every piston and valve and put it back together again in just a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

They never had kids of their own. Flo had been a bit of a wild child in her teens and secretly visited a lady who did something quite extraordinary with knitting needles. Her “insides” were never the same. By the time she met Frank she knew she couldn’t have children.  I suppose that’s why they treated Mum and Dad so well, they were like the kids they never had and me and my sister were like their own Grandchildren.

After dinner on Sundays we’d play cards at the big table. We’d play Whist, Solo, Pairs and Newmarket. Then Uncle Frank would go and get the Shove ha’penny board and challenge me to a game. He always won! As we left, Aunt Flo would give us each a bright shiny silver half crown. “Ice cream money.” She’d say.

I was twelve years of age when he died in 1970. I remember the day well. I came home from school and Mum was crying in the kitchen. I asked her what was wrong. “Your Uncle Frank’s had a heart attack. He’s passed away.” He was just fifty four.

For some reason I can’t explain, I wanted to go to the funeral. I’d never been to one before. I’d had old Aunts and Uncles die before and my Granddad was buried just the previous year, I’d never thought about going to any of those. Besides, funerals weren’t a place for kids in our family. But Uncle Frank was different, I felt as though I “needed” to go. To my surprise, Dad agreed.

I remember sitting on a long wooden bench alongside Mum and Dad in a Church somewhere in North London. Uncle Franks Coffin was in front of us and we sang hymns. A man I’d never seen before stood up and walked to the front, he put his hand on the coffin and started to speak.

“Me and Frank were mates. Good mates. We signed up on the same day. Did our training together and soon found ourselves in France fighting the Germans.”

He paused, composed himself and carried on.

“Things didn’t go according to plan over there and we ended up on sitting on a beach waiting to be picked off by German planes. There were thousands of us. None of us really sure what was going on or what we should do. After three days a rumour started to spread that boats would soon be arriving to take us back to England. All we had to do was wait.”

He looked at the coffin and smiled.

“But Frank wasn’t convinced. At twenty four he was the oldest of our small group and by far the biggest. We all looked up to Frank, literally! He kept saying the longer we waited the more chance we had of being gunned down on the beaches. Frank had a plan. He’d swim back to England. It was only twenty or so mile, he was sure he’d make it. We all thought he was mad or just larking about, but first thing the next morning Frank put down his rifle, took off his belt and heavy boots and started walking towards the sea. We saw him wade in and start swimming. It wasn’t long before he was out of sight. To be honest I never expected to see him again. It was another day before the rest of us were lined up and marched into the sea. We could see small ships in the distance and only my head was above water by the time I got to one of them. It was a small fishing boat out of Gravesend. Two blokes hauled me aboard and gave me a blanket. They took as many of us as they could then turned around and headed for Dover.”

Again he stopped and looked at the coffin before continuing.

“And guess who was there waiting for me? Thousands of men all along the seafront, utter chaos everywhere and who was the first person I see? Yep…me old mate Frank. Large as life, with a big smile on his face.”

He paused for a few seconds.

“Did he really swim the channel? I have no idea because he never spoke about it. Every time I mentioned it he just shrugged his shoulders and changed the subject. But you know what? I’d like to think he did.”

He gently tapped the coffin then sat back down.

That was almost fifty years ago and I think about Uncle Frank often. He swam the channel you know.

 

Gabby.

1280px-Brick_Lane_street_signs

In December 1976, me and my best mate Ray were squatting in a disused terraced house in Hanbury Street just behind Brick Lane in East London. The whole area was a dump back then, a place that had changed little since the end of the Second World War. The Irish and the Jews had moved out and been replaced by the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community. Bomb sites, derelict buildings, littered streets and the smell of curry are my main memories of that time. Oh yeh…and the cold. It was bitter cold. The scorching summer had given way to one of the coldest winters on record. Most days in December the temperature didn’t get above freezing and the nights went as low as minus ten.

We called it the place that God forgot.

Although there was running water, there was no electricity in the squat, so to keep warm we broke up wooden crates we pinched from the local fruit market at Spitalfields and lit them in the old Victorian fireplace in the big room downstairs. Each night we’d take it in turns to stay awake and make sure the fire kept going, scared that if it went out the cold would kill us in our sleep.

Five of us shared the house. Me, Ray and three guys from Leicester.

Like over a million and a half other people in the country we were all unemployed.  Our Giros were sent to the local Post Office because we were of NFA (No Fixed Abode). Wednesday was the best day of the week. We’d pick up our Green Giro cheques, cash them straightaway and then go off and buy cheap cider. We never bought food, the market at Spitalfields was just over the road and there was always plenty of Veg laying around on the street to pick up and make soup with. We’d found an old Copper pot on one of the bomb sites and this became our soup making machine. Basically we’d fill it with Veg and water and place it in the fire for a couple of hours. Hey presto…Soup!

So our staple diet was Soup and Cider. Apart from Ray…

Ray was a live wire, a nineteen year old kid who had no fear. If it could be swallowed, sniffed or injected, Ray would try it. Most of the time he was off his face. While I went off to buy Cider, Ray was in darkened doorways buying gear from blokes who looked like characters straight out of a Dickensian novel.

On Christmas Eve the three guys from Leicester announced that they were going home. They were planning to hitch hike all the way and stay with a mate until New Year. Me and Ray wished them luck and walked with them to the start of the A1 at the Barbican. We saw them jump into the back of a Transit Van on its way to Milton Keynes. All going well, they’d be home by the end of the day.

As we started to walk back to the squat Ray said he had to go and get some “Special Gear” for his Christmas treat. He wandered off in the direction of St Pauls and I decided to spend what little money I had on a half bottle of Whisky.

I got back to the squat first and made up the fire. We had plenty of wood stacked up in the corner of the room to get us through the next few days. There was also a large stash of Veg ready to make our magic Soup. Ray got back about an hour after me. He had the biggest smile on his face. He’d scored his “Special Gear.”

A few hours later we were sitting round the fire waiting for our pot to boil when we were suddenly aware of a figure at the door.  It was a young girl, maybe twenty, asking if she could join us for a few days. She had a posh sounding name but suggested we call her Gabby. Her only belongings were a sleeping bag and a toothbrush.

We couldn’t refuse, it wasn’t our house after all and besides, we welcomed the company. She sat down and we gave her some soup.

She said she was from “Up North”. But she never said where and there was no trace of an accent. She was wearing an old Army Trench coat and Dr Martin Boots. Her hair was dark brown and cut short in “Punk” style. She wore no makeup yet she had a stunning natural beauty. I think secretly we both instantly fell in love with her.

She had the strangest tattoo around her wrist. Like a bracelet made of heavy chain. Each link was a different colour. It must have taken hours to do and yet when we asked her about it she said she couldn’t remember it being done. How weird is that?

She had a wicked laugh, like she’s just been told the dirtiest joke imaginable. It was infectious, when Gabby laughed, we all laughed.

Within a couple of hours it felt like we’d known her forever.

At midnight we wished each other a Merry Christmas and I opened the whiskey. Ray took a mouthful then rolled up his sleeve and tied his leather belt tight around his bicep. He found the vein he was looking for, slipped the needle in and pressed slowly to inject the lethal formula. I’d seen him do this hundreds of times so I took no notice but Gabby looked horrified.

Within a few seconds he was away with the fairies. Slumped back, eyes rolling, in a place where Ray loved to be. His own world.

Me and Gabby finished the Whisky and I fell asleep.

I awoke three hours later. What I saw has stayed with me for over forty years.

Gabby was standing over Ray, she was holding the ends of her trench coat up high and with the glow of the fire behind her it looked like she had a pair of golden wings. She was speaking softly in a language that I didn’t recognise, it wasn’t a chant or a song but it had rhythm that was mesmerising.

For some reason that I can’t explain, I couldn’t move. I just sat and watched as Gabby continued to speak and then slowly, and maybe it was the whisky because this is gonna sound weird, began to rise off the ground. She looked like she was floating!

There was a flash, maybe something on the fire exploded, I can’t be sure, but Gabby was gone.

Ray sat up straight and took a deep breath. He looked at me as if he’d never seen me before. Utter bewilderment on his face.

“What the fuck just happened?”

I shrugged my shoulders, not sure what to say.

“I have no fucking idea.”

We sat there in silence for what seemed like ages. Then Ray stood up.

“I’m going home. My mum wants to see me.”

And he was gone. He just walked out of the house at 4.00am on Christmas day.

Me? I took my time. At 7.00am I walked just two hundred yards to Spitalfields Church. I’ve been there ever since. And now, forty one years later I’m the Minister there.

Ray? Well, he’s a big wig in the City. But he donates a large sum every year for our homeless shelter.

And Gabby?  Well here’s the thing… the posh name she mentioned when we first met her was Gabriel.

I don’t believe in Angels but maybe…just maybe.

Room 7. ( Kiss Chase)

7

When I was seven years old I played “Kiss Chase”. I chased the girls and when I caught them we kissed. They were easy to catch because they wanted to be kissed. At eighteen I was still chasing, still catching and still kissing.

At twenty I finally caught the girl of my dreams. Kiss Chase was over for me and for the next thirty five years I kissed only one. But sadly her kissing days ended far too soon.

So now, as I move closer to my sixtieth birthday, the chase is back on but it’s much harder. My legs don’t run as fast as they used to and the girls have been kissed so many times that they’ve grown tired of the game.

A few weeks ago I started internet dating. No more running around getting out of breath, I simply click a button and see if they want to play. Some do and some don’t.

Don’t get the wrong impression. I’m no pervert, no sexual predator. All I want is good company, a nice meal and maybe a kiss at the end of the evening. That’s now my idea of “Kiss Chase.”

Tonight I’m meeting Dorothy for the first time. We’re having dinner at The Wentworth Hotel. I don’t know much about her, just what I’ve read on her profile page. She’s the same age as me, divorced, has two grown up children and three grandchildren.

I’ve arrived early. Dressed in my best suit and smelling of Paco Rabanne. I’m now on my second glass of Pino Grigio and sitting at our reserved table. She said she’d be wearing a coat with a fur collar and I’m nervously waiting.

And now I see her. She’s tall and slim with short blonde hair and wearing her coat. She’s walking towards me and smiling. I stand up and greet her with a handshake.

“Dorothy?”

“Charlie?”

We both nod and take our seats. I start with small talk.

“Did you find the place okay? It’s not posh but the food is good.”

She seems to be looking me up and down, not in a bad way, but as if she’s thinking about something.

“Yes. I only live about three miles up the road so I know The Wentworth quite well. We had my daughter’s wedding reception here a few years ago.

She’s pretty. Great eyes.

I order a bottle of Wine and we both look at the menu. She chooses the Pate to start and Seafood Pasta for her main. Good choice, I decide to have the same.  She’s staring at me and smiling. I have to ask.

“What?”

She takes a sip of her wine before answering.

“Are you the same Charlie Wilson that went to Southbury Junior School?”

I nod and speak at the same time.

“I am indeed. Why, did you go to Southbury?”

Now she’s laughing.

“I did. We were in the same class Charlie. Mr Higgins was our teacher. Remember?”

It was over fifty years ago but the memory comes flooding back. Old Mr Higgins was a tyrant with us kids. Mind you, he had to be, we were a right handful. She continues.

“My maiden name was Reynolds back then. Do you remember me Charlie? Everyone called me Little Dorothy Reynolds?”

I suddenly feel like a six year old again. I remember her well. I had a crush on her from the age of five right up until we went to different Senior  Schools at the age of eleven.

“Little Dorothy Reynolds! Of course I remember you. We played…”

We both say the words together.

“Kiss Chase!”

Our laughter fills the restaurant and people look over and smile.

For the next hour or so we eat our food and talk about the old days. I notice she keeps touching my hand as we talk. Affection…something I’ve not had in a long time.

We’ve both finished our meal and she stands up.

“Won’t be a minute Charlie.”  She turns and walks out of the restaurant.

The last couple of hours have been the best time I’ve had in years. I really like Little Dorothy Reynolds, but then again I suppose I always have. I wonder if this could go somewhere. Possibly the start of something nice. I hope so.

I see her walking back. Her smile is infectious and I can’t stop a massive grin appearing on my face.  She’s not sitting down. She throws something on the table. It’s a room key. Room 7.

There’s playfulness in her voice as she speaks.

“Wanna play Kiss Chase again Charlie?”

She winks, then turns and walks away.

 

Room 7. ( Alan and Gerald)

7

“You’re on the ground floor madam. Room 7. Straight along the corridor and it’s the third room on the right. Welcome to The Wentworth.”

The young receptionist smiled as she handed Tina Hawkins the key to her room.

“Will you be dining with us tonight?”

Tina never replied, just shook her head from side to side and headed towards the corridor. Room 7 was exactly where it was supposed to be, third door on the right. She turned the key in the lock and entered.

It was an average room in every way. Average price, average sized bed, average decor. That’s all she needed. Nothing fancy was required. Besides, most of her time would be spent staring at the ceiling.

Her phone rang. She answered and heard an American accent.

“You there yet honey?”

“Yes. Just arrived. I’m in Room 7. Go past reception and it’s the third door on the right.”

“Good. I’m just pulling into the car park. See you in five minutes.”

She knew nothing about this new punter, just that he was a rich American who was in town for a few days and wanted a bit of “fun.”  That’s all the agency had told her. But they’d promised her eight hundred quid for just one evening. They’d even booked the Hotel room for her. She was guessing he’d probably paid them double what she was getting. That didn’t matter, she could do with the money. Bobby needed new school shoes and the rent on the flat was due Friday.

She looked at herself in the bathroom mirror.

Not bad for thirty eight. She still had the looks of a woman in her late twenties. The gods had been kind and given her clear skin, high cheek bones, good teeth and a great set of lungs.

She threw back her blonde hair and let it settle naturally. Good to go.

She heard a knock.  She stepped out of the bathroom and opened the door. In front of her was a short, overweight, middle aged man with grey hair and a big grin. He had a bottle of red wine in one hand and was carrying a small holdall in the other.

“Hey honey. What’s your name?”

He walked past her, put the bottle on the table and the bag on the floor. He sat down on the bed. She closed the door and quickly made up a name.

“Stella.”

His grin was now a full blown smile, showing a set of brownish crooked teeth.

“Nice to meet you. My name is Alan. Looks like I’ve gone and hit the jackpot with you Stella. You are one mighty fine looking woman.”

He patted the bed with his left hand.

“Come and sit your pretty ass down here.”

She had a choice to make. Sit down beside him, get started straightaway and get it over and done with. Or play for time and find out what he was into. She didn’t want any surprises so took the second option.

“What’s the rush? Let’s open that wine first and have a drink.”

He agreed.

“Sounds like a plan to me honey.”

She picked up the bottle and unscrewed the top. She took two glasses from the bathroom, filled them up to the brim and handed one to him. He noticed her looking at his bag.

“I brought someone with me. Hope that’s okay? The agency said it was!”

Her heart sank. What the fuck did he mean? She needed the money but there were limits as to what she was prepared to do for it. She took a large gulp of her wine and put on a brave smile.

“Someone?”

He picked up the bag and placed it on the bed. He slowly undid the zip and put his hand inside. Quick as a flash he brought out what looked like a huge rag doll. It had ginger hair, huge bulging eyes and a mouth as wide as its head. It seemed to be hanging from his arm. And then it spoke.

“Allo, my name is Gerald and this is my good friend Alan.”

As the doll was saying the words she noticed Alan’s lips moving. She’d had to deal with crazies before but this was just weird. The doll was staring at her…waiting. She spoke.

“Hello Gerald. My name is Stella. Pleased to meet you.”

She wasn’t sure if she should be looking at Alan or Gerald. But there was something about the dolls eyes that held her gaze. The other thing she noticed was the dolls lack of an American accent, if anything it sounded like a Londoner.

“Alan’s a bit shy. But not me. I’m up for anything. Now why don’t you two get started and I’ll sit in the corner. I like to watch!”

Just when she thought the situation couldn’t get any weirder… it did. Alan sat the dummy on a chair facing the bed and began to undress. He never said a word as he slipped out of his clothes and within seconds his podgy naked body was on full display.

“Come on love, get your kit off, let’s see what you’ve got.”

As the dummy was speaking she couldn’t help look at Alan’s face. He was good, his lips moved only slightly and he was able to throw his voice a fair way.

Again she made a quick decision in her head. All she had to do was have sex with the short podgy guy while an ugly looking doll sat in a chair in the corner, and looking at the state of Alan she was guessing it would all be over in just a few minutes. Yes it was all a bit weird, but she needed the eight hundred pounds badly.

Decision made, she stripped naked and sat on the bed.

She heard the voice of Gerald again.

“Nice tits. Go on Alan old son. Fill your boots!”

She laid back and looked at the ceiling. Alan positioned himself on top and began his thrusting. As she expected it was all over in seconds. Alan rolled over and lay beside her. She looked over at the chair. The doll wasn’t there.

She was aware of a noise at the bottom of the bed. She looked down and saw Gerald crawling towards her. Eyes and mouth wide open.

“MY TURN NOW!”

____________________________________________________________________________________

The young girl on reception looked at her colleague.

“Did you hear a scream?”

The other girl just shrugged her shoulders.

“God knows what they get up to in those rooms…”

 

Room 7. ( Anita)

7

A series of stories all set in or around the same Hotel Room. Room 7.

The young girl on reception looks at him and smiles.

“Room 7?”

He nods.

“Yes please. “

She takes a key from behind the counter and places it in his hand. She doesn’t have to tell him where Room 7 is, he’s a regular. Same room, same time, every Tuesday. Regular as clockwork.

He walks along the corridor, third door on the right-hand side. He stops outside for a few seconds and then turns the key in the door. Time to see Anita.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Anita was a dancer at his favourite club in Shoreditch. It was 1998 and Shoreditch was still a shit hole back then. It was where the East End met the City. An adults playground where you could get drunk, snort coke, shag yourself senseless, be sick on the street then walk across the road into a different postcode, straighten your tie and suddenly become respectable again.

She was from Ghana and had the body of a black goddess. That first night he spent a fortune getting her to dance privately for him in one of the booths at the back of the club. Every time she finished he gave her another tenner to start again. At 2am when her shift was over, he was waiting outside. He hailed a cab and took her to the Wentworth just a few miles outside the City.  Although it looked like a posh Hotel it was the kind of place where, if you asked discreetly, you could pay by the hour.

She pulled a CD from her bag and inserted it into a player next to the TV. “Funk Classics From The 70’s”. This was HER music, she was obsessed with it.

“Yum Yum” by The Fatback Band boomed out loud as they explored each other’s bodies, she grinded down hard on him as each bass note shook the tiny room. When they finally laid back exhausted and covered in sweat she insisted on listening to the whole CD. All seventy minutes of it. After each track she told him who the artist was, who wrote the song, who the bass player and drummer were, what year it was recorded. Yep, she was obsessed with the music.

It became a regular thing. Every Tuesday after her shift she’d meet him at the Wentworth in Room 7 and every time she’d bring along another CD. The Ohio Players, Fat Larry’s Band, Brass Construction, Parliament and War were all played loud in that room.

They became close.  He never asked her about her work or if she saw other men and she never asked about his private life. He doubted she ever knew about his two failed marriages and three kids. Probably for the best, no point in complicating things.

They both had habits. He knew she was using. But he never judged. How could he? He snorted coke, smoked weed and drunk the best part of three bottles of Scotch during the week. It’s what got him through the day. An escape from the reality of what was a really shit existence. Her habits were much harder, but then they would be, her life was harder than his.

Then one night she just wasn’t there. He waited until it was light then went home. He went to the club the next day but there was no sign of her. In fact, he went back every day for the next two weeks until one night he heard the news from one of the bouncers. Anita was dead. Found at her flat. Overdose.

That was two years ago. He still sees her. Even though she’s gone. But he has to play the music, HER music. In THEIR room. She never speaks, just smiles, then dances. Sometimes she’ll blow him a kiss or give him a wink. That’s enough for him, it gives him the strength to carry on.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

He takes the CD from his jacket pocket and slides it into the player. He hears the familiar click and whirling sound. He waits. “Galaxy” by War booms out and suddenly she’s there. Standing in the corner smiling at him. And she begins to dance…