Day Three ( Continued)

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Ivan asks a few questions…

 

Ivan wiped his forehead with a napkin. The heat in the disused restaurant was stifling. He had bought it a month ago from an old Spanish family. It was prime position on the seafront. The builders had been in ever since. Today it was empty and looked like a building site.

At the end of the room were Nikor and Leonid with two other members of the “family. Between them was Paul Merritt. Paul was Robbie Jackson’s closest friend in Spain. He was strapped to a chair and had tape across his mouth. He had long given up struggling. Ivan walked towards him. Paul could see he was holding something. It was a hammer.

“Mister Merritt we are both mature men and we both know how this works. I will ask you a question and I want you to answer me honestly. Understand?”

Nikor removed the tape from Paul’s mouth.

“Ivan, I swear, I know nothing about what happened to Bepa, I swear it Ivan.”

Ivan put a finger to his lips.

“Ssshhhhh. Ssssshhhhh. I will ask you some questions and then you will answer. Okay?”

Paul nodded.

Ivan smiled and continued.

“Good man. Now then Mister Merritt, where can I find your friend Robbie Jackson?”

“Ivan, I swear on my kid’s life. I don’t know. Please Ivan, it’s the truth.”

Ivan interrupted him. His voice raised.

“Mister Merritt, my precious daughter Bepa is fighting for her life in hospital. She was found badly injured in your best friend’s apartment and now he has disappeared. He was your best friend. So I will ask you once again. Where can I find Robbie Jackson?”

Paul Merritt began to sob.

“Ivan, I swear, I swear, I don’t know. Please please, believe me.

Paul looked in almost disbelief as he saw Ivan raise the hammer above his head. He watched as it came down hard on his knee. He heard the crunch well before he felt any pain. It must have taken a fraction of a second before his brain understood what was happening and then he realised he was screaming.

Ivan handed the hammer to Nikor.

“Finish it, then get rid of him. He knows nothing.”

Ivan walked to the door of the restaurant and opened it. He put on his sunglasses and adjusted his tie. Behind him he heard a thud. Then the screaming stopped.


 

 

The Gables Golf and Spa Hotel was just on the outskirts of Reigate. He booked in for two nights under the name of Paul Redford. He had a thing about names. He liked to mix them up a bit. A film that he remembered as a kid was “The Sting”. Its two main stars were Robert Redford and Paul Newman. The Hotel in Croydon he’d used the name Robert Newman, so this time it had to be the other combination. For the first few months in Spain he was either George Pitt or Brad Clooney. His room was nice. Large double bed, small sofa, table, mini bar, and a good size bathroom. This was the place where he wouldn’t look out of place in Bob’s clothes. He changed into his chinos, cashmere jumper and expensive shirt. He also put on the brogues. He looked in the mirror. He looked every bit the middle class Golf professional. He made his way to the bar. He knew what he was looking for and found it sitting at a table near the bar.

They were a group of thirty somethings, laughing and talking. All women, all looking for the same thing. Two of them glanced over as he walked in, he smiled. They smiled back and then returned to their conversation. He was guessing that he would be mentioned in that conversation. He ordered a large gin and tonic and took a seat opposite the women. There was a newspaper on his table and he pretended to read it. He knew that by now at least one of them would have noticed that he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring, the fact that his brogues were very expensive and of course the watch.

He looked at his watch. It was seven thirty. He knew from experience that these places were magnets for single or divorced middle aged women looking for a man. He was a prime target. He could see that he had at least two admirers. One in particular took his fancy. She had shoulder length dark brown hair. A bit of a tan, probably fake, knee lengthy skirtand matching jacket. Her eyes were brown and he guessed she was probably thirty five or thirty six. He waited.

As soon as he saw her get up to get a round of drinks for the rest of the girls, he finished his drink and followed her to the bar. They stood side by side. The barmen took her order. He knew she would talk to him.

“Haven’t seen you here before. Played golf today?”

Bingo. He smiled at her.

“No, actually I’m a stranger in town. Over from Spain. I’m looking for a property to rent here but not really sure of the area. What’s the best part of town for me to rent a two bedroom flat?”

“Just for yourself, or for you and the family?”

She was fishing. He liked her style.

“No, just for poor old me. Doesn’t have to be that big really. But just want it in a nice part of town.”

“Round here is nice. Very countrified if you know what I mean, but not too far from the main town. You drinking on your own?”

“Yeh, just me and a gin and tonic to keep me company.”

“Why don’t you come and join us? The girls won’t mind, in fact they’ll be delighted to have some male company for a change.”

“No, really, I don’t want to intrude.”

“Nonsense, you’ll be doing us a favour.”

“Okay, on one condition. You let me buy you all a drink”

“It’s a deal.”

He ordered his drink and pulled out a large wad of notes from his pocket and paid for everything. He was sure she had noticed the amount of money he had. The plan was working a treat. She grabbed his arm and led him to the table.

“Ladies, let me introduce you to… Sorry, I don’t know your name.”

He smiled at them all.

“Paul, Paul Redford, pleased to meet you all.”

He pulled up a seat and listened as they all introduced themselves. He couldn’t help thinking just how easy this was.


 

 

D.I John Morgan was sitting at the bar of the Hilton in Mayfair waiting for Demetri Radchinski. He was nervous and kept stroking his chin as though he had a beard. He hadn’t had a beard for over ten years.

He first met Demetri when he was first assigned to the Specialist Crime and Investigations Department of the Met some years back. It was a chance meeting a at charity event for Great Ormond Street Hospital. They’d spoken, introduced themselves and had a beer. He later found out that nothing Demetri ever did was by chance. He had been chosen because he was an up and coming young Detective. Before long, Demetri was helping him with some unsolved crimes. Demetri always seemed to know what had been stolen and where it could be found or dealers who had been under the radar for years. The arrest rates were getting noticed and he moved quickly through the ranks. Now, as a Detective Inspector he was almost at the top of the tree. All thanks to Demetri. He also had links to the Russian mafia, known as “the family”. Demetri was a man you didn’t cross and certainly one you never said no to.

“Ahh, Mister John, thank you for coming.”

He was a tall man, very broad with a thick neck. Quite a weird shape, John was sure he would have to have all his clothes made to measure. Nothing off the rails would fit this guy.

“Nice to see you Demetri, what can I get you?”

John already knew the answer. No matter what time of day it was, Demetri only ever drank pink Champagne.

“I think you know the answer to that question Mister John.”

Demetri laughed. A big, over exaggerated laugh.

John ordered a bottle of Laurent Perrier pink Champagne and two glasses. The waiter took it to a table by the window. They both sat down.

“Let me come straight to the point Mister John. One of my family over in Spain has had a personal problem. His daughter has been hurt by a man who used to live in this country. We know that after he hurt the girl he travelled back here to England. So, I need to find him and you need to help me.”

“Of course Demetri, we’re already on it. Robbie Jackson arrived at Gatwick two days ago. My team are looking at the CCTV footage of the area as we speak, we’ll soon know where he went after he landed here. Don’t worry, we’ll get him.”

Demetri leaned closer and spoke quietly.

“Mister John, please do not misunderstand what I am saying. My men are already looking for him, but we need your help as well. So, as soon as you have any information you must give it to me before you do anything with it yourself. I need to find this man first. Understand?”

“Of course Demetri.”

“For this favour Mister John, you will receive a very generous line of credit for all your habits.”

He smiled and raised his glass. John Morgan did the same.


The news from the hospital was encouraging. The scans on Bepa were all okay. It was looking like she would have no long term damage. But she was still in a coma. The Doctor told Ivan that this was the body’s way of dealing with the trauma. It was helping her body recover. But there was no guarantee when she would come out of it. It could be days or even weeks.

The doctor had said that she had traces of cocaine in her system and large amounts of alcohol.

Ivan poured himself a glass full of his favourite vodka and replayed the scene in his head. Robbie Jackson had got Bepa drunk at his apartment, then encouraged her to take drugs. He tried to force himself on her and she had refused him. He was a strong man and very useful with his hands and feet. He had over powered her and smashed her head against the table. He needed to die. But not before he had felt incredible pain for a very, very long time.

 

 

Day Three

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He needs more money and knows exactly where to find it.

 

                                                         

He ordered a Pizza from his room. Only ate half of it, but drank the rest of the miniatures that he’d stolen from the Gatwick Hotel. He slept soundly and woke at seven o’clock, then went for breakfast. He had the full English with lots of black coffee. He knew that by now the Russians would know about Bepa and the fact that he was missing. Ivan would be uncontrollable. He would want him dead. He wouldn’t want to hear the truth; he would just want him dead. Ivan’s men controlled the taxis along the coast. All of them paid a small amount each week for Ivan’s permission to work the area. So it was likely that his men had tracked down the cab driver that took him to the airport. The “family” had people working at the airport so he would also know about the flight to Gatwick. But that’s where their search should come to a stop. For now, at least.

What would they expect him to do? Go back to Essex? Too obvious. Besides, apart from an old uncle, he had no family there anymore.

He’d have to start his life all over again just as he did three years ago when he arrived in Spain. Back then he only had a few hundred pounds with him. But he survived and survived well. It would take time. But he was a patient man. He had skills that he could rely on. But there was one big problem this time. Last time it was only the Police who were looking for him. The worst that could have happened was he was caught and put away for a few years. This time he had to be much more cunning. If he was caught this time they would kill him and he would die screaming. These people wouldn’t give up, they never did. He had to avoid major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. The Russians controlled all of these now. Ivan would often talk about his British “family” and how they were gaining control of most of the UK.  

He decided he would never stay longer than two or three days at any one place. Keep moving. As his dear old dad used to say “It’s difficult to hit a moving target.”

He would use public transport and cabs. He figured he needed more money before he moved on. But not the watch. The watch he would keep. He dressed in different clothes. Jeans, sweatshirt and trainers, courtesy of Mr Thompson. He ruffled his short hair. He looked completely different from the man who walked into the Swan and Cuckoo yesterday. Today he looked like everyone else. He walked into town and headed for the pub. If there was one thing he could rely on was that bad pubs normally attracted bad people and some of these bad people would have bad money.

The pub was quiet. He counted thirteen people. Groups of twos and threes. He got a beer and sat in a quiet corner. Just watching, waiting. He was on his third pint when a crowd of eight young men walked in. They were loud, excited, animated. He recognised the signs. They were on the gear. If they were, then someone had to be supplying them. Either in the pub or somewhere else. He waited. An hour passed before a motorbike pulled up outside. A tall thin guy took off his helmet and walked inside. He decided he would call him Lanky. Everyone was pleased to see him. He got a beer, drank half then went into the toilets. A few minutes later one of the eight made his way to the toilet. He came out a few minutes later alone. Lanky was still in there. Then another one of the group made a visit. Again he came out within a few minutes. Still no sign of Lanky. One by one they all took their turn. When the last one of the eight went in, he followed. The toilet looked deserted but he could hear voices coming from one of the cubicles. He started to wash his hands. The cubicle door opened and one of the guys came out and left. He dried his hands under the hot air machine. He looked straight at Lanky, who was still standing in the cubicle.

“Got any coke?”

“Yeh man, what do you need?”

He took a step forward towards Lanky, as he did so he smashed the palm of his right hand hard into the guys face catching him square on the bridge of the nose. Lanky fell backwards against the system and slid down onto to the toilet seat. Blood was pouring from his nose and his head was swaying from side to side. Pain and shock were his two new friends. He quickly went through his pockets and took everything he could find. He walked out of the toilet just as another guy was going in.

“I’d give it a minute before you go in there mate. Someone’s shooting up.”

The guy smiled at him and walked back to the bar.

He made his way through the pub and out onto the street. It was market day and he mingled with the crowd. There was a taxi rank by the station. He got in and went back to the hotel. Once there he turned out his pockets. There were bundles of notes all screwed up and just as important there were small bags of coke, tabs and powder. He counted the cash. Three hundred and eighty quid. Not bad for a few hour’s work. He wouldn’t stay another night here. It was time to move on. He put everything he needed into Bob’s Louis Vuitton bag and left everything else in the room and left the hotel. He saw a sign that said Reigate sixteen miles. After ten minutes walking he flagged down a black cab.

“Reigate, please mate.”

“Sure guv, whereabouts in Reigate?”

“The best Hotel in town please.”

 

 

D.I. John Morgan was standing naked in a room at the Belgravia Hotel. He dialled a number on his phone.

“Hello Sergeant, look something’s come up, you take the briefing this morning. I’ll be in later.”

He threw the phone onto a chair beside the bed. He felt a stirring in his groin, the Viagra was kicking in. He looked at the beautiful black girl who was laying naked face down on the bed in front of him.

“That is the most perfect arse I have ever seen.”

He couldn’t see her face but he heard her giggle. She opened her legs slightly.

“Wow, now that is a sight for sore eyes.”

Another giggle. Then she turned over to face him.

“You weren’t joking when you said something had come up were you. Now, are you just going to look at me or fuck me?”

She giggled again. His phone rang. He sighed in frustration.

“Leave it, don’t answer it, come to bed.”

“I’d better, just in case.

He picked up the phone and looked at the display. He answered it quickly. His voice suddenly became shaky.

“Demetri?”

“Hello Mister John. I need to meet with you urgently and I need you to get some information for me.”

“Okay, what do you need?”

“Meet me in two hours at the Hilton in Mayfair. Get me everything you have on a certain mister Robert Jackson.”

Demetri hung up.

He dressed quickly all the time muttering “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” He threw a handful of fifty pound notes at the girl and left. This was one meeting he dare not be late for.

The Days ( Day Two, Continued)

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Things become clearer exactly why Robbie left Spain.

 

The tall, grey haired man stood alone in the Club Hacienda thinking how much he missed his beloved Russia. Ivan Andonivski had been in Spain for eight years yet still couldn’t get used to the heat. After three days of heavy rain the sun had returned with a vengeance. The town of Marbella was hot. Even with the air conditioning pumping out cool air, the heat was still oppressive. He walked over to the deserted bar and poured himself an ice cold beer from the tap. He drank it down slowly hoping that it would give his body some respite from the humidity. It didn’t.

Over the past few years his empire had grown. He now had eight night clubs along the Costa del Sol and was in the middle of “negotiations” to take over another two. He smiled as he thought how weak these local people were. They feared him and the men he called his “family”. They gave him what he wanted. No one refused Ivan.

When he first arrived from Russia it was the English that controlled the area. The clubs, bars, restaurants and the drug trade were all controlled by the old English gangsters. But they were no match for him and his “family”. In Russia he had learnt that you have to be completely ruthless and without mercy. If you want something you take it. If someone stands in your way you get rid of them. Soon people learn that you are in control. Once they realise that, everything becomes easy.

Only one man had decided to make a stand against him. He had a club in Puerto Banus and told Ivan in no uncertain terms that he had no intention of selling. He remembered the man’s words clearly “Take your fucking funny money and go back to that shit hole of a country you call home. This is my town, I control things here.” Two days later the man’s club caught fire. He and his wife were inside. It burnt to the ground. There were no survivors. From then on Ivan got what he wanted.

The local Mayor had become his friend and Ivan contributed generously to his campaign fund. He would often let the Mayor borrow his yacht for meetings and entertaining.

The days of the English gangsters controlling things on the Costa’s were over. The Russians had arrived. It was now their time.

He poured himself another beer and walked to his office at the back of the club. He sat down in his carved wooden chair. A gift from the Mayor for his fiftieth birthday last year.

Something was on his mind. His daughter Bepa had not returned home last night and was not answering her phone. This was not unusual, she was twenty one, and, like her late mother, was an attractive girl with lots of friends. But usually by this time of day she would call him and tell him where she was. She was the apple of his eye. He spoilt her terribly, anything Bepa wanted, Bepa got.

There was another problem. Robbie Jackson, his head doorman at the Club Hacienda, hadn’t shown up for work last night and he too wasn’t answering his phone. Robbie was a good worker and was part of the “family”. He was trusted. He had done all kinds of work for Ivan including “persuading” local businessmen to take Ivan on as a partner in their businesses. But he also knew that Bepa had a soft spot for Robbie. He was hoping there was no connection between the two or Robbie would have to be taken away and “spoken to.”

He convinced himself that it was just a coincidence. But just to be sure, he had sent Nikor and Leonid, two of his most loyal men to Robbie’s apartment to find out why he hadn’t shown up for work. His phone rang. The display said Bepa. He smiled and answered the call.

“Bepa, where have you been? I have been worried.”

“No sir, it’s Nikor. Bepa is hurt sir; she is on her way to the hospital now. We found her in Robbie Jackson’s apartment, she was unconscious. She is hurt bad sir.”

Ivan let the information sink in. He was not an emotional man but every part of his body wanted to scream. He composed himself.

“And Jackson, where is he?”

“Gone sir, he’s not here.”

“I will meet you at the Hospital. Tell Leonid to find Jackson.”

“Yes sir.”

Ivan’s hands were shaking. Both from emotion and rage. He left the Hacienda and made his way to the hospital.

Bepa was in intensive care when he arrived. The word had gone round the Hospital that Bepa Andonivski had been admitted and she was being given the best care available. The Chief of Staff at the hospital had been briefed and was waiting when Ivan arrived. He led him to a waiting room.

“Mr Andonivski your daughter is having various scans at the moment. Her condition is critical. She has sustained a serious head injury.”

Ivan liked people who spoke directly.

“Thank you. You know who I am and that money is no object. If you think she needs anything, anything at all, just do it. You understand?”

“Yes sir. But for the moment we need to find out if there is any damage to her brain. She has a fractured skull and we have put her in an induced coma. We will know more in the next twenty four hours.”

“Will she live?”

“I believe she will sir, but we need to find out if there is any long term damage.”

Ivan’s eyes began to fill up. He turned away and walked out of the room. Nikor was waiting for him. The two of them stood in a quiet part of the corridor.

“Has Leonid found Jackson yet?”

“No sir, nothing yet.”

“Nikor, you are a close part of this family. I need you to find him. No matter where he is, I want you to find him and bring him to me. I don’t care how long it takes or how much it costs. Find him.”

“Yes sir.”

Ivan returned to the waiting room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Days ( Day Two)

 

 

 

 

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Day two and someone has noticed his return.

 

There was a stinging sensation inside his nose that made his eyes water. He shook his head from side to side, like a dog does when it’s just come in from the rain. The white powder had done its job. The hit was hard. He took a deep breath, looked in the mirror, straightened his tie and smiled. He pulled a hip flask from his jacket pocket, undid the top and took a large swig. Good to go.

He unlocked the toilet door and stepped into the corridor. There were people waiting at the lift doors opposite. A young girl in her twenties looked at him and smiled. He smiled back. He made a mental note to find out which department she worked in and ask her out for a drink. His room was at the end of the large open plan office. He walked passed desks where people sat and stared at computer screens while talking on the phone. It was noisy, cluttered and disorganised. He was only five feet ten inches tall, but the powder made him feel like he was seven feet high and overlooking everything and everyone. He loved the first few minutes of a hit, he felt in control, confident, unstoppable.

He opened the door of his office, walked over to his desk and sat down on the large leather chair that he’d bought just the day before. Six hundred quid well spent. He opened up the top drawer of his desk and took out a bottle of aspirin. He swallowed three pills with a mouthful of bottled spring water. There was a knock on his door.

“Come in.”

A well-dressed man in his early thirties entered the office. He was wearing a light brown tailored suit, blue shirt and yellow tie. He looked at the open bottle of aspirins on the desk.

“You okay sir?”

“Yeah fine, just a bit of a headache coming on. Nothing a glass or two of scotch won’t cure later on. What’s up?”

“Does the name Robert Jackson mean anything to you?”

He sat back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling. A few seconds went by. The powder inside him went into overdrive, activating parts of his brain that were normally asleep. Cells connected with cells, lights flashed in distant recesses and triggered memories and information and pulled them from storage boxes that were normally locked shut. He spoke quickly.

“Robert Jackson, aged thirty six from Romford, Essex. Used to run a gym, hard man, some kind of martial arts expert. Went missing from the UK three years ago after Raymond Walker was found dead in a skip. Raymond Walker was the prime suspect in the murder of Robert Jackson’s brother a year earlier but due to certain dubious alibis we couldn’t nail the bastard. Last reports said that Jackson was somewhere in Spain. No one really gives a shit because he did us all a favour by taking a low life scumbag like Walker off the streets. Correct?”

“Jesus Guv, how do you remember all that stuff?”

He smiled.

“That’s why you’re standing there as a lowly plain clothed Detective and I’m sitting in this big fuck off chair a Detective Inspector.”

The young Detective smiled back.

“Point taken sir.”

“So, why you asking about Jackson?”

He sat down at the desk opposite his superior.

“Because yesterday he came back. Arrived at Gatwick on a flight from Malaga.”

“How the fuck did he do that. Why didn’t it flag up?”

“As you said sir, it was three years ago and no one gives a shit. Lucky that our system picked it up but he’s been back for twelve hours, could be anywhere by now.”

“Okay, don’t make a song and dance about it but find out what you can. With Jackson’s particular skillset, it’s likely he was working as a doorman or bodyguard for someone. If he flew in from Malaga it’s possible that he’s been working close by. Somewhere like Torremolinos, Fuengirola or Marbella.”

“Okay guv.”

The detective stood up and left the office.

Detective Inspector John Morgan sat back in his chair and wondered why on earth Robert Jackson would want to chance facing arrest by coming back to England. He looked at his watch; he’d leave it another hour before partaking in another line or two.

 


 

 

The walk into Croydon town centre took twenty minutes. He’d never been there before and he hated it. It was like somebody had decided to dig up every tree, every blade of grass and every flower and replace them with concrete in every shade of grey.

Bob’s clothes fitted him well. He looked like a wealthy man. Beige chinos, expensive shirt, cashmere jumper and brown brogues. He was carrying the Louis Vuitton bag containing everything he wanted to sell. He saw the sign he was looking for outside a small jewellers. “We buy Gold”.

Fifteen minutes later he had an extra two hundred and twenty pounds in his pocket. The earrings, cufflinks and tie pin had been worth more than he’d thought. The guy in the jewellers had also given him a quote for the watch, two and a half grand. But for now he would keep it. People trust a man who looks smart and wears an expensive watch. Especially the ladies.

He bought a SIM card and thirty quid’s worth of credit. He put the SIM into Bob’s mobile. He laughed at himself. Who the fuck was he going to phone. It was midday, time for a beer.

As he walked into the Swan and Cuckoo in the town centre, he looked completely out of place. Overdressed and conspicuous. Heads turned as he walked in, people whispered. He smiled as he sat down with his bottle of beer. If they only knew who he really was, they would run a mile.

He counted up his money. Six hundred and eighty quid. He was aware of two people standing at his table. He looked up. Two kids, late teens, white, track suit bottoms and hoody tops. One taller than the other. As he looked at them he gave them both names. The taller boy was Ron and the smaller one Ray. They were looking down at him. Ron spoke.

“You do know there’s a fee for drinking in this pub mate?”

“I didn’t. How much?”

“All the cash you’re holding and that fancy watch you’re wearing.”

He smiled at them and slowly stood up.

“Tell you what, just cos you’ve got bottle. I’ll give you a score, then you fuck off without me hurting you. How’s that?”

He stared hard into Ron’s eyes. Waiting for a reaction. He held the bottle by its neck and was ready. Ray slowly put out his hand.

“Done.”

He peeled off a twenty and handed it to him.

“That’s the best decision you’ll ever make son.”

They left. He finished his beer. He was thinking about his next move. He needed to get a haircut and get rid of his goatee beard. He left the pub and found a barber shop.

At three o’clock he was back in his hotel room having paid for two more nights. He looked in the mirror. He looked good. A million miles different from the look he had yesterday. He’d left Marbella with shoulder length hair and a goatee beard, wearing a pair of old faded jeans, a tee shirt and a pair of trainers.  His only possessions were his passport and one hundred and sixty two euros. Now he was on the outskirts of London, clean shaven, hair short and parted at the side, wearing expensive clothes and a six grand watch, had six hundred and fifty pounds in his pocket and was staying in a reasonable hotel. For now he was safe. Not bad for his first twenty four hours. He looked at his watch. Marbella was an hour ahead so it would be four o’clock there. The shit should be just about to hit the fan.

The Days

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A story told day by day. A man leaves Spain urgently with next to nothing. But he is resourceful. 

 

Day One

The cab from Marbella had cost him fifty five euros. The flight ticket from Malaga to Gatwick was ninety eight euros. He counted his money. Nine euros left. This was all he had in the world, just nine euros, a passport and the clothes he was wearing.

But he was resourceful.

At Malaga airport he had nothing to check in. But he closely watched those that did. He spotted a family of four checking in a large blue suitcase with a red ribbon tied on the handle. Mum, dad and two kids. The guy was about his height and weight, roughly the same age maybe a year or two older, nearing forty. The kids were perhaps six and eight.  Perfect.

His was the last Gatwick flight out of Malaga that day. The 22.35. Landing just after midnight. His eyes scanned the departure board. He saw what he was looking for. A Frankfurt flight departing fifteen minutes before his. He waited and took in everything. He carefully chose his victim. He liked to give names to his victims. This one he would call Bob.

The gate for Frankfurt was called an hour before departure. People started to shuffle about. This was the time old men went to the toilet. A voice would speak in their head “Go now or you’ll have to go on the plane.” No one wants to use the toilet on a plane. Bob was a man in his late sixties, travelling alone. He was carrying a very expensive overnight bag. He was dressed smartly in a cashmere sweater and light coloured trousers. He kept looking at his watch, an expensive item, possibly Rolex or Omega. Bob picked up his bag and made his way to the toilets. He followed.

He watched as Bob took a leak at the urinals, then went over to the basin to wash his hands. He followed and stood next to him. Bob put his bag on the floor beside him. The toilets were busy. He liked busy, it made his job much easier. He turned quickly, caught Bobs legs hard with his right foot. They left the floor and gravity took over. Bob fell. Hit his head hard on the marble work surface before crashing to the floor. Bob was out cold. He knelt beside him and pulled the bag towards him.

“Help me please someone, the man’s collapsed. I think he’s had a heart attack or something.”

A crowd gathered.

“I’ll put him in the recovery position.”

He did. Whilst carefully and skilfully relieving him of his wallet and watch. He looked at a nervous man standing over them.

“Stay with him, I’ll get help.”

He left the toilets with Bob’s bag.

The Gatwick flight was being called. He walked away and took the exit for his departure gate.

He knew there would be confusion. Bob would be out of it for quite a while. He would miss his flight, but no one would miss him. He would try to explain about his bag but by that time it would be in the overhead locker on its way to Gatwick.

He slept for most of the two and a half hour flight. He could see the family of four a few seats in front of him. He decided to call them the Thompson family. He smiled to himself, good name as they’d obviously just been on holiday.

At Gatwick he and his luxury overnight bag were quickly through passport control. He knew that the Thompson family would be slow. Two kids would hold them back. They were too old to have pushchairs and too large to be carried, they would have to walk. It was after midnight, they would be tired and grumpy. At least one of them would want to use the toilet. All these things would slow them down. He also figured that the bags would come off quickly. This was the last flight in and the baggage handlers would want to get home as quickly as possible.

 He was first at the baggage carousel. Just as he thought, the bags had started coming off and were already going round on the conveyor belt. He kept his eyes alert for the Thompsons. He guessed they were maybe four or five minutes behind him. Then he saw it, coming straight at him, blue case, red ribbon. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the family at the bottom of the stairs, the kids were with mum. Dad was a few feet in front looking for the signs for the correct baggage area. He had to be quick. He took the case off, untied the ribbon and put it in his pocket. Then turned and walked past them towards the exit. He was through customs and in arrivals a few seconds later.

He took the exit and followed the signs for the nearest hotel. It was a ten minute walk. He made his way to reception.

“Excuse me, do you have any rooms available for tonight.”

The receptionist was attractive but was wearing far too much make up on her face. He thought it made her look like a toy doll.

“Yes sir we have rooms available.”

“Perfect, can I book a room for two nights, please?”

“Certainly sir, can I take some card details please.”

“I’m afraid my wallet is inside my suitcase.”

He leant forward and whispered to her.

“I also have to take my insulin quite urgently, is there an empty room I can use?”

“Of course sir, I understand, come with me.”

She led him to a spare room on the ground floor.

“Just come back to reception when you’re ready.”

“Thank you so much.”

He put the case on the bed and opened it. Inside were various clothes and toiletries. He found a casual shirt, a pair of jeans and black shoes. He changed clothes quickly and dumped his old clothes into the suitcase. He went into the bathroom collected up all the towels and put them in the case. He noticed there was a mini bar. He opened it and put the contents in the case

He took Bobs wallet from his pocket and looked at it for the first time. Three credit cards, a picture of some kids and over eight hundred euros in cash.

He was wearing Bobs watch. It was a Rolex Submariner. New, it was worth maybe six grand, he’d get two for it.  But that would do.

He’d open the overnight bag later. He closed the door of the room and went back to main reception. He smiled at doll face.

“Thank you so much for that, the flight was running late and I was beginning to feel unwell.”

“I fully understand Sir; my brother is diabetic so I can appreciate your situation.”

“Can I change up euros into sterling here?”

“Yes sir, how many euros?”

“Eight hundred.”

Doll face did the calculation and handed him his cash.

“Thank you, I’ll be back in a moment. I just need to find my wife, god knows where she’s got to.”

He raised his eyebrows and smiled at doll face. She smiled back. He walked out of the hotel with his luggage and flagged down a black cab.

“London?”

The cabbie laughed.

“Big place mate. Whereabouts?”

“Where’s best for you?”

“I’m heading for Croydon, finishing up now.”

“Croydon it is then.”

He jumped in the cab and the driver helped him with the bags.

“Is there a cheap Hotel in Croydon that I’d still be able to get into this late?”

“Loads mate, the Novatel will have plenty of rooms, and they’ve got twenty four hour reception. You want me to drop you there?”

“Yes please.”

It was almost half past one before he was settled in the Novatel. He paid the cabbie a ton and the room was forty quid. He sat down on the bed and opened up the suitcase. He put the booze from the mini bar on a small table in the corner of the room. He opened up two miniatures of whisky and drank them straight from the bottles.

He emptied the blue suitcase and tipped the contents onto the bed. The men’s clothes he put in a neat pile, anything else was thrown on the floor. In one of the internal pockets he found two pairs of gold earrings and a ladies watch. But, nothing much of any value. The only toiletries were an electric razor and some aftershave. He was pleased with the men’s clothes. There were enough to keep him going for a few days.

He opened up the expensive overnight bag. It was Louis Vuitton. This was no snide, this was the real thing. He emptied it carefully. Two shirts, a silk tie, a cashmere jumper and a pair of chinos. There was a mobile phone, an iPod, and a small leather toiletries bag. He unzipped the small bag. Usual stuff, razor, foam, deodorant, aftershave. The holdall had a pocket inside. He opened it. Jackpot. Two pairs of gold cufflinks, a gold tie pin and a very expensive looking pen.

He lay down on the bed and closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be a good day. He’d sell the gold for a few hundred quid but keep the watch for a while. Just a few hours ago he was in Spain and in a whole lot of trouble, with nothing but a plane ticket and nine euros. He wouldn’t be missed for another twelve hours. By that time he would be a completely different person.

Not bad for day one!

 

 

                                                         

 

 

Froch v Groves 2

Image

Less than a week to go till Froch / Groves 2.

I was there in Manchester for the first one and I’ll be at Wembley on Saturday for the re-match. To say I’m looking forward to it would be a massive under-statement!

The hype is beginning to build. Every night this week there will a “behind the scenes” programme on Sky helping to increase the tension. Sky expect this to be their biggest pay per view boxing event EVER. It seems cheap to me at £17.

I know what you’re thinking “Seventeen quid for a boxing match?”

Look at it this way. Coverage starts at 6pm with views and thoughts from both camps, expert analysis (well from some pundits anyway), then the undercard which includes our Olympic Gold medallist at Heavyweight, Anthony Joshua. 2008 Gold medallist James Degale fighting in an IBF eliminator bought. East Londoner and a man with something to prove Kevin Mitchell also fights in another IBF eliminator. And Jamie McDonnell fights for the vacant WBA Super Flyweight title. What a great showcase for British boxing.

Froch / Groves are scheduled to enter the ring around 10.30 ( ish). Whatever happens in that fight you are guaranteed over 5 hours of superb entertainment.

All that for just £17? Bargain….

Okay, let’s look at the big one. Froch is odds on favourite at 4/6 and Groves 5/4. The bookies expect Froch to win in the latter rounds and especially in rounds 7-9. Not many expect it to go the distance.

I worry about Froch. Let me explain why.

There aren’t many fighters that have a “war” every year and not suffer the consequences later on in their career.

Froch met Jean Pascal in 2008 for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight title. It was a twelve round brawl with both fighters taking big shots round after round. Froch won on points. In 2009 he met Jermaine Taylor in his first defence of the title. Taylor knocked him down in the third round but Froch got up to beat Taylor in the final round with just fourteen seconds to go. Another really hard fight. Six months later he fights Andre Dirrell and retains his World title, but it’s another hard fought twelve round contest that he wins on points. In 2010 he takes on Mikkel Kessler and loses his title in a memorable twelve round battle. Seven months later he’s back, fighting Arthur Abraham and wins after twelve rounds by a unanimous point’s decision. In 2011 he fights Glen Johnson and wins another twelve round decision. The same year he faces Andre Ward, this time he loses after twelve gruelling rounds.

So in 36 months he’s had seven hard fights, fought 84 gruelling rounds of boxing, been knocked down once, won five and lost two.

In 2012 he has two fights, winning both easily. 2013 sees the re-match with Mikkell Kessler. He wins by unanimous decision after ANOTHER twelve hard rounds. Six months later he takes on George Groves in what some are calling the best British boxing match of all time. He’s knocked down in the first round and takes big shots in the next five rounds. He stops Groves in the ninth. After the fight he looks like he’s been hit by a truck (but then so does Groves).

I know I’ve gone on a bit, but see where I’m coming from? Every fight is a war and at 36 Froch can’t afford to have too many more. I wonder if Froch really wanted this re-match or was he lured in by the enormous amount of money on offer or the fact that the IBF ordered him to face Groves or lose his title?

Groves is only 26. He’s had twenty professional fights and won nineteen. His only loss was to Froch last year and that ended controversially. Since 2011 he’s had ten fights. Only two have gone the distance. In his last fight with Froch he proved that not only can he punch but he can take a punch as well. Up until that fight most people wondered how he would fare against “world class” opposition. Froch is most certainly world class yet Groves dominated the early rounds and was in front going into the ninth. Froch gave it everything in that round and caught Groves with some big shots. The ref stepped in and stopped the fight. Prematurely some (including me) would say.

So where do I stand?

Froch is the champion and deservedly so. He’s faced the best and beaten them. But I can’t help thinking that at 36 he might just have had his day. He knows that Groves has the power and speed to hurt him and that might just play on his mind. Groves is young, cocky and full of confidence after the first fight.

So I’m going for Groves within seven.

But then again, what the f..k do I know?

 

 

English Rose ( Part 2)

Once again the interviewers dialogue is in italics.

 

red rose

 

The larger man left the room and returned a few minutes later with two cups of black coffee.

“Jim, drink this. Then we must get on.”

Jim took a sip of his coffee, wiped his eyes and continued.

“Where was I, oh yeah, the napkin. I’ve still got that napkin after all these years. Keep it in my desk at work. Look at it every day.”

“Jim, focus please, what happened next, after she left you in the pub?”

 

I was disappointed that she’d left so suddenly, but I suppose I loved her unpredictability. The next time she called was a week later. Again we arranged to meet in Dirty Dicks, in fact that place became a regular meeting place for us for the rest of that year. We met there once a week. We’d talk, drink wine, have a kiss and then she’d leave. We still hadn’t had sex. I think for both of us we wanted it to be special. We wanted to take our time. We didn’t want it to be some quickie somewhere. Every time we met she always asked me the same question just before we parted.

“Would you do anything for me Jim?”

“You know I would.”

I thought it was just a game that she loved to play. A game that proved to her how much I loved her. Then sometime in 2009, March I think, we met up as usual. She looked worried about something.

“You okay Kathy; you look as though you’ve got something on your mind.”

She smiled, but it was a reluctant smile.

“I’m fine Jim. Can you get away for a weekend?”

“Well it would take some planning but, yes, I’m sure I can.”

Now she was back to her old self. She giggled.

“Well, my family have a small holiday cottage in Whitstable. It’s only an hour away. They don’t use it much and so I thought I’d stay there for a while. Come and stay with me Jim, just for a weekend?”

“When?”

“I’m going to move in at the beginning of May.”

“Okay, I’ll try to sort something out.”

“I do so love you Jim.”

We kissed, finished our drinks and she left.

I began to sow the seeds indoors. I mentioned about a sales conference being planned for some time in May. Then I pretended to be angry that the company was planning it for a weekend. Then I wrote myself a letter on company headed paper and sent it to my home address. It confirmed that my presence was required at the sales Conference in May. I had to be there on the Friday night and would return Sunday afternoon. My poor wife believed every word. As the date approached we both became more and more excited.

Then it was time. I met her at the cottage at seven o’clock on the Friday evening. We took our time. Both of us didn’t want to rush.  I did some shopping on the way there and got us food and wine. I cooked. She loved the fact that I was making a fuss of her. The cottage had no television so there were no distractions. Just the two of us.

She stood up suddenly, took my hand and led me to the bedroom.

“Undress me.”

I did. Slowly.  As I took off each layer of clothing, I kissed her skin. She tasted wonderful. When she was naked her skin was milk bottle white.

“You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”

She smiled at me and lay down on the bed. I undressed and lay beside her. We didn’t have sex. Sex doesn’t describe what we had that night, nor does making love. It was more, much more than that. There was something else, something words can’t describe. Intenseness, almost like our bodies had become one. It was the best night of my life. In fact that first weekend was something that will live with me forever, even when I’m gone.

We stayed in the cottage for the remainder of that weekend. I’ve never felt so close to another human being in all my life. I didn’t want it end. But sadly it had to.

Just as I was getting ready to leave. She asked me a question.

“Will you keep me safe?”

It was a strange question. But I answered it honestly.

“Always.”

She smiled at me with those big blue eyes. Then asked me another question.

“Would you do anything for me Jim?”

I loved her. What could I say?

“Anything.”

“I left on the Sunday afternoon. Not really wanting to. She waived me goodbye. We both had tears in our eyes.

After that weekend I made regular trips to Whitstable. It was only an hour away and I would skive off work and go see her and still be home early evening. I started booking early appointments so that I could be finished by two in the afternoon and be in Whitstable by three. This went on for months. Then one day she told me.

“Jim. You know you always say you would do anything for me?”

I gave my usual reply.

“Anything.”

“Would you take someone’s life for me?”

At first I thought she was joking. But her face told me she wasn’t.

“Who?”

“Me.”

“Jim, you keep saying the same thing. She asked you to kill her. I need to know why.”

Jim sat forward and finished his coffee.

“I loved her.”

“You’ve said that many times now Jim. So WHY did you kill her?”

 

She had an illness. A rare disease of the brain. One in ten million gets it. She broke down as she told me.

“It could happen at any time Jim. It’s dormant at the moment but when it starts to react the changes will happen quickly. My doctor says that I’m lucky to still be here.”

I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I held her hand.

“What will happen?”

“I’ll hallucinate, lose my memory. I won’t know you Jim. You’ll be a stranger to me. I couldn’t bear that.”

“There must be something Kathy, something they can do?”

“It’s incurable Jim. No pills, no operation. I’ve accepted it now.”

We sat there in silence for what seemed like an age. Then she spoke.

“You promised Jim. You said you’d do anything.”

“But not that Kathy, I couldn’t do that.”

“If you don’t do it, I’ll die and not remember you or our time together. You wouldn’t want that for me, surely?”

“Of course I don’t but…”

She put her fingers to my lips to stop me from talking then she kissed me on the cheek.

“So how did this “arrangement” happen then? Was there a time and place that you were supposed to do it?”

Jim was silent. He was staring at the ceiling.

“JIM, JIM, come on, we’re close now. How and when did it happen?”

Jim snapped out of his trance and stared at the larger man.

“You do understand that I had to do it don’t you. I promised.”

“So you say. Now tell me, how and when?”

 

It was in Whitstable about a year later. She made me promise that as soon as she started to feel unwell it would be time. I went to see her one afternoon and she was acting strange. She didn’t seem to know why she was there in the cottage. She thought she was being held prisoner. I knew then that I had to do it. She eventually calmed down and fell asleep. I stayed with her and lay by her side. When she woke up. She shouted.

“Get away, get away from me!”

“Kathy, it’s me Jim. Calm down.”

She thrashed about on the bed and I held her down until she went back to sleep. I took a pillow and held it down firm over her face. She didn’t even struggle. I think that she knew what was happening and just let me get on with it. I kept me promise to her.

“And that’s what happened was it Jim, you killed her because she was ill and she wanted you to?”

“I had to. I promised!”

The larger man put down his pen and paper and stood up. He walked around the desk then sat back down.

“That’s a very interesting story Jim. Now let me tell you another story.”

Jim’s head had dropped. He was now staring at the floor.

“We spoke to your wife Jim. Lovely lady your wife. Did you know she keeps a diary?”

Jim looked up. He looked surprised.

“Yep Jim she writes in it every day. Do you know what she wrote on June 27th 2008?”

Jim looked back at the floor.

“She wrote. “Jim didn’t come home tonight. Very worried. He’s not answering his mobile.” So that part of your story is correct Jim. But that is also the date that a twenty seven year old lady called Katherine Weller went missing. She was last seen in a café near Holborn. She was supposed to meet up with a group of friends at the Dirty Dick pub at Liverpool Street later that day, but never made it.”

Jim didn’t react. He just continued staring at the floor.

“Let’s talk about Whitstable shall we Jim. You are registered as the leaseholder of a lock up railway arch there aren’t you? We spoke to some of the other leaseholders. They say they’ve seen you coming and going over the past few years.  They said that you were very secretive about the contents of the arch. You told one of them that you were restoring a classic car. Then last week, British Rail needed access to the arches. Seems there was a problem with the track above. They couldn’t get hold of you Jim so had to force entry. Guess what they found in that old arch of yours Jim?”

For the first time Jim looked straight into the face of his questioner. His face showed no emotion.

“Well the first thing they noticed was the smell. Horrible smell Jim. It was coming from a pit. You know the sort of pit that mechanics use so they can see the underneath of a car. Big pit it was. Five feet deep and about four feet square. Covered over with planks of wood. Guess what was inside that pit Jim?”

Jim started to shake his head.

“I promised to keep her safe, always.”

“They found a chair, some rope and human remains Jim. That’s what they found. We did some analysis Jim and discovered that they were the remains of a woman. A woman in her twenties. It was Katherine Weller Jim. Experts say that she died about three years ago. Which means that you kept her there alive in that pit for about two years? Visiting twice a week, probably giving her food and water, just enough to keep her alive. It’s difficult to determine the cause of death after all this time Jim. Perhaps you can tell me.”

“I promised to keep her safe, always. Then she started shouting. It was the illness. She thought she was being held prisoner. That’s what the illness does it makes you hallucinate. She told me that, she said it would.”

“Shall I tell you what I think Jim? I think that after she been in that pit for a while, she asked you to kill her. She must have been in so much agony that every time you visited her she would plead with you to end it. Then one day, maybe she struggled, shouted and you decided to give her what she wanted. So you killed her. Am I close Jim?”

“She told me, no, begged me to do it. You see, she was in pain. It was the illness you see. The illness.”

The larger man pressed a button under the desk and two officers entered the room.

“Okay, we’re done here for now. Take him back.”

They grabbed Jim by his arms and lifted him from his chair. Just as they were about to leave the larger man called out.

“Just one more thing Jim. Have there been any others. Any other young ladies that have asked for your help?”

Jim turned round to face the larger man. He was thinking.

“Three.”

 

 

 

 

red rose

English Rose ( Part 1)

A short story in two parts. The interviewer’s dialogue is in italics.

 

Image

The room was cold and smelt of damp. The walls were a strange shade of beige. Perhaps originally white but now deeply nicotine stained. Empty, apart from an old table and two wooden chairs.

Two men entered. Each took a chair and sat down. The bigger of the two men was holding a pad and paper. He looked across the desk and spoke.

“So Jim, tell me the whole story. From the beginning.”

Jim was relaxed. He sat back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk. He looked up at the grey ceiling and began.

“I’m not quite sure when it all started. Sometime in the summer of 2008 I suppose. Wow, five years ago now. Where did all that time go?

I was early for an appointment with a prospective client, so decided to have a coffee in a nearby café. The appointment was at 12.30 and I had half an hour to waste. It was an up market café, one of those places where you can’t just say you want a coffee. It has to be an Americano or latte or cappuccino or whatever bollocks they’re talking. Anyway, I was sitting down at a table nursing my three pound cup of java, when I heard a voice behind me.”

“Excuse me sir, do you mind if I join you?”

I turned round expecting the voice to be aimed at someone else. But a young blonde haired girl was looking straight at me. She smiled.

“Err no, of course not.”

I stood up and moved the chair opposite out from under the table. She sat down.

“Thank you very much. I hate drinking coffee on my own. Do you work around here?”

She had sparkling blue eyes that were as big as her smile. Her complexion was pale, quite white in fact, which made a change from seeing all the London girls with their fake tans.

“No. You?”

I suppose I should have said more but I was still shocked at someone in central London wanting to talk to a complete stranger. It’s just not something that we do.

“No not me. Not yet anyway. But I’m hoping to. I’m going for a job interview in an hour not far from here. Do you think I’m suitably dressed for an interview?”

She stood up. She was wearing a white blouse with a short beige jacket over the top. Her skirt was mid length, just below the knee and she was wearing red flat shoes which matched her shade of lipstick. She looked gorgeous. In fact, stunning.

I sat back in my chair while she did a twirl in front of me. Here was a girl in her mid- twenties who I had known for just a few seconds doing a fashion show for me in the middle of an empty London café. Bizarre!

“You’ll knock them dead in that outfit. You look every bit the sophisticated London lady.”

She giggled and sat back down.

“So, enough about me. What do you do?”

I took a sip of my coffee and shrugged my shoulders.

“Not much. It’s really not that exciting. I’m a sales consultant for a stationery company. Well that’s my official title. The truth is I try to sell stationary items to people.”

Again she giggled.

“You weren’t joking were you?  Sounds really boring.”

We both laughed. We’d known each other for just a few minutes but here we were laughing together as though we’d known each other for years.

“Can I get you another coffee?”

She shook her head.

“No thanks. Not unless they can put a brandy in it. I’m a bit nervous about the interview. “

I looked at my watch. It was 12.10.

“Look, there’s a pub next door. How about I buy you something to calm those nerves of yours?”

Her face lit up like a firework.

“Come on then. What we waiting for?”

She stood up, giggled and made her way to the door of the café. I followed, both of us giggling like a couple of kids.

The pub next door was called the Rose and Crown. I remember it because I thought that it was appropriate. She looked like a typical English rose.

 

There was a silence. Jim was staring at the ceiling, images of twirling girls and roses filling his thoughts. The bigger man stopped writing on his pad and shouted.

“Jim, Jim, what happened in the pub?”

Jim snapped out of his thoughts and continued.

 

I asked her what she wanted to drink.

“Do you really want a brandy, or something else?”

“I’ve never even tasted brandy. It was just something I saw in a movie once. A woman ordered a Brandy and coffee. It seemed to go together so well. No, I’ll have a white wine please.”

I ordered a bottle of Sancerre and two glasses. We took a table in the corner.

I poured out the wine. We chinked glasses. She drank down the glass in one go.

“Bloody hell. Thirsty?”

She threw her head back and roared with laughter.

“I needed that. So mister stationary man, what’s your name?”

“Jim. Jim Rogers. And you, miss interview lady, what’s yours?”

“Katherine. Katherine Weller. My friends call me Kathy. So you can call me Kathy as well.”

I poured out more wine.

“Cheers Kathy. Here’s to a successful interview.”

We stayed in the pub till three o’clock. I missed my appointment and she missed her interview. I called my boss and said I was sick and was going home. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the streets of London.  We had dinner in an Italian restaurant in Covent Garden. I’d never been so happy. She made me feel alive. I can’t describe it. Up until that day I thought I had it all. Beautiful wife, two lovely kids, job, car, everything. But all that changed the day I met Kathy.

 

“So how did the day end?”

 

It was getting late. I suppose it was about ten o’clock. I had twenty missed calls on my phone. All from the wife. We were near Holborn Station. Kathy stopped walking and just stood there.

“Kathy, you okay?”

She looked at me. No, she stared at me. Then put her hands either side of my face and kissed me.

“Will you spend the night with me Jim? Please?”

The giggle had gone. Now there was a vulnerability about her that I’d not seen before. How could I resist her?

“Of course I will.”

We walked to a nearby hotel and I booked us in under the name of Mister and Mrs E.Rose.

Again Jim stopped talking and stared blankly at the wall.

“Jim. JIM!”

Once again the bigger man had to shout to get Jim’s attention.

“So Jim. The big question is. Why did you kill her?”

“Because she asked me to.”

“Sorry Jim. I’m not sure I follow. She asked you to kill her?”

“Yes.”

“Why Jim, why would she want you to do that?”

Jim took a deep breath and began to look around the room. It was as though he was preparing to tell some great secret. He continued.

As I said we booked into the hotel under the names of Mr and Mrs E.Rose.  She never did ask me why I used that name. We took the lift up to the third floor. The room was perfect. She kissed me as soon as the door was closed. Then we sat on the bed and talked.

 

“What about Jim. What did you talk about?”

 

“Everything. We played a game where we both had to ask each other ten questions.  They had to be the same ten questions for both of us. And, we had to be totally honest. Kathy started.”

“Are you married?”

“Yes.”

“Children?”

“Yes, two. Boy aged four and a girl who’s eighteen months.”

“Are you happy?”

“Yes.”

“Where do you live?”

“Surrey.”

“House or flat?”

“House.”

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?”

“A brother. Older. He lives in Canada.”

“How old are you?”

“Thirty two.”

“Are your parents alive?”

“Yes. Mum is fifty eight and dad is fifty nine.”

“Do you love me?”

“Yes.”

“Will you help me with something?”

“Yes.”

That was my ten questions done. Now it was Kathy’s turn. We sat on the bed holding hands. I asked her the same ten questions. She wasn’t married, she had no children, she wasn’t happy but said she pretended to be. She lived in a bedsit in Islington. She had no brothers or sisters and her parents were alive but living in Lincolnshire. She was twenty seven. She said she loved me and would help me.

We almost drank the mini bar dry. We fell asleep fully clothed on the bed. We never had sex on that first night. Just held each other close. The next morning I walked her to the station and we swapped numbers. I wasn’t sure if I would ever see her again. I got the train home knowing that I was in serious trouble. I’d been out all night, I hadn’t called my wife. She would be angry but she would also be worried. I came up with a story. I’d met up with an old mate from school purely by chance when I was between appointments. He’d convinced me to take the afternoon off and go on a bender. I ended up sleeping on his couch absolutely legless. Bless her, she believed every word. She was just so relieved to see me. I took the rest of the day off, called in sick again.

 

“So when did you see her again?”

“Sorry?”

“Come on Jim, we need to get through this. When did you see Kathy again?”

Jim closed his eyes as though he was picturing the scene.

 

 

“It was three days later. A Friday, I think. She rang me. I was back in London.

“Jim?”

I was so relieved to hear her voice again. I thought she would never call.

“Yes. Hello Kathy.”

“Can I see you?”

“When?”

“Today?”

“My last appointment is near Liverpool Street at three. Should be finished by four. Any good?”

“Perfect. Where?”

“Opposite the main entrance is an old pub called Dirty Dicks. Meet you in there at four.”

“Thanks Jim. Love you.”

I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of the day. My heart was pounding like a bass drum. I finished my last meeting early. I could see it was going nowhere so just stood up and said that I didn’t think our products were right for his company and walked out. I was at the pub by twenty past three. I walked in. She was already there. God she looked beautiful. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail; she was wearing a tee shirt and jeans. Once again her pale skin looked luminous in the half light of the pub. I wanted her.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t little Miss interview from Islington.”

Her giggle was back. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. She whispered in my ear.

“I’ve missed you Mr stationary man.”

I got us a bottle of wine and we went to a quiet corner of the pub. I remember the sun was shining that day. It was quite hot so everyone was standing outside. The inside of the pub was practically empty.

“How have you been? Did you get into big trouble for staying out all night? I’m sorry if I got you in trouble.”

She held my hand as she spoke. Her big blue eyes looked so apologetic.

“It’s okay. I came up with one hell of a story and it’s all fine now. It was just as much my fault as yours anyway.”

She giggled again.

“It was fun though wasn’t it?”

“Yes it was.”

She squeezed my hand tightly, then leaned across the table and kissed me softly on the lips. She tasted wonderful.

We finished our wine and I made the mistake of looking at my watch. She noticed.

“Do you have to leave?”

“Not yet. More wine?”

“No. I need to ask you something first.”

“Okay. What?”

“You know in the hotel when I asked you if you’d do something for me and you said yes. Did you mean it?”

“Of course I did.”

“Really?”

“Yes really!”

“But you don’t know what it is yet.”

I smiled at her. At that moment in time I would have walked to the end of the earth for her.

“Anything.”

“You promise?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I’ll have that glass of wine now.”

She giggled, like it was some sort of game and she’d just won. I went to the bar and got us two large glasses of wine. When I returned to the table, she’d gone. She’d written something on a napkin.

I’ll call you in a few days to explain. Love you, mister paperclip.

 

The larger man put down his pen and paper and looked across at Jim. He’d stopped talking and there was an intense silence. His eyes were still closed.

“Jim, come on, let’s carry on.”

His eyes opened. The larger man noticed tears were rolling down his cheeks.

Jim stood up and shouted.

“I did what you wanted Kathy. I kept my promise!”

red rose

 

Let’s Get Into Character

pulp

He walked towards the schoolgates, his mind racing, remembering things, things that he thought he had long forgotten.

He’d always loved the film Pulp Fiction, especially the part where Samuel L. Jackson stands outside a hotel room door and says to John Travolta, “Okay, time to get into character.”

He could relate to that so well. His whole life seemed to be like that, people expecting him to play a particular role which wasn’t his real self. He played the hard man, always had. It started at school. Because he was bigger than most boys his age he was expected to be the bully. So that’s what he became. He played the role well.

He beat up kids two or three years older than him, it was easy, he just put on an act, threatened them with violence, most times they just did as he wanted, if they didn’t he hit them. He’d never lost a fight and as years went by he never had to fight anyway, his reputation won his battles.

In his teens he had a technique, always start the fight, never wait for it to come to you, this way you always have the advantage. If confronted by someone he would say something like, “I’m gonna count to five, if you don’t move out of my way by then, I’ll do you some serious damage.” Of course he never, ever, got to five. His opponent would expect something to happen at three, but he was wrong. He always hit at number one. Hard, always as hard as he could. What was the point of hitting someone softly; it just gives them a chance to come back at you. So no, hit every time as hard as you can.

His favourite was the head butt; he could hit someone with his forehead with extreme precision. He was six feet three and taller than most, making it easy to head downwards onto his opponents nose. The bridge of the nose was his favourite part of the face, hit this hard and the nose will break, causing all sorts of problems, not just pain, but breathing difficulties, blurred vision and confusion. This was usually the end of the contest but just to be sure he would follow up with an uppercut to the jaw. When you hit someone’s nose their natural reaction is to open their mouth to help them breathe, hit someone in the jaw when their mouth is open and it’ll break. Suddenly your opponent is in a world of pain. No coming back from that and it’s all over in seconds.

He remembered the day when he was in his early twenties and three guys decided to throw peanuts at his new girlfriend. They were squaddies from the local barracks and were a bit tanked up, all that testosterone and nowhere to go. He stood up and walked over, all the time remembering the rules. Start it, act quickly and don’t let them hit.

They saw him walking towards them and one by one rose to their feet. As he got closer he decided the order. The guy in the middle was the leader; he had to go first, then the guy on the left, then the other guy. In his mind he gave them numbers, 1, 2 and 3. He smiled at the middle guy.

“Look fellas, we’re just here for some quiet time, no trouble, can I buy you all a drink?”

Number one was taken in and smiled back. He knew he had him, he wouldn’t expect what was about to happen.

He propelled himself forward at number one and caught him with a head butt between the eyes, best part of the face to strike; it connects the nose to the eye sockets and causes immediate blurred vision and tremendous pain. At the same time the palm of his left hand caught number two full in the face, once again the nose was the main target he heard a crack. One and two were now on the floor, he turned to face number three who was now holding his hands up in front of his body in a gesture of surrender. He hit him anyway.

Everything changed when he met Wendy. She knew of his reputation as a hard man but somehow calmed him down. They married and within a year she gave birth to twin girls, Gemma and Carly.

That was ten years ago and in all that time he’d had no fights or any sort of confrontation. He was now a family man. Some people in the town knew him and what he was capable of and gave him a wide berth, but a lot of new people had moved into the area and knew nothing about him. These people just treated him as a regular guy. He liked that, they only saw the new him. No more having to play the hard man.

But that was up until a few minutes ago. Wendy had come back from the school where she worked as a classroom assistant and was upset. He asked her what was wrong, she said nothing, he could tell she was lying. He kept on, asking her over and over again. Then she sat down, cried and told him the truth.

The school caretaker had taken a fancy to her, not much at first just a bit of flirting, he was in his thirties, good looking, single, always polite and smiled at her whenever he saw her. He’d asked her out for a drink a few weeks ago, she was flattered but declined saying that she was married and didn’t do that sort of thing.

Then today when she saw him, he said he had some “knocked off” designer gear for sale that would fit the girls. He said that it was awkward bringing it into the school so he kept it in the boiler room. She agreed to have a look and followed him downstairs to the basement.

That’s when it happened. As soon as she reached the bottom of the stairs he grabbed her, tried to kiss her, she pushed him away, but he started again, got both her hands behind her back and started to kiss her again, he put his hand under her skirt and touched her. She managed to break free and came straight home.

He was now standing outside the main entrance of the school. He smiled and thought back to his favourite film and spoke the words.

“Okay, time to get into character.”

But this time he wasn’t playing a part. This time it was for real…

The Judas Calf

judas

Patrick Burne was in the study of the old house. The enormity of his task had finally sunk in. The restoration work would take months to complete and more importantly tens of thousands of pounds.

He and his wife Laura had bought the house knowing that it needed a great deal of work, but they were young and positive and had high hopes of making this the sort of home where they could raise their children.

It had previously been owned by an old Jewish man who had died with no family and had made no will. After months of correspondence with the Solicitor who was looking after the old man’s estate, their offer had been accepted and they completed the sale last week.

The house was sold to them exactly as it had been when the old man had died. It was furnished with old and not very valuable furniture. It even had food still left in the cupboards.  It had no central heating, needed re-wiring, double glazing and a few walls knocking down here and there.

Patrick sat himself down at the old man’s writing desk and started to rummage through the drawers. Mostly old receipts, but there was an old brown folder in the middle drawer. On the outside it had three words written on it. “The Judas Calf”

Patrick opened the folder and began to read.

My name is Joseph Weissman and I need to tell my story. I am an old man now and my time on this earth is coming to an end, but I must tell someone what happened during those terrible years.

It was a very long time ago and I was only twelve years old, but I can still remember the last day I saw my father.

The winter of 1943 was harsh. In our huts the temperature could be as low as minus twenty at night, and not get much warmer during the day. My two younger brothers slept with mother. All fully dressed and huddled together to keep warm. I slept cuddled up with father. We were allowed two blankets per family. So mother and the boys had one and father and I had the other. We were not alone in that hut. There were at least another twenty families like ours, all cramped together in a wooden hut no bigger than forty feet by twenty.

They called it Belzec.

We knew that there were two camps. The one where we and many more like us lived. Then there was the second camp. We were told that the other camp was the work camp, where things were much better. Working meant food, food meant strength and strength meant life. The two camps were connected by a tunnel, or “tube” as my father would call it. Everyday hundreds would go through the tube to the second camp to work. But they never returned. Their place in our camp would be taken up by train loads of new arrivals.

There was a man in our hut called Demetri. He was friendly with the guards. His job was to take the chosen “workers” through the tube every day . He would tell them how great life would be once on the other side in Camp two. They would follow him. He would be laughing and singing and getting them to join in. But everyday he was the only one who came back. My father hated Demetri. I never knew why back then. He seemed like such a nice man. Then one day Demetri never came back. His place was taken by another man in a hut next to ours. He did and said the same things that Demetri had said.

Then one day he came into our hut very early. It was still dark outside. He had guards with him. He told all the men to get ready as they were being chosen to work in the other camp. My mother cried as she said goodbye to father. He kissed all of us and then got in line with the other men and made his way to the tube. I was happy for him. He would be working at last and being fed and getting stronger. I was sure that soon we would all be joining him. But I never did see him again.

Because father had gone one of our blankets was taken away. So every night all four of us would cuddle together under  one blanket to try to keep warm.

Two weeks later we were woken early by the guards. We were told that all the women had to leave to go to the work camp. I remember the screams. Some mothers had to be dragged away. My mother seemed to be resigned to her fate and smiled at me as she kissed us goodbye. I told her not to worry and that she would be with father and soon we would join her. She told me to look after my two younger brothers and not let any harm come to them. I told her that I would always protect them. She left and was gone.

There were now more than sixty children in our hut. I was one of the oldest. I was very popular with the other children and would always try to make them laugh and do magic tricks that father had taught me. They trusted me.

One of the guards was called Karl. He would talk to me everyday. He would tell me how great things were in the other camp and how well mother and father were doing. He told me that we would all be reunited with our parents soon. He asked me to help him organise the other children. He said because they were so young and silly he would need someone like me to lead them through the tunnel.  If I helped him with this he promised extra blankets and rations for me and my brothers. I agreed. It was cold and my two brothers were hungry.

The next morning I had all the children ready early. They were all looking forward to seeing their parents again. When Karl arrived they were singing a song that I had taught them. The only two left in the hut were my two brothers. I followed Karl into the tunnel and we sung loudly, they were so excited that soon they would be back with their families.

After a very long walk in the dark and dimly lit tunnel, we arrived at the exit. There was a strange smell in the air, a sickening smell that I remembered from working for a short while in my uncle’s abattoir. In front of us were large grey buildings with no windows but with a door at each end.

Karl told me to tell the children to run as fast as they could and enter the buildings. They are shower rooms he said, they must be nice and clean when they meet their parents. I told them to run. Run as fast as they could and get themselves clean. They ran. They entered the building and the guards closed the doors. Karl took me back through the tunnel. He said I had done an excellent job and he would need me to do it again from time to time. He promised that because I was being so good my mother and father would also be given extra rations and a much better place to sleep. I was happy.

I did this job for Karl about once a week from then on. My brothers and I were well fed and given new clothes and blankets. I could never understand why some of the older boys hated me so much. I was doing them a great service.

One day I took over a hundred children through the tunnel but when I came back my two brothers had gone. Karl told me that because I was being so good he had decided to re-unite them with mother and father. I was so happy I cried.  Karl said it wouldn’t be long before it was my turn.

But my turn never came. The camp closed the following year. I and three other boys were loaded onto a train and told we were going to another camp. Karl said our families were waiting there for us. We travelled for three days in a big carriage that smelt of urine and sweat. I heard a loud explosion and lots of gunfire. When the carriage door opened there was an English soldier standing there with his gun pointed at us. I thought he was going to shoot us all. Instead he gave us chocolate.

Eventually I ended up in England in a home for boys. I never knew the truth about my family until many years later and that’s when it hit me. Hit me hard. Just what I’d done. Thousands of children had followed me. But please, please believe me. I never knew.

In abbatoirs they have something called a Judas Cow. It is the cow that leads the others into the slaughter house. It is the only one that survives. It does this job day after day. I pray to my god each day. Please forgive this Judas Calf.

Patrick Burnes dropped the folder. Tears were streaming down his face. He was a Catholic. He also began to pray for The Judas calf.