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