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.
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?”
“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.”
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.
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.