Tom Marks was thirty six and had been Paul Fletchers solicitor for eight years. He’d been repaid handsomely. A substantial monthly retainer and of course there were the “extras”.
There were lots of “extras”.
Paul paid for both of Tom’s kids to go to private school, each costing four thousand pounds a term. Two holidays a year wherever he and the family wanted to go and, of course, always a bit of spending money on the side.
Oh yes, Paul was a good client. But he was also a fucking psychopath. Tom knew that, but it was too late to pull out now, Tom was in far too deep, he was, as Paul would say, “on the firm.”
They’d met through a mutual friend. Paul said he was looking for a good Solicitor to take care of all his business interests and Tom gave him his card. They clicked straightaway, they were both around the same age with similar backgrounds. Tom was brought up in the heart of Docklands, working class parents, council estate, secondary modern school, in fact the same one as Paul, but a year’s difference. But that’s where the similarity ended. Tom went on to college, then evening classes, until eventually he qualified as a Solicitor.
Paul was from the heart of the East End, Bethnal Green. The school bully. He liked to punch people for no reason. By the time he was fourteen even the teachers were scared of Paul Fletcher. He left at sixteen and went to work at his dads scrap metal yard. Two years later his dad died and Paul inherited everything. It was a good, solid, reliable cash business. In fact so much cash that he didn’t know what to do with it. It wasn’t long before he was spending the cash on cocaine. Importing in large quantities and selling onto the street. If you didn’t buy from Paul Fletcher then he or one of his men would pay you a visit. There was never a second visit.
The money started to come in so fast that Paul needed Tom’s advice. “ Buy other businesses” was what Tom told him. If you don’t, people will wonder where all the money is coming from. So Paul did. He quickly had a Scaffolding Business, several Cleaning Companies, three launderettes, a Building and Maintenance Company. All with the name Fletcher in the title. Everyone thought that Paul Fletcher was a successful business man.
From then on it was one big party, lots of wining and dining, lots of women, lots of booze and drugs and Tom went along for the ride.
The first time he saw Paul “lose it” was when the two of them had been on a boys night out at Park Lane Casino. It was four in the morning and they were waiting outside for a cab. The concierge called one over and he and Paul went to get in. Just as the door opened, two other men decided to jump the queue and barged past Paul and got into the cab, both laughing as they did so. That’s when Tom saw the real Paul Fletcher for the first time. He dragged one of the guys out of the cab by his hair. He then proceeded to smash his face on the pavement several times until the guy was unconscious and covered in blood. Then quite calmly got into the cab and told the cabbie to drive away. The cabbie was too scared to refuse.
Then Terry Murphy happened.
Paul told him he was about to make an “acquisition”, a local scrap company owned by Terry Murphy, who also dealt heavily in drugs. It turned out to be a “hostile” takeover and Terry Murphy was shot holding a bag containing 12 kilos of cocaine.
The Police never arrested Paul, but he was always the prime suspect. They just didn’t have enough evidence. They also knew that Paul would have the best legal team that money could buy, so they didn’t want the embarrassment of having the case thrown out of court. They were just content to see a known drug dealer taken off the streets as well as a substantial amount of cocaine. Terry Murphy was given twelve years. A year for every kilo.
Within days Paul took over everything that Terry Murphy owned. In fact, just about everyone that ever worked for Terry now worked for Paul.
Tom sat in his office wondering what the next step should be. He was worried that Paul might do something silly. He was a hot head, what he should do was nothing. Just wait to see what Terry did. But knowing Paul as he did he thought that unlikely. Paul would want to strike first. Then everyone would be in a pile of shit. He needed to be one step ahead. Have all the answers before Paul started asking questions. He called Terry Murphy’s solicitor.
“Hi Bob, I hear Terry’s out, great news, well done, everything okay?”
“Yeh, got out this morning due to the overcrowding situation. No idea where he is now though, home I would have thought, why, worried?”
“Bob, can I call you on another line, there’s a problem with this one.”
“Ok, no problem.”
Tom hung up and went to the top drawer of his desk, knowing that Bob would be doing just the same. He took out an old pay as you go mobile and rung Bob’s number.
“Bob, that’s better, so what’s the score, should we be worried or has he calmed down now after all these years?”
“That’s a toughie Tom, you know what he’s like, he never lets go, hard to call. What about your man?”
“Fucking hell Bob, he wants to rip out his throat and shit down his neck, I’m worried he’ll lose it and everything goes pear shaped.”
“Jesus, look I’ll do what I can from my end, you do the same, maybe we can broker a deal that works for both of them. If they’re sensible they’ll see it makes sense.”
“Cheers Bob.”
Tom put down the phone and just for a minute there was a look of relief on his face. Then his mobile rung. It was Paul.
“Hi Paul, I think we can work this out.”
Paul screamed down the phone.
“You cunt, of course we can’t, it’s him or me and it’s always gonna be me!”
“Why, what’s happened?”
“You know young Danny, one of my boys that works with Craig?”
“Err Yeh think so.”
“He’s just been found with a fucking knife in his neck and a kilo of powder in his pocket.”
“Fucking hell Paul.”
“It’s a message you cunt, he’s sending me a fucking message!”
Paul hung up and threw the phone across the room.
The message about Danny’s demise came from Ross. Paul’s number two.
Ross was about as close to Paul as anyone could get. He ran Pauls drug business, especially the dealers. There was a very distinct chain of command. Paul was the guvnor, of that there was no doubt, then Ross, then four main wholesalers; they in turn supplied their own areas of distribution. Each one of these wholesalers had about twenty street men that they supplied, the street men then sold direct to the public. Each one took a cut, everyone was earning.
Street men could earn anything from one hundred and fifty pounds per day to three or four hundred; depending on how well they ran their streets and how much gear they sold. The wholesalers would earn over two grand a week easily, all cash. Ross earned at least four grand a week; Paul also gave him a Range Rover. No one knew how much Paul was earning but it was bundles. And of course he had his legit businesses as well.
Ross got the call about Danny from one of the wholesalers, who in turn had got the call from one of his street men. Danny was found three miles from the Kilby Estate in Clapton on some waste ground. His throat was cut and then the knife was stuck in the back of his neck. In his pocket he had a kilo of cocaine.
The first thing that worried Ross was the amount of gear that Danny had on him. The wholesaler had told him that there was no way Danny got the powder from him and even if he had, there was no way that he would be walking the streets with that much gear on him. That was just plain fucking stupid. So where did it come from? If it was planted by Terry Murphy, where the fuck did he get it from, he’s only been out of nick for a few hours, it made no sense. Ross’s mobile rang it was Paul.
“Any news on that cunt yet?”
“No Paul, look I’ve been thinking, maybe it’s not Terry after all, I mean where the fuck would he get a kilo of powder that quickly, he’s only been out a few fucking hours”
“I don’t pay you to fucking think Ross, I pay you to sort out problems and you’re not doing it are you?”
Ross decided it wasn’t a good idea to take the conversation any further.
“Okay, so what next then?”
“Find the cunt, watch him, see where he goes then get back to me, I want to know every time that cunt takes a fucking shit, understand?”
Then true to form, Paul hung up.
Ross called his four wholesalers.
“Put the word out, I want to know where Terry Murphy is and I want to know straightaway, tell all your boys to look for him, there’s a grand for the first one that finds him.”
It took exactly sixteen minutes before Ross’s phone rang. It was Dave, one of his four boys.
“Found him, he’s in the Oporto, with his family and a few mates having a celebratory drink, apparently he’s been in there for hours”
“Okay, do yourself a favour and get over there, sit outside, let me know as soon as he leaves, don’t fuck up on this Dave, it’s for Paul.”
“Nuff said,I’m on my way”
Paul thought it wise to call Paul straightaway, he rang him.
“Found him, he’s in the Oporto with family and friends getting drunk, been there a while so they say.”
“Friends?, the cunt shouldn’t have any friends, they all work for me now. Can you believe this cunt, he has got some fucking balls I’ll give him that and he’s a crafty cunt as well, typical, the fucking Oporto!”
“Why Paul, why NOT the Oporto?, it’s near to where he used to live after all”
“Am I the only one with any brains on this firm? The Oporto is right opposite Limehouse nick, there’s bound to be loads of old bill in there. What a fucking cast iron alibi, he was in a boozer with loads of old bill.”
Paul hadn’t thought of that. Murphy will say he couldn’t have killed young Danny cos he was in the pub along with loads of coppers. The perfect alibi.
“Look I’ve got Dave on his way there now, he’ll keep an eye on him, I’ve told him to stay outside and keep us informed.”
“No, I want him there in the pub, I want Murphy to know that we’re not scared of him. I want the names of everyone he’s drinking with, thinking about it, I want YOU there as well. Terry knows you and will know why you’re there, about time you earned your fucking money!”
Paul hung up.
Ross wasn’t sure this was such a great idea, but no one argued with Paul especially when he was in this kind of mood. He called Dave.
“I’m coming over, park up by the shops and I’ll meet you in twenty minutes.”
Ross was six feet five and weighed over eighteen stone. Paul had originally taken him on as an enforcer. He had a certain way of getting money from people that owed, but he had a good brain. He was good with his hands but he was also very good with his head. Paul promoted him to his number two four years ago. This went down well with the wholesalers. Ross was feared, but also respected, he was a hard but fair bastard, unlike Paul.
Ross arrived, met Dave and told him the plan.
“Okay, we go in, get a drink and make it known that we’re there, let’s see what this cunt’s made of. You make a mental note of everyone that Murphy has a drink with, not just family, but especially friends, be nice to know who the enemies are.”
“You sure about this Ross, you know what Terry’s like, he a psycho, he could do anything, we’ve already lost one and he’s only been out a few hours.”
“Look, he’s nothing now, Paul has everything, we’ve got the advantage, he won’t do a thing, guarantee it, besides there’ll be old bill in there, even Murphy isn’t that stupid”
They walked across the road and entered the pub by a side door that led to the toilets. The large saloon bar was packed. Ross knew a few of the faces. There was Terry’s younger brother Ronny, his elder sister Louise, his Mum and Dad, some old people probably aunts and uncles and cousins, about twenty people in all. Ross pushed his way to the bar.
“Oi, barman, two large scotches, hurry up, we’re thirsty.”
The barmen recognised Ross straightaway, stopped serving two other people and poured out two large scotches.
“No charge Ross, it’s on the house………. everything Ok?”
“You’re busy today, what’s the occasion, someone died?”
Ross emphasised the “Someone died” bit very loudly.
The saloon bar fell quiet. The barmen spoke softly.
“No Ross, just a bit busier than usual today for some reason”
He was terrified, he was in a no win situation. He knew that Paul Fletcher would have the hump for letting Terry Murphy have a party in his pub, but there was also no way he could refuse Terry Murphy and his family a drink, it was a hopeless situation.
Ross heard a voice behind him.
“Fuck me, if it isn’t Paul Fletchers bitch!”


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