The Men In THe Shadows ( Part 6 )

Jake. pic

Jake left the arches and took a slow walk home. His temple and cheek still stinging from the slap. For the first time since this whole thing started he was beginning to understand what was going on. The three heavies were obviously planning to steal the silver on Saturday night and desperately needed some inside information. That’s why they picked him. They’d done their homework and knew about the family needing money. They also knew that he was close to his mum and dad and wouldn’t risk them being hurt.
In his mind he’d given all three of the men names. He’d called them the “Three Amigos.” There was “squashed nose” of course, for obvious reasons, bald, big round face like a bowling ball, well over six foot but still the smallest of the three. There was the “Karate Kid”, he was the one that had knocked out Jake with some kind of punch to the back of the head and also the one that had just given him the slap and made his face sting. He was bigger than squashed nose, rugged face, lots of scars around his eyes and cheeks, definitely some kind of ex-boxer or cage fighter. Then there was “Quiet Man”, this guy had never spoken directly to Jake, he was the biggest of the lot, over twenty stone, six foot seven, cropped grey hair, he normally drove the Bentley. He looked like he might also be the most dangerous. He was the one that squashed nose had said would break his Dads legs. The three of them were smartly dressed. Always wore dark expensive looking suits with a coloured shirt. No tie.
He realised that he was now in deep. He was the fourth man whether he liked it or not. He’d given them valuable information and been well paid for it. His options were limited. He couldn’t risk getting in touch with the Police as he knew he was constantly being watched. He was sure that if he did anything that jeopardised the robbery squashed nose and his two mates would take their revenge on his family. His only choice was to see it through to the end.
Jake got home, had his tea, watched television in his room and was in bed before ten o’clock.
He woke up and decided to get to work early again, have a mug of tea with Stevie in the café and see if he could find out anything else about Saturday night.
Sure enough at ten to seven Stevie was in his usual seat in the corner of the café reading the Sun.
“Morning mate, buy you a tea?”
“Cheers Jake, early again? Got to stop meeting like this, people will think we’re a couple of gay boys.”
They both laughed, Jake ordered two teas and sat down opposite Stevie.
“Any more news on tomorrow night?”
“Funny you should ask that mate, but that little bird in accounts phoned me last night for a bit of phone sex. You know, both talk dirty, both get our rocks off and all that, always happy to oblige in that department.”
Normally Jake would have wanted every detail but was eager to find out about Saturday.
“Did she say anything about the job?”
“Fuck me Jake, don’t you want to know about the dirty talk?”
“Oh, yeh course, go on.”
Stevie went into great detail about their conversation. What he said he would do to her and what she said she wanted to do to him. Jake was sure he was making it up, he’d seen the little bird in accounts and she looked like butter wouldn’t melt. He played along with it.
“You are a dirty bastard Stevie, anyway, so, any news about the job then?”
“Well, after we’d both got our breath back she said that the rich Russian bloke was coming into the factory on Saturday night to have a look at how these expensive fitting were made. Old Mister Miller himself is also coming in to give him a tour of the factory. She said they were meeting up at ten thirty.”
Jake knew this would be important information for the three amigos. He was eager to find out more.
“Don’t suppose she knows the Russians name?”
Stevie looked confused.
“Why the fuck would you want to know that?”
Jake thought quickly.
“In case he’s famous. You know, like the guy who owns Chelsea.”
Stevie shook his head.
“No such luck. I’d never heard of him. Ivan Gregorvich I think she said.”
They finished their teas and made their way to the warehouse.
The new information made Jake feel a bit easier. He had something to tell the three amigos tonight and this new information might just make them think again. There were now more people involved. If the Russian millionaire was coming in it was likely that he might have his own bodyguards. Maybe this might be a reason to call the whole thing off.
At five thirty, he switched off his machine and headed towards the arches. He opened the steel door of the arch and walked in. As expected the three of them were there. Black suits, open necked shirts, two of them smiling but not the “Quiet man”, he looked as he always did, as though he was about to bite some ones face off!
Squashed nose pushed the dirty swivel chair in his direction.
“Hello Jake, take a seat, let’s have a chat about tomorrow night.”
Jake sat down eager to tell them his news.
“I’ve got some info for you. It might make you re-think your plans.”
This time “Karate Kid” made his way over to Jake and squatted beside him.
“What information might that be then Jake?”
Jake continued.
“Well, it seems that there’s some Russian bloke coming in as well, he’s the guy that’s ordered all these fittings, our boss is giving him a tour of the factory, I think he’s called Ivan Gregorvich or something. It’s likely he’ll have some bodyguards with him.”
Jake waited for a reaction.
Karate Kid stood up and looked at the other two. Then the three of them started laughing, even” Quiet man”, they thought something was hilarious!
Squashed nose walked over to Jake. A big smile on his face.
“Of course we know he’s coming. That’s the whole fucking point!”

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The Men In The Shadows ( Part 5 )

Jake. pic

Watching his mum and dad eat Chinese food and drink white wine gave Jake great pleasure. It was the first time he’d seen them smile in months.
At ten o’clock he kissed mum goodnight, shook dad’s hand and went up to bed.
He was awake until the early hours, thinking. He was trying to convince himself that he hadn’t done anything wrong. All he’d done was tell squashed nose about his day at work and he’d given him two grand. He couldn’t see the harm in that. They could obviously afford it and now all he had to do was give them the names of the workers for the Saturday night job. As much as he tried to reassure himself that everything was fine, somewhere deep down he knew he was involved in something that he had absolutely no control over.
It was almost two o’clock before he finally got to sleep.
He woke up fifteen minutes before his alarm went off. He hadn’t slept well. In his dreams he’d seen squashed nose ripping something apart with his hands and laughing as he did it. Jake thought it was some kind of cuddly toy but as he got closer he realised it was a ginger cat. What the fuck it meant Jake had no idea. But he had a feeling that squashed nose was capable of just about anything.
He showered, shaved and was on his way to work before seven o’clock. He kept expecting to see a Blue Bentley appear from nowhere but there was no sign of it anywhere.
Today was Thursday, he was hoping Pisshead would have some more news about the weekend. Stevie was sure to know more about it than him, he’d been with the firm for three years. Stevie would also know the names of the other lads that were working.
Stevie always spent an hour before work in the local café having a fry up. He decided to join him for a mug of tea. A few minutes later he was opening the café door. Stevie was sitting in the corner reading The Sun. He called out to him.
“Oi Stevie, stop eyeing up page three, you’ll go blind!”
Stevie smiled and put down the newspaper.
“Ahh, if it isn’t the strange Mister Roberts, what’s up mate?”
“Just the usual, any news on the weekend job?”
“Yeh, saw the list on Pissheads desk last night. It’s me, you, Lanky Lenny, Gerry and Pisshead. That’s it as far as I know. Pisshead did say he wanted only four or five of us so I guess that’s the crew.”
Jake wanted to push it to find out more.
“What do think it is, you know, this special job?”
“Could be anything mate, we did one about a year ago, same sort of thing, didn’t know what was going on until the last minute. Turned out we were making fittings for some rich bloke, all special designs. Cost him a fortune.”
“So you think this could be the same sort of thing?”
“Probably. No big deal really, we just work our machines the way we always do. Might have to change the settings a bit. Last time Pisshead was a complete waster. Sloped off through the pub about ten thirty and came back at one in the morning. Then the cunt slept till we finished. Lanky Lenny had to go and wake him up!”
The two of them went off to the warehouse. Jake turned on his machine and spent the next few hours making door hinges. At midday he turned off his machine and took off his overalls. Pisshead called him over.
“Right Jake, it’s a ten o’clock start on Saturday night, should be finished about five I reckon, still up for it?”
“Yeh sure Guv, who else is in?”
“Just a small crew Jake, me, you, Lenny, Stevie and skinny Gerry.”
Jake was keen to press for more information.
“What exactly are we going to do then?”
“Not sure Jake but it’s probably some special fittings for a toff. I should know more tomorrow. But you don’t need to worry your little brain about it. Just do your job like normal. Right I’m off down the pub, see you after lunch.”
As soon as Pisshead disappeared Stevie looked over at Jake and signalling for him to come over.
“What’s up mate?”
“You know the little blonde bird in accounts? Well she likes me. Keeps giving me the eye. She just told me that Group 4 Security are bringing the metal in on Saturday and staying on site until the job is finished, then taking it on somewhere, said that she overheard Mr Miller himself talking with some Russian guy on the phone for ages last week.”
Jake was confused.
“Why Group 4? Why do they need a security firm to bring in the metal?”
Stevie laughed.
“Because it’s silver you soppy bastard. This Russian bloke wants everything made of solid silver. Door handles, hinges, taps, the lot!”
Jake heard Stevie say the words and suddenly everything fell into place. He thought for a moment then tried to make light of it.
“Jesus Christ, no pressure then?”
“Jake don’t worry, just do what you normally do, it doesn’t matter if its copper, brass or bloody gold, it’s just metal, stay calm just do your job”
“Okay, just a bit nervous that’s all. Right I’m off to get some lunch, coming?”
The two of them walked out of the warehouse and across the road to the café. Jake just knew that his phone would ring. It did. He heard a familiar voice.
“Jake, any news for us?”
Jake got up out of his seat and walked out of the café.
“Yeh, a bit, can’t talk now, call you later?”
“Don’t fuck us about Jake. No we won’t talk later. You’ll meet us back in the arches where we first met. Six O’clock. Be there! Don’t you dare be late.”
Jake went back into the café. Stevie was looking curious.
“So you can’t talk on the phone in front of me these days, who the fuck was that, new girlfriend or something, had to tell her how much you loved her?”
“Fuck off Stevie, it was me Mum, just finding out what I wanted for tea and yes I did tell her I loved her, she’s me Mum for fucks sake!”
“All right, keep your hair on, wanker, right what you having?”
They both ordered the special, Lamb Shanks with mashed potato.
At five thirty Jake turned off his machine and left the warehouse, Stevie wanted to go for a pint but Jake gave him an excuse about having to help Dad paint the kitchen. He headed towards the arches about a fifteen minute walk away. When he arrived he saw the blue Bentley parked outside, he opened the small metal door and went inside. The three of them were there, waiting. Squashed nose did the talking as usual.
“Hello Jake, take a seat mate, let’s have a chat.”
Jake sat down on a dirty greasy looking swivel chair, the three of them stood over him. Squashed nose closed in.
“Okay, what’s the news, what can you tell us?”
Jake gave him a piece of paper, on it were the names of the five people who were working on Saturday night.
“Nice work Jake, any of these boys handy? You know what I mean, might fancy themselves a bit, want to be a hero?”
Jake knew exactly what he meant.
“No, there just kids really.” Then emphasised “Just like me.”
Squashed nose ignored it and carried on.
“Apart from Pisshead of course, but we know all about him. He’ll be no problem from now on. What else can you tell us?”
Jake blurted out the information he knew.
“We start at ten and finish about five, looks like Group 4 are bringing in the metal and staying until we finish.”
The three of them looked impressed. The one who gave Jake a thump the day before walked forward and knelt down beside him.
“You’ve been a busy boy Jake, didn’t expect you to know this much so soon, well done. Now fuck off and we’ll see you again tomorrow. We’ll meet here at the same time then we’ll tell you what you need to do. Remember Jake we’ll be watching you at all times, one slip up and poor old Dad needs a wheelchair.”
He gave Jake a slap on the side of his head, it was only a slap but Jake felt it and knew its meaning.
“Now then Jake, say the words, you know the rules!”
Jake knew what he had to say. The words tumbled from his mouth.
“I won’t say anything to anyone.”
“Good Boy.”

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 4 )

Jake. pic

Jake spent the rest of the day at his machine. Ten hours straight with no lunch hour. He didn’t want to get into conversations with anyone. Especially Stevie, in case he let something slip.
It was hard to concentrate. He kept going over things in his mind. Nothing made sense. What could these guys possibly want with him? They obviously had money. The Bentley would be worth a hundred grand at least. So if it wasn’t money, then what the fuck was it?
At six o’clock he turned off his machine. Pisshead walked over to him.
“You were a busy little beaver today Jake. We don’t pay you for working through your breaks, you do realise that don’t you? Trying to get into my good books for going to the “DOCTORS” yesterday?”
His voice was full of sarcasm. Jake hated Pisshead with every fibre of his body.
“Just trying to do the right thing guv. You let me have an hour yesterday so just thought it was fair if I repaid the compliment.”
Jake knew that Pisshead loved this sort of shit. He was right. Pisshead smiled and put his arm round Jake. The smell of beer and cheese and onion crisps was overpowering.
“Listen Jake, you up for a bit of overtime, a bit of out of hours work?”
Jake tried not to breathe in.
“Yeh sure, could always do with a bit more money.”
Pisshead spoke quietly as though it was a big secret.
“Great. We’re gonna open up the factory Saturday night for an emergency job. Don’t know much about it myself at the moment it’s all a bit hush hush, but the bosses have asked me to get four of five good lads in to work through the night, up for it?”
“Yeh great.”
“Good I’ll put your name down. I’ll let you know more in a couple of days.”
Pisshead walked off. Jake wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, he’d only been there a couple of months. He called out to Stevie.
“You been asked to work this Saturday?”
Steve walked over.
“Yeh pisshead just asked me this morning. It’s all a bit cloak and dagger stuff, but it’s at time and a half plus a day off in lieu so I’m definitely in. You coming for a pint?”
As much as Jake wanted to. He knew he daren’t.
“No, got to get home, see you tomorrow.”
Jake left Stevie and headed home with two grand tucked firmly in his coat pocket. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Should he hide it or give it to mum and dad. God knows they could do with it. He knew they were two months behind with the mortgage, he’d heard them arguing about it a few days ago. Fuck it, he’d give it to them tonight. Say he’d had a win on the horses. They knew he had a small bet from time to time, which his mum most definitely disapproved, but he was sure he would win them round once they saw how much he’d won. He’d take out a couple of hundred for himself and give them the rest. That should put a smile on their faces.
Just a few yards from his front door his phone rang. It was an unknown number. He answered it. It was a familiar voice.
“Hello Jake. We need to meet up and get an update. Go indoors, have your tea then meet us at the top of the road in half an hour.”
Jake didn’t have a chance to answer. The voice hung up.
He turned round expecting to see at least one of them or the Bentley, but there was nothing in sight. The way the voice had said “go indoors” made him certain that he was being watched. But from where? Once again, nothing made sense.
Mum and Dad were in the kitchen when he got in. Jake decided to tell them straightaway.
“Guess what? You’ll never believe it, I had a win on the horses today, a Yankee, four winners!”
Jakes Dads face lit up.
“Well done son, good prices?”
“Err yeh, couple of massive outsiders, came to a few bob.”
Jakes Mum wasn’t so impressed, she hated any form of gambling.
“Now Jake, what have I told you about gambling? It’s a mugs game, only one winner and that’s the bookmaker, you never see a skint one.”
“Mum, it was only a couple of quid, and I won big. Guess how much?”
“I don’t care. You shouldn’t be putting your hard earned cash on bloody horses.”
Jakes Dad was more enthusiastic.
“Hundred pounds?”
“Nope, more, much more!”
“Two fifty?”
“Higher.”
Now Jakes Mum suddenly became very interested. She sat back down at the table her mouth wide open.
“More than two hundred and fifty pounds?”
“Yep Mum, much more.”
Jake took the envelope from his pocket. He’d already taken some cash out for himself. He put the envelope on the table and emptied it. Scottish twenty pounds notes spilled out everywhere.
“One thousand, seven hundred and twenty pounds!”
Both parents jumped up at the same time, their faces beaming, they hadn’t seen that much money in years.
Jake took hold of his mum’s hand.
“Right, this is the plan. Tomorrow you go to the Building Society and you pay up the mortgage arrears, don’t ask me how I know, I just know. Then, what’s left over I want you to book a holiday for you and Dad, somewhere nice and warm for a week, my treat. No arguments, that’s what’s going to happen.”
Jakes Mum started to cry. She turned and wrapped her arms around him so tight that he thought his chest might just cave in. Dad was also close to tears. He gave Jake a wink and whispered “Thanks son.”
Jake was pleased with himself. For a brief moment it didn’t matter where the money came from and what he had to do for it. It was worth it just to see the smiles on his parent’s faces. He picked up one of the twenty pound notes off the table.
“Right then, I’m going out to get us a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of wine to celebrate.”
He left the kitchen and opened the front door. He quickly walked to the top of the road where he could see a blue Bentley parked. As he got close the back door opened and he got in. Two of them where in the front and squashed nose was in the back.
“Good to see you Jake. Got any information for us?”
Jake was confused.
“Like what?”
“Work Jake. Work. Anything happening at work. Anything out of the ordinary?”
“Look guys, I’m not sure I understand, I just work in a warehouse making door fittings and stuff. It’s all pretty boring.”
“Let us be the judge of that Jake. Now think boy. Did anything happen at work today?”
Squashed nose’s voice had changed tone. It was now slightly aggressive. Jake took a moment to think.
“Well I started early, didn’t take a break, not even for a slash, then came home, and that’s it.”
“You sure Jake? You sure nothing else happened. Nothing unusual?”
“Oh yeh. The guvnor asked me if I could work some overtime this weekend. Seems they’ve got a big job coming up.”
Squashed nose put his face close up to Jakes.
“When? Exactly.”
“This Saturday night. Wants a few of us to work through the night.”
“Did he say anything else Jake. Think carefully cos this is very important.”
“Just that it was all a bit hush hush and that he’d let me know more as soon as he knew anything.”
Squashed nose sat back into the leather upholstery, he smiled for the first time.
“Excellent work Jake. Excellent. We’ll call you again tomorrow. In the meantime you find out as much as you can about Saturday night. We’ll want to know who else will be working overtime, their names, what job they do and where they’re positioned in the warehouse. Also, what can you tell us about your guvnor?”
“Well we all call him Pisshead, cos he likes a pint or three and is always pissed after lunch.”
Squashed nose started to laugh.
“Fabulous news, just fabulous. Now fuck off Jake and we’ll talk tomorrow.”
Jake got out of the car and continued his journey to the Chinese take away.

The Men In The Shadows ( Part3)

Jake. pic

Jake tried to concentrate on his job for the rest of the day. The machine he controlled drilled holes into square pieces of copper and brass. Once done they went on to be trimmed and burnished and by the end of the process they became door hinges. It was mundane and boring work but if you weren’t fully on top of it then you were liable to make mistakes. Mistakes meant wastage and wastage cost money. If Pisshead thought you were costing the company money then you were fired on the spot. There was no way he could lose this job. Not now.
At six o’clock he looked over at Pissheads office and saw he was still asleep in his chair. He turned his machine off and left the warehouse.
He’d been worried about his mum and dad all day. What if the phone call he’d received in the café had triggered something? What if the men had lost patience and decided to show him they meant business.
The walk home normally took around forty minutes, today he did it in under thirty!
He walked into the house and was relieved to see his dad in the kitchen drinking a cup of tea.
“Bloody hell Jake, what did you do, run home? You look knackered!”
“Something like that dad, everything okay?”
“Yeh fine, mums just popped to the shops to get some milk.”
“Okay, I’ll go up and have a shower then come down for tea.”
Jake went upstairs and cleaned up. He put on an old track suit and returned downstairs. His mum and dad had already started to eat. His mum gave him a big smile.
“Yours is in the microwave Jake, just heat it up for a couple of minutes.”
Jake pushed the buttons on the microwave and was deep in thought. He wasn’t really listening to his parent’s conversation but two words that his dad said made him turn round.
“What was that about a squashed nose?”
Jakes dad finished chewing his pork chop and started laughing.
“Yeh, all a bit of a mix up, there were these three bailiffs turned up today, big buggers they were, one of them had a squashed nose that seemed to go right across his face.”
Jake tried to act casual as he removed his dinner from the microwave.
“So…what did they want?”
“Nothing, their paperwork was all messed up. Turned out they’d got the wrong address, mind you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of those three. They looked like real nasty bastards to me.”
Jake sat down at the kitchen table. He ate his dinner slowly. For the first time since this whole weird experience had begun it had suddenly become real. This was no mistaken identity, no stupid wind up, no silly game. These guys were professionals. They’d done their homework. They knew all about him and his mum and dad and now they’d even been to the house.
He put down his knife and fork. His dinner hardly touched. He pushed his plate forward. His mum gave him one of her looks.
“What up Jake? Not like you to leave food on the plate.”
Jake gave out a long sigh.
“Bit knackered that’s all. Been a long day. Up early again tomorrow so think I’ll have an early night.”
He kissed his mum goodnight and shook his Dads hand, that’s the way it always was, kiss mum but never dad.
He didn’t sleep well that night, he tossed and turned and was up at five. He decided to go straight to work. He left home at 5.45.
He walked his usual route and noticed a car was driving slowly towards him. It was a blue Bentley, it stopped when it reached Jake, the door opened.
“You’re early Jake, get in.”
Jake did as he was told and got in the back seat of the luxury car.
“You were a bit out of order yesterday Jake, did you forget your orders?”
Jake nodded.
“No, no, no, Jake. You’ve got to say the words. It’s the rules.”
“Yes, sorry, I forgot.”
“Okay, let’s forget about yesterday, maybe it’s time to bring you up to speed, you ready Jake?”
Jake nodded. Then quickly remembered he had to say the words.
“Yes I’m ready.”
“Good Boy.”
The guy with the squashed nose gave Jake an envelope.
“Take this Jake, it’s two grand. There’ll be another two when you do good and then another two when it’s all over, understand?”
Jake nodded and said the words.
“I understand.”
“You see Jake it’s easy. Now go to work and we’ll call you tomorrow. But, remember Jake we’ll be watching.”
Jake got out of the car and walked to work. He stopped at the café and got a mug of tea, his hands were shaking.
He looked inside the envelope; it was full of Scottish twenty pound notes. He’d never seen so much money in all his life, Mum and Dad could have a nice holiday on this lot. But what did these guys want from him? He still didn’t know and they’d given him no clues. But it must be something important if he was getting six grand for it. He drank his tea and went to work.
When he arrived Stevie was already there.
“Fuck me, what did you do, shit the bed?”
Jake ignored him.
“Oi Jake, come on why so early?”
“Fuck off Stevie, I’ve got work to do.”
He left Stevie standing there open mouthed and walked into the warehouse.

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 2)

Jake. pic

The bald guy with the spread nose walked back into the shadows to join the other two. Jake could see they were talking but couldn’t hear what was being said. He should have been scared shitless but for some strange reason he wasn’t. His only thoughts were that maybe they had the wrong bloke. What could they possibly want with him? He just worked in bloody Ironmongers, doing a mundane job for fucks sake!
The three of them emerged from the darkness and approached him.
This time a different man spoke. He wasn’t as big as the first one but he had SOME face. A face that looked like it had been lived in, a face that looked like it had seen its fair share of violence. Jake was guessing that it was a face that won more than it lost. The man leaned forward.
“Jake, listen to me very carefully, no one wants to hurt anyone, but if we have to then we will. We need you to do us a favour, a favour that you will be well paid for. We know your old man hasn’t worked for a long time, your mums got a little cleaning job, not much money around, and everything’s a bit tight. So, we want to help, give you a few bob to make things easier. But you have to help us out, understand?”
Jake didn’t, but nodded.
“Good boy, now we’re gonna let you go. You go back to work, make your excuses for being late and carry on as usual. We’ll be in touch in the next couple of days, but remember Jake, if you tell anyone and we mean anyone, the big guy over there WILL break both your dads’ legs. You wouldn’t want that to happen now would you Jake?”
Jake shook his head.
“Can’t hear you Jake, you need to say the words so that we can all hear them.”
“No, I wouldn’t want that to happen.”
“There, you see Jake. Now we all know where we stand.”
There was something about his voice and the way he spoke. It was all matter of fact but something about it terrified Jake.
He untied Jakes hands and led him to the steel door of the railway arch. Jake went to walk out into the sunlight when he felt the man’s hand on his shoulder.
“Word of advice Jake, don’t try to be clever, don’t try and be slippery, just do as you’re told and everything will work out fine.”
He was pushed out of the doorway and heard the steel door shut behind him. He looked at his watch. It was 8.45. Fuck he was over an hour late.
His mobile was in his pocket, he had two missed calls. He listened to his voicemail and picked up Stevie’s messages. Thank fuck for Stevie, he couldn’t afford to lose this job, no way.
A million questions went through his mind as he walked the thirty minutes to work. Who were these guys, what the fuck did they want, it all seemed surreal, like a scene from a bloody low budget British gangster film. But it had happened, it was real.
He entered the warehouse via the fire escape at the back of the building, a short cut that all the lads knew. He picked up a pair of overalls that they kept hidden behind the radiator, put them on and walked over to his machine. He started it up.
“Oi, bollock chops, where you been?”
It was Pisshead.
“Doctors Guv, told you last week.”
The Shift Supervisor walked over and stood beside him. He shook his head from side to side.
“Well I don’t remember you telling me, so just get on with your job, no lunch for you today Jake, you can catch up on the hours that you missed. I’m watching you Roberts. One mistake and you’re out. ”
“Yeh, no problem guv. I’ll work through lunch and stay an extra half hour at the end of the shift just to make up for it.”
“Good!”
Pisshead walked away, pleased with himself that he’d told that bloody Jake Roberts his life story.
Jake smiled to himself, what a wanker that bloke was, he would be asleep in his office at 2.30 this afternoon and not wake up till 6. After being in the pub all lunchtime and downing about eight pints he wouldn’t have a clue if Jake had a break or not. He quickly called Steve on his mobile.
“Thanks for covering mate, look I’ve got to take a late lunch. You do the same, meet you in the café at three?”
Stevie agreed. Jake went back to operating his big heavy machine and thought about the past few hours. He half expected cameras to suddenly appear out of nowhere and all his family and friends to start clapping and laughing because he’d been the victim of some fabulous wind up.
But it never happened.
At three o’clock, Jake looked over at the supervisor’s office. Sure enough could see Pisshead fast asleep in his chair. He turned off the machine and headed out of the building towards the café. Stevie was already there.
“Where the fuck were you this morning? Pisshead was going mad.”
“Something came up that I had to deal with straightaway.”
“And that was more important than your fucking job?”
“Look Stevie, I need to tell you something.”
Jakes phone rang, it was an unknown number. He answered it.
“Are you some kind of cunt Jake? If you say one more word, your dad will be in a wheelchair by the end of the day.”
The phone went silent.
Jake looked around, he couldn’t see anyone or anything that looked suspicious.
Without saying another word, he got up and went straight back to work.
Stevie looked up in astonishment as Jake left the café. He shook his head from side to side and whispered under his breath.
“Jake Roberts you are one strange fucked up moron.”

The Men In The Shadows

Jake. picI wrote this a while ago. I’ll put up another chapter everyday while I’m finishing off Jack Winter. Hope you like it!


2005.

“Jake?”
Jean Roberts stood at the bottom of the small narrow staircase and shouted.
“Jake?”
This time the shout became a scream. She turned and walked back into the kitchen.
“I’ll kill that little shit. He’s supposed to be up and out by seven and it’s now ten past. He’ll lose that bloody job of his if he’s not careful!”
Her husband Peter shook his head, took off his glasses and put down his newspaper.
“All right love, calm down. I’ll go up and give him a nudge, no point in winding yourself up about it. He’s only nineteen for god’s sake.”
Jakes Dad slowly made his way up the stairs and stood outside the bedroom. The door was shut. He knocked.
“Jake? It’s ten past seven, come on son, up you get!”
No answer.
“Jake, I’m coming in, move yourself.”
He turned the handle of the door and pushed it open. It was quiet. Jake wasn’t there. His bed was a mess, sheets everywhere, pillows on the floor, worn clothes slung about as though the place had been burgled. Quite normal for Jakes room.
He smiled, walked back down the stairs and into the kitchen where his wife Jean was giving him one of “those” looks.
“Well, is he bloody getting up or not?”
“Relax love, he’s already gone, must have had an early start or something.”
“Really? He didn’t mention anything yesterday.”
“You know what he’s like, he’s a bloody teenager for Christ sake, doesn’t know his arse from his elbow. So, let’s start the day again, how about a nice bit of brekkie.”
For the first time that day Jean smiled at her husband Pete and switched on the kettle. She felt a sense of relief. Jake had only had the job for two months and was still on probation. He couldn’t lose it, they couldn’t afford for him to lose it. Pete had been out of work for the past three years after being made redundant from the Gas works up the road. Her little job, cleaning at the local school, was all the money they had coming in. He just couldn’t lose that job, not now.
Three miles away people were clocking on for work at JD Miller & Co, makers of fine Architectural Ironmongery. A young scruffy looking kid called Stevie was putting on his overalls along with four others.
“Anyone seen Jake?”
Another of the team, a small scrawny kid called Gerry replied.
“Not today, not yet anyway, the Guvnor’s gonna go mad, he told us yesterday not to be late, a big orders come in and it’s all hands on deck for a few days. I fucking told Jake yesterday that he should turn up a bit early, but you know what he’s like, just shrugged and walked off”
“He’s gonna get the sack if he’s not careful. I’ll call him.”
Stevie took out a mobile phone from his pocket and dialled a number. It rang a few times then went through to voicemail. He left a message.
“Jake, it’s Stevie, get your arse in here. Pronto!”
He put the phone back in his pocket. As he did so the Shift Supervisor appeared.
“Where the fuck’s your annoying mate Jake this morning?”
Stevie was quick with his reply.
“Doctors guv, got the first available appointment, don’t you remember he told you a couple of days ago”
“Did he? I don’t fucking remember, hope he’s not long we’ve got a lot of work to get through today.”
Stevie smiled, he knew the Supervisor well. His nickname on the firm was “Pisshead”. Every lunchtime he visited the local pub and consumed as many pints as he could in the sixty minutes allowed. This meant that most afternoons he was somewhat “vague.”
He took out his mobile and rang Jake again. Same as before, it went through to voicemail.
“Jake, it’s me again. Look, I’ve bought you a bit of time. I’ve said you’ve gone to the Doctors, so if pisshead asks, that’s where you’ve been!”
He put his phone away, walked over to his machine, switched it on and began his twelve hour shift.



Jake woke up but didn’t recognise his surroundings. It was dark, not pitch black just dimly lit. He could faintly see large shadowy shapes in front of him, as his eyes began to focus he realised that it was three men.
“Ah, Jake Roberts, glad to see you’ve come back to us, sorry about the bruise on the back of your neck, but one of my colleagues here is a bit of a martial arts nut and loves that particular move. If it connects properly and, trust me, it always does, it puts his opponent out for anything up to an hour. You, my old son, were out for around forty five minutes.”
Jake realised that his hands were tied. He was sitting on a chair in what looked like a disused railway arch. The air was stale and damp, he could hear water running, it sounded as if someone had left a tap dripping. The single light above his head kept flickering and making a buzzing noise. He was trying to piece together how he got here. He remembered getting up earlier than usual, leaving the house and deciding to walk to work. Then a numbing pain on the back of his neck. That was it, until now. He swallowed hard, his mouth was dry.
“What…what do you want?”
The biggest one of the three walked towards him. He was massive, bald head, unshaven, a nose that seemed to spread right across the middle of his face. He bent over and put his face close up to Jakes.
“We have a proposition for you Jake, it’s really simple. We want you to do something for us, if you do and all goes well, then you’ll get a few quid. If you decline and thing go wrong then you’ll have a massive problem.”
Jake wasn’t sure he wanted to know what the massive problem would be but true to form his mouth ran away with him.
“What would that be then?”
He heard a voice from out of the shadows. It came from one of the other two men.
“Your dad will never walk again.”

Please, Leave The Light On.

light_bulb1Some time ago I started writing a collection of stories called “Other Peoples Letters”. The idea was simple, to write a story but concealed within a letter ( and then a reply). Here is one of them.

Jenny,
It’s me. Please keep reading and don’t tear this letter up. I beg you.
Twelve years is a long time and I’m sorry. Sorry for so many things.
Sorry for leaving you the way I did. No note, no reason, just left. I was in a bad way back then and I knew that eventually I would drag you down with me. The signs were there already. I used every day and you were starting to do the same. You with our boy on the way. Not good. But not your fault, it was me that encouraged it. Without me I knew you could stop. But if I stayed I was sure you would lose everything. I couldn’t bear that.
Sorry for missing our boys entry into this world and not being there when times were hard for both of you. I don’t even know what you called him.
Sorry for missing his birthdays, his first day at nursery and school. His first steps and words. Sorry.
Sorry for making you cry. You were the one that cried at every soppy film we ever watched together, so I can imagine how many tears you wept in those weeks and months after I left.
Sorry for not getting in touch during these past years. I just couldn’t, not until I was sure that all the scars had healed. It’s taken a long time for me to get myself straight and now, eventually, I think I have. I’m clean. Have been for the past two years. The journey’s been a strange one. I’ve lived on the streets, in squats, shelters and prison. I’ve begged, stolen and mugged. I found god once and then lost him again somewhere on the A13 near Whitechapel.
Sorry for taking the money out of the tin. I left with nothing but the clothes I had on. I had no idea where I was going or how I’d get there. The tin in the food cupboard had exactly seven pounds and thirty six pence in it. I took it for bus fare. Two pounds of it got me as far as Canning Town. Then I spent the rest on half a bottle of scotch. The next day I hitch hiked all the way to Hammersmith. I slept under the flyover for more than a year.
Sorry for all the shit you must have taken from your family. I knew they didn’t like me, that was obvious. They must have seen us as we really were back then. A couple of fucked up junkies. Me, the instigator of everything and you being pulled along with blinkers on. I can only imagine how many times your Mum and dad said “You’re better off without him.” That must have been hell for you.
There are a million other things that I’m sorry for and I’d like to tell you face to face.
I’m close Jen. Real close. By the time you read this letter I’ll be almost there. You may hate me and that’s fine. But if there’s a chance…even a slim one. Then I’ll take it.
Even if it’s just to say hello and give my boy a hug. Then that’s also fine.
Jen, remember when we first met and I would go out with the lads and say I’d be home late?
Remember what you always said to me? About leaving the lights on?
So, give me a clue. Leave the light on in the front room. If it’s on. I’ll knock. If not I’ll just walk away. Either way, I’ll understand.
One thing has kept me going through these twelve years. The thought of one day getting back to you and our boy.
Please Jen, leave the light on.

Rob.

And here’s the reply…

Dear Robert,
Your letter was forwarded onto me by the new tenants of Jenny’s old flat.
I have read it and notice that you say “sorry” eleven times. Thank you for that.
Jenny’s father and I are also sorry.
Sorry that we had to watch her fall apart after you left, just six weeks before the baby was due.
Sorry that we had to console her night after night because of her panic attacks and the relentless paranoia that she suffered from. You were right about the crying. She never stopped.
Sorry that we had to call for an ambulance when she tried to take her own life by overdosing on the stuff you left behind.
Sorry that our beautiful grandson was called a “crack baby” and only survived three days after the birth. We called him Steven. The name Robert was never even up for discussion.
Sorry that you had such a hard time living rough. Jenny also had a bit of a rough time. After Steven died she became withdrawn and had to receive professional help. She spent a year in a Psychiatric Hospital and was forever dependant on medication. We visited her every day.
We’re also sorry that you couldn’t find the time to write or call her just to let her know that you were okay. She would have loved that. In the end she was convinced that you were dead and when that happened she just couldn’t bear to carry on.
Jenny passed away eleven months ago. We thought she was over it, but she hid her illness well. The Police contacted us just after eleven o’clock on a Sunday morning. I won’t go into detail, but the Thames can be very cold in February.
You mention us in your letter and you are right. We always thought she could do better than you. But you were her choice and we would have done what we could to see you both through your addiction. In fact on the day you left we were coming over to try to convince you to get help. We would have paid for any treatment you needed, but I suppose you had better ideas.
On the plus side, the letter you sent has answered one question that always troubled us. For ten years her electricity bill at the flat was enormous. Now we know why she kept every light on in the house twenty four hours a day.
Goodbye Robert.

The Keepers Of Secrets

th

A work of fiction, but in light of recent events, very current….

Roger Fairbrass is dead. He died three days ago. Discovered in the armchair of his Mayfair flat by his housekeeper. He was 86. I only found out this morning by reading his obituary in the Telegraph. His full title was Sir Roger Fairbrass, CBE. I haven’t seen Roger for a number of years and hopefully it was just old age that finally caught up with him.
I first met Roger in 1950 at Cambridge. He was a gifted student, far more self-assured and intelligent than me, but for some reason we hit it off immediately and became firm friends. If it wasn’t for Roger I doubt if I would ever have passed my exams and obtained my degree. It was no surprise to anyone when he was recruited by the Foreign Office in 1953. I have no idea what he said to his superiors but thanks to Roger I joined him in the service in 1954.
Roger was a raconteur. Put him in a room full of strangers and he would have a crowd around him in minutes, hanging on his every word. He drank like a fish and smoked anything and everything that was possible. He quickly rose through the ranks and wherever he went he would make sure there was a place for me.
The fifties and sixties were all about the war. Not a real war of course but the fake one. The cold war. We were men of secrets. All kinds of secrets. Because of Roger we mixed in the company of the rich and famous. It wasn’t uncommon to sit next to a member of royalty and chat about everything from fishing to sexual preferences. We became part of the elite. We were members of “Clubs” and “Societies”.
Roger had an appetite for life. An appetite that had no limits. It was an appetite that was shared by many of his friends and at certain parties they would gorge themselves.
I am ashamed to say that I attended some of these parties and even took part in some of their ghoulish rituals. But please believe me, it was a different time, a different place, a different world back then.
Roger married in 1972. Her name was Shirley and she was the daughter of a well-known television presenter. It was all a sham of course. Roger needed to look presentable to the outside world. He needed someone to take to dinner parties, social events and royal functions. It didn’t look natural for a man in his forties to attend on his own. Shirley was well aware of Roger’s preferences and welcomed them, because she had certain appetites of her own. On the outside they looked and acted like the perfect couple. But their lives were in fact completely separate. They shared the same house in Surrey but it was so large that they only ever saw each other for social events. They both enjoyed a certain “lifestyle”.
Roger held lavish parties at his Surrey home. They were by invitation only. Just six invitations were sent out. The people they were sent to were called “The Keepers Of Secrets.” Each Keeper was allowed to bring three guests. The guests were carefully chosen and were sworn to secrecy. They were made very aware of the consequences if they discussed the party with anyone outside of the chosen few. Roger always organised the “Entertainment”.
Once again I have to admit to being a “Keeper Of Secrets.”
Once you were in that group of six it was impossible to get out. The risk to the others was just too great. The guest list at these events were household names. Stars of stage and screen. Current and ex Politicians and some even higher up the food chain.
He was rewarded for his loyalty (and silence) in 1989. He was knighted and became Sir Roger. Shirley was delighted as she became Lady Fairbrass. Unfortunately she died in 1994 after a long illness.
I last saw him at a garden party in 2006. He looked well and, as always, was surrounded by an entourage listening intently to his stories of daring do.
These past few years have been difficult for us “Keepers”. Certain people have begun to look closely at what we did in those dark days when “anything” was possible. There was a time when those people would have been dealt with swiftly by our powerful friends. But not now. Things have changed. One by one “The Keepers” have been falling. Now Roger has gone I am the last of the six still alive. I fear not for long.
So rather than wait for that visit that comes in the middle of the night. I have decided that I will go of my own accord. I sit here with a glass of whisky and my old service revolver. Once my glass is empty then my days on this earth will end. The world no longer needs “The Keepers Of Secrets”. Perhaps it never did.
Goodbye.

The Day It Arrived.

1961_Gillette

We had a word for it in our family. Not a particularly nice word. It was a word associated with laughter and piss taking.
Up until the summer of 1972 it had always been directed at other members of my family. The older male cousins, oh and occasionally old Aunty Nelly. But that’s another story altogether.
I knew one day my time would come. But not yet, surely. I was only fourteen and blonde. Very blonde.
But in August 1972 it happened. It just came out of nowhere.
I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. Something felt strange. I looked at the clock beside the bed. 10.30am.
My body felt different. But I couldn’t say why. I stood up and put on yesterday’s jeans and T- Shirt.
I walked to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. Then I saw it. I looked in the bathroom mirror and saw it.
Bum fluff had arrived!
It was everywhere. Under my nose, below my ears, clumps of it on my chin and neck. Soft white hair that looked utterly ridiculous.
Panic set in. It was a Sunday and I knew everyone would be downstairs. There was no way I could escape without being seen. I thought about leaving by the bedroom window, but that was a no go. My room was above the kitchen and they were bound to see me fall and also hear me scream as I broke both ankles.
I thought about creeping down the stairs and making a dash for it out the back door. But once again not a good plan, dad would be in the garden by now digging something.
No. I had to man up. I had to face the consequences.
I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Mum was at the sink washing dad’s pants. She didn’t turn round when she heard me enter.
“About time you got up. Give me a minute and I’ll do you some tea and toast.”
I sat down.
“Thanks mum.”
She finished wringing out a pair of faded Y fronts and turned round. She looked at me. She saw it straightaway. A smile appeared on her face.Her eyes lit up like a cat about to pounce on its prey.
“Is that bum fluff?”
I said nothing. She came closer and put her hand to my face.
“It is. It is. It’s bum fluff.”
She ran out of the kitchen, shouting.
“Ed, Ed, quick, quick. He’s got bum fluff.”
Within seconds, they were both back and staring at me. Dad was the first to speak.
“Yep, that’s bum fluff.”
He sat there just looking at me. Then mum stood up.
“Okay then. I’ll get tea and toast.”
Dad turned and looked at her as though she was insane.
“Tea and toast? Are you crazy? This MAN deserves a proper breakfast. Do him eggs and bacon.”
He emphasised the word MAN and gave me a wink. Mum went to the fridge and got the bacon and eggs.
I ate a hearty breakfast while they both continued to stare at me.
When I’d finished dad took me to one side.
“Listen son, you know all about the ladies monthly’s?”
I nodded. I’d seen packets of Dr Whites in the bathroom for years. When I was 11 I asked my older sister what they were. She sat me down and gave me all the gruesome details. Obviously I thought she was joking. I couldn’t believe that every month women bleed from their private parts yet carry on as though everything was okay. It made no sense. But she assured me that it was true. She even swore it on Mums life so I had to believe her.
Dad continued.
“Well now, us MEN have our own curse. It’s something that we have to do every day. And as soon as you start, it never stops until the day you die. In fact as you get older it gets worse. It doesn’t just grow on your face. Oh no. It starts to grow out of your nose and ears!”
I was horrified. I knew that one day I’d have to start shaving but how the hell could you shave inside your nose and ears. Dad stood up.
“Come with me.”
I followed him up the stairs and into the bathroom. He opened the door of the cupboard under the sink. He took out a small box and opened the lid. Inside was an old stainless steel Gillette razor.
He handed it to me.
“This is for you. I’ll show you how to change the blades, lather up and use it. Best get rid of bum fluff straightaway before everyone takes the piss.”
And that was it. That was the summer I lost my shaving virginity…