Jean Roberts stood at the bottom of the small narrow staircase and shouted.
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!”
“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.”