The Men In The Shadows ( Part 27 )

Jake. pic

Jake had a cup of tea with Mum and Dad and then went into town. He bought everything on the list except the hand gun. He guessed PC World might just have a problem with that request. But, as always, Jake had a plan on how to get one. But for now that could wait.
He made his way to the pub. It was now after twelve. He got himself a pint and sat in a quiet corner while he set up the laptop.
He took the phone list out of his pocket and scanned it thoroughly. Somewhere on this list should be the names of at least one of the three amigos. He could discount a third of them straightaway. Names like Aunty Pat, Cousin Dave, Easyjet, Club Paradise, Billy’s Bar etc. So now he was left with twenty two names. He would concentrate firstly on the three Pauls and then go through the nick names.
He called the first Paul. The phone rang and was answered by someone with a northern accent.
“Hello?”
“Is that Paul Barrett?”
“No mate.”
“Sorry, wrong number.”
Jake hung up. Okay, one down two more Paul’s to go.
He dialled Paul X. It was answered by a female.
“Paul’s phone.”
“Can I speak with Paul Barrett please?”
“No Paul Barret here love. This is Paul Jennings mobile.”
“Oh sorry. Must have the wrong Paul. Thanks anyway.”
Jake hung up and tried the last of the Pauls. Paulie.
The call was answered but no one spoke. Jake could sense someone on the other end was waiting for him to speak first.
“Hello, is that Paul Barrett?”
A man answered. London accent.
“Who’s this?”
“Is that Paul Barrett, I’m a friend of Lenny Taylor.”
The voice changed from aggressive to inquisitive.
“Lenny Taylor? What about Lenny Taylor?”
Jake carried on very politely.
“Sorry Paul, I work with him in Spain, this is Paul Barrett?”
“Yeh, what do you want?”
Bingo.
“I’m so sorry to call you but I’m trying to contact as many of Lenny’s friends as possible, I’m afraid Lenny has passed away.”
Now the voice became concerned.
“You’re fucking joking me, Big Lenny Taylor, gone?”
“I’m afraid so, I’m just going through his phone numbers and trying to let everyone know.”
“What was it, heart attack or something?”
“No, looks like a mugging that went wrong, that’s all the Police are saying at the moment.”
“Fuck me, he was as hard as nails was Lenny, you’d need to be a brave cunt to tackle Lenny.”
“I know, but you know what Lenny was like. He’d never back off would he, might have been a few of them.”
“Cunts, poor old Lenny.”
Jake kept it going.
“Lenny spoke of you often said you used to be in business together back in the day.”
Jake heard the voice on the other end of the phone chuckle.
“Yeh, something like that. So when’s the funeral?”
“We’re not sure yet, the Police still need to do their bit but I’m going to send out all the details to everyone as soon as it’s arranged, if you give me your address Paul I’ll send them through as soon as it’s all sorted.”
“Spain or England?”
“England, I was thinking maybe we’d sort out a get together or something at the old rugby Club that you all used. I think Lenny would have liked that.”
“Yeh he would have. Loved his rugby did Lenny. Okay send the details to me at 146 Ridgepoint Road, Bexleyheath, Kent.”
Jake wanted to jump up and down with excitement but contained himself.
“Thanks Paul, just one other thing. Lenny always mentioned another guy whenever he spoke about you. Always talked about the laughs the three of you used to have. Said something about the three of you being in a REMOVAL business, can you remember his name. I’d love to invite him as well if I can.”
The voice once again gave a chuckle.
“Yeh, that was the sort of thing that Lenny would come out with. We dissolved the company about ten years ago now. His name was Charlie. Charlie Spinks. I haven’t heard from Charlie in over seven years. No idea where he is now.”
Another box ticked for Jake. He carried on as calmly as he could.
“That’s it, Charlie, he mentioned you and him a lot, I’ll see if I can track him down, thanks for all your help Paul, I’ll be in touch.”
“Yeh, no problem, it’s a shame about Lenny, always thought he was indestructible, what’s your name son?”
Jake hesitated for a moment.
“Tony, Tony Watts.”
“Cheers Tone, let me know the arrangements and I’ll make sure I’m there.”
Jake switched off the phone and took a sip of his beer.
He sat back in his chair and thought about his first few weeks of freedom. He’d achieved more than he could have possibly hoped for. He now knew all three amigo’s names. Lenny Taylor was Squashed Nose and he’d been dealt with, Paul Barrett was the Karate Kid and had just been duped into giving away his home address and Charlie Spinks was the Quiet man. It was time to plan the next part of his journey.

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 26 )

Jake. pic

It was another night of getting Stevie pissed and Jake just pretending. They eventually got back to the apartment at six. By three minutes past Stevie was unconscious on his bed.
Jake was exhausted, but couldn’t afford to close his eyes in case he overslept. He had more work to do today.
It had been a calculated risk by taking Lenny’s watch, chain and rings. Jake wanted to give the police a number of options. The first was just a general mugging. Spain’s economy was in bad shape. Unemployment was high and one in five of the younger generation were out of work. An overweight older man wearing a few thousand pounds worth of gold and probably carrying a few hundred euros would be an easy target for three or four youths. The second would be the drug connection. The Police should quickly find out about Lens Bar’s reputation and might assume that he had been taken out to make way for the Russian and Albanian gangs that had also set up shop along the Costa Del Sol. While they were busy making enquiries about these options it was unlikely that they would delve too deeply into Lenny’s past. The last thing Jake wanted was for the Police to find out anything about Lenny’s old removal company.
He sat in his bedroom and picked up the scrap of paper containing the numbers he’d written down from Lenny’s mobile phone. He was convinced that somewhere on the list he would find what he was looking for. Surely Lenny would have the phone numbers of the other Three Amigo’s. He knew Karate Kid’s name was Paul Barrett but still had no idea who the quiet man was.
The list contained three Pauls. There was Paul, Paulie and Paul X. Next he started to look for obvious nick names. There was Big P, Tiger, Knuckles and Nutter. It could be any of them. He put the list away. He would have more time to go through it back home in a couple of days.
Now he had to get rid of the phone, watch, chain and ring. Permanently.
He left the apartment at seven thirty and headed for the Marina. He’d noticed when they first arrived a number of signs along the sea front advertising boat trips to “See The Dolphins”. They ran every hour and the first one left at 08.00am.
He arrived at the Marina with a few minutes to spare. There were only three other people waiting to board an expensive looking catamaran. A typical Spanish looking man wearing a sailor’s cap spoke to him in an almost perfect English accent.
“Come to see the Dolphins sir? Beautiful morning for it.”
“Yes mate, one hour trip is it?”
“Yes sir, one hour, twelve euros, obviously can’t guarantee about the dolphins but we’ll do our best. Come on board and sit where you like.”
Jake climbed aboard and made his way to the front of the boat well away from the other three passengers.
It was a beautiful morning, clear blue sky and already eighteen degrees. The boat set off and moved slowly out of the harbour. Twenty minutes later they were well out at sea and everyone’s eyes were looking for the elusive dolphins. Jake had the phone, watch and chain in a small plastic bag and when he was sure that no one noticed he lowered it over the side. He let go and watched it start its journey to the bottom of the ocean. The weight of the gold watch and chain quickly made the bag sink out of sight. Now he could relax. For the next thirty minutes he slept soundly until the captain shook him gently.
“Sir, sir, the trip is over we are back at the marina.”
Jake woke and smiled.
“Thanks mate, best trip ever.”
The captain looked confused as they hadn’t spotted a single dolphin. But he’d been taking tourists out for over twenty years and they never ceased to surprise him.
Jake returned to the apartment, fell onto his bed and was asleep in minutes.
It seemed he had just closed his eyes when Stevie woke him.
“Come on Jakey boy, we’ve only got a couple of days left, can’t sleep all day. Fucking lazy bones.”
“What’s the time?”
“Quarter past two. Let’s go and get something to eat.”
Jake showered and dressed and the two of them walked the short distance to a local bar. Five euros got them each a full English breakfast and a pint of the local beer.
The next two days just flew by. Jake could now be more relaxed. His first job was done and he was confident of finding at least one of the other two Amigos. When they eventually landed at Gatwick they were both exhausted. It was mid- afternoon when he finally got back to East London. After saying hello to his mum and dad he went to bed and slept solidly till the alarm clock in his head went off at 06.00am.
He made a list of everything he would need to help him in the next part of his journey. He would need another mobile phone, a cheap pay as you go would do. He would need a laptop and internet access. Oh yes and quite possibly a hand gun…

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 25 )

Jake. pic

Jake sat thinking about his next move. Stevie was still snoring his head off in the next room. It was almost four o’clock in the afternoon.
He had to find a way of getting back to Mijas later that evening on his own. That wouldn’t be easy as Stevie would want to be involved in everything. Jake quickly thought up a plan. He would take a chance that Stevie’s memory of last night might be a bit vague.
Stevie emerged from the bedroom half an hour later. Jake looked up.
“Jesus Stevie you look like shit.”
“Thanks mate, what time is it?”
“Half four.”
“I need to eat something, what’s in the fridge?”
“Beer.”
“Fuck, I’ll take a shower then we’ll go get a fry up or something?”
“Okay mate, sounds good.”
Stevie was in and out of the shower in minutes. He put on shorts and a tee shirt and the two of them left the apartment. Just up the road they found a small English bar and were soon tucking into an “all day full English breakfast”. When he’d finished licking his plate, Stevie rubbed his stomach.
“This is definitely the life Jake, sunshine, booze and good grub, what more could a man want?”
“So you’re feeling better then?”
“Back to normal mate, just needed to get something in me belly, could murder a pint now as well.”
Jake called over to the young waitress who was cleaning a table nearby.
“Two pints please love.”
Two pints of cold local beer arrived a few seconds later. Stevie took a mouthful and drank it down as though he’d been in a desert for the past few hours.
“Ah that’s better, so what’s the plan tonight then Jake, same again?”
“Well I’ve gotta meet that little bird first then I’ll see you later at the square?”
Stevie looked confused.
“What little bird?”
“The one I met last night, Jesus you must have been pissed, don’t you remember getting the hump because her mate didn’t fancy you?”
“No!”
“We met these two birds, mine was game but yours was a bit snobby and didn’t want to know, you got the hump and walked off, I ran after you but not before I’d arranged to meet mine at seven thirty tonight in a little bar up the road, don’t you remember?”
“Not a fucking thing, what time was this?”
“Bout three this morning, you were wasted.”
“I remember up until about two then it’s all a blur, what time did we get back?”
“After six.”
“Fucking hell Jakey boy we had about nine solid hours on the lash. So this bird then, what’s she like?”
“Northern. Manc or something, but nice, about twenty five, thought I’d have a couple with her tonight see if I can get me leg over and maybe see if we can get a four ball up for tomorrow. Fancy it?”
“You bet, but I thought you said her mate was a bit snobby, can’t be doing with no snobby bird.”
“Look Stevie, you were pissed and out of order. I’ll see mine tonight and say you were sorry about the way you behaved and any chance of another go with her mate. It’s gotta be worth a try.”
Stevie nodded in agreement.
“Okay mate, what time shall I meet you in the square?”
“How about ten, by the big clock?”
“Suits me, I won’t be going anywhere till nine at the earliest.”
Jake looked at his watch, it was almost six.
“Okay I’m gonna go back, get changed then see this bird. I’ll catch up with you later.”
“Good luck mate, don’t forget, put a good word in for me.”
Jake laughed and walked off. The plan had worked and Stevie was none the wiser. He went back to the apartment, changed and got a cab from the same rank as earlier.
Jake was on his way.
It was six fifty when he entered the small Spanish bar opposite Lens, this time he sat inside by the window. He still had a great view of the bar and ordered a coffee. People came and went, it was the same as before, no one really stayed for a drink, they just went in and came out a few minutes later.
The barman at Lens was outside having a smoke when Jake saw him smile. He was looking along the road that lead out of town. Jake couldn’t see what he was smiling at from where he was sitting. The smile became a laugh and Jake saw him drop his cigarette and snub it out with his foot. Then Jake saw someone. Someone about fifty yards away. Big guy, black shorts, white short sleeved shirt, big bald head. It was squashed nose.
After ten long years Jake recognised him straightaway. He’d put on weight, a lot of it. The muscle had been replaced with fat. He was still a tall man but the muscular physique had gone. He was carrying a good three stone more than he should be. Most of it looked like it was around his waist. His beer belly was enormous.
Lenny Taylor man hugged the barman. They both laughed then went inside. Jake took a sip of his now luke warm coffee. His hand was shaking, not from fear but from the excitement of knowing that what he had dreamed of for the past ten years was soon to become a reality.
It was another thirty minutes before Lenny Taylor emerged from the darkness of Lens bar. His face was cheerful. He looked both ways along the street then turned right. Jake put a twenty euro note on the table and left.
Lenny was no more than fifty yards in front of him. He stopped once or twice to say hello to other bar owners, then kept walking. It looked as though he was heading for the beach. Jake waited for his moment, it had to be quiet, no one around, thank god it was out of season otherwise there would have been a lot more people on the streets. Tonight there were just a handful. Lenny turned into a small side street. A few walled villas on each side. Jake could see a bar at the end of the street, apart from that the area was deserted. Jake decided now was the time. He called out.
“Lenny, Lenny, hold on mate.”
Lenny Taylor turned round, he looked confused. Jake was less than twenty feet away.
“Len mate, wait up need to see you about that thing.”
All the time Jake was smiling. Lenny automatically smiled back, he recognised the face but wasn’t sure where from.
“What thing?”
Jake was now standing directly in front of Lenny.
“This thing!”
Jake snapped out his right arm, fast and with all the power he could, the knuckles of his hand connected to the bridge of Lenny’s nose, there was a crack. Lenny didn’t go down, instead he staggered backwards and started to sway from side to side. Jake followed up with a kick to Lenny’s left knee, another crack, this time Lenny fell heavily to the ground. He was on his back staring up at Jake, a look of pure shock in his eyes, he seemed unable to speak, he tried but no words came out only sounds, Jake could see blood coming from the back of his head.
Jakes pulse was racing.
“Remember me Lenny, from ten years ago, East London, the Russian, ring any bells?”
Lenny’s expression changed, he smiled, he tried to say something but once again only noises came out. Blood was flowing from his nose and he was having trouble breathing.
Jake raised Lenny’s head from the pavement slowly by his ears, then, over and over again crashed it down onto the concrete. After six or seven thuds Lenny’s eyes closed. There was now a mass of blood covering the street. Jake looked around, still no one in sight. Jake took Lenny’s gold Rolex, his sovereign ring and the large belcher chain from around his big fat neck. He went through the pockets. In his shorts there was a large bundle of cash, then he found the most important thing, his mobile phone.
He left Lenny and walked back the way he came, no hurry just a nice slow pace. Back on the main road a few people were strolling along the road but not that many. Jake went back to the taxi rank and got a cab to Fuengerola. He had a pint in a small bar then got another cab to Calahonda, from there he got the bus back to Benalmadena. He was back at the apartment by nine fifteen. Stevie had already left.
He took the SIM card out of Lenny’s phone and placed it in his. He scrolled through the names and numbers. He found a pen and pad in one of the drawers in the kitchen and wrote down all thirty six of them.
At ten o’clock he met Stevie under the big clock in the square. Stevie was anxious for news on Jakes date.
“How’d it go mate?”
“Great.”
“Did you bang her?”
“Yep.”
“Where?”
“In a little side street.”
“Dirty bastard, you banged it in a side street?”
“Yep, banged its brains out in the street!”

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 24 )

Jake. pic

After some gentle persuasion, a bunch of flowers and a large box of her favourite chocolates, Steph agreed that Stevie could have some time with Jake in Spain. But only a few days. They plumped for a long weekend. The outbound flights were booked for Thursday with the return on Monday morning. Steph said she and the baby would go and stay with her Mum for a few days.
Jakes probation officer was fine with the trip as long as he had all the details of where he was staying and who with. Uncle Tom wrote a letter saying that Jake and Stevie would be staying free of charge at his apartment in Benalmadena.
The flight from Gatwick took just two and a half hours and after a twenty minute cab ride from Malaga airport they were sitting on the balcony of Uncle Tom’s apartment overlooking the Marina in Benalmadena, have their first San Miguel beer.
Jake could sense that Stevie was itching to get out and sample the local nightlife.
“So, Jakey Boy, where’s the best place to go round here, did Uncle Tom suggest anywhere?”
“He said there’s a place up the road called twenty four hour square. It’s full of bars and clubs and true to its name, it’s open twenty four hours!”
“That sounds like a bit of us alright Jake.”
It was just after seven o’clock in the evening, and the sun was beginning to lose its burn. Jake couldn’t believe that only three weeks ago he was locked up in a cell staring at a blank wall.
He had a plan in his head regarding Lenny Taylor. If everything went well he would soon be face to face with his old enemy, he couldn’t wait.
“Tell you what Stevie, tonight we’ll go mad, let our hair down, get pissed, pretend we’re a couple of kids again, sound like a plan?”
“Sounds like a great plan Jake.”
They left the apartment at nine and within ten minutes were in the madness of twenty four hour square. The noise was overpowering, different music coming out of each club, people were shouting, singing and dancing in the streets. Jake felt a bit uncomfortable, he wasn’t used to having so many people around him but pretended he was having the time of his life.
His plan was simple. Get Stevie absolutely smashed yet stay reasonably sober himself. That way he could leave the apartment in the morning while Stevie was sleeping it off and make his way up to Mijas. Hopefully Stevie would never know he was gone.
The plan worked. For every five or six drinks Stevie had Jake only had one. It was just after six in the morning when they returned. Stevie collapsed on the bed and was unconscious in seconds. Jake put a bowl beside him in case he was sick.
Jake had a doze in the armchair for a few hours then showered, dressed and popped his head into Stevie’s room. He was snoring the place down. He left a note in case Stevie woke up and wondered where he was. “Gone for a wander.”
There was a cab rank a few minutes away. Jake spoke no Spanish but knew where he wanted to go.
“Mijas Costa?”
“Si”
The cab took him along the coastal road past Fuengirola and Calla Honda then into the small coastal town of Mijas.
“Anywhere along her mate.”
The driver had no idea what Jake was saying but stopped the cab outside a small tapas bar.
Jake gave him forty euros. He wasn’t sure how much it came to, just waited for the response from the driver. The driver was impressed.
“Muchas gracias senior!”
Even Jake knew what that meant.
“No problem, thanks.”
It was eleven o’clock. Jake walked along the sea front then entered a very English looking bar, called The Crown and Anchor. The place was empty apart from a middle aged man standing behind the bar wiping down the counter. He glanced over to Jake and spoke with a London accent.
“Morning mate. What can I get you?”
“San Miguel please.”
“Pint or a bottle?”
“Just a bottle thanks.”
Jake took a seat outside. A few seconds later the barman appeared with a cold beer.
“There you go, one euro please, on holiday?”
“Yeh just for a few days, mates stag do, this is hair of the dog.”
The barman laughed.
“Breakfast? We do a lovely fry up.”
“Don’t think I could face it at the moment, maybe later.”
The landlord went to walk away. Jake was eager for some information.
“Sorry mate, I was here a couple of years ago on another stag do. We used a bar called Lens, but I was pissed most of the time and can’t remember where it was. Is it still going?”
“Yeh, it’s about two hundred yards along the main drag, five minute’s walk, you can’t miss it.”
Jake decided to drop Lenny’s name into the conversation.
“Lovely, I must pop me head in and say hello to Lenny.”
The barman looked surprised.
“You know Lenny?”
“Well, I don’t really know him. He was in the bar some of the time. Always made us feel welcome. Do you ever go in there?”
The man shook his head.
“No, not really my kind of place. I stay well clear of it. All a bit dodgy in there if you know what I mean.”
Jake paid his euro and the barmen went back inside. Jake took his time with his beer then left.
He found Lens Bar easily, opposite was a small traditional Spanish bar, he took a seat outside ordered a coffee and waited.
Lens was a busy bar, people came and went, Jake was intrigued, no one seemed to have a beer or a meal, just went into the bar and came out a few minutes later. Jake counted seventeen people in forty minutes.
Then it all made sense. Lens Bar was selling drugs, had to be, it also explained what the other barman had said about it being a bit “dodgy”.
After an hour and two cups of espresso there was still no sign of squashed nose. Jake decided to take a chance and go over to the bar.
The outside of Lens Bar was warm and inviting. It looked like it had been freshly painted, there were tables and chairs arranged neatly outside and a canopy to keep the sun off, but inside it was dark and dingy. A voice called out from the darkness.
“Be with you in a minute, just changing a barrel.”
Jake couldn’t see anyone so just shouted out “Okay”
A few minutes later Jake was greeted by a middle aged man, over six feet, slim, well-tanned, tee shirt, shorts, bit of designer stubble.
“What can I get you guv?”
“Bottle of San Miguel please.”
“Anything else?”
The barmen smiled as he said it. Jake knew what he meant.
“Not today thanks mate, just the beer.”
“Okay, coming up.”
“What time does Lenny come in these days?”
The barmen gave Jake his beer.
“Whenever he likes, he’s the guvnor, why, you wanna see him about something?”
There was a slight menace in his voice. Jake ignored it and carried on the conversation.
“Only to say hello, I knew him from the Rugby club back in Barking years ago, good player was Lenny.”
The barmen relaxed a bit.
“So I’ve heard, a few of his old pals came over a couple of years ago, great laugh it was.”
“Yeh, Georgie Warren wasn’t it? He died last year.”
“Ah fucking shame, he was a right laugh was Georgie.”
“Lenny wouldn’t remember me, I was just a kid when he was playing, my Dad played with him though, everyone back at the club said I should say hello.”
“Well he doesn’t usually come in till about seven, stays a couple of hours then toddles off home or onto another bar somewhere, so if you come back about eight you should catch him.”
“Cheers mate, will do.”
Jake downed his beer and went to leave.
“What’s your name mate and I’ll tell him you called in.”
Jake hesitated for a second. Then remembered one of the names of the players in the photograph.
“Jiggins, Billy Jiggins.”
Jake left. He took a chance with the name. He hoped Lenny wouldn’t still be in touch with any of the old team. But if he did remember Jiggins, he’d assume that it was his son and not be suspicious.
Jake took a cab back to the apartment. It was after three o’clock. He found Stevie still asleep in the same position that he’d left him, and still snoring. Jake took the note that he’d left, screwed it up and threw it in the bin. Stevie would never know that he’d been out, everything was going according to plan.
As Jake sat in the afternoon sunshine on Uncle Tom’s balcony, he had only one thought on his mind. Lenny Taylor and how he would take his revenge…

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 23 )

Jake. pic

Two days later Jake was walking up the path of a small council house in Dagenham. The garden was unkempt and overgrown. What had once been lawn was now knee high weeds. The paint on the window frames was flaking, the windows were filthy and the net curtains behind them that were once white were now a yellowy grey colour.
There was a small note on the door. “Bells not working so use the nocker.”
He did as the note said.
There was the sound of dog’s barking from inside, then shouting, “Hold your horses I’m coming, shut up you noisy mutts.”
The door opened just a few inches. He heard a woman’s voice.
“Yes love, what do you want?”
“Mrs Warren?”
“Yes love. Now what do you want?”
“Sorry to disturb you Mrs Warren, but I’m going over to Spain next week and I wanted to say hello to Lenny Taylor. The problem is I’m not quite sure where abouts in Marbella he lives. The boys at the rugby club said you might know?”
“Hold on. Let me put the dogs away.”
She closed the door, a few seconds later she re-opened it. She was a tall woman, late fifties maybe sixty with short grey hair. Jake thought she was probably a looker in her day. But too many sunbeds and cigarettes had taken its toll on her face. It was dark and lined but her smile was warm.
“My Georgie went to see him a couple of years back, don’t think it was Marbella though.”
“I spoke to the barman at the rugby club, he thought it was Marbella. It’s just that it’s my Dads sixtieth birthday and I’m treating him to a few days in Spain. He used to play with Lenny, thought it would be a nice surprise for him if they met up again.”
“Ah that’s a nice thing to do love, come in and I’ll see if I can find something.”
Jake went inside, the house was a tip. It had an overpowering animal smell of stale urine and pet food. There was a stair gate on the door of the kitchen, Jake could see three Staffordshire Bull Terriers and thought he could see another one outside in the garden.
“Don’t mind the dogs love, they’re okay. You’ve gotta have em round here or the bloody place would be burgled within hours.”
Jake thought that unlikely, there was nothing in this place that even the most hard up burglar would ever want.
“Take a seat love. Did your Dad know my Georgie?”
“I don’t think so Mrs Warren, Dad played for East ham. He played against Lenny a few times and they became mates. Dads not seen him for years.”
“My Georgie couldn’t stop talking about it when he got back. He said Lenny had a big place out there and he owned a bar in the local town as well, but I’m sure it wasn’t Marbella.”
Jake was intrigued.
“Really? Didn’t know he had a bar.”
She started shuffling papers that were on top of what looked like a broken chair, either that or it was a small coffee table, Jake wasn’t sure, with all the mess it was hard to tell.
“Here we are, knew I had it somewhere.”
She held up a postcard.
“My Georgie was old fashioned, always sent postcards. Rang me everyday as well while he was out there.”
She handed it to Jake.
“That’s Lenny’s bar on the front.”
It was a photo of a traditional looking Spanish bar called LENS. On the bottom it said Lens Bar, Mijas Costa, Spain. Jake turned it over and read the message. “Hi Den, great time so far, Lennys bars a right scream, massive place hes got out here, miss you love, Georgie.”
He gave her the postcard back. She read the message out loud. Jake thought she was going to cry as she slowly read the last four words. Then she took a deep breath as though composing herself and changed the subject.
“That’s the place, I bloody knew it wasn’t Marbella, Georgie kept telling me off for calling it Meejas, said the Spanish don’t say their jays, said it was called Meehas.”
“And he said Lenny’s place was close to the bar?”
“Yeh, he said they walked there every night, kept saying the walk back sobered them up a bit.”
This time she laughed as she said the last few words. Jake felt sorry for her. It was obvious she’d let herself and the house go since her Georgie died.
“Well thank you very much Mrs Warren, we’ll find the bar I’m sure.”
Jake stood up.
“It’s a nice thing you’re doing love for your Dad. You only get one and you should treasure him while you’ve got him.”
“Very true Mrs Warren, if we meet Lenny I’ll say hello for you.”
“No don’t do that love, I couldn’t stand him. He was a friend of Georgies not mine. I always thought he had cruel eyes, never trusted him.”
Jake left, he knew exactly what she meant.
Eight days later Jake’s passport arrived, Stevie booked the flights on his credit card. They were all set.
Jake was heading for Spain.
As he sat there in his bedroom waiting for the cab to take them to the airport. He looked at the rugby team photo of Lenny Taylor and Paul Barrett.
“I’m coming for you Lenny. It’s taken ten years, but I’m coming.”

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 22 )

Jake. pic

Jake arrived at his Uncle Tom’s just after three. Tom was pleased to see him.
“Jake, great to see you mate, come on in. Shall I put the kettle on, or do you fancy something a bit stronger?”
Jake smiled.
“The strong option sounds good Tom.”
Tom opened the top draw of the filing cabinet in his office and pulled out a bottle of Teachers Whiskey. He took two glasses from another drawer and poured two large measures. He started to laugh.
“Reminds me of a scene out of the bloody Sweeney!”
Jake was confused.
“What was that Tom?”
“Never mind Jake, before your time son, anyway cheers.”
The two of them drank their scotch and Tom refilled the glasses.
“So what brings you to me then Jake, want that bit of work I promised?”
“Not yet Tom, thanks anyway. It’s about the place in Spain, just wondered if I could have it for a few days, for me and Stevie.”
“No worries Jake, we won’t get out there now for another three months so just let me know when and I’ll give you the keys. It’s a lovely place Jake, Benalmadena, half way between Malaga and Marbella, right on the front overlooking the Marina, you’ll love it.”
“Thanks Tom, I’m filling in my passport application today and they reckon it might be back within the week so maybe in a couple of weeks?”
“As I said Jake, now worries, you need some cash?”
“No, no, it’s fine Tom, it’s Stevie’s treat. You know what he’s like, he wants to get away from the screaming nights and nappy changes for a few days.”
They both laughed out loud. Jake finished his scotch and went to shake Tom’s hand. Tom pulled him close and gave him a hug. For the first time since he’d been released Jake suddenly felt emotional.
“Thanks for everything Tom.”
“Now don’t start, just fuck off and have a good time and don’t forget to get your leg over a few times. It’ll do you the world of good.”
As old as he was, Jake still blushed as he walked out of Tom’s office.
He got home at six. Mum and Dad were where they always were, in the kitchen. Mum stood up as soon as Jake walked in.
“Now Jake, you’ve been out all day and I guarantee you’ve had nothing to eat and if you’ve been with your Uncle Tom, I also guarantee you’ve had alcohol.”
She gave Jake’s Dad a side glance. He gave Jake a wink.
“No good you laughing, the pair of you, I know what your Dad’s brother’s like, always been the same, bit of a rascal is your Uncle Tom, now sit down and I’ll get your dinner for you, homemade pie and chips”
“Sounds great Mum, let me just go upstairs and change, back in five minutes.”
Jake bounded up the stairs, two at a time, then into his bedroom. Every pocket in his jacket and jeans were bulging with pound notes. He emptied out everything onto his bed. It was all twenties and fifties. After a few minutes he had it all neatly bundled together, there was exactly twelve thousand pounds.
He called Stevie.
“Hi mate, beer tonight about eight, my treat, just for an hour?”
“Okay Jake, but must be home by nine. Steph wants to watch some stupid programme about a woman with three arms or something and I promised to look after the little man. Any chance we can make it a bit earlier. About seven?”
“You’re on!”
Jake went downstairs and tucked into the best steak and kidney pie the world had ever seen, with proper fried chips not those oven bake things, boy his Mum could cook.
He was in the pub at six forty five, usual seat and sipping his ice cold Stella. Stevie, as usual, arrived dead on time. He was amazed to see Jake already there.
“Jesus Jake, what, Mum and Dad kick you out or something? You’ve never been early in your life.”
“Shut up and sit down, I’ll get the beers.”
“Fuck me he’s won the lottery as well”
Jake returned with two pints.
“Bloody hell Stevie, that bird behind the bar is a right sort.”
“Yep that’s definitely one for the wank bank Jake.”
They both cracked up laughing.
“Okay, I’ve been to see Uncle Tom. We’re all set, couple of weeks’ time, still up for it?”
“Yep, I’m in, haven’t told Steph yet, might tell her at the last minute, when will you know for sure?”
“As soon as I get the passport. I’m sending it off first thing tomorrow. I got the form and photos today, according to the guy in the Post Office, should only take a week. Then we’ll go ASAP.”
As Jake was talking he was aware of someone staring in their direction, he put down his beer and stared back. He didn’t know the guy from Adam. Stevie noticed Jake staring.
“What’s up Jake?”
“There’s a guy over by the bar keeps staring at us. You know him?”
Stevie looked over.
“Fuck. He’s not staring at you Jake. It’s me. That’s Gary Hamilton, don’t you remember him Jake, from school, couple of years older than us, right bully boy. He went out with Steph years ago. She dumped him for me. Ever since then he just sort of stares and makes stupid remarks when I’m around. I just ignore him. I think he deals drugs as well. He a real nutter Jake so I just keep well clear.”
Jake looked away and carried on telling Stevie about Uncle Tom and the apartment in Benalmadena. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Gary was heading for the toilets. He stood up.
“Fuck me that Stella’s working its way through the old system, I need a slash.”
Stevie laughed and Jake headed for the toilets. Once inside he saw Gary Hamilton standing at one of the urinals. Jake stood next to him.
“Gary isn’t it?”
Gary looked at Jake.
“Yeh, and you’re the guy that shot that Russian all those years ago and you’re also the guy sitting with that wanker Stevie, he’s a fucking….”
Gary never said another word. He simply crumpled in a heap to the ground, hitting his head on the urinal as he did so. Jake had made a swift kick with his right leg that took Gary off his feet. Jake grabbed him by his hair and lifted his head.
“No you listen to me you piece of shit, leave me and my pal alone or next time I won’t stop, understand.”
Gary shook his head. He had no idea where he was or what had just happened. He heard himself say “Okay.”
Jake left and went back to Stevie.
“Right, my shout again, two Stella’s please gorgeous.”

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 21 )

Jake. pic

For three years Jake shared a cell in Wandsworth with Terry Wells. Terry was in his forties and had a son the same age as Jake. They became best mates and Jake in some way became the son that Terry missed so badly. Likewise, Jake came to think of Terry as a bit of a father figure.
Terry was a martial arts fanatic and had represented Great Britain in Judo at the 1992 Olympics. He studied everything from Judo to Taekwondoe and in those three years taught Jake how to handle himself. No one messed with Terry in Wandsworth and after a short space of time, no one messed with Jake Roberts either.
Terry was serving fifteen years for arson, he burned down his own chip shop in Lewisham for the insurance money, unfortunately the fire spread and burned down another five shops. Terry had a business partner, Colin Brown. They had both agreed to burn down the shop and claim the insurance money but when it came to actually doing it Colin was nowhere to be seen. Terry was arrested after an anonymous “tip off”. Terry was sure it was Colin. He never once visited Terry in prison and never wrote either. When Terry’s wife came to visit she’d tell him about Colin, how he was now driving a big flash car, had bought a new house out in Kent, had opened up a number of Fish and Chip shops around the South East and was doing very well for himself.
Terry was convinced that Colin had been ripping him off for years. Colin did all the accounts and was always complaining that there was no money, yet Terry thought the shop was always busy. Yes, a few factories had closed in the area but it always seemed to have a steady trade. But Colin was adamant that they were losing money. He would say that the overheads were killing them and the price of fish had gone through the roof, then there was the maintenance on all the equipment, there was always a reason why there was no money. Terry was no business man and had no head for figures so he never questioned Colin about the accounts.
He told Jake all about it. Jake made him a promise, if he was out first he would pay Colin a “visit”
After three years they were separated and Jake was transferred to Chelmsford. After a couple of years he heard through the prison grapevine that Terry had a “misunderstanding” with a screw in Wandsworth. The “misunderstanding” ended up with the screw being hospitalised. No remand for Terry, he would have to serve his full fifteen, plus another three for the attack on the Prison Officer.
Jake knew where to find Colin, this being a Friday. Terry said that Colin was a creature of habit, every Friday at 09.00am he played squash then went to his office in Streatham for 11.00am. He would spend a couple of hours there then head off home. Terry said that Colin’s office was above a hairdressers shop in the High Road. Jake was taking a chance, he was hoping that Colin still had the office in Streatham. If he didn’t perhaps whoever had it now would have a forwarding address.
Jake worked out his route, underground to London Bridge then the over ground to Streatham. At ten thirty he was standing in a small park opposite a rundown hairdresser shop in the High Road called “Curl Up and Dye”. Jake crossed the road and took a closer look. There was a door next to the entrance to the hairdressers. Jake saw a sign above the buzzer. CB Associates. “Bingo” thought Jake, “looks like he’s still here.”
Jake walked back across the road, bought himself a newspaper and took a seat on a bench in the park where he could easily see the Salon. He estimated he could get there in about twenty seconds. At 11.20 a short grey haired man slowed as he approached the door to CB Associates. He took a key from him pocket and then placed it in the lock. By the time Colin’s key was about to turn, Jake was standing beside him.
Colin looked surprised to see someone standing so close.
“Can I help you with something?”
Jake smiled at Colin.
“Yes you can Colin. We need to have a chat.”
Jake pushed Colin into the entrance then shut the door behind them. They were in a narrow corridor with a steep flight of stairs in front of them.
Colin looked terrified.
“I don’t have any money, nothing is kept here, my partner will be here in a moment and he’s a karate expert.”
Jake couldn’t help but laugh.
“Colin, none of that statement is true and you know it. You DO keep money here and you no longer have a business partner, cos he’s doing fifteen in Wandsworth. That’s the reason I’m here.”
Colin went quiet. Jake could almost hear the wheels going round in his head.
Jake pushed him up the stairs and into a small room filled with paperwork. There was a desk and chair, two filing cabinets and a table with a kettle and cups and saucers on it.
“Sit down Colin. Let’s see if we can do this the easy way.”
Colin did as he was told and sat down in his office chair behind his desk. Jake sat down opposite.
“Okay, here’s the deal Colin, you have something I need and you’re going to give it to me, then we can all go home.”
Colin didn’t say a word. He just listened.
“In this office Colin you have a safe, it’s over there.”
Jake pointed to what looked like a table with a table cloth on it that touched the floor, on it was a tray with a kettle, teapot and two cups.
“You’re probably wondering how I know all this Colin. Well, it was your old mate Terry that told me. He said you hated Banks and kept a fair amount of cash in the safe in your office and to disguise the safe you covered it with a large tablecloth with cups and saucers on it.”
Colin went white. He started to panic.
“Look, Terry’s got this all wrong, I’m just waiting for him to come home then we can sit down and sort everything out.”
Jakes face showed no signs of emotion. He just stared hard at the man in front of him.
“Look, we both know that’s bollocks. Terry wants what you owe him now, not in a few year’s time.”
Colin was desperate.
“No, honestly, I’ve put some aside for him. I was going to give it to him when he came out, you know, as a bit of a thank you for not involving me.”
Jake grabbed Colin by the throat and started to squeeze.
“You grassed him up. He’s doing time because of you, now he wants his money.”
He let go. Colin was coughing and trying to get his breath. Jake stood up.
“Open it!”
Colin crawled over to the safe, took off the tray and tablecloth and knelt down beside it. He turned the dial a few times and the door opened. He put his hand inside and pulled out a bundle of twenty pound notes.
“There, take it.”
Jake had no idea how much was there. But it didn’t look like enough for Terry’s fifteen years.
“Just this Colin, for all those years and your freedom? No way.”
Colin shook his head and started to whine.
“Look, I’m not a rich man, I just have a few bob put away that’s all. You can’t take everything.”
Jake knelt down beside Colin and whispered in his ear.
“Yes I can Colin. Now empty the safe or we really are going to have a massive problem.”
Colin reached back into the safe and pulled out another two large bundles of cash. He handed them to Jake.
“That’s it, that’s all I’ve got, beat me up if you want, but that’s all there is!”
Jake walked over to the waste paper basket and emptied it on the floor. He took out the white plastic bin liner and put the cash inside.
“Thank you Colin, now I need you to make me a promise or I’m coming back and if I have to come back I’m going to hurt you, understand?”
Colin nodded.
“Terry Wells will be out in about five years. By that time he’ll be sixty. He’ll be an ex-con, no chance of a job, no pension, no prospects. You Colin, will be very generous when he comes out, you will give him a small part of your business. I’m thinking maybe two of the chip shops?”
Colin just sort of shrugged. Jake wasn’t impressed. He threw out his right arm with a snap and caught Colin sharply in the fleshy part of his left shoulder. Colin had never experienced this sort of pain before, it was a numbness that went through his bicep and then down into his forearm and then his hand. He suddenly thought he was having a stroke! He fell to the floor.
“That Colin, was for showing no respect, the nerves that control your whole arm are now in shock, I hit a pressure point that will make your right arm useless for another twenty minutes. If you like I can do the same to the other one, then perhaps your legs…”
“No No, please, I’ll do it, he can have the shops!”
“Thank you Colin, now just to make sure you don’t let me down, tomorrow you will visit your Solicitor and start the transfer of the two shops into Terry’s name. The weekly profit from those shops will go directly to Mrs Wells, understand?”
Colin nodded his head in agreement.
“Don’t disappoint me Colin, in one week’s time I will speak with Mrs Wells, if she doesn’t tell me that your Solicitor has been in touch, I’m coming back, it might be here, it might be your nice new house in Kent, it might even be the Squash Club, but I’ll turn up somewhere Colin and things will get ugly not just for you but for ALL your family.”
With that Jake walked out of the room, down the stairs and into the busy High Street. He saw a black cab coming up the road and flagged him down. He gave the driver an address. Twenty minutes later he was outside a small terraced house in Tooting. He got out of the cab and told the cabbie to wait. He walked up the pathway of a very small but neat and tidy front garden. He rang the doorbell. A few seconds later a petite woman in her early fifties opened the door.
“Yes?”
“Hi, I’m Jake Roberts. I was with Terry in Wandsworth.”
The woman gave Jake a big warm welcoming smile.
“Jake, how lovely to meet you, Terry speaks about you all the time, come in.”
“No it’s okay Mrs Wells, I can’t stop I just need to give you something.”
Jake handed her the white plastic bin liner, with two bundles of cash in.
“This is a gift from Colin Brown. He said it’s what he owed Terry.”
Mrs Wells looked in the bag and put her hand to her mouth.
“How…?”
“It’s fine Mrs Wells. Just let Terry know from me that all debts have now been paid. I’ll visit him as soon as I can and give him a full update.”
Terry’s wife gave Jake a knowing smile.
“Will do, funnily enough I’ve just had Colin’s Solicitor on the phone asking me to call in and see him tomorrow. Any idea what that’s all about?”
Jake shrugged his shoulders and grinned.
“No idea Mrs Wells but I’m sure it’s all good news. Nice to meet you.”
Jake turned round, walked down the path and got back into the cab. Stuffed into every pocket he had were wads of twenty pound notes. He had no idea how much his bundle was worth but estimated a good few grand. Not a bad day after all. Now off to see Uncle Tom.
As he travelled in the cab on his way back to East London it suddenly dawned on him. Today he had done exactly what the three amigos had done to him ten years ago. He’d bullied someone into doing something against their will. Just for a second he felt guilty. But only for a second. He grinned, perhaps if he was to achieve his objective he had to become just like them.

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 20 )

Jake. pic

Jake was feeling a bit worse for wear by the time he got home. Three pints with Geoff in Bermondsey, a pint in the Rugby Club and then four pints and two shots with Stevie had taken it’s toll. It was gone nine when he walked into his parent’s house. His Dad took one look at him and laughed.
“Looks like you’ve had a good day Jake. Mum’s at bingo, but there’s a bit of dinner in the oven if you want it?”
“No thanks Dad I think I’ll go straight up. Stevie’s got me a bit drunk!”
“No worries son, goodnight mate.”
Jake went up to his bedroom and was asleep in seconds.
As always his inner alarm clock went off at six o’clock. He was amazed he didn’t have a hangover. He couldn’t wait to update his lists. He leaned over and took three pieces of paper from the top drawer of his bedside cabinet. On the list titled Squashed Nose, he scribbled some notes to the bottom of the page.
“His name is Lenny Taylor, ex Rugby player for Barking, born in Bermondsey, now living in Marbella in Spain, need to contact Denice Warren at 28 Goresbrook Road Dagenham.”
Jake felt a sense of relief as he wrote this. It was all he’d thought about for ten long years, putting names to faces. There was a time when he’d even doubted his own sanity. What if he’d made it all up? What if his mind had been playing tricks on him? Maybe these guys weren’t real and they were all in his head, just like the Police had said. But that was a long time ago and in one of his darker moments.
Now his plan was simple, firstly find out who they were, then find out where they lived then decide how to take his revenge.
He looked at the second list, this was headed KARATE KID, the list was short.
Mid Forties.
Cropped grey hair
About 6 feet 4inches
Eighteen stone
Martial arts expert, perhaps a cage fighter?
East London / Essex accent
Lots of scars around his eyes and cheeks
He glanced over the list and then with a big smile on his face he added.
“His name is Paul Barrett, used to run martial arts gym in Barking behind the Bull pub, played Rugby for Barking with Lenny Taylor, they are mates.”
Once again he felt a sigh of relief, two down one to go.
The third list was for The Quiet Man. This list was much shorter as he very rarely spoke to Jake or the other two, only once did Jake hear him speak. The list read.
Grey cropped hair, mid forties
6 feet 7inches.
Over twenty stone.
Drove the Blue Bentley, possibly his?
Slight northern accent, Manchester / Derbyshire?
That was it. That was all he knew about Quiet Man. Even the bloke in the Rugby club didn’t know who he was, just that he drove a big flash motor.
Finding Quiet Man wouldn’t be easy. Jake was hoping that if he could find Lenny Taylor then maybe, just maybe he would lead them to the other two amigos.
But he knew he had to be patient. “One day at a time” was a saying in prison, and for things to start falling into place he needed to speak with his Uncle Tom.
At seven thirty Jake went downstairs to have breakfast with his Mum and Dad, once again Mum didn’t disappoint, big full English!
After eating and drinking two big mugs of tea, Jakes Dad let out a massive belch.
“That’s better.”
Jakes Mum was not impressed.
“Mister Roberts, that was disgusting!”
Jake laughed, she always called his Dad “Mister Roberts” when she was annoyed at him, the same way she always called him “Jake Roberts” when he was smaller and had done something wrong. His Dad took no notice of her.
“So Jake, what’s your plans today then?”
“Thought I’d go and see Uncle Tom”
Jakes Mum’s face lit up.
“About work Jake, you going to work with Uncle Tom?”
“Yeh, that’s one reason Mum, the other one is to ask if me and Stevie can have a long weekend at his place in Spain.”
The kitchen fell silent, there was an uneasy atmosphere. Jakes Dad broke the silence.
“That’s a really good idea Jake and it would be great for you to get a bit of sun on your back, but how you going to pay for it? Me and Mum can’t give you any money, we just don’t have it, what about the flights and spending money where’s that coming from?”
Jake, as always, had a story ready.
“It’s fine. Uncle Tom said I could use the apartment for free. Stevie has offered to pay for the flights and it’s really cheap out there at the moment. We should get by on about twenty quid a day. The probation officer gave me two hundred pounds when I came out, they give it to all released prisoners to help them get by until their in full time employment. So if we go for say four of five days, I’ll only need about a hundred quid.”
There was suddenly an air of relief in the kitchen. Jakes Mum gave him a cuddle.
“That’s lovely Jake, you deserve a few days somewhere nice and hot. You and Stevie have a great time. What about a passport?”
“Picking up the form today from the Post Office, getting my photos done and sending off tonight.”
Jakes Dad gave his son a wink.
“Looks like you’ve got it all worked out son, good for you.”
Jake left them smiling and happy. Now he had work to do. He had to see Uncle Tom about the apartment but he had to make a detour on the way. There was a favour he’d promised someone which would involve collecting a tidy sum of money…

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 19 )

Jake. pic

Jake got to the pub fifteen minutes late. Stevie was there and halfway through his pint. There was another full one in front of him. He pushed it towards Jake. Stevie had a huge smile on his face. Jake looked at him and just had to ask.
“You got a feather in your pants or something. Why the soppy grin?”
Stevie’s grin suddenly turned into a full blown laugh.
“Just thinking really. It’s over ten years since you and me had a beer together and here we are back in the same pub, drinking the same lager, sitting in the same seats. And you’re still fifteen fucking minutes late!”
Even Jake had to laugh at that. Stevie was anxious to know how Jake’s first day had been.
“So where you been then, on day one?”
“Well, I fancied having a bit of a ride somewhere, so went to buy a travel card, ended up buying a piece of plastic called an Oyster card. Bloody marvellous thing, took me everywhere.”
Once again Stevie laughed.
“Good for you Jake, where did you go then, on this bit of plastic?”
Jake hesitated for a moment.
“Oh, just here and there, anyway enough about me how’s the baby?”
Stevie noticed that Jake was trying to change the subject and went along with it.
“He’s great mate, a perfect little man, Steph’s booking the christening this week, don’t forget you’re going to be godfather. No excuses.”
Jake raised his glass and Stevie did the same.
“Okay mate, I’m in, you’ll have to tell me what to do and say, cos I haven’t got a bloody Scooby Doo.”
“Don’t worry about that Jake. We’ll have lots of rehearsals, and of course the best place for those is right here in the pub.”
Jake stood up and was going to get another round in. Stevie stopped him.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“Get the beers in.”
“No way, you’ve just come out and I’m working. So until you get a job and start earning some dosh I’m getting the beers, no arguments.”
Before Jake could say a word, Stevie pushed him back in his seat and was on his way to the bar. A few minutes later he returned with two beers and two small glasses containing a clear liquid.
“Cheers mate, what’s with the tiny glasses?”
“They’re shots Jake.”
“What’s that then?”
Stevie smiled.
“Fuck me, you have been away a long time haven’t you, well back in the day we would have called them chasers or shorts. Nowadays everyone calls them shots. You drink them down in one and then you have your beer.”
“Really? Chasers were what sad old men had before I went away. What’s in the little glasses?”
“Sambuca!”
“Fuck off, that’s an old ladies drink.”
“Straight up, it’s Sambuca. Everyone drinks it. Even the young birds. They do it in all kinds of flavours. Go on then. Neck it.”
Jake picked up the glass and downed it in one. So did Stevie. Jake pulled a face in disgust.
“Fuck me, I need a beer after that just to take the taste away.”
They talked about the baby for the next ten minutes. Then Stevie sat back in his chair took a deep breath and leaned across the table and looked Jake straight in the eyes.
“Look Jake, were mates yeh?”
Jake nodded.
“I need to ask you about that night, you know, when you got shot, we’ve never really talked about it have we?”
“Nope, never have.”
“Well, firstly let me say sorry for telling the old bill about the drugs. But at the time it seemed like the only explanation. You’d been all weird for weeks, and me and the other lads thought you might be on the gear. That’s the only reason I said it to the police Jake, I thought it might actually help you. I really am sorry mate.”
Jake shrugged his shoulders.
“Forget it Stevie, it was a long time ago and I would probably have thought the same thing if the tables were turned.”
“Cheers mate, so can you tell me, you know, what really happened?”
“I stand by the story that I told the old bill ten years ago. I was blackmailed into killing the Russian by three big guys I had never met before, they threatened to cripple my Dad and disfigure my Mum, that’s it Stevie in a nutshell”
“But how Jake, where, why you? It just seems mad.”
Jake took a large mouthful of his beer then leaned forward.
“They chose me because they knew I worked at Millers. They used to meet me in one of the old disused railway arches, they gave me a gun and told me to shoot the Russian at an exact time. They were very clear, if I didn’t do it they would hurt Mum and Dad. What else could I do?”
“Why didn’t you tell the old bill? Or tell me and I’d have gone to the old bill.”
“They were watching me night and day. They were watching the house, they even followed Mum and Dad to the supermarket. I know it all sounds far-fetched but it’s the truth Stevie. If it was something else I’d tell you.”
“Fucking hell Jake, it’s just so weird.”
“Look Stevie as far as I’m concerned it’s over. I shot the Russian, went to prison, done my time and now I’ve got to get my life back in order.”
There was a brief silence before Jake added.
“Okay we’ve had the discussion and now let’s forget it.”
“Sure, sure, Jake, I just wanted to get it out in the open, we’ve done that and I totally believe you. Won’t bring it up again.”
Stevie went up to the bar and returned with two more pints.
“Fuck me Stevie. I’ll be pissed at this rate.”
“No harm in that Jake. We’re celebrating your freedom.”
Jake interrupted.
“Talking of freedom. I want to ask you a favour.”
“Ok Jake, If I can I will, what do you need?”
“You!”
“Sorry mate, not quite sure I understand”
“I need you for a few days, not now, but in a few weeks’ time”
“Sorry mate still not with you.”
“Spain Stevie, I want to get some sun for a few days, but don’t want to go on my own, fancy coming to Spain with me?”
Stevie’s face lit up.
“Love to Jake, I’d have to clear it with Steph first of course. But if I told her it was to keep you company I’m sure she’d be fine. Why Spain?”
“Uncle Tom’s got an apartment out there. Somewhere between Malaga and Marbella, all we need to do is get our flights. Oh and of course I need a passport!”
“But what about your probation officer. Are you allowed to leave the country?”
“Yep, checked it out. All I need to do is tell them where I’m going, how long for and who with.”
“Jake, I’m there mate, can’t wait.”
Jake smiled, everything was going according to plan.

The Men In The Shadows ( Part 18 )

Jake. pic

He thanked Geoff for his time and made his way back to Bermondsey station. It was just after 3pm.
He wondered whether he had enough time to go to Barking Rugby club and still get back for Stevie in the pub at six. Fuck it, why not, in for a penny in for a pound, as his old Dad would say.
He had no idea where Barking Rugby club was. But it was simple enough to get to Barking by train and then he’d get a cab. It couldn’t be too far away from the railway station.
He got the Jubilee line back to West Ham and then got the District Line. He arrived in Barking at 3.30pm. Outside the station was a taxi rank. Jake opened the door of one of the taxis.
“Can you take me to Barking Rugby Club?”
“Sure guv. Jump in.”
Jake sat down and thought he’d better find out how much it was going to cost.
“Sorry mate, is it far and how much will it be. Roughly?”
“Well it used to be in Barking years ago but it’s on the borders of Dagenham now. Be there in about ten minutes and shouldn’t be more than eight quid.”
“Cheers mate.”
The cab pulled off of the rank and within a few minutes was travelling along the A13 towards Dagenham. A couple of miles later it pulled into a large car park. The fare came to seven pounds eighty. Jake gave the cabbie a tenner and asked him how much would it cost for him to wait for an hour.
“Score should do it mate, I’ll wait here and have a nap, you come out when you’re ready.”
Jake gave him another twenty quid and went into the main entrance of the Rugby Club. He followed the signs up the stairs to the bar.
He opened a door into a small bar area with no more than four people in it. The walls of the bar were covered with old photographs of the clubs teams through the years. He went up to the bar, a small but very stocky man in his sixties smiled at him from behind the counter.
“What can I get you?”
“Stella please.”
Jake thought he’d better ask about membership.
“Do I need to be a member or something?”
“No mate, grateful for any custom these days, do you play?”
“Not much, school stuff years ago, my Dad was a good player though, played for East Ham.”
Jake wasn’t lying. His Dad was quite a good player and did play for East ham once but that was over thirty years ago. The barman gave him his pint and Jake paid.
Jake had his story ready.
“Actually that’s the reason I’m here, Dad’s sixty in a few months and I’m trying to surprise him by getting some of his old mates back for a bit of a reunion. One of them played for Barking.”
The barman was interested.
“Oh yeh, who was that?”
“Lenny Taylor.”
The barmen laughed.
“Fuck me, long time since I’ve thought about Lenny Taylor. Good player he was, hard as nails, sometimes a bit too hard if you know what I mean. There’s a photo of him in the team of 1981 over there.”
The barmen pointed to an old framed photo just behind where Jake was standing.
Jake went over to have a closer look. There he was, fucking Squashed Nose. Even back then he was thin on top, but no mistaking the face, definitely Squashed Nose.
“Yeh that’s him, dad played against him many times. They became good mates but lost touch, don’t know where I can get in touch with him do you?”
The barman thought hard and scratched his chin.
“Last time I saw Lenny was about ten year ago, came in here right out of the blue with another couple of guys, big flash motor, said he was in the removal business, had a couple then left, someone said he’d gone to Spain.”
An old boy in his seventies was sitting at the corner of the bar. He’d heard the conversation and was eager to comment.
“He’s in Marbella. Georgie Warren went out to see him a couple of years back said he’s got a lovely place out there.”
The barman nodded.
“Oh yeh, that’s right. Georgie was a good mate of his, sadly died last year, great player was Georgie.”
Jake decided to take a gamble.
“When he came in, all those years ago in the flash motor, did you know the other guys with him?”
“Only one of them. The other guy was a big fucker he was. Very quiet, didn’t say a lot, kept himself to himself.”
“The guy that you knew, what was his name?”
“It was Paul Barrett, he played with Lenny for years, good tight head prop as well, then got into Kung Fu and all that bollocks, had a gym behind the Old Bull pub in Barking for a few years, he’s also in the photo.”
Jake stared at the photo, fucking hell, there he was, two to the left of Lenny Taylor. It was the Karate Kid. Baby faced but it was definitely him.”
“Do you know where Paul is now? Maybe he could give me a contact number for Lenny.”
“No, that was the last time I saw him. Years ago.”
The old boy piped up again.
“You should speak to Georgies wife Deniece. She should be able to get in touch with Lenny and Paul.”
Jake was excited but didn’t want to show it.
“That would be great, is she local?”
“Lives in Goresbrook Road. Number 28. Just round the corner.”
Jake finished his pint and thanked them both. He was about to leave but decided to chance his arm one last time.
“Look I know it’s a bit of a cheek but any chance of a copy of that photo. My old man would love it.”
The barmen thought about it.
“Tell you what, you put a fiver in the poor box on the counter and I’ll take a copy for you.”
Jakes hand flew into his pocket and pulled out a fiver. He placed it in the box for the blind on the bar.
The barmen took the photo off of the wall and went into a small office behind the bar. He photocopied it and gave it to Jake.
Jake thanked him, walked down the stairs and out into the fresh air. He walked over to the cabbie who was fast asleep, he knocked on the window.
“Back to the station please mate.”
Jake was having his best day in ten long years. He had identified not just one but two of the three amigos. Just the quiet man remained. He also had an address of someone who could possibly lead him to Lenny and Paul and now he was on his way to have a couple of pints with Stevie. The perfect ending to a perfect day.