The Men In The Shadows ( Part 14)

Jake. pic

Jake sat in Uncle Tom’s car in silence. Both unsure of what to say. He’d always liked his Uncle Tom. His dad’s brother was the “Dark sheep” of the family. He was nothing like his dad at all. He had his own painting and decorating firm in Stepney and always seemed to have a few bob on him. He was the only man Jake knew who used a money clip. Jakes mum used to call him a “Wide boy.” He was a couple of years younger than his Dad and Jake hadn’t seen him since he went away.
The car radio was playing a song that Jake liked but had never heard before. It had a lively beat and was called “Happy” by someone called Pharrell Williams. Jake had no idea who the guy was but loved the tune.
He kept thinking about the list in his jacket pocket. He was sure that somehow the list would lead him to the three men that conned him into killing the Russian. The list contained everything he could remember about each of the three amigos, down to the minutest detail. Prison gives you time. Time to go over things in your head, time to recall details that you thought you’d forgotten or didn’t seem relevant back then. Jake had used this time wisely. Every meeting with the three amigos had been played again in his mind a thousand times. He didn’t have much to go on, just the way they looked, dressed and talked.
One of the skills he’d learned in prison was being able to place accents. He could now tell a South London accent from a North or an East, he could tell different dialects as well. When he first went inside, northerners were just northerners. They all sounded the same, but over time he began to distinguish a Yorkshire accent from a Lancashire or Derbyshire one. He hoped his new found skill would help him in tracking down the bad guys.
After driving for half an hour, Tom pulled into a pub car park.
“Come on Jake. Let me buy you a pint.”
“Cheers Uncle Tom, I thought you’d never bloody ask!”
The two of them laughed as they got out of the car and entered the saloon bar of the pub. Tom ordered two pints of Stella and he and Jake took their seats in a quiet corner. Tom waited for Jake to take his first gulps of beer. Jake didn’t disappoint him. He took the beer to his lips and sank half of it in one go.
“First one in ten years?” Tom asked.
“We did manage to get the odd can inside but it was always cheap shit and then you’d probably end up sharing it with two others. So yeh, it’s my first REAL beer in ten years.”
Tom put his hand into the inside of his jacket pocket and pulled out a mobile phone.
“This is for you Jake. It’s not top of the range but it’s good enough. It’s pay as you go and I’ve put fifty quid on it so it should last you for a while. Everyone has to have a phone these days.”
Jake was grateful.
“Cheers Uncle Tom.”
“Enough of the Uncle if you please. You’re making me feel like an old man. Just Tom from now on. Okay?”
Jake smiled.
“Sure Tom.”
Tom reached inside his jacket again and pulled out an envelope. He handed it to Jake.
“Okay, no arguments, you’ll need a bit of cash to get you going, we both know your Mum and Dad aren’t in a position to help, so there’s five hundred quid in there. Take it and pay me back when you can.”
Jake wasn’t sure what to say. It had been a long time since someone had shown him such kindness. He took the envelope and smiled.
“Thanks Tom, I will pay you back, promise”
Jake finished his beer and Tom went up to get another round. When he returned he sat down and looked at Jake in more of a serious way.
“So Jake, what’s your plans?”
Jake shrugged his shoulders.
“Not sure really. I have to report in to my case officer every few days. He said he would try to get me work, not confident of that though, so will try to find something myself. I can’t exactly go back to JD Miller and try for my old job back. Not after shooting their biggest client!”
Tom didn’t want to laugh, but couldn’t help himself. Then Jake started and it ended up with them both roaring with laughter. The ice was finally broken. After a few minutes Tom spoke.
“If it’s any consolation Jake, from what I’ve heard, that Russian was a nasty bastard. He was responsible for all sorts of terrible things back in Russia, so he had it coming. If it wasn’t you it would have been someone else, trust me, no one mourned his death.”
“Thanks Tom, but it still gets to me, you know, how it all happened….”
Tom interrupted him.
“Listen, what’s done is done. We can’t turn the clocks back. You’re still a young man with your life ahead of you. So best to just move on.”
Jake nodded.
“Yeh. You’re right.”
“Look, as far as a job is concerned, if you can’t get anything let me know, as long as you can hold a paint brush you can work for me. It’ll only be £50 a day but that’s what I pay my other non-skilled guys, so no preferential treatment for you, take a few weeks then let me know. And, if you fancy a few days in the sun, I’ve still got the apartment in Spain, we don’t use it as much as we should, so it’s yours anytime.”
Once again Jake wasn’t sure what to say. Tom could see he was getting a bit emotional. He stood up and put his hand on Jakes shoulder.
“It’s okay son. No need to thank me. Now drink up and let’s get you back to east London.”
It took them another hour of driving before Jake started to recognise his surroundings. A lot had changed in ten years, some pubs that had been landmarks back then were now either mini markets of flats. The local cinema was now a “Religious Healing Centre”, he had no idea what that meant. Suddenly they were turning into his street and pulling up outside his house. Tom looked at him.
“Ready Jake?”
Jake was suddenly nervous, what he’d dreamed of for all those years was now finally here.
“Fuck it. Yeh, let’s do it!”

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