The Men In The Shadows ( Part 16 )

Jake. pic

Stevie was true to his word. When Jake went downstairs half an hour later, there was only his Mum and Dad standing in the kitchen. Not much was said. Mum made a cup of tea then they all sat down to watch something called “Strictly Come Dancing.” Jake didn’t know any of the so called celebrities apart from an ex professional footballer, now in his fifties. Jake hadn’t been one to watch TV in Prison. There were always arguments about who could watch what and when. If you wanted a fight the quickest way was to sit down in front of the communal TV and switch it on. Guaranteed within minutes some cocky sod would want to switch it over…
At half past nine he kissed them both goodnight and went up to bed. When he got to the top of the stairs he heard his Dad say quietly, “We’ve just got to give him time love, he’ll be back to normal after a few weeks, but it’s got to be at his pace not ours.”
He couldn’t help thinking how wise his old man was. He did need time. Time to settle back into “normal” life again, but more importantly time to plan his next move. That plan would start tomorrow.
He didn’t sleep well. The first night back in his own bed felt strange. It was just too damn quiet. Yes, he lived in East London so the sound of Police or Ambulance sirens during the night was a given. But it was totally different to the sounds that he was used to in prison. The screws did their rounds through the night every hour. Jake was sure that every one of them must take size fifteen boots because you could hear every step they took. Then there was the snoring. In every prison Jake had been in there were always the snorers. The nights were filled with weird noises. Grunts, moans, coughs, sneezes, even blokes talking away in their sleep. These sounds echoed round the wing like wind in a cathedral. And of course there were the wailers. You could guarantee that someone would want to have a good cry at three in the morning!
It was two o’clock before he finally got to sleep and he was awake at six. Prison routine was ingrained in him, awake at six, doors open at seven, slop out then shower, breakfast at seven thirty, every prison had been the same, routine was an important thing.
He knew Mum and Dad wouldn’t be up till around seven thirty so he had time to make his plans. He took several folded up sheets of A4 paper out of his jacket pocket. He carefully laid them out on his bed.
During his time inside he had written down absolutely everything he could remember about the “Three Amigos”. He picked up one piece of A4 from his bed. Written in blue ink at the top of the page were two words. “Squashed Nose.” This was the guy that had done most of the talking and the one that Jake was most confident of tracking down. There was a list underneath the heading.
Bald, not shaven, naturally bald.
Age, 40 -45.
Accent, London, most probably South and possibly even South East.
Height about 6ft 2inches and weight about eighteen stone.
Muscular, definitely a gym user.
Looks, battered face, nose probably broken a number of times possibly from boxing. But also misshaped ears, so maybe ex rugby player.
No visible tattoos. No wedding ring, but gold ring on little finger of right hand.
Very smart. Hand made suit, not “off the peg”
Jake then picked up another piece of paper and started to laugh. It had been the source of much amusement when he was inside. It was a drawing of a big ugly face. It was Squashed Nose!
When he was in Wandsworth, there was an old guy doing time for fraud. This guy could paint and draw anything, a great gift you might think, but when you start forging oil paintings by some of the greats and selling them as originals, well, you’re gonna get in trouble. That’s exactly what happened to Old George.
Inmates, and screws, would go to Old George and describe their loved ones to him and he would draw them. Mainly it was sketches of their wives or kids. If you gave Old George as much detail as you could remember he would draw them.
Jake went to see Old George one day and asked him to draw him a picture of his “dead older brother”. He described him in painstaking detail. And, Old George didn’t disappoint. The result was a perfect drawing of Squashed Nose!
Everyone laughed when they saw the drawing. Even Old George said it was the ugliest thing he’d ever done. But Jake kept it close at all times, a constant reminder of the reason he was doing his time.
When he was in Chelmsford his cellmate was Pete, a career criminal from Fulham, not the posh part, the tower block part by Worlds End. He once asked Pete if he knew anyone that could get someone “taken care of”. Pete was cagey and wanted to know why. Jake made up a story about some local lads threatening his mum and dad and might need some muscle to frighten them off when he got out. Pete didn’t believe a word of it. He knew Jake was more than capable of sorting it out himself. He’d seen Jake in action and had been on the end of a short right hand himself. He figured Jake had his reasons and gave him the name of a car mechanic called Geoff. Geoff had a garage in Bermondsey, South East London. Geoff was a “face” and if you wanted anything a bit dodgey he was the man to see. Jake wrote down the address. It was at the bottom of Squashed Nose list.
So part one of his plan would start today, he would take the picture down to Bermondsey, track down Geoff and see if he could get any info that might start a trail to Squashed Nose.
There was a knock on Jakes door.
“Just a minute!”
Jake quickly tidied up the sheets of paper and put them in a draw beside his bed.
“Okay, I’m decent now.”
The door opened, it was his Mum holding a cup of tea.
“Morning Jake, thought you might like an early cuppa, sleep okay?”
He lied.
“Thanks Mum, yep like a log”
“Oh that’s good Jake, we were worried you might not sleep well on your first night back, you know, what with all the changes.”
There was an awkward silence as though his Mum thought she’d said the wrong thing. Jake took the tea from her put it down on his bedside table, and gave her a hug.
“You’re the best Mum in the world you are, thanks for everything, without you and Dad I don’t know how I’d have got through all this.”
Jakes Mum held him close and started to cry.
“We’ve missed you Jake, really missed you, but now you’re back, back for good, we’re a family again.”
Jake wiped the tears from her face and gave her a smile.
“Right, let’s see if you can still make me a proper fry up.”

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