The Men In The Shadows ( Part 17 )

Jake. pic

Jake wasn’t disappointed with his Mums breakfast. Two eggs, bacon, sausages and fresh tomatoes, without doubt it was the best thing he’d eaten in almost ten years. He showered, dressed and was out of the house at 11.00am.
His objective today was to find Geoff the mechanic. Pete told him that if he wanted to know anything about South London villains then Geoff was the man to see. But he was no mug and certainly no grass. Jake had worked out a story about why he wanted to track down Squashed Nose.
He got on the Jubilee line at West Ham and headed for Bermondsey.
For East Londoners there was a kind of “aura” about Bermondsey. Maybe it was the West Ham – Millwall thing but it was certainly a place where East Londoners definitely felt uncomfortable. Jake had never been there before even though it was only a few miles away from his house. It was said that all East Londoners would get a nose bleed as soon as they crossed the Thames and entered into South London. Jake knew this was bollocks but checked his nose just in case as the train doors opened onto Bermondsey Station.
The address that Pete had given him was just a ten minute walk from the station. He turned left and entered a narrow, very quiet, one way street. This would lead him into Southwark Park Road and then the garage would be just a few hundred yards away.
He was aware of three lads behind him, a little too close for Jakes liking. He heard a voice behind him.
“Oi mate, borrow your phone?”
Jake turned round. In front of him were three lads, late teens, two black and one white. The one that spoke was the biggest. He was also standing a few inches closer than the other two, obviously the man in charge. The white guy was to his left and was smiling at him, the other black guy was the furthest away and looked nervous. Jake made a quick assumption, the white guy was second in command here and the other black guy wasn’t experienced at this kind of thing and was therefore not quite sure what to do. The bigger lad spoke again.
“Come on mate, give us your phone and we’ll be on our way.”
All those years of practicing with Terry in the cell now came into play.
Jake didn’t speak, he just took a stride forward and thrust out his right arm. He hit the big black guy with the palm of his hand, hard into his sternum. The impact of this forced all the air in the guy’s lungs to leave his body, he tried to breathe in, a natural reaction, but no one can breathe in and out at the same time, he collapsed. As the hand hit, Jakes left elbow caught the white guy hard on the chin, he heard a crack. Jake took a step back. The two of them were on the floor one gasping for breath and the other unconscious, the other black guy had run.
“Welcome to Bermondsey!” thought Jake.
He walked down Southwark Park Road and saw the pub that Pete had mentioned. The Ancient Foresters.
Pete said that Geoff lived and died in that pub. His garage was only two minutes away and the best place to find Geoff at lunchtime was in the pub. Jake checked his watch, it was just before midday.
It was still a bit early for lunch, but there was a café opposite, Jake went in and bought a mug of tea and sat by the window. He took his time drinking his tea. He kept his eye on the pub. About a dozen people went in between midday and twelve thirty, all of them wearing some kind of overalls. Obviously all local workers. Jake left the café, crossed the road and walked into the pub.
The pub was staunch Millwall. Pictures of the team and players everywhere. Jake immediately felt out of place. A West Ham fan in a Millwall pub? Not a great combination. The barman walked over.
“What can I get you guv?”
“Stella please mate.”
The barman pulled Jakes pint and put it down in front of him. Jake gave him a fiver and waited for his change. When he returned, Jake asked the question.
“Is Geoff the mechanic in yet?”
“Yeh, he’s in the other bar mate, want me to give him a shout?”
“No it’s okay. I’ll walk round and see him.”
Jake went through another door and was in a much bigger bar. There were about ten people in there mainly in groups of twos or threes. In the corner tucking into a large sandwich was a big grey haired guy in greasy overalls. Jake walked over.
“Geoff?”
The guy looked up cautiously.
“Might be, who wants to know?”
Jake put down his pint and put his hands up in front of him as though he was surrendering.
“It’s okay, Geoff, I’m a friend of Pete, Pete Drummond!”
Geoff laughed.
“Fuck me, haven’t heard that name for a long time, how is the old bastard, still inside?”
“Yeh, I spent some time with him recently.”
Geoff’s face now took on a friendlier look.
“Sit down son, what you after, some work?”
Jake sat down and took a swig of his pint.
“No, I’m fine Geoff, I’m actually looking for someone, someone Pete thought you might know. This guy helped me once when I was away. I thought I’d look him up and say thanks.”
“What did he do then, this bloke?”
Jake continued with his story.
“There was this screw in Chelmsford who fucking hated me for some reason. Anyway, one day I was alone in the laundry room, the screw comes in and starts giving me a whack with his baton. This guy came out of nowhere and thumped the screw. Saved me from a good hiding.”
“What was his name then, this good Samaritan?”
“Well that’s the thing Geoff, I don’t know, I was moved to another nick the next day so never got to thank him.”
Geoff looked confused.
“So how the fuck can I help?”
“Well Pete thought he might be from around here and said if anyone would know, it was you.”
Jake took out the picture of Squashed Nose from his pocket and gave it to Geoff.
“I’m pretty good at drawing and drew this, it’s a good likeness. Do you know him?”
Geoff looked hard at the picture and then at Jake. He gave him back the drawing. His expression changed.
“Look son, it’s a good story but you and me both know it’s a load of bollocks. That picture is of a man who as far as I know has never been away. He’s also not the kind of man that would do the Good Samaritan bit, if you get my drift.”
“So you do know him then?”
“Look you say you’re a mate of Pete’s, prove it, tell me something about him that convinces me you really have spent time with him, or you can fuck off.”
Jake thought for a few seconds.
“He farts in his sleep!”
Geoff nearly choked on his sandwich. But his face returned to the friendly one again.
“You’re fucking right, he does. I spent some time with him once in Maidstone. He is one smelly cunt!”
They both laughed. Geoff got up and bought another two pints. He returned and sat back in his chair.
“Look son, I don’t want to know the real reason why you want to find this man. But if I was you I’d leave it. He’s not nice. He’ll eat you for breakfast.”
Jake smiled.
“I’ll take my chances. Does he live round here?”
“Used to, years ago, brought up in Raymouth Road just round the corner, but moved away a long time ago. Rumour has it he’s now in Spain somewhere. The rugby club might know.”
“What one?”
“Barking, he played for them for a good few years, good player he was, even played for the veterans for a while when he was older.”
“So Geoff, what’s his name?”
Pete finished his pint and stood up, ready to leave.
“Lenny Taylor. His name is Lenny Taylor and he’s one real nasty bastard!”

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