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.

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