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.

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