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Authors: Robert Muchamore

Brigands M. C. (28 page)

BOOK: Brigands M. C.
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‘Ladies,’ McEwen said firmly. ‘Stop bitching and whining. It’s decision time.’

‘Can I get a tissue or something?’ Julian asked, as he pinched his bloody nose.

‘It’s all down to me really,’ Nigel said, as he looked at Julian. ‘I set it up, he’s just driving me as a favour.’

‘Like I give a shit about you two,’ McEwen said. He tossed Julian a couple of tissues and pulled out a tape recorder. ‘Are you ready to start answering some questions?’

Julian dabbed his nose as Nigel nodded reluctantly. ‘Like we’ve got a choice in the matter,’ he grunted.

‘OK, we’ll take it from the top,’ McEwen said. ‘Speak slowly into the tape recorder. Spell out any difficult names and remember if you tell me any pork pies I’ll be paying you another visit. Who first contacted you asking you to deliver the guns?’

28. RUN
 

Saturday

The run to the Rebel Tea Party in Cambridge was due to leave the Brigands clubhouse at nine. By 8:40 residents who’d paid between one and three million for their Marina View apartments were waking up to bright sunshine and a hundred motorcycle engines.

The beginning of a run was a spectacle. Riders made last-minute checks on oil and tyre pressure, while a few with problems made adjustments in the Leather and Chrome workshop. Girlfriends and kids said goodbye, some waiting to wave the run off, others boarding one of the three coaches packed with luggage, booze and barbecue equipment.

Dante, Lauren and Chloe had driven out to see James off. James was excited, but also a little scared. He’d never ridden a bike over a long distance and he urgently needed to start making connections with older bikers if he was going to be of any use to the mission.

While James wandered off to report to the Brigands road captain and get his place in the running order, Lauren spotted Joe standing in the middle of the Brigands bikes with his parents. The Führer looked like he always did, except his long leather coat had been swapped for a shorter version more suited to riding on a hot day. But Joe’s mum had transformed from her usual Marks and Spencer cardigans into a biker chick. She wore a leather jacket with
Property of South Devon Brigands
on the back, a Lycra top that finished several inches above her flabby stomach, tight fitting jeans and red stiletto heels.

‘You look amazing,’ Lauren gushed.

‘Embarrassing, more like,’ Joe scoffed.

The Führer kissed his wife before giving Joe a friendly swipe around the back of the head. ‘She’s the most beautiful girl in the world.’

Lauren smiled at Marlene. ‘Do you always go on the runs?’

‘Never missed one,’ she grinned, as she gave Joe a huge kiss. ‘Even when I was pregnant with this little yobbo.’

‘Mum,’ Joe complained, frantically wiping lipstick off his cheek. ‘I’m outta here.’

Marlene wagged her finger in Joe’s face. ‘Your brother is in charge and don’t you dare start fighting with him or you’ll be spending the next run at your grandma’s house.’

‘I’ll be good,’ Joe grinned. ‘I’m
always
good.’

‘Yeah, sure,’ Marlene said. She looked at Lauren. ‘You two have a nice time and I’ll see you Sunday night.’

Joe and Lauren walked away from the bikes and headed up to the diner, which had opened early for the bikers and was doing a roaring trade in bacon sandwiches and breakfast muffins.

‘Freeeeeeeedom!’ Joe grinned, as he kissed Lauren’s cheek. ‘This is gonna be the best weekend in history.’

A few metres from the Führer, James was trying to get the attention of a Brigand called Vomit. Vomit was unusually clean-cut for a Brigand, with a shaved head, designer sunglasses and boot-cut Diesel jeans instead of the standard Levis. As South Devon road captain, Vomit’s job was to organise every detail of the chapter’s road trips, from the running order of the bikes, to food, accommodation, coaches and the breakdown truck.

He held a clipboard and looked stressed as James pushed between a couple of leather jackets.

‘Raven, James,’ Vomit said, as he reached down into a canvas bag and pulled out a set of notes, which had all been laminated in case it rained. ‘You’re running dead last with a young Monster Bunch hang-around called Orange Bob.’

James nodded as Vomit handed over the paperwork.

‘On there you’ve got your route map in case you get lost, your entry ticket for the Rebel Tea Party, plus emergency phone numbers for the breakdown truck, for me and for our lawyers. Don’t call any of those numbers unless you
really
need them.’

‘Gotcha,’ James nodded. ‘Thanks.’

Vomit slapped James on the back. ‘Ride safely, have a great weekend.’

Orange Bob was a skinny nineteen-year-old who’d earned his name because of a taste for fake-tanning products. James found him by asking Nigel’s brother Will and they shook hands.

‘Hey partner,’ James grinned.

Vomit began shouting for the riders to start lining up. There was a rash of last-minute kisses and goodbyes before non-riders backed off to the kerb. James found his ER5 and weaved through bikes going in all directions, ending up the very last of one hundred and six bikes lined up side by side.

There was a strict hierarchy, with all the riders going in pairs. The run was led by the Führer and his road captain. Behind them were the other Brigands officers, including Teeth, then the regular full-patch members and then Brigands prospect members.

After the Brigands, there came riders from the Dogs of War and then the Monster Bunch (these two puppet gangs had equal status and a coin was flipped to see who rode first). The final group were riders who didn’t belong to a club. They ranged from long-term Brigand allies like Rhino, to kids like James and even a few wives and girlfriends who were barred from club membership but wanted to ride rather than sit on a coach.

On the stroke of nine Vomit blasted an air horn. The Führer gunned his throttle and pulled out of line. Vomit came next, pulling alongside. Teeth was the first rider in the second row and so on, as the bikes pulled off at two-second intervals.

It would have been easier for the bikes to line up in pairs, but starting a run by blasting out of line was an outlaw biker tradition that required good throttle control and timing. Done properly it was a ballet of engine noise and tyre smoke, but one rider skidding, stalling or otherwise messing up could result in mangled bikes, a broken riding formation and a probable kicking for the rider who screwed up. James’ bottom-of-the-pack status meant that he only had to worry about dropping in alongside Orange Bob. He flipped down his helmet visor and gave Chloe and Dante a quick thumbs-up as the bikes in front pulled off.

James got away fine, but was surprised to find two late-arriving Dogs of War pulling into formation behind him. He’d got used to riding his new bike in traffic, but it was a different skill to stay in formation, with Orange Bob on his left, two bikes less than four metres in front and two more the same distance behind.

After they’d left Salcombe and reached the A38 the bikes sped up until the hedges along the roadside blurred. Even through a helmet the noise was deafening. People stared out of cars coming in the other direction and James felt exhilarated, but at the same time scared by the speed and the knowledge that it would only take a rider braking too hard, or a tyre catching in a pothole to turn the roaring formation into tangled metal.

*

 

McEwen’s interrogation of Nigel and Julian the previous day had revealed many facts. The most important were the identity of a Newcastle-based drug cartel that was taking delivery of the assault rifles and the name of Paul Woodhead, who’d paid Nigel and told him where to collect the weapons.

Woodhead was an inactive South Devon Brigand. He’d retired after a riding accident and moved to a remote cottage near Dartmouth, twenty kilometres north east of Salcombe. He’d been off police radar for more than a decade and his emergence as an element of the Führer’s weapons smuggling operations was a major breakthrough.

This information was useful, but McEwen suspected Nigel wasn’t telling him
everything
he knew. McEwen would have liked to spend more time on the interrogation, but Nigel and Julian had to be released or they’d fail to make their delivery in Bristol and the Brigands would become suspicious.

While the boys were under interrogation, Neil Gauche had fitted listening devices inside their mobile telephones and wallets. Nigel told McEwen that they would meet with Paul Woodhead on Saturday morning to receive their payment for the delivery. McEwen planned to follow them to their rendezvous and listen in, hoping that he might glean information on future deliveries and in particular the huge order made by undercover officer George Khan through the London Brigands.

With his beard gone, his hair cropped and the Brigands out of town Neil Gauche felt reasonably safe parked in a street directly below Marina Heights. The bug in Julian’s wallet picked up a muffled version of the teenager’s morning routine, including pissing, push ups, Crunchy Nut and a polite conversation with his parents about the chamber orchestra they’d seen in Torbay the night before.

When Nigel called on his mobile, Julian said goodbye to his parents and picked up his friend in his Fiat at the bottom of the road out of Marina View. McEwen and Neil were in a small BMW less than a hundred metres away.

‘Dartmouth,’ Nigel said. ‘I’ll navigate. I’ve done it before on my bike.’

‘You see Caitlyn last night?’ Julian asked, sounding quite upbeat as he pulled away.

‘Yeah,’ Nigel said happily. ‘You seemed to be getting on pretty good with that girl in the bar.’

‘Twenty-five years old,’ Julian smiled. ‘Got her phone number. I might call her later and ask her out for a meal or something.’

‘Cool,’ Nigel said.

McEwen pulled away as Julian turned out the end of the street. The tracking device in the Fiat’s wheel arch gave an accurate location signal from anywhere in the country, but they had to keep within one and a half kilometres to pick up the audio from the listening devices.

‘I didn’t sleep,’ Nigel said. ‘That guy McEwen really put the shits up me.’

‘My ribs are black and blue,’ Julian said. ‘My nose is all clogged with dried blood. I weigh seventy kilos and he wasn’t even straining when he slammed me down on that table.’

‘Hard bastard,’ Nigel nodded.

McEwen and Neil smiled at each other. Serious criminals like the Brigands didn’t speak openly in cars, avoided mobile phones and used codes, but Nigel and Julian were just a couple of sixth formers and it hadn’t occurred to either of them that their car or possessions had been bugged when they were pulled in.

‘We’ve always been mates,’ Nigel said. ‘I’m sorry I got you into this.’

‘From now on I’m buying my spliff with cash only,’ Julian said. ‘No debts to repay.’

‘This gun-running shit’s
too
heavy,’ Nigel said. ‘My brother fixed up something else for tonight, but I’m gonna speak to Paul about it. You don’t get MI6 or whoever it was threatening to drop you in the shit when you’re selling weed to a few mates.’

‘So we pick up our money and we’re free and clear,’ Julian said cheerfully. ‘Money in our pockets, no debts and a date with that randy little twenty-five-year-old.’

‘Like old times,’ Nigel said noisily. ‘Sex, weed and parties!’

Neil and McEwen kept a kilometre behind until the Fiat pulled into the grounds of Paul Woodhead’s farm house. Neil had scouted the location the night before and they passed the front gate and pulled on to a track a few hundred metres from the house.

Woodhead came to his door in wellies and jeans. He was a big man, with a knee that buckled with each step. His thinning hair was combed back and matted down with sweat.

‘Another scorcher,’ he said as the door came open. ‘Let’s walk.’

Woodhead was more cautious than his young assistants and rather than inviting them into the house, he took them on a two-hundred-metre walk into an open area with rusting barns on either side. The metal played havoc with the signal from the listening devices, and a generator running inside one of the barns created a background hum.

‘Two hundred each,’ Woodhead said, as he peeled money off a bundle of fifty-pound notes. ‘I hear you were forty minutes late with the delivery. These kind of people don’t like being messed about.’

‘Traffic on the M5,’ Julian said. ‘What can you do?’

‘For two hundred pounds, you can get your shitty arse out of bed,’ Woodhead snapped back. ‘Now, about tonight.’

‘Yeah, about that,’ Nigel interrupted. ‘My brother Will’s out of town and my girl Caitlyn’s parents are out of town, so I’m not gonna be able to make it.’

Woodhead’s voice grew into a reedy shout. ‘We have a consignment tonight, young man. There’s nobody else: the only reason your spotty face got near a job like this is that all my usual people are on the run up to Cambridge.’

‘I’m sorry, Paul. Things just spiralled. I’m not gonna make it.’

McEwen and Neil heard a booming sound, which was Nigel getting rammed against the metal barn.

‘Now you listen to me, you bag of donuts,’ Woodhead shouted. ‘We have a deal. Four hundred pounds apiece for two hours out at sea and some loading and unloading back on shore. And you’re
going
to be there because if you let me down I’m gonna fix it for some Brigands to pay you a visit. And they’ll fix it for you to spend about two months in hospital suffering from agonising pain because every bone in your body got smashed with hammers.’

BOOK: Brigands M. C.
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