Read Everything to Lose Online

Authors: Gordon Bickerstaff

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Thrillers, #Medical, #Conspiracies

Everything to Lose (22 page)

BOOK: Everything to Lose
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35

 

Southsea
,
Hampshire

 

By early evening Gavin Shawlens had started the next batch of oxandrolone. In another world he would be enjoying himself. Bringing all the ingredients together to produce a complex product was fun. Especially when it works. It's a similar type of satisfaction a chef enjoys when a special dish looks and tastes great. Except Gavin didn't plan to taste his dish.

Gavin
had no idea how pure the ingredients were and didn't care. He knew the final product would have residual methanol and didn't care. The tablets from the first batch looked good and that's all that mattered for now. If the tablets ended up making someone sick then they might think twice next time.

He
didn't worry that one of the inorganic catalysts was carcinogenic and he didn't have the equipment to remove it from the final product. He was content to watch a batch of white powder tumble dry slowly in the drum oven. Tokai would take over and turn two kilos of active oxandrolone into 200,000 tablets worth £1 a pop.

Just
after eight in the evening Lisa got up from her private table in the restaurant. She had enjoyed a sumptuous dinner with fine wine and was in a good mood as she made her way to the factory. She had already been told that Shawlens was busy producing her goods.

The
steroids made her a great deal of money but she knew that growth hormone and the other peptides were high value products with greater profit margins. The opportunity to add this new range was a dream come true. Before dinner she and her accountant brother Sidney projected the profits from the peptides alone to be worth £1.25 million in the first year. Sidney had started work on new pages for their Internet website.

The
only fly in the ointment was Gavin Shawlens. Lisa was not confident that the threat of prison was strong enough. Shawlens was so pivotal to the new peptide business she wanted a stronger hold. She told her brother Jim to track down his family. She wanted additional leverage.

The
whole mood in the factory deadened as it did every evening at this time. Everyone knew the consequences of any failure or displeasure. Living in the dark shadow of Lisa McVickin was the nearest thing to hell that many in the factory had known.

Gavin
Shawlens supervised Tokai as he mixed bulking material with the oxandrolone ready for the tablet-forming machine. With machines making a racket he didn't see or hear Lisa enter the factory. The Manager parted the plastic sheets to allow Lisa inside.

She
walked directly to the large metal tray containing tens of thousands on oxandrolone tablets from the first batch. She picked one tablet and tried to crush it between her fingers. It remained firm. With a big smile she turned to look at Gavin Shawlens.

Gavin
and Tokai took off the respirators they wore to prevent inhalation of dust from the tablet forming machinery. Lisa signalled with her stick that they should follow her outside. The four of them went though the plastic sheets and stood together.

"Dr
Shawlens. I am pleased to see you busy this evening."

"I've
kept my side of the deal."

"We'll
see. Good work Tokai this is excellent," Lisa said holding a tablet between her fingers.

"He
didn't make them, I did," Gavin said.

Lisa's
face grew angry. Her fierce eyes bore down on Tokai. She raised her Banksia ready to strike.

"Is
that RIGHT? You lazy good-for-nothing greasy pig."

She
swung her stick and hit Tokai hard on the top of the shoulder. Tokai was thin so the Banksia hit his shoulder bone and he fell onto his knees. She raised the stick high to strike another blow. Gavin Shawlens moved toward her but the Manager held his arm.

"WAIT
. He's learning the ropes," Gavin said.

"Can
he RUN the process on his own?"

"No."

Gavin Shawlens shook his head. Better to tell the truth in case she called his bluff. She swung the Banksia down and it thumped hard against Tokai's arm.

"I
said YOU were to follow HIS instructions," Lisa shouted at Tokai.

"So
sorry, me so sorry, boss," Tokai whimpered and cowered at her feet.

"He'll
do the next batch on his own," Gavin said.

"If
he doesn't do the next batch then I don't need him. YOU make sure he can do it or you'll replace him permanently."

Lisa
ordered the Manager to bag a sample of the new tablets.

"Give
these to one of the regulars. Free trial."

Lisa
turned her back and walked away, stopped, turned back and pointed the Banksia at Gavin.

"If
I get any come backs on this product. Your balls are on the cutting line and I mean that most sincerely," she threatened.

Gavin
kept a deadpan face although his mind was in a panic. He knew the tablets were rough and ready. He had no idea of their potency or potential to make someone ill. Gavin helped Tokai onto his feet and they went back inside to finish off their work.

When
the mixture was ready Tokai loaded the tablet-forming machine and switched it on. They felt relieved. Tokai started cleaning equipment to be ready for the next batch.

Gavin
sat down on a chair. He was exhausted physically and mentally. Safety equipment was not in good condition and he knew some of the solvents and ingredients had passed into his body. An escalating headache told him as much.

Twenty
minutes later and the Manager rushed back to speak to Gavin. Lisa had dismissed him and called the doorman Big Eric to accompany her inspection of the prostitutes. Big Eric gave Lisa feedback he received from the customers. It was a powerful control Big Eric had over the prostitutes. One wrong word from Big Eric led to a severe beating from Lisa. Suffice to say Big Eric took full advantage of his power.

"Look
you need to get a few things straight. Don't ever make any of us look inadequate or underperforming. The punishment is harsh. Do you understand?" The Manager emphasised.

"Okay.
Right, I didn't think … I've got it now," Gavin apologised.

"She
was in a great mood when I told her you made the bloody pills. Now she's furious. People are getting hurt because of your stupidity."

Gavin
apologised again and the Manager told him some of the punishments Lisa handed out to him and to others who had offended her or failed to complete a job on time. The Manager flipped up the back of his shirt and Gavin saw rows of angry looking welts on his back from a recent beating.

A
sudden piercing scream in the hall made them jump. The Manager moved a plastic strip flap to look across the hall. The prostitutes had gathered at the beds for inspection. Gavin and the Manager saw Lisa standing over the Vietnamese prostitute known as Betty. It was a name Lisa had given her. Eric was standing beside Lisa. Betty had fallen to the floor after a hit on the top of the legs from the Banksia. Lisa stood ready like some hockey player about to whack the puck into the middle of next week.

Lisa
was shouting at her and threatening another heavy swipe. Betty held up her hand to protect herself and Lisa smashed the Banksia hard against her raised hand fracturing Betty's wrist.

During
the inspection Big Eric showed Lisa that Betty had a swollen upper lip and bruise on the side of her face. Big Eric said a customer had punched her on the face because she had displeased the customer. Lisa gave Betty four hard whacks of the cane across her bare legs to make sure she would never again displease a customer. In fact, the man had punched Betty because he was frustrated with his own wife and took his anger out on Betty.

One
of the plastic flaps moved aside and Lexy limped inside. Gavin saw her left foot was wrapped in a blood-soaked paper towel. She pointed to the first aid box on the wall. The Manager kept watch on Lisa as she issued more threats and warnings to the group of prostitutes.

Gavin
fetched the box and laid it on a table. He lifted Lexy up in his arms and sat her on the table. For a second their eyes met. He could have been her father. She could have been his daughter. He was shocked how light and frail she was to lift.

Gavin
gently removed the bloodstained paper towel. He foot was stone cold. She rested her hand on his shoulder as he bent down. He revealed a deep two-inch gash on the side of her foot. He didn't need to ask Lexy what happened.

He
wiped the blood with cotton wool and dabbed iodine solution around the wound. With his thumb he eased back a flap of cut skin. He saw the gash was deep and he saw through the soft tissue to the bone. Lexy gripped his shirt a little tighter but didn't flinch much at the stinging iodine. He looked into her eyes and he was reminded of something Zoe had told him about the dead zone in Martin's eyes.

Her
foot was cold and numb from the cold air conditioning units. The wound needed eight or nine stitches but it was pointless saying. Gavin felt angry with the human race. Lexy stared at Gavin's face with friendly eyes and he felt guilty because he'd made Lisa angry.

As
he applied a large stretch of fabric plaster over her wound he saw other scars and bruises on her legs and feet from previous injuries. She saw the horror grow on his face as he looked at her scars. He stepped back and felt sick inside. She jumped off the table and hurried back to her cannabis plants.

The
Manager said Lisa had walked along a table of cannabis plants feeling the soil in each plant pot until she found one that was not as moist as it should have been. Lisa exploded with a torrent of abuse before she rammed the metal tip of the Banksia cane into Lexy's foot.

The
girl didn't scream with pain and only knew she was hurt when she saw her blood on the floor. She knew she had to clean up the blood and stop the bleeding before Lisa came back.

It
was ten-thirty p.m. when Lisa McVickin left the factory floor. Almost immediately it seemed the whole building let out a sigh of relief. She left Sidney working on the books in the office. Before he left he had a couple of drinks and ten minutes on the settee with his favourite prostitute.

When
the last customer had left the girls, Big Eric closed the reception room and locked the heavy doors leading into the factory. There were no other doors and the only windows were a row of skylights in the roof that were so dirty they let in almost no daylight. The Manager sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. Gavin Shawlens joined him.

"Another
day in the garden of Eden," the Manager said.

"I'm
sorry about Lisa. I didn't want her thinking I wasn't doing my part in case ..."

"We've
all put Lisa in a bad mood and suffered. It's the way she works. When Lisa is angry, she needs to hit someone. Big Eric usually offers one or two of the women as a sacrifice. She feels better after it and he stays in her good books."

"You
don't seem the type for this kind of work," Gavin said.

"What
type is that?"

"A
bully to keep order for Lisa."

"I
don't keep order. They all know what Lisa does if there's any trouble."

"Why
are you locked in with us?"

"Like
everyone else in here I owe money to the McVickins. Believe me they're not people you want to owe money. I won't see daylight until I've paid my dues."

"Does
your family know you're here?"

"They
think I'm dead. That way they don't cause trouble looking for me. The McVickins will leave them alone. That's all I care about."

"It
will be tough for them."

"I
know. I know I've left them in a horrible mess but it's better out there than in here."

"I
know how you feel," Gavin said.

"Do
you know what it's like to lose a family?"

"I
know what it's like to lose someone you love. I know the heartache when you can't be with them."

"I
don't think I'll ever see my wife and daughter again."

"There
must be a way out of here." Gavin said.

"Look,
no-one in here can help you. We all have family they will punish severely for even the slightest hint of escape. Don't put the rest of us at risk by doing something stupid."

"What
Lisa does here is cruel. It has to stop."

"You
need to concentrate of getting Tokai up to speed. For his sake at least. If she thinks he can't make the drugs she'll kill him. He won't be the first to disappear believe me."

"You
sound as though you've given up."

BOOK: Everything to Lose
13.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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