Authors: Bill Carson
Once on the other side, the torch light exposed some old wooden beer crates stacked in one corner, and in another corner sat a dusty round table with six rickety wooden chairs surrounding it. Over to her left against the wall was a makeshift bar, which was constructed out of two huge wooden beer barrels and some boards. She carefully stepped behind it and as the beam lit up the dark corner, she discovered a strongbox which at first glance looked not unlike a pirate chest. It was quite big and covered in a thick coating of fifty years of dust. On closer examination appeared to have no lock attached to it.
Anna plucked up the necessary courage to lift the lid, but convinced herself that a huge blood sucking rat with razor sharp teeth, or something equally horrible and hairy, would be waiting to leap out at her throat as soon as she opened it. She set the torch carefully down on to the bar, trying not to make a sound, and positioned it so the beam was now aimed in the direction of the box. She then used the blade of the shovel to lift the lid, and it opened with a prolonged creak. She quickly jumped back in fright and the lid hit the wall behind with a resounding thud.
There was nothing: no sounds of scurrying rats or fluttering bats so she tentatively directed the shaky beam of light into the open box. Her eyes grew wide in amazement, and her mouth opened with shock as the contents of the old mysterious black chest were revealed through the fine dust particles illuminated by the torch.
Harold Harper decided that it was time that he checked in with his employer in order to offer up a progress report, and so a meeting was set up via the usual channels at Jimmy’s hotel stronghold at midnight, with all the customary precursors in place, of course. Harold arrived promptly, but this time he made sure that no one saw him arrive. He suddenly appeared in the doorway.
“Good evening, Harold, come in and warm yourself by the fire, my old friend,” Jimmy said, in a friendly tone, which was false as he was surprised by this unannounced appearance. Jimmy didn’t like surprises.
“Thank you, Mr Costa,” Harold said, as he stood in front of the huge log fire which lit the dim banqueting hall.
“Now, what was it you wanted to tell me? Something about a progress report, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, I thought it was appropriate at this juncture for me to tell you what I’ve gathered so far, and also to give you my thoughts on the whole affair.”
“Do tell, Harold, I’m all ears.”
“I am now as certain as I can be that the attack on your brother was not some kind of take-over bid from a rival.”
“Oh? Really? I’m not going to lie but I am somewhat relieved by what you’ve just said, and now also very intrigued, Harold.”
“I think you may as well call off the search party, as I think I may have found the man who killed your brother.”
“That’s brilliant, Harold, who is it? And where is he?” Jimmy said, in genuine surprise, and as he slowly leant forward the orange glow from the flames of the log fire flickered across his face. It was as if some foul demon had suddenly emerged out of the darkness.
“I believe the fellow we are looking for is a man called John Kane.”
“That is outstanding, Harold, it’s a truly, fucking outstanding piece of work and no error.”
“Ah, but the tricky bit is in finding the man. I have his name and I have his last location and I’m led to believe that there is a good chance he’s in the London area. However, he is probably travelling under an alias, so you can see the difficulty in tracking him down. The other part of the story is that I believe the motive for the murder was the protection of a loved one and so it looks as if it was all just a simple matter of revenge.”
“Revenge, I’ll give him revenge! He’ll know the meaning of the fucking word revenge when I get my hands on him, Harold, I promise you that,” Costa growled as he rose out of the chair.
“Yes, quite, and as for the money that was stolen, I believe that it may have been purely down to an opportunist thief. I have thought long and hard over this and I have narrowed it down. Every time I examine the facts I get the same result, and it all seems to point to one man – a detective inspector who suddenly left the force and fled the country, directly after the night of the murder of your dear brother.”
“OK, Harold, you name him and I’ll fucking nail him,” Jimmy said, as he chomped down on his fat Cuban cigar.
“The man that we need to be searching for is an ex-detective inspector from the Metropolitan Police murder squad, and his name is Nick Harland. He is a very resourceful man, so my informant from the police force tells me.”
“Just how good is this grass of yours, Harold?”
“The best, Mr Costa, I’ve have had many years of close contact with him, and he has always come up with the goods, so to speak.”
“And may I ask why this policeman is so loyal to you, Harold?”
“Oh come now, Mr Costa, you are asking me to inform on my informant. That’s not ethical.”
“OK, Harold, I respect that. Let me get this straight, we have this John Kane fella, who you reckon killed my brother and all of his crew out of some sort of revenge? Who is he? Fucking Rambo? And then you say that this Nick Harland, the tealeaf detective, arrives on the scene and then does a runner with all the cash? And you say that the two were working separately and completely unknown to each other? And you’re sure that none of this had anything to do with me, and was definitely not some little firm trying to muscle in?”
“It certainly appears to be that way; they were brought together at different times by the same circumstances.”
Costa had now begun to briskly pace up and down behind his desk, the firelight glinting against his diamond-encrusted gold Rolex, and the red embers from the end of his fat cigar glowing as he waved his hands around in excitement.
“That’s all I needed to know, Harold. I’ll get the whole corporation on to it right away. We’ll search high and low in every cheap dive, every knocking shop and boozer from
to sunny Scotland. We’ll turn them all over good and proper, and God help them when we find them.”
“Ah, but you see my assignment is not over yet, Mr Costa. Are you forgetting that our agreement was that full payment would be made when I deliver them both to you, and then and only then will the contract be fulfilled. As you know if I’m paid to do a job, I always see it through to the bitter end.”
“OK, Harold, whatever you say, our deal still stands. I am a man of my word, you know that, so don’t worry, you’ll get everything that’s coming to you. I promise I’ll personally make sure of that, hand on heart.”
“If you have nothing else to say, then I think that concludes the meeting, Mr Costa, and I’ll be back for the balance of payment when I’ve found them. Please have my money ready when you get the call,” Harold said.
He slowly stood up and moved the chair to one side, and then backed away from Costa like some old-style gunfighter in a saloon, his hand hovering and ready to reach for a fast draw showdown.
“Right you are, Harold, be lucky now,” Jimmy said.
Harold continued to back out of the room while keeping his unblinking eyes trained on Costa. The soft incandescent flickering light from the huge crackling log fire illuminated the thick grey cigar smoke from Jimmy’s Cuban, which snaked and curled into peculiar ghostlike forms as Harold’s movement shifted the warm air around. Harold rightly didn’t trust Jimmy, especially now that he’d divulged the two names to him, but as ever he had prepared for all eventualities and slinked out through a fire exit unseen. Outside, the huge disk of a full moon gleamed like a brand new silver dollar, its glow casting an intricate network of strange matrix-like shadows from the branches of the bare trees that ringed the wide driveway. Harold moved quickly amongst the natural camouflage, zigzagging as he went, and then one moment he was there and the next, he’d completely merged with the darkness.
“He’s gone, guv,” said the goon on the roof into his two-way radio.
“Gone, good. That’ll save me a few quid, now come down and get yourself a drink, my son.”
“Sorry guv, I meant he’s gone as in disappeared. He came out of another door and by the time I’d swung the rifle around, he’d vanished.”
“You stupid great lump. Listen, and this is very important, did he see you?”
“No definitely not, guv, he had his back to me.”
“You’re fucking useless, what are
“Fucking useless, guv,” said the goon on the roof.
John Kane’s old white Transit came to a halt beneath the empty canopy of a huge horse chestnut tree, at roughly fifty yards beyond Judge William Morris Denton’s abode. He sat in the cab and checked his watch for the tenth time in ten minutes, and then the sight he had been waiting for slowly filled the door mirror of the van: a Mercedes saloon came a to halt outside the Heart of Oak.
The bodyguard hopped out first and quickly opened the rear door for the old judge.
“Bang on time,” John said to himself, as watched the judge emerge from the back of the sleek silver saloon.
John immediately started the van and swung it around to face the other direction. As the Mercedes pulled away into the distance, he slowly rolled the van toward the house.
As the judge drew his door keys from his pocket, John was out of the van and up behind him in a flash. In one movement he struck him across the back of the neck with a heavy accurate blow with a chunky length of lead pipe that he’d found in his backyard. The lead had absorbed part of the shock of the blow, and had curved into a crescent on impact. Because of its pliable composition it would cause no contusions, bleeding or fractures. It was just the sheer weight of the thing, and the brute force of the blow, that would perfectly deliver the necessary transference of blunt force trauma into the judge’s brain which had shaken like a jelly.
John left him where he fell, and quickly reversed the van onto the driveway. He then bundled the dead weight into the back of the van, where he secured the judge’s hands, feet and mouth with gaffer tape. He sat still for a moment and listened intently as a car drove past, and then quickly tied the judge’s wrists to the interior of the van. He then calmly jumped out and closed the back doors before driving sedately out of the driveway.
Just under an hour later John was trundling along All Saints Road. He rounded the corner and bumped the van up onto the pavement, manoeuvring it as close as he could to the back gate. He then jumped into the back of the van and quickly untied the judge’s wrists, and rolled his semi-conscious prisoner onto a dirty old carpet that he’d stripped from the living room floor and wrapped him up tight. Once he’d secured the bundle, he checked the street before moving him, and then swiftly dragged the heavy load into the yard. He kicked the gate shut behind him and then laid the carpet on the cold damp ground while he unlocked the back door.
He squatted down before hoisting the bundle onto his shoulder in a fireman’s lift. He went through the kitchen and, without stopping and with legs pumping, he carried it upstairs into the back room where he dropped the judge into the middle of the floor. He then stepped back, took hold of the edge of the carpet, and violently unrolled his prisoner out of it and into his cell. He left him bound and gagged until morning.
He tightly rolled the old threadbare carpet up once more and left it on the landing. Back downstairs he checked the road outside through the net curtain, and then did the same at the kitchen window where he could just see the roof of the van over the fence. He stayed still and controlled his breathing, and allowed the adrenaline burst to dissipate. He tuned his ears into the sounds around him, and above the hum of the busy traffic he could hear the high-spirited, muffled voices and boisterous laughter from the regulars who sat outside the rough old pub on the corner. No one had seen him, and no one had heard him. As he sat at the horrible little table, he thought about the next stage of his plan. Tomorrow I will shake them from their ivory towers and I will rock the very foundations of this rotten institution to the core.
John was up early next morning. He had hardly slept, and even though he was immensely tired, he still went through a series of rigorous, punishing exercises. Once finished he had a quick shower and then sat at the kitchen table clutching a hot cup of black coffee to his chest. He leaned back and balanced on the two thin legs of the tubular kitchen chair and rocked slowly back and forth, staring at the ceiling, as Elgar’s melancholic cello concerto crept around the house like some despondent ghostly presence. As the last chords faded, he jogged up the single staircase and switched the light on in the cell. Through the small peephole he could see the cruel, black beady eyes of the judge, as he flinched from the blinding light.
He turned his head toward the floor to try and avoid the light as John entered the room. John said nothing at first, and just stood over him. Then he quickly ripped the strip of tape from his mouth and studied his prey for a moment before speaking.
“Well, we’re not so high and mighty now, are we, my learned friend? Where’s all that power got you now? How’s it feel to be on the receiving end for a change? It’s a real bastard, isn’t it? It gives you an idea of how my poor Lynda felt, the day you ruined her life, doesn’t it? You took away her hope, her dignity, and her future and subsequently her life.” John dug a swift, hard toe punt into the old boy’s guts as he spoke. “I bet you don’t even remember, do you?” John said angrily.
The judge began to mumble. “I remember,” he croaked.
“Oh, so it does speak after all. You sent her down for five years on a manslaughter charge when she should have been given a medal after all the years of torment and suffering she endured. The case was clearly self-defence and everyone except you knew it, you blind vicious bastard. Now you’re going to know what it feels like, and I’m going to make you pay for what you did to Lynda.”
“It was the jury’s verdict,” the judge said.
John ignored him. “William Morris Denton of Hampstead, London, you have been found guilty of numerous crimes against humanity. Do you have anything to say before I pronounce sentence?”
“Yes, I bloody well do. This is preposterous and you’ll never get away with it. Give it up now while you still can. They’ll be looking all over the country for me and they’ll never, ever stop. Attacking me is like attacking the state. When they find you they will throw away the key, and for the rest of your dreary dismal little existence, you’ll be spending every waking hour like a cabbage viewing the outside world through the barred window of a mental asylum.”
John knelt beside him and looked him square in the eye. “Don’t you worry about me, you’re the one who needs to be worrying, my friend. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve killed? One more won’t make the slightest bit of difference to me, and that should give you something to ponder on. See you in the morning, lights out!” John shouted, as he slapped a fresh strip of tape across the judge’s mouth.
John secured the door with the huge padlock and made sure the judge could hear the key and the snap of the steel hasp as the door was padlocked shut. He then plunged the room into total darkness. He wanted the judge to suffer every terrible aspect of total captivity and the loss of identity; what it was like for your mind, body and soul to be under total control. The effect of the ensuing deterioration of the will to live would soon have him at the precipice of despondency.
As John reached the bottom of the stairs, he stood for a moment and strained his ear for any possible noises coming from the room above, but there was nothing. He switched the small radio on and tuned it to Radio Four.
“Phase three will now begin,” John said to himself, as he slipped on his coat and fastened the shoulder straps of the heavy rucksack around his chest.
He quietly opened the front door and stepped out into the bright, fresh morning, and took in a deep lungful of petrol-tainted air as the early morning traffic started to buzz around, signalling another relentless cycle of drudgery for the masses. He locked the front door and waited on the step for a moment and pretended to adjust his rucksack as he listened. All he could hear was the dull politicians on the radio droning on and on with their usual rehearsed rhetoric.
“You’ll all have something to really talk about tomorrow,” he said quietly.
He arrived at work the same as usual, exactly ten minutes early, and went about his duties perfectly normally. As usual he was courteous to all he encountered.
At around nine thirty that morning, there was suddenly a little bit of a flap on, as someone had said that one of the judges had not arrived. He was due to begin proceedings at a major trial at ten o’clock.
They’ll have a bloody long wait, thought John, as he glanced at his wristwatch.
On the stroke of six o’clock, the rest of the kitchen staff all shuffled off home for the evening after their long day in the sweat box of a kitchen. John was the last to leave as it was his night to lock up. He quickly popped his head out of the doorway and checked the long, dim, echoing corridor both ways, and then took the rucksack from his locker and placed it next to the large stainless steel oven. He unzipped the flap, which revealed the three incendiary devices inside. These were rather sophisticated in their construction, and nothing like the primitive contraption that he’d used to start the fire at Vamps night club. He’d moved on considerably since then, and had meticulously studied the books that he’d obtained on urban warfare techniques. He’d now graduated with honours within these dark arts. These new devices were highly reliable and had been constructed to be ignited by timers and would burn with a prolonged intensity. Three devices was slightly overdoing things, and he could probably have got away with one, but he just wanted to make absolutely sure as this was going to be a one shot deal.
He quickly stripped a sheet of cling-film sandwich wrap from the dispenser on the wall, and grabbed a stool. He covered the smoke detectors on the ceiling with the thin polythene material,
thus sealing the alarm off from any gas fumes which would trigger the fire alarm system.
He was now moving at speed, as he was fully aware that he may be discovered at any moment. He quickly set the small digital timer on each of his incendiaries to explode at midnight. And once all of them had been primed and placed strategically around the kitchen, he carefully unscrewed the cap on a small bottle of
acid that he’d taken from the engineering factory. He very precisely squeezed out a number of small, almost jelly-like globules onto the joint of the gas inlet pipe with the pipette that was inside the bottle.
He then gently replaced the cap and slotted the bottle back into its tight fitting pouch in the rucksack. The large battery-operated plastic clock on the wall was then removed, and he unclipped the protective cover from the clock face. He laid the clock on the edge of the kitchen worktop, directly above the gas pipe. He removed the second hand and closed one eye as he aligned the clock into the right position while precisely placing a small plastic bottle of water onto the edge of numeral twelve. He then set the minute hand to the number one. As the minute hand swept itself around the dial it would eventually reach twelve, and therefore make contact with the precariously balanced small bottle of water.
The bottle would topple over and the water droplets would travel down the pipework and agitate the acid which, once in contact with water, has a violent reaction. Even a single drop would cause the acid to burn at a tremendously high intensity. The powerful acid would eventually eat its way into the seal of the joint on the copper gas pipe. This would cause a slow, steady gas leak, and the build-up of gas, once ignited, would facilitate a huge and devastating explosion.
Before leaving, he stood with his back to the doors and scanned the room, checking that all of the pyrotechnic devices were placed out of the eye line of any inquisitive security guard who may decide to take a peek through the window. He switched out the lights and slowly closed the door, making sure it had not caused a draught, and then turned the key in the substantial lock.
He secured his rucksack to his back, and casually approached the security guard in the small office by the rear door in the next part of the building. He handed in the key and then signed the register as usual.
“No date tonight then, Terry?” the silly old sod in the uniform quipped.
“No, not tonight, see you tomorrow,” he said, as he disappeared into the crowd.
John had primed all of the timers on the incendiary devices to detonate at midnight, as at that time the east side of the building would be completely empty, except for the two security guards on the night shift who would be at the other end of the building at that time. He had managed to obtain one of their roster sheets one evening while he was handing back the keys to the kitchen, which showed all of the times of their night patrols. The kitchens were situated in the basement of the east wing, and the columns which supported that side of the structure were to be the target. The whole weight of one side of the impressive building was resting upon them, and so if these were to be suddenly removed, the edifice would collapse in on itself like a house of cards.
The day of reckoning for the judge had finally arrived, and it was now time to prepare him for his final journey. John quickly removed the padlock and switched the light on and strolled into the centre of the room. The judge was immobile and stayed curled up in a pathetic little ball in the corner.