Authors: Bill Carson
While all the commotion was going on in the nearby street, John Kane and the judge were gently gliding down the Serpentine in a small rowing boat that John had stolen from the wharf a little further upriver.
The gentle current was sufficient to propel them along at a slow sedate pace. He silently steered the craft by twisting the blade of the oar so that the boat hugged the slimy riverbank wall. As they neared the pleasure boat jetty, he noted the large sign on the gateway which had the times of the tides posted on it. The next low tide
at Kew Bridge would be tonight at 23.41.
After ten minutes the boat came to rest just underneath one of the huge arches of Kew Bridge. Ten feet below the towpath, the small craft was almost invisible as it was as black as hell down there. However, thirty feet above, it was a different story as there was much commotion. The traffic had taken its time to clear after the roadblocks had been lifted, and the bridge was choked with traffic and irate drivers on both sides.
John had just under an hour or so to kill, so he shoved the judge into the bottom of the boat and covered them both with a thick tarpaulin that was rolled up in the bottom of the boat, along with a few other items which included an old Berry pistol flare gun. John picked it up and noted that it had a cartridge in the chamber. He shoved it into his rucksack with the long length of rope.
They lay under cover in complete darkness, listening to the sounds of the traffic and the occasional passing aircraft overhead, and the constant lapping of the slowly ebbing tide against the sturdy brickwork archway of the old bridge. Every now and then there was a strange, inexplicable faint buzzing which sounded like some irate giant mosquito.
John checked the luminous dial on his wristwatch. It was a quarter to eleven.
“It won’t be long now, Judge,” he said quietly as he tapped the judge’s head with the sole of his muddy boot. There wasn’t even the remotest acknowledgement from the judge, and not even a groan of displeasure. He had now resigned himself to the fact that it was all over for him. John had indeed brought him to the precipice of despondency and he was now simply waiting to die.
“Before we proceed to our destination, I’ll need to stop off in Knightsbridge,” Harold Harper, said as they slipped past Hammersmith tube station in Nick’s sleek sports car.
“But Jimmy said we have to go straight back once we’ve got him, Harold.”
“Do not speak to me, do not look in my direction. I will speak to you and you will do what I ask, do you understand, or I’ll
your miserable life right here and now you uncultured, imbecilic oaf.”
“All right, all right, there’s no need to get nasty, I was only saying.”
“Shut it, Bill. Knightsbridge is only up the road from here, so drive,” Johnnie Carter said.
“OK, but there’s no need for that, is there? I mean, I‘m only carrying out the guvnor’s orders,
Harold squeezed the handle of the pistol a little tighter with frustration. He usually worked alone and detested every moment of having to converse with such low
. It was a first for him and, as soon as he was paid, this would be his last job for Costa.
“Knightsbridge coming up, Harold, where do you want us to stop?” Johnnie said, as they went past the Victoria and Albert Museum.
“I’ll let you know when to stop. Keep driving, and when I get out, keep a gun on this fellow. I don’t like him as he looks like an untrustworthy sort,” he said as he stared at Nick.
“OK, will do, Harold, you don’t have to worry about that. Killing a
will be a fucking pleasure,” Billy said.
,” Nick said, which earned him a sharp smack across the bridge of the nose with the butt of Harold’s pistol.
“Be quiet and pull the car over just here. I will be no more than fifteen minutes,” Harold said as he nimbly slipped out of the car.
“Where’s he off to? He’s a bit weird,
he? I mean, with that little hat and raincoat, and do you know I haven’t seen his face. He’s got the peak of that cap pulled down so far I can’t make him out. It’s all a bit strange
“He’s a proper fucking
, Bill, and quick with that pistol. He’s killed more people than cancer, so I’d just keep
if I was you and concentrate on the driving,” Johnnie said.
“Nutter is right, he’s liable to kill the lot of us,” Nick said.
, you’ve been told once, so shut it. This job is giving me the arse ache. Why the fuck did Jimmy put us with him? What’s he need us for?”
“He can’t drive, Bill, that’s why we’re here and Jimmy wants us to keep an eye on him, I suppose. Look, do
a favour and don’t start thinking Bill, just fucking drive the car, and shut the fuck up, all right?”
“Blimey, I can’t even ask a question now. Anyone would think I was thick or something. Nice
, getting insulted every time I open
mouth,” Billy mumbled under his breath.
“Bill, I’m fucking warning you. This bloke is real dangerous, so we’ll humour him until we drop our mate off, and then we’ll disappear and leave them all to it, OK?” Johnnie said
“OK, John, whatever.”
“You two are a couple of fucking comedians,” Nick said.
“You what? You cheeky bastard, you don’t know when to shut up, do you? And you haven’t got a clue who you’re dealing with. Tell him, John, tell him how many people we’ve topped,” Billy said, as he pointed the barrel of the revolver at Nick’s forehead.
“Keep quiet, mate, or I’ll have to drop you right here and now,” Johnnie said as he laid the barrel of his small pistol on the headrest of the front seat. Nick knew by the look in his eye that he meant business and so he kept quiet. For now.
The reason for Harold’s departure was that he’d decided to pay one last visit to his tailor. He was sure he would not be passing this way for some time so a little late night shopping was in order. He was pleased to see that the old boy who ran the place was still there, and was glad as it would save him from damaging such a beautifully made door.
The shop was closed but the owner always stayed late one night a week for a stocktake, and this was one of those nights. Harold waited for a moment and observed the old boy through the window as he sipped his tea. It all looked so cosy, warm and elegant in there with the dim lighting and the Victorian fixtures and décor. Harold gently tapped on the glass door and the old boy recognised him immediately. He opened up and gave him a warm welcome as usual, even though the shop had been closed for nearly two hours. As Harold stepped inside he became calm and relaxed and his usual stone cold emotionless persona seemed to wane.
As the humming chorus from
floated from the old man’s radio, Harold stood absolutely still. Something from his past had crept into his mind and stirred something within him. It was the music that had triggered it; it was his mother’s favourite piece which she would often play to him on those long lost summer evenings when he was a child.
As he listened he became momentarily lost within his melancholic moment, and almost shed a tear of joy. The old proprietor broke the spell and brought him back to reality by asking how he could help him. Harold was soon equipped with three raincoats, two pairs of trousers, five shirts all the same colour and style, and two pairs of brown brogues. He paid for everything in cash and thanked the old gentleman courteously. Harold felt positively rejuvenated as he left the little shop, but it didn’t last long. Three strides from the doorway he pulled down the peak of his cap and immediately reverted back to his evil self.
“Where the fuck is he? He’s been gone for more than half a bloody hour, and we’re liable to get nicked if we hang about here much longer,” Billy grumbled as he checked the rear view mirror.
“Yeah, he’s taking his time, I grant you,” Johnnie said.
“He’s probably done a runner and left you two holding the baby,” Nick said.
Bill quickly spun around and started to swipe at Nick with a heavy cosh. He caught him several times across the arm and face. Nick was trying to get under their skin because when people are on edge, they make mistakes. That was all he needed, just one mistake, one chance to get his hands on that pistol that Billy Brooks was holding and then they’d all be history. Billy took another swipe at him, which thankfully missed.
“Billy, enough, he’s coming back,” Johnnie Carter said, laughing as he said it.
“I’ll fucking kill him,” Billy said.
“Open the boot,” Harold ordered through the driver’s window.
Billy couldn’t find the button to open the boot and became a little flustered.
“I can’t find it, where the fuck is it?” Billy turned toward Nick, who had his middle finger in the air. “Let me do him now, Johnnie, please I’ll take him apart, I don’t care what Jimmy says.”
“Relax, Bill, he’s just trying to wind you up and he won’t be so fucking cocky when he’s sitting in front of Jimmy Costa. Just press the button on the ignition key,” Johnnie said. The boot duly opened and Harold deposited his large carrier bags.
Nick winked at Billy and blew him a kiss as Harold got into the back seat.
“Is everything OK, gentlemen?” Harold detected the tense atmosphere and made a mental note of Nick’s injuries. He then sharply pressed the barrel of the Colt 45 a couple of times into Nick’s ribs. “I hope you have all been behaving yourselves while I’ve been away? Start the car and proceed to our destination, William.”
Start the car and proceed to our destination? Who does he think he is, the
’ Queen or
Bill chuckled at the thought as he engaged first gear and pulled out into Sloane Street, and an hour later they passed the signpost for Essex.
“Is that battery charged yet, Anna?” George asked as he looked at his watch. “It’s been ages.”
“It hasn’t been ages, George, but I think that should be enough,” Anna said, as she emerged from the basement covered in dust and tattered cobwebs.
“What have you been doing down in that basement? Shouldn’t we be on the road by now?”
“I told you, George, we’re not going to go empty handed,” Anna replied, as she dropped the cumbersome zip-up sports bag on the floor. “I’m just going upstairs to get changed, I won’t be a minute.” She slid the heavy black bag across the floor toward George’s feet.
“Bloody Nora,” George exclaimed as he pulled open the zipper. He then looked toward the staircase and then down into the bag once again. His eyes had registered the contents, but his brain had momentarily failed to compute what his eyes were relaying to it.
“That battery’s full now, George. You’ll be driving and I’ll be navigating, OK?” Anna said as she reappeared at the top of the stairs, dressed in a black tight-fitting jumpsuit. “Right, you ready, George?” She pulled up the chunky zipper on her olive green pilot’s jacket and slowly slipped a black beanie hat over her silky crop of blonde hair.
sexy standing there
, thought George, as he picked up the heavy sports bag.
“Right, let’s go and get him back,” George said as Anna locked the office door.
George stowed the bag in the back of the Land Rover and said nothing about its contents. Anna hopped into the passenger seat as he started the diesel engine.
“Right, which way, navigator?”
“Let’s head north-east out of London, George, and put your foot down,” Anna said as she switched on the BlackBerry.
“What’s it doing? Any joy?” George asked after five minutes.
“No, I’ve got jack shit on the screen at the moment. We’re still way out of range, I think. So if we just keep going north-east, I reckon we’ll pick up the signal again when we get out of London.
“What if we don’t pick up the signal?” George said softly.
“George, failure is not an option here, OK?” Anna said coldly.
“You’re dead right and we’ve got to stay positive,” George said a little nervously, as he glanced over his shoulder towards the black bag in the back. He thought about saying something to Anna but thought better of it as she was so tense. He hunched forward, shook his head and sighed as they neared the outskirts of Greater London.