Authors: Bill Carson
“Hey, Johnnie what about you? Anything you
say about Pete’s last supper? You two go ways back, so come on, speak up. Ice Man, you’re not usually lost for words, you got a problem with that?” challenged Costa derisively, and gestured toward Pete with the moist hammer head.
Pete and Johnnie were old pals. They’d grown up together and Johnnie’s heart burned with hatred toward Costa for what he’d just done, but he hid his true feelings well. He had no choice but to do so as he knew that he was being goaded and set up into making a move, and if he did he’d be next to get nailed. Billy was still eyeballing him, and Johnnie knew that if he gave Billy the nod he would go straight for Costa’s throat with the steak knife: he wasn’t called ‘potty’ for nothing. But the Ice Man nonchalantly sat back and shook his head, which sent two messages, one to Billy to relax, and one to Costa in answer to his question. Inside, though, he was just itching to reach down for the small Smith and Wesson Derringer pistol strapped to his ankle.
However, he knew it would have been a futile attempt, as at that moment, out from the shadows at the back of the dimly lit hall, the monstrous figure of Costa’s bodyguard presented itself. This was undefeated bare knuckle boxing champion, six-foot-two-inch, twenty-stone, scar-faced Frank ‘Iron Jaw’ McConnell. He ambled toward the table in a slow and deliberate manner, and was like some kind of deranged
automaton as he came to a halt behind Costa. He stood still for a moment and then got everyone’s undivided attention with the swift click-clack of the
on the pump action shotgun, as it loaded a buckshot shell into the chamber.
Costa raised his open hand and stood and glared at them all for a moment, as he waited for the room to quieten. Standing there with the way he was dressed and with the manner of his pose, he really did look the part of the legend that was ‘psycho’ Jimmy Costa.
This illustrious horde of villainous murderers was spellbound and captivated, totally awestruck at the sudden explosion of extraordinary viciousness toward one of their own. Pete had done nothing wrong, and had only served as the sacrificial lamb to the slaughter in order to send a clear message to those doubters out there that Jimmy Costa was still as ruthless as ever, still the boss of bosses, still the absolute guvnor. For the next five minutes, he went into a rant and was thumping the moist club hammer against the oak table top to emphasize each point, his face a deranged twisted mask of pure evil as he spat out his words of venom.
“Find the pieces of shit that killed my brother. I want you to flush them out and bring them back here to me, and I want them alive,” he said, and then sat down and calmly poured himself a glass of Dom
Everyone in the room was momentarily stunned into silence; mouths were agape, eyes were wide and brows were furrowed. They all just sat and looked at one another for answers.
“Well, what are you all fucking waiting for, or do you want me to draw you a picture?” Jimmy roared.
And at that point it was safe to say that dessert had been cancelled and the dinner was over.
“Hey, Billy you and John hang about, I need to have a word,” Costa said, as everyone else shuffled out of the room.
Billy Brooks and Johnnie Carter were silent for the majority of the journey, and Billy broke the silence first.
think then, John? About what Costa done to our Pete, I mean?”
“I don’t like liberty takers, Bill, and never have done, and that was a stone cold fucking liberty if I ever saw one.”
“Do you think Pete had anything to do with turning over Tony’s gaff, then?” Billy said.
“Fuck me, Bill, of course not, he was with me the night that shithole was turned over. He was just being used as a scapegoat and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jimmy never liked Pete anyway. I think he came on to him once and Pete wasn’t having it, and that’s all it was and if Pete wasn’t there, it would have been some other poor bastard tonight. But when I say ‘liberty taker’, I meant about him telling us to get rid of the fucking body.”
At four a.m. the dark blue S-type Jaguar with Pete’s battered body trussed up in the boot purred through Richmond High Street, and headed up the hill toward the river.
“This was one of his favourite spots, wasn’t it, Johnnie?” Billy said, as the fat front tyre of the Jag thudded into the deep kerb and bounced up onto the pavement on the crest of the bridge.
“Get weaving, Bill, we
got all fucking night,” Johnnie said, as Bill hauled Pete’s body from the boot. They had prepared the body for disposal in their usual tried and tested manner, by firstly taking the body back to one of their lock up garages that they had dotted about the capital. Pete’s pathetic carcass was laid out on the floor, his legs were broken and trussed up behind him to shorten the bundle, and he was then bound in chicken wire and three twenty-pound weightlifting disks were secured to his ankles with a thick chain and a sturdy padlock.
This was the disposal method that they preferred; it was nice and clean for one thing and with no mess to clear up afterward. It was also preferable to freezing and then hacking the body into small chunks, and, as it was Pete, that just wasn’t on.
“What’s the delay, Bill? Just fucking sling him over the side will
, before we get fucking nicked,” Johnnie Carter grumbled. As he checked the door mirror he could see that the road behind them was deserted for the moment. “Right, Bill, it’s all clear, do it now!” Johnnie said, as he revved the Jag’s engine.
It wasn’t the first time that they’d deposited something or somebody over the side of this particular bridge, and it probably wouldn’t be the last time, either. However, it was the first time they’d used it to dispose of one of their own crew and, no matter what way they looked at it, it didn’t sit right and was something that was always going to stick in their craw. As Pete’s body hit the swirling water it hardly made a sound, and it was as if even in death he was still honouring the underworld code of silence. The body immediately submerged, and the unforgiving ancient waters enveloped it like a big cold black blanket for all eternity.
“What are we
do about this one, Johnnie?”
The Ice Man thought for a moment before offering a reply. “Well what do
think we should do, Bill?”
, but I do know I don’t like it, he was one of our own, John. It’s not on.”
“I need a fucking drink,” Johnnie said as Bill nodded in agreement, he then hit the accelerator and within seconds the red tail lights of the dark blue Jaguar had merged into the darkness.
And so, with Costa’s message well and truly hammered home, his ‘dogs of war’ were let loose and would now engage all of the middle and lower elements of his federation of fear. An angry hornet’s nest of the most vile, vicious villains had been shaken up and had been rallied for a nation-wide underworld search to find the mastermind behind this treacherous take-over bid. Jimmy wanted revenge, had to have revenge, and would have revenge.
There was only one other thing left for Jimmy to do now, and that was to contact a man called Harold Harper.
In all walks of life you have amateurs and professionals, and you also have individuals who have outrivaled all others at a particular occupation or pastime. Like a chess player or a black belt in the martial art of karate, for example, their skills having been honed through decades of unrelenting dedication to eventually reach the highest levels humanly possible and to become grand masters of their craft.
Harold Harper was such a man, and his particular craft was assassination. To date there was none better in the land. He was at the very top of his game; a top drawer specialist of death, a consummate professional, and the most ruthlessly unrelenting executioner of the modern era.
To describe Harold was difficult, as he was an unassuming character, and yet at the same time there was something distinctly odd and memorable about him. It was more of a feeling that you got rather than the look of the man, because his outward appearance was rather ordinary. He was softly spoken and of average height and had a light physique, but at the same time was strong, quick and nimble. His face was unlined and his skin smooth, and some said that he was of middle age and others believed he was a little older, but the problem was no one had ever got a good enough look at him, so no one really knew.
It was a clever deception and it was no accident that he had acquired this type of secretive mysterious persona. It was a necessary and deliberate methodology, and something that persons employed in this cold, friendless and appalling line of work had to adopt if any longevity were to be attained.
And so Harold had chosen to lead a very cautious existence. He had a double life and no one really knew who he was or where he came from. He could be anybody. He was the kind of person you could pass on the street and you wouldn’t give him a second glance. By day, he could be the friendly postman with the pleasant smile as he bids you good morning, or the humble factory worker just going about his everyday business in an uncomplaining, quiet manner, or the man who sweeps the road outside your house.
Harold was very well suited to his line of work, and after years of killing he had become totally and utterly unfettered by emotion. He did have one or two quirks, and one was the fact that he was always extremely smartly turned out, and when working he would always wear the exact same outfit, of which he had several sets, all neatly hanging in a well-ordered row in his wardrobe. This apparel consisted of a long navy blue raincoat, a pair of navy blue trousers, a crisp white linen shirt, and a pair of brown brogues, all of which were always purchased from the same small tailor’s shop in Jermyn Street in London. The antiquated establishment was perfect for him, as it was devoid of any CCTV cameras, and the frail elderly eloquent man who ran the place was always very discreet. It was a refreshing delight for him to encounter such old world charm. The other reason why he’d also chosen this particular gentleman’s outfitters was simply because he liked the place; the Victorian décor and old ways appealed to him as Harold had adopted a mind-set that was in complete denial of the modern age.
Everything about Harold was clean, his white shirt was pristine and spotless, his dark blue trousers were clean and pressed with a military crease that you could cut your throat on, and his brown brogues were always immaculate. And like his outward appearance, his kills were fastidiously clean. Whenever possible he would make sure the location of the murder was clean and tidy afterwards, and he’d even straighten up the corpses and give the place the once over with a yellow duster which he always carried when working, and subsequently left at the scene. That’s why Jimmy gave him the nickname of Mr Sheen.
There were, however, some peculiar prerequisites when meeting with Mr Sheen, the most important stipulation being that he insisted upon the meeting taking place only after dark and in a room of semi-darkness. It must remain darkened for the duration of the meeting and also must stay that way until his departure from the building. Some years ago, there had been an unfortunate occurrence involving a small French firm in Paris. When this small outfit needed someone removed, they sent for the best in the business; the room was darkened on his arrival as per his instructions, but unfortunately, as they concluded their business, someone had inadvertently switched the lights on. Everyone saw his face quite clearly, which, sadly for them, was the last one they would ever set eyes on. Harold proceeded to kill every living thing in the room within a blink of an eye.
As the last delicate subtle quaint chimes from the antique French grandfather clock faded into the night, Jimmy’s phone buzzed with a message to say that the man he had been waiting for had arrived. A moment later, there was a knock on Jimmy’s office door, and the room suddenly felt a degree or two cooler and the hairs on the back of Jimmy’s neck automatically stood endwise. Harold’s presence always left you feeling a little peculiar. No matter who you were.
“Good evening, Mr Costa,” Harold Harper said in a low, barely audible polite whisper, as he closed the heavy leather studded door to the plush darkened office at the very top of Jimmy’s hotel stronghold.
“Harold, come in, good to see you again, old friend, how long’s it been, five years?” Jimmy said as he rose from behind his magnificent Chippendale writing desk. He turned the dimmer switch down another notch, to be on the safe side, as he moved toward Harold. He offered his hand and then withdrew it just as quickly remembering another peculiarity of Harold’s, which was that he never ever shook hands.
“Four years and three months to be exact, Mr Costa. You may recall that it was the Craig gang contract when we last met,” he said, as he turned his back and faced the door and removed his black wax cap to shake the rain drops from it. He then quickly repositioned it and pulled the peak down low, and turned to face Jimmy once more, and all that could be seen of Harold’s features were his mouth and chin, the rest being covered by cap and shadow.
“That’s right, and what an outstanding piece of work that was; clean as a whistle and sweet as a nut.”
“Thank you, Mr Costa, that’s praise indeed,” he said a little excitedly. His eyes widened as the cogs in the twisted apparatus of his mind began to crank as he recalled the night of the half dozen murders, all clean shots, one apiece, all right between the eyes, all killed with his trade mark suppressed Colt 45 automatic pistol.
“Please take a seat, Harold. Now, I have a very important job that I would like you to consider, but before we start may I offer you a drink?”
“Yes, thank you, Earl Grey, black, if I may be so bold, Mr Costa.”
“Are you sure I couldn’t tempt you with something a little stronger, Harold?” Jimmy said as he held up the hand-cut lead crystal brandy decanter from the antique
“No, thank you, Mr Costa, I’m totally abstemious, teetotal you understand. It doesn’t pay to drink alcohol in my line of work, got to keep the hands steady, you see.” He held out his slender, long-fingered right hand to demonstrate the point.
“Glad to hear it, Harold,” Jimmy said, as he phoned down to the kitchen for some tea.
They sat in the office and burned the midnight oil, and as Jimmy filled him in with all the details Harold became totally engrossed. After two hours, the fee and the terms of the contract had been agreed. The job would cost five hundred thousand pounds, with half to be paid in advance. Jimmy reached under the desk and handed Harold a silver aluminium security briefcase containing half the money, which Jimmy had personally counted, twice.
“Don’t you want to count it, Harold?” Jimmy said in a slightly flippant manner, as he handed Harold the case.
“Mr Costa, you jest, we are both consummate professionals and as professionals we have a bond of trust, do we not? And dearie me, I wouldn’t like to imagine the consequences of such an oversight,” he said as he slowly rose from the chair.
“Relax, it’s just my little joke, Harold, it’s all there, I counted it myself. The combination is one, nine, five, nine, and I hope to hear from you soon,” Jimmy said, as he slowly moved behind his desk while gesturing toward the door.
on that, Mr Costa,” Harold said as he nimbly backed out of the room, with one hand grasping the handle of the briefcase, and the other resting on the chequered wooden grip of the heavy 1911 Colt 45 automatic lodged in his fleece lined leather shoulder holster. His footsteps made no sound, and his eyes were locked on and never moving from Costa.
Creepy little fucker
. Jimmy thought. His shoulders involuntarily juddered as a cold shiver trickled down his spine like ice water as the door closed.
The next day, Harold and his silver briefcase were on board the night train bound for King’s Cross station in London, in pursuit of the murderers of Tony Costa.