Authors: Bill Carson
Nick went over to check on John, and his eye was drawn to the holdall full of cash and jewels which twinkled against the warm rays of the rising sun streaming through the window. Nick, not one for turning down such an invitation, immediately grabbed the bag and pulled John to his feet. He stepped over Harold who was face down, rigid and unmoving. Nick bundled John into the lift and took him into the banqueting hall, where George immediately got to work trying to stem the steady flow of blood coming from the hole in his side.
“Right, I think it’s time to check out of here, George,” Nick said.
got there, then?” George said as he pointed to the heavy holdall.
“Oh, just some souvenirs. How’s Anna doing?”
“She’ll be OK, only minor cuts. She must have hit her head when she fell over. She’s a bit dizzy, that’s all,” George said with big grin.
“Nick, you OK?” Anna said with a weak, croaky little voice.
“Hello, love, everything’s
be all right now. We’ll be out of here in a minute and back home before you know it. You are so brave and I’m so lucky to have someone like you,” he said, as he leant forward and gently placed his swollen lips onto hers.
“What the…?” George exclaimed, as the foliaged form of Andy Ryan suddenly presented itself in the middle of the hall, holding a huge rifle across his chest.
“What the bloody hell’s that?” Nick said, as he squinted in disbelief at the peculiar figure. He immediately stood up and held the empty revolver out in front of him.
“I’m here for John Kane and no one else, so you can put that down. Now where is he?” the figure said, as it removed its bushy hood.
“He’s upstairs, top floor, back room. He’s dead, the two of them killed each other in there,” Nick said quickly, as John tried to get to his feet.
Andy Ryan took a look around and noted the pile of bodies littering the doorway. He was simply in awe of the magnificent last stand that they had put up. “Who are you people, anyway? And what the hell are you doing here?”
“Well, I’m a private detective and this is Anna, my fiancée. This is George and he runs a pub,” George stood up and puffed his chest out proudly as Nick pointed to him, “and this is one of the waiters. Looks like we were all in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could say,” Nick said.
“Yeah, if you say so. I’m going upstairs to take a look, OK?” Ryan trotted up the staircase.
“Just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder, a bloody bush walks through the door holding a gun,” George smiled.
“Right, George, it’s time to definitely blow the gaff. Do you reckon you can get that old banger of yours started?” Nick said.
“I’ll try, mate, it’s pretty smashed up though,” George said, as he grabbed a claw hammer from Costa’s tool box to remove the six inch nail that he’d hammered through the accelerator pedal.
Within five minutes Ryan was back. “So that’s John Kane, is it? The bloke up there with no face or teeth. Even the skin on his hands has melted. What the bloody hell happened to him? And of course it’s now impossible to say who it is, as he’s got no teeth or fingerprints. So I suppose he could be anybody?”
“I saw the whole thing. They killed each other up there, and that’s all there is to it. We’ve got wounded to evacuate and we’re out of here. You can do what you like,” Nick said in a determined tone, with the revolver firmly clutched in his hand, which was duly noted by Ryan.
“You said they killed each other, but there’s only one body in the room. Where’s the other one?” Ryan asked.
“Listen, mate, I
got all the answers, have I? We’re out of here and anyway, who the fuck are you?”
“Me? Good question, I‘m a shadow, a nobody, I don’t exist and I’m not really here.”
“Well, I’m glad that’s cleared that one up,” George said sarcastically, as he started to clear the rubble away from under the wheels of the old battered Rover.
“It looks like John Kane must have been killed here today, then. And my job is done and that’s what I’m going to put in my report. It was my job to kill him, you see, and it looks like someone’s already done it for me. Now, in about ten minutes I’m going to call in the cavalry so you lot had better clear out, unless you all want to be sharing a police cell,” he said, as he grabbed John by the arm and looked him in the eye as he hobbled past. “Understand this, mate, John Kane is dead, OK?”
“Yeah, I heard he died a long time ago,” John said, as George helped him into the back of the Land Rover.
start, I knew she wouldn’t let us down! Anna, you jump in the back and strap yourself in, and Uncle George will have you out of here in no time,” George said, as the engine came to life on the third twist of the key.
“What about your car, Nick, you fancy driving it back home?” George said.
“I’d have a job, mate. It’s been shot to pieces and it’s got grenade fragments all over it. It was bad luck that motor, anyway. I think this is the best place for it, and I’ve been thinking about getting one of them new Jags, you know,” Nick said.
George’s weary old wagon limped out of the grounds. As they approached the park gates the horizon suddenly lit up behind them as the hotel went up in a huge explosion, courtesy of some carefully placed C4 explosive from Andy Ryan’s backpack.
“That’s it then. There’ll be absolutely no evidence left now. It’ll all be totally incinerated and you’ll be in the clear, my son,” Nick said and John nodded in agreement.
George changed down into second gear and almost slowed to a halt as they passed the smoking wreckage of Billy Brooks and Johnnie Carter’s hearse, their gruesome overcooked blackened heads lolling from the window of the upturned carcass of the vehicle.
Harold Harper was somehow still alive and had managed to drag his burnt, battered, broken body across the field and over to the wreckage site. He was now standing right in front of them on the other side of the road. They didn’t see him at first, and only knew of his presence as he hobbled forward and waved at George to stop the car.
Harold had managed to strap one of his pistols to the bloody stump of his wrist by using his belt and his teeth, and his one remaining finger was hooked around the trigger of the Colt 45. It was now pointing straight at Anna. The man was a mess, his body was wrecked and torn apart, and it was a sheer miracle that a human being inflicted with such hideous injuries could still be alive.
As the early morning sunlight streamed through the branches of the bare trees, Harold’s dreadfully disfigured head was clearly made visible. He looked like something that should not belong in this world. He truly was evil personified in flesh and in thought.
“I want everyone except the driver to disembark now,” he said in a low pathetic tone, his mouth drooling with a mixture of thick spittle and blood. He stepped back a few paces and kept the shaky pistol trained on Anna as she stepped down from the vehicle. He then ordered her, Nick and John to face the wall as he slowly shuffled the battered silver security case from the side of the road over to the Land Rover with his foot. The case was blackened and dented but had survived the blast and the contents were still intact.
Andy Ryan had rescaled the huge tree to collect the rest of his kit that he’d left there. As he looked out from his vantage point, the red brake light of the old vehicle in the distance had caught his eye. He picked up his binoculars and zoomed in on the strange little gathering by the park gate.
“He’s going to kill us all, I know it. Look at him, I know that look,” John Kane whispered to Nick.
“Stay calm, he just wants out of here, same as us,” Nick whispered back.
“No, not this man. It’s time for me to say hello to Sarah Kane,” John said.
John turned and focused in on Harold’s throat. He figured if he could get close enough he would literally tear it out. He summoned up all of his remaining strength, screamed out with a disturbing high-pitched battle cry, and rushed at Harold with nothing but his bare hands and a fighting spirit – and would have made it if he had not been so badly weakened by such a serious wound in his stomach.
It was a gallant effort but was always doomed to fail. As he got to within a few feet of Harold, an explosive bullet went through the centre of his forehead, splitting open his skull. A fine red mist exploded from the back of his head and Anna and Nick were suddenly anointed with John’s blood, brain and bone matter.
They watched in horror as John’s body slowly crumpled to the ground at Harold’s feet, his vivid blue eyes wide open and staring back at them. Nick was sure he could see a faint smile playing around his lips, and was convinced that he’d mouthed something just before he went down. His body was still but his eyes remained locked with Nick’s. Anna shrieked out as Harold levelled the pistol at Nick’s head. Nick closed his eyes and waited for the sound that would end him.
Magnum high velocity round exited the barrel of the L115A3 British Army sniper rifle travelling at nine hundred yards per second and, as the target was at roughly twice that range, it would therefore take two seconds from trigger pull to target. It was a long shot by any stretch of the imagination, but when you’re the best in the business the extraordinary can sometimes be achieved. The first bullet struck Harold on the top of the head and gouged out a deep, neat, red
groove the thickness of a snooker cue. An instant later the secondary bullet impacted an inch lower and removed the offending head entirely.
,” Ryan said, as he watched Harold’s head explode like a big fat water melon. He then strapped the rifle to his back and descended from his perch to wait for Inspector Lyons and the call from Doris Clarke.
“Get in you two and let’s get the hell out of here,” George shouted as he revved the engine. Anna and Nick climbed in the back and George put his foot flat to the floor.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t a medal or two in this
, Ryan thought as he waited for the police to arrive.
Half an hour later he halted the long column of police vehicles trundling along the park road. Lyons jumped out first and came running toward him.
“Stay back, Inspector, we have some unexploded ordnance over here and no one will be advancing beyond this point until the bomb squad has declared the area safe, is that understood?” Ryan shouted, as all vehicles suddenly came to a halt. Three large drones buzzed in right over their heads.
“It’s too late now, the party is over,” Ryan said, as he watched the drones skim over the tree tops.
“Well? Did you get them? That killer from the station and Kane, I mean?” Lyons asked as he marched toward Ryan.
“All the bad guys are dead, including the man who killed the police officers. I killed everyone here, including John Kane,” Ryan said as he swept the barrel of his rifle over the area.
“My God, what a mess! It looks like World War Three out here. And that hotel is going up like a Roman bloody candle. Jesus, look at it burn,” Lyons said.
“OK, my job is done here. Oh, and Inspector, you’ll find two more bodies by the gate,” Ryan said as he pointed toward the park entrance. He picked up his kit and went in search of the Mitsubishi.
I wonder what state it’ll be in,
He eventually found the car where he’d left it five hours before. Despite being in the middle of a war zone, it had remained completely unscathed and its sleek lines gleamed in the early morning sunlight.
He glanced at his wristwatch and noted that if he put his foot down he’d just about make it back in time for an egg, bacon and sausage sandwich at the mess. The thought spurred him on and he quickly stowed his kit in the back, fired up the powerful engine and engaged first gear. He spun the wheels on the dew-soaked grass; the car drifted sideways and, as the tyres made contact with the road, they screeched like a wounded banshee as he changed into second gear.
He didn’t give the decapitated corpse of Harold Harper a second glance as he flew out of the gates. Five miles further along the A12 he shot past the old Land Rover. He stuck his arm out of the window and gave them all a devil’s hand sign as AC-DC’s ‘Shoot To Thrill’ blasted out of the cockpit.
George coaxed the limping, hissing, grumbling, brilliant old Land Rover the last few feet into the yard behind the Royal Oak. He switched off the engine, stepped down from the driver’s seat, and tapped the bonnet of the beat up wagon.
“Knew you could do it, old gal,” he smiled.
Anna sluggishly followed him into the bar, while Nick bought in the holdall from Costa’s office and Harold Harper’s briefcase. He set them down as he flopped into the comfy old red leather Chesterfield sofa.
“I know it might be a silly question, but do you fancy a drink?” George said as he poured himself a double brandy.
“Pint of the usual I think,” Nick said quietly.
“I’ll have a cup of tea. It’s OK, I’ll make it, George,” Anna said.
George dumped a bar-towel full of ice cubes onto the table for Nick’s bruises, and they sat in silence in the safe, empty, wonderful pub. Anna snuggled up to Nick and sipped her hot sweet tea and they all simply sat and listened to the world going by outside. They said nothing, soaking up the familiar, friendly surroundings where they had spent many carefree evenings. The dreamlike moment was in stark contrast to where they had been a few hours beforehand. It was almost a miracle that they had survived at all, and the whole dreadful scenario now seemed like it had almost never happened. It was like some terrible nightmare that they had now suddenly awakened from.
“Hey, I’ve just thought, where did you get those old guns and grenades from?” Nick said suddenly.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about that. It’s an interesting one. The office that we’ve rented used to belong to an old time gangster called Billy Hill. The boss of the underworld, they called him back in the 1950s. The basement of our office was a ‘
’, an illegal gambling den. They always had to be on their guard and were always tooled up, and those guns were part of their arsenal which was all left over from the Second World War. Army surplus stuff that they must have forgotten about. They’ve been there all those years. I looked it up on the internet when I found the false wall. Someone’s written a book about Hill and our address is actually mentioned in it.”
“Well here’s to
, Billy Hill, wherever you are, mate,” Nick said as he raised his glass and took a huge glug of best bitter. “How about that? Trust me, an ex-copper renting an old gangster’s drum. Well, I reckon we should be shooting off now. We’ll get a cab from next door.”
Anna got up to organise that. Nick turned to George.
“Listen, mate, I haven’t said anything to you yet, but thanks for what you did. I am indebted to you. You are a true and loyal friend, George, in every sense of the word. No man could have a better one. I was so proud when I saw you standing there holding that bloody great gun, that took real guts, mate. What can I say, you’re a diamond, George,” Nick said.
“Diamond George, I like that. And anyway, you’d do it for me, wouldn’t you?” George said.
Nick didn’t answer but winked at him with his one good eye.
“Hey Nick, one for the road,” George said as he poured out two double Jack Daniel’s.
They both stared at one another as they downed their drinks in one.
Anna came back in.
“Anna, before you go, can I just say that I have never met a braver person in all my life than you. She did it, Nick. I played my part but this little girl did it, mate. You should have seen her, she never gave up. She is one in a bloody million, a real hero,” George said.
, but I couldn’t have done it without you,” Anna said as she gave him a big hug.
“Cab’s here, come on you, two,” Nick said as he hauled the holdall and the battered silver case into the back of the cab. “Hey, George, I’ll be around later to discuss a bit of business. Say no more, OK?”
George followed Nick and Anna outside and watched them get into the cab.
“OK, but, Nick, no more adventures for a while. Make it next week will
take me a while to get my head together.”
“All right, mate, no worries.”
now, and look after him, Anna. Make sure he doesn’t get into any more trouble.” George said, as he closed the door.
Throughout the short cab ride back to Hammersmith, Nick did not release Anna’s hand. In his heart he now knew that he truly loved her.
She risked her life to save me
, he thought as he stared at her.
“What? What is it?” she said as she snuggled into his shoulder.
“Nothing. Driver, can you take us to the Dorchester Hotel please?” Nick said.
“No, Nick, I’d rather not, and I think we’ve both had enough of hotels for a while. Let’s just go home and anyway, as soon as we get in I’m calling the doctor. You can’t go anywhere looking like that,” Anna said.
“I’m fine. It was just a couple of slaps. I’m sure I’ve had worse, love, but I suppose I haven’t seen my face yet have I? OK, driver, Hammersmith it is then.”
? I will take you to hospital if you want,” the friendly cab driver said, whilst nodding with a big grin.
“No thanks, I think we’ll just head for home. Hammersmith Broadway please, mate.”