This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 1200 words.
Two parts published today. Read Part 8 first!
Pavel drove his van into the yard of a run-down workshop, not far from Heathrow Airport. The only other vehicle there was a large truck, with a high roof. Two mean-looking guys stood at the back of it, smoking cigarettes. As he switched off the engine, Pavel turned to Koz. “Let them see the gun, but keep behind me, and say nothing, OK?” Walking across to the men, Pavel smiled broadly, speaking to them in Russian. After some debate, which got heated at times, he finally shook hands with the older one. Walking back to the van, he rummaged under the seat and returned with a clear plastic bag containing lots of cash. The older guy tipped it out onto the gravel, and counted it carefully. Satisfied, he nodded to his companion, who opened the shutter on the truck. Pavel helped three girls climb down. They were squinting in the daylight, and all clutching small sports bags. Koz thought they looked pretty rough, with lank hair, and all very skinny too. But Pavel seemed pleased, and showed them to his van, smiling and chatting to them in a friendly manner. When they were settled inside, he beckoned Koz to get back in. As they drove off, Pavel blew out his cheeks. “That went well my friend, better than I expected. I will drop you off back at your place. You can keep the gun. It might be useful.”
Candy was out of breath by the time she hit the ground floor, still running. That was a lot of floors to do, even going downstairs. She went through a door marked ‘Lobby’, and ran straight past the reception desk, through the already open door. The doorman was standing outside talking to some bored-looking residents, and didn’t even notice the girl in a red coat run past. Once clear of the building, she stopped and breathed hard for a while. She didn’t know the area too well, and didn’t want to chance taking the tube, with all that gear. Besides, she had the two fifties in her coat, so could get a cab. A slow walk took her north, up to the main road near Billingsgate Market. The third taxi she flagged down stopped for her, and she jumped in before he could change his mind. No chance she would give him the address of the squat, so she just said “Waterloo Station please, driver”. The cabbie decided not to talk to her on the way, which suited Candy just fine. The traffic was heavy, and by the time he dropped her at the train station, the fare had eaten up most of one of those fifties.
Jack was really worried about her now. He hadn’t seen Candy since she had gone off to buy those coffees he knew she would never buy. Not like her to not show up at some stage. The day had stayed slow, and his mood hadn’t improved much. He was angry at himself for depending on a girl turning up to make his day. She hardly spoke to him except to ask for money, and it was unlikely anything else would ever develop between them. But she did cheer him up, even though he hardly knew why.
Toby checked his messages. Tamsin was in, and Oliver and Nigel were both up for it too. Martin had turned it down, said he had ‘something better’ to do. Never mind, his loss. The day was just getting better and better. He had topped the seven grand marker, and the big boss had cracked open a magnum of Bollinger, to the cheers of the rest of Toby’s team. Now he had three takers for a fun night at his place, and enough blow stashed in his weekend bag to get everyone buzzing. He smiled, thinking about the girl stuck in his flat. No chance of her getting through two Banham locks, and it wouldn’t do much good screaming for help either. He would give her another hundred later, calm her down. She was probably enjoying herself anyway, that’s if she was even awake yet.
Candy made the short walk to the squat in under ten minutes. Something was wrong. Men were outside, and one of them was fitting metal sheets over the windows, using one of those cordless screwdrivers. A tall guy dressed all in black was sticking a big typed notice on the front door, and two huge shiny locks had been fixed to it. No sign of Tash, or any of the others, so Candy just kept walking. It was obvious what had happened. The owners had finally got the bailiffs in, waiting until everyone had gone out, and they had secured the house so that there was no way back inside. She thought of Tash, who was probably out scoring some rocks somewhere. All her stuff was in there, and she was going to get a shock when she got back. Candy thought for a moment, then headed back to the station. She would get the tube to Mile End, check out her old stamping ground for a while. No way was she spending most of that other fifty on a cab that far. Once on the train, she clutched the bag tight to her chest, in case some chancer snatched it. By the time she passed through Chancery Lane Station, it had suddenly occurred to her that she hadn’t smoked any crack since that last time at Tash’s. And she didn’t feel too bad. Not bad at all in fact.
Koz was feeling the lack of sleep, but pleased to have had an easy time with Pavel, and very happy about the gun. He knew about guns, and this was a SIG-Sauer .45, worth at least a grand on the street, and easy enough to get more ammo too, not that he expected to need it. Waving this around should be enough to get most people to hand over their money, or anything worth selling. He wandered upstairs to get a few hours in bed, before a busy night ahead.
The bloke in the shop didn’t even ask Candy for proof she was eighteen when she bought the vodka. She knew he would serve her, as she had been in there often enough when she had lived just around the corner. Leaving the shop, she turned left instead of right though. She would go and see her Uncle Brian, Mum’s older brother. He was an alcoholic, and a litre of vodka would settle any arguments about telling Mum he had seen her. He had lived alone since his girlfriend had walked out last year, and almost never went out if he could help it. Candy arrived outside his ground floor flat five minutes later, shaking her head at the filthy net curtain hanging askew at the kitchen window, and the signs of various attempts to break in around the lock, from when he had shut himself out. She couldn’t tell if the bell was working when she pressed it, so she banged her fist on the door, and shouted. “Uncle Brian. It’s me, Candy. Uncle Brian!” The door opened a little, and his unshaven face appeared in the gap.
To be continued…