This is the second part of a fiction serial, in 765 words.
Old Reg comes calling.
Gloria had definitely had too much to drink that afternoon. She was slurring in the cab on the way back to her flat, and Alan had to help her find the doorkey in her handbag. She went straight into her bedroom and collapsed face down on the duvet. Alan pulled her shoes off, then took the coverlet off the chair by the dressing-table and threw it over her.
Sitting in the kitchen with a glass of Black Label scotch, he thought about what Old Reg had said. Did he need the grief? After all, he would be fity-three next birthday. Still, Reg had looked serious, so the least he could do was to hear him out.
The noise of a police helicopter startled him, sounding as if it was right outside the window. Gloria and Vince’s two-bed on Highbury Grove had been a quiet place at one time, and they considered themselves lucky to get it. Now it seemed to Alan that the whole area was under seige. Gangs all over the place, drug-dealing kids on corners, and stabbings becoming an almost daily routine. He might talk to Gloria about going back to Spain with him.
This was no place for her to grow old.
By the time Old Reg arrived, the amber-coloured glass ashtray was full to the brim, the scotch bottle half-empty, and Gloria still snoring. Reg came in and sat opposite him at the tiny formica-topped table in the kitchen. Alan got a glass, poured Reg a drink, and leaned forward. “So, Reg. What’s this about a job?”
Alan had only ever known him as Old Reg. A solid friend of the family who must be at least eighty years old by now. His false teeth were too white to look remotely natural, and they made a clicking sound when he spoke too quickly. He downed half the glass, wiped his mouth, and nodded.
“It’s a big job, Alan. Right up your street. All cash, untraceable, and you won’t need a big crew to tackle it”. Alan sat back and lit another cigarette. “Reg, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Now, what’s this all about, and what’s in it for you?”
The old man ran his hands over his head, as if forgetting he had no hair left to smooth down. “Well, you know my Teddy? He’s fifty-odd now, and still serving time for that jewellery job twelve years ago. Anyway, his girl Carly has a baby now, little Dawn. So she lives with this bloke in a shitty flat in Agar Grove, and they want to buy a place further out. Dagenham or somewhere, it’s got a nice garden. But they don’t have a deposit, do they?” Alan put a hand up to stop him.
“The story of your grandchildren is all very nice, Reg. But what’s that got to do with this job mate?” He topped up both glasses, noticing the bottle might soon need replacing.
“The boyfriend, Alan. Carly’s boyfriend, it’s him that has the tip. All he wants out of it is a nice drink to use as a deposit. Give it a year or two, and they can say they saved it up. Carly works at the school, and he’s a lorry driver”.
Alan went to get another bottle from his bag in the hallway, wondering what Reg was on about. Perhaps he was losing his marbles. He was the right age for that.
“How much is what this bloke thinks is a nice drink then, Reg?” Alan filled the glasses as he spoke. “Twenty grand, Alan. That’s all. He couldn’t explain away anymore than that anyway, and he’s a straight bloke. Never been in trouble. And I don’t want nothing for myself, just looking out for young Carly”. Alan wasn’t the sort to get excitable, or fling accusations about, but he wanted to know something.
“You put this job up to anyone else, Reg? Told any other firm about it? ‘Cause if you have, it’s a non-starter, you should know that”. Reg shook his head. “No, honest. Carly’s bloke mentioned something to me about where he works a couple of weeks ago. Then when I heard you were coming back for the funeral, I thought I would give you first refusal. It’s definitely your sort of work, Alan”. Lighting his fiftieth cigarette of the day, Alan screwed up his eyes as the smoke drifted into them.
“Where’s this bloke work then?” Reg’s top teeth slipped down as he replied with a big smile.
“The Bank of England”.