This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 782 words. It may contain some swear-words.
Keeping a low profile.
The inflatable mattress wasn’t the best thing Alan had ever slept on, but it was far from being the worst. After more toast and tea for breakfast, he used the mobile to ring Rupert Pennington at his shop.
“Hello, this is Mister Alexander. You may recall me ordering six items from you recently? I am now in a position to take delivery. I will text a post code to your phone, and if you reply with your bank details, I will arrange to have the money transferred this morning”. Rupert was savvy. “Oh yes, the Ming vases, the ones with no provenance. I remember, sir. Would around three this afternoon be convenient? I have a reliable courier who will be in an unmarked blue van”. Alan smiled. “I will be here, thank you”.
The text messages were sent, and a phone call made by Alan. Rupert’s money was in his account of choice by eleven that morning.
With time to spare, Alan washed and shaved in the staff bathroom, got dressed quickly, then walked up the street to a general store on the corner. He couldn’t live on toast forever. Buying some packets of ham and beef, he picked up some cheese snacks from the counter, and asked for six packets of cigarettes. The only other customer in the shop was an old lady trying to decide between two different chocolate bars. Returning to the warehouse, he made a beef sandwich that tasted so good, he made another one.
When the blue van turned up just after three, he opened the big front shutter so it could reverse in. The driver looked tough and stocky, probably ex-military. Alan helped him out with the long packing case, noting it was covered in some authentic-looking Chinese characters. The driver said just four words before leaving. “Nothing to sign for”. When the shutter was closed again, Alan realised he was going to need a claw hammer or crowbar to open the thing, and cursed himself for not thinking of that.
He drove the Audi east, until he found a small DIY shop on Lea Bridge Road. Risking parking on the main drag outside, he was in and out quickly after buying the claw hammer, and a couple of screwdrivers in case they came in useful later. Using both on the packing case, it still took some effort to get the lid off.
Keeping a low profile for a few days was going to be boring, but he had hunkered down in some worse places in the past. At least he could get things organised, starting with stripping down and cleaning the four pistols and two assault rifles. So far, only Rupert and the delivery driver knew where he was, and they could definitely be counted on to keep shtum.
Back on the borough, Chalky White and his team were dealing with the fallout of Frankie’s murder. Toland had never had a real number two man, preferring to run the show himself with his goons and strong-arm men to do the nasty stuff. Now everyone wanted a piece. Old-school East End gangsters were moving in on the gaming machines, and Albanians were after his girls. The big Somali gang wanted the street corners for drug dealing, and those guys were crazy. There were three non-fatal shootings and nine stabbings in two days, leaving the borough commander no option but to call in extra cops from other districts.
It was worth risking a quick visit to Teddy, to make arrangements. He lived in the City of London, far enough away from Islington not to be in turmoil. Alan parked legally on a meter some streets away, and walked for ten minutes to get to Teddy’s. “I will be calling the first meet this weekend, Teddy. I need your blokes, and you will have to get a message to Old Reg for me. Tell him to get Graham and come to my warehouse on Saturday morning. And Lugs needs to tell his boy Kenny to be there with that Duggie. I want everyone there at the same time, say eleven, okay?”
Writing the address down on the back of an envelope, he held it up to Teddy’s face. “As soon as you have passed this on, burn this envelope. And no phones or text messages, Teddy. You tell them face to face. They can write it on their hands and wash it off after. You got that?” Teddy smiled. “Count on me, Alan”. Leaving him another hundred for cabs, Alan left before his meter time expired.
As he walked back to the car, he was hoping he really could count on Teddy.