This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 971 words. It may contain some swear words.
When your uncle was one of the most feared villains in London, you could pretty much say and do what you liked, as long as you stayed within his area of influence. Little Frankie wasn’t silly though, he didn’t push his luck. He could get some sweets and a can of drink in most of the local shops, and just walk out without paying.The owners all knew who he was, and never said a word. The tough kids and bullies at school gave him a wide berth, and once he stopped going to school and was being seen on the streets, the minor criminals in the borough gave him no grief at all.
Riding around on his bmx, the hood up on his hoodie in all weathers, it was well-known he was one of the eyes and ears of the famous Frankie Toland, and he could go wherever he wanted, no questions asked. But now his uncle was dead, that had all stopped overnight.
Now, Little Frankie’s life was shit, as far as he was concerned.
The rest of the Toland mob had either gone to ground, or defected to some other gang. There was no protection, no more free stuff, and he was fair game for any petty thug who had a grudge against him. At fifteen, he was far too young to do much about that, and it wasn’t as if he could decide to work for anyone else. He had made too many enemies in his fifteen short years, and now he was on his own.
His mum didn’t have a job now that someone else had taken over the amusements. They didn’t want a Toland managing the arcade. Aunt Mary was already talking about going to live with her sister in Ireland, once the cops allowed her to leave the country.
Alan was on the phone to his sister, giving her the flight number to pass on to Chrissy, who was going to pick him up at the airport in Barcelona. Gloria was upbeat. “Oh, we love it here, Al. Angie says she wished we could come and live here. She’s talking about selling her lodge next year, and buying an apartment here”. He was smiling as he listened. “Glor, didn’t I tell you? I knew you would love it. Tell Ang not to rush into anything. I’m sure I can sort you out a house once I get back. You can give up the flat here, and Ang could rent out her lodge and get an income”.
Gloria rushed off the phone, keen to tell her friend the good news.
It was colder than Little Frankie liked, too cold for the hoodie. He was wearing his waist-length black puffa jacket instead, but it felt tight since he had grown a bit. He biked over to the Londis shop, then twice around the flats where that bloke was living. No sign of him anywhere, and he didn’t want to chance knocking on the door of the flat where he was staying. He would bide his time, sure the bloke would show up sooner or later.
He carried on pedalling around the same circuit, with nothing else better to do.
After chatting to Gloria, Alan went into the bedroom and got the supermarket carrier bag out of the wardrobe, still wearing his warm gloves. He put his overcoat on in the hallway, and turned up the collar. It was grey and dull outside, and he could feel the cold wind as he double locked Gloria’s front door. It was only a short walk to Highbury Fields, but he intended to go right to the far end, by the leisure centre.
Little Frankie was blowing onto his hands to warm them up when he saw the man with cropped grey hair appear on the corner to his right. He was wearing his expensive overcoat, and carrying a Waitrose shopping bag in his left hand. Forgetting his cold fingers, he grabbed the handlebars and set off after the bloke, keeping a good distance.
Toland’s didn’t grass. His uncle had drilled that into him from the time he could walk. Easy enough to make an anonymous call to the cops, then hide somewhere and watch as the squad cars turned up to nick the man who killed his uncle. But a Toland doesn’t do that. They settle things themselves. He watched as the man walked around near the leisure centre, and saw when he turned to walk back that he no longer had the bag. Then he followed him back to the flats, staying well behind him.
Stopping outside the entrance, Alan opened his overcoat to get the keys from his trouser pocket. All he had to do was collect his case and holdall, then he would be back on the street looking for a taxi.
The impact knocked him down, as he felt a blow to his right side. Looking to his left, he saw the kid righting the overturned bike, jumping back on it, and pedalling away as fast as he could. As he got to his knees before standing, he saw the handle of the knife protruding from his belly above the pocket of his suit jacket, and felt the blood running down over his body inside his clothes. Unsteady on his feet, he pulled open the outer door to the flats and walked inside. But he got no further than Gloria’s front door before collapsing again, the blood pumping from the wound was pooling on the concrete floor around him.
His legs felt cold, and it seemed to be getting darker. Pulling his cigarette packet out of his overcoat pocket, he pushed one between his lips. Then he reached for the lighter.
One last cigarette. The thought made him smile.