This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 768 words.
**Contains some swearing!**
There was no chance I was going to leave Shaughnessy’s shooter in my car overnight, so when I got home I hid it under my bed. Having to get to The Foresters by half five was a real pain. The traffic would be murder, and then by the time I left to drive back east to Thamesmead, I would be in the thick of the rush hour traffic heading out to Kent. I could kiss goodbye to eating at Nicky and Patsy’s place, so was thinking I might get pie and chips later, while waiting somewhere for Nicky.
By five-fifteen, the pub door was already open, and there was Mickey Shaughnessy propping up the bar holding a large Scotch. He was dressed smartly as usual, two-piece silver mohair suit, crisp white shirt, and a burgundy-coloured tie. The jacket of his suit was open, revealing the handle of a revolver tucked into the side of his trouser waistband. His dark hair was slicked back, old-style, and his red cheeks betrayed his Irish ancestry from long ago.
I had the gun in the pillowcase inside a Fine Fare carrier bag, with a loaf of sliced bread I had bought to cover it. Shaughnessy grinned at me as I walked in, and when he opened the bag, he laughed. “What am I supposed to do with that? Make a fucking sandwich?” He turned to the barmaid, a weary fifty-something who looked like she would sooner be anywhere else. “Give him a double, my usual”.
Although I didn’t really like whisky, when she slid over the double Glenfiddich, I nodded my thanks. No money changed hands, people like Mickey didn’t pay for drinks. He placed the carrier bag between his feet, and raised his glass to me as I downed the Scotch in one to act like I was the same as him. “You’re the driver? Nicky speaks well of you, says you’re staunch. I hope he’s right. Is he right, son?” I nodded, and signalled to the barmaid for two of the same, producing a ten-pound note. If I bought him a drink, it wasn’t free. I told him I had things to do, and swallowed the drink. I knew I couldn’t leave the bar until he said it was okay. “Off you go then, driver. I might have some work for you soon. You will know when I do”. He reached out a hand, and I shook it, feeling him almost crushing the bones in mine.
Back in the car, I wasn’t best pleased. two large Scotches inside me, and the Shaughnessy handshake had confirmed I was in, like it or not. I was a ‘face’, a known associate. Even as I drove away, I imagined some undercover cop was taking a telephoto portrait of me on his camera, from some safe flat across the street. And my motor would be on the flag list.
It was close to seven before I got to Nicky’s place. He was waiting on the street for me, and said we had to go straight to his garage around the corner. No chance of seeing Patsy, obviously. “Did It all go okay with Shaugnessy? Was Freddie there?” He gave me no chance to answer his barrage of questions before we arrived at his lock-up. “I’ve got twenty-odd leather jackets to shift, Paul. If I get rid of most of them, you can take your pick from what’s left”.
After loading the coats into my boot, he sat in the back directing me to an assortment of locations, mostly pubs, all over south-east London. He came and went to and from the car, taking some coats into the pubs, and returning with handfuls of cash. By ten that night, nobody was buying, probably all too drunk to pay a fair price by then. Nicky chucked me a dark brown jacket that was nice Italian leather, but probably one size too big. “Here, have this one. If it doesn’t fit, you can knock it out to someone. But don’t take less than fifteen. They are worth twenty, and that’s bent. Retail is fifty-plus. That’s on top of your fare of course”.
Just after eleven that night, he put the four unsold jackets back into his garage, and paid me in cash. No invite up to his flat, but he looked wacked-out, and I was guessing he was straight to bed. As he walked away, he seemed to have a tinge of guilt, and turned to say something.
“Sorry about Shaughnessy tonight, mate. Don’t forget now. If anyone pulls you, you’re just the driver.”