Just The Driver: Part Eight

This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 810 words.
**May contain swearing!**

Going to the pub to see if Nicky was around had not been my brightest idea. Once I had accepted Mickey’s drink, his older brother Pat became interested. “So what’s the story then? You free for a job now?” I started to explain that I was only out looking for Nicky, not actually working, but out of the corner of my eye I saw Billy Tarrant shaking his head. So I changed tack, and told Pat I was happy to take him wherever he needed to go.

With both the Shaughnessy brothers in the car, the smell of after shave and hair oil was overwhelming. Pat sat next to me in the front as I drove off. “Amersham Arms, New Cross”. I knew the pub well, a big boozer on a corner, only a few minutes away. It was a bugger to park there, as it was on a one-way system opposite a mainline station. But I managed to get two wheels up on the kerb just past it, outside a car dealer’s forecourt. Pat spoke for the second time. “Leave the engine running, and dont move the car. Okay?” I nodded.

I kept my eye on the rear-view mirror, and it wasn’t long before they were walking back to the car, Mickey with his arm around a third man, who looked white as a sheet, and wasn’t walking too well. When they got in the car, Pat was smiling. “Deptford Creek, son. I will tell you where to stop”. The man in the back with Mickey was actually trembling, but he didn’t say a word as I went back around the one-way and headed north.

Deptford Creek wasn’t the name of a road, it was part of the River Thames, formed by a tributary flowing into it. I actually knew why that area of London was called Deptford, as I had lived there for some years as a child. It was derived from ‘Deep Ford’, and was one of the first places that the Romans used to cross the river during their invasion of Britain. But I doubted the Shaughnessys wanted to hear a history lesson.

My best guess was that they had both been expelled from school before the age of twelve, and begun the apprenticeships in their criminal careers. Access to the side of the Creek was via the aptly named road called Creekside, so I headed for that.

Back then, the area was industrial. Paper merchants yards, scrap dealers, metal workshops, all pretty unsightly. Pat pointed at the entrance to a scrap dealer’s place. “Blow the hooter”. I pressed the car horn a couple of times, and the heavy metal gate slid open. Someone inside was waiting for them. The brothers pulled the trembling man out of the car, and Pat turned to me. “Stay here, back in a minute”.

It was no surprise to me when they came back thirty minutes later without the third man. I had an idea he would be lying at the bottom of the Creek, with an old car engine chained around his legs. But whatever had gone on inside, the brothers had not got their hands dirty. They were both still immaculate in their suits, and Pat smiled as he spoke. “Okay, back to The Tavern”. I went to the top of the road and turned left, and on the short drive back to Billy’s pub, neither of them spoke to me at all.

Ouside the pub, Pat got out and walked straight in. Mickey gave me four ten pound notes. “That should cover it. Well done, son”. I was lucky he paid me anything. He was notoriously tight with money. Even if he had given me nothing, I would have just had to swallow that, and even say thanks. But forty was much more than the actual cab fare, so I was relieved. I wanted to get away from that manor, and decided to drive back to Thamesmead and tell Patsy I couldn’t find Nicky.

When I got there, she was matter of fact. “He rang home just after you left. I wrote the address down where he is, and said you would pick him up when you came back”. I looked at the address, and cursed myself for not ringing Patsy from a phone box. Nicky was all the way over in Dulwich, some posh address off College Road. I couldn’t imagine how he had ended up there, but smiled and told his wife I would go and get him. That was about twelve miles south, a good three quarters of an hour in normal traffic.

On the way, I contemplated what had gone on earlier with Mickey and Pat. If they got lifted for that, I might get dragged into their mess.

And there was no way I could say I was just the driver.

24 thoughts on “Just The Driver: Part Eight

  1. If this life of crime doesn’t pan out for them, perhaps the Shaughnessy brothers can come up with a line of aftershave and hair oil. All thieves want to look and smell good for their mug shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1a) By the end of this story, we will have visited every pub in London! #PubCrawl
    (1b) Too bad the Old Joinery was on the wrong side of the creek. Paul could have toasted the Normans.
    (2) I once got so dead drunk that I found myself wandering through The Gothic Graveyard. A man dressed in black approached me and handed me a business card with a large spider logo on it. The card read: William Tarrant, ULA. I asked him what the ULA stood for, and he said, “Undertakers Love Alcoholics.” I scoffed, “Is that for real?” He smiled and replied, “Absolutely. Look it up on the Web!”
    (3) Pat demanded that Paul “blow the hooter.” But when Paul attempted to do that, the bouncer at Hooters kicked him out on his ear, and warned him to leave the girls alone.
    (4) “Even if he had given me nothing, I would have just had to swallow that…” It’s impossible to swallow nothing, unless you’re in the void of outer space.
    (5) I once knew a Las Vegas craps dealer who became a scrap dealer. His partner was a former part-time card dealer. “Now, instead of meddling with cards, you’ll deal in crappy metal car parts.”
    (6) Bad citation: “It was no surprise to me when they came back thirty minutes later without the third man. I couldn’t help but wonder: Was the third man Harry Lime, who once claimed that you only live twice? And if so, how would he die the second time around?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every pub in London? In 1974? That would have taken at least ten years to do that, David.
      This story is set in a very small area of the south-east of that huge city, but there was a busy pub on every corner of every street at the time. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Now, as in 2022? Or now, as back in the story? She still looked great in late 1974, but I haven’t seen her since 1975. 🙂
      (She would be at least 75 years old now, if she is still alive.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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