The Job: Part Thirteen

This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 792 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Carl becomes number two.

The kitchen was going to be too small for three of them with a bloke that size, so Alan showed the two men into Gloria’s living room. He didn’t ask them to sit down, and there was no offer of any booze. “Who’s this then Teddy? And why have you brought him here?” Teddy knew he should never have brought the big man to Gloria’s place, and sounded sheepish.

“Sorry, Alan, but he insisted on meeting you in person. His name is Carl, and he’s very experienced”. Alan took the extended hand the size of a gorilla’s paw and shook it briefly. “You’re here now, so you better sit down and tell me your story”. Teddy did the talking.

“Carl has been on some good jobs, Al. Never been nicked for any of them either. He is ex-army, did some mercenary work in Iraq, and he knows some blokes who might be right for your project”. Alan smiled at hearing the word project. He had definitely been away too long. “Let Carl speak for himself then”. The man seemed too big for the sofa, and leaned forward awkwardly. Obviously some sort of body builder, with his cropped black hair a little bit too neat. There was a nasty scar puckered above his right eyebrow that looked like he was lucky to have kept the eye.

“Mister Henderson tells me you need men used to guns, and disciplined enough to follow orders, Mister Gill. I can be one of those, and I know two others I can vouch for one hundred percent”. His voice was surprisingy quiet, and a bit squeaky, more like a girl’s. Trying not to smile about that, Alan nodded. “You do everything through Teddy. You never come here again, and tell nobody about this flat, or use my name, got that? And no phones. They can trace those things too easily. You meet Teddy in person somewhere, and he will tell you what the plan is. Okay? And no names used on the job. From now on I am One, you will be Two, and so on. remember that”.

Teddy was nodding and smiling, and so was Carl. Alan didn’t care for too much nodding and smiling. “I asked if you got that”. Carl swallowed before replying. “Yes, got it all”.

He stood up to let them know it was time to go. Gloria would be back soon, and he didn’t want them seeing her. “I will be in touch, Teddy. No more uninvited guests though, yeah?” The men left the flat, both still nodding and smiling. Alan lit a cigarette, wondering when nodding and smiling had replaced conversation. If Teddy spoke for him, then that Carl must be alright. But having three ex-mercenaries on the job was a bit worrying. That type was known for being a bit gun-happy, to say the least. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and he didn’t know many villains who were still around.

Even with Carl and his mates, he would still need two more. But a thought had occurred.

Tony Allison had been the go-to man for motors. He could nick any car to order, make it run faster or quieter, and get rid of it when it had been used. Good with bigger things too, like heavy lorries, or the massive dump-truck Alan had once used to ram a security van. He was known to everyone as Lugs, because he had big ears that stuck out like wing-nuts. When Gloria got home from work, Alan made her a cup of tea, and asked the question.

“Glor, is Lugs still around? He must be seventy-odd now I suppose”. She took the mug, and sat at the table. “Yeah, I saw him a few days ago, coming out of the Londis shop. I reckon he will be in The Alwyne Castle later, he seems to live in that pub. I have got us some lamb chops for dinner, if that’s okay”.

Even early on a Sunday night, the pub was busy. Alan shook his head at all the telly screens around. Why did people go to pubs then sit and watch sport on telly? He would never get used to that. It was the same in Spain, in the bars that catered for the Brits. Lugs was sitting on a stool at the end of the bar, holding a fresh pint of Guinness. His ears were even bigger now, and age had given him droopy jowls that made him look like a rather sad old dog. He didn’t recognise the tanned man in the smart suit walking up to him, but grinned when Alan spoke.

“You want a chaser with that Irish engine oil, Lugs?”

The Job: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 780 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Teddy turns up unexpectedly.

Once Gloria had left for work that Sunday morning, Alan got the jiffy bag from the spare room, and checked over the .22. He stripped it, reassembled it, then loaded 10 rounds into the magazine. The long-barrelled Ruger was a very nice pistol, and even with the silencer attached, it still fitted inside the padded jiffy bag. He went back into the bedroom and hid it under his empty case in the small wardrobe. That reminded him that he would have to buy more clothes soon.

It was getting colder in London.

Alan Gill had always used firearms during his relatively short career as an armed robber. They made a lot of noise, and stopped most people wanting to even consider fighting back, or resisting. He favoured revolvers, as they retained the cartridges in the cylinder. Automatic pistols ejected the spent cartridges, and that meant leaving evidence behind, or having to scrabble around to find them. Even weapons that were supplied as untraceable might well have been used in other robberies. So if you got nicked, you could be sure the cops would fit you up with every other crime where the same weapon had been used.

Trouble was, ballistics was getting more accurate every year. That made it harder to be a criminal, no doubt.

During that time, Alan had only ever shot three people deliberately. The first had been a cash-in-transit security guard. The man thought to have a go, by grabbing Alan from behind as they threw the cash boxes into a stolen car. Without hesitation, Alan fired his Bulldog .45 into the man’s right foot, straight through his boot. No chance of killing him, but he definitely released his grip.

The second time, they had been jumped by armed detectives as they came out of a bank with bags full of cash. The nervous young detective had followed procedure, shouting “Halt! Armed police! Drop your weapon!” Alan hadn’t dropped the .38 S&W. He shot the cop in the thigh instead, and they made good their escape.

Following the bank job, they knew they had been grassed. So Alan shot the man who grassed them. And this time, it was fatal.

Lawrence Toomey was known as Larry The Limp. He had been a crappy cat-burglar in Northern Ireland, just about earning a living. Then one day, he burgled the house of a widow in the countryside near Londonderry. She came home from the shops to find a strange man in her house with a calico bag full of her jewellery. Larry thought he might as well rape her while he was there, so threatened her with his crowbar, and told her to strip. But she was made of stern stuff. She spat in his face, fought back like a crazy person, and Larry legged it back to his car parked in a lane nearby.

He had to drive past her house to get away, and she spotted the car. Not many bright red mark four Cortinas in Londonderry back then.

Larry had made a huge mistake. The widow was the wife of an IRA man who had been shot by the British Army while on active service for the cause. She made a phone call. They found him trying to sell some of her Cameo brooches to a fence on the Dungiven Road. In a remote lock-up, he was kneecapped. One shot in the back of each knee, then dumped on the main road. Once he got out of hospital, he did the sensible thing, and left for London. The right knee never healed properly, and left him with a permanent limp.

Nobody in the Irish community in Kilburn or Cricklewood would tolerate him, so he went east, and ended up in Islington. One night, he got Teddy Henderson drunk on cheap brandy, and learned about a bank job that was happening. Better to tell the cops and get a reward, rather than keep trying to burgle basement flats in Barnsbury.

Someone told Alan Larry had been seen talking to Teddy in a pub, and Teddy was drunk as a sack. That was enough for Alan.

The Irishman was easy to find. When Alan knocked on the door of his flat in Laycock Green that night he looked nervous, but let him in. Seeing the old Webley come out of Alan’s coat, he started to plead his case. But it was far too late.

One shot, through the top of his head. He was done. The pistol went into the canal that night, never to be found.

Gloria’s doorbell sounded. It was Teddy Henderson, with a geezer who looked like Arnie, in ‘Terminator’.

The Job: Part Eleven

This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 743 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Recruiting begins.

As Gloria was going to bed, Alan popped his head around the door of her room. “Glor, is Teddy Henderson still about?” She shrugged. “Last I heard he was living on the Packington Estate, Danny will know where”.

Daniele Ricci was from an old Italian family in Clerkenwell. His dad had run an ice cream firm, with mobile vans touring all over north London. But that was a dangerous game at one time, with others trying to muscle in on the trade. Danny had been roughed up bad. They took a sledgehammer to his ice cream van, then to him. He had been in a wheelchair ever since. He smiled as he pulled the door open, scooting his wheelchair back to let Alan into the ground floor flat.

“Danny, I’m looking for Teddy Henderson. Gloria told me you know where he lives now”. Wheeling across to a chest of drawers, Danny took an address book from the top one. “He was on the Packington until last year, but now he lives in a flat in Golden Lane, Barbican area. It’s above a shop, so I’ve never been there. Hang on, I’ll write down the address for you”. Alan took the post-it-note, and turned to leave. “Thanks, Danny. Good to see you mate”. The less Danny knew about anything, the better.

The cab didn’t take long to get down to The Barbican at that time of day. There was no reply from the doorbell marked ‘Henderson’, so Alan waited, pretending to browse along the windows of the row of shops. Three cigarettes later, he heard a familiar voice. “Fuck me! Is that a ghost? No, can’t be, ghosts don’t have tans. Alan, you old bastard, you found me. Come on up, I’ve got some decent brandy in the flat”.

Teddy still looked fit, but his face was old. He served the brandy in two mismatched glasses, and sat on the bed. Alan took the small armchair, trying not to look around the shabby studio flat. He came straight to the point. “Teddy mate, I’m looking to put up a team. I need someone like you to sort out five reliable blokes who don’t ask too many questions, and can handle themselves with shooters. And nobody just out of jug, or wanted by the Old Bill. There’s a nice earner in it for you, get you out of this shit-hole”.

Twenty-nine years earlier, Alan had taken Teddy on a job. They used motorbikes and raided a posh jewellers in Knightsbridge. In and out, with a good haul, but Teddy didn’t know the area. He had got himself lost in some back street, and been cornered by two police cars. He decided to shoot his way out, and injured a copper in the leg doing so. Five minutes later, another police car rammed his bike, and put him in hospital.

He went to court for sentencing on a day when the judge was in a shit mood, and got thirty years. Armed robbery, and attempted murder of a police officer. He wouldn’t grass up the others, so got hit hard. Paroled after twenty-two years, his wife had left him, and his flat was gone. Alan had given his wife fifteen grand when Teddy got sent down, then Pauline told him to fuck off, and slammed the door in her face.

He felt he still owed Teddy.

“I was living with my old nan on the Packington, Al. But when she died, I didn’t qualify to keep a two-bed flat. This was the best I could get from the housing trust people. I do know some people who would be up for that, but not me. I’ve had enough mate”. Alan swallowed some more of the cheap brandy. “I just need you to do the recruiting, Teddy. No need to be on the job”. Teddy nodded. “Yeah, I can do that. Got a number where I can contact you, once I set up a meet?” Alan shook his head.

“No phones, Teddy. Come and find me at Gloria’s flat in Highbury Grove when you have something solid”. Reaching into the inside pocket of his jacket, he handed over five hundred pounds. “This is for your time and trouble today, and for using cabs. No hire cars, and like I said, no phones”. He stood up to leave.

“And there’s enough there for a decent bottle of Cognac. Treat yourself”.

The Job: Part Ten

This is the tenth part of a fiction serial, in 801 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Alan talks to Gloria.

With the .22 and its silencer tucked away in an innofensive jiffy bag, Alan headed back to Gloria’s flat to deal with another of his decisions. It wasn’t going to be easy to get her to leave the country, but it would be essential if the job came off. She still worked two days a week for Ronnie, in his florist’s shop near The Angel tube. Not that she needed the money, as it had turned out Vince had good life insurance. But she didn’t want to let Ronnie down, so covered Saturdays and Sunday mornings during his busy time.

If necessary, he would have a quiet word in Ronnie’s ear.

As usual, she was pleased to see him, and asked no questions except for one. “What do you fancy for dinner tonight, love? I could make us a nice steak and kidney pie. Don’t suppose you have had one of those since you were last here?” He didn’t hang around with what he needed to say. “Yeah, a pie would be nice. But I have to talk to you, Glor. Sit down and have a drink with me”. He lit a cigarette, and started coughing again. His sister shook her head. “You should really pack those up you know. Hardly anyone smokes these days. It’s too expensive, and not good for you”.

Pouring two glasses of Black Label, he looked straight into her eyes. “There might be a job on. A very big job. If I decide to go ahead with it, you are going to have to leave before it kicks off. I have a very nice villa in Spain. It’s got a pool, cleaning lady, near the beach and town. You could fly out and enjoy some winter sunshine. Chill out a bit. It’s not like you have any reason to stay now mum has gone. And before you mention Ronnie, he could easy train up a school girl to help out with the flowers”.

Gloria pulled a face at the whisky. It wasn’t really her drink of choice. “Are you asking me, or telling me, Alan? Sounds to me like you’re telling me, and you know that’s not gonna go down well at all”. He looked across the small table at his sister. Her hair was dyed too black, and her fingers were getting too podgy for all the rings she was wearing. Her double chin seemed to quiver when she spoke, and her small even teeth could do with some attention. Nine years older than him, but looking more like his mum every day.

“There is no reason for you to say no, and I am going to have to insist this time. If I pull this off we will be made for life, and then if you want you can come back to England and live anywhere you like. But you do have to go. Do this for me, please sis”. She slid the glass over to him. “If we are having a drink to celebrate something, then you can finish this. I’ll get meself a gin and tonic”. Alan watched her leave the room, then breathed a sigh of relief.

When they had finished the pie, Gloria was pleased that he had eaten so much. “I am going to have to renew my passport though, Alan. I will go to the Post Office tomorrow to see about that”. As he handed her his plate and cutlery, the doorbell rang. It was Reg and Graham. He showed them into the front room, and didn’t offer them a drink.

Looking at Carly’s boyfriend, he wondered what she saw in him. He had to be a fair bit older than her, and he didn’t have much about him. Too meek and mild for Alan’s liking. He came straight to the point.

“If I do this job, you have to be driving the lorry. I need to know I have an inside man I can rely on. And the coppers will be all over you after. Give you a right grilling, threaten you with all sorts of shit. And there’s a good chance the company will sack you, even if you don’t get arrested. So I will give you two hundred and fifty grand, as long as you promise to be sensible with it, and splash none of it about. But like I said, you have to be in the lorry, preferably driving it. That, or the job’s off and I walk away”.

Reg nodded at the man, and Graham finally answered. “Okay, Mister Gill. Whatever you say”. Alan stood up, giving them their cue to leave. He put his hand on Graham’s shoulder by the front door.

“And if you grass, that will be the end of you. Someone will come for you. You got that?”

The Job: Part Nine

This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 787 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Alan makes some decisions.

By the time he had woken up the next morning, Alan had made some firm decisions. One meant he would have to see Graham sooner rather than later, so after breakfast he walked to Old Reg’s flat off the Essex Road. The place was shabby, and smelled bad inside. Since Reg had lost his wife to breast cancer over twenty years earlier, he hadn’t kept up any domestic routine to speak of. Hattie had been his childhood sweetheart, and the love of his life. Reg had taken it hard when she went.

Not even wanting to sit down on the greasy furniture, Alan spoke in a friendly manner. “Reg mate, I can’t stop, things to do. But I wanted to tell you that I am going to have to meet with Graham again, soon as. Can you get him to Gloria’s place tonight d’you reckon?” The old man nodded. “Well if it’s important, he’ll have to come, won’t he? Leave it with me, Alan. We will be there”.

Next stop was Rupert’s shop in Camden Passage. As it wasn’t raining, Alan walked there too.

“Alan Gill, well as I live and breathe. I didn’t expect to see you again old love”. Rupert turned the sign on the door to read ‘Sorry, we’re closed’, and slipped the top bolt into place. “Come out the back, and we will have a drinkie to celebrate your return”. As usual, Rupert was immaculate. Fresh flower in the buttonhole of his jacket, and his military striped tie firmly done in a nice Windsor knot. He hadn’t seemed to gain an ounce in weight in the last twenty-five years, and only a large bald patch on the back of his head betrayed his advancing years.

Gloria had been rude about him, when asked if he was still around. “Rupert? You mean that bum-bandit? Yeah, his shop is still going”. Alan didn’t concern himself about the man’s sexuality. He was good at what he did. The best.

In the comfortable office behind the shop counter, Alan was handed a very large whisky in a crystal tumbler. “Single malt old love, only the best for you. I take it you are here on business of some kind? I don’t suppose you came all the way from wherever you got that tan to buy some Ming vases of dubious heritage?” Alan sipped the whisky and made an appreciative face.

“Let’s suppose I had a job that needed a bit of firepower for show. Let’s suppose I wanted four good revolvers and a couple of shotguns. What are we talking about, Rupert old mate?” Smiling, the dealer stood up, his military bearing still very much in evidence. “Bring your drink and follow me”.

The small yard at the back was completely filled by a metal shed the size of a shipping container that left no room to even walk up the side of it. Rupert unlocked the huge padlock with a combination, and switched on a light before walking in. Behind random stacks of furniture and vases were some old trunks, the sort rich people used to take on world cruises. Laying out his wares on an antique Chinese table, he described each one in turn.

“You have your basic S&W .38, short-barrel, completely reliable. Or my recommendation of these Colt Pythons. They take a .357 magnum round, and the six-inch barrel gives more accuracy. And shotguns are so ninteen-sixties, old love. What I have for you are a couple of Chinese-made AK-47 paratroop assault rifles. Stick twenty-eight rounds in the magazine, and let go on full automatic. Nobody will still be looking at you after that, believe me. They are still in their packing grease, never been fired, and I have ammuntion for everything. If you don’t fire any of them, I will buy them back for half the price. But if they are used, dump them somewhere. They are all untraceable, you know me”.

Nodding at the Colt pistols, Alan smiled. “I’ll take four of the Pythons, and two of the AKs. Just enough ammo to load each one though, I don’t intend ending up in a firefight. And I don’t need them yet. If it turns out I don’t need them at all, I will bung you something for your trouble of cleaning them and getting them ready. There is something I need now though. Have you got a smallish .22 automatic? I’ll take a short silencer for it too, and maybe twenty rounds”.

After a quick rummage in a tea-chest at the back, Rupert appeared with what Alan had asked for.

“A .22 with a silencer? Dear me, are you going to actually kill someone old love?”

The Job: Part Eight

This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 734 words. It may contain some swear words.

Back at Gloria’s, Alan sat in the kitchen with a notebook while Gloria heated up the dinner he had arrived home too late for. She knew better than to ask him anything about where he had been, or what he was doing.

It might be too much money. Not too much to handle physically, or to get laundered into other currencies. He still knew people who could manage that for around twenty percent, no questions asked. But the sheer amount of cash was going to attract attention, and everyone would be on the job like flies on a fresh turd. Worse still, he would have to sit on the money for a long time, until the investigation and frantic search subsided.

That meant having to trust people he didn’t know, like Graham. And some people he did know. Like Old Reg, and some fixers he would need to use later.

Alan didn’t trust anyone. Except Gloria.

In the small notebook, he jotted down some ideas. It was good to get them down on paper and look at them, seemed to make more sense. Later on, he would burn the pages in Gloria’s kitchen sink.

If he was going to do this job, he might as well go for broke. Two vans would mean three guys per van, so he had to find himself five useful blokes who would keep a cool head, and not blab about it after. Not easy, when you have been away so long. His old mate Little Alan was off the cast list. Gloria had told Alan the news about him when he had come back for that short trip years earlier.

After the airport job, he had gone cowboy, raiding banks and security vans, firing guns in the street, all sorts of crazy stuff. Then he had made a much bigger mistake. Frankie Toland had sent for him, wanting to know where his tribute money was from all the jobs. Little Alan had fronted him up, acted flash, told him he was old school, and that he could fuck off. Frankie said nothing. The next day, Little Alan disappeared. After two weeks, his girlfriend moved out of their flat and went back to live with her mum.

Chances are that Little Alan’s body was in some concrete on a new motorway bridge. Toland didn’t mess around.

The vans used for the job would have to be stolen, and have genuine plates relating to that type of vehicle. He would need to find somewhere in plain sight to store the cash. The cops would search any rural locations, outbuildings, farms, that kind of thing. So it would be best to get it into the city, where there was just too much to search. They would all need shooters, to make the driver and co-driver scared enough not to resist.

He had asked Gloria if Rupert Pennington still had his antique shop in Camden Passage, and he did. Rupert had to be seventy at least now, but he was the most reliable contact for firearms that Alan had ever used. An ex-Army officer, outwardly straight and honest, he had used his military contacts around the world to source all kinds of good stuff, most of which was shipped to his place stashed inside antique furniture. He had never had his collar felt by the cops, and was so respectable, Gloria said he had been on an antiques valuation programme on telly.

Rupert would be getting a visit soon.

First priority was to make sure Frankie Toland didn’t hear about it. No way was he going to take a small percentage from a job that big. He would stitch them up and take the lot. He had the muscle and manpower, as well as eyes and ears in every pub in the borough. As soon as the job made the news, Frankie would know. He would realise why Alan had stayed on after the funeral, put two and two together, and make five. Then he would come after Alan. Gloria would have to skip with him this time, like it or not. She couldn’t be left behind for Toland to use as a hostage.

When he had eaten the congealed dinner, Alan burned the notebook pages, then ran the tap to flush the ashes down the sink.

Tomorrow, he would have to arrange a second meet with Graham.

The Job: Part Seven

This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 727 words. It may contain some swear-words.

A Meeting Is Arranged.

When Alan told Gloria the next morning that he intended to stay on for a while, he wasn’t specific about how long. She couldn’t hide her delight at having her brother home, and told him he could stay as long as he wanted. After breakfast, he walked up to Holloway Road and used an Internet Cafe to send Rosa an email telling her not to expect him back as arranged.

Old Reg came round at lunchtime, and Alan spoke to him outside the flat. The less Gloria heard, the better.

“Alan, I have set up a meeting with Duke for tonight. He will meet us outside Euston Station, on the forecourt, around seven. We can hang around near the bus stops, look as if we’re waiting for a bus. That okay with you?” Alan lit a cigarette, then nodded. “I take it he knows who I am? Reg shrugged. “Course he does, I had to let him know you were a pro who could pull this off. He doesn’t know about Spain, the airport job, or whatever though. Do you want me to pick you up, Al?”

Shaking his head, Alan replied rather sharply. “No I don’t, Reg. I don’t want to be seen in any cars with anyone from the old days. This place has more CCTV than you can shake a stick at, and I am betting your motor is well known to the coppers”. Reg looked miffed. “I ain’t been in trouble for almost forty years mate. The Old Bill couldn’t care less about me”. Flicking the butt of his cigarette onto the shabby grass outside, Alan turned to head back into the small block. “I’ll get a cab, Reg. See you there”.

It was easy enough to wave down a cab. Alan had walked down to the new Arsenal Football Ground that they now called The Emirates Stadium. It was very different from the old Highbury Ground he had known as a boy. He arrived early, and stood next to a coffee place that was in a kind of caravan outside the station. The area was nice and busy, hundreds of commuters rushing past him to get trains home to the home counties. If Reg was driving his car down, he was going to have a mare finding somewhere to park.

Just before seven, he walked across the front of the station to where all the buses pulled in. He could see Reg at the end of one of the stops, talking to a tall bloke who looked older than Alan had expected. Acting as if he didn’t know them, he walked over and stood nearby, waiting until a bus arrived and everyone else got on. Then they were the only three there, but Alan still stood with his back to them, as if they were strangers. “So you’re Graham? I’m not calling you Duke, I will use your real name. How many security are we talking about? How much can reasonably be expected to be there, and what’s the situation with alarms and that?” Despite the ‘No Smoking’ sign, he lit a cigarette as he waited for the reply.

The bloke was respectful. Reg had obviously had a word with him. “I don’t think it’s possible in the depot, Mister Gill. I was thinking you could hijack one of the lorries. They are pretty big, and most runs have fifty mill or much more in each truck”. Alan choked as he inhaled on the cigarette. He hadn’t had a clue they would be talking about such a sum. Graham carried on speaking. “Not a good idea to take that much though. You could just use a good-sized van, and still get ten mill in easy. They are all twenties at the moment, and you would be surprised what a small pile a mill in twenties is”.

Trying to sound casual, Alan nodded as he spoke. “What about the trucks? Alarms, trackers, radio? All that I suppose”. Graham nodded. “Yes Mister Gill, but I will be able to tell you how to get around all that”. Without turning, Alan spoke to Reg. “Okay Reg, the job is on. I will be in touch”.

He walked straight across Euston Road at the traffic lights and headed into a pub.

Time for a large Scotch.

The Job: Part Six

This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 717 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Spain, 2007.

After almost twenty-five years in Spain, Alan was living in a bigger villa. It had a decent-sized pool, and a local woman came in twice a week to do the cleaning, and his washing and ironing. She called him ‘Senor Ricardo’, which always made him think of the old actor, Ricardo Montalban. He had given up the flat in Barcelona some years before. The winters could be cold and wet, making the city feel dismal, and his girlfriend had long since deserted him for someone who had a nice motor yacht.

Of course, she had no idea how wealthy Alan was. Even though he didn’t stint on his very comfortable lifestyle, he continued to pretend that he got by on the income from his hire business. So when she met some East European waving money around and boasting about his yacht, that was her cue to scarper.

For the last three years, he had been seeing an English woman who had worked as a holiday company rep in Tossa, and then settled there. Chrissy was ten years younger than him, and rented a flat in the old town. She helped out in one of the English bars, serving beer and full breakfasts to sunburnt tourists as they watched British football or cricket on large TV screens dotted around the place. Chrissy was very much her own woman, and knew the area like the back of her hand. She had turned down Alan’s suggestion to move in with him, but regularly stopped over a couple of nights a week.

Rosa was still running the business. She was pushing fifty now, but you would never guess.

The truth was, Alan was lonely. Back in London he had known a lot of people, even calling some of them friends. In Spain, he still had to be careful. Live the life of Richard Alexander, never talk about Islington, or what he did before he arrived in Spain. And he was feeling his age. He had been there so long that one of the restaurants saved a table for him, just in case he turned up. The waiters called him ‘Mister Richard’, and they all knew what he liked to drink.

Before Vince died, Gloria and him had taken their holidays in Spain, but never close to Alan. Vince preferred Benidorm, so Gloria said. That was five hundred miles further south, and although Gloria would always phone him to let him know they were there, it was never once suggested that he drive down to visit them. Alan knew Vince didn’t like criminals. He had never made any secret of his disapproval of his brother-in-law’s choice of career, or the fact that he had skipped to Spain, leaving Gloria to care for their mum and dad as they got older.

Vince worked as a market porter at the New Covent Garden Market, in Nine Elms. He had worked in the old market near Charing Cross, before it had moved in seventy-four. Starting in the early hours, Vince lugged around fruit and vegetables for one of the wholesale companies. He was a man who believed in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. A phrase he was often heard to utter. They never had any kids, even though they were married at eighteen, when everyone thought Gloria must be up the duff. Most people presumed Gloria had something wrong that stopped her having babies. But she had told Alan it was Vince who couldn’t father any.

When he died, Gloria took it hard. Alan offered her to live with him in Spain, but she wouldn’t leave the family in north London.

He had always got on well with his sister before he left England, even though there was no love lost beteen him and Vince. He had to admit that he missed Gloria, but he would never have admitted that to her. He hoped she knew.

The phone call saying his mum was seriously ill shouldn’t have been such a surprise, but it was. He didn’t have long to sort things out with Rosa, transfer some money into an account he could access easily, and book a one-way flight to London.

On the plane going over, he felt anxious, and not just about his mum.

The Job: Part Five

This is the fifth part of a fiction serial, in 770 words. It may contain some swear-words.

Spain, 1982.

The airport job paid out as agreed, eventually. Straight into a bank in the Cayman Islands. Alan didn’t mess around, and transferred the money to two different banks within a week. He had enough travelling money to set himself up with a front, and knew not to act flash, like wearing a Rolex, and checking into a five-star hotel. He exchanged the hire car for a much more boring runabout, and rented a tiny one-bed villa just outside Tossa de Mar.

It was going to take a while to get used to being Richard Alexander.

The passport was top-notch though. They had even got some genuine old stamps in for places like Ibiza and Corfu. For all the world he looked like a regular tourist who had decided to settle in Spain. The UK driving licence and International driving permit were suitably aged, and his date of birth had only been changed by one year older, so it would look convincing.

There had been no problem finding a property agent who spoke English. After a week in a budget hotel, he had rented the modest villa, and had her working on a commercial property for rent. He didn’t need a business to make money, just to look good, and give him a reason to be there. Once the woman found him somewhere suitable, within walking distance to the popular tourist spots, he bought forty mopeds and six VW convertibles, setting up a hire business squarely aimed at tourists.

Not speaking Spanish, and not actually wanting to sit in a pokey office all day renting scooters at a loss, he hired a German girl called Monika to run the place. She spoke English and Spanish as well as German, and she could manage some Italian at a pinch. Her interview speech was all about how she could get lots of German customers. Alan had to stop her in mid-flow and tell her she had not only got the job, but would be paid extra to teach him enough Spanish to get by on.

The fact that she ended up in his bed most nights was an unexpected bonus.

Back then, Spain was full of British criminals living the high life in the full glare of publicity. Alan wanted none of that, hence choosing the down-market Costa Brava instead of the gangster’s domicile of choice, Marbella. After making sure he could rely on the German girl and the two Spanish girls she had employed to help her, he spent some time in Barcelona, only ninety minutes away. Feeling instantly at home in that city, he took a lease on a flat in the Barri Gotic district, intending to spend half the year there.

Sure, he knew Monika would rip him off in his absence. But he really didn’t need the business to make money, just to tick over.

If he had a regret, it was that his parents and Gloria would never know about his new life and new identity in Spain. They would of course presume he had skipped after a big job, and just live with that. The families of criminals were a different breed. Staunch. If anyone had grassed up Alan Gill for the airport job, they would get nothing from his family.

After almost ten years, and no sign of any cops trying to arrest him, he went back, travelling as Richard Alexander of course. His dad looked as if he had been painted battleship grey, and Vince wasn’t much better. He dropped his mum and Gloria a wad of cash, but couldn’t stand life back in London. He only stayed for four days, before returning to Barcelona. They didn’t complain when he said he was going. On the quiet, he told Gloria about his new name, and gave her a mobile number he was sure to answer.

The first time she rang it was almost a year later, to tell him their dad had dropped dead in the street. Heart attack, Gloria said.

The next few years were good years. He had a new Spanish girlfriend in Barcelona, Monika went home to Cologne, and was replaced by Rosa. She actually made money from the hire business, and Alan bought more cars and mopeds, just to make sure the profits were not too obvious. Alan could get by in Spanish, and in German too, thanks to Monika. His tan was like mahogany, and shopkeepers and bar owners in Barcelona gave him a ‘Hola!’ as he walked by.

Then Gloria phoned again. Vince had prostate cancer. Six months if he was lucky.

The Job: Part Four

This is the fourth part of a fiction serial, in 773 words. Some swear-words may be used.

Richard Alexander.

When Reg had left and Gloria went back to bed, Alan sat in the kitchen thinking about whether or not he could be bothered about the job. It depended on a lot of things. How much was involved. How many he would need to pull it off, and Graham and Carly keeping their mouths shut. He would decide for sure once he had met the bloke.

Alan Gill had been a professional criminal all his life. But he had never once been arrested, had his fingerprints taken, or had to give a DNA sample. In every respect bar one, he had never really existed once he had left school. He had never paid taxes or National Insurance, never been employed legitimately by anyone, and certainly never claimed any social security benefits, or registered to vote in elections.

When there was a census, his mum and dad had known to leave his name off of the form, and he had never applied for a passport, or been abroad on holiday. The only document he had ever had that bore his real name and address was a driving licence. Not to have one of those was asking for trouble if he had been stopped for some mickey mouse driving offence. If he needed a dentist or a doctor, he paid privately for one that asked no questions.

He had watched his dad working for basic pay as a delivery driver for John Lewis. Happy to get overtime for a Saturday morning, acting like the manager was doing him a favour letting him work. Although he could have done well at school, he chose to leave before he was seventeen, and go to work for Frankie Toland. Frankie had the local detectives straightened up, so nobody ever asked who the new kid was when they saw him helping out at one of the warehouses. By the time he was eighteen, he was driving one of Frankie’s vans and delivering juke boxes and gaming machines to pubs and clubs that had been told they had to have them.

Alan had an interest in guns. He read about them in magazines, played around with the ones at Frankie’s place, stripping them down and cleaning them. All of the older blokes working for Frankie carried shooters, though mostly just to wave around and frighten people with. By the time he was twenty, people were calling Alan ‘The Armourer’, and it seemed only logical that he should embark on a new career, away from Frankie’s seedy businesses.

He wanted to be an armed robber.

Permission had to be sought of course. Frankie agreed to Alan branching out alone, so long as he got a good earner out of it. Fortunately, he wasn’t greedy. “Ten percent is acceptable to me, Alan. But don’t you dare stitch me up, or believe me you will be sorry”. With a couple of decent pistols, bought from Frankie on credit, he set up a job with one of the other van drivers, another Alan known as ‘Little Alan’ because he was so short.

Keeping well away from home territory, they hit three post offices on three consecutive days. Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire. Then they went to ground as the news was all over it, describing it as a ‘home counties crime wave’. After that success, everyone wanted to work with Alan The Armourer. He had shown he had a cool head, and was a natural meticulous planner.

The good years that followed started to build up to bigger and bigger jobs, until Alan set up one of the biggest robberies in British history. A robbery that never got any news coverage for fear that it would set off a wave of copycats. It was simplicity itself. Dressed as airport workers, the team were supposed to load bullion into a cargo plane at the edge of Heathrow, using forklift trucks. Naturally, security guards were in attendance, but when the robbers produced a small arsenal of automatic weapons, they did as they were told and lay face down on the ground. Then the gold was simply loaded into another aircraft, already arranged to fly it out of the country.

There had been a lot of ‘fixers’ taking their cuts, and they also had to pay off the genuine airport workers. Too many people were involved, but it was enough to set him up abroad. He already had a new identity, a genuine passport, driving licence, and bank documents. They had cost enough too.

When he drove his hire car onto the ferry to Santander that night, he was Richard Alexander.