Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Thirty Pieces of Silver - Friend or Foe

Joey was about to cross the Hay-Penny Bridge when his phone rang. He'd been in a foul mood since he'd gotten rid of Jimmy’s bag. He knew he was being taken for a mug and was furious with himself for being so dumb. He had let himself be used as a drug mule, which was the most stupid thing that he had ever let happen, including getting banged up for joyriding. It was more than just anger, Joey was frightened beyond words because he knew there was nothing he could do to get himself out of the hole he had dug for himself. Jimmy Kingston was not the kind of man you said no to and expect to get away unscathed. He looked at the strange number flashing on his phone and wondered whether he should answer it or not. With one eye on the screen Joey zigzagged through the flood of corporate minions wearing off-the-rack suits and cheap shoes. He was being jostled and he didn’t like it one bit. This day was going from bad to worse. The incessant ringing was too much to ignore and he pressed the connect button, “Yea?”

“Joey, it’s Frank.”

“Frank who?” snapped Joey, dodging around a camera toting Chinese tourist.  

“Frank, Frank Jennings. Jesus, it’s Scobie, alright?”

“What do you want Scob, I’m flamen busy?”

“I’m in deep shit, Joey,” he said in a whisper.

What else was new, Scobie's entire life was a shit-storm if the truth be known.

“What’s happened?” Joey asked as he paused at the end of the bridge. Trying to get through the crowd was too much bother while he was being distracted by the phone. The flow of people broke around him as if he was nothing more than a boulder in the middle of a river. 

“I got nicked lifting a few Tommy Hilfiger tops from TKMax.”

“Jesus, Scobe, you’re a right dick head.”

“I thought I could knock them out on Henry Street and make a few quid. The thing is, Joey, they are going to send me back inside straight away unless can prove where I'm living. They won’t give me bail if I have no fixed abode.”

“Your fucked so.”

“I know that, which is why I said I was living at your gaff.”

“You did what?”

“I had too, Joey, I'd no choice.”

“I’ll kill you when I get my hands on you. The last thing I need is the coppers up my arse because of one of your fuck-ups”

“Fair is fair, Joey. I came with you when you needed a bit of help, all I am asking for is a dig out.”

“I paid you for that, not that you were any use in the end.”

“I had your back, Joey. I wouldn’t have let you down and you know it.”

“Whatever, Scobie. There's stuff going on right now you know nothing about and I really can’t have the coppers getting interested in me, sorry.”

“Please Joey, I’m desperate. I can’t go back inside, not yet anyway. I swear, there’ll be no bother. I won’t be staying at your gaff or anything, you just have to say I am, and bring an electricity bill or something down to the cop shop.”

“You’re really pushing it, Scobie.”

“I won’t ever ask you for another thing, I swear. I owe you huge.”

“I should have my head examined. What station?”

“Store Street.”

“Alright, but it will take a few hours.”

“You’re the best, Joey, they broke the mould when they made you.”

“Save the flannel for my sister. If she finds out she'll kill the two of us.”

Joey stabbed the disconnect button. Everyone thought he was a soft touch. He had a good mind to let Scobie stay exactly where he was. After all, he wasn’t Scobie's keeper. His black mood was now positively thunderous. He skipped between the traffic and took a back lane toward Templebar. Half way along the dark passage he saw a pair of dirty runners sticking out from behind a wheelie bin. A filthy young woman was hunkered down in the middle of the trash, injecting herself. She was rake thin, nothing more than skin and bone, her face was so hollow she looked like the walking dead. Joey kept glancing back at the girl and realised this was where Scobie was going to end up, if he wasn’t already there. Nobody could ever really help Scobie, not for long anyway.  Joey reached the end of the alley and looked back at the girl. Her head had flopped back and her eyes were shut. Joey knew the first atoms of brown were hitting her brain and the rush was starting. The needle was hanging from her arm, not that she cared. Joey felt sick to his stomach and promised himself he would never end up like that, never.

If it only took a copy of an electric bill to keep Scobie out of the big house for a few days longer, then an electric bill he would get. Sarah didn’t need to know, it would only be one more thing for her to bitch about. Joey waked on but this time he passed easily through the throngs of tourists in Templebar and was surprised to find he was whistling to himself as he strolled. Somehow the fury he felt earlier had evaporated all because he was helping someone out. The day seemed warmer, the crowds less suffocating and his outlook much brighter. Now that he had something to do his mind was at peace. He’d get Scobie out of the slammer and worry about Jimmy tomorrow. Joey vanished into the crowd with a grin and a jaunty step.

***


As soon as the detectives were out Emma's front door, Darren rang John and told him what had happened. They arranged to meet at Darren’s place in case the cops were still hanging around. By the time Darren got to his apartment John was already waiting there with Clare. She stood up and gave him a kiss on the cheek. She had a worried look in her eye and Darren whispered, “Give us a few minutes, Babe.”

Clare didn’t say anything, she just walked down the hall toward the bedroom and closed the door behind her. When the soft sounds of a TV drifted up the corridor Darren sat beside his brother and said, “The coppers are trying to pin anything they can on us.”

John smiled, “Of course they are, but nobody is going to talk and Jimmy is sure as hell not going to turn tout any time soon."

“That's not going to make doing business any easier. Every time I turn a corner I've been running into the filth. It’s like they're everywhere, or at least everywhere I am. “

“Not just you, they pulled me over earlier and searched the car from top to bottom. I rang Tony as soon as I was out of there and told him to ditch anything he was carrying. They're will pounce on any little thing so we have to be extra careful for the next few weeks.”

“Are the coppers doing all this just because of a few dust-ups or is this Jimmy Kingston pulling strings to get them to do his dirty work for them,” asked Darren, his face as stiff as concrete. 

“Jimmy has plenty of bent Guards on his payroll but I don’t think they'd be stupid enough to get involved with anything as blatant as that. I think the dust will settle after a few days, Joe public will see the Garda out in force and everything will be forgotten. If we keep our heads down for a bit and don’t get caught with anything stupid, they will lose interest and move on to someone else.”

“Jimmy won't forget as easily as the Garda no matter what. You know he's planning something.”

“Yea but we’ll be ready.”

"Because you got a man on the inside?"

"Exactly."

“It’s about time you told me who it is.”

John smiled, “Fergal Collins. Don’t tell the lads, they’d let it slip to someone.”

“Collins? Wasn’t he one of the guys we turned over at the Red Cow?”

John laughed, “Yea, sure was, how do you think I knew where the handover was happening?”

“I nearly battered his brains out,” said Darren remembering the guy trying to crawl under the car to get away.

“It had to look real, no point in telling you to go easy on him was there? Anyway, he got his wedge from that job and he came out looking clean as a whistle. He’s a greedy weasel who deserves a kicking if you ask me,” said John, who could not hide his distaste for Fergal Collins. The only thing lower than a grass was a kiddie-fiddler, but it was a close run thing. 

Darren felt John was being far too casual about things. Jimmy Kingston was no pushover. He was going to make a move against them and soon. It was better to know what was coming so they could be prepared. Fergal Collins might be a rat and a traitor but he could well be the one thing that would keep them one step ahead of Kingston’s wrath. “I think you should give him a call.”

John took out his phone and a second or two later, the sound of ringing filled the room. Darren sat back and listened while John paced up and down, holding the phone in his hand. Eventually the phone was answered and a gruff voice emanated from the speaker, “What yea want?”

“What do you think I want, Fergal? I want to know what the hell is happening over there.”

“You can fuck right off, I told you I was finished with your lot.”

“And I told you that you’re finished when I say you’re finished, not before.”

The silence hung in the air until the voice on the end of the line said, “I want a grand.”

“That depends on what you have to tell me. Is it worth a grand?”

“Damn straight it is.”

“Alright, a grand. What is Jimmy planning?”

“I got a call from Pete today, he is rounding up at least three crews. They are going to hit as many of your dealers as they can find tonight. They are going to take as much cash and drugs as they can, but that is not what they are really after, they are going to beat the shit out of them until one of them gives up the location of your warehouse. That's what Pete wants to find. The mother load he called it. It’s payback for the gear you robbed off me.”

“I think you mean the gear you robbed, don’t you? Is that it?”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“I thought he would be planning something a bit bigger. Going after a few dealers is nothing.”

“Pete said they are going to keep after you until you go broke, that you won’t be able to shift as much as a dodgy box of fags by the time he’s finished. He said the way to stamp you out is by hitting you in the pocket.”

“If you hear anything else, I want you on the blower tout suite, you got it?”

“What about my money.”

“I will leave it at the bookies, you know the place.”

The connection went dead without the nicety of a goodbye.

“You’re right,” said Darren. “He does deserve a good kicking. Do you buy what he said?”

“It makes sense. If Pete tried to get at us where we live, we’d know about it before he got within an asses roar of the place. That’s the joy of living in the flats, they are easy to defend. It would be a disaster if he found the warehouse, Pete is right, if we lost that much it would break us. How many of the lads know where we are working from?”

“Four, could be five.”

“Round them up, I don't want them on the streets tonight. I think we need to move houses, don’t you?”

“Yea, I have three backups ready for use.”

“Cool, you pick one, don’t even tell me but remember you can’t do it yourself with all the heat on us. Use Sean, only him, and tell him that if Jimmy Kingston ends up finding the stash, I will use his head as a bowling ball.”

“He’ll get the message and I'll let the lads know to bring all the toys with them tonight. If Pete Byrne thinks he is going to catch us with our pants around our ankles he has another thing coming.”

***
The Ferryman never felt as calm as he did on the night before a job. Like any good pro he had his rituals, and the night before a hit was armoury night. He had a special relationship with his guns, they were his tools and he knew them inside out. The weapon a hit man favoured said a lot about the man. Far too many amateurs were opting for 45’s, an Uzi or even AK47’s. The Ferryman shuddered at the thought of those jackasses rushing in, spraying bullets all over the place. If they actually did manage to hit the intended victim, it was more out of luck than anything else.

If he could, the Ferryman always took the long kill. He was an expert marksman, and had notched up a dozen hits with his current favourite rifle, a GA Precision Gladius 308. Where a long shot wasn't possible he preferred to use a smaller calibre handgun, the twenty two was the best. The ammo was easy to get and hard to trace, but mostly they were quite. Another great reason to use a two two was that they didn’t blast the mark off his feet, meaning you had time to get in three or four good body shots in before the guy went down. That dramatically increased the chances of a kill. The other advantage of using a small calibre is that the bullets tend not to go straight through a body and kill someone half a mile away, particularly when the bullet was notched. A notched bullet was one which was split on the tip. When a notched shell hit a body they literally shredded the internal organs of the victim. 

The Ferryman was not concerned with innocents getting caught in the crossfire but when they did it tended to make things messy. He didn’t like messy. Why increase the chances of being caught for nothing. The gun he had in mind for the Griffin job was a Ruger 22 revolver. The Ruger held nine shells and being a revolver the spent brass would not go flying all over the place. It was a very tidy little gun and more than enough fire power to do the job. The problem was fitting a silencer. Any silencer would be far longer than the gun itself. The gun wasn’t that loud to begin with but it would still attract unwanted attention. The Ferryman had a plan, it would work out just fine. He had cleaned and loaded the gun, set out his props and had run through the set up in his mind for the thousand time. Tomorrow would be the day, John Griffin's last day, not that he'd know it.



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