Friday, 24 June 2016

Thirty Pieces of Silver - Friend or Foe (continued)

Dawn found the Ferryman in position, in disguise, and ready for action. It was raining lightly, something which didn't bother him much. The first early morning commuters began to appear and they gave him sideways glances and veered to the edge of the foot path to avoid him. None of them saw the confident individual who had window shopped along Grafton street a few days ago, nor did any of them see the mature student on his way back from a rugby match who had shared a bus with Jimmy Kingston’s bag boy. Today they saw a tramp, a dirty rag wearing drunk, propped against a dustbin, swaddled in a ripped sleeping bag and resting on a mattress of flattened cardboard boxes. Peaking from under the edge of his far too large coat was a near empty cider flagon. The last few mouthfuls of sweet liquid rolled over and back as his body rose and fell in drunken snores. His had the skin of a vagabond, stained the colour of mahogany with years of dirt and too many hours in the open air. Long fingernails were crusted with grime and gnarled from years of neglect. It looked like he was wearing at least five layers of filthy clothes topped off with a trailing rain coat that had been ripped in several places. He supported a chest length beard, matted and flecked with silver, shoulder length salt and pepper hair dropped from under a battered wool hat and dripped enough grease to keep an Italian chipper in business. The look was finished off by a pair of horn rimmed glasses with one cracked lens. To anyone, the snoring man against the bin had to be in his sixties, at least. It was amazing what the liberal application of stage makeup, latex prosthetics and fake hair could do. His own mother wouldn't recognise him, not that he'd ever know a mother.

About twenty feet, up and across the street, was a school gate. The same school he had watched John Griffin drop a small girl at three days last week. On the first day he had followed the dark four-wheel-drive he had expected the Griffin to jettison the kid at the gate like most parents do. Instead Griffin parked up on the street, turned off the engine and walked the little girl right into the playground before kissing her goodbye. Three times he had done the same thing and the ferry man only could assume that the mother had done the school run on the remaining days. Three out of five was good odds.

The Ferryman had stationed himself on the far side of the road so as not to attract the attention of an angry parent before his opportunity presented itself. He was half hidden by a bin and smelled terrible which would be enough to keep most people walking. He had even considered the rain in his calculations. On one hand it would make the taking of prints or fibres much more difficult after the fact which was good, but on the down side Griffin might not get out of the car in the inclement weather.  Only time would tell. If John Griffin didn’t show up, the Ferryman need only stumble off home after the first bell rang and try again the next day. This was a hunt and the name of the game was patience.

Eight thirty approached and the drizzle lifted slightly. The Ferryman cracked an eye open and felt the latex wrinkles and glue tug on his skin. Deep in the sleeve of his coat he balled and loosened his hand, working out any stiffness from the hours of waiting before resting his finger back on the hidden trigger of his beloved two-two handgun. What passersby couldn't see was the way the neck of the plastic cider bottle had been cut to fit the barrel of the gun and the way they had been secured together with duct-tape. Or the holes drilled in the plastic container which would vent the muzzle gas and thus deadening the sound of the shot. The bullet would punch through the end of the bottle, like a knife through butter, before ploughing into John Griffin from no more than a few feet. If this was going to work, the Ferryman had to get right into his face, literally.

Eight forty and the trickle of kids had increased to a flood. Happy shouts filled the air and the road was a morass of parent’s cars, half parked or stopped in the middle of the road, ignorant of any but their own needs. That was when the Ferryman spotted John Griffin rounding the bend. The Ferryman levered himself upright, using the bin for support and hacked up an imaginary ball of phlegm all the time watching the approaching black four by four. For a moment Griffin slowed by the gate and the Ferryman thought he was just going to drop the kid and drive safely away, but at that moment a minivan moved out and left a space just past the school gates. Griffin accelerated and dived into the parking space before killing the engine. The Ferryman busied himself by gathering up his sleeping bag and surreptitiously wiping the bin where he had laid his hand with the elbow of his jacket.

The ferryman shuffled unsteadily toward the edge of the road as John Griffin got out of the car wearing a zipped up windcheater over a tracksuit bottoms. He walked around the bonnet and vanished from view. When he reappeared behind the Jeep he was walking hand in hand with a delightful little girl, her blond hair tied up in a neat French plat and her backpack hung heavily on her little shoulders. They reached the gate as the Ferryman staggered across the road toward the back of Griffins vehicle. The first pregnant drops of rain began to fall as Griffin planted a loving kiss on the girl’s cheek and pushed her toward the dry school door. At least she would not actually see what was to come thought the Ferryman. Griffin stood and half jogged back toward his ride as the Ferryman moved between two parked cars and out of the morning traffic. Just as John Griffin approached the drunken wino stumbled and fell into his path. In reflex Griffin reached out with both hands to stop them colliding.

“Hay, watch it!” said Griffin angrily, pushing the man off him. It was as if time slowed down for the Ferryman. His entire focus was concentrated on that plate sized area in the middle of John Griffins chest. The end of the bottle which protruded past the filthy sleeping bag turned and the Ferryman squeezed the trigger. The noise was no more than a slamming car door. Bam, bam, bam, bam. Four slugs ripped into the feather light windcheater, shredding fabric, skin and bone. Griffin’s eyes widened and his jaw hung open with shock but his legs held him a second longer. The Ferryman felt the man begin to topple through the hands still clasping his shoulders. He eased the falling man against the wall and let him slide to the ground. John Griffin’s eyes bored into his face. There was no understanding there, no realisation, just shock. The Ferryman raised the now tattered end of the cider bottle and rested it against Griffin’s Adams apple and pulled the trigger. As the man’s head flopped forward, he rested the bottle against the man’s temple and pulled the trigger one last time before casting the sleeping bag he still held over the dying man. Bottle and gun vanished into a rip the Ferryman had made in his coat’s inner lining and he walked a dozen feet to where a trial bike was parked. With one kick, it coughed into life and the Ferryman pulled smoothly out into the road, not looking back once.

The Ferryman turned off the road as soon as he could, traveling down a ginnel which ran behind a row of terraced housing, into a park and along a wooded cycle path. He stopped the bike on a bend and dismounted. He shoved the motorbike into the bushes and rested it against a tree. The racing bicycle, helmet and petrol canister he had left in place last night were waiting. He quickly stripped off all his filthy clothing revealing a cycling outfit underneath. He discarded the wig and the fake beard, piling them all at the base of the stolen motorbike. He pulled the gun free from the makeshift silencer and stowed it neatly in the food pocket in the back of his cycling top. After taking the cap of the petrol tank, he soaked everything with fuel from the canister and flicked a lighted zippo on the lot.


He was already cycling around the bend, looking every inch a guy out race training when he heard the whomp of the motorbikes petrol tank exploding. He slipped a hand inside his food pocket and felt the comforting weight of the gun. His fingers closed around his riding glasses, the mirrored kind, and he slipped them on. He exited the park just as two walking Garda turned into the park. He smiled and waved at them as he crossed the road and headed back toward the city center. They waved back and continued down the path he had just come from. Soon they would discover the column of smoke and flame coming from the bushes. Would they even remember the cyclist that had waved or more importantly, did either of them notice his particularly long and filthy false nails? 
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