Darren spent an hour down the Garda station complaining about police harassment and that pig of a detective, Adams. He'd been shifted from one bored looking desk jockey to another until a gruff looking Sargent shoved a large zip lock bag at him and said, "Your complaint is registered." Darren knew that translated into, Fuck Off, but he hadn't expect them to actually do anything, he just liked making their lives miserable.
He opened the bag and sucked in a sharp breath when he realised it was filled with John's personal effects. He looked up at the grumpy guard standing over him and thought, You Bastard! Not one of them had a shred of compassion. In this bag were the last things his brother touched in this world and this lump just tossed them across a desk like trash? Guards, the whole lot of them, rotten to the core. The big man rapped on a clipboard with a gnarled finger and said, "Sign."
Darren stormed out of the Garda Station more livid than he'd been when he'd arrived. He leaned against the wall and unzipped the plastic bag. Inside he could see John's wedding ring, his wallet, car keys, some crumpled banknotes which were still stained with his brothers blood, a box of Rothmans and John's gold lighter. It felt wrong that a man's life could be held in a tiny plastic bag like this. Deep in the corner sat John's phone. Darren pulled it out but the screen was cracked. He pressed the power button and the code screen appeared. Darren knew John always used the letter M, but it still took him two go's to get it right. He searched through the phone until the battery finally died. He found dozens of calls and messages from Fergal Collins, but nothing in the last week. Collins must have known the hit was coming and did nothing to tip off John. It was about time that someone started to pay for what they had done to his brother, and who better to start with than the traitor who stood by and let him walk into the trap. Darren called his men, then his brothers, barking orders and not caring what might come of them.
Darren pulled his Subaru to a stop outside Stephens Green shopping centre where Terrance and Tony were waiting. He took a quick look in his side mirror and pulled back out into the traffic, not even giving his brothers time to settle in their seats. He watched the dark blue Volvo slip into the flow of cars fifty yards back.
"Where are we going, and what is all this about?" asked Tony?
"I'll tell yea soon, but I got ta lose those coppers first," said Darren, concentrating on the traffic ahead, planning his moves. Tony turned in his seat to scan the cars behind them.
"That's the one, they've been on me since I left the cop shop."
"Were you hauled in?" asked Terrance, his voice filled with concern and innocence.
"No, I was giving them a bit of my mind. Two bloody detectives were banging down my door first thing this morning, flamen cheek. They are really out to get us, you'd swear we were the ones blowing people away in broad daylight. There's no flamen justice in this world."
"You dragged us all the way over here, at this time of the morning, to tell us that?" snapped Tony sounding like a sulky teenager.
"Don't be a knob your whole life, Tony, of course not. I got you out because we've got things to take care of."
"This," said Darren, throwing John's phone over his shoulder into the back seat.
"It's Johns," said Terrance picking up the phone as if it was a religious relic.
"That's right. You know John had a squealer on Jimmy's crew. John told me before he died who it was. Fergal Collins. He was quick enough to take our money but when it came time to tip us off about the hit, he said nothing. I've checked the calls and texts. Not a single warning, nothing. He let John walk right into a trap and he's going to pay for it."
The traffic was moving like molasses and they had to inch their way around the tree lined square. The cars in the outer lanes were moving faster but the Volvo was happy to sit a few cars behind them. The lanes of traffic snaked around the one way system and Darren manoeuvred the car into the left hand lane so he could take the turn for Trinity College. Behind them he watched the tailing car do the same but losing one car place to a Ford Fiesta which muscled into the lane at the last second. Two more turns and they entered an older section of city streets. Here, the buildings crowded in on each other funnelling the cars into two, then finally single lanes. Then everything stopped. Up ahead a red light glowed. Darren waited patiently, checking where the blue Volvo was in his mirror. When the lights changed, the single row of cars surged forward. Darren eased along but as his front wheels crossed into the yellow junction box he slammed on his breaks. Behind him cars were forced to break suddenly and the air was filled with a chorus of screaming horns. Seconds ticked by and the horns were joined by angry shouts but Darren wasn't bothered. He clutched the car and waited. When the light turned amber, he began counting down in his head. Five, four, three, the amber light turned red, two, on one he popped the clutch and rammed the accelerator all the way home. The car shimmied as his tyres fought for grip then launched them across the junction as cars closed on them from both sides.
"Jesus, you cut that one close," said Tony, looking back over his shoulder while the Subaru’s engine screamed up through the rev range.
"Are they gone?"
"Yea, stranded behind a minivan but they have the blue lights on so you better get us out of here."
Darren sent the car rocketing down the road, having to mount the footpath a few times to scrape past slower moving cars. Each time they bounced over the kerb they were thrown around like rag dolls. Darren could see both his brothers bracing themselves against the roof of the car to hold themselves down in their seats. As he rounded a bend in the road he popped the handbrake and sent the nose of the car sliding into a narrow service lane running behind the shops, he prayed that there were no vans picking that moment to make a delivery. His luck held and he spun out onto Trinity Street, his hissing wheels throwing a rooster tail of tiny stones out behind them as the powerful sports car shimmied into the oncoming one way traffic. Panicked drivers had to slam on breaks or dive to the side of the road in an attempt to avoid crashing into the car barrelling up the street the wrong way. Darren only needed to make it forty yards like this to reach the top of Dame Lane, after that it was straight on through another back alley which would spit them out on the main streets again. Darren kept checking his mirror but there was no sign of the undercover Volvo. Once they were back in the main flow of traffic Darren slowed.
"So, what's the plan, are we going after Collins now" asked Tony.
"The boys picked him up earlier, they have him over in the Liberties."
"You could have asked us first," huffed Tony, not liking being left out.
"Why, what difference would that make?"
"We might have wanted to pick him up ourselves."
"Would yea cop yourself on!"
"Just saying is all, it would have been nice to be keep in the loop. We are as much a part of this as you. We're your brothers not some hired help."
"I'll ask next time, alright?" snapped Darren, his tone sounding anything but sorry.
They turned into another side street and eventually parked in the back yard of a derelict house. The door hung askew, only held on by one hinge. Small mountains of windblown rubbish had accumulated against the yard walls. A battered white van stood empty nearby. Darren slipped past the broken door, picking his steps through a maze of rotting timber and broken bottles.
Inside, the house smelled of mildew and sewage. The ancient lino was ripped and standing up in tiny peeks threatening to trip up the unwary. The hall was littered with broken furniture, rubbish bags, and a filthy mattresses. A rat dashed from behind an upturned chair and dived into a pile of rubbish, causing the plastic to rustle as he burrowed.
The brothers moved deeper into the house and found themselves at the door of a filthy kitchen. In here all of the wrecked furniture had been pushed aside and in the middle of the room sat Fergal Collins, strapped to a chair. His head lolled onto his naked chest as blood and spit pooled in his lap. All around him hard looking men lounged as if a near naked bleeding man was all part and parcel of an average morning in Dublin.
"I told you to pick him up, not kill him," snapped Darren as he walked closer to the unconscious traitor.
"He's a rat, Darren. He deserved a slap," said a tracksuit wearing man in his fifties with a huge dome head that shone as if it had been polished with wax.
"Yes, but once he's told me what I need to know. He can't do that if you've knocked his fucking brains out."
"He's soft as shite. I hardly touched him and he was crying for his Mammy. When he wakes up he'll tell you what you want," said the bald man crossing his huge arms defensively.
The big man strode over and slapped Collins across the face and pulled his head back by the hair, "Wakey wakey snitch."
After two more open-handed slaps his eyelids fluttered and Fergal Collins moaned. "There, told yea there was nothing wrong with him," the bald man said still holding a fist full of hair. The seated man began to heave and vomited a mouthful of congealed blood into his lap which landed like a chopped up jelly fish before dripping onto the floor in gloppy tentacles.
"Jesus Christ, he nearly got me," said the bald bruiser dropping the Collins head and dancing away from the spreading pool of blood-streaked vomit. Darren stepped forward and waited for the man who had helped kill his brother to fully wake up. After a couple of minutes he'd had enough waiting and kicked the man savagely in the shin. Collins half gurgled half yelled.
"You know who I am?"
The man nodded.
"Who did the hit?"
"Don't know," gurgled Fergal into his chest causing more blood to dribble from his ruined mouth.
Darren moved closer and spoke in a menacing voice, "Don't make this harder than it has to be. You're going to tell me what I want to know. Who did the hit?"
"I swear to God I have no idea, they never said a word to me."
"Jimmy, Pete, anyone."
"But you knew it was coming?"
"No! They told me nothing!"
"Don't give me that, Fergal, you mightn't have known the day or time but you knew it was coming?"
"I swear, I don't know a thing, if I had I would have said!"
"Here let me have a go," said Tony moving forward. Darren watched as his brother untied the man's laces and took off his shoes before vanishing out into the hall. When Tony came back he was holding a tyre iron in his hand. He must have got it out of the white van parked outside. Tony stood in front of Collins and held the heavy end of the iron under his nose.
"It's like this, you wanker, you better tell my brother what he wants to know or I am going to make you wish you were dead."
"I've told you everything I know!"
Tony didn't even wait for a question to be asked. He lifted the tire iron and smashed it into the man’s naked toes three times, pulverizing flesh and bone. Fergal Collins bounced around in the chair screaming at the top of his lungs.
"Hold him still yea daft lumps," Tony shouted at the watching men. Two of them rushed forward and pushed down on the man’s shoulders, forcing him back in the chair while a third wrapped a filthy bit of material over the man's screaming mouth to deaden the noise. Tony looked like he was about to speak when he changed his mind and destroyed another toe. When he finished, he stood and pushed his mussed hair back from his face. His pale skin was covered in blood splatters like tiny red freckles. Collins rocked in agony while muffled screams filled the room. His eyes were so huge they looked ready to pop out of their sockets.
"Who did the hit?" asked Darren.
The man mumbled something and Darren nodded to remove the gag.
"I told you..." Darren nodded and the gag was replaced and Tony went to work on the other foot. When he was finished he smiled at the tortured man and said," They'll never call you for Riverdance."
This time when Darren spoke he asked, "Why didn't you warn John about the hit?" Again the gag was removed.
"I did, I told him," simpered the wreck of a man.
"No you DIDN'T," roared Darren, grabbing the tire iron out of Tony's hand. He began landing blows against the man's right knee until something cracked and the whole kneecap slid sideways. The room went silent as Fergal Collins passed out, the pain was too much for his brain to deal with. Darren stood back, panting. He looked around at the impassive faces of the men gathered watching.
"He knows nothing," Darren said, dropping the blood covered tyre iron to the floor and looking at his crimson hands.
"What now?" asked Terrance.
"It's time to send this piece of shit home."
Jimmy was about to get into his car when the Ferryman's mobile phone buzzed in his pocket. The text was short, Busarus, Midday. Jimmy wondered what it was with this guy and buses. First time it was a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, this time Dublin's central bus station. Maybe the Ferryman was a bus driver? Jimmy had visions of the physco checking old ladies bus passes then pulling the bus over to quickly to execute someone, then off to bingo with the lot of them.
"Was that him?" asked Pete, who was sitting in the passenger seat of Jimmy's car. They were due to meet a guy at the airport hotel to organise a shipment of hash in from Amsterdam.
"Yea. Busarus this time. I'd better give Joey a bell, then well be off," said Jimmy pulling out his own phone to make the call. Joey picked up on the second ring.
"I need you to take the bag to Busarus and be there at twelve."
"Do I need to get a ticket or anything?"
"I don't know, what difference would that make?"
"If I had to get a ticket, I'd need to get some cash off my sister."
"Jesus, are yea broke?"
"What happened the money Kenny gave you for the last job?"
"Fifty quid don't go far."
Jimmy knew Kenny would pocket that money, greedy git. "Get a score from your sister, just in case. I'll drop you a few quid after the job is done."
"Fair enough, Jimmy."
"You still got the bag, don't yea?"
"Of course, it’s safe as houses."
"And you haven't been poking around inside."
"You told me not to."
"Good Lad. Be there at twelve and keep your phone on. I'll be in touch."
"Right yea are."
Jimmy ended the call and pocketed the phone. In the distance he heard a heavy engine being revved hard. A dirty builders van careened backward into view at the top of the road. The brake lights flashed on and the van screeched to a halt. Jimmy, saw the back doors fly open in the same instant he felt Pete's hand on his shoulder pulling him behind the car. As he pushed Jimmy down behind him, Pete pulled a pistol from inside his jacket and took aim across the roof of the car.
From inside the back of the van, a blue plastic chemical barrel was shoved out by two balaclava wearing men which came bouncing down the road toward Jimmy's car.
"Stay down, Stay down!" yelled Pete, clearly thinking there might be some sort of explosive inside.
One of the men in the back of the van jumped out and ran after the bouncing barrel. He was holding a lit petrol bomb in his hand and he launched it into the air aiming for the barrel. The throw was too long and sailed over the target smashing on the road instead. A small fireball rose into the air and the blue barrel rolled through the flames.
The man dashed back and threw himself into the back of the van which raced away with its back doors swinging. The barrel slowed and veered off to one side before coming to a stop against the foot path. A couple of Jimmy's men ran from their houses after the van as it vanished around the corner.
"Stay here," said Pete, moving out from behind the car, holstering the gun. Jimmy doubted they would have launched some sort of explosive device so violently but there was no point in taking chances. That was Pete's job. The big man approached the smoking barrel walking around it to get a look in the open end. That was when Pete shouted.
"Jimmy, come take a look at this."
Jimmy walked up the road a few yards and to stand beside Pete. He saw a man's blood covered hand sticking out of the open end of the barrel.
"Who is it?"
"Is he dead?"
Pete grabbed the outstretched arm and pulled the body out. A groan emanated from somewhere deep inside the injured man as his battered limbs were freed from the smouldering plastic tub. Around his neck hung a piece of cardboard tied on with string. One word was smeared on it in blood. Rat.
Pete stood up and his eyes were cold, "No, but he might wish he was."
It started to make sense to Jimmy. Fergal was the reason the Griffins knew where the drug hand off was going down. He was in on the heist, he had to be. They only reason Jimmy hadn't copped it earlier was the beating they had given him at the robbery, that and the fact he didn't think Fergal had the balls to double cross him.
"Yea better get him to the hospital," said Jimmy, turning to walk away.
"Really?" asked Pete, not believing his boss was going to let a snitch live.
"Yea, Really. I want my money back and when I get it, then we'll kill him."
Jimmy walked away as Pete arranged for the bloodied man to be dumped at the door of an emergency room.