There and Back

‘George,’ a voice bellowed. A man at a table with three others stood. He was over six feet with long greasy black hair and a ten-day growth of beard. His jacket hung like he’d slept in it, his jeans likewise. He shambled across the warehouse floor.

‘George,’ the voice bellowed once again and a man of middle-eastern appearance opened the office door and saw George on his way.

‘We’ve a job for you.’ He threw a set of keys. George caught them as they flew over his shoulder.

‘Take the Escort to Aldeburgh, bring the Vauxhall you’ll find in the seafront car-park back here.’

‘I’ll set off first thing,’ George placed the keys in his jacket pocket.

‘Not in the morning, now!’

‘But it will be nearly midnight when I get there,’ George protested.

‘We don’t pay you to sit on your arse playing cards; we pay you to deliver cars. By the way, leave the keys tucked under the off-side front wheel which is where you’ll find the keys to the Vauxhall.’ The man gave him a ‘don’t argue’ look and closed the office door.

George walked back to the table, picked up his money and shrugged his shoulders. The other three tried to look sympathetic but failed in the attempt.

The old Escort was red; it’s age indeterminate, number plates having been changed many times as George already knew. He climbed in and started the engine; it began running sweetly. Switching on the lights he exited the industrial estate.

Half an hour into his journey he took a mobile phone from his inside pocket and dialled. He had taken the route through unlit country roads glancing regularly into his mirrors for evidence of headlights behind him; at this time of night he expected little traffic, he wasn’t disappointed.

The phone was answered. ‘That you George, where are you?’

‘Can’t stop they’ve got trackers. Listen, I’m going to Aldeburgh, seafront car park, should arrive around midnight. I’m to leave this Escort and collect a Vauxhall.’

We’ll be waiting to see who collects.’

‘Good, back around six, I’ll keep you posted.’ George ended the call as he approached a roundabout leading to the A1.

Wearing driving gloves, he checked all the pockets and the glove box knowing he would leave no fingerprints, but found nothing. No map, parking tickets, not even an empty drinks carton. The rest of the journey was uneventful until he reached the car park at eleven thirty.

He picked up the Vauxhall in his headlights as he entered; it was silver, old like the Escort. He pulled alongside, got out quickly to check the rear pockets, nothing. Next he tried the boot, it was locked and none of the keys would go into the lock. It was like a broken half of a key was stuck in it.

‘Shit, shit,’ he cried as he closed the doors before tucking the keys under the offside front wheel. He collected the Vauxhall keys from a similar position and tried to open the boot, same problem. As he opened the driver’s door the phone in his side jacket pocket rang, he answered it.

‘What’s keeping you? You should be on your way back by now.’

‘I thought you said these cars were well maintained, the bloody thing won’t start.’ He held the phone away from his ear and turned the engine just long enough to be heard making the appropriate sounds but not long enough to fire up. He did it again, slightly longer, the engine fired up, ‘there you go,’ he said into the phone, ‘see you around six.’

‘Don’t hang around’ the voice said.

‘Breakfast would be nice?’

‘You can eat when you deliver, you won’t starve.’ The phone went dead.

It was almost two hours later when the phone in Georges inside pocket chirruped.

It’s all good George. We let them make their call, as expected before we moved in. You’re clear to go but a puncture wouldn’t go amiss, give us a bit more time, we haven’t opened the boot yet.’

‘That won’t go down well.’

‘Just do your best, give us more time.’

‘I’ll try my best.’ He replaced the phone in his pocket and drove wondering how to organize a puncture without creating suspicion.

As he approached the roundabout to the A1 he pulled into an all night services, crouched beside the nearside front wheel and, using a match, released the air from the tyre. When it was almost flat he took the phone from his side pocket and rang the warehouse.

‘It’s George, I’m at a services near the A1…..’

‘We know you are. I told you to forget breakfast ‘till you get back.’

‘It’s not breakfast; it’s a flat tyre. I’m going to the filling station to see if they can help.’

‘Don’t be long.’ The phone went dead.

In the filling station he went to the counter and explained the situation. The assistant followed him outside to take a look. He glanced down at the wheel, raised his head and kicked the tyre.

‘Looks like a puncture to me but there’s no repair facilities at this time of a morning you’ll have to wait for a patrol to pull in.’

George explained about the lack of a spare without going into the complications of the boot lock.

‘You could try a tyre repair that inflates the tyre as well. It should last until you can get to a garage.’

That will have to do.’ George followed the assistant back into the shop.

‘They’re down here.’

At that moment the phone in the shop rang. “I’ll have to get that.’

Yeh?

George waited; he wasn’t in a rush to complete the transaction.

‘A tall scruffy guy driving an ancient Vauxhall, yeh he just came in with a flat tyre, I’m about to sell him a repair can.’

‘O.K., O.K., keep your hair on. It’s you holding the job up. Now get off the phone so I can deal with him.’

George listened to one half of the conversation.

‘Don’t know how you can work for him, foul mouthed bastard, as if it’s my fault.’

‘Tell me about it. Now, this repair kit, where was it and how does it work?’

‘Here we go, just place the nozzle on the valve and push. The sealant is in the can along with enough air to blow up the tyre.’

George inflated the tyre and was on his way. He phoned the warehouse.

‘Half a bleedin hour you lost there.’

‘Nothing I could do. If I’d tried to carry on I would’ve shredded the tyre and still not got back.’

‘Well get a bloody move on.’ The phone went dead.

George then used his other mobile phone.

‘Don’t go straight back, we’ll liaise with you on the road. We’ve opened the boot of the Escort; there was a body inside, Javid Mohammed, he’d been tortured before he was killed.’

‘What did they say about it?’

‘They’re not speaking but I suspect they were supposed to lose it at sea.’

‘Makes sense, see you later.’

Still on the A1 a number of cars made themselves known to him. They continued in convoy until nearing the warehouse. Georges phone rang vibrating against his chest.

‘Take care, we’re right behind you.’

George continued to the warehouse, parked close to the roller doors and almost immediately the door began to open. He got out of the car as one of the card-players came towards him. George handed him the keys.

‘The boss says you can get your breakfast now.’ He got in the car, George headed inside for the office door, which was when he heard the high revving engines and squealing of tyres.

Four cars screeched to a halt disgorging men.

Such was the speed of the operation nobody had time to react, not even George who was first to be handcuffed and pushed towards a Black Mariah. He was joined in the back by his colleagues, all handcuffed.

‘What the hell happened there?’ George questioned to the dazed blank faces.

‘Somebody blabbed,’ a voice from the darkness replied. The back of the police van descended into silence.

A tall man in a smart grey suit and tie entered the building.

‘Morning Inspector,’ the uniformed Constable greeted him as he passed the reception desk.

‘Morning Constable,’ he replied as he continued to his office.

Just before he could open the door the Chief Superintendent stopped him. ‘Job well done I’m told. They’re squealing like the cage full of the rats they are. The boot was full of drugs: heroin, cocaine, you name it. A few million quid by all accounts’

‘What about the body in the other car?’

‘As we suspected, a neighbouring drugs gang leader trying to take over the district; what about you? You must be feeling pretty pleased with yourself?’

Glad to get this beard off. I hate beards.’

‘See you in the briefing room George.’ The Superintendent walked off.

Barry L

© 2016 Yeadon Writers

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