Following from yesterday
I paused in thought for a moment. He was only harming his own family directly. Therefore, it does not sit happily with me that he must die. If I am to consider myself one of Sumisu’s band of merry men then I need to change his behaviour without damage to the family. So!
“I will visit him once more Sumisu san. It is my intention to convince him of the error of his ways. Then leave him. If he does not change soon he will be found out anyway at which point his family will be hurt by his activities and he will land in jail.”
Sumisu seemed to consider what I had said but only nodded.
“I believe you have enough to think about for now. We will be in touch in a week. You must have settled the Thompson matter by then. One way or another! We will speak soon. Thank you for coming Steele San. You will find a regular deposit in your account from now, but you must maintain your cover. Have you any questions?”
The question that everyone dreads at the end of a job interview! To all intents and purposes that is what this meeting had been, and I think I’d passed. I suddenly felt incapable of coherent thought.
“What is going to happen regarding McSwann’s?” I stammered.
Sumisu smiled and replied with,
“We will talk next week!”
I left the room with a polite bow. My journey home was in a haze. I got back to the flat and turned on the cd player. I put on Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ poured a large glass of malt whisky and sat in my favourite chair pondering what had been said. I needed to go to Huddersfield and find the Aikido classes and also back up to the North East to sort Jim and family. I think that’s enough for one week as I had work to go to also. I decided to have an early night although I had a sneaking suspicion that I wouldn’t get much sleep. My mind was buzzing! Nevertheless, I would be back to normal in the morning.
I wouldn’t need to stay overnight when I went up to see Thompson, just a quick daytrip! The question was how to handle him. I can’t let him see me and I don’t know his schedule. I don’t like so many uncertainties. It would be easier to finish him! Still that would be giving me the easy way out and not treating his family fairly! Am I going soft? I am right though. The more suffering I cause the harder Mr Plod will work to get a result. Call it my good deed and a bit of self-preservation.
Thursday morning dawned and I set off up to Doxford Park once more. It was raining. Not just raining but also a persistent wetness that would soak anyone and everything caught out in it. An unrelenting greyness pervaded the whole biosphere, or so it seemed. I took longer to get up to the housing estate than the last visit. I was hoping I hadn’t missed him. It was almost eight. His car was in the drive when I arrived. Janice was just leaving with youngest child. By my calculations Jim was home alone! I parked in the same place as before and watched for Jim leaving. I waited 20 minutes before I saw any movement. He was in the lounge but it was difficult to see because of the rivulets running down the windscreen. He didn’t look dressed. Perhaps he was having a ‘duvet day’. The angels were on my side maybe? I started to formulate a plan. I would go in round the back again and restrain Jim, give him my message and get out as quickly as possible, sounded easy when you said it quickly. I had come prepared for human problems but not for breaking and entering. I was going to have to be lucky or noisy. One thing, the rain would keep prying eyes suitably masked from a clear view of what was going on. I had a navy boiler suit in the boot of the car and a baseball cap. I could soon look commonplace in the neighbourhood. Well there was no point in hanging around. I got out went round to the rear of the car got ready, including the Glock 17 and the knife. Not that I was expecting much resistance, Jim didn’t really look the type, but he may have a streak of ‘have-a-go hero’ in him, I couldn’t be too careful.
I walked straight along the cul-de-sac and crossed the street. I walked up the drive and down the side of the house as if I was going to the side door. I looked in the kitchen window but there was no sign. I glanced up at the windows upstairs and there was a light in a narrow window, which I took to be the landing light. I had a surreptitious look around the back through the conservatory but all was quiet. There were 2 windows upstairs, one looked like a double room window and a single nearer the corner of the house. There was a light on in the small window. Thank goodness for the dull grey day. As I remember the layout of the house this was a room converted into an office. If I knew my subject, he would be online now and probably spending his day off losing his money! Well if I knew anything about people using computers they could be quite oblivious to what was going on around them. I tried the door handle into the conservatory, no joy! I wonder! Back to the kitchen and try the back door. It was open, which didn’t surprise me, Janice would be happy that the house was safe with hubby inside. I slowly opened the door and entered the kitchen that was not totally unfamiliar to me. I stood very still to give my senses chance to absorb what was happening. It was quite dingy in the kitchen due to the reflected greyness of the weather outside, hence the lights on upstairs. I could smell coffee from the machine on the worktop and something slightly minty! The only sound was a radio or cd player and some hearty coughing. That could be the reason why he wasn’t at work. I listened carefully as I proceeded across the kitchen and towards the foot of the stairs. I made no noise. I ensured my breathing was steady and even, and silent. As I got to the doorway Jim started coughing and that gave me the opportunity I needed. I grabbed his arms from behind and wrenched them behind the upright chair he was sitting on. I used garden ties to secure them behind his back while he coughed and tried to speak. I stayed behind him so he couldn’t see me and held his head so he was looking at the monitor. He was shaking and not in the slightest bit calm. He coughed and spluttered, it was time to get my message across.
“Listen very carefully. You know nothing about me and if you behave you will never here from me again”
I pulled out the Glock, screwed on the silencer and rested it against Thompson’s left cheek. He shook some more.
“Don’t worry Jim you are not going to die today! I wouldn’t do that to your family. In fact I’m thinking more about your family than you! I didn’t push them to the brink of bankruptcy because of this stupid habit.”
I pointed at the screen where he was logged on to the betting website.
“I know all about your debts and I know where you got the money to pay them off. I know the scam you have been pulling with the contractor McSwann and if I know then your superiors may eventually work it out. That means a prison sentence, no doubt family break up, and living your later life as a lonely old man. The money you’re getting is dirty money and it’s my job to stop it. I was sent to kill you, but as you are not the cause, merely a symptom, I am going after the real culprits. You need to do three things; sever your direct ties with McSwann, tenders should be judged fairly and finally stop gambling. How you do the last is up to you. I won’t say anything about the thousands I have traced, for your wife and your kid’s sake, but there will be no more. If you take one more penny I may have to come back and clean up the situation starting with you. Remember I can look at your accounts and if I am suspicious!!!”
I cut the ties with my knife and was down the stairs and in my car before Thompson would have recovered enough to realise that what had just happened to him wasn’t a dream. I had given him enough to think about for a lifetime and it wasn’t nine o’clock yet. I would be back home by lunchtime or so I thought!
I hadn’t got to the A1 when my phone chimed. I found myself pulling into a lay-by to check the message. Just as terse and to the point as the last one all it said was,
‘Ramside Hall Hotel – Saturday 1pm’
Damn! Day after tomorrow! Do I go home or stay up here? I had nothing planned down there and had remembered my ‘toolkit’ so apart from clothes no reason to go. Also as the meeting was up here it didn’t take an Einstein to work out that the McSwann issue had not finished. Ok I need to go to the hotel; book a room; perhaps steal a march on Sumisu; and, then do some clothes and luggage shopping.
I continued on to the motorway down to the Durham/Sunderland turn off on the A690 and turned towards the latter and after a couple of hundred metres I was taking the right slip road towards the drive of the very exclusive Ramside Hall and Golfing Centre. A young man in a navy blazer greeted me, wearing white trousers, highly polished black shoes and a pleasant manner. I was greeted with,
“The service entrance is round the back. Parking by the door.”
To which I responded,
“I am a guest!”
He looked me up and down. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Then he glanced at my Ford Focus, bog standard saloon. His face told me what he thought. I dangled the keys and he silently took them and got in the driving seat to park it.
I walked into the lobby and once again was looked over by a thin faced, small man, dressed, as was the car-parking attendant. His mental judgement came out in his query as to what I was doing in his high class establishment, although not in so many words.
“I’d like a room until Sunday please?”
I looked him straight in the eyes as I handed him my MBNA Gold card.
“Certainly, sir. Name please?”
I told him and his response shocked and annoyed me, all at the same time.
“Ah! Mr. Steele. We have a reservation for you from tomorrow. Would you like me to bring it forward for you?
“Yes please!” begrudgingly.
Seems that Sumisu misses nothing. Still he wouldn’t know I had arrived early. I went through the rest of the registration process and then asked for my car. I would need to get some luggage and clothes so I went into Durham City. My mind was full of the changes that were happening in my life. There was a natural reluctance coming from within to change what I felt was a comfy, easy life. On the other hand the money, the adrenaline rush of the job and the freedom. In fact the risks or the legality I tend not to even consider. The ‘Robin Hood’ effect sees to that. Still it was beginning to take the edge off my part-time job. My cover if you like. On the other hand I could disappear from my former life. I could afford it. But did I really want a life without friends and a home, living out of classy hotels? No. The easy answer is just telling the lads I got a new job for a Japanese industrialist, handling his account in the UK. It was the truth, superficially. It would also allow me a bit more of a spend. It was also easier to maintain a cover if it was close to the truth.
These were the thoughts going on in my head as I looked for a parking place in Durham. I spent a couple of hours shopping in classy men’s boutiques including buying quality luggage, then I went back to the hall.
I had a very satisfying meal and a drink or two before going to my room. An early night and tomorrow I carry out some background work on McSwann before Sumisu arrives. Then at least he will know that I am a serious player.
A special thank you to my good friend and great supporter Jo vonBargen for 'Yellow Rose