But first some scifaiku
Were you at the end?
When all but the weather stopped
Can you see the light?
©David L Atkinson November 2012
Chapter 6 (part 1)
It was dark when the alarm went off. The bed looked as if I had been wrestling with someone! It was cold. Too early for the central heating to go on so I shivered my way to the kitchen and made coffee. I ate porridge and a slice of toast, cleared up; I can’t stand coming back to a mess; then took my bag and went out to the car.
The weather was fair; no stars so there must be some cloud cover but no rain thus far. Dear knows what it will be like nearer the coast. Days like this often began with ‘scotch mist’ – a euphemism for sea fret, which could extend quite a distance inland. Even if the sun came up it could be mid-morning before visibility was good. Still I would be within relatively close range. I must remain positive and believe that conditions would be perfect. My heart skipped a beat. I felt yet another adrenaline rush. I had only seen Torino once, talking with Jim Thompson. Would I be able to pick him out? All I had seen was a guy about my height with black hair and a grey suit from around 50 metres away. In fact that may not be the man I have been told to hurt. Shit. A false start! What do I do now? Not the most intelligent start to my trip. I need to apply some of the ‘aikido’ style thinking to the situation. I know the guy is in charge from the paperwork I have seen but matching the face to the name is the problem I have to solve. This is going to take a little longer than I expected. I am going to have to get closer unless I could get the information from Sumisu. I had kept his text. The one thing I had never done was reply to any of them that had been sent! I wonder! I was so keen to get a response that I pulled up at the nearest lay-by on the A1 and found the last text Sumisu sent and pressed ‘Reply’ A blank screen faced me. What do I send? I paused and gazed through the windscreen. I would be admitting weakness. How would that look? It was a no brainer! I put my phone away and set off again.
As I see it I had two choices. Go to the site and get close enough to make a positive ID; or, pay a visit to Jim Thompson. He would know Torino. No! It would be best to involve as few people as possible. If I spoke to Jim and then something happens to Torino then it’s a direct link.
Of course there was always the Internet. I could look for the firm on the web and see if there thumbnails of the management. Something was telling me that Torino wouldn’t be as public as that! No it would have to be the get close approach. So how would I change my original plan? In fact not too much, I would park at the same spot. However, rather than set up a sniping position I would get close to the topside of the site and look on as the workers/management arrived for work. When I had identified the mark then I would set up and ‘hurt Torino’!
As I got closer to Washington there was a distinct lack of sea fret. In fact the visibility was perfect, the sky was clear and the probability for a heavy dewfall was high. In other words I am going to get soaked! Never mind. I had it to do. I pulled up on The Avenue but left my bag in the boot. It was only 05:45 and the light was good. There was no one around. I changed my mind and went back for my bag. There was sure to be more people about when I was ready to collect it. I had parked at the lower end of the road away from Washington Old Hall. I walked up the road towards the Hall checking out the woodland on my left as I went, for an easy access. There was a chain link fence overgrown by the undergrowth and ill maintained. It wasn’t long before I found a spot. Kids had probably pulled the wire away from the rusting, angle iron post! There was a rudimentary track leading into the woods. I crawled, almost dived, through the fence and headed parallel with the road in the same direction I had been going. I was looking for a spot to conceal my equipment and that may afford a sniping position. I needed cover but a clear view. The elevation was good; I was a few feet above the level of the building site. I eventually found a good position. It was off the path and next to a sycamore surrounded by young saplings interspersed with ferns and a mature bush close by on the path side. I moved round the bush and tucked the bag under it and covered it with fern and tree leaves. It was totally invisible from the path. I noted the surroundings and mentally marked my position then set off again. It only took five minutes to get to the top edge of the building site. Once again I found myself a hide close to Abbey Road where the site entrance was situated and settled down to wait. It was just after six so I reckoned I had an hour and a half before there would be any arrivals. It was chilly and damp but my thermal trousers and top kept me warm. I also had thin gloves on that would keep my fingers warm, which I would need later. I set my vibrating watch alarm for 07:15 and closed my eyes. I applied some of the meditating techniques learned from my studying Aikido, slowing my heart rate and relaxing groups of muscles and eventually settling to a kind of sleep.
I could hardly claim to have slept but the watch caused me to start when it went off. I eased myself on to my feet and massaged my legs and arms. I found a bush hiding me from the road and took a leak, then went back to my position. I had the rifle sight in my pocket and took it out and had a look round starting with the houses on the other side of the street. There was movement in some. Breakfasts being prepared and showers taken I suppose. I could murder a coffee and a bacon sandwich. There was a light on in the site office. It was probably the ape I had flattened on an earlier visit. About 07:45 the first car arrived and a couple of workers got out. They went to the boot and donned their work boots, hard hats and yellow high visibility jackets; then strolled on to the site and into the office. A couple of other cars pulled up and disgorged one person each. There wouldn’t be many labourers because the building was virtually complete. The work to be done was second fixing, flooring, laying paths and generally tidying up. There would be tradesmen also and that was born out by a van with, amongst other words, ‘plumber’ written on it that pulled up. No suits or shirt sleeves and ties as yet!
I should have realised that the bosses wouldn’t be in at eight. It was nearly nine o’clock before anyone who looked like management arrived. It wasn’t the guy with the black hair that I had assumed was Torino, he was small and rather overweight judging by the stress on his shirt buttons over his belly. He had a clipboard and a sandwich box in his hands and went straight to the office. I adjusted my position and spent the next hour watching people set off to work from their homes and the fairly leisurely pace of work on the site.
At almost ten a silver Alfa Romeo with registration JT 1 ITA parked lower down Abbey Road. How easy was this going to be? I focussed my sight on the car and watched the occupants get out. There were two men. They both wore suits, dark glasses and white safety hats. Fair enough it was bright now. They were empty handed and strolling side-by-side chatting amiably. I recognised the guy who had been driving as the one I had seen before. I am sure that he was Torino. I watched them through the telescopic sight until they entered the office. I set off back to my hide and began to prepare myself mentally and physically.
I opened the bag with my gear in and slowly unwrapped and assembled the rifle. I put 5 cartridges in the magazine and installed that. I then started to look for a good shooting position. Preferably, a flat surface to lie on with a firm stand for the tripod! But in this situation among a stand of trees – highly unlikely! A Y–shaped branch that is solid or a tree trunk to brace against. Whatever I probably didn’t have a lot of time. I used my bag as a base for the front support legs and then lay with my legs in the bush and undergrowth, and it worked out that the gun barrel with silencer, and the front part of the sight were about all that was visible. That wasn’t ideal because it was always more efficient to shoot from deep cover. I squinted through the sight and positioned the gun so I was aiming at the steps leading from door of the office. I couldn’t actually see the door because of the position I was in, high and behind the frontline of the site office. I would be able to pick the target entering or leaving the office. No I would have to be still and wait. I was fortunate that there was no wind or rain to spoil the shot, I could still feel the dew soaking into me from head to foot, and I would probably not have long to take the shot either. I had decided that a leg shot just above the knee would create the best effect. The lower thigh gave me a slightly bigger target and the femur would break, hurting Torino. It would put him out of action for quite a while.
I waited. Wriggling, shuffling and rotating my ankles to ensure the circulation would be good for when I needed to leave. I would drag myself backwards into the bush and out the other side on to the path. I kept looking through the sight. There wasn’t a lot of movement. The adrenalin was going and I had to make myself concentrate. Better really because adrenalin rush can make you shake. I practised my breathing as Vince had taught me in Aikido and also tried some concentration techniques. I felt very good and was still feeling like that when the site office door opened. It opened outwards and away from me.
The first person was wearing a yellow jacket so I ignored him. The next was my target. I saw the suited leg and then the black hair and I knew it was Torino. I aimed at his left leg and held my breath. I let the air out of my lungs slowly and gently and squeezed the trigger gently. There was a strange pop as the silencer did its work. The bullet caught Torino mid-thigh and snapped his leg like a rotten twig. It looked like he had gone over on his ankle as he collapsed in a heap. The others looked stunned. It took a moment for them to see how badly hurt the Italian was hurt. I eased back into the bush dragging the gun and bag after me slowly so that there was no movement. The cartridge case ejected from the breech - I picked it up. No evidence! I removed the sight and the barrel, slotted the whole lot into the bag and retraced my steps down the path to where I entered the park. I was in the car and heading off to the Northumberland Way and off into Sunderland in 5 minutes. As I was driving towards the city a few minutes later an ambulance went barrelling passed on the other side of the dual carriageway with its sirens blaring. It made me change my plans.