Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Part I
Good Friday
24th, March 1967


Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange
Hatton Garden, London
12:05 AM


"Five minutes past," Charlie Enfield said towards the basement stairwell, glancing down at his wristwatch. "Fifteen minutes left."

He carried a shotgun in one hand, a handheld radio in the other as he paced the floor. Like Red and Freddy, he wore navy blue coveralls with leather gloves and a black ski mask. Two armed guards were on the ground in front of him, their hands and ankles tied behind their backs. Both men were gagged and blindfolded. For all his faults, Charlie was one to learn from his mistakes.

He’d fucked up big time on the Wembley job and he knew it. But he patched everything over and Red and the others were none the wiser. They could babble all they wanted to about the bodies on their conscience and all that shite, but they weren’t the ones who did what it took to keep them out of jail. They were an ungrateful lot to be sure. In the two week run up to the job, Coach had given him the cold shoulder whenever they were alone and Red was more aloof than usual. Fuck ‘em, he thought. He’d do this job and be done with the whole bloody lot. His money from the World Cup job had all went to his investments. Whatever they made off this he could do the same and be alright.

Charlie checked his watch again. They came in right at the stroke of midnight just liked they planned it. From the roof, Bobby had signaled that his part was done and they were ready to go inside. Freddy picked the lock of the fire exit in less than a minute and stepped aside for the two other men. Charlie and Red came in as quick and as quietly as possible. Charlie took one guard down with the shotgun butt to the kneecap while Red took the other one out with a sap to the base of the neck.

Once the guards were tied and restrained, Freddy and Red headed for the basement while Charlie stood watch over the guards. That was two minutes ago. Based on Red's mock-up and their trial runs, fifteen minutes was the average time it would take to finish the job. He'd added an extra five on to it to account for any problems that arose.

Charlie glanced around the store showcase. The glass cases held jewels and diamonds that glistened and sparkled in the dim night light. Charlie smirked as he looked them over. It was all costume jewelry that looked convincing to anyone shopping for a nice pair of earrings for the missus or the mistress. The real action at Zinkman & Sons was downstairs. Red's contact laid all the information out to them. They even included information about the make and model of the safe Zinkman's used to protect their most precious stones.

He glanced down at his watch and did the math.

"Coming up on ten minutes past," Charlie said into the radio. "How we looking elsewhere, lads?"

---

“All is well from up here.”

Bobby shoved the personal radio back into his pocket and took a seat against one of the roof’s walls. From the other pocket he plucked a packet of cigarettes and pulled one free. He fed it into his lips and lit it all in one movement and took one long drag, followed by a satisfied sigh.

He’d taken up smoking six months ago to calm his nerves. His girlfriend Klaudia hated it, but it was all he could do to stop himself from worrying. He’d spent every day looking over his shoulder since that day at Wembley – the least he could afford himself was a cigarette every now and again.

On the ground in front of him were the remains of the Diamond Exchange’s alarm system. They ran a standard automatic telephone dialer that alerted the nearest police station in the event of a break-in. The dialers had been brought in at the turn of the sixties and were initially wildly popular with business owners big and small, but they tended to short out fairly often. Even worse, they were known to send false alarms from time to time and most stations had learned to all but disregard the alarms they received from them.

It hadn’t taken Bobby long to render the building completely defenceless. Now his part was done. There were a pair of binoculars on the ledge of the roof that he peered through to make sure the coast was clear but on such a quiet night the chances of trouble were next to nonexistence. Red had seen to that.

After his last “donation” to the Ex-Combatants Association in Hammersmith, Bobby was running low on cash. What little he had left over from his take was all but gone. He’d finally managed to find work in a factory across town in Enfield but the commute back and forth was soul-destroying after a long day at work. And things were escalating with Klaudia slightly faster than he had expected.

That a Diamond Exchange was their target did not strike Bobby as a coincidence. As silly as it sounded given they had been together for less than a year, he had been thinking about popping the question – but he could not afford a ring. Not the kind that Klaudia deserved, anyway. He’d toyed with the idea of pocketing one from the take, but thought better of it in the end. Red and Coach were the closest thing Bobby had to a family. Heck, even Charlie was like a brother to him, if only he didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with.

No, he’d use his share of the take to buy Klaudia the biggest ring he could afford and then he’d sit Red down and tell him that he was walking away from this life. For the first time in six years, he was going to stop fighting and start living.

“We’re in the basement,” Turner’s voice sounded through the radio in Bobby’s pocket. “Standby.”

---

James "Coach" Crowder gnawed away at a piece of skin beside his thumbnail as he turned the corner at Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange for the third time. The streets were deserted but that did little to ease his worries. Tonight was the first big score since they’d gone underground after the Wembley job and everyone was on edge, Coach most of all.

His job was simple enough this time around. He’d paid a visit to the old man in East Dulwich for some fake plates for the cab. All Coach had to do was cruise around the building and make sure there weren’t any nasty surprises. After the way things had spiraled out of control last year, he’d almost come to expect them.

A few passerbys had attempted to hail him down, to which he’d pointed up at the unlit “taxi” sign above him, but otherwise there had been no trouble. He only hoped the same could be said for Red and Freddy in the basement.

As Coach pulled the cab to a stop at a red light, a flash of light in his mirror caught his attention. He heard the familiar hum of a Wolseley engine before he made out the “POLICE” sign along its front. Coach’s hands tightened around his steering wheel as the coppers paid their approach.

The Wolseley stopped beside him. Coach glanced over into the front of it. There was an old copper in his early sixties in the passenger seat with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. In the driver’s seat was a lad no older than Bobby.

For a few tense moments, neither Coach nor the coppers did or said anything. Crowder reached his gloved hand over to the passenger seat and placed it atop a revolver that was resting there. “Only as a last resort,” Red had told him, as if he’d needed telling that.

The old copper nodded cordially at Coach. Reassured, Crowder slipped his hand away from the revolver and gave the copper a warm nod of his own. The red light turned green and the Wolseley inched ahead of him. He watched it pull away from the Diamond Exchange and then stop abruptly in the middle of an empty road.

“Keep driving you bastards,” he muttered under his breath.

After a few seconds the Wolseley continued on its way and Crowder peeled off in another direction, hoping any lingering suspicions the coppers might have had were put to rest. He reached into a compartment by the dash of the cab for his radio and considered calling it in, before deciding otherwise.

“They’ve got enough to worry about,” Coach murmured to himself quietly. “The last thing they need is you putting the fear of God into them over nothing, old man.”

He stared down at clock beside the speedometer. Five minutes had gone by, Red and Freddy had fifteen minutes to get that safe open and get out of there. All Coach could do was keep circling and hope for the best.

Maybe if he was lucky he’d still have nails left by the time they were out.

---

"Hello, my lovely."

Freddy Reams removed the ski-mask from his head before he slipped off the leather gloves he wore, revealing a pair of tight latex ones underneath. He flexed his big hands and their long fingers, working out any potential stiffness. The leather gloves were fine, but they were too bulky and didn't provide the type of feel that Freddy Fingers needed for this.

The safe in front of him was a little over two meters tall and had two combination dials along its harsh black surface. The Delphi 2066 was among the hardest safes in the world to crack. Almost nine inches of reinforced carbonized-steel stood between the safe contents and the outside world. To drill into it would take a type of bit they did not have the time or ability to get, the kind of drill bits they used to drill into the earth's crust in search of oil. Blowing it up was equally out of the question. The amount of dynamite it would take to breach it would destroy whatever was inside. So the only option was to finesse it out. It kept an electronic timer going once the first dial was turned. If the combination on both dials wasn't successfully entered within a two minute window, the safe would go into lockdown mode for at least twelve hours.

"Just like we practiced," Red said from over Freddy's shoulder.

"Right," said Freddy. "Just like we practiced."

He squatted down and started to rummage through the tool bag at his feet. He had picks, drills, hammers, and an assortment of any and everything a successful thief would need to breach a safe. But for the Delphi 2066, all Freddy needed were his ears. They looked like a doctor's stethoscope only bigger. A larger metal disc to pick up on sounds and larger earplugs to help Freddy drown out the world.

"Okay," he said as he stepped to the Delphi. "Start the clock the second I touch the first dial."

Taking a deep breath, Freddy placed the metal disc of his hears beside the dial and held it there with his left hand. With his right, he started to turn the dial clockwise, listening intently for the tell-tale click of a successful number being entered.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange
12:12 AM


Red started the timer and watched as Frederick Reams, the man they called “Freddy Fingers”, went to work. He’d never worked with Reams before but his reputation was second to none. There was no better safecracker in all of London – at least not one that was breathing. Turner watched on as Fingers expertly felt his way around the dial, listening for the slightest of sounds, while gently tapping the outside from time to time with some of the tools he’d brought with him. It was like watching a virtuoso at work. Reams seemed calm, collected, and completely unphased by working against the clock. Every movement was precise.

Turner glanced down at the timer and back up to Reams. “A minute-thirty left.”

Freddy offered a thumbs-up by way of recognition and continued on with his work. Red set his shotgun down on a table for a moment and used the sleeve of his overalls to wipe away the sweat that had gathered on his forehead. He glanced over to Freddy again and noticed there wasn’t a single bead of sweat on his.

“A minute.”

As the seconds melted away, Freddy’s nonchalance began to worry Red. They had practised this more times than Turner cared to recall and Reams had never come up short once, but executing in the field was another thing. Turner had seen more accomplished men wilt under pressure before. And where the lack of urgency that Fingers showed had been impressive but thirty seconds ago, with less than a minute on the clock, it now began to grate.

“Thirty seconds, Freddy.”

“Could you?” Fingers slipped one of the discs free from his ear and pressed one of his namesake against his thin lips. “I’m trying to concentrate.”

Red nodded sheepishly and left Fingers to his work. There was nothing Turner could do from here. It was all in Reams’ hands. He picked up his shotgun, placing it lazily under his arm, and watched the seconds tick by as Freddy worked. With around twelve seconds on the clock, the safecracker’s eyes narrowed some and a long thin tongue slithered through his lips.

“Et voila.”

The safe door popped open and Freddy stepped aside to allow Red to inspect its contents. The half a dozen binders filled with documents and grainy photographs caught his eye. He reached for a folder and opened it briefly, skimming through its contents, before setting it back down. Blackmail material, he was sure, probably worth a small fortune to the right person – but Turner’s crew weren’t in the business of blackmail. They were there for one thing and one thing only.

One of Red’s hands reached for a beige bag inside the safe. He pried it open and pulled out a smaller black cloth bag inside. Gently he undid the cord that tied the cloth bag open and tipped the bag’s contents out into his hand. One diamond came tumbling out, then another, then another, and when Turner shone a torch on the small diamonds sat in the palm of his hand the light was almost blinding. A large grin appeared on Red’s face as he inspected the precious stones.

“I think we’ve hit the jackpot this time, Freddy,” he said over his shoulder contentedly.

There came no answer from Fingers. Unperturbed, Turner began to tip the diamonds back into the cloth bag, making sure not to drop a single one. Once they were in, he tied the cord around the bag with as much care as he could muster and prepared to slip it inside the courier bag. From behind Red a familiar click sounded and his face dropped instantly. He knew what it was before he turned to face it.

“Freddy?”

The safecracker had produced a pistol from somewhere and was brandishing it in his direction. There was a steely look in Freddy’s eyes. He looked every bit as determined to pull the trigger if necessary as he had been determined to crack the safe moments ago. All the same, one of Red’s hands crept towards his shotgun.

“I don’t want to kill you,” Freddy uttered calmly as his finger tightened on the trigger. “But don’t think for a second that I won’t.”
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Zafran Kebab
Croydon
Two Weeks Earlier


“Diamonds,” Red said to the gathered members of the Crew.

“Gonna pop the question?” Coach asked with a wry smile. “Hate to break the news, my son, but I am already spoken for.”

There were soft chuckles all around as Red shook his head.

“The Thursday before Easter, Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange will be receiving a huge order from De Beers. This order is going to be for their store, along with about a dozen more high-end jewelers in the UK, US, and Canada. The problem is that after Thursday, the Easter holiday shuts everything down until the following Monday. So, for three days millions of dollars in diamonds are gonna be just sitting in a Northwest London.”

“Five gets you ten they won’t make it to Monday,” said Charlie. “What’s the play, Red?”

Charlie could feel his excitement growing. He’d been skeptical when Red had phoned him out of the blue, even more so when he’d arrived to the kebab shop and been directed to the private room in the back. It reeked of goat meats and exotic spices. He’d watched Coach and Bobby come in and exchange pleasantries and awkward conversation with them until Red was ready.

“We go in either Thursday night or early Friday morning. I have a layout of the building and their security systems.”

“How’d you swing that?” Coach asked with a low whistle.

“Inside man,” said Red. “Courtesy of the blokes banking this one.”

“Oh, yeah?” Charlie asked. “Who is it?”

“Didn’t ask,” replied Red. “I figured… well, after last time it was best we stay as insulated from that kind of thing as possible.”

They lapsed into an awkward silence, a few glances in his direction from Coach. Charlie saw a hint of a scowl form on Coach’s forehead. Before Charlie could pipe up, Bobby beat him to the punch and tried to move things along.

“What does the security look like?”

“Two armed guards on duty all through the night. On top of that are alarmed doors that stay armed overnight. No need for the guards to leave until the store opens up. The rocks will be in the basement inside a great big safe.”

“The bigger the safe the better it explodes,” Bobby grinned.

“Not this one, lad,” said Red. “Precious cargo inside. If you blow it all up, it’ll be worthless. You’ll be on the alarms, though. For the safe, I’m going to have to call in a specialist.”

“Who you thinking?” Charlie asked skeptically. He didn’t care for the idea of another person in on the job. Four was the perfect fit in terms of work duties and when it came time to cut up shares. Four ways always split better than five. And while he didn’t consider himself friends with the other fellows, but he at least knew he could trust them. They were reliable. An unknown quantity was going to take care of the biggest part of this job and Charlie didn't like it.

“What about Little Joe?” Coach asked.

“He’s dead.”

“Big Joe?” Charlie asked.

“In prison.”

“Skinny Joe?” asked Bobby.

“He fucked off to the continent after Old Bill tried to nick him,” said Charlie. “What about Just Joe?”

“He’s dead too,” said Coach.

“I got a fella lined up,” said Red.“Any of you heard of Freddy Fingers?”

“Think so,” came Coach’s reply. “I think he used to run with Hanky Harry and his mob some years ago.”

“It must have been some time ago because he’s been on the lookout for a score for quite a while. What say the group?”

“If he can get the job done,” Coach shrugged.

“Sure,” said Bobby.

All eyes turned to Charlie. He pulled out a cigarette and lit it before shrugging.

“Like it matters at this point if I object. Let’s bring the wanker in and see what he can do.”

---

Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange
12:17 AM


“I would have a long, hard think about exactly what it is you’re about to do, Reams.”

Red clutched the courier bags full of diamonds to his person as he stared down the barrel of Freddy Reams’ gun. He could tell from the expression on the safecracker’s face that he meant business. He wouldn’t hesitate to shoot him where he stood, for all the good that would do either man.

“Trust me, I’ve thought this through,” Freddy said with a calculated smile. “You’re not the only one around here with brains.”

Turner nodded obligingly to accept that in Reams he may have met his match. “I’ve never doubted that.”

There was one thing on Turner’s side though. Red looked away from the pistol in his face for a second to catch a glimpse of the clock on the wall. It was eighteen minutes past twelve. They were a good three minutes into the “injury time” that Red had set aside in the event something went wrong. He knew his team. If he didn’t hear from Red in the next few minutes, Charlie would come sniffing around for trouble – and there wasn’t a man this side of the Atlantic that was quicker on the drawl that the Yank. Red needed to buy time. He needed to get Freddy talking.

“Let’s say you make it out of the building alive. Maybe you manage to pull the wool over Charlie’s eyes on the way out of here, maybe not. Then what? How are you planning on getting out of here lugging two bags of diamonds in the middle of the night?”

Freddy seemed completely unphased by the question. He shrugged his shoulders dismissively. “Never you mind how.”

There was an air of confidence about Reams that got under Turner’s skin. He wasn’t sure whether it had been there before, maybe he’d been so in awe of his skills that he’d not quite noticed it, but now they were on opposing sides it was as clear as day. He wondered how long Freddy had been planning to double-cross them. Was it his intention all along? Or had he seen an opportunity and taken it? Questions flooded Turner’s mind. There were more than he could ever hope to ask. Reams would realise he was stalling for time eventually. He had to be selective – so he reached for the most potent inquiry in his arsenal.

“You know who’s bankrolling this job, Fred. You really think they’re going to let you get away with this? They’ll hunt you to the ends of the Earth and back. And you know what they’ll do once they find you.”

For the first time a slither of doubt crept across Freddy’s face. It was satisfying to see. It confirmed to Turner that for all his coolness, Reams was as human as the next man. He could see the safecracker searching for a response. With every second that passed, backup was another second closer to arriving. He took a quick glimpse up at the clock again. Nineteen minutes past.

Finally Reams spat out the best he could muster in the way of a defence. “I’ll be long gone before our benefactors have a clue what’s hit them.”

A defiant smile appeared on Red’s lips.

“Well, it sounds like your mind’s made up then.”

A look of recognition appeared on Freddy’s face as he seemed to realise that Turner was stalling for time.

“Clever bastard, aren’t you?”

The pistol that Reams had allowed to slag ever so slightly from Red’s face stiffened again.

“Hand over the diamonds.”

Turner extended the courier bag towards Freddy slowly and the safecracker snatched it from his hand. He used the butt of his pistol to direct Red back towards the safe to collect the other bag and Turner did so without complaint. His shotgun was still resting beneath his arm awkwardly, impairing his movement somewhat, and Freddy’s eyes seemed trained on it at all times. It was now or never, Red told himself, as he offered the second bag towards Reams.

As the safecracker reached for it, Turner dropped the bag to the ground and spun his shotgun round into his hands. He managed to catch Freddy off-guard and had him in the sights of his shotgun. For a quarter of a second Red hesitated, as if reluctant to shoot a man dead in cold blood. He banished the thought from his mind and pulled the trigger with a grimace.

There was no bang. Freddy was not sent flying across the room in a hail of smoke and sound. There was nothing. Only Freddy’s smiling face as he brought the butt of his pistol down against the top of Red’s head. He fell to the ground with blood seeping across his face from the roof of his skull.

The last thing Turner saw before his world went black was Freddy Fingers reaching down for the last bag of diamonds. His voice was cold and dispassionate.

“Like I said, you’re not the only one around here with brains, Red.”

---

“What the fuck is going on?” Charlie asked as he started down the steps. “We’re falling behind here. If you locked us out of that safe, then I swear to god I’ll--”

Charlie’s words died in his throat when he saw Red on the ground, Freddy with bags in one hand and a gun in the other. Freddy started to turn towards him, but Charlie already had his shotgun up and leveled at the man’s chest.

Click.

“What the fuck?”

“Yeah,” Reams said with a lopsided grin. “What the fuck indeed. On your knees, sonny. Don’t make me bash you like I did your friend.”

“Getting antsy here,” Coach’s voice squawked from the radio. “We’re almost out of stoppage time. Someone tell me what’s going on.”

Freddy let the diamonds fall to the floor and put a long finger to his lips. He nodded towards the radio tucked into Charlie’s coveralls before gesturing with the gun. He didn’t have to say a word for Charlie to grasp his meaning.

“Finishing up here,” he said into the handheld. “B., you can start packing up. C., head on over to the rendezvous point.”

Both Coach and Bobby happily rogered Charlie’s commands before signing off.

“I’m going to take that with me,” Freddy said, motioning towards the radio. “Don’t want you getting any wise ideas. Now, on your knees.”

A few minutes later, Charlie was sitting on the floor of the basement tied up his ankles and wrists very much like the guards out on the showroom floor. Red’s prone body had also been hogtied once Charlie was securely restrained. Unlike the guards, though, Charlie was not blindfolded and gagged. Reams apparently had run out of cord.

“It was a pleasure,” said Freddy, hoisting the bags up over his shoulder. “You know, they were right about your crew. You lot are efficient and professional as hell. It’s a damn shame we couldn’t keep working together.”

“Freddy,” Charlie said in a calm voice. “I am going to give you one chance to end this right now. Untie us and hand the diamonds back over. I’ll beat you to a bloody pulp and you won’t get a cut of the haul, but you’ll be alive. Walk out on us and I promise you that you will be hunted down and killed like the fucking mutt that you are. If you take that option, you better get on a fucking boat to Antarctica as soon as possible.”

A broad grin formed on Freddy’s face. He raised his eyebrows and let out a chuckle.

“Ta.”

With that, he hurried up the basement stairs to make his getaway with their loot. Charlie made a promise to himself as he saw the fucker disappear into the darkness of the showroom. He would do everything he promised to Reams and so much more. But before he could even start on chasing the bastard, he had to take stock.

“You alright,” Charlie said, looking over his shoulder at Red sprawled out on the ground. “He didn’t bash you up too bad? Think we can maneuver around and take these bloody restraints off? Red? Red?”
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Hidden 3 yrs ago 3 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange
12:28 AM


They were officially late. Coach muttered a complaint under his breath as he eyed the clock on the dashboard of his taxi. It was unlike Red. Coach had never met someone as able to plan things out to the very second as Turner was – something he put down to his time in the military. He didn’t talk about it much, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work it out. So when things ran late, as they were running late now, it made Coach worried. Deathly worried.

It took Bobby some time to get down from the roof but there was no reason Red, Charlie and Freddy shouldn’t have long since been out. Coach tried to put his fears to one side and think instead about what he’d spend his cut on. He still wanted to take the kids abroad, like he’d promised them before the Wembley job, and he’d started putting quiet feelers about setting up a firm of his own. That dream was well within reach.

More minutes passed by and the sinking feeling in Coach’s stomach started to nag at him even more. He looked down at the pistol on the passenger seat and considered heading inside but something told him not to. Instead he gently put his foot down on the accelerator and slowly pulled away from the Diamond Exchange. Something was wrong. Things were too still.

And then he heard it in the distance. The sound of an engine starting. The listing taxi began to pick up speed and a scowling Crowder sped his way in the direction of the sound. He saw Freddy Fingers clambering his way into a car with two bags in hand. There was no sign of Bobby, Charlie or Red. As Fingers reached to shut the door behind him, he locked eyes with Coach for the faintest of seconds.

“Oh no, you bloody don’t.”

Coach’s taxi bore down on the burgundy-coloured coupe at speed. He managed to block it in. Freddy and he were staring at one another dead in the eye, with only two panes of thin glass keeping them apart. Next to Freddy was a handsome-looking blonde haired woman with piercing blue eyes. Coach opened his mouth to shout abuse in Freddy’s direction and was cut-off as the coupe crashed into the driver’s side. The impact sent Coach sliding over and when he looked back, Fingers was pointing a pistol at him.

“Bollocks.”

Two bullets tore through the driver’s side window of Coach’s taxi. Crowder ducked beneath the door in time and was rooting around the passenger seat for his own gun. The coupe scraped across Coach’s taxi, with each second of metal rending metal a dagger in the old cabbie’s heart. He spotted the pistol on the floor of the passenger’s seat and reached for it. Finally the blonde behind the wheel managed to tear the coupe free and steal off ahead of Coach’s now-battered taxi.

Coach started after them with pistol in hand. There wasn’t much time. Even in the dead of the night the racket they had made would bring Old Bill running. He’d make that bastard Fingers pay for double-crossing them – and more importantly he’d make him pay for wrecking his fucking cab. Coach made sure to make a mental note of the coupe’s license plate as his ailing taxi gave chase.

“Coach,” Bobby’s voice sounded from the radio on the dashboard. “Where are you? We need you here.”

“I’m after Fingers,” Coach shouted into his radio.

“Forget him,” Bobby’s tinny called out. “Red’s hurt bad. Freddy hit him over the head with something. There’s lots of blood. We need to get him to a hospital.”

“But the diamonds,” Coach started.

Bobby made to speak but it was clear that Charlie had wrestled the radio free from his fingers. “Fuck the diamonds. Get back here.”

“Fuck,” Coach cried as he hit the brakes.

He watched as Freddy and the blonde’s burgundy coupe disappeared off into the horizon. The chase had left bits of broken metal scattered about the streets and Coach spotted stirring from bedroom windows. He hightailed it back to the Diamond Exchange rendezvous-point where he found Bobby and Charlie waiting. Propped up against the wall was a barely-conscious Red.

“What the fuck happened?” Coach said as he leapt out of the taxi. “That sod Freddy tried to shoot me in the face.”

Charlie’s face turned a deep shade of red. “Don’t you worry about him. We’ll make sure that backstabbing prick gets his before the weekend’s out, I promise you that much.”

A weak groan slipped from Red’s lips.

“He needs to go to a hospital,” Bobby repeated, with all the concern of a son seeing his father sick for the first time.

“No,” Charlie said with a shake of the head. “No hospitals. That’s the first place the Old Bill will start. Don’t be so fucking naive.”

Coach knelt down beside Red and gestured to Bobby to do the same. They placed their arms beneath Red’s armpits and lifted him to his feet.

“I know a place,” Coach said as they slid Turner into the backseat. “But don’t expect a friendly welcome.”
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Kensington
3:24 AM


“Slow down and repeat yourself one more time.”

Adam Zinkman held the phone close to his ear in an effort to hear the callers frantic words. He’d taken it downstairs after one of the servants woke both him and his wife up. Apparently, there was an emergency telephone call for him. His first thought was that it was his father or that his brother James had ended up in jail once more. But he was surprised to hear a voice he didn’t immediately recognize saying something about masks and guns.

“It’s… Bruce, sir. The nightwatchman at the exchange. We were robbed, sir. Men in masks and guns came in.”

Adam felt a cold pit suddenly form in his stomach. He looked over his shoulder to make sure that the butler had left the room before he spoke.

“How long ago?”

“It was around midnight.”

“Why are you just calling me?”

“It took us that long to get free, sir. They tied us up and gagged us and covered our eyes.”

“Have you called the police yet?”

“No, sir.”

“Good,” he said before quickly adding, “Don’t. Don’t call the police. We’ll handle this matter in-house. Do you know what all they took?”

“As best as we can reckon, nothing in the showroom was touched. But they got into the basement of the safe.”

“Shit." He rubbed his forehead with his free hand. "Shit, shit, shit. Okay. Stay there and don’t touch anything. I’ve got to make some phone calls and I’ll be down there at once.”

Adam killed the connection with his finger. He waited a few moments before picking it back up and hearing the dial tone. On the rotary, he began to dial the number to his father’s home in North London. He closed his eyes and sighed. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation.

---

Zinkman & Sons Diamond Exchange
4:59 AM


Adam and his father Isaac looked at the open safe without a single word between them. The thieves had left everything in the safe. Adam had verified that all the legal documents, charters, and nasty secrets in the top shelves were all there. The same with the rest of the jewelry inventory. It was all there. Everything except the diamonds that were scheduled for shipment across the UK and Atlantic that Monday.

Isaac Zinkman stepped up and gave the safe a once-over again. Adam was unable to tell anything by his expression. The old man was always like that. His smoothly shaved head never wrinkled, his brow never furrowed, and the two green eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses never seemed to betray his innermost thoughts.

“This will ruin us,” he said in Yiddish. “The men who stole these diamonds have killed us. We cannot hope to survive in business if we do not have an inventory to sell. How can we be a diamond exchange if we have no diamonds to exchange?”

“We’re insured,” Adam said in English. “We’ll recoup the money and we’ll be able to compensate the other diamond buyers.”

“It is not just money I speak of, my son,” his father continued in Yiddish. “I also speak of our name. When we have been stolen from, then we cannot be trusted to take care of anyone’s goods. Would you trust with your fortune, a man who would get it taken away? I wouldn’t. And once we’ve been tarred with the reputation as weak, then no amount of scrubbing will clean it off.”

“Well, what can we do?” Adam asked. “And answer in English, for god’s sake. You’ve lived her sixty years, father. Act like it.”

“We have three days,” Isaac said in English. While he spoke the language fluently, his speech still retained traces of an accent. “Until Monday, everything in the world has come to a stop for the holiday. If we can get the diamonds back before Monday morning, everything will be fine.”

“And how do you suppose we do that?”

Isaac took a deep breath and sighed.

“The Golem.”

Now it was Adam’s turn to speak Yiddish, as he cursed under his breath in the language.

“Please,” Isaac said. “Go home and be with your wife and my granddaughters. Leave this next part up to me.”

---

Brixton
6:35 AM


Etan Ben-David was in the process of shaving when the phone rang. He wiped shaving cream from his chin as he walked through the little flat towards the telephone. A Murphy bed and a television tray were the only creature comforts in the room. Etan needed very little else. To him this place was nothing more than a waystation, a place of rest between destinations.

“Hello?”

“My friend,” a voice answered on the other end of the line in the old language. Etan felt the hairs standing up on the back of his neck. “Do you know who this is?”

“Yes, sir,” Etan replied in Yiddish. “I could never forget your voice.”

“That’s good,” the voice said. “It is good that you do not forget. I do not forget either. I remember you as a boy, cold and hungry and no family. Do you remember those days?”

Etan glanced down at his exposed forearm and the faded ink of the number tattooed on his skin.

“That I can also never forget.”

“I am in need of your services again. Someone has stolen something from me, something I need back very badly. I need it recovered before the weekend is over.”

“For you, anything.”

“And I need the people who took it to feel an immense amount of pain.”

Etan nodded slowly, even though he knew the man on the phone could not see it.

“For you, anything.”
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Honor Oak Park Veterinary Centre
Lewisham
7:12 AM


Sat in the reception of Honor Oak Park’s lone veterinary centre were Bobby, Charlie and Coach. Coach chewed nervously on his nails while thoughts of Wembley raced through his mind. It had been a knock to the head that had sent Cecil’s girlfriend shuffling off her mortal coil. On the long ride over to Lewisham, the taxi driver had considered what would come of the three of them were Red not to pull through. The conclusion he’d arrived at wasn’t good.

Bobby leant towards Charlie with an earnest frown. “Do you think Red will be alright?”

“Do I look like some kind of fucking doctor to you? Quit breathing down my neck.”

The Pole leant back with a defeated look on his face. Coach glanced over at Charlie as if to silently reproach him for speaking to Bobby that way and the Yank begrudgingly acknowledged his disapproval.

“Sorry,” Charlie said with a wince that betrayed how painful he found apologising. “I’m just a little stressed is all.”

“I understand,” Bobby nodded sympathetically. “Red is like a father to you.”

Charlie’s face crumpled up with displeasure. “What? No, that’s not it. Christ, Bobby.”

He stood up from his seat and ran his hands backwards through his dark hair with a heavy sigh. Coach watched him pace. There was something stirring there, milimetres beneath the surface, an anger that was never quelled or contained. In truth, Coach was as scared of what Charlie might do if Red didn’t pull through as he was what might happen to the three of them without Red around. Enfield was a loose cannon at the best of times – he’d proved that during the last job – and now he had all the excuse he wanted to add to his body count.

“Every second that Benedict Arnold is out there is another second those diamonds are nearer to being gone – and then we’re all well and truly fucked.”

Bobby leant forward to voice a complaint. Coach knew what it was before he’d even opened his mouth. He was upset that Charlie cared more about the diamonds than he did Red. It was fair, Coach thought, but that argument wasn’t one he had any interest in listening to. Not least while Turner was laid up on a table in a vets surgery with his life hanging in the balance.

“Could you two just give it a rest for a second?” Coach interjected with an exasperated sigh. “My head’s still pounding.”

So there they sat in complete silence for half an hour more. Charlie and Bobby chain-smoked cigarettes to pass the time. It was all Coach could do but ask for one, but he’d sworn off them, though he was sure a morning like the one they were having was surely the excuse he needed.

Before he could ask the door to the surgery opened and a tall, tanned-skinned woman stepped through it. Her thick-rimmed glasses obscured the dark brown eyes that hid beneath them. She was every bit as beautiful as when Coach had met her ten years ago. Her name was Mariana Thompkins. Once upon a time, when “Coach” went by James Crowder and Mariana Thompkins had been Mariana Lopez, they had been lovers. To say that it hadn’t ended well was an understatement.

Charlie stood up from his seat and took a step towards Thompkins. “What’s the skinny, nurse?”

“He’s conscious,” Mariana purred in an accent that listed back and forward between the Queen’s English and Spanish. “He sustained quite a serious concussion. Whatever it was your friend was hit over the head with, he’s very fortunate that it didn’t fracture his skull.”

Bobby’s head fell into his hands with relief beside Coach. “<Thank God.>”

“I always said that thick skull of his would come in useful one of these days,” Coach said with a smile.

Mariana shot Crowder an icy look.

“It’s not a joking matter, James. Mr. Turner could be bed-bound for a week, several days at the least. He’s showing signs of severe sensitivity to light and sound. When he first regained consciousness he couldn’t tell me which day of the week it was. Had the blow been a half-inch to the left or the right, the three of you could well have been burying your friend. Do you understand?”

“Enough lady,” Charlie said as he pushed his way past the nurse. “We need to speak to Red.”

One of her tanned hands reached out to hold Charlie back and she said in a commanding voice. “He’s not in any fit state to entertain visitors.”

From his seat Coach could see the expression on Charlie’s face begin to turn. He had seen it before. First the eyes narrowed, then the jaw clenched, then the redness set in and before long someone would bear the brunt of his wrath. Given his old flame had just saved their bacon, Coach wasn’t about to let that happen.

“Mariana,” he called out to her with a look that suggested she release Charlie’s arm.

She dutifully let it slip through her fingers and Charlie stepped through the doorway lined with cat cages and dog kennels. Bobby took one last drag of his cigarette and stubbed it out in an ashtray before following after him. Coach and Mariana stood in the reception with one another locked in a pregnant silence.

Finally Coach rose to follow after his colleagues. Mariana reached out for him. He stopped in his tracks and looked past the thick lenses of her glasses into her deep brown eyes. There was no love there, only an unyielding contempt.

“Don’t think this means I’ve forgiven you, James Crowder.”

The surgery table had been transformed into a makeshift bed for Red. As Coach drew closer he noticed the bandages wrapped both around his head and his eyes. They were to help with the light sensitivity, Coach figured.

“How’s it going, Red?” Charlie said from beside Red. “The madam says you’re not ready for visitors. What do you reckon?”

Turner smiled feebly in the direction of Charlie’s voice. “You know me, I’ve seen off worse, old pal.”

“You look like one of those three monkeys,” Coach said, feinting a smile for Red’s sake that he would never see. “You know, those ones from the statues. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil.”

“What does that make the two of you?”

Bobby and Coach let out a laugh. Even Charlie mustered something of a smile. The young Pole step towards Turner and placed an encouraging hand on Red’s forearm. It brought a smile to Turner’s face straight away, one that didn’t fade when Charlie stepped forward to break the bad news to him.

“Freddy got away, Red.”

Turned nodded as if he’d worked that much out. “That’s unfortunate.”

“What’s the plan?” Charlie asked. “How are we going to get the diamonds back?”

“The diamonds are the least of our problems,” Red responded. “Once I’ve got some shuteye I’ll need to make a visit to some friends of ours.”

Bobby, Charlie and Coach looked at one another awkwardly, unspokenly drawing lots as to who would break the second bout of bad news to him. It seemed to fall to Coach, who grimaced slightly and then cleared his throat as if to announce his presence to Red.

“Pay a visit? Red, I don’t know how to tell you this, but you won’t be visiting anywhere for a few days at least. Mariana said you’re lucky to be alive. You’ve got to stay in bed and get some proper rest.”

“What?” Red said incredulously as he attempted to sit forward. “That’s ridiculous, I’ll be fine once I’ve had a bit of sleep, it was only a knock to the head.”

Coach saw Turner’s hand shoot towards the bandage on his eyes. He reached out to stop him, but the bandage was free and Red’s eyes were open before he had a chance. There was a sharp intake of breath and he nearly stumbled from the table before Thompkins came charging over to stop him.

“What are you doing, Mr. Turner?” Mariana said as she forced the bandages back over his eyes. “I told you that I needed you to lie very still. Are you trying to hurt yourself? Because all it takes is one slip and that concussion of yours could become far more serious.”

“Enough,” Charlie said, shooing her away once he was convinced Red was fine. “You don’t need to baby the man.”

Coach could see Mariana’s face souring at the remark but Red calmed her temper in three small words. “Thank you, nurse.”

Thompkins shuffled out of the room and Coach heard her making preparations to close the surgery for the day. Even with the bandage over Red’s eyes it was clear that he was deep in thought. Skull half-caved in or not, when Turner’s cogs were working, it was always something to behold.

Finally, he broke his silence.

“Charlie, you’ll need to go.”

“Go where?” Charlie asked.

“I had hoped to keep this from you all,” Red said. His voice, ironically, was like that of a doctor delivering bad news to a patient. “And I want you to know that I would never have gone to the nasty sods hat-in-hand for work. They came to me. They had a job that needed doing, one that would be of great benefit to them, but they didn’t have the people for it. They needed professionals.”

Coach was so anxious he’d nearly gnawed through his thumb as Turner spoke. “Spit it out, Red.”

“The Kanes,” Red said with a guilty sigh. “You’re going to have to visit the Kanes.”
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Depftord
8:00 AM


Charlie sat in the waiting room of the import-export office that served as the Kane’s front. His left knee couldn’t stop shaking, a nervous tic that he was doing without really doing it. He was on his third cigarette since arriving twenty minutes ago. There was a thump, followed by some shouting from behind the office door. What sounded like a muffled scream came through. Charlie expelled smoke and coughed as the door swung open.

“Come on inside,” said the heavyset bodyguard. “He’ll see you now.”

Charlie stood up and walked through the door. The first thing he saw was the towel of blood on the floor. A man was kneeling in front of it, holding on to his left hand and openly weeping. A tall, thin man in a kimono stood in front of the weeping man, a samurai sword in his hand.

“Gotta pay the toll, lad. You can go, but I get to keep the finger.”

The bodyguard helped the man up and showed him out. The man in the kimono held up a severed little finger and inspected it in the office light. Charlie could feel bile rising up in his throat at the sight.

“I served during the occupation of Japan,” he said, not bothering to look away from the finger as he spoke. “Weren’t many of us, Yanks mostly did the heavy lifting, but I was one of them. Japan is… a fascinating place. A wonderful people and an amazing culture. As you can probably tell, it’s a big inspiration to me.”

Charlie noticed the office was decked out in all kinds of Japanese and Asian shit. Bamboo screens, katanas mounted on the wall, and there was painting of… what looked like a woman having sex with a squid.

“The Yakuza are like the London mobs, but with an actual tradition and culture. Kingpins here come and go, their gangs turning to dust after they’re gone. But the Yazuka’s foundation is so strong, it has survived for over three hundred years. Do you know why?”

“Why?” Charlie whispered.

“Structure,” he said, holding the little finger up for Charlie to examine. “This is the price for failure there. It’s the price for failure that I use.”

He suddenly looked at Charlie and actually took him in.

“I’m Bill Kane, by the way. Who the fuck are you?”

“I’m an associate of Red Turner’s.”

“Oh! The ginger bloke we hired to nick those diamonds?” Kane tossed the severed finger over his shoulder and pointed the sword towards Charlie, a large smile on his face. “How’d it go, lad?”

“Less... than ideal.”

Kane’s smile disappeared from his face. Charlie was suddenly all too aware of the sword in his hands.

“Explain. And be fucking quick about it.”

----

Putney
8:10 AM


Diamonds glittered and shimmered on the dingy mattress. Freddy had scattered the rocks across Deborah’s naked body in celebration of the score and they made love. That was four hours ago and the sexual desire that fueled that act had long ago faded. Now, Freddy found himself in his boxers, picking the stones up off the mattress while Debbie made tea on the flat’s lone hotplate.

“When are we leaving for Belize?”

“Soon,” Freddy lied. “You may find this shocking, but the people at Pan-Am don’t take diamonds as currency for plane tickets, love. I gotta offload some of the stones to get cash. I got a buyer lined up, but I’m not meeting him until tonight.”

The part about the buyer was true. He knew a pawnbroker that operated a fencing business on the side. Even at fifty pence on the pound for the diamonds, Freddy would be able to get enough cash buy a plane ticket to wherever he wanted to go. Debbie just wouldn’t be going wherever that was. She was great in bed and as one of the bunnies at the Playboy Club, she could turn heads and make men drool. But she’d served her purpose. Freddy would have enough money to have an entire harem of Debbies if he so desired.

“What time is this meeting?”

She came back into the bedroom, wearing the button-up shirt that Freddy had been wearing earlier. The shirt was all she wore and Freddy noted that she wore it well. In Debbie’s hands were two cups of tea. She passed one to him while she cradled the other in her hands.

“‘Round eight tonight.”

Freddy sipped the tea. Add making a good cuppa to the things Debbie could do well. He eyed her over and liked what he saw.

“We have loads of time to take it easy,” he said with a grin. “Whatever shall we do?”

Debbie grinned and set the tea down beside the bed. She started to slowly unbutton Freddy’s shirt. He resisted the urge to sigh. He was going to miss her.

----

Depftord

“It’s quite the predicament.”

Jimmy Kane leaned against the side of his cousin’s desk with his arms crossed. Bill sat behind the desk with his feet up. Both of them were staring straight ahead at Charlie. To look at Jimmy was to see an inverse image of Bill. Jimmy was short and squat, his dark hair thin and receding. He had the build of a rugby player past his prime.

His mannerisms were also the exact opposite of Bill. Jimmy was soft-spoken and contemplative. Several times he would pause for long stretches of time before he spoke, as if he had to compose the next sentence and say it in his head before he dared to speak.

“You see, Charlie, despite the illegal nature of some of our businesses, we treat arrangements like legal agreements. Turner entered into an agreement with us, and this unfortunate development constitutes a breach of that verbal contract.”

“But the circumstances---”

“Are not our bloody fault,” snapped Bill. “Isn’t our fault you chose a perfidious cunt to work with.”

“Bill’s right,” said Jimmy. “This fellow who ripped you off was picked by you. One of your gang members double-crossing you does not change the fact that you’re still short the diamonds, Charlie.”

“At least give us time to make this right,” Charlie pleaded. “I want that son of a bitch so bad that I can taste it. I’ll deliver you the diamonds and his head on a fucking platter.”

Jimmy looked over at Bill. The two men exchanged silent looks before Jimmy turned back to Charlie.

“Twenty-four hours.”

“No,” Bill said with a smile. “Forty-eight. That’ll put it on Easter Sunday. It’s more poetic. Resurrection from death and all that.”

“Very well,” said Jimmy. “I’ll show you out, Charlie.”

Charlie stood on legs that were close to wobbling. He had to concentrate to not look weak in front of the Kanes. Bill nodded at him and smiled warmly as he walked out in Jimmy’s wake. Once the door was closed, Jimmy spun around.

“You are very lucky that Bill has such a poor memory, Charlie.”

“What’s that mean?” Charlie asked, even though he already knew what he was hinting at.

“Roy McCone? He works for us. And you’re on his shitlist.”

“Fuck,” Charlie said under his breath. “Fuck-fuck-fuck.”

“Sounds about right. On top of these diamonds, you owe us fifteen grand, Charlie.”

“Look, it wasn’t me who fucked up that package.”

“Just like it wasn’t you who took off with the diamonds,” hissed Jimmy. “But once again, it falls to you. You want to be a fucking player, Charlie? Then step up and act like one. Someone steals your diamonds, you skin the bastard alive. Some stick-up man steals your coke, you stick a shotgun up their arse and pull the trigger. Do you know why Bill and I are where we are in life? Because Bill chops off people’s fingers when they fuck up. If you don’t want to be eight-finger Charlie, then I suggest you get to fucking work.”

Charlie took a deep breath to calm himself.

“I’ll do whatever it takes. Mr. Kane.”

“Good.” Jimmy placed a hand on Charlie’s shoulder. “See that you do, kid. I like you, it’s the only reason I haven’t let Bill kill you yet.”
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New Cross
8:51 AM


Bobby awoke with a jolt as his elbow slipped from the ledge of the passenger side door. Coach smiled in his direction from the driver’s seat. It took Lewandowski a few seconds to get his bearings but slowly he began to recall the last few hours. Coach had called on an old friend by the name of Yorkie to help them out. He’d shown up in Honor Oak Park with a tow truck with one of his younger brothers in another car following behind him. The Mathis brothers had loaded the wrecked cab onto the tow truck and Coach had given them the address of a garage, then Bobby had piled into the car with him.

There was a cup of cold tea resting on the dashboard. Bobby reached for it and took a grateful mouthful of it before looking over at Coach. “It is good that Red is okay.”

“Yes, it is,” Crowded nodded.

They had left Turner in the care of Mariana Thompkins. Their relationship still confused Bobby – the nurse had the run of all three of them, but she’d definitely had the run of Coach most of all. There was something else going on there. The Pole thought for a second to ask about her but his timidity got the better of him. It, however, did not go completely unnoticed by Coach.

“Is there something you want to ask me, Bobby?”

“This nurse,” Bobby enquired sheepishly. “How do you know her?”

Coach shook his head wistfully as he steered the car after the tow truck. “How much time do you have?”

“Ten years ago Mariana was engaged to some big-shot doctor at the time. His old man was Chief Medical Officer – some blue-blooded type with two last names and a “Sir” before his first one. You know the type. Anyway, so this kid meets Mariana while travelling across Spain. He’s out there helping some poor kids or something. Fuck knows. Somehow the pair of them fall in love. He decides to bring her over to England where she doesn’t know a soul. Being no more than a kid herself she jumps at the chance.”

A mischievous smile appeared on his face. “That’s when yours truly comes in.”

“Back then I used to make a little money doing chauffeuring on the side every now and again. Picture it if you can, me all dressed up in my Sunday best driving around people with more money than sense.”

Bobby swallowed another mouthful of cold tea and encouraged Coach to continue. “And one of them was this Mariana woman?”

“Correct,” Coach nodded. “Turns out Mr. Doctor’s not around much. I end up driving Mariana around town every weekend for the best part of six months. As you’d expect in those circumstances, we grew … close. Closer than we should have got, if you know what I mean.”

The Pole couldn’t work out whether Coach’s story was romantic or desperately sad. He knew what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land. He knew how isolating it could be to be apart from your family and friends. He’d felt that way until he and Klaudia had grown close. Now he was on the verge of proposing to her he couldn’t stomach the thought of going back to his old life. It was only then that Bobby remembered that Coach himself was married and had been for a long time – Carol, he recalled.

“But this was ten years ago, no?” Bobby asked as he realised the arithmetic didn’t quite add up. “Your wife?”

A guilty look appeared on Coach’s face.

“Trust me, you don’t need to remind me, Bobby. I haven’t always been the world’s best husband, I’ll admit. I won’t sit here and pretend that I have. You saw her, though. She’s beautiful, isn’t she? That a woman that looked like that would so much as look in my direction … it made me lose my senses. I’d never so much as looked in another woman’s direction until Mariana came along. And I haven’t since. But she was different.”

Bobby did his best to put himself in Coach’s shoes, but it was no good. Klaudia was the only woman he’d ever loved, he couldn’t imagine being untrue to her because of something so fleeting as looks. Though he had to admit that Mariana was beautiful, even if she had been seething from the moment they had met.

“If you loved one another, why did she seem so angry with you?”

“Well,” Coach sighed. “You might have noticed she’s working at a vets and not being ferried around in fancy motors anymore. Let’s just say I have something to do with that.”

A bemused look appeared on Bobby’s face as he tried to decode the meaning of Coach’s statement. “I don’t understand.”

“Her old man found out what was going on. He got me sacked, of course, which was no real skin off my nose if I’m honest with you, but worse of all he called off the engagement. He didn’t want to, mind. But daddy wouldn’t have him marrying an adulteress, no sir. Never you mind that the cheeky bastard was getting his end away elsewhere every time he left Mariana behind.”

Lewandowski grimaced.

“Your wife, does she know?”

Coach let out a heavy sigh. In all the years that Bobby had known the taxi driver, he had only ever seen him upset once – that day on Putney Heath after the Cecil boy had committed suicide. Now for a second time, the Pole saw Coach moved to sadness.

“It would break her heart.”

He shook his head, as if trying to clear it of cobwebs, and then smiled in Bobby’s direction. “Love’s a complicated thing, Bobby.”

After a few minutes, Coach signalled to the truck in front of them to stop. He let Bobby out outside of a train station and they said their goodbyes. Bobby was going to head home to get a couple of hours of sleep in before they made their next steps. As he approached the turnstiles, Coach’s story rattled around his brain. He thought of Coach’s wife Carol and all the nights she must have spent alone and then of his own girlfriend Klaudia. He would hold her a little tighter when he got home.

***

Streatham
9:34 AM


He’d done it. The unthinkable. Once he’d dropped Bobby off at the station, Coach had raided the dash of Yorkie’s brother’s motor and found a loose, near-broken cigarette. As if this business with Fingers wasn’t bad enough, dredging up ancient history had left Crowder feeling morose and in need of some nicotine. It had more than done the job.

By the time the Mathis brothers and Coach had pulled into Coach’s old haunt, Proctor Motor Repairs, he was back to himself again. He’d bunged Yorkie a tidy sum for his help and sworn him to secrecy as they offloaded the battered taxi onto the lot of the garage. It hadn’t taken long to arouse the interests of the garage’s namesake.

“As I live and breathe!” Archie Proctor bellowed as he appeared out of his grubby little office. “Jamie-fucking-Crowder in the flesh. Is it really you or are these old eyes of mine deceiving me?”

Coach smiled sheepishly. “It’s me, alright.”

Proctor was pushing seventy and weighed upwards of twenty stone. He’d always been a bigger man, but he’d grown bigger still in the years since Coach had left, and now needed the help of a cane to walk around.

He thrust one of his gelatinous hands towards Coach, who shook it warmly. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

Crowder pointed over his shoulder at the taxi.

“I need a favour.”

The two men inspected the taxi together for around five minutes. Proctor prodded loose bits of it with his cane and peered through the bullet holes in the ceiling. With each prod of the cane, he let out a disappointed tut and Coach was sure he was jotting up the bill as he went along. Proctor had been good to him when Coach was starting out – but he was every bit a crook as the Binneys or Kanes.

Finally they retired back to Archie’s office to discuss terms. Proctor sat in an arm-chair that Coach noticed had been reinforced with several planks of wood. Crowder himself declined a seat and stood instead by the grubby window that looked out onto the yard.

“By Monday?” Proctor’s laugh was so deep that his gut wobbled with it. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding. I could work round the clock all weekend and there’s no way I could get that thing sorted out. I’m almost offended you bloody asked.”

Coach pinched the bridge of his nose. “Come on, Proctor.”

“Don’t you ‘come on’ me,” Archie said, brandishing one of his sausage-like fingers at Coach. “It can’t be done, Jamie.”

A black kid wearing beige trousers, a striped shirt, and a brown flat cap entered the yard. He couldn’t have been any taller than five foot ten but there was a wiry strength to him. At least, there might have been if he had a decent meal once in a while. Even from a distance Coach could tell the kid was starving and in need of a bath.

The kid stopped in front of the damaged taxi in the yard and stared at it with intrigued. He reached one of his brown hands out to touch the wing mirror and as he did so it fell to the ground with a bang. Instinctively the boy’s head spun round and looked in the direction of the office.

Proctor screamed at the kid from his seat. “Oi, what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing? Get away from there, you little bugger.”

Coach smiled. He’d been on the receiving end of Proctor’s temper more times than he could count. “Who’s the kid?”

“Oh, him?” Proctor chuckled. “That’s Clinton. We call him ‘Sparky’ around the yard though. Best mechanic I’ve had on my books since … well, since you left us. Not sure why I waste my breath shouting at him given the black bastard’s as deaf as a bat.”

A frown appeared on Coach’s face.

“Can he speak?”

“No idea,” Proctor said with a dismissive shrug. “Never asked him. We get by using hand signals most days. He can read, but not a lot, so worst case scenario we’ll jot a couple of things down for him or draw him a picture if needs be.”

Coach watched as Clinton reached down to pick up the wing mirror and placed it gently atop the taxi cab’s bonnet. The boy thrust one of his finger’s into the bullet hole in the roof and then drew it back quickly once he realised how sharp the hole was. His knelt down and looked at the wheel that was one nut away from hanging off entirely and screwed up his face a little. Coach recognised that look.

“Why all the interest, eh? Never had you down as a nigger lover, Jamie.”

Crowder exhaled a little and asked for Proctor’s permission to talk to Clinton. Archie was confused as to why he would want to but he allowed it on the proviso that Coach not keep the boy too long. He had a laundry list of jobs that needed doing.

Clinton turned to face Coach as he approached him. He smiled weakly, as if unsure of Crowder’s intention, and the taxi driver offered him a friendly wave. They stood in front of the cab in complete stillness for a few moments before Clinton made a gun sign with his hand and mocked shooting a bullet through the roof. Coach returned the gesture with a knowing smile.

Finally he let out an exasperated sigh and pointed towards the wreck. “Can you fix this?”

Clinton looked at him confused and pointed towards his ears.

“What are you doing? He can’t hear a bloody word you’re saying,” Crowder chastised himself as he rooted around in his pockets.

He pulled free a musty yellow envelope and a pencil and began to write on the back of it. “Can you fix this?” it read. Clinton nodded. “By Monday?” Coach added and handed the envelope to the boy they called Sparky. He stared down at the words, then looked again at the wreckage of a cab, and gritted his teeth.

Sparky’s mouth trembled slightly as he tried to form a word. It had clearly been a long time since he had spoken and even the effort alone looked exhausting. Finally, his lips parted and he nodded determinedly as a single word left his mouth.

“Monday.”
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Tulse Hill
10:48 AM


Etan Ben-David inspected the piece of black metal with a surgical eye. There were long, deep scratches running along it revealing the metal beneath it. As far as Ben-David could work out, it had broken loose in some kind of car chase. There were pieces of the metal scattered up and down the streets around the Diamond Exchange. He’d taken his time to collect each piece carefully and place them into a garbage bag for future inspection. As he rose from his knees to return to the Zinkman building, something glistening in the morning sun caught his eye.

“What have we here?”

Ben-David produced a pair of tweezers from his pocket and plucked a bullet casing from the middle of the street. He lifted it to his nose and took a sniff before dropping it inside another plastic bag. Slowly he was beginning to gather a picture of what had happened last night, but there were still gaps that needed to be filled.

His first step had been to pay a visit to the basement. It contents had been cleared out earlier by Adam but the Zinkmans had given Etan a fairly detailed itinerary of what had been inside – and what had been left inside afterwards. Whoever had hit the building were here for the diamonds and the diamonds alone and they had chosen this weekend for a reason. That much was obvious. What was less obvious was who the flecks of blood on the basement floor belonged to. He made a note of it and then move on.

Secondly, he interviewed the two on-duty security guards. They were both tired by the time he sat them down in the draughty office passing for an interrogation room. Each man made their way through several cups of coffee as he interviewed them to keep themselves awake. In the main they had very little information of any use to share, but that in and of itself had been revealing. It meant that whoever had hit the Diamond Exchange had been professional. That they had bound and gagged the men and kept silent around them spoke to that. Something had gone wrong, of that Etan was sure, but it wasn’t due to a lack of a professionalism.

Then Ben-David had inspected the building’s security system. The Zinkman’s ran an autodialer system that had a direct line to the local police station. They were unreliable. Etan could think of three to four alternatives that were more suitable. Yet something about the ease with which the alarm was deactivated made Ben-David suspicious. The Diamond Exchange was peculiar in that its architecture demanded its wiring be run not along skirting boards along the floors but vertically up through the ceilings. As a result anyone wanting to tamper with the alarm would have had to access the roof of the building. Getting up there was not a problem. It was that whoever hit the Zinkmans knew they had to which was intriguing. There was only one conclusion.

There was an inside man.

As Etan arrived back from canvassing the streets he looked to the nightwatchman Bruce. “Do you have the names for me?”

Bruce nodded tentatively and handed over a piece of paper with the names of the three other men that the Zinkman’s employed as security guards. Etan reach the list studiously, burning each man’s name and home address into his memory, before folding the piece of paper and placing it into his pocket.

There was work to be done.

---

Herne Hill
12:12 PM


“So that’s where we stand.”

Charlie looked from Bobby’s dour face to Coach’s even distraught one. Both men had their hands in their jacket pockets and were now looking at their shoes intently.

“It’s the best I could do,” Charlie said with a touch of a defensiveness. “Small bloody miracle I didn’t come out of that room a few fingers short.”

“Still, forty-eight hours isn’t a long time,” said Coach. “Especially since we’re down a man.”

“How is Red?” Bobby asked.

“Still out of it,” said Charlie. “I took him home after I met with the Kanes. Hopefully he’ll be fit come tomorrow morning, if this fucking thing last this long. I got some ideas on how to track down Freddy.”

“You too?” said Coach.

Charlie looked at the older man with surprise. “What have you got?”

“You go first."

“Sod it,” Charlie sighed. “Look, Freddy can’t do a damn thing with the diamonds. He’s gonna need to lay them off on someone to fence. That kind of action, there’s only a handful of people in London capable of handling that much weight. I say we go around and pay them all a visit, see if our boy Freddy has been to see any of them.”

“Where would we start?” Bobby asked. “We know people who fence appliances and low-level stuff. This was our first time actually taking something that's not cash money.”

“I got a guy,” said Charlie.

Coach rubbed his mustache with a thumbnail.

“That’s a place to start. I may have something, too.”

He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a wrinkled scrap of paper. He held it up between two fingers.

“I snagged the plate on the car Freddy was in.”

“You are just now telling us this?” Bobby asked incredulously.

“I was a bit busy making sure Red didn’t die.”

“Don’t get your hopes up too much, Bob,” said Charlie. “There’s a good chance the car was stolen beforehand. The bastard had plotted this out.”

“Doesn’t hurt to check it out,” said Coach.

“In this case?” asked Charlie. “A dead end that takes time away from finding Freddy just might. But, yeah, we can split up. I’m gonna go see my guy and try to run down a list of names.”

“There’s a copper I heard about,” said Coach. “A bent one.”

“Is there any other kind?” asked Bobby.

“He can look into the plate for us,” said Coach. “I might have enough cash on me to pay for his services.”

“I’ll go with Charlie,” said Bobby. “Two people can cover more ground.”

“There’s a smart lad,” Charlie said with a gentle slap to Bobby’s shoulder. He pulled a small wad of cash from his wallet and passed it to Coach. “Just in case your copper friend wants to charge us through the nose. We’ll meet back up at that Italian place where we planned out Loomis Job?”

“How could I forget it,” said Coach. “Let’s say ‘round three?”

The three said their goodbyes before drifting off in separate directions. While Charlie and Bobby headed for Peckham, Coach and his temporary car made its way towards Battersea.
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The Pale Horse
Battersea
1:02 PM


Eddie Dunphy sat alone at a corner table in his favourite haunt. The Pale Horse was a good pub. It was never too busy, the staff were discrete, and best of all they served a mean pint of Guinness. He’d become something of a regular in the past few months. The turf war between the Binneys and Carlisle’s clan had dragged on longer than anyone had expected. Carlisle had been got in the first month and Alan and Albie expected the rest of the old man’s inner circle to see sense and fold. They hadn’t done. It had created a lot of work everyone down at Scotland Yard, Dunphy included.

Between that and the kerfuffle at Wembley last year it had been tough going for Eddie. The side deals he used to make to supplement his copper’s wage had all but dried up. That failed venture with Hanky Harry had set him back some and now he’d been forced to work all the overtime he could get his hands on. It was all a bit of a nightmare.

It’s why Eddie had jumped at the chance when word came through this morning of a little side action. Nothing major from the sounds of it. A punter trying to track someone down. Low-risk, low-reward work. Dunphy had agreed to meet them here at quarter to one. It one o’clock now and the bastard hadn’t shown yet. Dunphy was getting antsy when he spotted the door opening.

Through it stepped a slightly heavy-set man in his mid-to-late forties. A thick moustache sat atop his top lip. Eddie could tell from the way he carried himself that it was his man.

The man reached into his pocket and produced his wallet. “What’s your poison?”

“A pint of Guinness will do me fine,” Dunphy said. “Get us some pork scratchings while you’re up there, would you?”

“Of course,” the man said with a nod.

After a short wait the man returned holding a pint of Guinness in each hand and the scratchings that Eddie had requested. He set the pints down expertly and then plonked the packet of pork scratchings down in front of Dunphy with a cheerful smile. To anyone watching on, the two men could have easily been two friends meeting to blow off some steam after a long week at work.

Dunphy tore open the scratchings and pushed them into the centre of the table. He offered some to the man, who shook his head disapprovingly, before lifting his pint to take a sip. At the last second he stopped himself and pushed the Guinness out towards Eddie. Dunphy muttered a quiet “cheers” and they clinked their glasses together with thin, unconvincing smiles.

“How’s business?”

“Business?” Dunphy replied nonchalantly. “Oh, busy as usual. You know how things are at this time of year – it’s always one thing after another. And you?”

The man shrugged his shoulders. “Can't complain. The old ball and chain’s still breathing down my neck but that’s to be expected.”

“Women, eh?” Eddie chuckled and then took a healthy mouthful of Guinness that left his upper lip covered in foam. “What is it that they say? You can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

They shared a sincere laugh. Dunphy crunched on another pork scratching and shot a polite smile to the pub landlord. He nodded knowingly and broke of his gaze towards a customer that had just entered. Eddie took another sip of his Guinness, after which he let out a contented sigh.

The man cleared his throat. “On the phone you mentioned you had a tip for me. A sure thing?”

“Ah, that’d be the 3:15 at Aintree,” Dunphy smiled and began to root around in his pockets. “Give me a second, I can’t remember the bastard’s name for the life of me. I’ve got it written down somewhere here.”

Eddie produced a folded up piece of paper with the details the man had asked for on it. The registration details of the owner of a burgundy coupe. Thankfully the motor hadn’t set off any alarm bells. When Dunphy was starting out on the force he’d had some little fucker ask him to run some plates, only to find the vehicle in question belonged to his uncle Jack Donoghue. As far as he could recall the poor lad ended up at the bottom of a canal somewhere.

Dunphy stood up from his seat and tipped the rest of the Guinness down his throat. Once he was done he set the empty glass down on the table with a slam.

“Tell the missus I send my love.”
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Peckham
12:53 PM


Charlie and Bobby sat in the foyer of the Happy Time Massage. Half-naked girls wearing silky shifts and robes came and went, taking men into the back for what promised to be an all inclusive massage. Charlie couldn’t help but laugh at Bobby, staring at his feet and his face as red as a beet.

“What’s the matter?” asked Charlie.

“I have a girlfriend,” Bobby muttered.

“That’s okay,” Charlie said with a chuckle. “Looking isn't cheating.”

He winked at one of the women as she walked by. She was a brunette with shoulder length hair that was held up by what looked like chopsticks to Charlie. She wore only a lavender bra and knickers with black heels.

“Do you have a girlfriend?” Bobby asked.

“No,” Charlie said quickly. The matters of his lovelife was something he never liked to discuss with anyone. There was no way in hell he was going to talk about it to Bobby Bombs in the waiting room of a massage parlor. “I only date whores.”

There was a long silence between the two as they watched new men enter looking nervously, while flushed and relaxed men with wet stains on their trousers left. Bobby bummed a smoke off Charlie.

“When did that start?” Charlie asked after lighting Bobby’s fag.

“Right after Wembley,” said Bobby, expelling smoke. “I just… needed something to take the edge off.”

Charlie grunted and ignited his own cigarette. Another long silence enveloped the two men while they smoked.

“I never meant to kill her,” Charlie finally said. “She just wouldn’t stop looking at me, Bob. She was trying to remember my face so she could tell the coppers. I had to stop her from looking away.”

Bobby nodded. “With what happened to Red last night, I think I can now understand how it doesn’t take much to scramble someone’s brains.”

“Good,” said Charlie. “But Coach still hates me and Red has been looking at me sideways since we started this whole bloody thing. They think I’m some psycho killer.”

“Well, you’ve been talking nonstop about killing Freddy.”

“That’s different,” he said dismissively. “He’s ripped us off, and now we’re behind the bloody eight ball. If it’s down to him or us, then it’s no choice.”

“That’s how it starts,” said Bobby. “Convincing yourself that it’s either you or them will take you a long way when it comes to murder.”

“He’ll see you now,” the redhead in the kimono said from the doorway.

Charlie’s rebuttal to Bobby never came. He rose and walked towards her with Bobby close behind.Charlie watched the redhead’s hips sway as she led them to a back office.

“What time you get off?” Charlie asked with a smirk.

“My shift ends at eight.”

“That’s not what I asked.”

“Leave my girls alone, you American bastard.”

Sidney Greenstein aka Sid the Yid, was seated behind the cheap desk in the cheap little backroom. Charlie gave her a playful swat on the bottom as he and Bobby went into the office. If this were someone’s first impression of Sid, then they would be shocked to know the little man was one of the gambling kingpins of South London.

“Have a seat, Charlie,” Sid said as he lit up a fat cigar. “Who’s your friend?”

“I’m Bobby.”

“Just Bobby?” Sid asked. “Not Bobby the Polack? I can hear the accent, son.”

“I don’t like that word,” Bobby said tightly.

“We call him Bobby Bombs,” Charlie said as he sat. “The best damn explosives man in London.”

“Well," said Sid. "To what do I owe the pleasure of meeting his acquaintance?”

“We need your help, Sid," said Charlie. "You have a reputation for being plugged in.”

“When it comes to the underworld, just call me Western Union, my son.”

“We need to get rid of some diamonds,” Bobby said. “Lots of them. And quick.”

Sid raised an eyebrow and leaned forward in his chair, his eyes glinting behind the thick frames of his glasses. He shifted his cigar to one side of his mouth and spoke out of the other.

“What have you boys been up to? I been hearing rumors about you, Charlie. That you’re running with a very efficient mob. Professionals, independent operators. I rode them off since I know your past with Irish Jim. But... maybe those rumors weren’t just bollocks.”

“I’ll give you the details after, Sid. Just.. who would we go to?”

“Off the top of my head? Isaac Zinkman.”

Sid’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline when he saw the looks on Charlie and Bobby’s faces. Charlie could feel the color in his face quickly draining.

“What did I say?... Wait…,” Sid trailed off before his jaw loosened, the cigar spilling out on to the desk. “No. No fucking way. You didn’t.”

“Zinkman’s just a jeweler,” said Charlie.

Sid picked the cigar from the desk and pointed the stub at Charlie as he spoke. “He is now. I used to work for Zinkman’s boss, boys. Meyer Landsman. You think the Binney Firm are tough geezers, they couldn’t shine the shoes of Landman’s mob. The Jew Crew they called them. Think of the American Mafia, but with more power and less foreskin. Isaac cut his teeth by breaking legs and doing hits. All the capital he used to start the diamond exchange came from Landsman.”

Sid looked down at the now extinguished cigar in his hand and tut-tutted at Charlie and Bobby.

“You’ve really stepped in it, lads.”

“Scale of 1-10 in how bad have we fucked up,” Charlie said softly.

Sid leaned back in his chair and sighed. “Scale of 1-10? You’re Hitler invading Russia, lad.”

“Fuck,” Bobby yelled. The sharp outburst, combined with the curse word, actually took Charlie by surprise. “What the fuck do we do, Charlie?”

“Give us those names, Sid,” said Charlie. “Anybody else who could move high-quality rocks. With any luck, we’ll be done with the whole bloody affair before they even get on to our scent.”
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Fulham
1:49 PM


Etan Ben-David eyed up the mouldy apartment building with a grimace. From the outside it was not dissimilar to from own building in Brixton. The differences became clearer when he entered it. Where Etan’s housed mostly Carribbeans and Asians unable to find accommodation elsewhere, the building that Zinkman & Sons security guard Colin Craggs lived in mostly seemed to cater for alcoholics. Its gloomy corridors were lined with men with bulbous stomachs eyeing Ben-David suspiciously.

Craggs was the last of the security guards on Etan’s list. The first two had checked out. He’d visited them both at their homes and asked a long list of questions designed to confirm their whereabouts, any potential criminal associations they might have, but most importantly of all their character. Character mattered to Mr. Zinkman more than anything else.

One of Ben-David’s fists slammed against the door to Colin Cragg’s apartment. Dust rattled free from the doorframe. From inside the apartment Etan could hear footsteps approaching the door slowly. The peephole turned black as Colin pressed his eye against it.

“Who are you?”

“I’m an associate of Mr. Zinkman,” Ben-David said calmly.

“Oh yeah,” Craggs said as he opened the door with a frown. “Well if you haven’t noticed it’s the weekend, so whatever you’re here to talk about can wait until Tuesday.”

He was a tall man. Six foot three, pushing at least sixteen or seventeen stone, with arms that looked like granite – or at least had looked like granite once upon a time. Ex-military, Etan thought for a second, though one peek into Craggs’ filthy apartment banished that idea from his mind in an instant.

Ben-David stepped forward. “I’m afraid it cannot wait.”

Colin attempted to slam the door shut but one of Etan’s feet kept it jammed open. The two men struggled quietly for a few moments, the drunkards in the hallway watching on in bemusement, until finally Ben-David got the better of Cragg and pushed his way in.

“What the hell are you doing?” Colin shouted as he followed after Etan. “Zinkman or no Zinkman, you can’t just barge your way into my house.”

It wasn’t much of a house. His own domicile was Spartan. He needed very little in the way of creature comforts. The camps had seen to it that Ben-David never quite developed an appetite for food or drink, even less so for paintings or wall hangings. He knew what scarcity looked like – and what it was to be truly starving. But Craggs’ apartment was something altogether different than that. It was the filth that set Etan aback. It looked like someone had set a pack of wild hogs loose inside of it for weeks on end.

He gritted his teeth and turned to face Craggs. “I just want to ask you a few questions.”

In the openness of Colin’s living room, all six foot three inches of the security guard loomed larger than it had done through a crack in a doorway. His shadow crept towards Etan as he approached him. He stopped a few centimetres away from Ben-David and prodded him in the chest with a finger as long as a child’s forearm.

“And I told you that your questions can wait until Tuesday.”

“Call the police,” Ben-David said coolly.

“Pardon me?”

“You heard me,” Etan reiterated. This time he reached for Craggs’ phone and pressed it towards the security guard’s chest. “Call the police and tell them there’s an intruder in your home that’s refusing to leave.”

Craggs said nothing. The look on his face revealed everything that Etan needed to know about the man. He might not have been involved in the break-in at the Diamond Exchange, but there was something that wasn’t quite kosher about Colin and Etan intended to find out what it was.

“Sit down.”

Ben-David set the telephone back down on the table and pulled a small notepad from one of his pockets.

“Where were you last night, Mr. Craggs?”

“Same place I am every night,” Craggs grumbled from across the table. “Right here in my front room.”

“Can anyone corroborate that?”

Colin muttered a profanity under his breath and then gestured to the filth around him. “Does it look like I entertain often?”

Etan wrote the words “NO ALIBI” beneath Colin’s name in his notepad. He took a few moments to write down some other observations about Craggs: all along the lines of belligerent and uncooperative. Nervous, he added last, as he noticed that Colin’s knee was bouncing up and down beneath the table.

Finally Craggs seemed to give in to the impatience. “What exactly am I being accused of here?”

“There was an incident at the Exchange last night – a break-in that resulted in the loss of some precious stones. One that could not happened without the assistance, tacit or otherwise, of a Zinkman & Sons employee.”

Ben-David’s eyes were trained on Craggs. There was nothing. He was no more or less nervous than he had been before Etan had told him. It irked him. There were enough pieces here to put the security guard in the frame for something but Ben-David still wasn’t sure how the pieces fit. Was Craggs driving the black car that fled the scene? There had to be something.

He repeated the information Colin had already given him in the hope that some tiny tell would show on the security guard’s face. “You are the only Zinkman & Sons employee without an alibi for last night.”

“Well, that doesn’t make any sense,” Craggs said with a mocking laugh. “Surely if I was in on it I would have gone out of my way to get one? I mean, it might not look like it from the state of this place, but I do have some friends. Why wouldn’t I get one of them to lie for me and say I was with them?”

Etan could not fault the security guard’s logic. It had been a desperate move on his part, maybe too desperate, he thought as it appeared Craggs too realised the weakness of Ben-David’s position. A self-satisfied grin appeared on Colin’s face.

There was a faint squeak from the corner of the room. Ben-David’s eyes shot in its direction. Cragg’s grin disappeared and a second, more intense wave of nervousness seemed to flood over him as he spotted Etan eyeing a stack of boxes.

“Is there something you aren’t telling me, Mr. Craggs?”

Ben-David stood up from his seat and started towards them.

Colin leapt from his seat. “What are you doing? Get away from there.”

It was too late. Etan weaved his way through the mess of discarded cans of beer and mice droppings towards the boxes. He popped one of them open and stared down at its contents. There were dozens and dozens of pictures. It took him a moment to divine the nature of the pictures but once he did he grimaced in shock.

They were children. Some no older than five or six. Craggs was frozen to the spot as Etan knocked the top box over, spilling the pictures across Colin’s filthy floor, and tore open the next one. There was more of the same. Etan could feel his blood boiling as he made his way through the piles. He threw a handful of the pictures onto the ground and then made his way towards the door.

“Oi! Where are you going?” Craggs appealed to him. “Those pictures aren’t mine. You have to believe me – I don’t know how they got in there.”

As he reached the front door one of Colin’s huge hands wrapped around his wrist. It was wet through. He did his best to tug his arm away but Cragg tightened his grip on his arm. Without a second’s hesitation, Ben-David brought the heel of his shoe down on the side of Cragg’s kneecap. There was a loud crunch and Colin fell to the ground in a heap.

Etan looked down on him scornfully, considering for a moment whether to draw for his weapon and end his pitiful life right there and then. No, he remembered, he had made a promise to Mr. Zinkman. That came above all else.

“May God have mercy on your soul,” Ben-David murmured in Yiddish as he took his leave.
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Hatton Garden
2:20 PM


Charlie glanced around the jewelry store while they waited for the manager. Five minutes earlier he and Bobby had walked in and told the pleasant salesgirl that they were in search of lovely pearl necklaces for their wives.

“I can help you out with that,” she said with a smile.

“We’re looking for sapphire pearls,” Bobby said softly.

The salesgirl’s smile dampened a bit. Her flirty charm disappeared. She still seemed to be as gregarious and sociable as before, but now there was an edge to it. Whatever these two men wanted, she was out a sale.

“Let me get the manager,” she had said before disappearing behind the counter.

“What do you think, Bob?” Charlie asked once she was gone. He was inspecting a diamond pendant necklace and matching earrings. “Something your bird would like?”

“Too flashy,” he said. “Too expensive. And she’s not a bird, Charlie.”

Charlie chuckled and kept looking over more of the jewels. They’d been on his mind lately thanks to the job. In reality, they were nothing but little rocks and trinkets that someone said was valuable a long time ago. An entire industry had been built to sell these shiny rocks. Hell, entire wars had been fought over them. And now Charlie and Bobby were both on the shortlist to be the next two people to over the glittery stones.

“What do you do with it, Bobby?” asked Charlie. “Your share of the scores? Don’t say you spend it all on yourself, because judging by your shoes we both know that’s a damn lie.”

“It goes… to a good cause,” said Bobby. “Something more important than myself.”

“More important than yourself?” Charlie laughed. “No such thing, lad. Donating to a good cause is a money pit, Bob. The more you give them, the more they want. There’s alway someone in need of this or that or the other. And always a few quid here or there will make it right. Until they need more. And nothing ever gets fixed. Except you. They fix your excess money problem real quick.”

“It’s a cold way of looking at things.”

“World’s a cold place,” Charlie shrugged. “Always has been. You know that better than some.”

“It’s true,” said Bobby. “But that’s why we must help where we can. It makes all the difference.”

Charlie made the a wanking motion with his right hand, breaking Bobby out into a fit of laughter.

“Gentlemen,” a balding man in a three-piece-suit announced as he entered from the back. There was a confused smile on his face. “I understand you wish to talk business?”

“Indeed we do,” said Charlie.

“Then follow me please.”

“Say nothing,” Charlie whispered into Bobby’s ear. “But look as mean as hell.”

---

Putney
2:30 PM


Freddy fed coins into the payphone and dialed the number. He cradled it against his ear and waited as it rang. He was down the corner from Debbie’s flat, lying to her that he was getting more smokes from the corner store. Well, he thought as he found is almost empty pack in his pocket, maybe more of a half-truth than a lie.

“Yes, I’d like to book a flight to Rome for tonight.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the travel agent said in a voice that had no hint of remorse in it. “All flights for tonight to Rome are completely booked. Best I can do you is a flight at eleven tonight to Paris where after a layover for a few hours, you’d be in Rome by tomorrow morning at six.”

“Yeah, sure,” said Freddy. “Let’s do that.”

“How many tickets?”

“One,” he said with an instinctive look back towards Deb’s flat. “Just one. First class if possible.”

"Return trip or one-way?"

"One way, please."

“Sure thing. You’ll need a passport.”

“I got one.”

“Name on the reservation?”

“Edward Robinson.”

“Okay, Mr. Robinson. Will you put it on a charge card now, or pay at the desk.”

“Pay at the desk.”

“Very well,” the travel agent reeled off the airfare. It was pricey, but by this time tonight it would be a drop in the bucket for Freddy. “Make sure you arrive at the Air-France desk no later than thirty minutes before boarding.”

“Will do. Thank you for your help.”

Freddy ended the call and stepped out of the booth. He started towards the corner store, unaware that his phone conversation had been witnessed. From her second floor window of her flat, Debbie had witnessed Freddy on the phone. It was curious. She had a telephone here. Why had he used the one outside? Suspicion began to gnaw at her. She stepped away from the window and started to look through the small bedroom for Freddy’s things.
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Earlsfield
2:37 PM


Coach took one last glimpse down at the name and address DI Eddie Dunphy had provided him with to make sure he was in the right place. Victoria Mews was a sleepy little road opposite Wandsworth Cemetery that housed mostly pensioners. It was unlikely Fingers was going to be laid up here. He was a professional. The burgundy coupe he’d escaped in was likely stolen from one of the old fogeys here earlier in the week. But the clock was ticking and Crowder didn’t have much else to go on so he made the walk up to to number sixteen all the same.

As Coach reached the dark green front door he removed his hat and straightened out his hair hastily. Once he was convinced that it was all in order Crowder rapped his knuckles against the door gently. There was stirring from inside the house.

The door opened to reveal an elderly woman with wispy hair and thick-rimmed glasses.

“Good afternoon,” Coach said with an unassuming smile. “Is it a Miss Robertson?”

“I haven’t been ‘Miss’ anything for a very long time, young man,” the elderly woman responded with a shake of her head. “You’re after my granddaughter Lucy.”

Coach’s ears pricked up. “Is Lucy in?”

The old woman shook her head disapprovingly.

“I’m afraid not. She’s a very busy girl, very busy, indeed. Ever since she started working at that club of hers, I barely see her anymore. She’s always coming and going.”

Could it be? No, there was no chance, Coach told himself under his breath. Fingers was too slick to have made his getaway girl to use her own car – but from the little Crowder had seen of the woman in the driver’s seat that morning, she had the look of a club girl. Blonde shoulder length hair, piercing blue eyes, full lips. Maybe there was something to it.

A hacking cough from the old woman dragged Coach back. “What were you after, dear?”

“I’m afraid I’m here to offer an apology of sorts,” he said with an earnestness that would have put Bobby to shame. “You see, this morning I gave Lucy’s coupe a bit of a knock while trying to pass her on the road. I didn’t have time to stop but I made a note of her details. I had hoped to apologise in person.”

The old woman nodded along to Coach’s tale intently and then let out a disapproving tut.

“Accidents happen. I didn’t approve of her driving that silly thing in the first place but Lucy insists. You know how they are once they start growing up, they think they know best.”

Coach was on the verge of inventing an adult child of his own to agree with the old woman when one of her greying hands reached out towards him.

“Do come in for a cup of tea, Mr…?”

“Fenwick,” Coach smiled coyly as he shook the woman’s hand. “Roger Fenwick.”

Lucy Anderson’s house proved to be well-kept. Between cups of tea Nancy showed “Roger” pictures of Lucy as a young child, with her parents who had passed away twelve years ago, and of at a ballet recital when she was fifteen. She was a looker, alright. It came as no surprise when the old woman complained to him of Lucy’s choice of workplace.

It was the Playboy Club.

That too set alarm bells ringing in Coach’s head. The Playboy Club had only been open a year but had fast become a success with London’s high rollers. A star-studded cast of actors and sportsmen made their way through its doors on a nightly basis to drink and gamble to their heart’s contents.

As one of the Bunnies, it was Lucy’s job to make sure club members never saw the bottom of their glass – and to look pretty doing it. Coach had heard rumblings of what kinds of things went on behind closed doors there. Girls barely out of school being passed around by whole football teams. It was enough to make your stomach turn.

“I had hoped that our Lucy would become a nurse,” Nancy sighed. “She has the bedside manner for it. Such an agreeable girl. Her mother and I brought her up properly, y’see. It’s an important for a young woman to know her airs and graces in today’s world. Don’t you agree, Mr. Fenwick?”

Coach nodded meekly as he neared the end of his cup of tea. “I couldn’t agree more,”

The sound of a key gliding into place turned Coach’s head.

“Oh, that will be Lucy now,” Nancy smiled as she gestured towards the front door.

Coach heard the door open and shoes being slid off with a contented sigh. He set down his cup and saucer and sat forward in his seat. As the club girl rounded the door into the living room, Nancy announced Mr. Fenwick’s presence.

“Lucy, dear, you have a visitor.”

Their eyes locked. They were every bit as blue and piercing as the eyes that Coach had seen that morning. Her blonde, shoulder length hair was almost exactly the same too, but there was something not right. It wasn’t her – but the flicker of fear as she laid eyes on him spoke volumes.

Whoever Lucy Anderson was, she knew something about what had happened that morning.

“Hello,” the blonde said with a smile. “I don’t think we’ve met before?”

Her grandmother felt the tension in her voice. “Relax, dear, Mr. Fenwick is not some deranged member of that club of yours. He hit your car this morning and stopped by to make amends.”

Coach stood up from his seat and offered Lucy his hand.

“My name is Roger,” Coach smiled. “You do drive a burgundy coupe, don’t you? I do hope there’s not been some kind of confusion.”

“Yes, that glorified baked bean can is hers,” Nancy responded gruffly on her granddaughter’s behalf.

Lucy’s blue eyes darted back and forth as she tried to make sense of what was happening. Were the circumstances not so dire, Coach might have sympathised with her – finding a strange man in your home was unnerving to say the least. Especially when you had something to hide.

“Shake the man’s hand, dear,” Nancy insisted from her armchair. “Don’t be rude.”

Lucy shook Coach’s hand weakly and then proceeded to hang her coat up on a coat stand in the corner of the room. Her limbs moved slowly, as if she thought that each step took her closer to her demise, and prolonging each movement might help her devise some kind of escape.

Coach glanced out of the window at the space in front of the house.

“Don’t tell me you’ve already taken the car to the garage,” he said glumly.

“No, no, I... The car’s not in the garage.“

Nancy peered up at her granddaughter with concern. “You look famished, Lucy. Why don’t I make some sandwiches for you and Mr. Fenwick here?”

“That would be lovely,” Coach said with a grateful smile.

The elderly woman lifted herself out of her seat and hobbled her way to the kitchen. Coach made sure to close the door behind her and then turned to face Lucy with a scowl.

“Correct me if I’m wrong but I have a feeling there’s something you need to get off your chest, love.”
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Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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City of London
2:40 PM


James Zinkman’s puffy eyes expanded slightly at the sight of his father standing at his doorway.

“What are you doing here?”

“Is that how you greet me?” Isaac Zinkman asked. “A month. I haven’t seen you for a month, and your first words are those?”

James sighed and stepped back to let his father into the flat. He was only wearing his skivvies. Isaac took in the flat with disdain. The place was a sty and there were very obvious signs of a party recently being held here. Empty champagne and liquor bottles littered the hardwood floor. Isaac wrinkled his nose at the sight of a used condom strewn across a lampshade.

“Having fun?”

“Living life,” said James, shuffling across the floor towards the kitchen area. “You should try it sometime. All those diamonds aren’t worth a damn thing if they sit behind glass.”

“They’ll always be worth something,” said Isaac. “And they’re not sitting behind glass. Not anymore.”

James look confused as he pulled a can of beer from the fridge and popped its top

“What do you mean?”

“We were robbed last night.”

“Oh, shit.”

“Indeed.”

Isaac stepped into the kitchen and looked at his son. He looked so much like his mother, more so than Adam ever did. It was appropriate, really. Adam was the embodiment of Isaac, hardworking and dedicated. A family man. James was frivolous and coveted flashy things. Very much like Isaac’s now deceased wife. And like his mother, James was dependent upon booze and pills to make it through the day.

“Did you have anything to do with it?”

James looked up from his drink.

“What?! No. Why would you ever think that?”

“Because there are only two people left who know about the store’s security. You and your brother.”

James scowled and stepped forward. He seemed to tower over his father. “Why the fuck are you looking at me? I’m just a bloody salesman. Adam’s the general manager.”

Isaac didn’t respond. Instead, he stepped back towards the door and made his way there. He opened it, letting into the apartment a man who frightened James. It wasn’t that he was big or physically imposing. He was quite average in both height and build, average enough that you could pass him on the street and not think twice. His dark hair was done in a brushcut, short on the sides but longer on the top. A regular bloke. Until you got to the eyes. There was nothing approaching warmth, or humanity there. They seemed to stare right through you, only giving you a cursory glance. As if the man already knew you were a temporary distraction, one that he could easily handle and then move on to the next task.

“James, this is my friend Etan. Etan, James wants to know why you think he helped the people who stole from me.”

“The people who stole from you had access to the security schematics,” Etan said with just the hint of an accent in his speech. Where it was from, James couldn’t tell. It was Eastern European for sure. "Your brother and the security guards are the only ones who can opened the locked file cabinet where those plans are held.”

“See? Then how--”

“The file cabinet keys are missing from Adam’s keyring,” said Isaac. “We discovered that this morning after Etan made his inquiries with the security guards and found they were cleared.”

Etan began to slowly walk towards James. He backed up across the kitchenette until he felt the cold, smooth metal of the fridge against his bare back.

“Those keys were discovered in your desk at work, taped and hidden underneath the drawer."

“Bollocks,” James yelled. “It’s horseshit, it’s a frame up, it’s--”

Etan’s firm hand struck James across the face. It was an open-palmed slap, but the force of the unexpected blow sent his head back against the fridge. He looked shock and held a hand to his now bloody lip. He started to protest, and was met with another slap from Etan.

“Why did you do it?” asked Isaac.

James started to speak, but stopped when he felt his throat tighten. Tears began to sting the corners of his eyes.

“I needed the money,” he finally got out. “I owe some bad people a lot of money and I--”

“Why did you not ask for it?” said Isaac. “You are my son, I would do anything for you.”

“Oh, piss off,” he snarled. “I’m your son? No, Adam’s your bloody son. I’m just the fuckup, the one you have to tolerate. You wouldn’t given me the money. And if you had, you’d have hung it over my head the rest of my life how you had to bail me out.”

“So instead you steal from your own family?” Etan asked. “To this man who you owe everything you have, you help rob him? If you were not a disgrace before, you certainly are now.”

“Fuck you, you bastard.”

Another open-palmed slap flew at James’ head. But this time he was ready. He raised his left forearm to block it, but was taken off guard as the hand went low and chopped him in the throat. He gasped and grabbed his neck, sputtering as he sunk to the floor.

“Who do you owe money to?” Isaac said before taking a deep breath. “Who is it that you helped rob me? If you give me a name Etan will not break your legs.”

---

Mitcham
2:40 PM


“I think we got one.”

Bobby raised an eyebrow at Charlie. Bobby was behind the wheel of the car, smoking and waiting for Charlie to return from the pawnshop. Bobby had been skeptical from the moment he pulled up. The sign that announced the place as Hunter’s Lodge Pawn & Jewels was battered and the once gold letters had faded, threatening to peel if they weren’t touched up soon. The three golden balls below the sign were tarnished and as worn as the sign.

“What happened?” Bobby asked as Charlie closed the passenger side door.

“It’s more what didn’t happen. As soon as I start talking diamonds he shut me down.”

The pawnshop was the third stop of their search. The previous two attempts to fake fence the diamonds had produced expected results. Both men had been interested and were offering a pretty fair rate to fence the jewels. The man they were looking for would have no need for their offers.

“He said he wasn’t interested in diamonds, kept saying it.”

“Maybe Sid was wrong?” Bobby asked.

“Sid’s never wrong,” said Charlie. “He finally said he’d take them off my hands for five pence on the pound. Chicken feed. Like he was trying to insult me with a low offer. What kind of jewelry fence doesn’t want jewels?”

Bobby took a long drag on his cigarette and expelled the smoke before speaking. “Maybe one that is expecting a large shipment of new merchandise? One that can afford to tell you to piss off.”

“See,” Charlie said with a grin, tapping his temple. “Now you’re on to something, Bob. I think this guy is gonna led us to Reams if we watch his shop.”

“We have to meet Coach soon.”

“Shit. You’re right. Let’s split up. I’ll stay here, you go get Coach and see what he found out about the car. If I’m not here when you get back, then I’ll ring the flat in Croydon where Red’s resting sometime tonight.”

“Okay,” Bobby said as he climbed out the car.

Charlie moved over and got behind the wheel, rolling the window down so he could keep speaking to Bobby.

“Just be careful.”

“Always am, Bob,” Charlie said with a wink.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Morden Man
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Earlsfield
2:52 PM


Lucy’s slight shoulders rocked back and forward rhythmically as she sobbed. She had broken in seconds. Coach could tell from the moment he saw her that she wasn’t part of his world – and she certainly wasn’t the type to aid and abet a rat like Freddy Reams. Once Lucy got to talking the details came pouring out of her one after another for the best part of twenty minutes. Freddy’s girl Debbie had borrowed her car the night before the job. It was sloppy, completely unlike Reams, which meant that it was either a last minute job on Reams’ part or the girl was cutting corners. Coach would put his money on the second option.

The sobbing continued. Then came explanation after explanation. Anderson had lent Debbie the car on a half dozen or so occasions but had no idea what she’d been doing. For what it was worth Coach believed her – and even went so much as to offer Lucy a conciliatory hug to stop the worst of the crying.

“There there,” Coach said as he patted Anderson on the back comfortingly. “You weren’t to know what was going on.”

Anderson drew back and looked at “Fenwick” with teary eyes. “You’re not going to arrest me, are you?”

It occured to Coach suddenly that the poor girl had presumed he was police. He’d get a laugh out of that for a couple of weeks. It had to be the moustache, he thought, with a self-deprecating smile.

“No, Lucy, I’m not going to arrest you.”

The door from the kitchen opened and Lucy’s grandmother Nancy returned with a plate of sandwiches. Coach accepted them gratefully and the old woman returned to the kitchen to make some tea. Crowder looked through the stack of sandwiches, selecting a ham and cheese one from among them.

He scoffed at it greedily. “Next time your grandmother tells you something you listen to her, alright? That club’s no place for a girl like you. It’ll eat you up eventually just like it did your mate Debbie – and then there’ll be no coming back for you.”

Lucy nodded guilty as she wiped her red eyes. “I understand.”
Coach swallowed the last of the sandwich and then produced a folded piece of paper from his pocket. He plucked a pencil from the table next to him and pushed both in Lucy’s direction.

“Now I need you to write down the name of the place Debbie’s been taking her punters.”

Lucy stared down at the paper with the pencil in her hand. There was a worried look on her face, as if she feared what fate would befall her friend Debbie if she divulged the address, but Coach gave her a reassuring pat on the knee. She steeled herself and wrote down the address and handed the sheet of paper back.

Coach looked down at the address and then smiled approvingly at Anderson. “That’s a good girl.”

The door to the kitchen again opened and this time Coach shot to his feet. He apologised to Nancy for not being able to stay longer and plucked some notes from his wallet. He thrust them into Lucy’s hands and laid a supportive hand on her shoulder as he left them there. He felt lousy about the rouse – lousier still that it would take all of thirty seconds before it fell through once he’d gone – but it had got him what he needed. He had Freddy in his sights.

The thought of getting his hands on Freddy got him to Chiswick in record time despite Yorkie’s struggling motor almost giving out on him halfway there. Finucci’s was the best Italian restaurant in West London. It was almost always deserted. They had met there to plan to the Loomis job three years ago. Bobby was puffing on a cigarette in a corner booth.

“Sorry I’m late, Bobby, but I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait.”

Coach reached into his pocket and produced the address that Lucy had written down for him. He offered it towards Bobby who unfolded it and squinted at the writing.

A frown appeared on the Pole’s face. “What’s this?”

“I tracked down Freddy’s motor – turns out it belonged to a colleague of the blonde bird in the driver’s seat. You’ll never guess where she worked?”

Bobby shrugged.

“The Playboy Club,” Coach said with a grin.

Bobby looked at him without a glimmer of recognition.

“Come off it,” Coach protested. “You must have heard of the Playboy Club? It only opened up this time last year, for christ’s sake. It’s the one with the girls in the bunny costumes. You know the one.”

Still nothing from Lewandowski.

“Well fuck me then,” Coach said with a disappointed shake of the head. “The blonde’s name is Debbie. Turns out she uses her job at the club to moonlight as a prozzie. When she’s almost skint she borrows her poor old mate Lucy’s burgundy coupe to take clients to a flat in Putney.”

The young Pole’s eyes widened with shock. “Freddy knows about this business?”

“Fuck if I know,” Coach shrugged. “But it’s the closest thing we’ve got to a lead on either one of them at the moment.”

Bobby nodded in agreement. “Charlie is after the diamonds, looking for buyers. We’ll see where this address of yours takes us.”

With that Lewandowski rose from his seat and brushed past Coach. The taxi driver let out a heavy sigh, as if the strain of the past thirty-six hours had began to wear on him, and then reached over and grabbed a couple of breadsticks from a jar on the table. He followed after the Pole, nodding in old man Finucci’s direction as they left the restaurant and climbed in Yorkie’s car.

Next stop: Putney.
Hidden 3 yrs ago Post by Byrd Man
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Peckham
4:24 PM


“You just can’t barge through the door like that.”

Etan Ben-David sized up the half-naked woman, topless and wearing transparent knickers.

“Yet, here I am,” he said. “Apparently I can just barge through the door like this. Where is your boss?”

Realizing that she was naked, the woman quickly covered her breasts and scowled.

“Piss off before I--”

Etan silenced her by wrapping his hand around her mouth. Her eyes bugged out at the act and she started to claw at his hand. He flicked his wrist and tossed her to the side. Tottering on heels that were already too tall, she stumbled to the floor as Etan walked down the hallway towards the door.

“What the fuck?”

Sidney Greenstein was starting to stand up behind his desk when he froze, the eyes behind his thick glasses focusing on the gun in Etan’s hand.

“Isaac sends his regards, Sidney.”

“Oh, fuck,” Greenstein said with a sigh. “I didn’t do a goddamn thing, you Israeli fuck. I don’t know why you’re here.”

Etan crossed the distance of the small office until he stood best Sidney, the barrel of the pistol pressed against his temple. Etan could tell that it was taking every bit of Greenstein’s self-control to not make his knees knock together.

“Then why the reaction?”

“Let a fucking super-commando Jew shove a gun in your face and see how brave you are.”

“It has happened before,” said Etan. “With Jews, Palestinians, and Egyptians. When a man holds a gun to your head, his nationality and religion suddenly mean very little. Mr. Zinkman’s son confesses to giving some drug dealers the information on his father’s store and how to rob it, I wanted to walk into their office and demand answers, but I did not.”

“Well, why the fuck didn’t you?!”

“Because I am informed that they are too powerful, too many of them. I am a soldier, but I am just one man against many. But you, Sidney, you are just one man. A man that Mr. Zinkman knows cannot be truly trusted, a man who collects dirty secrets and knows many bad people.”

He tucked the gun back into his shoulder holster and walked to the other side of the desk. Etan sat in one of the two chairs there, looking up at Sidney. The old man still stood, his hands frozen in the air.

“Mr. Zinkman knows you would never be so stupid as to take from him. But, he also knows that you know people who would. People who are stupid and reckless. Tell us who they are and no harm will come to you. Refuse or lie, and I will do everything in my power to make your death as uncomfortable as possible. ”

“Fucking hell,” Greenstein said softly. “I’m sorry, kid… okay, here’s what I know...”

----

Mitcham
6:31 PM


Charlie sat upright in the driver’s seat of the car. The light of the pawnshop across the street had just gone out. About bloody time he thought. He’d been sitting on the place for hours. Seeing as how it was Good Friday, the place was dead. No sign of Freddy at all, and no other customers had come in after Charlie left earlier. There was really no reason to be open today, but Charlie supposed greed and opportunism never took a holiday.

Out from the door came the short, fat little man in a leather jacket. He locked up the shop and started on foot towards a parked car halfway down the street. Charlie checked his watch. Bobby had never came back after leaving for the meeting with Coach. Maybe that was a good sign that Coach’s lead was panning out. It made Charlie feel better about following this one.

The pawnbroker’s car started, backfiring as he accelerated down the street. Charlie started his own car and waited twenty or so seconds before pulling out onto the street to follow. The two cars formed a convoy of sorts down the Mitcham street. Charlie smiled to himself as he followed the oblivious little fucker. He really had no idea he was being followed. How stupid must he be to not even check for such a thing?

Thirty seconds after Charlie started off down the road, a third car pulled into the street and the two-car convoy became three. Keeping his distance, Etan Ben-David followed Charlie’s car north out of Mitcham and towards Balham, Battersea, and the city of London proper.
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