“The subject is now entering the building, over.”
“We’re not in the secret service, Bumper. Keep it plain and simple.”
I checked along the road one last time, it was eerily silent.
“Alright, keep your hair on. Davison has just gone into the Gym. You should have at least an hour before he comes out.”
“Thanks, Bumper. Keep us informed of his movements.”
“No problem, mate. Be careful.”
“We will. See you soon.”
I ended the call. “Right lads, time to go to work.”
“It’s now or never.” Elvis was shaking.
“Let’s do it.”
Gilbert was first out of the car. He opened the gate into Kev’s garden and strode down the path, a man on a mission.
“You alright?” I was worried about Elvis. I had pretty much forced him into this. “You can always back out now if you want.”
“And who’s hacking into the computer then? Gilbert?”
“If you’re sure?”
“As sure as I’ll ever be, come on.”
We followed Gilbert along the path and around the side of the house.
“How did you manage to get hold of a set of keys then, Gilbert?” said Elvis.
“I was the gardener, wasn’t I? I needed the keys for the garage to get the tools. Kev also trusted me to look after the house when they were away. He knew I wouldn’t dare take anything, he would kill me.”
Gilbert opened the side door and went in. We followed as he went to switch off the alarm.
“Shit! I forgot it was a keypad alarm.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a four-digit combination, not a key that switches it off.” Gilbert looked worried.
“I’d gathered that much. Put the combination in then.”
The beeping of the alarm seemed to be getting louder.
“That’s just it, I can’t remember it.”
Our plan was falling at the first hurdle.
“You can’t remember it?” Elvis’ voice was getting as high pitched as the beeps of the alarm.
“I’ve never been that good with numbers have I?
The beeping got louder, faster.
“I thought it was words you had problems with.”
“I don’t think now is the time to tell us, do you?” Elvis was becoming hysterical.
The alarm was about go off any second.
“Who originally put in the combination?” I was now at the keypad.
“What’s that got to do with anything?” asked Gilbert.
The sweat was clinging to my forehead.
Louder, faster, louder, faster.
“Who?” I had to raise my voice over the noise of the alarm.
Faster and faster. Louder and louder.
“I don’t… Kev, it was Kev,” said Gilbert.
Beep-beep-beep… Faster and faster… Beep-beep-beep… Louder and louder… Beep-beep-beep…
None of us breathed for what seemed like an eternity.
“What happened?” Elvis was the first to speak.
“One, two, three, four.”
“The combination. One, two, three, four. What other sequence could Kevin Davison remember?” I said.
“Gilbert couldn’t fucking remember it.” Elvis had a point. “I could do without any more surprises like that. I’ve only brought one pair of underpants with me and I think they are already full.”
“We’re in now. Let’s not waste any more time. Good work, Gilbert.”
“Thanks. His office is down here.”
We headed along the passage. Clearly, Claire had more influence over the interior design. Everything was simplistic, with just the odd black and white photo breaking up the walls.
“Any of these yours, Gilbert?”
“Yeah. Kev doesn’t know though. I gave them to Claire. He thinks she paid a lot of money for them. Thinks they were done by Lord Lichfield or something.”
“You took these photos?” Elvis was surprised. “You never fail to amaze me, Gilbert.”
I tried the door to the office.
“It’s locked. He’s obviously got something to hide.”
“Let’s kick it in.” Elvis took a running kick at it and fell flat on his arse. The door didn’t budge.
“Not very subtle, Elvis, the idea is to get in and out without him knowing we’ve been here.”
“Have you got any brighter ideas? Unless The Artful Dodger here knows how to pick locks.”
“We could always use the key.” Gilbert unlocked the door.
“Very security conscious, I must say. Why the fuck has he given you a key to his office?” Elvis shook his head in disbelief.
“I told you, he trusts me. I used to water the plants in here every day. He knows I wouldn’t be able to even switch the computer on, never mind discover its hidden secrets.”
“Come on, Elvis. Let your fingers do the walking. Find out what you can.” I led Elvis to the desk.
“Expensive bit of kit this. Must have cost a packet,” said Elvis. “Mind you, I could have built it for half the price if he had come to me.”
“A quarter, by the time he took his cut.” I said as Elvis switched on the computer.
Gilbert had already lost interest in the conversation. He was checking the plant in the corner.
“See what happens when I leave. This plant is nearly dead. I need to water it.”
“Leave it, Gilbert. He’s not meant to know we’ve been here. Not yet.”
“No buts. Trust me on this. Come on, you can show me the rest of the house. You’ll be all right on your own won’t you, Elvis?”
“Yeah, I’ll work a lot quicker without you two rabbiting in my ear.”
Gilbert took me through to the back lounge that led onto the conservatory and the indoor swimming pool.
“Fancy a dip?” I said.
“Me neither. Remember swimming lessons at school. I used to hate them.”
“Me too,” said Gilbert, laughing.
I realised it was the first time he had really seen Gilbert smile since I came home. He had been laughing in the pub the other night, but that was through the tears he had already shed, so I didn’t think it counted.
“Have you never fancied learning to swim since you left school?”
“I struggle enough to keep my head above water when I’m on dry land.”
I thought I knew what Gilbert meant.
I looked out over the garden.
“This all your work?”
“You’ve definitely got a skill there, Gilbert.”
“Can I ask you something, Pete?”
“It’s just that… it doesn’t matter, it’s not important.”
“No, go on.”
“Well, you’ve been away for fifteen years.”
“You’ve just come home, and you’ve got me, Elvis and Bumper breaking into houses for you. Getting into some pretty heavy shit.”
“I gave you the choice.”
“I know. I wasn’t having a go. Look at it from my point of view though. You’ve clearly done quite well since you left school, made a bit of money. What I’m trying to say is that if this goes wrong, you could walk away. Disappear again. Nobody would know where you had gone. We would still be here though. We’ve nowhere else to go. Elvis has a family. Bumper has his business. Admittedly I don’t have much to lose, but Kev is a killer. How do we know that you’re not using us to get what you want? Planning to disappear into the night. Leaving us to pick up the pieces.”
I was hurt although I could see where he was coming from.
“You don’t, Gilbert. You’ll have to trust me. Is this all you want for yourself? Gardening for someone you’ve hated since the age of twelve? You’re better than that. I know I couldn’t have done this without you, but it doesn’t mean I’ve used you. We’re in it together, all of us. We’re all doing this for the same reason. We owe it to Davison. We owe it to ourselves and he’ll get what’s coming to him. You’ll see. Imagine the satisfaction in being the one who brought his empire crashing in around his ears.”
“When people tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t do something, what they really mean is that they don’t want you to do it. Think back to every time that someone has told you that you can’t do something. You can guarantee that they will have been looking after their own self interests.”
Gilbert nodded as if he understood what I meant.
“What I’m saying is that when Kevin Davison tells you that you will never be a successful gardener or a famous photographer it is because he doesn’t want you to be. He wants to be the only successful one around here. If you were successful, he would lose you as a gardener and wouldn’t be able to pay you buttons anymore.”
I was on a bit of a roll now, so I continued.
“When someone tells you that you cannot, or you should not, remember this. If you unravel a knot, what have you got?” I didn’t wait for him to answer. “A piece of string. And how long is a piece of string? It’s as long as you want it to be. You’re the master of your own destiny. You can become whatever you want to. It’s your choice.”
“Pete?” interrupted Gilbert.
“I haven’t got a bloody clue what you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, sorry. I seem to have rambled on a bit. I think what I mean is don’t let people walk all over you. Make sure you get paid what you are worth.”
“Shame you don’t have a garden at the lighthouse. I could have done it for you and charged you a fortune.”
“I could always get a window box.”
“Can I ask you something, Gilbert?”
I looked past the swimming pool and out over the garden.
“Course you can, as long as it’s not maths.”
“Do you ever think about your dad, ever wonder where he is?”
“Sometimes, I used to think about him a lot when I was a kid. Thought that things might have been different if I had a father. Then gradually, after a while, I thought about him less and less; it became less of an issue. When I was twenty-one I toyed with the idea of trying to find him. You always hold out hope that they are going to be some multi-millionaire who hadn’t known about you. You hope that they will come and find you one day, then I woke up to myself.”
“Have you never asked your mother?”
“How could I? If she wanted me to know she would have told me. There must be some reason why she didn’t.”
“I’m sure your father was a good man, I’m sure he loved you in his own way.”
“Whatever, all I know is that he was never there for me when I needed him. I’m just glad I have friends like you I can rely on.”
The phone rang and both of us jumped.
“Fucking hell, Pete. He’s left early. He hasn’t had his usual work out.” Bumper was frantic.
“Where’s he going?”
“I don’t know, I’m not Mystic bleeding Meg you know.”
“Alright, follow him. Keep us up to date.” I tried to stay calm.
A woman in her forties, attempting to look twenty, approached Bumper. Slightly overweight, she had her dyed blonde hair tied back in a ponytail and wore an expensive looking, white Nike tracksuit. Her face was brown, part sun-bed tan and part make up. It did little to hide her wrinkles.
“I’ll have half a dozen bananas please.”
“We haven’t got any.”
He didn’t look at her as he slammed the sides up on the stall.
“You’ve got no bananas?” The woman grabbed Bumper’s arm.
“YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS!”
Bumper ran to the van and threw the shocked woman a bag of prunes.
“Here, have these. They’ll match your face.”
He jumped into the van and set off in chase of Kev, his wheels spinning and leaving black rubber scorched onto the concrete.
Gilbert and I headed back to the office.
The monitor reflected in Elvis’ glasses. He tapped away with a satisfied grin on his face.
“This’ll teach the bastard.”
“How are we doing?” I said. “Have you got what we wanted?”
“It wasn’t as easy as I thought. He’s got pretty tight security on here,” said Elvis.
“Not too tight for our Elvis though?”
“Here,” Elvis threw me a box of floppy disks, “all his protection rackets, drug deals and other shady business practices. Everything you or our friendly local Bobbies would like to know about Mr Kevin Davison. He must have thought he had the most secure passwords as none of the information is encrypted; it has names, dates, the lot. Not all the local police force would be too happy though. Some of their names seem to pop up quite a lot.”
“I don’t want to worry you, but there is one thing you might not have discovered about our Mr Davison yet.” I studied the box of disks.
“It’s that he has left the gym and he’s on his way home.”
“I’m not finished yet,” said Elvis.
“I thought we had everything we needed to get him banged up.”
“We have, but we don’t want his stay inside to be pleasant, do we?”
“How do you mean?” I was confused.
“Nobody inside likes a sexual deviant, do they? What do you think will happen when the police raid the house and find files from Mr Burn’s favourite website on Kev’s hard drive? They’re not going to keep it quiet, are they?”
“Downloading it now.”
“Five, ten minutes at the most,” said Elvis.
“He’ll be back in less than five.”
I looked nervously towards the door.
“Too late to back out now. He’ll definitely know we’ve been here. You’ll have to delay him.”
“Bumper. He’s watching him, isn’t he?”
“Fucking stupid thing.” Bumper dropped the phone when it rang.
“That’s not a very pleasant greeting for your friends,” I said.
“Are you out yet? He’s nearly home.” Bumper sounded hassled.
“You need to delay him.”
“I don’t know. Use your initiative.”
I heard a screech of brakes and then the verbal onslaught.
“YOU FUCKING, STUPID… NUNBASTARD!”
A car had halted suddenly on the roundabout, Bumper slammed the brakes on and narrowly missed crashing into the back of the silver Metro that had stopped in front of him. He automatically started his own brand of Road Rage. Admittedly he didn’t expect a sixty-year-old nun to get out of the car. On the other hand, she could hardly have expected to be abused by a six-foot banana.
“What’s happening, Bumper?”
“Divine intervention, that’s what. If she doesn’t get out of the way, I’ll be sending her straight back upstairs to see her boss.”
Bumper floored the accelerator of his bright yellow transit and overtook the startled nun. Luckily, Kev’s Shogun hadn’t got very far. It was stuck at the road works and Bumper started to catch him. Kev’s 4-wheel drive pulled away and Bumper slipped in behind him. He beeped his horn and waved at Kev, but as was normally the case, Kev was playing hardcore garage in his car and couldn’t hear a thing. As they accelerated, Bumper realised he needed to attempt to overtake him. He dropped down to third and pulled out knowing that it’s never a good idea to cut Kev up, even if you are pretending to help him. Bumper waved desperately as he swerved alongside Kev’s motor. The Mondeo coming in the opposite direction flashed his lights frantically. Bumper was trying to hide his fear, which wasn’t easy to do, driving at sixty miles an hour, in a thirty zone with only one hand on the wheel! He pulled in front of the Shogun and performed an emergency stop. Kev slammed the brakes on behind him, narrowly avoiding skidding into the side of the van.
“Fucking stupid twat!” Kev jumped out of the car, he reached for his automatic, but chose the car jack instead. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
He dragged the driver’s door of the Transit open and brandished the jack in his right hand.
“Phone call for you,” Bumper didn’t know why he said it, but he knew that he was going to die as soon as the words left his mouth. It was the best he could think of at such short notice. “At the gym. Somebody phoned for you just after you left.”
“You nearly ran me off the road to tell me that?”
“It might have been important.”
“Have you never heard of mobiles?” Kev took his phone from the car and threw the car jack back onto the passenger seat. “If it was that important they would have contacted me on this. As they haven’t, I think we can safely assume that it wasn’t that important, you moron.”
“What?” Kev was going a bright shade of scarlet and there was now a crowd of onlookers
“I’ve got one just like it.”
Bumper picked up his mobile. As it happened it was the mobile that had been bought specifically for today and he didn’t have the faintest idea how it worked.
“Why the fuck have you got one? Why does a six-foot banana need a mobile phone?”
“Oh, you know, running my own business and that.”
“You couldn’t run a bath. Look, you don’t even know how to use it.”
“Eh?” Bumper looked at the phone and realised he hadn’t ended the call.
“Who are you talking to?”
Elvis, Gilbert and I were listening to every word on the other end.
“Hello, earth calling Bumper the Banana boy. Beam me up Scotty. ET phone home.” Kev was now beginning to enjoy ridiculing Bumper in front of the small crowd that had started growing. He switched the phone off and handed it back to Bumper. “Here, have it back. And be careful, you could have somebody’s eye out with that.” Kev laughed and got back into his car.
Bumper thought he had soiled himself, but he wasn’t sure. He didn’t care.
“Finished?” I said.
“All done and dusted,” said Elvis with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“Let’s get out of here then. Thanks again lads. You’ve done yourselves proud.”
We were safely out of sight when Kev’s car pulled into the drive.
“A job well done, I must say.”
I noticed the front of Bumper’s yellow transit van at the end of the road and we walked towards it.
“Come on lads, I think we’ve all earned a drink.”
As we climbed into Bumper’s van a red BMW pulled into Kev’s drive. A sun-tanned blonde stepped out.
“Who’s that?” said Bumper.
“Mrs Elizabeth Ingham,” said Gilbert.
“Who?” Bumper was confused.
I opened the side door of the van letting Gilbert have the front passenger seat.
The next chapter will be released soon. If you can’t wait, Leg It is available on Kindle, Paperback and Hardback.