Carter’s phone smashed against the wall as look of sheer anger spread across his face.
“Bastards!” The whole office stopped and stared. “We’ve had a report of gunfire at Davison’s house. It’s kicking off and we’re scratching our arses wondering what’s going to happen. It’s happening now ladies and gentlemen. We’ve got to move.”
Everyone gathered around Carter.
“We don’t know. Ingham probably if he’s received the same photos as we have today. In fact, it could be just about anybody. I wish I knew who sent us this information. I wish I could make some sense of it all.”
“What about Couzens? Where does he fit in?”
“I don’t know and right now I don’t bloody care. We need to get hold of Davison before Ingham does or we’ll have one bloody great mess to clean up.” Carter grabbed his phone on the way out of the office. “I need the armed response unit and I need them now. I don’t care, I want every gun in this entire force at Davison’s house in ten minutes flat because we’re about to be caught up in the biggest gun fight since the OK Corral.”
Carter was first to the door, it was already open.
“This is the problem with the rich criminal types, all the security in the world and they leave the front door open.”
He was now sporting a bulletproof vest and a gun that he’d been trained to use but had never had the need or the desire to fire on active duty. The rest of the armed response unit were lined up at either side of the door. Carter’s heart raced, this was it. Two members of the ARU went in first.
“FREEZE, ARMED POLICE!” the first one shouted as he burst through the door.
Ingham raised his gun to shoulder height.
“Drop it dickhead.”
Ingham thought about it for a moment and then placed the gun on the floor.
“On your knees.”
“All right, all right, I’m going.”
“Where’s Davison?” said Carter.
“In there,” Ingham nodded towards the study, “it’s not pleasant. Looks like someone got to him before I did.”
“Save your story for the judge. Someone get him out of my sight.”
Carter edged towards the study door.
“What the fuck?” Junior Carling came through from the conservatory when he heard the shouting.
“Freeze! Armed Police!”
Everyone raised their guns again.
“Boss?” Junior looked towards Ingham for inspiration, but he was already cuffed.
“BASTARDS.” A shadow emerged from behind Junior. One of Ingham’s doormen fired his gun towards the front door.
Carter let off two rounds and the gunman was dead. A second doorman came bounding down the stairs but dropped his gun as soon as he saw his friend lying face down in a pool of blood.
“Check the rest of the house. Make sure there’s no more gung-ho heroes waiting to gun us down.”
Carter shook his head; he had never aimed his gun at anyone or been fired at in the past, now he had killed a man and two bullets lay in the doorframe behind him.
“Follow me,” he said to DC Oliver as he opened the door to the study.
Carter edged in with his gun at shoulder height. The blue flashing lights outside briefly lit the room. Davison sat behind his desk in his swivel chair. The rain on the windows mixed with the police lights to send tear like shadows running down his face. His brains were spread over the wall covering the photo of him and Frank Bruno.
“For fuck’s sake.”
Carter slid down the wall and held his head in his hands.
“Looks like we’ve got another murder on our hands. If Ingham is telling the truth and he isn’t responsible, then what the fuck is going on?”
I wandered back into the hall, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible. Elvis grabbed me as soon as I came through the door.
“Everything okay?” he said.
“Yeah, it’s all over with, just as I promised.”
It hadn’t quite gone as I had expected, but I didn’t want to worry him. A relieved look spread across his face.
“Now that it’s finished with I need to ask you something, Pete.”
“That money in my account, it’s not a mistake by the bank is it?”
“Look, I didn’t want to tell you this until it was all over. I wanted you to be doing this for the right reasons. When I sold the company I made a fortune, more money than I could ever hope to spend in one lifetime. I have made arrangements, so that you, Bumper and Gilbert all get a share. You’ll never need to work again.”
“You don’t need to do this. I don’t need the money; I’ll get by. You could have been killed.”
“The money was yours whether I went through with it or not. I’ve turned you all into criminals. You didn’t need to get involved; after all you hadn’t seen me for fifteen years. The only reason you agreed to it was because I asked you to. That shows great loyalty and it shouldn’t go unrewarded.”
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” said Elvis.
“You turned us into criminals a long time ago?”
“When?” I was stumped.
“Southwick library 1986.”
“The pass books. I’d forgotten about that.”
“There’s something I’ve been bugging me for years about that,” said Elvis.
“Why didn’t you just borrow the books? It was a library.”
I waited until Claire left the school in a taxi then headed into the car park.
“Hello again.” Karen was leaving the hall. “Didn’t make the last dance I see. Claire seemed disappointed.”
“Don’t tell me that you still hold a torch for her. I thought you were over that.”
“I am, promise.” I smiled.
“Do you fancy a walk? You can show me that lighthouse you were telling me about.”
“Come on then.” I opened the passenger door for her. I looked for Elvis, but he’d already left. It would have been nice to say goodbye.
I parked the car and we walked along the seafront without speaking. Karen had her arm around me. The waves crashed over the promenade and the rain had started coming down again.
“How come your jacket’s wet? It wasn’t raining earlier was it?” Karen felt my side. “What have you spilt? Can’t hold your drink eh?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Yes what? Yes, you can’t hold your drink? Yes, it was raining? Which was it?”
“Mmm…” The answer was non-committal, I was finding it hard to concentrate. I could just about make out the blue lights up ahead.
“Don’t go Mr Silent on me. Come on let’s have a look at your jacket.” Karen pulled me towards the streetlamp. “Damn orange lights I can’t see a thing.”
I stumbled as she pulled at my jacket, reaching out desperately for the lamppost. Sweat had now gathered on my brow as I doubled up against the steel pole.
“What’s wrong? You can’t be drunk you’ve hardly drunk anything. Don’t tell me it’s drugs. I’m walking away now if it is.” She looked closer. “It’s blood!” Karen shouted.
I was growing tired. If only I could sit against the lamppost and go to sleep. I knew that she wouldn’t let me.
“What happened?” Karen was becoming hysterical. “Is it yours? Where has it come from?”
A couple hurried past on the other side of the road. As far as they were concerned it was just another drunken couple arguing and they knew better than to intervene.
“I’ll phone for an ambulance.” She took her mobile from her bag. “Shit, no signal.”
She looked frantically for a phone box, but there were none. Karen supported me, thankful that I was still quite small.
“Claire’s,” Karen said. “Kev and her only live up the road. We can get them to phone an ambulance, come on it’s only five minutes away.”
We could see the flashing lights in the distance.
Blue flashing lights surrounded the house. Red and white plastic tape keeping the crowds back.
“Has there been an accident?”
There were always boy racers flying up and down the seafront. It was one of the few disadvantages of living there. Normally there would be Fire Engines. Where were the cars? And then she saw the guns. Claire jumped out of the taxi.
“What are the armed Police doing here?” she said as she rushed towards her home, towards the gunmen. It wasn’t as if she was scared of guns anymore. They had threatened her plenty of times. She made her way through the crowds, through the vultures that always seem to gather at any horrific incident.
“Drug pushing scum,” said an overweight woman in her thirties, still in her slippers despite the rain.
“He had it coming,” agreed her friend, nursing a half-smoked cigarette.
“Who do they mean? Has somebody been knocked over? What do they mean drug pushing scum?” thought Claire.
Then she caught on.
She pushed at the crowds.
“Get back,” said the obese woman. “We were here first.” Her arms folded in an act of defiance.
Claire summoned all the strength she had inside her and landed a right hook on the chin of the woman who was easily twice her weight.
“Get out of my fucking way.”
Her friend stepped back without resistance.
As Claire ducked under the tape an armed policeman grabbed her. “Where do you think you’re going?” he said with an air of smugness only the Police possess.
“That’s my house, so let go of my arm before I take that gun and shove it straight up your arse.”
Years of ridicule and oppression and finally boiled over and Claire was at breaking point. The Policeman was shocked and temporarily loosened his grip. Claire darted for the gate, but he lunged for her and grabbed her around the waist.
“You don’t want to go in there, love.” The smugness now replaced by a look of panic, “I’ll get the Sergeant.”
Claire slumped to the floor.
There were armed police everywhere.
“Jesus, Pete, what’s going on?” Karen stared at the crowds. “I’ll get an ambulance.”
She made to run for the house, eventually remembering the weight she was carrying. Unbalanced she stumbled and lost her footing on the grass, sending me tumbling to the floor. The grass was wet and cool. I was comfortable, resting my face in the moist, damp soil. The blue flashing lights, the orange glow, they all mixed to give a hallucinatory effect. Then the pain came back in my side and I vomited on the grass.
Karen pushed her way through the crowds. The fat ladies moved aside not wanting a repeat of their run in with Claire. She tried to attract the attention of the ambulance driver. He looked up as she got through the cordon.
Somebody grabbed her arm.
“Where are you going, love? There’s nothing to see here.”
“It’s Pete, he needs an ambulance.”
“Who’s Pete?” The Sergeant was confused. A well-built man in his late forties, looking as if he had seen one dead body too many. He looked towards Claire. “Is there someone else in there? Who was with Davison?”
“Not in the house. He’s on the grass, bleeding. You have to help him, quickly.”
Claire looked towards Karen. “Pete’s hurt?”
The Sergeant edged past the crowd and ran to the grass, Claire and Karen followed. There was nobody there. As they pushed back through the crowds Claire started crying. She didn’t know if the tears were for Pete or her late husband.
“Fuck me,” said Bumper as he put down the phone, “we’re rich.”
“What was that?” Bernie shouted through from the bathroom.
“We’re rich.” Bumper slumped into his armchair, unable to believe what Elvis had told him. The last weeks had certainly been weird for Bumper. Meeting an old school friend, he hadn’t seen for fifteen years, getting married, stitching up the local gangster and now this.
Not since he had won the chod chucking championships at Tate’s had Bumper felt so good.
Gilbert sat in his armchair with a cup of tea. He had enjoyed tonight. He had danced with Claire, admittedly he had felt a little guilty as he knew what was happening with Kev and didn’t tell her.
“It was a good idea to have the reunion,” he thought, “maybe school wasn’t that bad after all.”
He considered what Elvis had told him.
“One million pounds.”
He wouldn’t spend any of it just yet; he was saving it for a rainy day. He knew that the money changed everything though. He had hoped that when Pete had returned home that the old friends would stay together this time. He knew now that Bumper and Elvis were likely to move away, and Pete wasn’t going to hang about.
Maybe he could get them to rally around one last time; maybe the lads would help him find his father.
Some say that revenge is a dish best served cold. It isn’t, revenge is cold. It’s cold, damp and painful and it never turns out the way you thought it would. My legs were becoming weaker now, but I was determined to reach the lighthouse. I felt bad leaving Karen like that, but it would never have worked out. I’ve learnt the hard way.
I hoped that Elvis had told the lads about the money by now, I hoped it made things better somehow. I felt guilty for not telling Gilbert about his father, I felt guilty for getting Tim killed.
I’d left one of the main lights on in the lighthouse and I could just about make it out as I stumbled down the pier. The rain was heavier now, lashing in from the sea. Waves swept up the side of the pier and crashed at my feet.
“Not long now.”
I didn’t mean for anyone to die.
Burns didn’t need to hang himself.
The light from the helicopter swept along the coast road as the blue lights of the police cars blinked in the distance. I wondered why I had returned home. Sometimes when you seek something so hard you lose sight of what it is you are looking for. A wave crashed beside me and took my legs from beneath me.
I lay on my stomach and then forced myself onto my knees. I sat back and stared at the sky, the helicopter now hovering behind me with its searchlight sweeping up the pier towards the weak, pathetic figure I had now become.
I thought about Karen, about Claire, about Elvis, Bumper and Gilbert. Did I come back for them? Did I come back for revenge?
All I wanted was to ruin Davison, get him put away for a few years, destroy his business. Why did he go and shoot himself?
Why did he have to shoot me?
I had no more answers now than I did when I arrived. I looked down and noticed the pool of blood at my knees.
“Not long now.”
Thank you for reading Leg It, I hope you enjoyed it. If you would like to read more of Alan Parkinson’s work, his novels are all available on Amazon on Kindle, paperback and hardback.
Please check out his author’s page on Amazon.