Adrian – Casino Manager
Andy Pandy – Supplies muscle for ‘dirty work’
Arthur – Works on ‘roads’.
Biggles – Ex RAF Tornado pilot, now freelance
Big John – Supplies muscle and transport
Brian – Manager – Secure Security Ltd
Miguel Carmena – Head of International Investment – Colombian Bank
Cerberus – H’s poker name
Clown – Works ‘on roads’
Elroy – Leader of gang of youths
Mr Evans – Betting shop owner
Freddie – Rich property owner
Sir Anthony Gibbs-White – Senior Partner – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – City Solicitors
Ernest Hathaway – Successful British businessman
Marion Hathaway – Ernest Hathaway’s wife
Patricia Hathaway – Ernest Hathaway’s daughter
Helen and Charles James – James parents
James James – Owner of Night Clubs and Secure Security
Cleggy Jenkins – Ex gambling industry executive
Mr Kaye – Private Hospital Consultant
Jorgen Mannesman – Wealthy German
Marty – Night Club Manager
Angelika Mauss – German wife
Peter Nephew – Owner – Regent Capital Securities Ltd
Byron Oberholser III – US company VP
John Payne – Private Hospital Consultant
Ramon – Leader of East European gang
Ramon Jr – Son – based in England
Benshima Reyes – Partner of H
Senor and Senora Reyes – Parents of Benshima.
Rico – Internet poker player
Sebastian (‘Needles’) – Doctor
Billy Simmons – Poker player. Ex champion boxer
Snowman – Seller of sun balms
Twins – Luke and Lliam
Toby – In charge of night clubs
Terry – City Financier
In a far off land several men were standing on the quiet roof terrace of their new, nearly built holiday hotel. The workers had gone home for the day and it was just them and their guests enjoying the sea view. The hot sun sparkled on the still blue waters and glinted on the soft pale brown sand.
Their guests, the women they had invited, were sitting in a corner and waiting for the men to decide what to do next. The men were drinking wine, laughing and enjoying the occasion.
The women, who had been defiled in every way possible, were bound, gagged and terrified. They had already watched the men take bets on how long it would take for a woman, thrown into the open, one hundred foot deep elevator shaft to reach the bottom?
And now, not content with that, they were arranging a side bet; which part of the woman would hit the hard, unyielding concrete floor first…? Would it crush her skull or break her legs like matchsticks……..?
The bets arranged they chose one of the terrified women, dragged her to the open shaft and, for more fun, held her body diagonally over it so that her feet were still secure but her body hovered over the abyss, and her eyes could see the bottom.
One of the men said ‘Let let her live.’
‘She’s already given us what we want so why kill her?’
‘I feel in a good mood.’
‘Come on…let’s put her back with the others and fuck em off.’
They debated this for a moment and then all agreed. They dragged her back from the brink and stood her upright.
‘You’re a lucky girl eh?’
She nodded frantically, and tears streamed from her eyes. Relief swept through her and her body started to shake uncontrollably.
Then they pushed her to her death……..
It added just a touch more pleasure to an already good game……
In his light, spacious study ‘H’ lounged in a well used, comfortable leather revolving chair, his feet resting casually on a large desk. On the wall in front of him, a 36” plasma screen took a feed from a PC which stood humming under the desk. Connected to an internet poker site the screen showed a green baize card table and six seats; four empty and two players left.
H had slowed played Ace King and been beaten by a Seven Three who had picked up two pair.
Well played Jimmy boy….. A master class in how to lose money……..
From first to worst!
H watched the chips move over to Grungo. The chat box lit up with GG. Top pair with top kicker thought H again. Fuck! He had wagered £500 with a £50 buy in and forty five minutes later it had all gone. Not quite all as he had finished second but fucking hell…..!
In another time H would have ranted and raged about hard luck and that he was always getting bad beats but he had read a book by Dan Harrington that soberly suggested you forgot your own good beats and only remembered the bad ones! True, H thought. Wise words…..
Benny walked in from the lounge.
‘Tea James? Coffee? Something cold?’ she asked.
Kicking himself away from the desk the chair circled to see her ‘Yes, good’.
Benny smiled. This man would say yes to most things. Just prepare it and present it and he was happy. He didn’t really care what it was; only that he had been given it by someone who did care. She walked over to him, put her arms around his neck and kissed his forehead ‘Winning?’
‘Nah…….. Just try and find Rico and then get ready. What times the film?’
He put his arms round her waist and snuggled his face into her bosom. Peace enveloped him as her warmth and scent filled his being. He softly kissed between her breasts and gently patted her bum. She kissed him again and moved to the door.
‘What are we doing after the film?’ he asked.
‘You’re doing me.’
She went out of the room, and he watched her hips sway, and her long, wavy, jet black hair follow her as though she had several tiny black lambs gambolling on her shoulders…..
You’re doing me. It was the price he paid for love…..
H and Benny had been together for nearly eighteen months, and he had loved every minute. He still marvelled that she was his. H was a man’s, man. Always had been. H had bedded half London, not necessarily for the right reasons, but when he saw Benny some unaccountable switch in his brain decided to flip and so did he…
……..He was in a restaurant with the flavour of the month or at least someone who was going to get the flavour of the month. Classy, sexy, leggy, busty; not exactly bright but a reasonable evening’s company. She had on a nice low top which highlighted her wonderful tits and some men in the restaurant had had a surreptitious look.
H was enjoying the meal, but in his mind, he was thinking about work. Tomorrow he had a meeting of the managers of his night clubs which they did every week, and he wanted to chuck a new idea in to get more customers through the doors…….and make more money. After those thoughts, he moved to having a good orgasm after the meal and a good night’s sleep.
The entrance to the restaurant was in his line of sight, and he watched as a man and woman came in together. Friends, perhaps lovers….but nothing else. Something about the woman grabbed James attention, and he felt instantly charged. His pulse raced, and he felt clammy. What the hell was going on? He watched them as they were shown to their table and he continued watching…..fascinated.
Watching the woman and completely lost in his own world James reverie was broken by a sarcastically abrupt ‘Excuse me…’
‘Sorry…’ he said, turning to look at her annoyed face ‘bit of a problem at work occupying my mind.’
‘I thought you said everything was going fine…?’
I said I enjoyed your fucking company, but that wasn’t entirely correct either thought H ‘Sorry…where were we…?’
‘I was telling you about my new Gucci bag with detachable strap. It’s wonderful…. they’re very clever the French, don’t you think…?’
H looked at her and wondered what the hell he was doing there? An expensive meal, a conversation that lacked any intellectual stimulation and all this for a fuck? Ah well…he had already spent the money so one more good fuck and she could fuck off……
He watched the other table surreptitiously as the night dragged on and he knew he had to meet her. She was Latin, somewhere in South America. Brazil? Perhaps Venezuela? H smiled inwardly to himself. As though he would know the difference between women in South America?
Physically she was tall, slim, nice bust and long legs; which was nice but he could get that anywhere. There were lots of women with good figures, natural or paid for, and most would be more than happy to be fucked by H., But for the first time in his thirty-eight years, H wanted to be with a woman. That woman. The woman sitting over there with another man. His pulse was racing… He made up his mind, excused himself from the tits in front of him and went over to her.
‘Excuse me’ he said to her.
‘This is difficult to explain, so I will make it simple……..’ he took a breath and tried hard not to stutter…… ‘I don’t know you, have never met you, never spoken to you, know nothing about you’ he paused ‘however……I would like to know you, be with you and I would like you to be with me. If you can do that, and you’re comfortable, I will take care of you and make you safe for the rest of your life.’
It was a peculiar choice of words ‘make you safe for the rest of your life….’
In fact, the whole sentence was utter nonsense, and he knew it but it was what he wanted, or even needed to say no matter how ridiculous it seemed and sounded. A wave of embarrassment flooded through him. Some part of H’s brain wondered not only who had said that but should they be certified…..?
‘Excuse me pal’ said her dinner partner ‘I think you should fuck off before someone gets hurt.’
H ignored him and continued to look into her eyes. He was trying to tell her something…….with his eyes. Please look at my eyes……
The man grabbed H’s arm and tried to pull it towards him but it didn’t move.
‘Excuse me’ said H softly to the woman and turned very slowly to look at the man. ‘My friend…….’
‘You’re not my fucking friend’ said the man aggressively.
H paused, moved his face a little closer to her dinner partner, his eyes boring down into him, telling him to be very careful ‘Would you prefer me to be your enemy……?’
The man was about to say something but the part of his brain, honed over millions of years that preferred life over death shut him up immediately and he said nothing. He sat there defiant for a moment, and then imperceptibly his body moved back in his chair…..
‘My friend’ H continued ‘you are right to be annoyed as I’ve invaded your evening, but I am talking to this lady. Now she may be your lady but, according to her ring finger, she is not your wife. If she had been your wife, I would not have taken this liberty. I am not going to ask your permission to speak to this lady as I don’t need your permission. She is your dinner date, not your chattel, and so I’m asking you politely to allow me to finish this conversation………… The lady only has to say yes or no. It won’t take long.’
H stared into his eyes. Not blinking. Waiting……….
The man thought for a second about what to do and started going through the options. If he backed down now the woman would see him as some sort of coward; if he decided to make a play it was likely he would see tomorrow from a hospital bed……..or he could call for the Manager. The last option was very tempting but was almost as bad as the first. Whatever happened he was not going to come out of this in a white knight sort of way. Aaah fuck! The second passed, and he moved even more imperceptibly back and lower in his seat.
He looked at H.
Looking at H made you realise why he was called H and not James. H was huge and the abbreviated version ‘H’ had stuck many years ago. It was not so much that he was actually huge, but his presence was huge. He was six foot two and built like a Greek God; ruggedly handsome with an athletes frame, powerful but not bulky, menacing but not outwardly so. Men knew from looking at H that what he had available to him was an inner strength with an inner violence.
An inner violence that you didn’t really want to unleash.
A voice squeezed its way between them, and they both looked at her.
‘Thank you for your rather crude and untimely offer but no thank you’.
Before H had computed the words, an old emotion reared its ugly head and fear and panic instantly flooded through him and immediately crushed him. His confidence gushed out of him as though a drain tap had been turned on, to be replaced by a pain and inadequacy that engulfed him and he fought hard to keep calm. H looked at her for a moment and nodded slightly several times as though he was trying to understand what she had said. He bowed his head towards her, nodded to her companion and walked back to his table and the waiting woman who had ordered a very expensive bottle of champagne in pique.
‘What an arsehole’ said the wealthy, sophisticated man of impeccable breeding ‘what an uncouth fucking arsehole.’
H went back to the restaurant every three weeks for three months to try to meet her again, but she was never there.
He gave up; without giving up.
Six months later in his large, modern, expensive apartment overlooking the Thames H, a little worse for wine, was screaming abuse at his monitor as yet again that night someone had caught a card on the river, when the phone rang with the ‘internal’ tone.
He pressed the button ‘Yes?’
‘A lady to see you sir’ said the concierge.
‘Who is it?’
A muffled sound. ‘She won’t give me her name, but the lady says you are going to look after her forever sir.’
‘Tell her to fuck off; I’ve already got a mother.’
More muffled sounds…. A woman’s voice came on. ‘You were going to keep me safe for the rest of my life.’
‘If you make me repeat it I’m leaving’ said the voice.
The wine which had dulled his head and fucked up his poker suddenly cleared. ‘Stay there…Don’t go!’ he screamed into the phone and hurtled to the door.
Ignoring the lift, he started to run down the ten flights of stairs to the lobby. Three-quarters of the way down he stumbled and slid on a step, his legs rearing into the air, levelling him out and crashing him down onto the hard tiled steps. His head banged against a sharp edge, and he saw stars in his eyes. Dizziness enveloped him, and he knew there was blood coming out of the back of his head. He wanted to sleep but thought fuck this, shook his head and dragging himself up he hung on grimly to the bannister and lurched on down. At the bottom, he stumbled again and smacked his head on the door and went down in a heap.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! He screamed to himself.
Picking himself up again he opened the door and almost fell into the lobby. Blood streamed across his face and he tried to focus through its red mist. She was there! My God, it was her!
H was oblivious to the fact that he looked like an escapee from the Texas chainsaw massacre and ignored the look on the concierge’s face which was one of some concern. For who was debatable…..?
Benny stood there dressed in jeans and blouse and holding an overnight travel bag. H shuffled over to her, and she handed it to him, but he was close to passing out and dropped it.
‘Can I help you sir?’ asked the concierge moving towards H but he growled like a big angry cat, shook his head, picked up the bag again and walked to the lift.
The concierge watched them get in, the lift start to move up, and he immediately erased it from his memory. He knew in this block of apartments you saw nothing and knew nothing, so he went back to his paper. Page three reminded him of his wife; not the one he had, the one he should have had…..
In the lift, she looked at him but said nothing. H’s head was clearing, but it buzzed like a wasps nest, and although the blood was flowing less he felt like shit.
In the apartment, H took her coat and wondered what to do with her travel bag. He put it on a large couch that sat in front of the towering floor to ceiling windows that looked up the river Thames. Desperate for something to say H asked ‘Drink?’
‘Coffee please’ she replied ‘medium, small amount of milk and no sugar.’
H wandered into the spacious, hi-tech Poggenpohl kitchen with its gleaming stainless steel and his mind filled with questions. Firstly what the fuck did ‘medium’ mean and what was a ‘small amount’ of milk? Was there a scale somewhere that he should use? A measuring thingy with small, medium and large on it?
Secondly, what was her name?
Thirdly she’s arrived but with few clothes. What does that mean?
Fourthly how did she know where he lived?
Fifthly that may not even be a word am I going mad?
Sixthly am I brain damaged? He poked the back of his head with his finger, felt the caked blood, took some kitchen towel, wet it with cold water and wiped his head then rinsed it out and wiped his face
She looked around the room. The Greenwich location had much to offer, and through the enormous windows she could track the river Thames; through the windows on the other side of the room, the Natwest Tower loomed in the distance. She reckoned he had paid about a million and a half pounds, maybe two for the apartment and spent a fair amount furnishing it but it looked like any expensive pad that you would see in a ‘house and homes’ magazine. She debated whether he had bought the ‘show apartment’ and just kept all the furniture…
The odds and sods that made up the rest were an entirely eclectic assortment of what she would call bric-a-brac and at odds with the upmarket, state of the art, apartment. Objects bought from holidays abroad that he had taken a shine to but had no idea they did not ‘fit in’ with anything at home. Surprisingly the complete naivety of the ‘eclectic’ acquisitions and their total lack of pretence quite charmed her, and the very expensive Brioni jacket thrown over the back of a chair, in an absolute who cares fashion, made her smile.
H went back in the lounge to find it empty and the bag gone. For a second he panicked as he thought she’d left, but he also noticed his feeling was tinged with a tiny amount of relief. Why he had no idea…..? She walked in from the second bedroom.
‘I’ve left my things in there, for now, I hope that’s ok?’
It was a question that wasn’t looking for an answer. She indicated to the opposing sofas. ‘Sit down’ she said quite assuredly as though it was her place, ‘and let’s talk.’
‘My name is Benshima Reyes. My friends call me Benshee or Benny. I am from Colombia; thirty-four years old; divorced a long time ago with no children and don’t like swearing.’ She glared at him. ‘I worked in publishing until four weeks ago until I told my boss what he could do with his suggestion’.
Her voice was just a touch husky, even earthy, but very feminine and warm. H found the word ‘safe’ coming to mind for some reason. She was ‘safe’……. His body flooded with a strange tingle and he felt emotional, but he controlled his outward demeanour. Her hands animated her words and made her look almost childlike as she expressed herself.
‘And you’ she continued ‘are James James. You own nightclubs and have a company that provides….. protection’
She said the last word slowly suggesting that she thought it offered quite the opposite. ‘I assume that is not all you do…………………?
She waited for a response, but it was not really a question. And it was not going to get an answer…
‘Obviously, I know very little about you, but it seems that you are one of those rare people…………a thug with brains………….’
For a moment H bristled. Who the hell was she to judge what he was? He was not used to being talked to like this. Had a man said that he would now be apologising. And the word thug riled him. He was not a thug; what he did was done professionally with detail and planning. How was that thuggish? He knew the word had been bastardised. The thuggees from the Hindi word tuggee who were prominent in the seventeenth to the nineteenth century were organised and painstaking, but now the word included every drunken, punch throwing fucking idiot at a football match!
‘Does that description bother you? She asked.
‘A little. A touch harsh perhaps when you don’t know me?’
‘Which bit made you uncomfortable? Thug or brains?’
A huge grin spread across his face. He liked this woman. A woman you could talk to, be with…….be safe with……..?
She removed a speck of fibre from her Williams jeans, picked up her coffee and sat back, daintily sipping. H watched her full lips touching the cup.
‘Just one more thing’ she said. ‘You are a man of means, power of a dubious sort and contacts. Why didn’t you try and find me if you wanted me so much?’
H paused for a moment. It had been his first response as he could easily have found her. The restaurant would have told him and he could have found her in minutes…… but he didn’t. H knew the answer.
‘I didn’t want to. It seemed to me that to find you would have been a bit……..businesslike. This wasn’t business. There are times when I need to find……..associates……. and I didn’t really want to go down that route’.
She smiled ‘You softy’.
Another wide grin creased his face.
They continued with small talk for a while, but any probing from H was met with very little in the way of startling information. What did he expect? Later he took her for a meal and when they returned she thanked him, kissed him softly on the cheek then turned to the bedroom she had commandeered, left the door open and went to bed.
H was a bit lost. When a woman comes into your house, gets in a bed and leaves her door open you fuck em. What else? But Benny? For some reason, H had had the impression that if he went in he would come straight out with a knife in his eye. Why would he think that? Jesus! Was she a psycho? Why would he believe that? He shook his head to clear it. Come on Jimmy boy, get your act together.
He wandered into the study, turned on the computer and played poker for an hour and a half. Only part concentrating and with no patience he played bad hands, chased cards and lost money quickly. Then he went to bed.
Sleep eluded him, so he put on a tracksuit and went to the gym in the basement of the building where he ran, cycled and hit the shit out of a punch bag for an hour, showered and then went back upstairs.
He still couldn’t sleep, and in the morning his head ached, and he still felt like shit…..
…………….She went out of the room; he watched her hips sway, and her long, wavy, jet black hair follow her as though she had several tiny black lambs gambolling on her shoulders as she went to make a cup of tea and he went back to find Rico.
He fucking hated Rico! Rico beat him at poker and H didn’t like it. Rico was the luckiest bastard in the whole of the fucking world. When he was about to lose the river would always save him. One day, if H ever found out who he was, the river wouldn’t save him, it would be his grave.
H felt himself becoming destructive and stopped dead still. He didn’t move for several minutes. He thought about his feelings and what they related to and knew it was nonsense to wish someone dead just because they beat you at poker. Killing and violence didn’t bother H but there had to be a specific reason. It may be self-defence, or it may be planned, but there had to be a rational reason. And getting beat at poker wasn’t one no matter how lucky the bastard was!
H started to scour the two poker sites that he knew Rico used. One was quite specialised and catered for more expensive games that the City boys, celebs and footballers used. He was distracted when the phone went, and he pushed the speaker button ‘Yes?’
‘H’ said Marty, the manager at one of H’s five clubs ‘we have a problem.’
‘Big Tony’s dead.’
‘What? What the fuck do you mean big Tony’s dead? Why is he dead?’
‘We have no idea why. There was no fight, no disturbance. The cameras show a couple walk up to Big Tony, talk a moment and then walk away. After a few seconds, Big Tony drops to the floor and he’s dead!’
‘Marty, you’re starting to piss me off. Tell me how he fucking died!’
‘We’re not sure H but it looks as though he was stabbed in the heart with something very long and very thin. A bit like a stiletto’.
Fucking great thought H ‘With you in thirty minutes’
He explained the problem to Benny and told her he would get back as soon as he could.
Several thousand miles away on the roof garden terrace of a nearly completed ten storey holiday hotel five men sat around a table. It was the only furniture in the whole building, and the small table and few chairs made the ten thousand square foot floor look enormous. The three Russians and two swarthy Albanians all had expensive black leather jackets, large aviator watches and were partners in several lucrative businesses; prostitution, extortion, people trafficking and supplying little children to those that had need of them. They regarded themselves as businessmen but they were essentially animals who traded in flesh, violence and misery, and human life meant nothing to them. To them, there was a direct correlation between misery and profit.
The more the pain and suffering the more the profit. No pain…..no gain.
Their main area of operation was Russia or at least a small part of it, but Russia was getting a bit difficult. The ‘mafia’ in Russia were now incredibly powerful and didn’t take kindly to local competition. In the old communist days it wasn’t a problem but the mafia, now with their vast wealth and enormous influence, bribed government officials quite openly and had ‘competitors’ shut down for some technical planning reason. It was easier than blowing the place up, and you could move in afterwards…….
The nearly finished building they were sitting in was theirs; built with the illegal fruits of their various enterprises. They knew their country would be a tourist goldmine and this was their opportunity not only to reap great rewards in building appreciation but also to have a legitimate operation. On top of that, as part of their expansion plans the men had looked for pastures new, less hazardous pastures, to which to move their base. They looked at France and Spain but knew in both countries if you crossed the line a bit too far the Intelligence Services would just come and kill you. It was easier that way. No trials, no embarrassment. Easy.
But in Britain……… Britain had no idea how to cope with organised crime and still, according to their information, saw itself as a democracy. So you could do most things, and some idiot would come to your defence in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘human rights’.
But they needed a platform and didn’t want all the effort of building one. They needed clubs to operate from and use as a front, and they had been told about one little business that interested them. It just needed a bit of pressure on the owner before they made their offer. They would have usually just bombed one of the clubs, but they felt they could muscle him out instead. Why destroy valuable assets?
Violence had got them everything in the past, and it would surely get them what they wanted now. They chatted amiably about this and that and then a mobile rang. A man answered and spoke in Russian.
‘It’s done’ he said to the other three Russians and the Albanian. ‘It’s started. The clubs will soon be ours.’
They had a glass of expensive French wine which they raised in a toast, swilled it back then went downstairs to the cavernous basement under the hotel which would be an underground car park and service the hotel. Their anonymous, black windowed SUV’s waited to take them to another place where the women did as they were told and if they didn’t they wouldn’t be missed…….
Ernest Hathaway looked from the third-floor window over the magnificent lawns with the eight Indian blue peafowl wandering around. Approaching the mating season, the three peacocks were already strutting their stuff; the iridescent tail feathers were extended, making up sixty percent of the bird’s length and showing off their blue, gold and red ‘eyes’ to spectacular effect.
His gaze carried on out over the beautiful French countryside beyond.
He let out a long sigh…….
Although he stayed there infrequently, it added a spiritual meaning to his life. Its peace, its beauty, its timelessness gave him a rebirth each time he was there. It was an oasis here, away from the ‘madding crowd’ of the City, its inhabitants and his businesses. One day, maybe, he would retire here…..?
Ernest owned car dealerships, betting shops, a casino and many other companies. These activities made him considerable amounts of money, and they paid for the palatial home in the Surrey stockbroker belt and a large holiday home in Spain where his family currently were.
The chateau in France had been picked for its privacy, located as it was on nearly one hundred acres of woodland which screened it from prying eyes and known about by very few people. That was what Hathaway wanted.
By Chateaux standards, it was modest with its three storeys housing ten bedrooms, but it was immaculately kept and expensively furnished, coupled with all the latest electronic gadgets piped through to every room. The latter cost a fortune as Hathaway was a man of taste and so the broadband and audio/video feeds were mainly wi-fi, and any necessary cabling was hidden with subtlety, taking care to not intrude on the muted splendour and elegance of the residence.
Outside, about two hundred yards away and hidden from the house behind trees lay a helipad that he had built to allow him to get around quickly.
Spiritual it may have been, but from the chateau, Ernest also directed his other activities which included theft and related operations. Ernest did not get involved himself but did two things; he either arranged operations on behalf of others or he found the opportunity and arranged it himself.