Tom Benson Creative Writer and Artist
Tom Benson           Creative Writer                                      and Artist

2 - Changing Direction

Friday, 29th June 1996

The Borders

Phil cruised north up the M74, having crossed the border from England into Scotland. It was bright and dry, late afternoon, and the motorway traffic was light for mid-summer. He was listening to ‘Swan Lake’, as he considered the recent meetings he’d had with Stuart Fowler, in London.

Stuart had been one of many folk that had been clutched from the jaws of death by Phil, but there was a major difference. The civilian operative had been with MI6 at the time of his rescue. When he returned to the UK he transferred to MI5, then following rapid promotion, was given leeway to head up a new department. Stuart had become a decision maker.

Classical music could be intense, dramatic even, but it was uncluttered with lyrics. Phil found it soothing when he wanted to consider something of importance. It was less than six months since his unceremonious arrest in Africa, and although his military career had been cut short, he had calmed. He wanted to know who was responsible, but he was dealing with it. His chat with Stuart had helped in a big way.

It was 17:30, when in the middle of ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ there was a newsflash. In essence, two known criminals in Glasgow had been released from custody due to lack of evidence. The alleged crime was the killing of a police officer and his daughter. During the live news report, there was laughter from the two accused, mixed with the jeering in the background as they walked free.

Phil turned off the M74 at Abington Services and headed across country towards Edinburgh on the A702. The newsflash itself didn’t create a change of plan, but the laughter in the report was enough. Phil’s mind was racing with how to deal with the killers.

At 19:00 Phil pulled into the multi-storey car park behind St. Mary’s Street in Edinburgh. Prior to booking into a nearby hotel a few minutes later, he added a baseball cap and black-framed glasses to his outfit. He used cash to pay for his room, and said he had no car. By 19:30 he was seated in an Italian restaurant in the Grassmarket. One hour later he was on the M8 driving west, - on his way to Glasgow.

*

Glasgow

Phil sat in his car 100 metres away from ‘The Gallows’ bar on Duke Street. He observed the type of people going into the place. Not many were coming out, and those that did were past caring about their destination, staggering along the pavement, bouncing off the walls.

After parking his car in a nearby street, Phil ensured there was nobody around. He lifted the can of beer from the passenger seat as he got out. He took a swig, swirled it around his mouth and swallowed before pouring the remaining contents into the kerbside. He opened the boot of the car, threw his leather jacket inside, and placed the empty beer can beside it. He lifted out a badly worn tweed coat and his glasses, which were always a simple disguise.

At 21:00, Phil approached ‘The Gallows’ bar and affected a slight stagger as he reached the door. He knew to be aware of observant locals, so timed his entrance to be with a group of three men he’d seen heading that way. Once inside, he assessed the layout on his way to the bar. Cigarette smoke sat in the air in layers of greys and blues. There were various smells, but smoke, stale sweat and spilled beer were prominent.

Phil squeezed up to the bar and slurred his words as he ordered a pint. He paid for it with coins, knowing it would stand out to any vigilant onlooker if he used a note. When paying, he separated the coins, counting them out to the barman as if it was a fortune. In preparation for such scenes, he had been building up on loose change.

“You’re new around here pal,” an old-timer murmured close to Phil’s left ear. The bar was overcrowded and rowdy by anybody’s standards, and there were at least three different sing-a-longs going on. It seemed peculiar that the old guy had been so quiet. Phil reckoned it was a tried and tested tactic to get a free beer from strangers, knowing that they would prefer to blend in.

Phil was leaning on the bar, but stood to sip his beer. He squinted as he turned. The last thing he wanted was to attract any attention. He decided to engage the wizened drinker in conversation to help establish his cover.

“I’m looking for my wife’s fancy man,” Phil confided and pretended to have difficulty winking. He turned to look into his beer before sipping some more. “I’ve been locked up for a while down south and when I got back ... .” he shook his head.

“Davie,” the old man said, holding out a gnarled hand.

“Hi Davie,” Phil said, “I’m Gerry.”

“Does your missus live around here then Gerry?”

“Nah,” Phil said, “I left her in the house in Clydebank with a fat lip, so now I’m looking for Barry Kerrigan.” Phil looked around and hoped there wasn’t a drunk prize fighter in the place called Barry Kerrigan.”

Davie said: “I know most folk around here, and I don’t recollect anybody called Kerrigan.”

“Well, she said he lived on Duke Street, near the railway station,” Phil slurred. “I’ve been to three bars already, but I’ll keep looking. When I find him, I’m gonna’ fuckin’ kill him.” He continued to stare at his pint and squinted as if unable to focus.

It took less than 30 minutes and one pint from Phil, before old Davie was boasting that he knew one of the cop-killers that had been on the news. Phil pretended to be impressed. He told Davie that he thought a man who had killed a copper must be special.

“That’s him over there,” Davie said with the slightest nod, “Frankie McSherry. He’s the only man in the bar with a tie on.” The old guy smiled. “He’ll be celebrating, because he’ll get paid for bumping off that copper.”

“How do you work that out?” Phil said.

“I heard him earlier,” Davie said and leaned close enough for Phil to smell his filthy coat. “The copper was working undercover, so it was a proper organised hit, y’know?”

“You mean like an execution?” Phil said and rubbed his eyes.

“Aye that’s it,” Davie said, “it was an execution.”

“I heard about it on the radio,” Phil said. “There were two men questioned.”

“All I know is, McSherry was one of them,” Davie said, “an’ he’s a fucking nutcase.”

Phil stuck around to buy old Davie a second beer and then promised to meet him again to let him know if he found Barry Kerrigan.

*

After staggering from the bar, Phil paid a quick visit to his Toyota. When the coast was clear he got what he needed and wandered back to keep an eye on the bar. There was a bus shelter with a seat in it. The light above was broken which made it ideal. It was more comfortable than many of the observation posts he’d had to use.

At 23:35 a group of five men came out of the front door of ‘The Gallows’ and headed along Duke Street. None of them took any notice of the drunk in the bus shelter with the beer can. After two minutes, the men parted company, leaving McSherry with one much older man. It was old Davie.

Phil followed them, staying on the opposite side of the street and using the shadows of doorways, bus shelters or parked cars. He thought Davie had probably ingratiated himself with the killer in order to get a free beer. Hero worship was a strange thing.

It wasn’t long before the old man staggered off down a side street and left McSherry on his own. He walked as if he’d been drinking, but he wasn’t staggering out of control. Phil checked the suppressor was secure on the muzzle of his Browning 9mm and pulled back on the breech slide. All he needed now was opportunity, and it didn’t take long.

McSherry crossed the road towards Todd Street, which was nothing more than a short strip of tarmac. There was a patch of grass and some gravel, which was used as an impromptu overnight park for lorry trailers. It was where McSherry decided to take a leak.

Phil walked more rapidly until he closed the distance, looked around to ensure he was unseen and then sprinted across the 50 metre square patch of grass. He stopped when he was in the shadows between the trees. McSherry was standing between two empty flatbed trailers spraying his night’s beer over the rear tyres.

“McSherry?” Phil asked from the shadows.

“Who the fuck is that?” the killer said, “I’ve pissed down my fucking leg you-,”

“Who’s paying you?”

“Paying me for what?” McSherry said, peering into the darkness, but still pissing.

“Who’s paying you for killing the copper and his child?” Phil suggested.

“Fuck off.”

Phil stepped forward from the shadows and raised the automatic into the aim, two-handed.

“I’ll give you one more chance to live.” He was five metres away from McSherry and started advancing. The weapon was held steady.

McSherry said: “I never give out a client’s name, so fuck off.”

“You did kill the undercover copper then?”

“Has fucking Barnes sent you?”

“What makes you think Barnes sent me?” Phil said, remembering Barnes was the other suspect who’d been released. 

“Barnes is a double-crossing bastard. If he sent you, he’ll fucking cross you as well.”

“Does he still live in Maryhill?” This was a tried and tested tactic by Phil.

“Maryhill,” McSherry laughed. “Somebody’s pulling your fucking chain pal. He lives at Anniesland Cross.” He turned and made a dash toward Phil.

The noise of the shot was similar, but more muted than the sound of a can of fizzy drink being opened.

It took Phil 20 minutes to find a public phone kiosk that hadn’t been vandalised beyond repair. He called an unlisted number in London.

“This is Hawk,” Phil said. “The account is open.”

*

Saturday, 29th June 1996

Glasgow

It was 10:00 in the morning and Robert Davenport was under pressure from superiors and local politicians to make a dent in Glasgow’s growing crime figures. He knew how to make his reports sound as if he had his finger on the pulse, but there was one situation he had lost control of many years before.

“Chief Constable,” he said confidently when he answered his phone. As he listened to the voice on the other end, he stopped moving papers around on his desk and stared at his office door. His jaw set and his blood ran cold. When the caller stopped talking, Davenport responded, but with less confidence than previously.

“I can’t just bloody drop everything-,” he stopped when he was cut off by his caller’s quiet, but threatening voice. He listened again before responding.

“Okay, okay, for Christ’s sake. Loch View Golf Club, tomorrow at 09:00.” He slammed the handset down and turned his chair before standing to look out at the city. “Fuck you William Hartley. Fuck you.” He closed his eyes, took several deep breaths, and tried to calm his racing heart. “Sunday morning playing golf with that bastard,” he muttered to himself. He ran a hand through his thinning fair hair.

*

Monday, 1st July 1996

Phil arrived on the outskirts of Glasgow on the M8 motorway. He had spent the weekend in Edinburgh, apart from his short trip across to Glasgow on the Friday evening. It had been overcast throughout the weekend and Phil’s mood matched the weather.

The morning news had carried a piece about the recently freed murder suspect Frankie McSherry being found. He had been shot dead and left on a patch of grass in the east end of Glasgow. Although Phil had dealt with one of the two hit-men, his mind went back to the dead policeman’s children. It seemed that Barnes also deserved a visit.

By the time Phil exited at junction 15, the sun was making an appearance, reflecting from the glass and steel of the modernised old city. Phil glanced at the large complex of buildings on his left. It was the Royal Infirmary where 36 years earlier he had been born. A variety of memories flashed across his mind as he drove south along Castle Street.

He pulled into a filling station, topped up his tank, and bought the Daily Record. Glancing at the newspaper’s distinctive title left Phil with a peculiar sense of arriving home. When he was walking back to the car he thought of a childhood friend, Chaz McLean, who’d lived not far away. They had spent many hours wandering these streets.

Phil remembered the area well, even after such a long absence. As boys do, he and Chaz would have regularly discussed what they’d do when they grew up. When he reached the multi-junction at Mercat Cross, the traffic lights changed to red and Phil stopped.

Through his open driver’s window, he overheard the loud conversation of pedestrians crossing at the junction. The unmistakable guttural accent carried on the air. The two women he could hear were talking so loud and fast, that an outsider might think it was an East European language. That thought brought the hint of a smile to the battle-hardened veteran.

The traffic lights changed and Phil set off, turning left onto Gallowgate and heading east. He had never lived in the east end of Glasgow, but his friend Chaz had been brought up there. When Phil was a 14-year-old, he had travelled across town by bus to play in Sunday League soccer at Glasgow Green. It was at those games that he struck up a friendship with Chaz. Phil was to see how rough the district was in only a few visits to his friend’s street.

Chaz enjoyed education and sport. He would joke with classmates and other lads playing soccer, that if he ever missed a lesson or a game, they would know he had been brutally murdered. He constantly joked that knives and occasionally guns could be seen changing hands close to where he lived. Nothing ever seemed to worry the youngster.

Within a week of his 14th birthday, Chaz was stabbed to death near his home in the Parkhead district. There was no clear motive and the murderer was never found, despite a lengthy investigation. Phil remembered the Daily Record had continually campaigned on behalf of the dead boy’s family and friends. A perpetrator was never found for the murder and the lack of justice for his friend had always haunted Phil.

*

A bent and dishevelled man carrying a wine bottle walked straight off the pavement in front of Phil’s car. Even when the car stopped within inches of him, the drunk was oblivious, calmly wandering across the street in his zigzag fashion. He was in a world of his own.

Phil followed the road for a few minutes until he saw the ‘v’ shape on the left hand side formed by Duke Street and Westmuir Street. The two streets joined Gallowgate virtually together. He turned into Westmuir Street and right into Sorby Street. On the right after 50 metres was Southbank Street, a small cul-de-sac. Phil had chosen to rent a flat there, because it was in the heart of the Parkhead area, where his young friend Chaz had lived - and died.

Having driven into the street and parked, Phil unclipped his seat belt and took in the view. He was pleased to see a BMW parked in the street, even if it was a five-year-old model. His dark blue Toyota Celica was only two years old, but when freed of the recent film of dirt it looked new. Blending in was paramount, so Phil decided his car could remain dirty for a while longer. He checked his watch. It was15:45 so he was 15 minutes early.

To pass a few minutes, he picked up the newspaper he had bought at the service station. The headline was, ‘Barnes On Our Streets - McSherry On A Slab’. Phil read the story and felt the anger build up. Barnes had no conscience, and according to the article, spent the weekend celebrating his release by calling the central police station to ask if they’d caught the cop-killer.

Housing in Southbank Street was a tenement block. The street was only 100 metres long and the tenement took up one side of it. The brickwork had been given a reasonable facelift, just like many other old buildings in the city. Judging by the finished product, they were probably in much better condition inside too.

In the 1970’s there would have been an open entrance or ‘close’ as it was called. It would have allowed unchallenged access for anyone to walk inside and up the flights of stairs to anybody’s front door. There was now a security door with intercom panel to contact each of the eight apartments and a digital lock was fitted.

Right outside the block and at the end of the street were parking areas. Directly opposite were the parking spaces and back view of a modern housing block. As Phil was taking in the scene, a red Vauxhall hatchback turned into the street. It was driven along halfway and parked facing toward the block. In the rear window a narrow banner proclaimed, ‘Kavanagh and Cooper - Estate Agents, Trongate, Glasgow’.

The driver’s door opened and a woman in her 30’s got out. She looked up and down the street as she locked her car and then she stepped onto the pavement. Phil could see that she was carrying a black leather portfolio case - and she took a pride in her appearance.

She was about 5ft 10ins and her copper hair hung neatly to rest on her shoulders. A white blouse and short red skirt fitted neatly on her slim figure and her black high-heels accentuated a good pair of legs.

Phil lifted his leather jacket from the passenger seat with his left hand as he got out of the car. He had two day’s stubble and was wearing a white t-shirt, jeans and trainers. When he walked across to the estate agent, he was sure she was appraising him, just as he was appraising her. There was a slight arching of a shapely eyebrow and a faint smile.

“Hi,” Phil said and painted on a smile, “I’m Phil McKenzie. I take it you’re Stella.”

“Stella Kavanagh,” the woman said with the most pleasant Glasgow accent Phil could remember. She extended a slender hand, which was taken and briefly held by Phil. They looked into each other’s eyes, both searching beyond.

“Would that be the same Kavanagh as advertised on your car sticker?”

“It would indeed,” she said with a hint of a smile, “but the name and the company are all I kept. Mister Kavanagh has moved on.”

“That’s his loss if you don’t mind me saying,”

The eyebrow raised again.

“That’s very gracious of you, Mr. McKenzie.”

Phil gave a slight nod and noticed her looking at his lips and then his eyes.

Stella said: “If you ready, I’ll take you up to look at the flat.” She stepped forward to the door, punched in a four-digit number and pushed. “You’ll see that the original features, like the tiled walls have been retained and the entire building refurbished.”

They went up to the first floor landing and stood between apartment numbers 3 and 4.

“This is the place I suggested on the phone,” Stella said and used a key to open number 3. “It’s the closest I could find to fit your requirements.” She allowed Phil to follow her inside and then she closed the door. “Flat number 4 across the landing is under offer from another client, but if you’d prefer, I’ll swap you to that one.”

“I would expect that they are a mirror image of each other,” Phil said.

“They are,” she said, “except that number 4 only has one large bedroom. Her smile was natural and not forced for the client’s benefit. She took Phil on the short guided tour of the apartment to show him the living room, kitchen, bathroom, spacious master bedroom, and small single.

In each room, Phil went to the window to assess the view and check the security. While in the bedrooms, he noticed that there was new bedding, still in the packaging.

“Thank you for obtaining the bedding,” he said. “I thought if the place was furnished it would be sensible to ask for that too.”

“I dealt with it myself,” she said, “so I hope my taste is satisfactory.”

“I’m sure it will be,” he said as they moved on. “I noticed three doors downstairs, so would that be two ground floor flats and another entrance door?”

“It’s not so much an entrance door. It gives access to the back yard area, which has also had some refurbishment. Would you like to take a look?”

“Please, if it’s not a problem.”

They went downstairs and through the back door into a spacious yard which had been grassed. It had flowerbeds planted and two wooden benches set up, making it a neat, cosy garden.

Phil stood back and appraised the building, taking note of the drainpipe that ran up the right hand side of the windows. It was within an arm’s reach of the windows of the odd numbered flats. He noted that the rear door also had a digital lock fitted and there was a two-metre high fence around the garden area. He nodded his satisfaction when he saw the agent look from him to the building and back again.

“Is it satisfactory?” Stella asked.

“It’s absolutely fine,” Phil said. “I have one thing to ask, but I’ll wait until we’re upstairs again.” He was sure he saw a trace of a smile on her lips.

*

They sat opposite each other at the kitchen table. The estate agent laid out the paperwork and sat back before she explained the support system for any issues with maintenance and services. She went on to clarify the deposit, monthly terms, and the details that would be needed to secure the apartment rental.

“You had another question I believe Mr. McK-,” she started.

“Please call me Phil,” he said, leaning forward onto the table with his forearms.

“Thank you, Phil,” she said and treated him to a genuine smile, which took several years from her. She clasped her hands on the table. “Now that question of yours?”

 “Would there be a problem with me renting number 3 and number 4?”

“Well,” she said and her eyes widened as she appeared thrown for a moment. “It’s not the way we usually do things, but I suppose as long as they are both paid for. We have another client calling to see number 4.”

“Don’t worry about that,” he said, continuing to look into her eyes. “Is the name Patterson?”

Stella lifted the cover of her notebook and with a quick glance confirmed the name.

“How could you possibly know-,” She was confused, but nodded and smiled.

“I do have another favour to ask,” Phil said and leaned forward and gazed into her eyes.

Anything,” she said instantly, before correcting herself, “anything in particular?”

“I’d like this flat in my name and flat 4 in the name of Patterson.” He maintained eye contact. “It’s quite important that if we can come to that arrangement that only you and I would be aware of it.”

“Now that really is unorthodox-,”

“I would appreciate it Stella,” he said, looking into her eyes.

“So you want both flats, but in different names?”

“Yes, I know it sounds a bit strange, but it’s how I need it to be.”

“It’s not for anything illegal is it?”

“No, I wouldn’t implicate you in anything illegal,” he said. “I have certain plans for the next month and it would be the ideal solution for me.”

“It will be a personal favour,” she said, “because I know my business partner wouldn’t approve, but leave it with me and I’ll arrange it. I’ll need the appropriate details for the other tenant of course.”

“That’s not a problem,” he said, “and I never forget a favour.” He gave her a disarming smile. She wouldn’t realise how privileged she was.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she said. The eyebrow twitched again. “I have the key to the other flat if you’d like to give it a once over.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

The viewing of flat 4 was more of a cursory glance to confirm the layout and then they returned to number 3 to sign the paperwork.

Stella hesitated before signing the documents for flat 4, glanced up at Phil and then signed.

“I should really see photographic evidence of Mr. Patterson.”

“I’ll drop by your office in the next day or two with it - if that’s okay.”

Stella’s brow creased. This handsome man stirred something deep inside her.

*

When he was alone, Phil made a more thorough check of the two apartments. The view from both front windows was almost identical, as was the view from the rear windows. He gave himself a moment to consider his options and the drainpipe outside flat 3’s rear window was the deciding factor. An emergency route in or out was always handy.

Phil left the block and walked a mile along London Road to the Barrowland market. It still had the title, ‘The Barras’ hanging over the wrought iron entrance that faced London Road, just as it had so many years before. Some things never changed. Before mingling with the crowd, Phil checked his wallet was secured in a zipped inside jacket pocket.

The sun was losing the fight against the clouds and the temperature had dropped since earlier. As he joined the other folk wandering around between the stalls, Phil hunched his shoulders forward and hooked his thumbs in his jeans pockets.

He remembered when he was a teenager, his dad had told him never to be caught with his hands thrust deep into his pockets. ‘Always remember son,’ he’d said. ‘It leaves you defenceless for a few precious seconds in an assault.’

Phil tuned-in to the dialect and manner of the people around him. He knew that some of them were the hardest people you could wish to meet, but also the most genuine. Living among them was going to take concentration, and as much adaptability as he had used in any number of foreign countries. He knew in the back of his mind that the wrong word or action here could prove just as fatal as if he openly threatened somebody. These were after all the reasons he wanted to be based in the east end.

It would have brought unwanted attention to say too much with his long faded accent, so he used single syllable words and grunts to get the goods he needed. He decided he would visit the Barrowland regularly to tune in to the accent. The dialect might be a little harsher in the east than other parts of the city, but that wasn’t such a bad thing.

*

Less than 90 minutes after setting off to the open market, Phil was back in flat 3 enjoying a coffee. Whilst out, he’d also bought some food essentials. Self-catering in these conditions was going to be another new experience for him, so unlike the ‘hard-routine’ employed when on active service. Apart from being furnished, the flat had a well-equipped kitchen. It was going to be luxury to relax in a decent armchair in a ready-made apartment.

Rather than prepare a meal on his first evening, he decided to wander around the local area and pick up a takeaway. It was a 15-minute stroll along Gallowgate and down onto London Road that brought the ex-Serviceman to ‘Alfredo’s’, a small Pizza takeaway place. As Phil glanced through the door, a big blonde man was leaning across the small counter with his right fist raised in a threat. Phil walked inside. The blonde thug took no notice of the next customer and continued.

“You’ve got half an hour you little bastard,” the blonde growled. “Have it ready when I come back.” He turned, glared briefly at Phil, and then shouldered his way past.

Phil straightened his leather jacket and stepped up to the counter before speaking.

“He’s not coming back for a pizza is he?”

“Please don’t get involved mate,” the slightly built owner said in an Italian/Glasgwegian accent, “he’ll bloody kill anybody that gets in his way.”

“What’s he up to?” Phil said before adding only half-serious. “Surely he’s not running a protection scam on takeaways-,” he stopped in mid-sentence to turn and see a red Ford screech away from the nearby corner.

“He hits about fucking 20 small businesses around here,” the pizza man blurted out. “I’m sorry my friend, I shouldn’t be swearing at you. It’s just that I’m scared and I can’t afford it anymore.”

“Can you afford to close earlier tonight?”

“I don’t understand.”

“That was him in the red car wasn’t it?”

“Yes, he always parks around the corner, because there are very few people to see him. His name is O’Connor.”

“I’d like two pizzas please,” Phil said. “I’ll have a Hawaiian to eat now, and a cheese prepared in about 25 minutes for Mr. O’Connor. I want it very hot with lots of cheese.”

The frightened pizza man still didn’t understand, so got on with the preparation of the pizzas and explained the order to his young colleague. Like most takeaways the actual premises was mainly behind the counter. The customer area was only about three metres square between the counter and the front door, so Phil stood chatting to the owner.

He found out that Alfredo had been born and raised in Glasgow, but still had a partly Italian accent. He had been running his business for almost half of his 34 years on the planet.

Phil excused himself and took two minutes to walk around the corner. He looked along the street where there were a few cars parked. There was a factory wall along the whole of one side and a line of tenement flats on the other, but they weren’t in as good condition as the ones he was renting. When satisfied with his surroundings he went back inside and smiled at Alfredo.

While Phil stood at a nearby ledge, enjoying his pizza and a bottle of Coke, he continued to ask about the city and the east end in particular. Alfredo was a font of knowledge regarding wrongdoing, and what the law never seemed to see.

During that time when Phil was eating his meal, three other customers came in, ordered a pizza and left. Each had a pleasant greeting for the owner and each eyed Phil with suspicion. It confirmed for him that a new face stood out like a beacon in this area.

  Alfredo smiled for the first time while relating a humorous anecdote, but he stopped talking and the smile disappeared as the red Ford passed, slowed, and turned the corner.

“Pizza,” Phil said, “quickly.” He put his Coke bottle on the counter and accepted the hot, slim cardboard box. He winked at Alfredo and left the premises at a rapid pace.

The red car was parked around the corner, and the big man was struggling to undo his seatbelt as Phil approached. When the driver’s door flew open, Phil had the box open and pressed the freshly cooked, hot cheese pizza into O’Connor’s face.

The thug grabbed at Phil’s wrists and struggled, but his attacker knew his work. Phil had a knife in his left hand and used it to stab the back of both of the desperate hands. He held the pizza in place for several seconds to ensure that it burned sufficiently, and then he let go and slammed the driver’s door closed.

A quick glance was enough for Phil to see that there was still nobody else around. He opened the back door of the car and jumped in behind the sputtering, gasping hoodlum. It took less than three seconds for Phil to pull some slack on the seat belt and wrap it around O’Connor’s neck, securing him to the head restraint of the driver’s seat.

The bloody hands came up once more as the thug tried to release the belt from his throat. Phil held the belt, pressed his knees against the back of the driver’s seat, and leaned back. He watched in the rear-view mirror as the tough guy’s eyes bulged and mouth gaped.

When he was certain that his victim was unconscious, Phil sliced through the seat belt in two places, effectively putting the belt out of action and giving him a strong bonding material. He got out and opened the driver’s door to tie O’Connor’s wrists to the steering wheel.

Phil took the keys from the ignition and dropped them down a kerbside drain. O’Connor started to cough and splutter as he regained consciousness. At the street corner, a woman hobbled by, paused leaning on her walking stick and looked at the car before walking on.

When Phil squatted down near the open driver’s door again he saw his victim’s eyes open.

“I’ll only tell you once,” Phil said, “so listen carefully. My name is Hawk and this was a warning.” He looked around to ensure there were no witnesses. “I’ll be checking the local businesses and if you visit any of them again - I will visit you again.”

O’Connor tried to talk, but only emitted a strangled, hoarse sound.

Phil placed his mouth very close to O’Connor’s ear.

“The next time you won’t be so lucky,” Phil said and glanced around. “Tell your boss not to take me on. I will kill you both.”

As the hoodlum blinked and stared through swollen, scalded eyes, he saw his attacker remove a small business card from inside his leather jacket and place it on the dashboard. It said ‘HAWK’. There was a graphic of a hawk descending; wings extended and talons spread.

Before heading back to his apartment, Phil stepped into the takeaway wiping cheese from his hands.

“I’ve just come back for my Coke.”

Alfredo stood wide-eyed at the counter accompanied by his young assistant.

“My name is Tony,” the assistant said as he handed over a towel.

“Pleased to meet you Tony,” Phil said, wiped his hands and handed back the towel. “When I leave, I want you guys to close and then open up again from tomorrow as normal.”

“Right,” Alfredo said, still staring. He started to remove his apron. “Open tomorrow as normal, right.”

Phil lifted a takeaway menu, wrote a number on it, and handed it to Alfredo.

“This is my number. Use it if you have to, but keep it to yourself.”

*

“Bring on the fucking bad guys,” Phil said as he stood in a hot shower before going to bed. He raised his face to appreciate the steaming spray. Afterwards, he read the feature story in the Daily Record again and then slept soundly. He was already at peace regarding his intentions. The Hawk had arrived in Glasgow and was established.

***

          Updates

Tuesday 6th June 2017

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Highland Games - 3

An Erotica Novella

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A Life of Choice: Part Four

Upwards and Onwards
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