“I need to see you, now!” whispered Big Al. A whisper that melts phones.
“On my way,” JD knew better than to argue with the man who paid his wages. He also knew that when Big Al whispered you had better move… fast.
JD badly needed a shower, there was no time for a shave. There was no dress code for this meeting. He slung on last night’s jeans and t-shirt. Sniffing the Levis, he changed his mind and quickly found some clean light brown canvas strides and a denim shirt. Satisfied that his body odour would not insult Big Al’s nostrils, he grabbed a leather jacket and drove the short distance to North London.
Big Al’s busty daughter was waiting by the window.
“Go straight in, he is upstairs… Waiting,” Marilyn said, with the cheeky smile that got several men in serious trouble with her father. JD knew better than to tempt fate. He smiled and studied his trainers.
“No need to knock, get in here,” whispered Big Al coughing cigar smoke from behind the elaborately carved door. The horse whisper was loud enough to rattle lesser men’s nerves. JD heard a snigger from behind, Marilyn was signalling she wanted to talk on the phone. JD shook his head and marched in.
He remembered to sit as fast as possible, Big Al didn’t enjoy guests towering over him. Big Al’s sized five handmade brogues had the number seven stamped on the sole. They appeared to dance on the antique desk as he twitched his knees. His hands slammed onto bony knees as Big Al leaned forwards snarling.
“You know Geordie Jenkins?”
JD was unsure if that was a question or a statement. He nodded anyway.
“He is your next task,” Big Al raised his reading glasses to eyebrow level, his hands to shoulder height, “Don’t but me,” he snarled.
“Bu… I was going to ask a question. Is Geordie home?”
“No, and he has been upsetting my plans, I want it stopped.”
“B…” JD started again, “Last I heard, he was in Bangkok?”
“Correct. Thailand has stopped all tourism, that is not my problem, my customers are locals, ex-pats, Thai business people and Asian gents who seem to creep under the immigration net with too much money to lose. That prat, the Geordie git is struggling for business with no tourists. He is trying to nick my punters. So, my dear JD, I need you to stop him,” said Big Al, leaning back, his glasses slipped down his nose as the Bangkok Post headline appeared on his computer screen.
“See, the Thai government will not open their borders for the foreseeable future. I want Geordie stopped now,” Big Al whispered the words.
“How can I get to Bangkok?” whimpered JD.
“That is why I pay you so handsomely. You must complete the job. Not some unknown monkey. Get me?”
“Yes, Al. Let me work out the difficulties, I’ll let you know ASAP,” said JD.
“Be here tomorrow with the details. Same time.”
“Can I come with you? I love the food and beaches in Thailand,” giggled Marilyn as JD trudged past her to his car.
The screen on his car’s dashboard lit up. It was Big Al’s daughter, “Dad has gone out, why not come back we can plan your next move from here? I’ve got all the encrypted passwords with details of all Dad’s colleagues and customers, we can find someone to do the job there for you. You disappear for a few days, then turn up with a smile and put your hand out for your payment,” said Marilyn.
“How do you stand it?” said JD, “I need the money, that’s clear, so I must work for him, but you?”
“It’s a long story, but I also have no choice,” said Marilyn as she slid a chair to JD.
An hour later they were beaming with their choice. A French national who was more than capable of completing the task. However, there was another problem. Pierre lived next to the beach on Phuket, people weren’t allowed on or off the island. This hitch was overcome by employing the services of a Micro plane pilot to drop him on the mainland. Costs of any backhanders, if either man were apprehended, was allowed for.
“Perfect,” they agreed.
“See you tomorrow at noon,” smiled JD.
JD was whistling as he rang the doorbell. It was unlocked and opened to his touch.
“That’s odd,” he breathed. Instantly alert, he peered around the door, suspecting an unhappy customer was paying a visit. JD then heard a whimpering upstairs.
“Marilyn, are you okay?” he called as he mounted steps three at a time.
“Join us,” was whispered from behind the door.
The stunted barrels of a sawn-off shotgun were rammed into his spine.
“On your knees,” whispered Big Al as he moved between Marilyn and JD. Big Al could now look JD in the eyes.
Marilyn strained against the slipknots which were cutting into her wrists and ankles.
“I consider myself a fair man, a generous boss and a loving father. Why do you two not respect that?” The whisper sounded like two bricks scraping together.
“We were trying to find the best way to complete your task.”
“Oh, really? You were going to use a half-wit Frog who couldn’t even get off the island without you arranging it for him.” Brick dust was clouding.
Marilyn was shaking her head, “How do you know? I disconnected all the cameras?”
“My darling, sweet, untrustworthy daughter, you only disconnected the ones you know about,” his laughter sounded like the bricks had crumbled.
JD fidgeted, which earned him a mouth full of stock. He rolled to the floor.
“It’s not the ‘task’ is it?” Marilyn breathed, “You just don’t want me to have a boyfriend, right?”
Her father stood across JD with the gun pointed at his face, “Your mother had enough lovers for both of you,” he wheezed.
“Dad, I’m twenty-four, it is time I settled down with a husband. Like JD.”
“He works for me, he is not good enough for you.”
“But Dad, we love each other.”
“You love him, haha, so much that you’d go against your father’s orders?” he snarled.
“We were getting your job completed most speedily and cost-effectively way possible with the pandemic hanging over us all.”
“God, you argue just like your Mum did.”
“I don’t remember too much about her. Perhaps I should keep my trap shut? Will I vanish too?”
“You’ve both got one last chance. He will join a tanker leaving for Bangkok tonight. If the task gets fulfilled to my satisfaction, he can come back and I’ll consider employing him full time.”
“And you can see him. He’d better not break your heart.”
“Oh, Dad, I love you.”
It was her turn to whisper, "Sometimes."
His Stanley knife sliced through her ties and she ran to the groggy JD. Big Al went downstairs to the reception desk and made a call.
“JD will be ready for you to collect, he’ll be in a golf bag, he is packed with water and some sandwiches. Let him out when you sail, he may be groggy,” Big Al coughed. “Easy enough to add him and the clubs to personnel belongings. Get him ashore, follow him, and ensure the task is completed. Then my friend,” Al looked around and whispered even quieter, “I don’t want him to return, let’s say he went out of bounds. Got it?”
Upstairs, Marilyn soundlessly replaced the receiver. She calmly picked up the weapon from the desk, checked the shotgun cartridges, then crept down the stairs.
Big Al picked his favourite claret from the rack and moved to the kitchen to find his favourite goblet. A wide smile greeted his daughter until she aimed the gun.
“Glad you were in the kitchen, makes it easy to clean,” she smirked.
The lorry with the shipping container arrived from the window Marilyn pointed at the golf set on the drive. The driver waved and muttered, “Lighter than I expected?”