tagNon-EroticNot Passing Go! Ch. 01

Not Passing Go! Ch. 01

bySpencerfiction©

An occasional series of short stories about ex-Staff Sergeant Daniel Matthews.

*****

Chapter 1: The Attaché Case

I was crawling up the wall. Literally, climbing up a vertical Victorian brick wall using fingertips and toes. Plenty of grip for an experienced and rather desperate climber. Halfway up I skirted around the illuminated window and carried on climbing up to the attic window.

Two weeks earlier I was in the pub spitting nails. My wife of two years Agnes was cute, but dumb as they come. As soon as I brought her home from Norway, where I met her during Army Alpine Training, I could see my Mum's eyeballs roll up. When I was a kid, Mum never stops telling me, we had to take roundabout routes everywhere to avoid pet shops, I was always a sucker for those big soppy eyes in the window. I guess I never grew out of it.

The first half of a pint of Best Bitter is the universal elixir. OK, I know a lot of people drink to excess but moderation in all things, me. Half a pint in, I had almost forgiven the silly cow.

It had been difficult finding work for the last nine months. Is it my fault the Army no longer needs NCOs only trained by them to kill? I refuse to work menial jobs for minimum wage, so my career was at an impasse. I missed the Army, my unit broken up like so many others to meet the severe military budget cuts. I had 18 years under my belt until regarded surplus to requirements. All that cost of training and maintaining, now ex-Staff Sergeant Daniel Matthews weren't worth jack.

Booted in no uncertain manner out of the Aldershot married quarters, we'd used as a base since we wed, we were staying in my Mum's tiny housing association flat in a high-rise in Tottenham. Mum's a harassed nurse, so when Agnes offered to cook, clean and manage the household budget, Mum readily agreed to give her free reign. Agnes is a fair cook, and I thought she was doing marvellously with what little was coming in through my Army pension. Agnes was Norwegian with a touch of Icelandic: cool on the outside, volcano underneath.

Her housekeeping was too good to be true, before Agnes tearfully admitted that WE were deep into loan sharks for thousands. There wasn't enough room in that pokey flat for me to blow off the steam building up inside me, I had to walk out and think.

That's why I was in the pub murdering that pint instead of murdering the bint. I love her to bits, she may look ice cool but she lights my blue touch paper all the time. But just then, my powder keg was fizzing on a short fuse.

Desperation for work to pay off that debt, that was the only reason for being in Loan Shark Leroy's pub, "The Rusty Nail". I was halfway though that pint when approached by one of Leroy's sidekicks, Meat-cleaver McGraph, a nasty drug dealer I normally avoid like the plague.

"Barkeep tells me you's looking to work off yer loan. Says y're a bit useful like, yeah?"

"S'pose," I replied.

"You're lucky, big guy" McGraph said, sitting down, "Big Tone's bin on remand a couple o' days an' Leroy misses 'is muscle."

God! He smelt like an Amsterdam pot bar. How he avoided being thrown into the clink I don't know. Every police sniffer dog for ten miles must have their noses pointing in his direction.

I'm not proud of what I had to do that week for my agreed 200 a day, mostly roughing up recalcitrant payers and threatening drug dealers who needed the manor governor's say-so to trade. Even worse was Leroy's haughty goth bitch leering at me. No, even worse than that was when she tried to rub her skank, skinny androgynous body up against me; she was affronted when I informed her they didn't make barge poles long enough.

At least seven days' pay, though, would give us some breathing space from Leroy's final notice. As it turned out, that relief was found seriously wanting.

Big Tone came off remand unexpectedly early, by me at any rate. His court date was set back six months due to an empty witness stand. It's hard standing up for justice with both your legs broke. Anyway Big Tone was back after less than seven days inside and I found myself outside on my butt. Did I get 200 per diem for passing Go!? No, I got 300 in credit on my loan and told to consider myself lucky at that. I can see that goth bitch laughing through her black teeth.

I stewed for a day or two, remembering that beat-up old attaché case of Leroy's that held all the incoming cash. Bundles of untraceable bills.

So there I was, climbing into Leroy's crash pad, an old furniture warehouse. The ground floor was a garage for his many cars plus a mess room for the armed hired help covering the access; the middle floor high-ceiling rooms were plushly reappointed throughout; the top floor consisting of pokey attics full of rubbish. Hey, I like to explore.

So I climbed that wall to the attic and let myself in through some window that a disgruntled recent ex-employee had intentionally left unlocked. Judging by the dust, the half-empty paint tins, wallpaper and solvents lying around, no-one ever tidied up around here. I securely tied up the long rope I had brought with me and doused it in paint thinners. I opened the paint tins, spreading paint and thinners over all the old furniture.

I crept down the stairs in my socks. There was a guard: Big Tone himself, at the main residence door. Mostly his attention was directed downstairs, the running commentary from the European football match faintly heard up the stairwell. Holding my heavy knife by its leather scabbard, I struck the goon hard on the back of his head, holding onto his collar and lowered his limp body silently to the floor.

I used the knife to lift the door latch into the lounge. I could hear Leroy energetically lovemaking with his abusive tart in the bedroom.

The attaché case rested on the table. I tucked it into my haversack next to my boots.

I climbed the stairs back to the attic, tossed the solvent-sopping rope out of the window and abseiled down it to the ground. I removed my solvent soaked socks, gloves, jacket and outer trousers, leaving them by the exit door, jammed shut tight with a convenient scaffold pole I had cut to the exact size a few days earlier. I set fire to the clothes, then lit the abseiling rope about head height, before shinning over the fence leading to a series of gardens. By the time I had traversed the last garden, the attic was well alight. I guessed it would be a good ten minutes before the roof and then the ceiling collapsed.

No chance of the fire alarm going off. Amazing what those heavy hunting knives'll cut through.

I dumped the broken case on some waste ground. There was enough cash in there to keep us in square meals for a few months.

They say crime don't pay? Generally, I'd agree. But when some jerk's got you cornered, why not just give him enough rope...?

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