tagNon-EroticNot Passing Go! Ch. 02

Not Passing Go! Ch. 02


I picked up a very beautiful young woman from her office. I was supposed to take her to the airport. Almost immediately she realised that the limo was the one that Yousif normally drives.

Clearly disappointed to find a middle-aged guy like me in the driving seat, she asked tersely, "Where's Yousif?"

I fed her a line, not much choice really.

"Sorry, Madam," I apologised, "This is my first day with the courtesy car firm. Taking you to the airport's only my second unsupervised job and I really don't want to muck it up."

I gave her my most charming smile and hoped she'd buy it. Her brow remained furrowed. Damn! This was supposed to have been a whole lot easier than this.

The plan was to drive her to the airport in time for her flight and collect a second two hundred for my trouble. Then see if I could sneak off with her passport, leaving her there tapping her pretty little foot.

That was the plan. I knew now that that was far too simple. I should have realised sooner and walked away. Maybe I could still do that. Just stop the car, get out and leave her and that limo well alone. Then I looked at her beautiful face in the mirror and knew I couldn't do that either. She'd be an innocent victim. As for Yousif? Well, he would have to take his chances.

She was still waiting for a better explanation from me. I couldn't tell her what was really going on, could I? She'd've freaked.

I lied and told her I had been introduced to a dozen different drivers and other staff on this, my first day in the job. They were all a blur of faces but I suggested, maybe Yousif was a tall, slender, dark-haired, charming young man with a neat moustache?

"Yes," she said, "That's him, so why's he not driving?"

Damn good question, Danny boy, I thought. She's not only attractive, she's a sharp smart chick for someone still in her mid- to late-twenties, I guessed. With a comfortable lifestyle she'll probably still look gorgeous well into her middle years. Me? I'm 39 and well and truly careworn from a hard life, so I look a lot older.

I replied that I was just the new guy and didn't know very much. As I understood it, Yousif had planned the afternoon and evening off and left before this job came in. Otherwise, I suggested, he might have been driving instead of me.

Without waiting for her to comment, I moved the car out into the heavy early evening traffic. I knew that the airport was almost certainly not the best place to go. In the meantime I'd head that way until I could think of something better.

She went rather quiet and closed the soundproof courtesy window on me. She tried to ring Yousif on his mobile. In the mirror I could see her key in the numbers and press her mobile to her ear. I could also feel his phone vibrating against my thigh as it was set on silent earlier in the day. I knew it was his phone in my pocket, because I didn't have one of my own. Eventually it stopped and presumably went to voicemail as I saw her lips move, leaving a message. She fiddled with her phone again, making other calls, probably trying his known haunts.

Best of luck finding him girl, he was actually only three feet away from her in the boot but she would never hear him in that soundproofed compartment.

She knew his number off by heart, which brought to mind the smirk on his face earlier when he told his caller that he knew the pick-up. I didn't know what religion Yousif was but I'm smart enough to recognise when someone knows another person in the Biblical sense. I was just late in picking up on those signals. I guess I got rusty over the last five years. He had even repeated the name too, Susan Kollikov, over the phone, I now recalled. It was a common enough Russian name, even in London, so it didn't ring any alarm bells in my head at the time. They were jangling like bloody fire alarms at an oil refinery right now.

I knew we were both in serious trouble. And Yousif was too, although he didn't know it, nor did she, yet.

Obviously there was no way I was going to tell the young lady that I had Yousif's mobile. Nor would I admit that Yousif was trussed up tight and gagged in the boot of our sleek limo, next to whatever was going to kill them both. Me too, if I stuck around long enough.

OK, I am no limo driver but you've probably guessed that by now. Sure, I've driven a few getaway cars, smaller, more manoeuvrable and a whole lot faster than this baby elephant. Not by choice, I was driving this limo purely out of desperation.

I only got out of nick three days ago. The old muckers I was relying on for a decent leg up, having done my time at Her Majesty's Pleasure solely on their behalf, had disappeared. No doubt off to warmer climes to spend theirs as well as my share of the multi-seven-figure bank takings. I had managed to locate whereabouts in Spain that Mikey was holed up. Now I needed enough seed money to get to him before he heard I was out looking for him and he jumped. Through Mikey I hoped to catch up with the rest of the thieving buggers, Marty and Simon.

I intended taking out my fair share from each of them, either in lump sums or simply lumps. I was easy either way. I like accounts to be balanced, debit and credit, settled nice and neatly to satisfy my own self-audit.

Anyway, earlier that afternoon, I was sitting relaxed in a café enjoying a warm sweet cuppa. It made a nice change from the tongue-strangling stewed brew I had become accustomed to. I was minding my own business and keeping well out of the winter chill. I wasn't used to being outside much. Just an hour a day exercise for over seventeen hundred consecutive days leaves you a touch agoraphobic.

That's when I overheard this skinny guy dressed in a smart grey drivers' uniform. This Yousif was taking a phone call, which I only caught one side of the conversation. The gist was that he had to pick up a girl from a nearby office and take her to the airport. He scribbled down the flight number on a scrap of paper. He added the city office post code, pick-up and departure times and finally the girl's name, which he repeated saying he knew the person. That's when that knowing smile played on his greasy chops.

What pricked up my ears was that some guy was bringing round her cases to the café with a two hundred quid down-payment. Yousif repeated the caller's promise of another two hundred at the airport. He arranged to meet someone at the airport who would bring her tickets and passport, provided they were in time to catch the flight. Yousif assured the caller that was no problem.

I could definitely use both payments as I was skint. In Freddie the Forger's hands that passport could be used to get me to and from Spain, without my parole officer being any the wiser-like, between our weekly appointments scheduled for my first six months out and about, nit quite free as a bird yet.

I went outside first and waited, freezing my bloody balls off. Sure enough a big black car turned up outside the café, driven by a mature heavy-set bloke with a buzz cut, who looked more than a bit useful.

From where I stood, in an alleyway behind where this long limo was parked. I could see they knew one another as soon as he went inside. They came out and walked over to the big dude's car. The guy opened his boot and handed over a couple of heavy smart leather cases to Yousif. They shook hands and Yousif was handed four crisp fifties, which he folded and put in his top pocket. The big guy drove off. Yousif dragged the cases over to his limousine and unlocked the boot lid, opening it up.

That's when I hit him, short and sharp. In my game one punch is plenty. I bundled his limp body seamlessly into the cavernous boot, taking the keys out of his hand. I dropped the cases in on top of him and looked around. Nobody was about to see anything anyway. I drove the car around the corner where it was even quieter. I opened the boot again.

His uniform would never fit me, I was tall and broad, he was just as tall but painfully skinny, so I just took his cap. Good job he had a big head. I had lost a lot of weight in five years. I was a lot leaner and harder than when I went in, I'd had to be to survive.

I really needed to drill another hole in my old belt but the battery in my cordless drill round at Mum's had been flat so long it wouldn't take a charge any more, so I had to keep hitching up my trousers to stop them falling down. Apparently hipsters were all the biz with the kids, I was just too old to look right in them.

There was a pack of polishing rags in the boot, they like these cars to be kept gleaming. I stuffed one in his gob and tied another over his mouth to keep it in place. Used others to tie his hands and feet and finally lashed them together with his necktie to stop him moving about when he eventually came to. He couldn't move much anyway, jammed up against those heavy cases.

Jeez, I thought, this Susan woman was either one big broad or she likes to wear a lot of boots, those cases sure weren't packed with skimpy knickers and bikinis. Perhaps she was going to the North Pole and had flat-packed the sled and a team of huskies?

In his pocket, along with the folded fifties, was the note of the office address plus the flight number. I took his mobile, too, using the web function to find out the check-in time. There wasn't much time to spare, so I drove straight to her office.

So there we was, me driving up front and Susan sitting in the back wondering where the hell Yousif was and why she couldn't get hold of him. Not much I could do about that.

Trouble for me was that I already knew of her hubby, Benny Kollikov. He was the banker who financed my last bank job, my only bank job. I never actually met him, this kind of business uses middle men, so Benny's hands were clean as he raked in his huge cut. Made his money on Afghanistan drugs, apparently, with his hands also on an almost inexhaustible supply of plastic explosive. I needed a few grams of that myself at the time.

I had organised the bank job, and took on the risky business of driving decoy. I drove a car recently registered in my own name, while a very similar car with fake plates did the actually getaway from the job. I drove off as the second part of a tag team, with the police following me in hot pursuit, while the other car and the loot was driven into a gated yard we'd rented.

Damn those stingers. Stopped me in my tracks, they did. I had expected that, though. They arrested and charged me with the bank job, while I countered with "I thought you were chasing me for unpaid parking fines. It's a fair cop for the fines, officer, but I don't know nuffink about no bank heist!"

I thought that when the real getaway car was found later that day, burnt out with almost the same number plate, with an F in the index number and mine with a broken bottom stroke of the E, I would have the perfect alibi.

The other car never bloody-well turned up.

Somebody put me away, while the others involved in the robber got off scot free. The police had a tape recording of me telling the lads my plan for the raid in the pub. The recording implicated me and me only, the rest of the boys kept schtum during the recording. Yeah, real funny that!

I got five years from the judge and ended up doing the lot. I was picked on for fights a lot inside, winning most, losing some, but mostly I lost any chance I might have had of early release for good behaviour. Funny that, too!

My buddies on the outside were supposed to look after me missus, while I was inside. They certainly did that alright, she had twins 15 months into my sentence. My Mum told me she'd named them Martina and Michaela, which meant either Simon was innocent or my wife was double-bluffing me and Simon was the culprit. Agnes wasn't that bright, she was cute but dumb when I met her on alpine training in Norway.

Agnes and the girls were still living in our cheap near-hovel flat on a sink estate in Tottenham, so she definitely wasn't the mastermind behind my prolonged incarceration. The three stooges didn't have a brain cell between them either, but sod it, all three of them were getting the good kicking they deserved.

Susan slid open the courtesy window, breaking me out of my thoughts.

"I don't have my passport with me," she announced, "I need to go via my place, first."

I had been led to believe that the passport in question was already waiting for her at the airport and that she had been informed of that fact. I knew that was now more than likely extremely bloody unlikely, as was Yousif's promised two hundred for passing Go!

Anyway, A, she didn't need to know that and B, not moving towards the airport was a really good plan as far as I was concerned.

"Certainly, Madam," I replied, "What's the postcode?"

She told me and I keyed it into the SatNav. The resulting route led me to a destination just twelve minutes away, which was way better than the ninety or so estimated to get to the airport. At this time of the evening, it would mean maybe an hour before getting to open country. No way was I staying behind that wheel for anywhere near another sixty minutes.

I didn't know what the margin of error was, I wasn't prepared to assume anything at the moment.

"Thanks, driver, sorry I don't know your name?"

"Daniel, Miss, most of my friends call me Dan or Danny."

"It's Mrs rather than Miss, Danny, and you can call me Susan if you like, I prefer informality."

I understood that. She'd clearly been very informal with her previous driver. At least she hadn't asked me for my telephone number yet. Perhaps I was too old for her, only being about twenty years younger than her husband.

We had a short conversation, she found out I had a family (all right I lied again, this time about Agnes and the twins but it don't count as a lie if we're still married though, does it?) She told me there was just Benny and herself, no kids yet. Like a sixty-year-old gangster with a grown-up family back in Moscow wants more kids? Anyway, she rabbited on, Benny had a holiday home in the Bahamas and that was where they were headed, apparently.

"Last minute plans?" I asked, knowing the answer already.

"Yes. My husband's secretary called me out of the blue about this spontaneously-arranged trip," Susan said, "I love surprises. ... Although I feel sure that Benny has a Lodge meeting on the first Tuesday in the month and he never misses one. Why the panic, why not fly out tomorrow?"

Yeah, why the panic? I guess old Benny had found out about Yousif and legal niceties are anathema to Russian gangsters. Well, that applies to any gangsters I suppose. A Lodge meeting with all those senior police officer brethren present, makes a convenient alibi for a brother Mason.

Once we reached the destination, Susan directed me to the entrance of the underground car park. I guessed that limo had 40 minutes left on the clock, enough time to get to the apartment, grab her passport, and let Yousif out. He had behaved himself, after all.

I just wasn't sure what to do with Susan herself. She was hot and bright, while my type was more cute and dumb. I smiled at the thought. Yeah, right, any attractive girl was my type. I just didn't have much of a chance to register as hers, even in my wildest dreams. No, even though I would never be rewarded in that way, I would have to get her out of it somehow. Her marriage had terminal stamped all over it, that didn't necessarily have to apply to her life as well.

We pulled into a parking spot next to a smart new shiny black Bentley that I had seen already today. Benny's Bentley, no doubt. We both got out.

"Do you want me to go up with you?" I asked, "In case you need a hand bringing anything down. You didn't pack your own bags, I believe?"

Susan thought, just a momentary hesitation.

"Not a problem, please wait here for me, Danny."

"OK, Susan." Not much else I could say, she was holding all the cards, calling all the shots. "Shall I come up in twenty minutes if you are not down by then?"

"That's a good idea," she smiled, "The Penthouse, the code to the car park door is 1234 and the elevator code is 5678. Damn! That is so lame, I hadn't really thought about it before."

I nodded and rested my butt on the bonnet, folded my arms, apparently resigned to wait. "See you in twenty, then."

She flashed that stunning smile again and turned, walked through the car park and the code-protected door. My eyes followed her all the way, she sure looked tasty in that pin-striped suit cut just above the knee.

I gave her just two minutes before pulling the rubber torch from the glove compartment and following her through that door. I ignored the lift. I climbed those stairs fairly rapidly, I was still in good shape for an older guy. Plain food and plenty of exercise for the last five years helped in that regard. The only problem was that my damn trousers kept wanting to go south. If Yousif had worn a belt I might've tried it on for size. It occurred to me then that I could've taken his tie to hold my kecks up, if I hadn't already used it to lash his hands to his feet.

That reminded me about Yousif, I should have dragged him out and dropped him the other side of the Bentley for safety. Plenty of time though, I could leave him for another twenty minutes or so. Just about.

The stairs didn't go right up to the penthouse, they stopped at a solid door a floor short. It took a different code to the ones Susan had given me, I guess she didn't use the stairs much. I had to open the window and climb out. Alright, I've done some cat burglary in the past, just never got caught doing it so it's not on my record. I knew the mountain climbing training I had in the Forces would come in handy. Plenty of handholds in the brickwork and I made it to a skylight over one of the darkened bedrooms in no time at all, carrying the torch in my mouth. A little judicious knife work with my gloves on to avoid leaving fingerprints and it was open. I dropped down almost silently into the room, pausing for a moment to hear any sounds in the apartment.

I could hear voices, a male and female conversing faintly but animatedly, some distance away. I was in an empty single bedroom.

I crept over to the door and twisted the knob slowly, it was well oiled and silent. I opened it a crack, using a single eye to look through into a deserted brightly-lit corridor. I opened the door wider and chanced a glance up and down. A door at the far end was open, where the voices came from. There was another closed door opposite this one, which I stepped up to and opened cautiously, it was in darkness, so I went in and closed the door silently behind me.

My eyes had long been attuned to the dark and I soon recovered from the brief exposure to the bright light in the corridor. It was too dark to make out much though. I flicked on the torch. I was in what looked like the master bedroom with one of the biggest beds I'd ever seen. But what took most of my attention was a body on the floor in front of the bed, oozing scarlet onto a very nice Axminster rug.

He wasn't quite dead yet, but he didn't have long to go. Gut shot, single bullet, nine-millimetre by the size of the entry wound. Recently shot, longer than ten but twenty minutes tops, so it wasn't Susan. Somebody she rang from the limo?

I knew the signature of the gut shot, Dmetri.

He was another Russian gangster I knew of. Had been around a while, started off pimping, drug dealing, owned a couple of small bars-cum-nightclubs, all small stuff. Couldn't remember his surname but I knew it began with P, because everyone called him Poppemoff. He liked to hit his victims with a single shot in the gut and let them die slowly, twenty to thirty minutes.

Benny on the other hand liked to blow people up, timed to go off outside town in the country. There, it was less messy, but it would not be allowed to go as far as the airport where they had sniffer dogs and the victim might just get away. Also, Benny no doubt wanted to kill two birds at the same time, his cheating wife and the cheeky bastard driver who did the nasty on him.

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