“As the rumble receded westward, a fine layer of dust settled on the tall stack of vintage condom boxes.”
So, here goes with my story….Payback Time.
As the rumble receded westward, a fine layer of dust settled on the tall stack of vintage condom boxes.
It was four thirty p.m. and for once the train was going to get into the station on time. It rumbled past the old condom factory, a vortex of dust and debris spun in the air as its steel wheels sped by. I sat alone in the second carriage, looking at the old factory as the train passed. The memories came flooding back as I caught site of my reflection in the glass: the pattern of scars that covered most of the right side of my face.
It was a cold December night. The snow was falling, covering the ground in an even white blanket. There were three of us and we were out to make some money.
“Are you sure he’s in there on his own?”
“I told you before. He always works late on a Tuesday night,” I said.
“Well, let’s get in there and sort this fucker out,” Ronnie was the crazy one. “I’ve brought my little friend,” he held the knife in the air.
“I don’t think that’s enough. What if he’s got someone wiv him? A minder or somefink,” Graham was the weaker one.
“Graham,” he looked at me, “Calm down. I’ve brought a friend as well.”
Both Graham and Ronnie stared at the gun in my hand.
“Oh, yes!” Ronnie walked over to inspect the piece.
“Oh, shit man! I don’t think I can do this. Fuck! Come on guys, let’s call it off. I’m gonna…..fuck……no, no.…..” Graham was rubbing his hands over and over his face.
I gave the gun to Ronnie and walked over to Graham, grabbing him by the shoulders.
“Graham! Shut the fuck up! Right…now calm down. He keeps the money in the safe, right? You said he keeps the money in the safe, Graham. Is that right?” A nod from Graham, “Right then, we go in, take the money off him and get the fuck out. It’s as simple as that, ok? Don’t lose it on me now, mate.”
“Simple? Simple, Ryan? We’re sixteen. We could go to prison. We’re old enough now to go to prison with all the fucking murderers and rapists and proper psychos. I’m….I’m….I’m not sure we should do this.”
“Ok. Ok. I’ll tell you what. You can stay out here. Any sign of bovver and you give us a warning and you scarper. Ok? OK?” I raised my voice.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m ok with that.”
“Are we going in or what?” Ronnie was getting restless, passing the gun from one hand to the other.
“Yeah, come on. You stay out here then, Graham. Any sign of anything, you try and give us a signal and get the fuck out of here, ok?”
“Erm….yeah sure, Ryan. I won’t let you down mate.”
You already have, I thought to myself.
Ronnie gave me the gun, which I pushed into the waist of my jeans and we made our way to the back door of the factory. The snow was getting worse and the temperature was dropping. Steam bellowed from our mouth’s as we exhaled into the freezing air. We made it to the back of the building.
“Try the door.”
Ronnie grabbed the handle and turned it slowly. The door was locked. Before I could stop Ronnie, he stepped back and kicked the door. It gave and flew open, bouncing back towards him.
“What the fuck, Ronnie?”
A broad smile spread across his face as he put out a hand to stop the door. He really was a loose cannon, unafraid of almost anything. We both looked inside the factory. There was a faint sound of Christmas music drifting on the cold air, coming from the main office on the other side of the building. Semi darkness beckoned us in. We walked into the building and slowly made our way across to the office, staying within the shadows.
As we closed in on the office we could see Alex Durant sat at his desk, his head down reading something.
“You ready?” I whispered.
Ronnie pulled the knife out, “Ready as I’ll ever be.”
We ran from the shadows, straight towards the office door.
“Open the safe, now!”
“Oh, here you are. Where the fuck have you been?”
We both stared at each other, surprised by the man’s words.
“Where’s Graham?” Alex Durant looked at us both, a quizzical expression on his face. “He said he’d be here, and he’d be bringing me two volunteers.”
“What the fuck are you on about?”
“Don’t talk to me like that, you little shit. Show some manners to the king whose castle you have just broken into. Now, where’s Graham?”
“Dunno who you’re on about,” I said.
“Oh, you do,” Alex drained what looked like brandy from his glass and got up from behind his desk, “He’s the weak little friend of yours. The one who’s set you up for tonight, but must have got the jitters at the last moment.”
“What d’you mean?”
“Well, as you know, I run a factory which supplies the country with contraceptive sheaths, erm…condoms or johnnies as you lot call them. Well I need to test some new ones before I can give them the go ahead and your little friend Graham said you’d be willing to volunteer for a certain amount of cash. So, you’ve had your cash….”
“Wow mister. There was no cash and there’s going to be no fucking testing of anything.”
We both started backing out of the room but a noise behind us stopped us in our tracks.
“Ah. Bobby, meet our two guinea pigs.”
The huge man grabbed Ronnie by his throat, knocking the knife out of his hand. Alex lunged at me, grabbing my collar and spinning me round. He pushed me towards the desk and slammed my head down onto the empty brandy glass, shattering it with my right cheek. Searing pain spread over my face as warm fluid escaped over the desk.
“Ok, boy,” Alex barked through clenched teeth, “Now you’re going to earn the money I gave to your friend.”
I heard his zip being pulled down.
Ronnie shouted behind me but his words ended abruptly with a snapping sound.
Graham, you’re fucking dead.
Blood was still flowing from the open wounds on my face as Durant pushed my face against the desk. I didn’t want to die. I started moving my right hand towards the front of my jeans.
“Oh yeah, that’s right.”
Durant eased the pressure on my head as I wrapped my fingers around the butt of the gun in my waist band. The pain in my face was fierce but the adrenaline flowing through my veins was keeping it bearable.
“Just relax and enjoy the experience.”
In a swift movement, that took Durant by total surprise, I spun round off the table and shot him in the neck. He stumbled back, grasping for the wound that was pumping crimson fluid through his fingers. A shocked Bobby stared at me for a second too long. I raised the gun and shot him in the chest twice.
Tears ran from my eyes as I walked over to Durant, who was writhing on the floor, his eyes bulging out of their sockets.
“Sick bastard. We’re only kids, really.” I put one bullet through his forehead as Noddy Holder screeched ‘I’ts Christmas’.
Outside, Graham had heard the first shot and scarpered, as he was told to, at any sign of trouble.
I’d ended up doing a small prison sentence. Ronnie had died that night, a broken neck at the hands of Bobby Rains. It turned out that Alex Durant was a serial sex offender. I’d been convicted for breaking and entering but the shootings were seen to be in self defence. I’d managed to convince them that the gun wasn’t mine, unlike the one I had in my back pack now. The train was pulling into Piccadilly station and I had an appointment with Graham Thompson.
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