CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32EPILOGUE

Judd sits in his car in the deserted car park. It’s late, all the houses near by have their lights off and only the orange glow of the car park lights fills the area, barely managing to chase away the shadows. The corners of the car park, the bends and pillars cast long fingers of blackness over the concrete. There is the glint of ice on the ground, beneath the shallow blanket of snow. Judd shivers and turns the key in the ignition enough to turn the lights on and set the radio blaring.

“Jesus!” he cries, the noise startling him.

He laughs to himself even as he turns the radio down and on to a quieter channel. There’s not much playing at this time of night but he finds a station that’s playing smooth jazz. He turns on the heating and sits back to wait, relaxing as he listens to the saxophones playing gently in the background. He doesn’t know how long he’s been waiting, or how long he’s going to be left waiting. All that Jonny said was to meet him at the car park around midnight, ish. Judd turned up early, wanting to make sure he didn’t keep the dangerous man waiting too long. It’s half past now and there’s no sign of any one else. He leans his head back against his seat and closes his eyes.

A banging on the window jerks him awake. A quick glance at the clock tells him that he’s only been asleep for about fifteen minutes. The banging repeats and he looks over to see Jonny, stood there shivering with a big grin on his face. The other man waves and Judd leans over to open the door. Jonny climbs in to the passenger seat, bringing the cold and smell of frost with him. He shivers and holds his hands up to the blowing heaters.

“Freezing night,” he says, almost cheerfully, “Been waiting long?”

“A while,” Judd says, nonchalant.

“Sorry mate,” Jonny apologises, “I was at the pub and my missus turned up. I had to buy her a drink and then drive her home. Can’t have her wandering the streets in weather like this, can I?”

“Definitely not,” Judd says firmly, “Nice to see people looking after those who are important to them,”

“Well she’s pretty much family ain’t she?” Jonny says, “Gotta look after family. If you don’t have family you ain’t got nothing in this life,”

“True, true,” Judd says.

They lapse in to silence for a while. Eventually Jonny stops shivering and he leans back in his seat, grinning over at Judd.

“So,” he says slowly, “What are you after then?”

“A gun,” Judd says slowly.

“Any particular make or model?” Jonny says, “You weren’t exactly particular in your texts.”

“Don’t really care,” Judd says with a shrug, “I just need to scare someone and show them I mean business. It doesn’t matter what kind of gun it is as long as it works.”

“Thought you might say that,” Jonny says with a sly smirk. He reaches in to his coat, “That’s why I brought this with me.”

He pulls a hand gun out of the inside coat pocket. It’s a dull grey colour, barely catching the light, but every inch of it is polished and spotless. Judd reaches out, hand shaking slightly, to take the weapon. He examines it in the low light in the car, light that only comes from the streetlights outside.

“Looks alright,” Judd says, “Does it work?”

“Course it bloody works,” Jonny says. “Don’t you wanna know the specifics?”

“Not particularly,” Judd says blankly, “I’m trying to send a message, not actually kill any one,”

“Well in that case this is the gun for you,” Jonny says firmly, “It’s big and scary and shoots ok but it’s range and accuracy over distance are a bit shit.”

“I’m not planning on using it,” Judd repeats, his voice firm, “I just need it to scare someone,”

“Whatever mate,” Jonny says, holding up his hands, “What you do with it once it’s yours is your business, not mine. Just don’t tell anyone that you got it from me.”

“I know the rules,” Judd snaps. He pockets the gun and nods at the glove box, “Money’s in the envelope. Three grand, just like you asked for.”

Jonny reaches in to the glove box and pulls out the white envelope that Judd put there earlier. He yanks out a wad of notes and flicks through them, counting with practised ease. He sits back and shuts the glove box, clearly satisfied.

“Pleasure doing business with you mate,” Jonny says, reaching over with one hand.

Judd takes it and shakes. Jonny doesn’t say another word. He just climbs from the car, letting in a blast of freezing air before he shuts the door. Judd leans forwards on the steering wheel and watches the man saunter over to his own car. Once Jonny’s in Judd starts the engine properly and drives away. He can feel the weight of the gun in his coat pocket, sitting heavily against his leg.

Jonny watches the Porsche drive away. His smile has dropped now and he looks down right sinister. He glares as the Porsche descends the exit ramp and enters the bowels of the car park. That Judd is too cocky for his own good. And for a bloke who went to university he isn’t exactly smart either. Jonny pulls out his phone and dials a number. It rings for a few moments.

“I don’t need any tools Jonny,” the voice on the other end says harshly. “I’m sorted with the one I’ve got already,”

“What about information?” Jonny asks, checking himself out in the rear view mirror, “I’ve got some of that for you.”

“What sort of information,” the voice asks, “And how much is it going to cost me?”

“Oh I’m giving you this one for free Obo,” Jonny says, “And it’s about your buddy Judd.”

There’s silence from the other end. Then scratching and scrambling sounds. Jonny can hear whispers and banging in the background. He smirks, knowing that he’s in with a good thing now and he did right calling Obo.

“What about him?” Obo eventually says,

“The guy just bought a gun off me,” Jonny says, “I thought you might like to know,”

“And you thought this was somehow important to me because…?” Obo says. Jonny knows that he’s trying to stay calm, pretend to be unbothered by the news but he can hear the shake and crack of anger in Obo’s voice.

“Come off it mate,” Jonny says, “I’m telling you this as a favour, no need to go all paranoid on me. Everyone knows you too are at loggerheads right now. I don’t wanna get caught in the middle so I thought I’d give you a heads up.”

“So Juddy boy bought a gun did he?” Obo says, “What sort?”

“Nothing good,” Jonny said, “I sold him some shitty old thing from the 50s. It’s a piece of crap for serious shooting but can do a fair bit of damage close up. It don’t have a thing on your Glock though.”

“Fine…” Obo says, “Thanks for the heads up,”

“No problem mate,” Jonny says, “I just hope you remember who your mates are when the time comes to repay them,”

“I owe you one,” Obo says, “I know. And you’ll get a reward for this, no worries,”

“Alright mate,” Jonny says, “As long as we’re agreed. I’ll catch you later, the missus is waiting up for us and she’s got the horn on at the mo,”

“Too much info,” Obo says although he sounds like he’s trying not to laugh.

“Take care of yourself,” Jonny says, “And watch out for Judd,”

Jonny hangs up the phone, tossing it on to the passenger seat. He starts his car engine at last and shivers as a jet of warm air blasts in to the car. He laughs to himself as he drives down the ramps, thinking only of his girlfriend and no thought goes to the trouble that he may have just caused for Farlow.

“That little fucker!” Obo shouts after he hangs up the phone.

He throws his mobile across the room. It slams in to the wall and shatters in to a shower of plastic, glass and metal. His gang members and lackeys look at him in shock, all conversation dies down. Obo is panting heavily, chest heaving and arms swaying as he breaths hard to try and control his anger.

“Boss…” one of Obo’s men asks quietly, “Boss, what’s wrong?”

“That little shit Judd,” Obo snarls, “The fucker’s only gone and bought a gun off Jonny hasn’t he?!”

“Shit,” the man says.

A low murmur of discontent flows through everyone in the renovated warehouse that Obo has made his home. No one knows what to say or do but all are unhappy with the news. Obo jerks to his feet and starts pacing, muttering under his breath. He’s fuming, practically vibrating with the strength of his anger.

“That little bastard don’t know when to quit does he?!” he snarls at one of his men, “First he tries to pretend like everything’s hunky dory even though Charlie’s done a runner. Then he gets pissy with me when I think things through and get in touch with Mr Big.”

“Don’t forget he tried to go behind your back Obo,” one of his other men shouts out.

“Yeah!” Obo snaps, “Yeah he did do that the wanker. Little shit thought he could pull one over on me didn’t he? Look how well that turned out. Mr Big thinks he’s a massive boner and he’s losing Right Stuff too.”

“But what’s he gonna do now boss?” the first of Obo’s men asks.

“Well him and his little bummer boys tried to gang up on me already,” Obo says. He slams his fist into his hand as he talks, “What’s to say he ain’t gonna try it again now he has a gun in his hand.”

“Shit,” the other man says, “What if he tries to kill you boss?”

“He probably will,” Obo says.

He pauses and kneels down to sniff some coke of the taut stomach of one of his men’s girlfriends. He stands up, sniffing and wiping his nose.

“Shit, he’s probably trying to kill me,” Obo says. “I know it man. Next time we meet, and he’s gonna wanna meet again because I scared the shit out of him last time. Next time we meet he’s gonna try and kill me. Then he’ll take over all of Farlow, just like he’s always wanted. He was too much of a pussy to take on Charlie. Now Charlie’s gone though he’s gonna take me out and take over. I know it. Why else would the fucker buy a gun? He don’t like guns, he won’t even let any of the i4i crew carry one. The only reason he’d actually have one was so that he could kill me with it.”

“So what are you gonna do Obo?” asks another of his friends.

“Well it’s obvious innit?” Obo says, slumping in to a chair. He is met with a bunch of blank confused faces, “I’m gonna have to kill him first.”

Obo’s statement is met with cheers and shouting. Everyone seems to agree with him and the rabble descends into partying as music blares out. The rest of the evening is filled with music and the occasional silence as one of Obo’s runners comes in for a resupply. There’s no sign of Right Stuff though, even though Judd agreed to send him. Obo just sees that as another reason to get rid of the other man. Clearly he can’t be trusted to keep his word.

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