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

“Obo man,” Jonny says, reaching out to shake Obo’s hand, “How’s it goin’?”

“Things are good mate,” Obo says, shaking Jonny’s hand, “You heard about Charlie disappearing?”

“Yeah,” Jonny says, “Sounds a bit iffy if you ask me. You reckon the coppers got him or something?”

“Dunno,” Obo says, shrugging, “But that Judd guy’s trying to take over Charlie’s patch and I ain’t gonna let that happen,”

“Ahh,” Jonny says with a nod of his head, “I was wondering why you got in touch. What’d you need man? I’m always happy to help you out,”

“What’ve you got?” Obo asks, stepping closer, “I don’t need anything hard core, just something to scare him and his little boys,”

“I think I’ve got just the thing,” Jonny says with a wide smirk.

He steps towards his car and unlocks the boot. Obo steps up beside him. They’re in an underground car park, right in the corner. The boot is hidden behind a pillar, just in case anyone is watching. Obo’s already paid the security guard to look the other way. The boot is filled with rows and rows of guns. They’re all different sizes, all different makes and all carry different calibre bullets. There are a few boxes of ammunition stuffed in the corner. Obo reaches for a Glock, a small handgun. He pulls back the slide at the top and lets it snap in to place. He checks the line of the barrel, looking down it to check that the sights are straight.

“How much?” he asks, waving it at Jonny,

“For you?” Jonny says, “Five gee,”

“Bit pricey isn’t it?” Obo asks with a raised eyebrow. It’s a lot more expensive than he expected. “I could buy a car for that,”

“You’d end up with a shitty car mate,” Jonny says. He takes the glock from Obo’s hands and starts to take it apart, “It might be pricey but it’s a damn good weapon. Why do you think the police over in the States use them? They rarely jam and they use a standard ammunition which doesn’t cost nearly as much as you’d think. They’re easy to take apart, easy to clean. If you want a gun that looks scary and does the job then this one’s perfect for you,”

“Save me the sales pitch Jonny,” Obo says, “You sure you can’t do it any cheaper?”

“I might be able to go down to 4.5,” Jonny says, “But that’s as low as I can go. And that’s only cos you’re a mate,”

“Wicked,” Obo says with a sly grin.

Money changes hands and Obo tucks the glock into the waistband of his trousers. Jonny hands him a box of rounds that he puts in the car and he turns back to his friend.

“So you expecting trouble then?” Jonny asks cautiously, “Anything I can help you with.”

“I’m meeting Judd later,” Obo says, “And there’s gonna be trouble. The patch we’re arguing over is worth too much for there not to be. Besides, Judd’s got a temper on him like a girl on the rag, he’s gonna get wound up in a few minutes.”

“You meeting alone?” Jonny asks while he shuts his boot.

“Supposed to be,” Obo admits, “But I don’t think Judd’s gonna come on his own. He’s too much of a pussy to face me without his boys around somewhere. Why do you think I got this mate?”

He pats his waist where the gun is, the metal cold against his skin. Jonny smiles at him wickedly.

“Well let me know if you need some back up,” Jonny says, “I’ve been meaning to get back at the Reece bloke. Arsehole fucked my missus didn’t he!”

“He what?” Obo shouts, “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

“Cos it was her fault,” Jonny said with a shrug, “He didn’t know till afterwards that she was my girl. He knew she was someone’s girl though so it ain’t a proper excuse,”

“Now I’m hoping I get to do more than scare those little shits,” Obo says grimly.

Connie sits in her car, shivering. She tries the key again, hoping and praying that the engine will work this time. It tries to turn over but there’s no luck. It just makes a faint chugging sound before it stalls out. She knew leaving the heating on was a bad idea but she didn’t want to come back to a freezing car. Now she wishes she’d followed her instincts. It’s starting to snow outside, big white flakes that are settling on the frozen ground. They’re already starting to create a thick blanket even though it’s only been snowing for a little while. Everyone else has already gone, they left as soon as she ended the class. Most of them were clearly in a hurry to get their buses before they stopped because of the weather. She’d seen some of them heading towards their own cars and a couple had gone to the library. Among those heading to the library had been the man, Judd she thought his name was, who had the clear ideas on justice and revenge. No matter what she or anyone else said he couldn’t be swayed. Connie had stayed behind to tidy up her classroom, ready for the morning classes.

Of course that means that she is now completely alone outside, sitting in a freezing cold car that just won’t start, no matter how hard she twists the key or how much she presses her foot down on the pedal. She hits at the steering wheel.

“Come on you piece of shit,” she mutters, “Why won’t you start?”

It’s a fruitless question but she can’t help but ask it anyway. She clutches at the steering wheel and leans her head on her hands. How is she going to get home now she wonders? There’s no way she can call any of her friends. They will all be busy either working or getting ready to go out. Some will probably be sleeping off the crazy night before. She is well and truly stuck at the college.

Just as she is about to give up hope and call a taxi to come and get her a light falls on her face. She looks up and sees someone walking out of the entrance to the college. She can’t see who it is, the light behind them is just too bright. Then they step out of the light and she sees that it’s him. It’s Judd. She tries the key one last time, just in case. The engine tries to turn on but it sounds horrible, like something is choking. She notices that Judd has looked over but he’s still walking towards his own car. Connie quickly climbs out her car.

“Judd!” she calls, running carefully over the snow and ice on the ground, “Judd wait a moment.”

Judd isn’t shivering, even when he stops to turn and face her. He’s wrapped up warm, wearing a thick coat, a massive scarf, a stylish and obviously warm hat and some very fancy looking leather gloves. Connie shivers and wraps her arms around herself.

“Listen, my car won’t start,” she says quietly, “Can you help me at all?”

“Afraid not,” Judd says, shaking his head and turning away. “I don’t know the first thing about cars. If I did I’d help you find the problem and try and fix it but I don’t have a clue,”

He opens the back seat and puts his things in there. He turns back to Connie, leaning on the door and looks her up and down.

“But if you want I can give you a lift somewhere?” he offers.

He sounds almost hesitant and shy.

“That’d be great!” Connie says enthusiastically, “Thank you so much. I’ll be over in a minute with my stuff,”

Connie races back towards her car, slipping slightly on the icy ground in her ridiculous heels.

“I’ll be in the car,” Judd calls after her, “Warming it up.”

Connie is back within moments and puts her things in the back seat. She makes sure not to squash or ruin anything that Judd has put in there, moving them carefully to one side with her free hand. Once she has everything settled she slams the door shut, harder than she needs to which makes Judd wince. She climbs into the passenger seat and sits there, shivering. Judd turns the heating up a few more degrees and Connie slowly starts to peel off a few of the layers she’s wearing as it gets a little warmer in the car.

“Thanks so much for this,” Connie says gratefully, “I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come out when you did,”

“No problem,” Judd says, not looking at her, “My dad always taught me that good manners cost nothing and being a gentleman can work wonders.”

“Well your dad was right,” Connie says, “Girls love a guy who looks after them.”

Judd looks at her out of the corner of his eye even as he finally fires up the engine and starts to back out of the parking space. There’s something about her.

The man’s breath comes out white as it billows from his mouth. The inside of the car is cold, almost colder than it is outside. He leans forward as he spots Judd coming out of the college and Connie running over to him.  The car that the man is sitting in is a few rows down but it has a perfect view of the space that Judd and Connie are in. It looks like Connie has managed to get a lift with Judd, if the fact that she’s putting her files in the back of Judd’s car is anything to go by. They’re both in the car by this point and the man can tell that it’s warm in there. He can see Connie taking her gloves and scarf off. He can’t wait to put his own heating on and maybe get some feeling back in his toes and fingers. The car pulls away and drives out of the car park. The man watches it with narrow eyes and finally starts his engine. The heated air gushes into the confined space with a loud humming. The man doesn’t care about the sound. He’s just happy that it’s warm again. He manipulates the wheel and within seconds he’s following after Judd and Connie.

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