Part four. I'll stick part five up next monday.
The stinking rubbish strewn hole that was probably a tramp’s bed, was the best viewing point.
As his quarry came into view, walking round the corner and into the lane, Jim’s heart pumped up the rate again, resembling some techno record. His stomach gurgled, having wound itself into an elaborate sailors knot.
Taking a deep breath, he saw the face of the thirty-something man walking towards his hiding place. This was happening too fast.
The plan was clear. Wait until he was two yards away, jump from cover, one shot to the chest. Bang. Falls down. Another to the face. Bang. Grab his wallet and phone and walk. Finished. Finito.
That was clear.
What wasn’t clear was why Geoffrey had stopped walking. It was less clear why the colour was draining from his face and he was clutching a shaking hand at his chest.
As he crashed to the ground, Jim broke cover. Pocketing the gun, he walked to the breathless slumped figure on the floor.
“What’s going on?”
Kneeling down, the pathetic excuse for a man in front was struggling for breath. His lips turning blue, he seemed to be saying help.
Jim felt a combination of confusion, euphoria and more confusion. What was he supposed to do? Pistol Pete hadn’t crossed this bridge with him. They’d discussed a million things that could go wrong, but never the person you’re supposed to kill having what looked like a heart attack. Should he just whip out the gun and finish him off?
He got as far as reaching for his pocket. Another short cut user, a smart-suited woman, screamed as she saw Geoffrey on the floor and Jim kneeling beside. From her view, she’d have been unaware if Jim was robbing or trying to help. Jim had to think fast. What would Pistol Pete say?
His heart now resembling a Drum n bass record played at 78, Jim’s eyes met the woman’s. “Help,” he croaked. “I think it’s a heart attack.”
Though her screams had stopped, panic had frozen her to the spot. Resembling a frozen turkey in a nice suit, she opened and closed her mouth but no words came.
This was another setback. He kind of hoped she’d take charge, manage the situation. He appeared to have picked the wrong bunny, this one had got caught in the headlights. Options whirred round his head, but two stood out. Kill her then Geoffrey. Messy. Second option: save the life of the man he’d been paid to kill.
“Quick,” he shouted, “get an ambulance or something.”
Jim laid Geoffrey’s head back on the floor in an attempt to make him comfortable. He then did what Pistol Pete told him never to do: he looked him in the eye.
The hunk of meat, the walking money cheque Jim had persuaded himself Geoffrey was, had become human. A flesh covered and living, well dying, human being. How the fuck could he ever have thought of killing someone? He was Jim the lad. A crap thief. He wasn’t a killer.
Before Jim’s eyes, the woman was defrosting from her ice-cage. Fingers and thumbs, she pulled a phone from her pocket. A latest model touch screen, Jim caught himself eyeing it in between saying, “You’re going to be alright,” to Geoffrey.
“What’s the number for an ambulance?” Her cheeks red and her shoulders seemed to move up and down involuntarily. Shock had hit her badly.
“Ummm,” said Jim.
Though on the tip of his tongue, the number for the emergency services was hiding somewhere behind his teeth. Thinking hard and deep, his mind flicked through a mental phone book. Scanning down the A’s, he forced himself to concentrate. Eventually, the page was found and the number stood out.
“Nine nine nine,” he said.
Shaking her head and no doubt feeling foolish, she pressed her phone screen three times.
Looking back at the man he should have killed, Jim noticed his eyes were becoming milky. They reminded him of the dull white marbles he’d played with as a kid. His lips now more blue than red, he didn’t appear to be breathing. Devoid of anything helpful to do, Jim undid Geoffrey’s shirt collar. He’d seen it on Casualty once and thought it could only help.
The woman was talking into the phone. Jim couldn’t hear her words, just a wave of soft voice replying to unknown questions. He looked at her again, taking her in this time. Late twenties or early thirties and power-suited, Jim thought she was good looking. More than good looking. Fresh looking, yet red faced from discovering Geoffrey, her hair stylishly clung to her head with a little patch waggling down in front of her eyes. She was way, far-far away from his league but he could dream. Though he did wonder exactly was he doing dreaming while a man lay dying in front of him.
Prison always hit Jim hard. Lack of freedom can be combated through friendship and alcohol and drugs can be bought sometimes easier than on the outside. The thing you can’t buy, however, was the thing that after three years nearly drove him insane. Female companionship. Sure sex was a large part of that, the part he thought of most, but there was companionship too. He’d often kid himself that was what he missed the most.
Straight after his release, he’d been whipped off to the Glens to learn his new craft. There’d been no time for carnal pleasures. Of course he’d thought about women, dreamt about them, wanted them. But the deal was clear. The job came first. As desperate as he was for action, any action, he couldn’t have any. It was supposedly meant to focus him. To give him the reward he wanted above all others. This afternoon, after his hit had been successful, the plan was to hit the delights of Soho in a big way.
All his and Pistol Pete’s plans were crashing and burning. What was worse, much worse, was a man was dying in front of him and all he could think about was this mystery woman on the phone.