I don’t know about you, but I can feel us getting close to the end of this story, no?
O’Dowd stood at the edge of a dock with his mobile phone at his ears. Some of his underlings were busy loading and unloading merchandise. The horns of ships and cries of seagulls filled the air ‘Where are you now?’ O’Dowd asked.
‘I’m tracking Jack Ledger.’
‘And Cochrane?’ O’Dowd asked.
Will you get the job done?’ O’Dowd asked. ‘Or do I need to -‘
‘I can handle Cochrane,’ Connelly said, his voice sounding strained. ‘And Ledger will be in front of you soon, one way or the other.’
‘Good. I don’t like—‘
‘I know, you don’t like loose ends.’ Connelly sneered. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll tie them up into a nice knot for you.
Jasmine Cochrane increased her speed as she looked at the horizon and saw a thick plume of black smoke where the surveillance unit was.
‘Connelly wasn’t lying, then,’ Jack said as he looked at the black smoke mushrooming in the air. ‘Something has happened to –‘
‘No, he wasn’t lying,’ Jasmine said with a grim expression on her face and her foot pressing down hard on the accelerator.
‘I like a fast ride as much as the next man but if you don’t—‘
‘We’re not going to have an accident, Mr Ledger,’ Jasmine said. Where are they, Jasmine thought as her mind turned to her fellow agents in a base many miles away and who she hoped were right now scrambling to come to the aid of her colleagues in the surveillance unit.
‘Do you have a plan?’ Jack asked.
For the first time in her life, Jasmine Cochrane didn’t have an answer that she liked, ‘No, I don’t,’ Jasmine said as she looked at Jack and scowled. ‘Now, would you shut up and let me drive.’
‘Okay,’ Jack said, shrugging. His mind turned towards thoughts of Sam. Is she all right? Is she dead?
As they got closer to the surveillance unit, Jasmine and Jack could see that the extent of the damage to the structure. Outside what remained of the entrance to the surveillance unit, two mercenaries stood guarding the front of the building. A smattering of mercenaries loitered outside at the sides of the building waiting for O’Dowd’s henchman to tell them what do next.
Inside what remained of the surveillance unit, O’Dowd’s headman was ordering his men to grab all the data they could from the computer terminals. They knew without a doubt that the information got backed up every day and sent back to Turner’s superiors. But they also knew the information they could retrieve from the computers was a treasure trove of plans, tactics, surveillance reports. They had, in attacking the surveillance unit, achieved two aims for Jerry O’Dowd. One, they killed Malcolm Turner. Two, they got a mass of information that O’Dowd could use to plan his next move and stay one step ahead of the law enforcement agencies that wanted to stop him.
‘Let’s get ready to go,’ O’Dowd’s headman said.
‘One more minute said a scrawny mercenary who sat at a computer terminal typing away furiously trying to break through a piece of encrypted data.
‘We haven’t got time,’ the headman said. ‘Come on move, now.’
When Jasmine Cochrane got out her car, she went to the boot and lifted out a couple of automatic assault rifles, a few grenades and a couple of hand guns.
‘I guess you don’t know how to use any of this stuff?’ Jasmine asked Jack.
‘No, lady,’ Jack said, chuckling. ‘I’m good with my fists, though.’
‘That worse than bringing a knife to a gunfight,’ Jasmine sighed.
‘Isn’t that what your planning, anyway?’ Jack asked. ‘I mean, a gunfight?’ Jack watched with awe as Jasmine Cochrane weaponed up with speed and grace. Within seconds she was armed to the teeth and ready to take on all of O’Dowd’s men.
Jasmine tossed Jack a phone and pair of binoculars. ‘You can make yourself useful.’
‘Oh, you mean be the lookout, a second pair of eyes.’
‘You do know how to use a mobile phone, don’t you?’ Jasmine asked as she climbed over a fence and began to run across the long grass in front of her
‘Sure,’ Jack said. ‘I’d say the best of luck but why bother.’
‘What do you mean?’ Jasmine asked, frowning
‘Never mind,’ Jack said. ‘Give them hell.’
‘I’m perfectly fine. Thanks for your concern, officer,’ Doris said.
The officers looked with interest at Doris. Surrounded as she was by a drunk Doreen and a shifty looking John, it seemed strange to the officers that a sweet old lady was standing alongside a battered and bruised individual like Graeme.
‘My gran fell recently, officer,’ Graeme said with a forced smile as he saw the female officer look at the bruises on Doris’s face.
‘Is that what happened, Madam?’ the male officer asked, eyeing Graeme.
‘Oh, yes, son,’ Doris said, smiling at the police officer. I hope you leave soon, thought Doris.
‘So you’re okay, then?’ the female officer asked.
‘Yes, I’m perfectly fine, thanks.’
‘Well, okay,’ the male officer said.
‘We’ll be close by if you need us,’ the female officer said
‘Thank’s for your concern, officers,’ John rasped. ‘It was mightily kind of you. You’re a credit,’ John coughed. ‘to the,’ he coughed again, ‘the Force.’
‘Yes, well —‘the female officer said.
The police officers reluctantly walked away and continued with their foot patrol.
‘That was a close one,’ John rasped, still struggling to speak as his throat was still sore from when Jack strangled him earlier in the day. ‘I thought I was going to get lifted then,’ he said as he looked over at Doris but was unable to keep eye contact.
‘Am I missing something here?’ Graeme said.
‘Haven’t you figured it out, son?’ Doris said ‘Your mum’s boyfriend, here, hit me and tried to steal from me.’
‘Oh,’ Graeme said. As he looked at John and saw the bruises on his face and a large handprint on his throat, Graeme pointed and asked. ‘Eh, I take it Jack had something to do with that, then?’
‘Yes,’ Doreen said. ‘He –’
Graeme looked behind his back to see if the police officers were in view. They weren’t. Before Doreen could say anything else, Graeme booted John in the balls. ‘That was for attacking my gran,’ Graeme said.
‘Why did you do that?’ Doreen asked. ‘You’ve stolen from her as well, so–’
‘Sure, I’ve stolen from her. I’m a druggie, after all. Everyone knows that,’ Graeme said. ‘And no one in their right mind expects a druggie to behave with virtue and honour.’
‘Then why?’ Doreen asked as she cradled a whimpering John.
‘Because, while there is no honour amongst thieves, even I have standards,’ Graeme said, baring his teeth at Doreen. ‘Even I don’t go around beating up old ladies.’ With that Graeme shepherded Doris away and they continued to walk towards the allotment.
‘You should be ashamed of yourself,’ Doreen called out.
Graeme turned around and smiled at Doreen and gave her the finger.
Graeme and Doris reached the allotment without incident, but Graeme was surprised to see how neglected it looked. Where his grandpa once planted rows of vegetables, there was nothing but the occasional sweetie wrapper and bits of plastic sprouting up from the dirt like weeds. Even the compost bin was full of old junk. Nothing, it seemed, had grown there for quite some time.
‘Yes, son,’ Doris said. ‘It’s not the way you remember it, is it?’
‘No, Gran, it’s not.’ Graeme looked at the allotment and felt tears coming to his eyes. ‘I used to help him, you know.’ Graeme sniffed. ‘To plant stuff and sweep the path. It’s all gone now.’
‘It could come back,’ Doris said. ‘If someone was willing to bring it back to life back to -‘
‘But how did it end up in such a mess, anyway?’
‘Your grandpa got sick, and I was too old to –‘
‘But didn’t anyone else want to take it over?’
‘Not round here, son.’
Doris and Graeme walked down the litter strewn path and towards a small hut with cobwebs around its edges and bits of broken flower pots scattered like birdseed at the door.
‘Are you sure you left the diamonds here, Gran?’ Graeme said. ‘I mean, it’s –‘
‘Yes, son,’ Doris said as she pushed open the shed door and lifted up a piece of broken slab which lay on the floor.
Doris pushed her hand through a narrow gap and pulled out a small bag. Graeme took the bag and sighed with relief when he looked inside and saw that the diamonds were there.
‘Time to go, Gran,’ Graeme said, suddenly sounding all business.
‘Yes, it probably is,’ Doris said, sighing. ‘Will this help save Jack, then?’
‘Yes, Graeme said, feeling uneasy at lying to Doris.
As they made their way out of the allotment and onto the street, Graeme saw Jonah Burns coming their way. Luckily, Jonah didn’t spot them. Graeme took Doris’s hand and put his finger to his lips. They slipped into an alleyway. Doris stood behind Graeme. The smell of garbage from a nearby dumpster filled the air. They hid and waited for Jonah to pass.
Chapter 49 is a massive chapter so click on the link to read it.