‘I want her dead,’ Jerry O’Dowd said as he looked at a freeze frame image of Jasmine Cochrane on his mobile device and bared his teeth. ‘How can one woman be such a problem!’ O’Dowd barked.
Colin stood silently beside O’Dowd and never uttered a word as he watched O’Dowd throw the mobile against a wall. The device shattered and fell to the ground in pieces.
‘Get me a new phone,’ O’Dowd said. ‘Now!’
Connelly followed the sedan that contained Jasmine and Jack to the hospital where Pete and Sam were already receiving treatment for their injuries.
The building was swarming with various law enforcement officials. Connelly’s phone buzzed. He knew who it was on the other end of the line.
‘Yes, I’ll kill her,’ Connelly said as he felt anger rising in him when he thought about how quickly Jasmine Cochrane had subdued him the last time they fought. ‘What about, Jack Ledger?’ Connelly asked. ‘Okay, but it would be easier just to dispose of him too.’
‘Okay,’ Connelly said. ‘But am I still going to get my money?’
Inside the hospital, Jasmine and Jack stood over a sleeping Sam as a nurse administered treatment.
‘Is she going to be okay,’ Jack asked Jasmine.
‘As far as I’m aware, the doctors said she’s got some swelling, but they hope there’s been no permanent damage.’
‘So it just looks worse than it is?’ Jack asked.
‘If I know my daughter as I do then she’ll pull through,’ Pete said as he stood leaning in the doorway
Jasmine and Jack turned. They were surprised to see Pete up on his feet.
Jasmine asked. ‘Shouldn’t you be –‘
‘I’m fine,’ Pete said but winced as he spoke. He looked over at Sam lying on the bed with a bandage wrapped around her head. ‘Besides, I’d rather be here than anywhere else.’
Jasmine gave Pete some assistance as he tried to pull up a chair and sit beside Sam. As Pete sat down and held Sam’s hand, Jack slipped out the room and then down the corridor and out the hospital.
Now I have someone to save from themselves thought Jack as his mind turned to his brother, Graeme.
Connelly saw Jack leave the hospital but decided to stay put and wait for an opportunity to kill Jasmine Cochrane. He knew the transmitter in Jack’s pocket was still working so it would be easy for him to find Jack, subdue him, and deliver Jack to O’Dowd.
Jack walked through the streets at a brisk pace and eventually reached the block of flats where his gran lived. He saw his van still parked where he was forced to leave it earlier in the day when Pete brought him before Jonah burns. ‘At least that’s one thing that’s still in one piece,’ Jack mumbled to himself as he looked over at his van and smiled. Now I don’t need to walk everywhere. He thought.
Jack climbed the stairs and battered his fist against Doris’s door.
Derek opened his front door. ‘Eh,’ Derek said, nervously. ‘She isn’t in. She –’
Jack turned to face Derek and scowled. ‘Then where is she?’
‘I-I don’t know,’ Derek said. ‘But she left with her other grandson.’
‘What, Graeme?’ Jack asked, his brow creasing.
‘Yes, t-that’s the one,’ Derek said as he tugged at his shirt collar and felt increasingly uncomfortable with Jack’s intense stare.
‘When?’ Jack asked
‘W-when w-what?’ Derek stammered
‘When did Graeme leave with my gran?’
‘Not that long ago.’
‘I-I’d tell you where if I knew,’ Derek said, gulping. ‘But—‘
The close door opened and the sound of a familiar sounding laugh echoed through the stairwell. Jack stood outside Doris’s door with his arms folded and waited.
‘Do you need anyth—’
Jack gave Derek a look and nodded. Derek feeling relieved closed his door but once he locked his door put his eye to his spyhole to see what was going to happen next.
‘Oh, hello, bro,’ Graeme said, smiling. ‘I didn’t expect to see you here it’s—’
Graeme didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence as Jack grabbed him by the throat, lifted him up and pinned him against the wall.
‘Put him down, son,’ Doris said to Jack as if she was trying to placate a guard dog.
Graeme struggled to speak as Jack’s meaty hand wrapped itself around his throat and continued to squeeze. ”Yes,’ Graeme croaked. ‘Put me down.’
For a moment, it looked like Jack was going to squeeze Graeme’s throat until his head popped off like the lid on a coke bottle. Jack let go of him, and Graeme fell to the floor like a ten pence coin. As Graeme coughed, spluttered and rubbed at his throat, Jack started to walk down the stairs.
‘Where are you going, Jack?’ Doris asked
Jack glowered at Graeme. ‘I’m going to the hospital.’
Graeme smiled sheepishly. ‘Who’s hu-‘
‘Pete and Sam,’ Jack snapped, ‘As if you –‘
‘Is it serious?’ Doris asked
‘Keep her safe,’ Jack said to Graeme. Jack stared at him with intense, bulging eyes.
‘Righty-ho, bro, Graeme said, giving a salute which Jack didn’t see because he had already turned his back.
As Jack walked down the stairwell and to his white van, the rage inside him towards his brother continued to build. You did well there by not strangling him, Jack thought. He took out The Little Red Book of Karma from his pocket and added Graeme name again to a list of entries all of which were about Graeme. Jack wrote: If anything happens to Gran, kill Graeme. As if to emphasise his point, when Jack got into his van and reached over to his glove compartment, he picked up the hammer he left there earlier in the day and swung it into the centre of his meaty fist. Jack slipped the hammer inside his jacket pocket. With the day I’m having, I’m probably going to need that later, he thought.
‘Is she okay?’ Jasmine asked as she looked over at Sam and handed Pete a cup of coffee from a hospital vending machine.
‘They say she’ll be fine,’ Pet said. ‘But she’s lost a lot of blood. She might need a transfusion.’
Pete started to tear up. Jasmine instinctively reached out and gave Pete a reassuring pat on the shoulder.
‘I’m sure she’ll be okay. The doctors here are great. Do you want me to watch over her while you –‘
‘donate blood,’ Pete said, finishing Jasmine’s sentence
‘I’m not her blood type,’ Pete said, feeling ambivalence rise in him like a wave. ‘And before you ask,’ Pete laughed. ‘Jack isn’t her blood type either. Sam has the same blood type as her mother, even if she does look like Jack.’
‘What, you know Jack’s –’
‘Her father,’ Pete said. ‘Yes, I know that Jack is Sam’s biological father, but I’m her real dad.’
Jasmine looked surprised. ‘I thought Jonah Burns was only joking about what he said about Jack being Sam’s father and maybe hinting at some sort of –’
‘Affair?’ Pete asked, laughing. ‘God, no, that’s not it at all.’
As Jasmine and Pete talked, they didn’t notice Sam had stirred and was only pretending to sleep My dad’s not my real dad? Is Uncle Jack really my father? The questions exploded in Sam’s head like grenades. The sudden realisation that everything she’d taken for granted wasn’t as certain as she thought was overwhelming. As the ground in her mind shook with turbulent emotions, Sam found she was unable to process the feelings flooding through her. She lay frozen in her hospital bed unable to move a muscle.
‘So you’ve always known that she’s –’
‘Yes, I’ve always known.’
‘You don’t seem too bothered by it,’ Jasmine said. ‘I mean, if –’
‘Look,’ Pete said, ‘I’ll stop you there. Sam is my daughter, and I am and always will be her dad. It’s that simple.’
‘But she doesn’t know, does she?’
‘No, we’ve still to have that conversation,’ Pete said. ‘We’ll probably have to have it in a few years when she’s older, but not now. She’s too young to handle the news.’
Jasmine looked at Pete. He sensed that she was curious to know more.
‘If you really want to know the details, Karen, Sam’s mother, had a one night stand with Jack before we got together, and Sam was the product of their night together.’
‘So there was no affair or anything?’
‘No,’ Pete said. ‘Jack and Karen knew each other when they were young. Her father, Jerry O’Dowd
‘Wait,’ Jasmine said. ‘Are you telling me that Sam is Jerry O’Dowd’s granddaughter?’
‘Yes, why?’ Pete asked. ‘I mean, it’s old news, isn’t it. No one’s heard from Jerry O’Dowd for years. I just assumed he was—‘
‘Dead?’ Jasmine asked. ‘No, Pete, he’s very much alive,’
‘Oh, Pete said. ‘That’s rather disturbing news. He’s a –’
‘A thief,‘ Jasmine gritted her teeth, ‘and a murderer.’
‘I must be missing something here,’ Pete said. ‘This conversation’s beginning to –’
‘Pete,’ Jasmine said, trying not to shout. ‘Jonah Burns the man that took Sam and made you bring Jack to him is working with Jerry O’Dowd.’
‘Oh,’ Pete said as he took a sharp intake of breath. ‘Does Jack Kn—
‘Yes, Jack knows, but he failed to mention to me just how he knew Jerry O’Dowd.’
‘You never asked,’ Jack said as he appeared behind them.
‘Where did you disappear to?’ Pete asked.
‘I had an errand to run,’ Jack said, grimacing as his mind turned towards thoughts of his brother. Don’t screw up, Graeme.
‘We need to talk,’ Jasmine said as she looked at Jack.
Jack stared out the window. ‘Sure, thing. But first, everybody duck.’
A bullet pierced the window and missed Jasmine by a whisker. Unfortunately, not everyone was as lucky. Pete lay on the ground with a bullet hole in his arm, and with blood beginning to soak through his shirt.
‘Bugger,’ Connelly said as he saw the bullet he intended for Jasmine Cochrane hit Pete. Not that Connelly felt any remorse at his bullet striking an unintended victim.
Connelly discarded his sniper rifle. There’s no point taking that with me now, he thought.‘That woman’s got more lives than a bloody cat,’ Connelly muttered to himself before hop-footing it down a stairwell. I’m getting too old for this.
Even though he was small, lean and wiry, Connelly was approaching middle age and, as he ran down the stairs, he could feel age creeping up on him and now time was running out too, especially if he wanted to make his escape and stay one step ahead of Jasmine Cochrane and her colleagues.
As Connelly ran down the stairwell of the office building he had fired from, he suddenly found himself confronted by a security guard with a taser.
‘Move,’ Connelly said.
‘Don’t make me use this,’ the security guard said, his hands shaking.
‘Fair enough,’ Connelly said as he quickly pulled out a handgun from his jacket and shot the security guard in the kneecap.
The security guard fell to the ground screaming in agony and instinctively cradled his wounded knee and to add insult to injury he also got tasered by his own device.
‘Shocking,’ Connelly as he looked over his shoulder and saw the pain and distress in the face of the injured security guard.
‘Medic!’ Jasmine shouted as she tended to an injured Pete. ‘It looks like the bullet has gone through cleanly.’
‘Well, that’s lucky, I suppose,’ Pete said, smiling grimly.
‘Oh, It’s only a scratch,’ Jack said as he looked over at Sam who was sitting up on her bed staring over at them ashen faced. ‘Your dad’s going to be fine, Sam,’ Jack added, winking at her.
‘I’m all right, Sam,’ Pete said, trying to laugh for Sam to stop her from worrying.
‘Yes,’ Jasmine said, ‘It’s not that often someone manages to survive being shot twice.’
‘Your dad’s like Superman,’ Jack said.
Pete laughed but groaned again too. ‘Well, more Clark Kent, really.’
‘Are you g-going to be –
‘Yes, Sam,’ Pete said. ‘I’m going to be fine, rest now, love.’
Pete groaned as a medic came in and put pressure on his wound to stop the bleeding, and then with the help of their colleague, the medic lifted him up onto a gurney and whisked him away for surgery.
As he was wheeled away by the medics, Pete called out.‘Look after Sam for me.’
‘We will,’ Jasmine said, then went over to comfort Sam.
Jack’s mobile phone went off. He decided to leave Jasmine and Sam to talk and take the call in the corridor, so he didn’t disturb them. Jack’s phone buzzed again, but he still didn’t answer as he saw Derek lying on a gurney. Jack walked up to Derek and noticed he had a heavily bandaged leg.
‘What happened to you?’ Jack asked.
Jack’s phone buzzed for the third time.
‘I think you better answer that,’ Derek said, wincing as pain radiated through his wounded leg. ‘I was told to tell you that they’d call.’
‘Hello,’ Jack said as he walked along the corridor outside Sam’s room.
‘Hello, bro,’ Graeme said. ‘We seem to be in a spot of bother.’
‘Where are you now?’ Jack snapped. ‘What’s going on, Graeme, Gran’s neighbour is lying –
Doris called out.‘Don’t try to find us, s-’
A man with black leather gloves muffled Doris’s words with his hand.
A different voice appeared on the line. ‘Hello, Jack,’
‘Hello, Jerry,’ Jack said, gritting his teeth. ‘Why’ve you kidnapped my gran?’
‘Kidnapped is such a strong word, Jack. You’re a hard man to find,’ O’Dowd said as he put their conversation onto loudspeaker. ‘I thought I’d try a more direct approach.’
‘So shooting my gran’s neighbour and kidnapping her was your way of getting my attention, was it?’
‘No, he just got in the way. It was nothing personal.’
‘Well, it’s personal to him. I’m looking at him right now.’
‘Is Derek –’Doris was unable to finish her sentence as someone put a piece of masking tape over her mouth.
‘That’s better,’ O’Dowd said, smiling as he watched one of his underlings shut Doris up.
‘What are you doing to my gran?’
‘She’s fine for now, Jack.’ O’Dowd laughed. ‘And so is your brother, by the way, but you don’t seem to care about him, do you?’
‘If you harm my gran -’ Jack said.
‘You’ll what?’ O’Dowd asked, mocking him.
‘Jerry, what do you want?’
‘That’s what I liked about you, Jack,’ O’Dowd said, chuckling. ‘You get straight to the point.’
‘So, what do you want?’ Jack asked, sighing.
‘To ask you a few questions.’
‘Well ask away, Jerry,’ Jack said. ‘I’m listening.’
‘In person, Jack,’ O’Dowd said, frowning. ‘It’s personal.’
‘When isn’t it?’ Jacked asked. ‘Where?’
‘Meet me at the docks. Oh, and Jack –‘
‘Yes, I know, come alone,’ Jack said, rolling his eyes. ‘You always did like the odds to be in your favour.’
‘Who knows, Jack.’ O’Dowd laughed. ‘Depending on how much I like the answers to my questions you might just be lucky enough to get out of this alive.’
‘Yes,’ Jack said. ‘Then again, we both might end up dead.’
Jack terminated the call and started to walk out the hospital when Derek grabbed his jacket.
‘You’ll make sure nothing happens to Doris, won’t you?’ Derek asked, the concern filling up in his eyes. ‘She’s such a sweet old lady and I’d -‘
‘Yes she is, isn’t she,’ Jack said ‘And she deserves better.’ Jack smiled at Derek as he removed Derek’s arm from his jacket. ‘I’ll save her, buddy, or die trying.’
With that, Jack stepped out into the rain and took one more step towards Jerry O’Dowd.