This is the final chapter. If you don’t want to know how it all ends, look away now.
‘So we’re agreed then that you’ve only to fire if necessary?’ Jack asked Jasmine. ‘I don’t want any stray bullets killing my gran.’
‘Okay, but it’s your funeral,’ Jasmine said. ‘I’m the professional, after all. It should be me that –‘
‘Let’s not forget that O’Dowd has asked me to come, remember. If nothing else, I can keep him busy by answering his questions at least until my gran gets away safely. Besides, if I don’t make it you can always take down O’Dowd any which way you like.’
‘Jack, I’m a crack shot. I could take most of O’Dowd’s men down in just a few minutes. But you want to –’
‘I’m not taking the risk that something happens to my gran. And—’
‘What about your brother?’ Jasmine asked.
‘What about him?’
Jasmine raised an eyebrow. ‘Aren’t you worried about his safety too?’
‘No, Graeme can take care of himself.’ Jack said, sighing. ‘Besides, if he gets shot it might do him some good.’
Jasmine shook her head. ‘What kind of nutter are you?’
‘The special kind,’ Jack said. ‘Oh, and Agent Cochrane,’
‘Don’t miss, eh?’ Jack smiled and slammed the door of his van shut and drove off.
Jasmine Cochrane watched Jack leave and shook her head. I hope this works, she thought.
Jack dropped Jasmine off at a grassy hill just a few minutes walking distance from the dock. Before Jack was a few hundred yards away from Jerry O’ Dowd, Jasmine was already in position with a clear line of sight on O’Dowd, Colin and Jonah. What Jasmine didn’t know was just how many men O’Dowd had working for him on the dock and just how many of them were willing to fight for him.
As Jack drove to the dock, he switched on the radio, trying to fill up the silence that expanded between his thoughts and his breathing.
‘That was Europe with The Final Countdown,’ the radio DJ said.
Apt, thought Jack.
‘Remember, the theme for today’s show is endings, partings and goodbyes. Our next request comes from…’
Jack switched off the radio but kept the motor running as he came to a stop in front of Colin and O’Dowd. Jack watched the scene impassively as Colin pulled the trigger and executed Jonah Burns. Jonah’s lifeless body fell to the ground like a dirty rag. Without O’Dowd needing to say a word, Colin rolled Jonah over, removed any valuables and weaponry and then simply rolled Jonah’s dead body over the edge of the dock. Jonah made a splash as he hit the water.
‘Now we can talk,’ O’Dowd said, smiling at Jack.
‘I always thought there was something fishy about him,’ Jack said.
‘Ha, ha,’ O’Dowd said. ‘Colin, did you hear that? I think Jack fancies himself as some sort of comedian.’
‘See, Colin found it funny, Jack,’ O’Dowd said. ‘But do you know what isn’t funny?’
‘What happened to my daughter,’ O’Dowd said as his rage exploded across his face. ‘What happened to Karen?’
‘She died in a car accident,’ Jack said as a tremor of emotion bubbled up to the surface of his face.
‘I know that, Jack,’ O’Dowd said jabbing the air with his finger. ‘Just like I know you were in the car with her.’
‘Yes,’ Jack said as the memory of that event replayed itself in his mind’s eye. ‘I was with her.’
‘Did you kill her?’
‘No, I didn’t,’ Jack said, the anger filling each word. ‘Was that what you wanted to know?’
‘No, Jack, it wasn’t. And I don’t like your tone, so –’
‘So I better play nice, or you’ll kill my gran and my brother?’
‘Yes, Jack,’ O’Dowd sneered. ‘Play nice, or I’ll kill them.’
‘You were probably going to kill them and then me anyway, Jerry, weren’t you?’ Jack said. ‘I mean, it’s what you do, isn’t it?’ Just like you did to Jonah a few minutes ago.’
‘I don’t like loose ends,’ O’Dowd said. ‘It’s cleaner and –’
‘Right, fine, enough with this horseshit’ Jack said. ‘Do you really want to know what happened to Karen?’
‘It’s why I went to all the bother of bringing you here,’ O’Dowd spat.
‘Well here’s the truth, Jerry.’ Jack paused. ‘It was a bloody accident. It was winter time, after all. The roads were bad, and Karen lost control of the wheel, and we crashed.’
‘There more than what you’re telling me,’ O’Dowd said unable to accept what Jack said to him.
‘Did you think I wanted her dead. Hell, I wished I was the one that died so that Sam didn’t have to go through the pain of losing her mother.’
‘Perhaps you should have died,’ O’Dowd said with the tears streaming down his face, and his gun pointed at Jack’s head.
‘Pull the trigger, Jerry, why don’t you?’ Jack said. ‘I’m so tired of it all. You’d be doing me a favour.’
O’Dowd staggered back as one of Jasmine’s bullets struck him. Before Colin could react, Jack pulled out a knife, stabbed Colin and made sure he wouldn’t get back up by cracking Colin’s skull open with a hammer.
But O’Dowd wasn’t dead. He was severely wounded, but he could still fire his gun, and he fired it before Jasmine’s second bullet struck him in the heart and killed him.
The bullet from O’Dowd’s gun struck Jack and hit an artery on its way out of Jack’s body. Jack fell to the ground, his life slowly ebbing away from him.
Graeme and Doris saw the whole thing but were helpless to stop it. As Jack fell to the ground, Graeme managed to free them both and removed the tape from Doris’s mouth.
Doris called out. ‘No, no, not you.’
Graeme and Doris then ran to where Jack lay. Doris cradled her grandson in her arms as the tears in her eyes fell down her cheeks. In the distance, the sound of sirens filled the air.
‘Come on, hurry up,’ Graeme said. ‘What’s taking them so long?’
‘Jack, my poor boy,’ Doris said, the tears in her eyes flowing like a river. ‘Stay with me, Jack. Stay with me, please.’
‘They’re almost here, buddy,’ Graeme said wiping tears on his sleeve. ‘Keep on fighting, Jack. Come on. You can do it. Kick Death in the nuts if you have to, but don’t die on us. You can’t leave Gran like this.’
Jack put his hand to his jacket pocket.
‘You want something in your pocket?’ Graeme asked. ‘I’ll get it, Jack. Stay with us, buddy.’
Graeme pulled out the Little Red Book of Karma from Jack’s pocket. Jack gestured for Graeme to toss it into the water.
‘You want me to throw it in the river?’
Jack nodded. Graeme threw the book over the edge of the dock and listened to it hitting the water. ‘I hope that wasn’t important,’ Graeme said trying to laugh, trying not to believe that Jack was dying.
‘No,’ Jack said, struggling to speak, ‘it wasn’t.’
‘Come on, you fuckers, hurry up,’ Graeme said as he heard the sirens getting closer and closer and saw Jasmine Cochrane running up towards them.
Jack looked up at Doris. ‘It’s okay, Gran,’ Jack said. ‘You’re going to be okay.’
As the ambulance pulled up and the crew got out from the back of their vehicle with a stretcher, Jack closed his eyes and was gone.