‘You remember the place? Good. I’ll be waiting there.’
I hung up on the buyer and sat back in the seat of my car; it had been barely twenty-four hours since I had made proposition and here I was, back in the car park, outside the supermarket (which was closed due to security concerns, apparently). I was a patient man.
“What are you up to?” I hear you ask. One second I’m a bodyguard, the next I’m talking about selling off my employer’s merchandise…what’s not to understand? I’m a freelancer.
Ah, I get it. You’re confused how I can be back here so soon, after less than a day, ready to make the sale (and get my hands on one million quid), without having my employer on my back with a hundred armed gang members.
Let’s just say that I handed in my letter of resignation.
Earlier That Day
I parked my car outside the warehouse.
It was a lovely place, if you were a box. A cardboard box. A cardboard box filled with polystyrene chippings. A cardboard box filled with polystyrene chippings and a burlap sack. A cardboard box filled with…well, let’s just say that the merchandise was in a burlap bag, which just happened to be in a cardboard box that was inside this particular warehouse.
I parked my car between the warehouse and a wall, leaving the boot and the driver’s side door open to help with my getaway.
“Getaway?” Yes, getaway.
I didn’t have any big plan here, to be honest. I was just going to walk on in and take what I was there for. If anyone tried to stop me, then I’d just walk through them.
The warehouse was well-lit, which was not ideal. What this told me, though, was that there were people here today – the light did not only come from the sun. I walked in slowly, purposefully, looking around. Any second I expected one of my employer’s goons to jump out and point a cheap firearm or something at me.
I walked in a perfectly straight line, moving through the warehouse quite casually. My employer hadn’t long left the deal (if you could call it that), and I considered it unlikely for him to keep the merchandise in the car whilst he looked for a different buyer.
And considering this was his base of operations when it came to merchandise, I had a pretty good feeling he would be here.
‘Oi, you!’ a grunt of low intellect called from above. I stopped and titled my head up and to the side, seeing the grunt, dressed in a cheap tracksuit, balanced on a stack of wooden crates, pointing a cheap-looking pistol at me. It was rather pathetic really.
‘What do you want?’ I asked, calmly, casually, as if we were on a street or something.
‘You’d better turn around right now and leave, before I let ya in for a whole lotta pain,’ the grunt replied.
I chuckled. The fool hadn’t even turned off the safety. A nanosecond later – I counted – and he was flopped over that crate, not lying flat, almost knocking it off balance, though not quite.
With him dispatched, I continued to walk into the warehouse. There was something of a commotion ahead now – other grunts had probably heard the uncouth “Oi, you!” of their comrade – and I smirked.
This was going to be fun.
I walked into a wide open space of the warehouse, where a familiar black BMW was sitting, its boot wide open. There were four or five men lifting out a fairly big cardboard box; when they saw me they almost dropped it, but managed to put it down gently.
My employer stepped out of the car.
‘What are you doing here?’ he snapped.
I stopped in my tracks and looked around. ‘I came for my money.’
‘I told you, I’ll leave it in the--’
‘No time for that, I’m afraid. I have other business, and I need my money now.’ I pulled down my hood and neatened my jagged, black hair. ‘Do you have it?’
‘Not with me, you bastard!’ he shouted. ‘You’ll get the damn money, just…go away!’
I chuckled. ‘I’m curious. How did you find out about me?’
The grunts appeared on edge. Was I stalling? Did I just want money? Who even was I?
‘One of my business partners suggested you to me. Said you were highly skilled when it came to being a bodyguard,’ my employer replied. He frowned, visibly. ‘Why?’
‘Did he tell you anything else?’ I laughed, loudly, which is a rare occurrence for me. ‘Did he tell you what happens to the people who don’t pay? Hm? Did he tell you what other jobs I’ve done? Did he tell you what my skills are?’
Everything went quiet. The grunts all looked to my employer, who looked at me; I looked at everyone.
The silence was golden. It gave me time to analyse everything around me: no less than twenty grunts, all with cheap pistols; only about twelve of them seemed to have thought to turn the safety off; my employer was gradually moving his hand beneath his jacket (towards a gun, judging by the shape under his breast pocket); no one seemed to be behind any sort of cover; there was only one light nearby, which was illuminating this area of the warehouse.
It took three heartbeats for me to come up with a plan.
With the same speed I had dispatched the supermarket camera and that grunt I plunged the warehouse into darkness; a few shards of broken glass roared down, accompanied by the silver of my knife. The grunts panicked; fifteen shots rang out – either I miscounted, which is unlikely, or someone fired multiple shots – and none of them hit me.
I was already over at the car.
There were more shots – some of the grunts had turned off the safety now – exposing the positions of my employer’s goons; they fell quickly, twenty of my knives disappearing from their places on my belt. When the next shots came, there were less of them…and then there were none.
‘Where are you?’ my employer roared. His gun sounded above his head – it was not the same cheap model as that of his goons – mere inches from me.
I moved up behind him, locked my arm around his neck and forced him to his knees. ‘Here,’ I whispered. After ten seconds he was unconscious. Ten seconds after that, and he was dead. I released my grip, got to my feet and walked over to the cardboard box; with one of my remaining knives I opened up the box, let the chippings scatter and pulled out the burlap sack.
I have no idea what was in that sack, and nor do I care. All that mattered was the fact that someone was willing to give me one million pounds for it.
I stared out of the car window as the buyer pulled up beside me. Neither of us opened our doors, and for a moment, neither of us opened our windows. He stared at me from behind a mask of uncertainty.
I stared at him from behind a mask of nothingness.
His window rolled down, squeaking; my window went down, twice as fact, buzzing.
‘You got the merchandise?’ he asked.
I nodded. ‘Do you have the money?’
He turned towards the passenger seat, and I moved my hand inside my coat, towards a clean, smooth, shiny knife, just in case. When he turned back he had a black briefcase in hand. I relaxed my grip on the knife.
We did not speak again. I reached into the back seat, grabbed the burlap sack and pulled it into the front. He handed over the briefcase first – a wise move – and then I handed him the burlap sack. I did not let him drive away; I held onto his arm once again, opening the briefcase with my free hand. It was an easy matter to check that the money was all there, and that it was all genuine.
Satisfied I released his arm, gave him a simple nod and rolled up my window.
The buyer did not bother to roll up his window; he simply started his car, reversed out of the parking space and left, leaving me with one million quid and a kill count of twenty-eight…for today.