RRP TO RIP - LEE HUGHES
The man did his business in a top-of-the-range motor-home. He'd parked in Sainsbury's car park, hiding the criminal activity in plain sight. But he was no paddy-piker organising dog fights. Gruffyd was Welsh and dealt in arms. The proper deal, no hacked-down farmer's shotguns. The interior looked more like an American gun shop. Ed and Tony both knew that if they swung by this way again in an hour, there'd be no trace of this home from home.
Tony hadn't liked the idea and had suggested buying a shooter from Moobs at the Red Lion.
Ed had shook his head. "No fuckin' way. Remember Billy Rabbit?"
Tony nodded. "Lanky ginger?"
"Yeah, him. Well, Billy bought a getaway car from him. 'Reliable little motor', the fat cunt had said. Yeah, good little runabout for his mum's weekly visit to Weightwatchers and back but completely wank if you needed to go over forty for more than five minutes. The plod had surrounded Billy as he was stood on the engine block, pissing into the radiator. There were six bags of sand in the passenger's seat and a sawed-off beneath it. So, no, we ain't gonna buy so much as a packet of fags from him. Besides, Charlie's told me about this geezer. Says he's diamond, bit fuckin' loop-the-loop, but a top bloke when it comes to guns."
And so that had led them to the current meeting with Gruffyd, no second name offered and they didn't want to ask.
As they entered, Ed looked to Tony. "You got the cash?" he asked.
Tony looked affronted. "Not on me, Ed, I'm not a muppet. You think I'm gonna wander into some unknown meeting with four large on me? The money's somewhere safe. If the deals good, I'll nip out and get it."
Gruffyd was a small bloke with a facial tic. He looked a little too edgy for the line of work he had chosen. He was sat on one of the seats by the central table.
In other motor homes, the central table would have been home to a plate of luncheon-meat butties with Ribena at the side. Or, at the very least, a half-played game of Connect Four. Gruffyd's table looked like it was from the prop room of Rambo Umpteen.
Gruffyd, with his little tic of the cheek, picked up a machine gun and held it like it was a child. He was obviously just babysitting it, going off what he said.
"This is Mikhail Kalashnikov's child," beamed Gruffyd.
"Looks like an AK-Forty-Seven to me," Tony said as he checked the time.
And Tony should know as he'd watched Lord of War like it was educational, so it practically made him an aficionado.
Gruffyd looked at Tony like he had just blasphemed. "I think you need to not speak anymore, boyo, or until you stop talking bollocks." Gruffyd shook his head.
Tony was about to say something. Gruffyd, in one movement, smacked home a magazine and took the safety off. Tony found that what he had to say wasn't that important after all.
Gruffyd turned his attention to Ed. "What are you going to be gunning for?"
"I don't really wanna to get into details if you know what I mean," he said amicably, definitely not wanting to offend a crackpot with a loaded machine gun.
Gruffyd stroked the gun like it was a lover. Ed tried not to show on his face what was going on inside his head. One minute, the lunatic was cradling it like a child; the next, he was trying to get it wet.
Gruffyd leant forwards. "The more you tell me, the more help I can be. The guns, they talk to me. Let me...let them...help you."
So now the guns talked to him. Ed wondered if the Kalashnikov spoke to him in Ruskie. Gruffyd kept on talking.
"You know what makes me the best in my business?" he asked, his voice lowered to a conspiratorial level.
"No. But I've got a feeling you're gonna tell me." Ed was starting to think that a backfiring, misfiring old antique from Moobs might not be so bad after all.
The jumpy taffy nearly leapt clean out of his skin as Tony's phone went off. Tony mouthed 'sorry' and took out his phone and read the message. Tony slumped a little in his seat as he read the text.
Gruffyd composed himself and remembered what he had been saying.
"Because I know the nature of guns. They're built to kill. The bullet doesn't care what it hits. The gun doesn't care where it is aimed and the shooter shouldn't put too much thought into any of the dynamics of death and just let the gun do what it was created to do. That's what make's me a great weapons dealer. I don't have any qualms about what gun I put into which hands and what the outcome is. Now do you..." He pulled a string of funny faces like he was trying to make a child chuckle as he crumpled to the floor.
Tony was standing there with a silenced nine-millimetre borrowed from the table. He raised his hands. "Ed, don't blame me, the bullets...or the gun. It just did what it was born to do."
Tony turned back to the table. "You should come see some of the stuff he's got back here, it's fuckin' sweet." He glanced back to Ed and confessed. "Besides, that four large you gave me to look after for the deal just fell in the two-twenty at Cheltenham."
BIO: Lee Hughes lives and works on the Isle of Man with his wife and two fish. He is currently putting the finishing touches to his first novel. His short fiction is to appear in the upcoming Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9 by Megazanthus Press. And regular spots on Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers.
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