PUNISHMENT - NICK QUANTRILL
Originally published in Crime Time 49 (June 2006)
We pull up outside of his shop. I look around. We’re sat in the bowels of Hull; a run-down area, full of cheap clear-out stores. I’m told this used to be a bustling street; the heart of the city’s fishing industry. I say, who cares? That was a long time ago. We’re been told to collect a toe-rag called Wayne Glenton and take him for a long drive. The two lads with me, John and Dobba, go into the shop to collect the unfortunate lad. They’re a bit of a pair. Dobba’s a bodybuilder and looks pretty much like your identikit rent-a-thug. John, on the other hand, is a little more unusual. It took me a while to figure him out, but he just doesn’t enjoy inflicting violence, which is strange for someone in this line of business. John is more of a family man and sees the job as just that, a job. Even if you have qualifications in this city, opportunities are close to nothing.
He’s just doing what he has to do to pay the bills.
I’m staring out of the window at a gang of surly teenagers, as Dobba bundles Glenton into the back of the car.
"Now then, Wayne," I say. There’s no need for me to be rude.
"Fuck off," he says flatly.
I slap him playfully on the cheek.
"No need to be like that, is there, mate?" I reply, laughing.
The car doors slam shut as the boys get back in. I wink at Dobba. John looks over his shoulder, signals and pulls back out into the traffic.
We start to move out of the city, I turn towards to Glenton. "What have you done then?"
He ignores me and continues to stare out of the window. "Go on, you can tell us," I say.
I don’t get a reply, but we’re not asked to do a job like this for no reason.
The car goes quiet as we cross Myton Bridge, away from the city centre. We can’t help ourselves. We all turn to admire the city’s major tourist attraction, The Deep.
"I took my youngest there once. He’s into his sharks and stuff," says John. Nobody comments, nobody cares. We’re soon on the new bypass, picking up speed, heading towards the pre-arranged spot on the coast. Dobba tries to turn his heaving bulk towards me.
"I heard you got into a spot of bother with the police recently?"
I play it dumb. Not that you have to play it too dumb with Dobba.
"No more hassle than usual, mate."
"That’s not what I’ve been told," says John. "We heard you killed the girl that was in all the newspapers."
Word gets around fast, I thought. I sold her the ecstasy tablet, but so what? That hardly made it my fault, did it?
I consider my reply. "Fuck off, John. I might have dealt to her occasionally, but nobody was forcing her to buy anything, were they? It was her choice. If she can’t take it, that’s not my problem."
"I’ve got kids. The eldest has just started going out at night into town. I wouldn’t want to be in that family’s position."
Unbelievable. John, a bleeding heart liberal. Next thing, he’ll be telling me he’s into flower arranging and collects for the Socialist Worker.
"Come on, John," I say, leaning forward. "You play the game, you take your chances. Know what I mean?"
"Watch your mouth," says Dobba, pointing at me. "John’s got a point. What you did was out of order. You’re lucky that the boss hasn’t got the police breathing down his neck."
"That’s because they’ve got nothing. I’m clever, me. I don’t get caught." I didn’t like the look on Dobba’s face, so sat back and enjoyed the prospect of hurting Glenton. We weren’t far from our destination now. Once you’re outside of the city, it becomes much quieter. The buildings become more isolated. It’s desolate.
I look around. The barn stinks, absolutely reeks. It was how we had set it up earlier. We’d placed the table in the middle of the room, leaving a couple of nasty-looking saws on its edge, just to build up a bit of atmosphere. It was freezing, we might well need the petrol that we’d thoughtfully placed at the foot of the table. Jesus…I wouldn’t want to be Glenton at this moment in time. Me and John moved to where Dobba was holding Glenton. John had produced a cosh. I swallowed. I closed my eyes. The quicker this was started, the quicker it would be finished. For all my bravado, I wasn’t going to enjoy this. We closed in.
I smiled at Glenton. "It has to be done."
He stares back at me. "I suppose it has." I’m sent flying forwards into the arms of Dobba and Glenton. John had brought the cosh up and hit me on the back of the head. It wasn’t enough to knock me out, but it caught me off-guard. It was enough to send me crashing to the floor.
Glenton pulls me roughly up as Dobba hits me, square on the jaw. My body goes limp as I’m picked up and thrown onto the table. Before I have a chance to react, Glenton has a knife at my throat and my arms and legs are being tied to the table. I could see the saw and the petrol as a rag is forced into my mouth…I can taste my own blood...I can taste my own fear.
"You didn’t think the boss would let you just walk away from killing that girl, did you?" asks John.
"You’ve become a liability," says Dobba gleefully, as he picks up a saw and a hammer.
"It wasn’t my fault," I try to scream through the rag. My eyes bulge as they close in on me.
Now I understood…nobody would me hear me scream…punishment.
BIO: Nick Quantrill lives and works in Hull, East Yorkshire. His novel, 'Broken Dreams', will appear in 2009, one way or another. Nick can be found at Hull Crime Fiction.
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