Charlie Rabman had never been one to forgive and forget
Nor had he ever been one to back down. Once a plan or idea was in his head, nothing could shift it until it had been planned out and executed.
Executed. Good word. He liked it. J
ust as he’d liked executing that pair of pigs last week. Squeezing them until the life just left them. He intended to make a statement, and dumping them exactly where he’d been picked up had a sort of poetic justice. Or, at least, it did to his mind. And those four brats who witnessed him would soon be joining them.
His two ‘colleagues’ as he called them, were bickering behind him, sitting at the table of the run-down caravan they had been camping in for the last month.
“But if we take them there, it’s not secure enough.” That would be Sparks. Always picking holes in things.
“It is plenty secure enough, and you know it. They wouldn’t have a clue where they were. Hell, first time I found it, I didn’t know where the fuck I was.” That was Attock. The two of them were always at each other’s throats. If they didn’t kill each other soon, he may have to do it for them. He was getting tired of the constant headache that came with their constant arguments.
“Yeah, fine. It’s dark, damp, private, and fucking miles from anywhere. Doesn’t hide the fact that it’s got no fucking door and no fucking lights.”
Rabman had finally had enough. “Fucking shut up!” he said loudly, “The pair of you!” Sparks and Attock fell silent. Rabman swivelled around to face them. “I was always under the impression,” he addressed Sparks, “That you didn’t mind doing it in the dark. You enjoyed that girl we did in Maine and that was in a cellar with no ‘fucking lights.’” He made quote marks around the phrase.
“Yeah, that was great. I just like seeing the look in their eyes. It turns me on like nothing else.” Sparks’ eyes glazed over.
Attock rolled his eyes at Rabman and Rabman had to admit that he had a point. You could almost feel his hard-on from most of the way across the cramped caravan.
“Fine. We’ll install a light for Your Highness so you can do the girls in the light,” he said sarcastically. Sparks shot him the bird.
“What about the guys?” asked Attock. “I just want to get in a few good swings before we kill them,” said Sparks.
“Once we’ve got them, you can do whatever the hell you like with them. Kill ‘em, punch ‘em, take ‘em out to lunch. But only after I’ve finished with them. Which lead us to the next problem.” Rabman leaned closer to his partners in crime. “How’re you planning to get them to me?” Sparks and Attock looked at each other. “Relax, boss,” said Attock calmly, “It’s all under control.”
* * *
Steph hated herself for being such a coward. After all these years, after all she’d suffered, was there no justice in this world? Charlie Rabman, the man she feared and loathed above all else, was on the run. And she was once again a target.
She rolled over, trying to catch ever elusive, and much needed, sleep. The problem was, every time she closed her heavy eyelids, pictures long repressed flashed up in her mind. Frightened faces from her forgotten past loomed oppressively in front of her. It didn’t help that she was wound as tight as a spring. After she and her friends had had that conversation, over a month ago, even though nothing had happened, she had felt like she was teetering on a knife edge. It was only a matter of time.
Desperately trying to shut out those images, Steph played pleasant ones of the day. She and Freddie had spent it by the reservoir, as Robyn had a family crisis and Alex had been dragged to Leicester for the day so it had been just the two of them. Steph liked that. Just the two of them.
‘It would be so much easier if we weren’t best friends,’ she thought sleepily, as the pleasant images did their job and she began to drift off.
Only to freak out once again as a stone hit the window.
She was so scared that for a few moments she cowered trembling under the covers. Then her practical side took over. ‘Fucking hell Steph, pull yourself together’, she thought with disgust.
A second stone hit the window.
Steph climbed out of bed and peeked through the curtains. The front garden was pitch black, but Steph saw the flash of a torch as it was hastily switched off.
Curiosity aroused, she pulled on her dressing gown and slippers, crept downstairs and went out through the front door. The garden was absolutely silent.
The night was clear, and a gibbous moon bathed the grass and plants in a silvery light. The rush of the odd car on the main road was just a breath in the distance. Steph’s’ slippers whispered against the cropped grass as she moved quietly down the garden to where she had seen the torch flash. Cursing not bringing a torch herself, she peered cautiously around a tree and was nearly poked in the eye by the note pinned to the bark.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” she said to herself, tugging the pin out of the bark and studying the envelope. It wasn’t that exciting, except that it was addressed to her. Suddenly aware that she was standing in her front garden wearing nothing but her pyjamas and a dressing gown, while a strange person was hanging around, she took to her heels and didn’t stop until she was safely once again in the sanctuary of her bedroom.
Only then did she flip her bedside lamp on and rip the envelope open.
The note read: ‘I can help you. I know a place where you can be safe and can help all of you be rid of the people storking you Come to London on the 1st of June and it will all become clear.’
Steph stared at it. The idea that anyone could keep them safe until Rabman was caught was laughable, at least to her experienced mind. On the other hand, whoever had posted the note was clearly keen to avoid detection. Maybe it was possible that he/she knew something.
Deciding that she would puzzle it out in the morning, Steph switched off the light. Sleep now seemed like a very good idea.
* * *
To say I hadn’t been having a good week would have been an understatement. Two detentions at school – one for missed homework and the other for being sarky to my maths teacher. Big family crisis – Cherise had come very close to walking out after an argument with Mum and then on top of that Mum caught Chas and his girlfriend about to do the wild thing in his room, which, of course, had sent her completely off the handle, ending with everyone shouting at each other for some reason or other. The entire house seemed in danger of falling down around us. Dad of course was useless – he just sat in the sitting room watching Shameless – loudly, his natural reaction whenever things get hairy. Being the only sane one left, I had to smooth everything over. Not too sure how well I did. Tensions were still running high in our household, and by today (Sunday) I was feeling so worn through that this mysterious note of Steph’s just about finished me.
“Someone up there,” I said, lying on Steph’s bed with my eyes closed and pointing at the ceiling, “has got it in for me at the moment.”
“Someone up there has it in for all of us at the moment,” said Alex dryly.
“Along with the people down here you mean,” I replied.
“Can we focus please guys?” asked Steph. Alex and I quit the sparring round and focused. “The note. What do you reckon it means?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” said Freddie from a chair by the bed. “This person thinks they know something about the people after us. But really it’s a trap. They mean to lure us to London to get us the easy way.”
“That’s a bit far fetched isn’t it Fred?” asked Alex. “Maybe this is as simple as it looks. They want to help us and can at least try and keep us safe.”
“I’m willing to meet anyone who thinks they can help us with the whole Rabman thing,” added Steph.
“That may be so, but I think Freddie’s right,” I said. Alex and Steph looked at me.
“Consider this from another angle – these men are on the run. They can’t just walk into the street and pluck us out of our homes, so why not let us go to them? A sort of Mohammed and the mountain situation.”
“Well, if we don’t go, we’ll never know, will we?” The logic of Alex’s statement rankled. This sounded too good to be true. Which meant it probably was. Or at least, that was what they said on the Real Hustle.
“We know nothing about this guy, except for the fact that he can’t spell,” Freddie put in.
“Well, I’m going, even if nobody else is.” Steph sounded so determined that for a moment we all stared at her.
“Do you seriously think we’d let you go and meet this guy all on your lonesome?” asked Freddie, as though he questioned her very sanity. “If you’re going, we’re all going.”
“I second that” said Alex
“So what are we deciding?” I asked.
“There’s nothing to decide,” said Freddie, in a definite voice. “If Steph wants to go, then we go, even though I think she’s mad.” The three of them looked at me.
“I have a question,” I said.
“If it’s ‘Have you all lost your minds?’, then the answer is that they ran away a long time ago to join the circus,” said Alex with a straight face.
Freddie and Steph sniggered.
“Not quite. I was thinking more along the lines of ‘Who’s gonna pay for the tickets?’ cause I’m broke,” I said, with an equally straight face.
Which sent us all into hysterics.