‘Kevin? I got your message. Sorry, I was busy celebrating with the rest of the country. What can I do for you?’ Hamish Aitken enquired.
‘You know what I called about, how do I get my winnings? I can give you my Spanish bank details or you can come over to Spain to pay me in cash. Your call.’ McNair replied.
‘Well, it’s not that easy, unfortunately. Your win has left me a bit short of cash at the moment, so I can’t just get a flight over to you. How about you come here and I will give you the cash?’
‘I’m not stupid, Hamish. I’ve been caught out that way before. How about meeting on neutral territory? London? Barcelona?’ McNair suggested.
‘I think I can make it to London with my limited resources. There’s a pub I used to frequent when I was living in London some years ago. It’s called the Blue Posts and it’s on the corner of Arlington Street and Bennet Street off Piccadilly. How about I meet you there next Wednesday at 2 p.m.?’
McNair had little choice but to accept his suggestion. Luckily, he knew a few people in London who could look after themselves. He could have them wait outside the pub in case it all went wrong.
‘Okay, you’re on. Used notes only, please.’ McNair laughed.
‘Of course. See you there Kevin. And no tricks.’ Aitken confirmed before hanging up.
McNair looked up the pub and noted its location and nearest Underground station, which was Green Park. Good, he thought. He could collect the money, jump on the Underground straight through to Heathrow and get back before Aitken had a chance. Or, so he thought.
He wasn’t stupid enough to think that Aitken wouldn’t have some personnel in the area for the same reasons as he did. And that he would probably have to accept a lower offer, much like Hugh McInally had screwed him years ago. To be honest, he would be happy with half the money and a safe passage back home.
Aitken wasn’t planning on being that generous and only brought €20,000 with him. He had spoken to a couple of his contacts in the East End of London who gladly accepted Aitken’s offer of being at the meeting. They owed him a favour or two and knowing McNair was a bit of a twat they didn’t think he would cause them any trouble.
McNair had the same idea and called his friends in London and arranged for them to be at the Blue Posts as well. He didn’t bother packing a bag, he was flying in on the first flight from Malaga and would be on the six o’clock flight back on the same day.
McNair met his friends at Green Park station at 1:45 and told them what would be happening. They weren’t the biggest thugs he had met, but he knew they could look after themselves and him if it was required. After the beating he got from Ferraro’s men earlier in the year, he wasn’t going to be unprepared again.
They followed McNair down Arlington Street at a discrete distance and watched as he entered the pub and stood at the bar. At one minute to two, Hamish Aitken walked up to the bar and stood next to McNair. Although they had never actually met, he knew who he was looking for having Googled Kevin McNair and looking at his profile on Wikipedia. He was a lot fatter than his picture of him in his playing days, but instantly recognisable, nonetheless.
‘Kevin McNair, I presume?’ Hamish asked.
McNair confirmed his identity and offered Aitken his hand, which was refused, leaving him looking embarrassed.
‘I suppose this is the bit where you tell me you haven’t got the full amount. Have you got it, or not?’ McNair asked with an annoyed look on his face.
‘You’re very astute, Kevin. You obviously have previous form dealing with the likes of the late Mr McInally.’ Aitken laughed.
‘So, what’s the offer? €75,000? €60,000? Talk to me.’
‘Actually, it’s €20,000. I’d recommend accepting this as well. It’s all I’ve brought with me. Deal?’
‘You’ve got to be kidding me! You took my bet in good faith, and now you’re trying to stiff me for €80,000. No chance. You’d better come up with a better offer than that, Aitken.’ McNair spat. ‘I’ve got a couple of friends outside who might help you improve your offer.’
‘That’s a coincidence, Kevin. I’ve got a couple of friends here too. I think you’ve met Ludo and Marek. They’ve been living in London since Mr McInally met an untimely end and they were getting some heat from the local police.’
McNair looked over Aitken’s shoulder and saw two familiar men walk toward them with a menacing scowl on their faces. This put McNair in a difficult situation. He knew what Ludo and Marek were capable of and his minders would be no match for them.
‘Make it €50,000 and I’ll walk away.’ McNair offered.
’Haven’t got it, sorry Kevin. €20,000 or nothing.
‘€30,000. Final offer.’ McNair countered desperately. He just wanted to take what he could get and flee to the airport. This wasn’t turning out well at all.
‘Okay, €30,000 it is. Lucky I brought some reserve cash with me.’ Aitken laughed as he passed a carrier bag over to McNair. ‘No need to count it in here in front of all these tourists, why don’t you take it to the gents and count it there?’
McNair took the bag and glanced around the pub for the toilets, spotting them in one corner of the bar. He locked himself in a cubicle and opened the bag. After a few minutes, he had counted the money and was relieved to find that there was indeed €30,000 in used notes. He might just get away with this, he thought, but never again was he going to engage the services of these dodgy bookies. Strictly William Hill from now on.
When he unlocked the door of the cubicle, he felt a punch to the head knocking him back and landing on the toilet. Seeing stars, he got his thoughts together just as he felt a twelve inch blade penetrate his chest and spurted blood everywhere. Marek had caught him through the heart and he and Ludo watched the life ebb from McNair before grabbing the bag and locking the cubicle door by leaning over the top of it. When they re-joined Hamish Aitken at the bar, they handed the bag back to him and telling him that the job was done.
Aitken reached into his jacket pocket and handed over two one-way tickets to Prague and €5,000.
‘Thanks lads. Pleasure to see you again and all the best for your new life in Prague. I’ll look you up one day.’ He smiled as he shook their hands and exited the pub by a different door to the two staff he had inherited when he had Hugh McInally removed.
McNair’s acquaintances were waiting patiently outside the pub having a smoke and trying to peer through the window to see what was happening. They had seen McNair talking to a bloke at the bar, but neither of them seemed to be there now. Maybe they had sat down. After thirty minutes, they heard an ambulance with its sirens going full tilt heading their way. When it was joined by a police car outside the Blue Posts they got worried. Something had gone wrong and they weren’t going to get the £100 each that McNair had promised them.
When they saw a stretcher being carried out of the pub with a blood soaked Kevin McNair on it, they knew they weren’t getting paid and slipped away through the crowd of onlookers that had gathered.
That evening’s late edition of the London Standard carried the ominous headline:-
FORMER FOOTBALL ACE MURDERED IN MAYFAIR PUB
Hamish Aitken left town too early to get the late edition. He was already on the train out of King’s Cross heading back to Edinburgh and he wasn’t happy when he eventually saw the headline. Murdered? They were only supposed to beat him up, not kill him, he raged to himself. Now he had a problem. It wouldn’t be long before the Metropolitan Police worked out what had happened and came looking for him. It was time to get out of the country quickly and lie low for a spell.
A week or so went by before the barman noticed that McNair hadn’t been in Bar Asturias for ages. He knew he was heading for London to collect his winnings and assumed he had stayed on for a few days or he had transferred his business to a more up-market bar in Fuengirola. Oh well, when the money ran out, he would be back he mused as he poured another beer for himself.
Brian and Lucy were still celebrating not just the fact that Scotland had won the World Cup, but also the amount of profit they made over the last four weeks. There was more than enough for a bonus for everyone who had helped them make it a success, including Delroy who was spending his last day at Bistro Lucia with mixed emotions.
Lucy had arranged for her and Brian to go for a drink and a curry like they did years ago to celebrate while Victor and Diego ran the restaurant. Wednesday evening was generally one of the quieter ones so it was a good time to take a night off. On the way to the King’s Stores in Widegate Street near Liverpool Street station, Brian picked up a copy of the Evening Standard as he wanted to look at the adverts for cruises. They could have a look at them while they enjoyed a drink. When he saw the front page headline, he visibly paled.
‘I can’t believe it!’ He exclaimed to Lucy. ‘I met this bloke when I was in Mijas that Christmas. Bradley never liked him when they played for Hearts together and wanted nothing to do with him, especially when McNair moved to Fuengirola just up the road. He’s been murdered up west. Can’t believe it!’ Brian stuttered.
‘What was he doing here if he lived in Spain?’ Lucy asked, even though she wasn’t that bothered. She was looking forward to going through the cruise adverts.
‘No idea. Bit strange though. I’m going to call Archie Burns and see if he has heard the news.’
Lucy raised her eyes and tutted quietly. So much for a nice night out together, she thought.
Archie’s phone went straight to voicemail.
‘Hi Archie, its Brian Gardner. Have you heard the news about Kevin McNair? Give me a call when you can. Cheers.’
‘Sorry about that, just a bit of a shock. Now, let’s enjoy our evening.’ Brian apologised.
Archie checked his phone and found loads of messages which was unusual. Upon checking them one by one, he worked out what had happened to McNair. Although he had never been a particularly nice bloke to know, Archie had still been his agent during his playing days so he felt some pity for him.
He knew McNair was into gambling and he had heard on a number of occasions that he had been behind some suspicious betting patterns on lower league games. Maybe he got out of his depth this time and paid the price.
Archie decided to call Bradley and tell him, just in case he wasn’t aware and got a knock on the door from the Met. His call went to voicemail, which wasn’t surprising given that he had only just returned from Australia and wouldn’t want to be disturbed just yet. He had some catching up to do with Jessie after the events of the last month.