The Last Magus

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Plans within plans…

While Joe rested for the day in Natalie’s bed, half the time in her arms teasing her. Paul was sitting in a pub in town quietly drinking his second pint of non-alcoholic lager. He grimaced at the taste, “Jesus Christ! Who drinks this rat’s piss?” it was a weak yellow water like liquid that in the pint glass resembled a pint of fresh urine...it was even warm.
After his lunchtime session with Franklin Jolly four days before Paul had gone home, semi-inebriated, maybe a little more drunk than he had let on…only to be met on the doorstep by his wife Darlene. The traditional rolling pin in hand wasn’t required in Darlene’s case, her hand itself was like being hit by a wood plank if she slapped you and she had slapped him, more than once. The look on her face and her high pitched screeching told him that coming home drunk again would not be a wise move on his part. Paul had to admit his wife was one person you did not cross…not if you wanted to remain attached to certain parts of your anatomy! That was a big reason why he had wanted that land deal so badly, to outward observers he was a strong husband and doting father but that was all image too, inwardly he loathed the ugly troll his wife had become. He’d heard the other people sniggering about her and his son Ashley was no great genius. Ashley had lately been caught selling hardcore pornographic magazines to the new entrant kids at school, handing out really explicit pornographic magazines to eleven year old boys. Of course the devious little sod had sold them GAY pornographic magazines on a sight unseen basis, assuming they would be too embarrassed to complain. But he hadn’t counted on one student being caught with it and dropping Ashley right in it up to his eyeballs! Ashley was facing disciplinary proceedings, he was an arrogant little sod always mouthing off to teachers and no great shakes as an intellectual either so his record was woeful, so these proceedings could end in expulsion. In a way Paul couldn’t fault Ashley’s entrepreneurial spirit but there was a basic rule…if you are going to pull that sort of stuff, don’t get caught! No for all of his outward image Paul wanted to bail out on his marriage and son as soon as he could, stuff Darlene and stuff Ashley they were dead weight now! The land deal would have given him enough to make the break, an apartment of his own where he could take the babes he’d pull in that Bentley, life would have been sweet!

After sobering up with a pot of strong black coffee he had gone and found his address book and given his friend Steve a call. They had arranged to meet here in the pub…and Steve was late! To avoid another combat training session with his wife Paul had sworn to her only non-alcoholic drinks. He took another mouthful and grimaced again, “Oh man!” he coughed and desperately wanted to spit the drink out, “this stuff should be in the gents urinals. If it was warmer I’d swear it had come from there.” he pushed his glass away disgusted, sod Darlene he wanted a real drink.

“Paul mate, how you doing?” Paul looked up, at last his friend had arrived.

“Steve where the bloody hell have you been, we said eleven and it’s almost midday!” Paul pointed at his fake Rolex watch, tapping it disapprovingly, it still wouldn’t run but he’d got here on the bus that arrived at eleven and it took him an hour to try and drink that rat’s piss they called lager.

“Sorry mate, had a little matter to deal with.”

“Such as?”

“Let’s just say a matter vis-a-vis Lilly Law!”

Paul’s face fell like someone had kicked him, “You’re in trouble with the Police again? What for this time?”

“No mate, court this time.”

“What’d they get you for?”

“Attempted armed robbery and possession of an illegally foreshortened firearm.”

“Armed robbery with a bloody sawn off! Jesus Steve! You should have said something when I called you. If you’d been sent down I’d look a right dick sitting here like a spare part at a wedding!”

“The event itself was back in January mate, the case only just got to trial.”

“And?”

“And my brief got the whole thing thrown out.”

“Good for you. Did you do it?”

“What do you think mate?” Steve laughed coarsely as he sat on the stool, “Course I bloody did! Some mousey little bastard in the place I was robbing pole axed me and put the mockers on the whole deal.”

“You what?” Paul looked at his friend. Steve was a big man, six foot five tall, solid muscle, a regular at the town gym. Anyone who knew Steve knew he was tough as nails. Paul tried to fit that with the idea that some little bloke had taken him out...no way!

“Yeah with a bloody word of all things...”

“A…word?” Suddenly Paul raised his head and gasped, if he had had a mouthful of the lager he would have spat it out in a stream. “Wait that wasn’t you tried to do the bank at the beginning of January?”

“Yep, me, Chris and Barry. We went in tooled up, no messing. Barry had one of those long shooters, bloody great double barrelled cannon. But it wasn’t like he’d use it, you know Barry one decent fist to the face and no-one tends to get up for quite a while. Chris, well he had an old army forty five of his dad’s and me I had my sawn off. We’ve just brought out the guns and I was putting the frighteners on the teller...Good looking little tart, could have had a run on her any day in other circumstances! Would have been a real shame to mess her face up, but business is business. Then this little runt steps up and says he wants to say something. He’s acting all drunk, so I think why not let him I’m going to be sending him to heaven or hell pissed…He says one bloody word, still don’t know what it was…and that was it lights out old mate, until the pigs got there! I’ve been on remand since and the case went to trial beginning of last week.”

“This little bastard…he wouldn’t have used a magic spell on you would he?”

Steve looked deeply insulted, then resentful, before relaxing with a deep sigh and a half smile, “If you can believe that bullshit! That’s what got the case thrown out. The pigs only had evidence that I was carrying a sawn off, by the time they arrived I was snoring like a baby in the bank. So I paid the fine for the foreshortening but they couldn’t prove the robbery, despite eyewitness accounts.”

“Eye witnesses?”

“Yeah some old dear who couldn’t see shit without her glasses and some shirt lifter of a male teller.” In Steve’s language a shirt lifter was a male he suspected of being homosexual. “You seriously think a little shit streak like that runt could take me down otherwise? I don’t know how he did it but I’m going to make sure he remembers never to do it to me again. Why?”

Paul smiled, “Because mate I think I might just be able to make your day, week, month and maybe year all in one. I wanted to talk about you doing a little job. Money should be good if you can do it and by the sound of it you can get some payback. I know that particular little shit streak! He cost me a bloody bundle thanks to his hero bullshit with you.”

“Two birds with one stone eh then, I can do your job and get some payback at the same time. Do tell me more Paulie? You want another?”

“What? You must be crazy!” Paul pushed his glass even further away, “that rat’s piss isn’t fit to pour in the urinal. I’m not sure the landlord didn’t get it from there! But he should put it back in there, it would cut out the middle man! I’ll have a proper beer mate, pint of Guinness.”
“One of your depth charges I suppose?”
“Oh go on you talked me into it!” Paul smiled, could he help it if his friend had offered to buy him a real drink? To say no would be rude and Darlene would just have to accept that.

Steve went to the bar and returned a couple of minutes later with a small circular bar tray and two pint glasses. Paul’s Russian depth charge of black Guinness beer with the shot glass of vodka rattling in the pint glass and his own pint of brown German beer, the aroma of which was strong enough to peel paint, just the way he liked it!

“I don’t know why you don’t drink something English Steve.” Paul said as he took his drink from the tray and took a long pull at it.

“What like your Irish beer and your Russian vodka? This German stuff will put hairs on you where a man should have hairs.” Steve nudged Paul’s arm in a gesture that was loaded with sexual innuendo.

“Ah! God that’s good! Much better than that fucking rat’s piss!” Paul wanted to hurl the glass of lager across the pub but instead he just put it out of sight on the floor. “That stuff is so weak I’d expect to pay the water company for it! But each to their own I suppose, anyway mate about this job I want you doing…”

Steve raised a warning hand, waving it at Paul as he pressed the index finger of his other hand to his lips, “Keep it down Paulie, this maybe a quiet boozer but I’d rather not go back on remand quiet yet.”

“Sorry.” Paul pulled his stool up to the table and leaned across, he spoke in a hoarse whisper, “As I said that little shit streak is a neighbour of mine and the inconsiderate bastard cost me a bundle of cash.”

“What did he do?”

“There was this land deal, you remember the bank manager? The bank you tried to turn over?”

“No he was in his office or something…never saw him!”

“Ah well, seems he brokered a land deal. It all hinged on old shit streak, his name’s Joseph Winstanton by the way…it all hinged on whether the bank manager could get Joe’s house. He had the whole thing sorted, a done deal! Paperwork, court actions the bloody lot mate. He told me the other day he’d practically embezzled ALL of Joe’s dough as well. Without dough Joe would have been forced to settle the debts by giving his house over. I didn’t know that at the time you understand, I just saw this land deal that promised a BIG return, massive man! So I put all I could into it, an absolute bundle, I would have had me some real money and maybe my bid for freedom.”

“Darlene keeping you on a tight leash then?”

“Honest? I wish I could divorce the leeching bitch! She never stops, that woman has a tongue I could saw wood with!” Steve smiled, he knew Darlene quite well and thought Paul was probably understating her attitude, “But don’t tell her I said that or she’ll kill me! Why else do you think I was drinking that rat’s piss? She lay down the law the last time I came home pissed. Anyway that’s all beside the point mate. I’d have made an absolute bloody killing!”

“And…?”

“And Joseph Winstanton turns up at the bank on the morning of your job and drops three hundred fucking grand on the teller.” Steve let out a low whistle, for a small bank having that sort of cash was impressive, especially from a single customer. “According to my friend, the bank manager, Joe sold some rare gold coin to a collector and got that as his sale price.”

“Three hundred grand for a coin? ONE fucking coin? You sure?”

“Yeah something about it being really really old and extremely rare. You know what it’s like mate there’s always another sucker somewhere.”

“Yeah…but three hundred grand! Must have been some coin.”

“Well look mate, the long and the short of it is that that money killed my land deal. Joe deposited his money and cheque then paid off his fucking debts once the cheque cleared, which meant no house that then meant no land deal and my bloody money is gone for a Burton! I had a Bentley mate with all the extras. I was all set for a down payment on a shag pad too that would have got me away from Darlene. Maybe I could have had some real talent for a change! But I had to give it all up, all of it man! I’m reduced to using the bloody bus! Then to add insult that little shit stain has refurbished his whole fucking place, it looks the dog’s now mate! Probably put three hundred maybe five hundred grand on the asking price.”

“So what do you want me to do about it?”

Paul took a long thoughtful pull at his beer, the vodka sting was just starting to kick in, “Well, my bank manager friend and I think Joseph may have more of those coins stashed away in his house. If so then I think he should share the wealth don’t you?”

“You mean you want me to do a little break in and steal those coins from him. Any idea how many he might have?”

“None!” Paul shook his head, “But at three hundred Kay a piece you only need to nick half a dozen to be into millions. And unless it’s a coin the size of a cartwheel half a dozen coins could fit in your pocket easy.”

“True enough old mate, true enough. So what’s the king’s regs here?” Steve always referred to king’s regs when he was setting up a job, some might call them his rules of engagement, he was always careful about what could he do, what could he get away with and what should he not do?

“No holds barred old mate!” Steve smiled broadly, he liked that as that meant anything goes, “you’ve got a score to settle as he screwed up your bank job, I want my bloody money back…with the return I was expecting, I want my bloody shag pad and I don’t think I can stick another night with the Troll. While the bank manager has got a major hard-on for bankrupting the bastard so he can bulldoze his house!”

“You want me to trash the place then?”

“I’ll leave that up to you Steve.” Steve smiled again, given Joe had loused up his robbery he had a definite score to settle.

“OK, know anything about the house layout? Floor plans would be nice.”

“No mate sorry, I can tell you the front of the house is single storey, one big room, old too! While I can see the back from my place looks two storeys. Don’t know about any basements or loft spaces though. Joe only ever uses the front door too. There is a back door but I’ve never ever seen him or anyone else use it.”

“So six or seven rooms then? OK I can handle that!”

Paul bent low over the table and whispered again, “I’ve not met anyone who has been inside his place beyond that front room. The banker reckons no one has worked on the place either for the refurbishment, there’s no builders plans. How did he get the refurbishment done without builders? I guess you’ll just have to play the whole thing by ear…”

“And if Mr Winstanton should be in residence when this gentleman visitor calls?”

“Again play it by ear old mate, don’t kill him! Not that he doesn’t deserve it, it’s just he ain’t worth the effort I can assure you!” Steve looked a little saddened by that, but then again he wasn’t a killer...a thug? A heavy? Yes! If you wanted someone roughed up and a few bones broken, sure! A debt collector with few scruples about how he got the money? No problems! But a killer? No! At least not yet. Paul continued, “But a few well placed cuts and bruises wouldn’t go amiss, broken bones as a reminder you know!” Steve smiled and drank a mouthful of his beer as he flexed his right hand thoughtfully.

“So what’s my take here then Paulie?”

“Well whatever you get of any value we split three ways, you, me and the banker.”

“Why the fuck are we paying the banker?”
“He got a major shafting thanks to Joe. He’s facing losing his job.”
“Best thing from what I know of those parasitic bastards! And if I want to bring anyone else in? Hired help?”

“Comes out of your end old mate! So the less people involved the more for everybody. Oh yeah and before I forget, better be aware he’s got a girl now too. Saw them together the other day…all loved up with arms round each other…it was God awful sickening and there’s a pet golden retriever dog, but I don’t think that shaggy old mutt will be too much trouble, it looks like it would turn and run if a rat broke wind in its direction!”

“Who’s the girl?”

“Remember the good looking tart from the bank?”

Steve almost choked on his mouthful of beer, “You are joking! That little runt is giving that babe a seeing to? Fuck me! There ain’t no justice and that’s a fact! Can I have some fun with her do you think?”

“Rape her? Come on Steve you’re not the sort for that! I thought you despised rapists.” Again that was true, Steve, although a hardened criminal with a record that would make a novel look small, did have certain standards. He was what they called old school, you didn’t hurt women or children beyond what was absolutely required and rapists were lower than dog shit on your shoe! On Steve’s scale of value God had created rapists to give guys like him something to throw off balconies or beat up when a good solid heavy punchbag wasn’t available. Only one thing existed that was lower than rapists in Steve’s estimation and that was nonces, the sick individuals who interfered with children! Nonces, paedophiles and all those sex offenders were the lowest form of human life on the planet. Steve didn’t know why God had created such sick shits but he definitely had a way of dealing with them! Steve nodded thoughtfully as he took another mouthful, this Appfel-dorf beer was good stuff, some of the best he’d tasted and when it came to German beer he thought of himself as a connoisseur. “Good thing there isn’t any justice too mate...” Paul smiled sipping his own beer, oh that vodka just hit the spot every time.

“Why is that?”

“Well if there was you’d be starting a ten to fifteen stretch in some category A about now!”

“Yeah I suppose so…here’s to British justice eh? Long may it last!!” Paul and Steve laughed raucously as they clinked glasses to Steve’s toast, they took a huge pull at their drinks. “…And may you be sunning yourself in Spain before the pigs have a chance to find you’ve even left!” Steve added with another laugh.

“...or be in heaven a day before the devil finds out you’re dead!” Paul laughed draining his glass, yes that vodka just did it for him every single time. “My round, want another?”

“Yeah go on this is Appfel-dorf, never heard of it before, not bad stuff got some good tang to it! So we got a timetable for this job then?”

“You and your bloody Kraut beer!” Paul shook his head, smiling, “Timetable? Nothing official but soon as you can mate, sooner you rob the bastard sooner we get the money. If you don’t fancy tangling with the hero and his babe then they go out on Thursdays, tomorrow; like I said they’re all loved up.” Paul mimicked pushing a finger down his throat as if trying to vomit. “Makes you spit to think a useless streak of piss like him can bed a babe like her! I heard they’re regulars at the flicks and a Chinky place after, stay until late too!” Again with the finger to his mouth.

Steve smiled, Paul for whatever reason really didn’t like this Joe. “You should learn to be more racially tolerant Paulie, nothing wrong with Oriental food. But that’ll only leave the old watchdog then…and since the British justice system appears to have deemed me not guilty of a bank robbery and therefore at liberty, and since I do appear to have some spare time in my schedule available. Tomorrow night will fit nicely too.”

“You going to do the job alone then?”

“With one mutt to take care of and six or seven rooms I’m offended you’d even ask that Paulie. In, out before they even know they got took.”

“I suppose, you should see that mutt Steve. It has a coat that shines like gold…and I mean like the polished metal! I swear every bloody hair, bastard thing looks like a mirrored disco ball. Never seen any dog like it!”

“Hmm sounds unusual…maybe I could add the dog to the haul, I hear there are collectors, no questions asked! Oi! You getting those beers in or not?”

“Yeah, yeah give me a moment!”

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