A Simple Man
Chapter 31 A Simple Man
“A tosser God” said the man holding the gun. The balding man about 40 years of age focused on the hole that led down the barrel to a chamber which held the bullet. He was in shock. Two men stood in his kitchen, one with the gun the other small, possessing a wire like frame, paced the floor. The larger of the two men, the one with the gun, waved the gun as if to indicate the large crucifix on the kitchen wall, “Bet your wondering why your God chose you to suffer this?”
Nodding his head the man managed to cough out the words,
“I don’t have money on the premises.”
Both intruders wore black jeans, black tops, black balaclavas.
They both appeared totally relaxed as if this was the day job.
“Not here for money, jewellery, drugs, TV’s or anything to resell.”
“What then?” ask a puzzled house owner relaxing a little.
“Who’s the girl in the back bedroom.?” asked the wire frame.
Suddenly the man turned a whiter shade of white,
“My daughter, she was suppose to be at her grans but stayed here the night.”
“What we came for ” said the big man, “Is your wife.”
“She isn’t.... ” spat out the father.
“Isn’t what?” asked the big man, now showing signs of apprehension.
“Here” came the answer
“I know that, we searched the place, remember ?” he moved the gun to his side guessing his captive would give no trouble. He was thinking hard, ‘something wrong here.’ he thought.
“When is she back for Christ sake?”
“We are separated, she is not coming back.”
This was the last answer the two men wanted.
The wire of a man shot round the table and pushed his face in to the man’s face,
“Say that again.”
“Back in two days. ” the man answered shaking, going on to offer a placating explanation,
“I am here to clear out my stuff, she is with her lover. Sorry”
“Address.” shouted the wire frame.
“only address I have is on the divorce papers.”
“And what is that?” asked the big man.
Their captive picked up a smart phone and after a few taps said
“Riverside, 27 Crockett Drive.”
“Nice ” said the smaller man, “done a few jobs up there, big houses, rich pickings.”
“Spider, ” reprimanded the big man, “Get onto the boss tell him the story and tell him he may want to send the second team round to Crockett Drive. We will ring her just before they arrive.”
The man called Spider went outside to make the call.
“Do as you are told, and nothing bad will happen.”
“Why my wife?” asked the man with a little more confidence now he was dealing with just one intruder.
No answer came forth so he suggested an answer himself.
“She owes money?”
Still no answer so he tried again,
“Someone got a grudge, she can seriously rub people up the wrong way.”
Just then the man called Spider reappear or rather his head did , “Boss says have we got the right house?”
Turning and moving closer to his captive the big man said calmly,
“Your wife, where does she work and what does she do?”
“At the university” the man seems genuinely mystified. “Computer Dept.”
“What does she do there?” pressed the big man.
“Sells time on the big computers, she is in charge of it all. The money side”
Pivoting round to face the head of Spider at the doorway he gave a sharp nod.
“Got that.” says he causing spider’s head to disappear.
Soon the whole body of Spider entered the room
“Sending a team round, if she is there they will set up shop there, sending the fucking psycho Fen .”
“There will be blood on carpet before the night is out, mark my words.” said the big man continuing with
“You say she is with a lover.?”
“Yes, ” came the subdued reply.
“Male or female.”
“Why male , of course my wife is straight.”
Both men laughed, “Not the first time a wife left her husband for another woman.”
Their captive looked slightly ashamed as if loosing a wife was a crime or at best careless.
“Mind you, ” put in Spider “it may look better if had been a woman, you can’t compete with that can you.” he gave a giggle as if sticking a pin in a voodoo doll.
The man sitting at the kitchen table squirmed,
“What the fuck do you want with my wife?” he shouted in some kind of defiance.
“What’s your first name, the big man asked calmly.
“Duncan.” a timid reply.
“Well, Duncan your wife is in no danger if she co-operates, we need access to the computers, well one in particular.”
“What the hell for?”
“Can’t rightly say, Duncan” then he added in a friendly tone, “Call me C and that there is Spider, not his real name.”
Spider sat down at the table willing to kill time with conversation,
“Why did she really leave you ?”
“Well, the man she is with tonight is very rich, owns a bank or two. ”
“That would do it” put in C.
“We were incompatible, she was a go getter, I wanted to go fishing.” Duncan appeared laconic to the point of fatalistic.
“What kind of fishing?” asked C.
“Just coarse fishing, nothing fancy.”
“No braving the Tweed for Salmon then or out on a yacht hunting Merlin.” C laughed.
“Nothing wrong with Coarse Fishing!” Spider sprung to Duncan’s defence.
“Sorry, Duncan,” apologised C, “no slight intended.”
Changing the subject C stated,
“You have a nice house, comfortable, daughter , everything most women would settle for.”
“Security is crap, ” put in Spider, “I was in inside 1 minute.”
“Two” corrected C then asked, “What do you do?”
“I am an accountant.”
“Accountancy rhymes with boring” said Spider.
“Guess ,so. She hated it, me being boring. She loved foreign holidays to exotic places, I liked my garden.”
“I am beginning to see why she left.” nodded C.
Duncan raised his head in a defiant mood,
“I never intended to change the world, or conquer Everest, or swim the bloody Atlantic.”
“A simple man,” toned C in sympathy nodding his head, “I get that.”
“A beer on Saturday and watch a bit of footie,” put in Spider in full agreement.
“It’s all the hard sell on the telly, in social media, all saying there is more, more, every woman can have it all.” blazed Duncan his raw divorced nerve throbbing.
“That is so true,” agreed C waving the gun around casually as if it were a twig used for drawing in the sand.
Then Duncan put his head in his hands in emotional pain, “I have to sell the house and give her most of the money. Jesus it is so unfair.”
Spider and Duncan exchanged glances, neither wanting an emotional wreck on their hands.
They were rescued by Spiders mobile ring tone, “Hello Mortal” it chimed.
Spider went outside.
He soon entered and looking directly at Duncan said, “Ring her and tell her to open the front door.”
then hastily added, “on the bloody speaker, if you please.”
“What the hell do you want?” the female voice barked.
“Don’t hang up Barbara we have a serious problem.”
“A man with a gun is here in the kitchen and says you have got to go and answer your front door.”
“Tell him to piss off.” came an instant reply.
C cut in, “Open the fucking door or I will blow his brains out and then rape your daughter. Got it.”
“My daughter, she is not there?“, the female voice sounded less certain.
“She is, she is.” screamed Duncan, “she is staying the night. Just open the front door please.”
A subdued female voice said, “Alright.”
They followed on the phone the sounds down some stairs and across a hall of some kind that echoed then a chain and then a swish.
“What the hell...” then the phone clearly fell onto something hard like a floor.
A male voice come over the speaker , a male voice both men recognised.
“Get your arses over here and bring the father and the daughter. ” then the phone went dead.
“Right ” said C firmly while waiving the gun at Duncan,” time to move.”
This was an alpha female and he hated them. He had come across them on more than one occasion and for him they were always trouble, strident, demanding, pushy all the things he hated in a female. How Duncan, a mild mannered man had hitched his wagon to this he could not imagine.
Like a troop of baboons meeting for the first time it was time from the outset to get the social hierarchy settled. She was standing in the centre of a large marble floored hall. Opposite her were her husband, daughter and two other men. To their left was Olivetti complete with balaclava and gloves but sporting a smart dark blue suit as if called from a board meeting to fix the drains with no time to change.
Behind, and to the side of him was Fen and K-kay.
The woman with dyed blonde hair cut short by an expertly, was laying down the law.
“You cannot come in here, threatening my family. You fucking morons we have camera’s, a security system second to none, now get out, bastards.” In no way was she submissive and from her attitude an outsider would think the invaders were the ones in trouble.
“Shut the fuck up!” shouted Olivetti, then with a blink of his head in the direction of Fen he flicked his head sharply to point at the woman.
With incredible speed Fen flashed past the men, grabbed the alpha female by the throat and established a pecking order on the floor. Job done. For Barbara there was only one alpha female in this room and it was not her.
“OK” she said quietly in a submissive tone rising slowly from the floor.
Carlo made a sweep of the building checking the E&E points as well as getting an important feel for the place. His job was to stay to look after the hostages while the second team went to the University. He found the house quite something, clearly built on commission with a mountain of money for its foundations.
Glass dominated a three storey work of art. It was built in a small valley , or rather into the valley side overlooking a small stream. The architect had clearly noted the threat of flooding for the ground floor consisted of a double garage, large car port and a gym, all water compliant.
An elevator attached to outside of the building, like those in modern skyscrapers, serviced the two upper floors while a paved series of steps wound their way up the hillside to the large front door, for those of a more athletic disposition.
On the first floor was a large open plan kitchen and dinning area off a corridor which granted access to three bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Above that was the main living area with glass walls looking out over the small valley, the lights of the city twinkling like a distant galaxy. Again a corridor with bedrooms and a large study come office.
In the living room two huge sliding glass patio doors opened onto a balcony large enough for a football team to party. Carlo stood on the balcony looking down to the patio area below with chairs and tables. Lights aluminated a grassed area then the stream could be imagined beyond in the darkness. In the summer heat it made a very soft bubbling sound as would a wild animal asleep.
“Nice” he said to himself as he returned to the assembled throng in the living room.
It was 11.30pm when Olivetti made his speech. On on large leather sofa sat Mr Banker some 6ft 3 tall his legs seemed folded like a grasshopper, he wore blue pyjama bottoms covered by a black silk dressing gown. Standing next to him, for she refused to sit was Mrs Hodson, as she liked to call herself, this being her maiden name before the disaster she called Duncan had arrived in her life. Now in a smart two piece trouser suit she looked ready for the office.
On the same sofa as the banker but well ensconced in a space of her own was the daughter Anna, looking pale, terrified and quite lost.
Across a large oak coffee table was another sofa which contained Duncan while around the room were scattered their captors.
Olivetti took centre stage waving a gun with a large silencer he approached Mrs Hodson.
“This is about you.” he said quite calmly “About you and a computer at the university called Big Bro.”
“Only the students call it that.” put in Mrs Hodson defiantly.
“Well , is it not a super computer one of the fastest in the country. Correct?” demanded Olivetti having decided he disliked this woman.
“Correct.” echoed the woman.
“We need to commender it for a few hours.” stated Mr Olivetti.
“That is impossible ” pushed back Mrs Hodson still defiant., “it is fully booked for 2 years.”
Just then from nowhere a pet Siamese cat strode into the room looking both regal and arrogant.
Olivetti turned and raised the gun and there in a pop the cat slide sideways and lay dead, blood appearing on the wooden floor.
“I hate cats” the cat slayer said, “They kill the birdies.”
He then pointed the gun at the banker while looking directly at the woman, “I believe in Australia that is called throwing a dead cat on the table in business negotiations, only this ain’t no fucking negotiation.” His voice on the last few words, filled the room such was it’s force.
Mrs Hodson stole a quick glance at her dead cat and caved in, ”
“Whatever you say.”
Mr Olivetti appeared pleased with the result and in a more measured tone asked,
“My information is that only 3 terminals can input an app onto the machine, and you have one of those in your office?”
“Correct” the woman affirmed.
“You will go with me and two associates and load some code into the machine, we will run it from here for a few hours then leave you all in peace and hopefully, good health. Understood?”
The woman gave a slight nod of her head but this was not good enough for her captor,
“Understood ?” he bellowed,
“Yes, yes” came an almost hysterical answer.
Carlo was in charge. He watched Spider move around the room eyeing the goodies and moved up to confront him.
“Word of warning, ” he said in his ear, “you leave here with any swag and I will break both your fucking arms. Understood?”
From the tone, Spider knew Carlo meant it so he retired to the large table that had been turned into an office by the two strange females.
“Mind if I sit?” he said to them.
They ignored him so he sat.
Carlo could see Duncan was withdrawn into a tiny shell of a world so he sat on the coffee table facing the banker. A man with a long face, weak chin and Americanised teeth. His dark hair was immaculate even at this time of night.
“Before Barbara moved up the food chain what was your previous like?” Carlo starred hard at the man to see his worth.
Without a flicker the man replied, “Young and very attractive.”
“Out of my league , eh?” said Carlo guessing the meaning.
“You don’t appear worried?” Carlo wanting to know why the man appeared so cool under these circumstances.
“If you were going to kill us you would not bother with face masks.” he said, “but the females have no masks or gloves, they do not appear worried about being seen. That worries me.”
This worried Carlo a little but he gave the same answer he had been given,
“Well, Mr Banker one way or another they will not be around for long so they don’t give a flying f..”
“I see.” said the banker.”
“To my mind,” said Carlo slowly changing tac, “Banks do not create wealth. Farmers create wealth, a factory making washing machines, creates wealth but a bank merely moves other peoples wealth around , keeping some for itself. Is that not so?”
“We provide a service.” defended the banker.
“Betting on currency movements is not a service.” said Carlo with feeling, “it is gambling pure and simple.”
“We all have to make a living.” said the banker.
Carlo, waved the gun in the air as if pointing to the room, “Boy and some do make a good living.”
Warming to his subject Carlo was about the pour forth when he noticed K-Kay was standing close by pointing to the patio.
“Excuse me a moment, Mr Banker.” he said leaving to follow K-Kay onto the balcony.
A coolish breeze surrounded them both and Carlo for the first time detected a perfume.
" Are you wearing perfume?” he asked somewhat surprised at his development.
Her big eyes looked at his as she said,
“Thought I would update you.” she spoke no more but moved down the balcony towards its edge somewhat out of sight of the living room.
Carlo looked at Spider waving the gun in the direction of the captives.
Spider immediately understood and move to take up guard duty.
When he joined K-Kay she did not speak.
They both appeared to savour the silence, the view and the breeze of fresh air coming down the valley.
Both were dressed in black so their form appeared to melt into the dark shadows at this end of the balcony.
“Well ?” he posed a question he knew was not important. ‘Why had she brought him out here he thought.’
Only her dark outline was perceptible in the low light, her face turned outwards to the country beyond. When she did speak it was in a low sultry voice he did not recognise. It was as soft as the stream below.
“You have a beautiful planet Mr Carlo, pity you are destroying it.”
“Not me personally.” he countered moderating his tone to match hers.
“Each plays his or her part.” the voice only just audible above the night.
He had no more to say wanting only a progress report.
“Would you do something for me Mr Carlo?” her request was delivered by her face turning towards him so he could see the pale features in the borrowed light of the living room.
“Sure, if I can.” he had no idea what she could need from him, a hired gun.
She moved real close to him now, tapping a forefinger on his chest,
“I know I am not your type” she started, “but since one way or another my job here is nearly complete, could you....” she stopped obviously finding it difficult to complete the request.
“Could I what?” he prompted feeling she was awfully close to him.
“Ki..s..s me.” she said slowly, her eyes wide in the poor light.
Guessing he was close to refusal she attempted to tip the balance in her favour.
“I have never been kissed by a male, of any persuasion. When my life ends let it be a comfort to me that I at least knew what it was like. Please Mr Carlo.”
This soft, pleading tone melted him. ‘How can I refuse that?.’ he thought.
Putting his gun in the back of his trouser belt, removing his mask, he leaned forward and gave a soft kiss on the lips, lingering there long enough to meet the statutory requirements.
“Oh,” leaning back she half exclaimed, “remembering that is not going to be easy.”
He suddenly felt guilty, as if he had taken a customers money and sold them shoddy goods.
“Hell, sod it” he said and folding his arms around her he brought her to him in every way.
Using his considerable strength he folder her body into his, made her head yield in the most agreeable way and kissed her as if he had never seen a woman for years.
When they eventually broke the bond she stepped back saying,
“Thank you, I will certainly remember that.”
Carlo felt embarrassed but did not know why.
“Have I just kissed an alien?” he ask sheepishly.
“Afraid so.” she mocked him slightly.
They stood there looking at each other for sometime both shocked at what they had done, though for different reasons. She because she knew she wanted more which was impossible, he by the enormity of holding a female from another world in his arms. Bringing himself together he asked in an uncertain tone,
“Any chance of that progress report, now?”
This had the effect of snapping her out of a delicious dream,
“Yes, of course” she started, ” They have loaded our code into the machine, they are currently testing it and if all goes well they should be back here in a little over 2 hours. Then we can run it from here.”
“And what will it do? ” he paused, “They did tell me but perhaps you can make it simple for me.”
“Right ” she said smiling at him although in the dark he could only sense the smile, not see it.
“Firstly, our code works out the exact location of the passing points and the timing. When I say exact location I mean down to the centimetre. Secondly it will give us the security codes for the CV cameras on the routes to all the passing points. Lastly, it will work out a probability factor for each site to see which one he will most likely use. That is really difficult since we have so few variables.”
“And the nurse is she a variable.”
“She” K-kay paused as if deep in thought, “She is a ‘Qoti’ ”
“What the hell is a Qoti?” asked Carlo mystified by such a term.
“In your maths lessons you must have done equations with a constant, say pi for a circle.”
“Yes” he said.
“Well, in our maths we have a Qoti constant which is any variable that we do not have a clue what it means. It is always given the value 7 in quotes.
“A wild card” suggest Carlo
“A little more than that, A unknown, unknown is more like it, remember the Asynth”
“Why 7?” he asked out of pure curiosity.
“Why not ? It is convention, we all know what it represents.”
“I see” he said bemused.
“Do you, Mr Carlo?”
K-Kay turned and headed for the living room the discussion at an end.
“I would love to meet this Qoti” he muttered under his breathe.
Olivetti was in a good mood when he returned to 27 Crockett Drive. Everything had gone well at the University. Fen had behaved herself, Sultry and Prep7 had worked on the machine and despite a few technical hitches it had ended well. So when dawn put in an appearance wearing nothing more than a blue sky she found him telling his captives he would be leaving in an hour or two.
“Nearly finished, just sorting out a few data feeds.” he announced beaming under his face covering.
Turning to the girl, who was bleary eyed from being awake all night, he said,
“Soon this will be a distant memory and you will be at school for the new term.”
“New school” said the girl as if uncertain she should speak at all.
“New school eh?” he felt small talk was good.
“A boarding school.” she said.
At this Duncan, who had been morose, came to life.
“What is this?” he demanded looking at his ex wife.
“We thought it for the best, she starts next month.” his wife looked defiant again.
“You did not think to consult me, her father?”
“The judge awarded total custody to me. We decided. End of story.”
Duncan rising to his feet shouted, “It is not fair, do I not have a say in anything?”
“Frankly, ” she also rose to her feet for a fight that had been going on for a year, “no you don’t.”
It was the gangster who stood between them. Marriage guidance not his strong suit said,
“Fight to death after we are gone please, or I will put both of you in the fucking hospital.”
This lowered the gas ring to simmer , each glaring at the other.
An hour or so passed in which Duncan withdrew into himself. Sultry who wore a white plastic mask of a skull decorated with red flowers around the eye sockets along with thick black lips, approached her boss to say they had all the data and would now be packing up. She looked down at Duncan with some concern.
“Is he OK?” she asked of Olivetti.
“Ya, had some bad news that’s all.” Olivetti was pleased to be leaving.
Turning to Spider and Carlo he said, “Help them with gear, more hands the quicker we leave.”
As both men moved away from the balcony door Duncan rose saying he wanted the bathroom. When the path was clear Duncan suddenly darted for the balcony. It caught everyone by surprise since their was nothing out there, no escape route, no parachute to safety. It was only when Duncan raised his leg over the safety barrier did they realise what kind of exit he had in mind.
Fen being the fastest being on two legs covered the ground to the barrier in no time at all. Duncan was falling feet first. With one hand griping an upright roof support she swung over and down catching his trailing arm by the wrist. The poor man was suspended between heaven and earth.
“Let me go” he pleaded.
A moment passed in which Carlo arrived.
“O.K.” said Fen letting go her grip.
A sicken thud told Carlo all he wanted to know. He looked over the rail uttering the words,
“Duncan, Duncan” in a low sad voice.
First to the body was Sultry who was on the ground floor loading a van. Kneeling over the body she looked up with her white skeleton mask then shook her head slowly from side to side.