Jimmy Kiley nudged open the kitchen door with his right foot, a blocky handgun gripped between both hands.
Johnny Croft, a man-mountain dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt too small for his massive torso, was standing at the sink, rubbing a plate with a soapy dishcloth.
‘Do you not have a woman to do that for you?’ Kiley asked.
‘It’s the maid’s day off. What the fuck do you want, Jimmy?’ Croft put the plate on a draining rack and retrieved a bowl from beneath the suds.
‘I hear you’ve been asking after me. Making threats.’
Kiley stepped into the kitchen, followed by two hard, mean-looking men, one of them holding a video camera.
‘You were the last person The Whack was seen with,’ Croft said, referring to his boss, Paul Thackeray, controller of the largest drugs empire in the west of the city. The scruffy gang leader had been missing for nearly three weeks. ‘What the fuck’s the camera for?’
‘We’ve branched out into the movie game. You’ll like them. Dark, edgy, tragic. We’re going to make you a star.’
Croft shook his head slowly. ‘Either get on and use the shooter or fuck off. I’ve things to be getting on with.’
‘That’s no way to talk to the director, Johnny. We might have to edit that bit out. You’ve two choices: forget Thackeray, toe the line and work for me or play the lead role in our little feature.’
‘How about a third option? You leave, we forget you ever came here, and we both get on with our lives.’ He turned to gaze at his three guests, his face expressionless. A former professional heavyweight boxer, he’d kept himself in shape at the local gym.
‘There is no third option,’ Kiley said. ‘Don’t worry, we’ll make sure there’s plenty of action; a bit of excitement. The last two were a bit anti-climatic, to tell you the truth. You’d be amazed at how uneventful death can be. Paul, well Paul just shouted a lot and thumped off the side of the coffin. Barely lasted an hour before he ran out of air. And Reeni, well we’ll let you see that one for yourself. Come-on, we’re going for a drive.’
‘If you’re going to shoot me, just get on with it.’
‘We’ve got something much better planned than simply shooting you. We’re even going to give you a sporting chance.’
‘How about three rounds in a ring? The three of you against me?’
‘And how about we go for a drive.’ Kiley waved the gun at him. ‘Macca, put the cuffs on him.’
One of his companions stepped forward holding a pair of handcuffs.
Croft’s right fist rocketed up, still clutching the dishcloth, and crashed into Macca’s cheek sending him staggering backwards.
Kiley leaped forward and smashed the gun down on the big man’s crown with a sickening crack.
Croft dropped to the floor, moaning, a trickle of blood emerging from his hairline.
‘Get those fucking cuffs on,’ Kiley ordered his dazed colleague.
The cuffs were snapped into place.
‘Now get him out to the jeep. Any funny stuff, Johnny, and you’ll be wearing your knees backwards.’
They bundled him through the house to a burgundy coloured Range Rover parked on the drive. Kiley climbed into the back seat beside Croft. The two other men sat in the front.
‘You know where you’re going,’ Kiley said to the driver.
The jeep sparked into life and they pulled onto the road and set out for the edge of the city.
‘This will take a few minutes so we might as well watch one of my movies.’ Kiley tapped a DVD screen in the back of the front seat. ‘What do you think, Johnny?’
‘Go fuck yourself.’
‘Did you know Maureen Bailey? Ran one of my cat-houses down off the quays.’
‘Never heard of her.’
‘I caught her skimming off the top. She was the star of our last movie.’
The screen flickered into life to show a plain bedroom containing no furniture except for a bed.
‘She wanted to go out on a high.’
A woman came into shot wearing a thin white blouse and a short red skirt. She sat down on the edge of the bed.
‘I’m sorry, Jimmy,’ Maureen said, looking to the side of the camera.
‘It’s too late for sorry, Reeni. You should have behaved yourself.’
‘I can pay you back.’
‘You’re doing just that, Reeni. Macca.’
Kiley’s companion entered the frame, holding a length of tubing and a syringe. He tied the tubing tightly just above Reeni’s elbow, then tapped on the skin in the crux below.
Macca fed the needle into a vein and depressed the plunger.
‘I always thought an overdose would be quite dramatic. Turns out its pretty boring.’ Kiley pressed fast forward, the view fixed on the bed and Reeni lying on top of the covers. ‘A bit of gentle writhing, then sleep, a few convulsions and it’s over.’
He returned the film to the normal pace. ‘There, did you notice that?’
‘What?’ Croft asked.
‘That’s my point. That’s when she breathed her last breath. But for you we’ve got something much more dramatic in mind.’
The housing started to peter out and then they were driving through open fields.
‘Do want to watch another one? Paul Thackeray perhaps? Or maybe Tommy Logan?’
Croft stared out the window, a vein throbbing at his temple.
The jeep turned onto a narrow lane, then into a gateway, pulling to a halt.
A white van was parked to one side.
Kiley and his two companions exited the Range Rover. There was loud, excited barking coming from the van. They pulled Croft from the jeep.
Kiley reached back into the foot-well, pulled out a tin and lifted its lid.
‘The fat from a burger grill,’ he said, smearing it on Croft’s neck. ‘The dogs love it. They’re Bully Kutta’s by the way – fast, tough and vicious. They call them the beasts from the east. I got mine imported direct from India. You should see them in a dog fight. Well, I guess you probably will in a minute or two. We’ll give you a minute’s head start then we’ll set them free. Is that camera rolling?’
The man nodded his head.
‘Macca, take off the cuffs. If I were you Johnny, I’d start running mate.’
Hiding out in Ireland, Rob Kitchin spends his spare time reading or writing crime fiction. He blogs at http://theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.com/ where he publishes reviews and a weekly drabble (a story of exactly 100 words).