THIRTY-FIVE

When Tommy Gladwell finally stepped out of his home he looked like a man with a world of trouble on his shoulders, and who could blame him? He’d risked everything on one massive gamble, one big throw of the dice that actually seemed to have paid off. He owned a city. It was all his.

Then he had left his Russian muscle behind to stamp his authority on his new empire and he’d gone home to wait for their call.

And waited. And waited.

I could only guess how he must have felt when Vitaly didn’t make that call. All that agonising must have taken its toll; what could have gone wrong, who was to blame, had he been double-crossed? By now, he would be seeing enemies everywhere. Tommy Gladwell must have been living in a permanent state of fear and anxiety, which would explain the bodyguards.

His missus was already in the car when Tommy came out of their home and one of the bodyguards was holding the car door open for his boss’ arrival while the other scanned the horizon for potential threats, but Our-young-’un and Palmer were too far back behind the bushes to be spotted. I was next to them, keeping low. We’d left Kinane and his boys out of this one. There was no reason to be mob handed for what we had in mind and we knew it would be harder for his bodyguards to spot just the three of us.

That was the drawback of living in a nice, big fuck-off country mansion. If Gladwell had still been a scussy wee shite from the tenements of Glasgow, like his old man, he would have settled for his father’s idea of heaven; three former council houses next to each other, all knocked in together to make one big monument to bad taste. But Gladwell and his missus had grander ideas, which is why he had grounds and a big clump of trees and bushes just inside the gated walls of his huge house. It was ideal for our purpose. That big house was about to cost Tommy a lot more than he ever could have imagined when he was buying it.

Danny dropped Gladwell’s first bodyguard smoothly and, as he hit the floor, Palmer took out the second. Before the bloke could even react he was on the ground too, collapsed in a heap on the gravel driveway. Neither of them was getting up again. Got to hand it to our Our-young-’un, he was still a cracking shot and Palmer looked like he did this kind of thing every day of the week.

Gladwell just froze in shock. He was peering out towards us in disbelief, because the men he’d entrusted his life to were both dead and he’d only just walked out of his own front door. He’d got a good inkling he was going to be next but he couldn’t see us, so he didn’t know what to do. He couldn’t even run, because it all happened too fast.

The next thing, Palmer put a bullet right into his leg, just above the knee and Gladwell went down wailing and shouting. His missus was clambering back out of the car and screaming blue murder, shouting, ‘Tommy, Tommy!’ at the top of her voice – but no one was going to hear her out here, miles from anywhere.

My brother paused for a second and looked up just long enough for me to nod at him. ‘Do her,’ I told him. Tommy Gladwell’s missus was still screaming like a fish wife, frantic to save her husband. The next shot took her right in the chest, which finally put an end to her caterwauling.

I watched her body twist and fall back against the front side panel of their big BMW. I didn’t give a fuck for her, because of what she had said to Sarah when she left her alone with that Russian.

Gladwell was trying to make sense of what had happened to him, trying to crawl but he was having a problem because of the bullet in his leg. His arm was stretched out despairingly towards his wife, even though he must have known by now it was hopeless. I patted Our-young-’un on the shoulder, climbed to my feet and walked calmly out of the bushes towards him, carrying the small black bag Hunter had given me. Palmer and Danny followed.

I crossed the land between us before Gladwell could drag his fat bulk to his wife and I called out to him. ‘Time to pay what’s owed Tommy,’ he turned his head to see me then. I swear I will never forget the look of amazement on his stupid face.

‘You?’ he managed to splutter and it was clear he thought he had about as much chance of being attacked by the ghost of Mother Theresa, than of being gunned down outside his own home by me.

‘That’s right,’ I reached into the bag and slowly, deliberately pulled out the long, flat case then I slid the razor sharp machete free and showed it to him. Instinctively he tried to get to his feet and run, so scared that he’d forgotten his legs didn’t work any more. There was a look of plain terror on his chubby face. I made sure I held the machete high so he could see the edge and I marched right up to him. He somehow managed to slide himself round until he was slumped on his back, propped up against the rear door of the car. ‘You killed my wife, you bastard,’ he half screamed, half sobbed at me.

‘Mmm, not yet,’ I said, ‘looks like she is just about to breathe her last though,’ I was no doctor but I reckoned I had that diagnosis just about nailed. Even though Lady Macbeth was technically still alive, the last few breaths were coming out of her now, slow and hoarse.

I got right up to her, knelt down on one knee and was close enough to almost whisper in her ear. ‘I’ve got a message for you from Bobby Mahoney’s daughter,’ there was the slightest glimmer of recognition in her eyes, “get over yourself Hen”.’

Then I watched her die right in front of me.

‘Your wife’s dead Gladwell,’ I told him, ‘so now I guess it’s your turn’

‘Fuck you,’ he said but the defiance was unconvincing. He was sobbing and there was a pool of piss all around him.

‘I want you to know this isn’t going to be quick,’ I told him, ‘not after what you did to Bobby and Finney. I’m going to take my time and it’s going to hurt you like you can’t imagine.’ I shoved the point of the machete’s blade right up under his chin. ‘And when I’m done, I’m going to cut your fucking head off, then I’m going to chuck your bodies in with the pigs and they’re going to eat you. There’ll be no fancy funeral for you two.’

And he started to beg, ‘you can’t do this. You can’t do this to me,’ Who was he to start giving orders, the state he was in? ‘I let you live. I let you live!’

‘Yeah you did, and that was your second mistake,’ I told him, ‘your first was trying to take over our city. I’m not going to let you live, you sick piece of shit. Begging and pleading is just a waste of breath but you can do it if you want to,’ he was shaking his head, ‘now I’m going to get started and I’m not going to stop no matter how hard you scream,’ he was screaming already. I’d never seen a man so shit-scared in all my life and he had good cause, because I meant every word. ‘Bobby Mahoney said he’d see you down in hell – so let’s not keep him waiting too long.’

I got started with the machete then and wee Tommy Gladwell screamed and screamed like you wouldn’t believe.

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