of strong lager.
Condensation covered the window. At a table in the corner, two men sat opposite each other, their pint glasses reflecting the meagre light that crept inside. One glass contained dark beer, the other bronze. Although they were half way through their first round, they had yet to begin the conversation that justified each travelling more than two hundred miles to meet at a neutral venue. Jackie emptied his glass, wiped the back of his fist across his lips and stood, held out his hand for Eddie’s tankard.
Once each man had tasted the second pulling, they sat back. Eddie pushed his spectacles up towards his forehead and stared at Jack’s tie. ‘You called me Jack, what have you got to say?’
Eddie frowned then began to chuckle. ‘Get on with it, I’ve a dinner date this evening, I’ll need to be off as soon as possible.’ He picked up his glass and sucked an inch of lager into his mouth.
Tapping his fingertips onto the table top alongside his glass, Jack said. ’How about joining forces on a job?’
‘What sort of job?’
Eddie’s expression soured. ‘Have you ever done one?’
Jack shook his head.
‘Well don’t, they’re a bloody pain and there’s so many things that can go wrong, it’s not worth the trouble.’ He took a long draught from his glass. When Jack said no more, he added. ‘I was the minder on one once and the bloke refused to pay, said we could keep his missus.’
‘Well, I suppose you could call it a highjack.’
‘Let me guess, the Prime Minister, no I bet you’ve got Her Majesty in mind. At her age she’s unlikely to run away.’ Getting no response, he tipped the contents of his glass into his mouth and hands on the table, pushed himself up. ‘I’ll bid you farewell Jackie old lad.’ He offered his right hand but there was no response. Glancing over his shoulder he saw that the barman had disappeared and two men in dark suits were walking towards him. Each was holding a sawn off shotgun.
‘Ah, I’m the target, am I? You do realise that there are four armed pals of mine in the Range Rover on the car park?’
‘There were Eddie, past tense I‘m afraid.’
Eddie drew a pistol and shot Jack, first in the chest and as he slumped forward, in the head. When he turned the advancing men were just a yard away. Eddie asked the taller one, ‘Well?’
‘Dunno, we weren’t told—’
‘Would you like to join my outfit?’
‘Yeah, okay,’ said the shorter one. ‘There’s a Merc outside, where’d you want to go?’
‘Back to Bristol.’
‘Right oh Boss, after you.’
‘No, after you, and put those bloody shooters away.’