by Richard Lakin
Seven years had passed and I’d all but given up hope when Bishop tottered across the cobbles. I’d been searching for the Blues score, some bacon crisping under the grill, when that familiar figure on the screen made me freeze. I leapt out of the chair, cranking the volume up.
‘One day I knew I’d find you,’ I said. ‘And now I’ve got you.’ I didn’t even notice the smoke alarm shrieking as the bacon burnt.
We’d met Mr Jervis at Hilton Park services on a bitter January night. Mr Jervis twisted and folded a serviette scoring sharp lines with a manicured thumbnail. He told us he wanted Butcher dead and ‘pronto’. He wanted to send a message. He slid a photo across the table. Butcher was leaning on a doorframe smoking, squinting up at the sun. A slab of fat hung over his trousers, each shirt button straining over a low-strung belt.
‘Plenty to aim at,’ Bishop said.
I knew Bishop was full of it and I should’ve done something about it then. Failing to complete put us on the hook too.
Seven hours on the M6 made me as stiff as an ironing board. I’d asked around and soon enough I saw Bishop emerge from the pub and I ducked off the street, making out I was lighting up out of the wind. I stepped out, blocking the alley. Bishop had a carrier bag scrunched in his fist. His eyes widened. ‘Meadows?’ he said.
Bishop sniffed, wiping his nose with the back of a hand.
‘OK, let’s not mess about. Where’s the money?’
‘Meadows,’ he said, trying my name out again. ‘You’ve lost weight. But I knew you’d come, you know.’
‘Where is it?’ I took out the gun, but Bishop didn’t seem troubled.
‘I knew you wouldn’t give up.’ Bishop scratched his chin. ‘I was on the news, wasn’t I?’ he said. ‘That’s how you found me. Bloody schoolboy error that was.’
I nodded. A random news story about film stars eating at a chippie on the Scottish coast had put Bishop in a village of two hundred people. He opened a roller shutter, told me to follow him inside. It stank of fish and there were coils of rusted chain, stacks of barrels. I kept away from the walls, pointing the gun at Bishop’s gut.
‘Thing is, we didn’t complete the job,’ Bishop said.
He meant we hadn’t killed Butcher, but he’d still collected half before. He took a holdall from a barrel and kicked it across the floor. ‘What’s left is yours…’
I poked it with a toe and saw a few rolls of fifties, not nearly enough. I fired a shot into Bishop’s guts and he sank to his knees, spluttering and bleeding into the concrete. I was reaching for the holdall when something struck my neck and everything went black.
‘Shame about Bishop,’ the fisherman said.
‘What do we do with them?’ the other fisherman said.
Mr Jervis nudged Meadows’s cheek with his boot, gave Bishop a kick to be sure. He pointed out to sea. ‘Use your imagination, Brian.’
Richard Lakin is an award-winning travel writer and short story writer who has just completed his first novel. He lives in Staffordshire.