Chapter One

‘So exactly who is this Geezer and what does he want?’ George Foster leaned back in the leather chair and looked at his right hand man Dennis Brady.  Foster’s office, located in the back of one of his many industrial and storage units, would have surprised any casual visitor who did not know that he was one of London’s biggest and longest established criminals, with several legitimate businesses as well as diverse illegal activities including money laundering and commercial fraud amongst others.

‘I can’t tell you what he wants but I can tell you who he is and it will surprise you,’ answered Brady.  ‘He first came to our attention when he started going around East end pubs asking how he could get in touch with the Godfather.’

‘The Godfather,’ Foster interrupted, ‘are you bloody joking?’

‘No, that’s Gospel,’ answered Brady, ‘that is exactly what he was doing, going in pubs and asking how he could meet the Godfather.’

‘OK, carry on,’ said Foster.

‘Anyway, this goes on for a few weeks although he did get slapped a couple of times, nothing serious though, until one night Alfie Harris happens to hear him making the usual enquiry, you know Alfie the Fence don’t you?’

‘Sure, carry on.’

‘Well Alfie talks to him and says that he just might be able to help him but before he even starts to try he wants to know who the guy is, name, address and phone number and what is it all about.  The bloke gives Alfie all his details but says that he won’t talk to anyone but the Big Man.  Alfie says that there was something so sad about the geezer, so desperate, that he had him checked out and Bingo!  His name is John Milner, lives about thirty miles away with his missus, works as a maintenance fitter in a local factory.  You remember about a year ago a little girl was abducted and murdered, the police caught the nonce and locked him up for so called life?’

‘Yeah, so what?’

‘Well it was Milner’s daughter.’

It was 3 am and being summer it would start getting light in an hour or so Milner thought, as he spent yet another awful restless night, only sleeping in fits and starts ever since, ever since…….   It would be her anniversary on the 10th.  He was already dreading it perhaps even more for Cindy his wife than for himself, he honestly thought that it might possibly kill her, she was in such a state.  She kept on and on about when their little girl’s killer was sentenced in court there had not been a single expression of remorse or guilt on his face in fact he seemed to look at them with almost a hint of a smile.

She would go on and on at her husband about the fact that their daughter was dead, robbed of life, while her murderer was alive and well, enjoying three decent meals a day, TV and books, even a gymnasium to keep fit in.  Did the country call that justice?  Well if they thought it was then they had never asked her or any other normal person.  Who in their right mind could think that this was fair?

Milner knew this of course and could not agree with her more but what could he do about it, the Law was the Law.  He needed someone ABOVE the Law but how to contact them, what could he offer them, would they just laugh and throw him out or worse?  That is when he decided to ask around in East London and that is how he met Alfie Harris who in turn brought him through contacts to the attention of Dennis Brady.

A week after their initial discussion Foster was again behind the big desk with the maroon leather top and green, shaded lamp, and Brady was sat at one side to Foster’s right, it was late afternoon.

‘Is he here then?’ Foster added, Brady nodded, ‘best show him in then.’

Brady went to the door, opened it and said, ‘Come in Mr. Milner.’

Brady knew the visitor was “clean” as all of their locations had hi-tech equipment that warned of any bugs or people wired for recording conversations.

Milner nodded his thanks and attempted a smile.  He came in Foster’s office and approached the big desk, seemingly oblivious to the obvious opulence of the office with its deep pile wine red carpet, mahogany lined walls and discreet expensive lighting.  Foster stood up and extended his hand, Milner shook it.

Foster said, ‘Now Mr. Milner, John, sit down and tell me what you want to talk about.  I am going to have a whisky, will you join me?’  Without waiting for an answer he said to Brady, ‘Get us a couple of single malts will you Dennis, and have one yourself of course.’

Generous measures in quality glasses were promptly placed before them.  ‘Water?’ enquired Foster.

‘No thank you,’ Milner replied, gratefully sipping the whisky.

Foster hoped it might relax the man who, Foster knew, was only 38 years old but looked almost 10 years older, his face had a haunted look an his hair was streaked with grey.  Milner sat quietly for a moment fiddling with his glass and then the words seemed to burst forth in a torrent.

‘My daughter, Amy, was killed a year ago, murdered, she is gone, dead.  The bastard who killed her is alive and well, that is NOT FAIR and you never know he might even be let out one day and he might only be in his forties even then but my little girl has GONE.  I have no life now, my wife has no life, we just sit thinking of what could have been, watching her growing up, giving her away one day, seeing grandchildren, but we won’t see any of those things, all we see during horrible nightmares and virtually sleepless nights are terrifying visions of what our little girl’s last moments must have been like.’  He suddenly stopped talking and lowered his head, the other two men could see tears running down his face.  There was silence in the room, Foster placed both hands palms down on his desk top and let out an audible sigh.

‘You have our genuine sympathy John believe me but what exactly do you expect me to do about it?’

‘Mr Foster, I am here to plead with you, to beg you, I want you to arrange to have the bastard killed, it won’t bring our little girl back but at least it will give us some satisfaction, some closure, to know that the evil scum is dead and in the ground where he belongs.  My parents passed away a few years ago and they left their house to me and my two sisters, we sold it and my share was fifty grand.  That’s all I have in the world but I will gladly pay that to see him dead.’  Milner sat holding his drink and staring at the man behind the desk, hoping for some sign of encouragement.

Foster gave another sigh, glanced at Brady and then spoke to this man who had just poured his heart out to him.

‘Let me say that I understand your feelings and I agree with you, I am sure most people would except the idiotic do-gooders who haven’t got a clue about reality.  Having said that, this is an extremely difficult task.  You probably think that we can contact a prisoner in the jail and tell him that a chunk of cash will be paid to his family if he kills this scum, am I right?’

‘Yes, something along those lines I thought,’ was the reply.

‘Well,’ continued Foster, ‘the first problem is that whichever inmate we found who would be capable of killing him would definitely be caught and a murder sentence would be added to whatever they are already in for, making it highly unlikely that they would ever see the outside again.  So, I don’t think that there will be any takers for the job unless we can find someone who is already in for a thirty stretch and is already of an age that makes him old when he is due to come out anyway, such a person might just take the bait if his family was going to benefit, we will have to do our homework.  Give me a couple of weeks to do some digging, can you come back here same time on the,’ he checked his diary, ’14th?’

‘Anytime, anytime at all to suit you Mr. Foster,’ was the prompt reply, the possibility of hope showing on Milner’s face.

‘Yeah well make it the 14th like I say and, listen to me John, very seriously, there are no promises whatsoever, you understand, and another thing, not one word of this to ANYONE and that goes double for your Missus, don’t say a word to her, am I clear, not one bloody word?’

Milner nodded enthusiastically, like a drowning man who had just been thrown a life belt.

‘No, don’t nod, say it,’ emphasised Foster, ‘say I guarantee that I will not say one word of this to anyone, not anyone.’

Milner repeated the words out loud.

‘Good, make sure you mean that, I cannot stress it enough, you understand?’ Foster added.

‘Understood,’ replied Milner.

‘Another thing,’ continued Foster, ‘in the unlikely event of the Old Bill ever asking you what you were doing here, tell them that you were enquiring if we had any jobs for maintenance fitters, and you met Dennis here, sadly there were no vacancies, alright?’

Milner nodded.

‘You are absolutely sure about this aren’t you?’ Foster asked.

‘Like nothing else before in my life,’ was the reply.

‘Right, we’ll see you when we said and we’ll tell you what we have found out.’  He stood up and offered his hand.

Milner stood up and shook it saying, ‘I can’t thank you enough.’

‘I haven’t done anything yet, like I say, we’ll see.  Now off you go and look after your wife but not a word about this, see you soon, show John out Dennis.’


Brady held the door open for Milner who left, Brady escorted him off the premises and then returned to Foster’s office.

‘I have to say I am surprised,’ he said to Foster with a slight smile.

‘Not as surprised as I am myself,’ said Foster, ‘I suppose it’s a combination of feeling sorry for the guy and being so bloody annoyed at the system that keeps scum alive and at enormous expense.  Now see what you can find out over the next few days, any con that could get to him, any bent screws, anything at all, alright?’

‘Right,’ came the short reply.

Chapter Two

A week later Brady was sat opposite his boss again in the same office.

‘Well, what have you got to tell me?’ enquired Foster.

‘Not a lot of good news I’m afraid.  There is no con suitable to get to him but he is unpopular with the screws and one is prepared to provide limited information.’

‘Such as?’

Brady continued, ‘The times of lights out, warden checks, lock details on cell door, camera locations, that sort of thing.’

‘How much for this priceless information?’ Foster’s voice did not disguise the sarcasm.

‘Ten grand.’

Foster sat back in his chair, his fingers drummed on the desk top as he turned things over in his mind.  He suddenly asked almost as if talking to himself, ‘Who do we know who is smart enough or mad enough to break into prison and hard enough to kill somebody?’

Brady looked at his boss, a serious expression on his face, ‘Are you thinking of who I am thinking of?  He is the only choice really I suppose, do you think that even he would take it on, and for God’s sake how much would anyone want for the job?’

‘That’s several questions and you didn’t say who you had in mind,’ said Foster.

‘No, I didn’t did I but I am sure that the only bloke to even entertain the job or be entertained for it would be Mike Smith,’ Brady replied.

‘Correct,’ said Brady, ‘ask Big Harry to come and see me ASAP, he knows Smith better than most I understand, it would be a good idea to double check a few points with him, don’t you agree Dennis?’

‘Sure, shall I ring Harry now?’

‘No time like the present.’

Brady made a short call saying ‘Yes’ a couple of times then said to Foster, ‘Harry will be here in a couple of hours, do you want me to tell him anything or would you prefer to speak to him direct?’

‘I’ll handle it,’ replied Foster, ‘but you sit in and if you think you should add anything to the conversation then by all means do so.’


“Big Harry” Price was big, around 6 feet 5 inches tall and around 20 stones in weight and even though he was now about 50 years old, there was very little of the 20 stones that wasn’t muscle.  When he was younger he had been the victor of countless bare knuckle fights and had been on Foster’s firm’s strength as a collector, enforcer and sometimes minder for several years.  One of the things that Foster liked about Harry was that he had never been a bully, he preferred to let his size and obvious ability be the threat that made people who owed money pay up, rather than beating them up, he was a thinking man as opposed to a violent thug.

‘Hello Harry,’ Foster welcomed the big man into the office, ‘sit down, can we get you a drink, whisky?’

‘No thanks George but I’ll have a coffee please,’ replied Price.

‘Dennis, get Tina to make Harry a coffee will you, ta,’ said Foster.

‘Black no sugar,’ added Price.

After some small talk and the girl had brought in the coffee and left, Brady closed the office door and Foster started talking.  He gave Harry a brief outline of what he had in mind and then said, ‘Harry, tell us what you know about Smith, the word is that you are one of the few people he has much to do with.’

Price shifted in his chair and then said, ‘Well I agree that he is the only sensible choice but I don’t really know that much about him.  We all know that if there is a serious job to be done, an important warning, or leaning on people who are normally unleanable on, or a big hit, then Smith is the guy to go to, independent and 100% reliable, professional and discreet.  It’s true that he does seem to like me, probably because of that Jenkins business.’

‘Refresh my memory Harry,’ interrupted Foster.

‘Well I heard that this geezer Jenkins was holding dog fights and for a bit of a laugh he would kidnap an ordinary dog off the streets and put it in with those horrible fighting dogs and the poor bugger would be ripped to pieces before the main event.  Well I called on him and informed him that this was your Manor and he needed your permission to operate but not to bother asking for it as you didn’t go in for that sort of thing.’

Foster silently nodded his approval.

‘Anyway,’ continued Price, ‘this Jenkins bloke started to huff and puff and said that he would come and see you himself so I repeated that it would be pointless as you would not be changing your mind, it was not an area of business that you liked or wanted to be associated with.  He then turns to me and says “we will see, I’ll go and talk to the engineer not the oil can”.’

Both Foster and Brady smiled a little at this as they knew what must have happened next and they were correct.

‘Well I was not best pleased to hear this as you can imagine and I let the peg go.  Then I picked him up off the floor and told him that the conversation was over and the decision was irreversible and that if he did bother you I would come back and feed him to his own dogs.  Well apparently Smith heard about this the way that people hear things and he went round to see Jenkins.  The word is that he asked Jenkins if it was true that he had given up all intentions of this dog fighting malarkey and Jenkins told him that it was none of his ******* business.’

The two men listening glanced at each other, again assuming what was coming next.

‘Now I am considered very handy as you know,’ continued Price, ‘however I would not want to tell Smith to mind his own business unless I was holding a shotgun pointing straight at him.  Jenkins was not holding a shotgun and Smith promptly beat him stupid and before he left him in a serious condition on the floor apparently he knelt down and said in his ear that if he ever progressed this dog business Smith would find him and kill him.  A few days later when some of Jenkins’s mates visited him in hospital Jenkins told them that he wanted to arrange a contract on the man who had put him there but as soon as anyone found out it was Smith they didn’t want to know of course.  Anyway, I think Smith has a kind word for me because I gave this pillock a slap and also because I like dogs.’

‘Right, what exactly do you think to him Harry?’ asked Foster, ‘I mean, what is he like, what makes him tick as they say?’

Harry thought for a moment and then replied, ‘Well he is a bit of an enigma really, rock hard, an absolutely lethal, brutal fighter, anything goes, tremendous punching power, very accurate, when he hits you, you stay hit, very fast, chin like granite, extremely fit.  As a person he comes across as sublimely confident in his own abilities and sure about his own views, no grey areas only black and white, very decisive, some might say surprisingly old fashioned in some ways.’

‘What do you mean?’ Foster enquired.

‘Well did you hear about the Fish Shop fracas as it’s being termed, no doubt entering local folklore anytime now?’

‘No I didn’t, enlighten me,’ came the reply.

‘According to Billy Hill who happened to be there, an old lady comes out of the Fish and Chip shop on the corner of Morpeth Street eating her food.  There’s three young guys aged about 19 or 20 outside and they start messing the old girl about, one asks her for a chip and whilst she’s saying no the other two help themselves.  At this she tells them where to go and one of them knocks the meal out of her hands onto the ground and they have a good laugh and generally subject her to verbal abuse.  Now, who happens to be passing but Smith who takes all this in and promptly chins all three lads bish, bash, bosh, there they are all three spark out on the deck, took him about one minute.  He then takes £20 out of the wallet of the one that knocked the old girl’s food out of her hand, buys her some more fish and chips and tells her to keep the change.  Then he says “there you are Ma I’ll walk you home” and he does, right to her door.’

Harry continued, ‘Also when I went to see him one time he was putting some cash in an envelope and sticking it down.  He saw me looking and said “PDSA, they do some good work”.  For a minute I thought he was joking but when we left his place he walks round to the PDSA and handed it into reception.’

Foster shook his head, ‘I see what you mean about him being surprising, I reckon this guy considers himself above the statutory law and applies his own version, and if he applies that attitude to this business in question that makes him even more perfect for the job than ever.’

Both Harry and Brady nodded in agreement.

‘Harry,’ Foster continued, ‘go around to Smith’s place and ask him to come and see me but don’t tell him what it’s about just say it’s a special job that I would like to sound him out on ASAP, ring me from there and tell me when he is coming round, tell him straight away would be good if he can manage it, if not then as soon as he can, OK?’

Harry got up and left.  Foster rubbed his hands together and said as if to himself but out loud, ‘Right, we’ll see what he has to say and where we go from here,’ and with the air of someone who has at least started to tackle a knotty problem he pushed a glass over towards Brady to signify a Scotch.’

Chapter Three

Mike Smith heard the outside door buzzer sound and looked in the CCTV and saw Harry Price, he pressed the door lock button and watched as Harry entered and closed the door behind him.  Harry came up the stairs to the first floor of the two storey block of six flats and pressed the button for the second set of locked doors, again with CCTV above them, Smith released the lock and Harry came through and knocked on Smith’s door.

Smith opened the door and said, ‘Come in Harry, what brings you here to see me, sit down, do you want a coffee or anything?’

Harry sat down on a large leather sofa in front of a big TV which was switched off, a radio was playing quietly in the background which Smith turned off.  There was a decent size window overlooking the street below and what looked like a sizeable kitchen and two large bedrooms leading off the spacious lounge area.  ‘No nothing for me thanks, I’m good, I’ve just come from the Guvnor’s Mike, he would appreciate it if you could call and discuss some business that you might like to take care of and he would like to tell you about it sooner rather than later, he wants me to ring him straight away and tell him when you can call.’

Smith didn’t bother asking if Harry knew what it was about he simply said, ‘No time like the present, tell him I’ll be there in about an hour.’  Harry promptly rang the message through to Brady straight away.

‘You heard anymore about that Jenkins geezer?’ enquired Smith.

‘No, not a dickey bird,’ replied Harry, ‘left the Manor for pastures new I hear.’

‘Good, that saves me a job,’ added Smith, ‘are you coming back to the office with me?’

‘No, I’m just a messenger boy today Mike,’ Harry smiled.  ‘I’ll walk out with you and then be on my way.’

Five minutes later the two men left the building and Smith eventually arrived at Foster’s office to be shown in by Brady.

‘Hello Mike, thanks for coming round so quickly, sit down, what can we get you, usual coffee?’

‘Thanks,’ Smith nodded, ‘Tina’s best.’

Foster gestured towards Brady to organise it and made small talk until the girl had brought the coffee and left the room, Brady closed the door and sat down.

He studied Smith from his own chair placed as usual to one side of Foster’s desk.  Smith was one of the few people who made Brady nervous and he was not sure why, Smith had never been anything but professionally polite to him.  Brady decided that it was the fact that Smith simply exuded an aura of absolute danger and deadliness if you knew how to detect that in a person and Brady did, having dealt with so many dangerous men during his career with Foster.  But Smith was exceptional in that respect, you just seemed to know for sure that he would successfully complete whatever task it was unless there was an extraordinary unexpected and unforeseen occurrence preventing it.

Brady took stock of the man who was sat in front of Foster’s desk, reminding himself of what he knew about him.  He would be about 28 or 29 years old, around 6 foot 3 inches tall, broad shoulders with a wiry lean frame that looked whipcord strong, smart casually dressed if conservative, dark hair of average length cut shortish right at the front instead of a quiff, large capable hands, clean shaven, no visible tattoos, good looking but in a very macho way, probably extremely successful with women, lucky bugger, thought Brady, looked extremely fit.  Apparently he lived in a small block of six flats which he owned, the other five flats were rented to older people.  Very shrewd guy thought Brady, the older tenants were no trouble and of course with Smith living in the building they were never likely to have any trouble themselves although of course they did not know anything  of his extra curricular activities.

Smith listened impassively as Foster related all the facts concluding with the information that the murdered girl’s father was offering to pay £50K, then he sat for a moment silently mulling things over.

‘So you want someone to break in and croak the bastard right?’ he eventually said.

‘Exactly,’ replied Foster.

‘Well no one can deny he deserves topping,’ added Smith, ‘but there are several problems.  How do I get in, how do I get to him, how do I get out and one more thing?’

‘What’s that?’ asked Foster.

‘The job might be the right thing to do and I would be delighted to be the one to do it however,’ Smith paused, ‘I’m sorry to say that the 50 grand isn’t nearly enough.’

‘Oh I know,’ replied Foster, ‘that’s all the poor bloke’s got.  However, I happen to know that some other parties are prepared to throw another £200K into the pot.’

Brady looked up at Foster, what was this all about?  It was the first time that he had heard about it.

‘So we are talking about a quarter then?’ questioned Smith.


‘I see, there would be some  additional juicy expenses as well, maybe about £50K, not sure, depends on what you could arrange, maybe people owe you favours, anyway they would be down to you and whoever else is financing it, if you are still interested I will sit down and draw up some ideas then arrange another meet and go through some details with you, what do you say?’ Smith asked.

‘So you would really consider it, seriously?’ Foster asked.

‘Yes, so long as the plan I come up with proves viable when I come back and discuss it with you at length,’ replied Smith.

Foster stood up, put his hand out and shook Smith’s hand.  ‘I told Dennis you were the man for the job didn’t I Dennis?’ he said turning to Brady.

‘You did indeed,’ confirmed the other man, ‘no one else even in the frame.’

‘No one else daft enough,’ retorted Smith, ‘anyway we are not there yet, there’s a long way to go,’ he added.

‘Agreed,’ said Foster, ‘but you didn’t turn it down, I’ll drink to that,’ he smiled.

After Smith had left, Brady asked Foster where he expected the additional cash to come from.

‘I have had a word with a few of my contemporaries and as well as detesting the bloke in question the view is that proving that we can reach anyone anywhere will certainly discourage anyone who might have some thoughts of grassing one day so they are willing to put in. There is also one of the Sunday Papers that loves any whiff of any organised crime capers plus any hint of dissatisfaction with the legal system and crime and punishment. They will pay plenty for an exclusive scoop provided by a third party. By the way, when you give that screw his cash tell him to be careful with it of course but if there are ever any questions he is to say that he had a small accumulator come up on the horses. If push ever comes to shove then we can get him a back dated winning bet slip from our Bookies’.

Brady acknowledged the information and returned to his own office impressed as usual with his Boss’s competence and contacts.

Chapter Four

Back in his own apartment Smith pondered over the many problems involved in such a task.  He did not regard himself as being what the papers would term “extreme right wing” however he had strong views on certain matters.  Charities for instance, he was sick and tired of all those TV adverts asking for donations to foreign countries, as far as he was concerned the saying “charity begins at home” made a great deal of sense, “We should put the stuttering NHS in order first,” he thought “and then our schools and education system before we considered giving a penny abroad.”  Nothing was given to the PDSA yet the Government gave millions away abroad every month, much of which never ever reached the victims of hardship that it was meant for, some even found its way to dictators and terrorists.  That was rich eh, funding terrorists to attack us?  Talk about rank stupidity!

Then there was the prison system, millions spent on trials and given to expensive lawyers to defend people who were without doubt guilty, either caught in the act or categorically proved guilty by DNA evidence.  If someone killed someone else, any innocent person, especially a child, then they themselves should be killed, end of discussion.

‘I bet it costs over a grand a week to keep that nonce locked up,’ thought Smith to himself, ‘for maybe fifteen years, that’s pushing a million quid to keep a worthless piece of scum alive, and he is only one of many.  Over a grand a week and what do they give a pensioner to live on a week, someone who has never done a thing wrong all their life and paid into the system all the while, a pittance, a bloody pittance!  Where on earth was the justice in spending far, far more on a murdering swine than an honest hard working man or woman?  It didn’t make sense, it was a long term recipe for disaster.  Look how much improved the pensions could be if all that money wasn’t spent on the very worst criminals.’

Smith was not in any way seeking to justify his potential actions, he did not feel any need to, he did not have a shred of doubt that he was right and he settled down to do some serious planning, making appropriate notes after which he telephoned Brady and made another appointment to call at the office the next morning.

‘That was quick,’ Brady mentioned as he confirmed 11 am the next morning would be fine.

‘Are you surprised?’ was the succinct response before the phone went dead, leaving Brady wishing that he had not made what was, in hindsight, perceived as an inane comment.  That was his reward for attempting to be complimentary to Smith.

Back in Foster’s office punctually at 11 am the next day Smith took a sip from one of “Tina’s specials” coffee, put the mug down, and started talking to Foster across the desk, Brady again sat in his usual position to one side and slightly in front of his Boss’s desk..

Smith spoke, ‘I’ll take it on in principle assuming that you can get me some key details that I can study and so confirm a fundamental aspect about the place that I believe is the case, I’ll need the schematics of the prison, the precise location of the cell, exact details of the locks that I stipulate, cameras, any extra alarms, and lights out times. Regarding the expensive extras, here is a list what I’ll need on the night.’

He pushed a list across the desktop to Foster who glanced at it and said, ‘Will do.’

Looking down the list Foster looked up at Smith sharply, ‘This last item is going to be expensive but we have the right contacts,’ he said.

‘I knew you would have and I’d like to meet the guy before the job to get everything finely tuned of course.  Pencil the date in for the first full moon along with a weather forecast of dry and calm, certainly not windy, OK?’ Smith added.

‘Right, Dennis will get started on everything today and we’ll be in touch soon.’

Smith nodded, stood up and left.

Things moved rapidly after that and, back in Foster’s office again, Smith examined the blueprints of the prison and ascertained with evident satisfaction certain facts that he had suspected regarding a possible entry point.  He studied the locks details and asked Foster to get him the appropriate tools to deal with them, he also ascertained the contact number of the guy who was going to deliver and collect him to and hopefully, from the site.

‘I have to ask you,’ said Foster, ‘what the Hell are you going to say if you get caught?  Not that I think for one moment that you will but even the best laid plans etc. etc., you know what I mean?’

Smith looked at him with a dead pan expression, ‘I’ll tell them that I’ve just popped in to have a look around, to see if I like the place,’ he replied.

Foster and Brady both half smiled.

Foster said, ‘Weather reports look favourable on the 5th of next month, that’s three weeks from now.  What do you think?’

Smith replied, ‘Then that is what we’ll aim for, I’ll have a word with this guy who is the transport and then I’ll be missing for about a week.’

Foster raised his eyebrows in enquiry.

‘Specialised training and practice,’ Smith responded, not offering any further details.

Foster mentally shrugged his shoulders, why should he care, that was Smith’s business.

Chapter Five

At three weeks later the helicopter made its way through the moonlit night sky at 9000ft at a steady 90 mph, the moors and the odd scarce building occasionally visible when the full moon regularly emerged from behind the slowly moving clouds.  They were flying safely below the 10,000ft height limit which so often causes altitude sickness in a helicopter’s non pressurised cabin.

The pilot was a man in his mid forties, very experienced in transporting people who shouldn’t be going to places where they shouldn’t be.  During their lengthy meeting some days earlier, Smith had immediately recognised this man as being a fellow professional, he was confident that the man would not willingly let him down.  Both were wearing synchronised watches and specialised radio transmitters with back up.  They had checked and treble checked the plan.

Smith was sitting next to the pilot and was dressed completely in a one piece black suit of tough composite material with various pockets/compartments, only his eyes were visible, on his hands he wore thin but tough gloves of the same material, tucked under the tight cuffs of the suit.  On his head were strapped night vision glasses, positioned ready to be pulled down over his eyes.  He glanced at his map and tapped the pilot on the shoulder, pointing downwards at a large complex coming into view far below.  He gave a thumbs up sign and the pilot reduced speed to around 50mph, maintaining the same height.

Smith stood up and moved to the sliding door where he stood checking his position exactly and the wind speed, then he opened the door and without looking back, jumped.  The pilot immediately went into the next agreed part of the plan, increasing speed and flying directly away from the area.  So far so good, even the most diligent of guards would not think anything suspicious about a helicopter travelling at this height and flying nowhere near the prison.

As Smith hurtled downwards he reminded himself of the facts that at around 216ft per second in freefall, the 9000ft journey would take just over 40 seconds however Smith needed considerably longer to achieve his precise landing destination and naturally wanted to descend much more slowly.  Once his chute was open Smith knew that his descent speed would be reduced from around 120mph to a final 17mph at a much reduced average of 23ft per second.  This would allow him nearer 5 minutes to get his landing exact, and it had to be exact, anything less would be no use, it was a once only chance.

So as the cool evening air rushed past him Smith pulled the parachute release chord and seconds later felt the violent tug under his armpits as the black chute billowed out above him.  Smith had never been charged with any crime whatsoever, the reason being that not only was he remarkably good at what he did but his planning was absolutely meticulous.  Once this job had been confirmed including the likely date, he had spent a week at a parachute training establishment, practising every aspect of directional control, buying the exact type of chute that he had practised with, stipulating black in colour, so, along with his black clothing, it made his descent almost impossible to detect.

He always tried to cater for every possibility, to cover all of the angles.  In this instance if some sharp copper thought of checking local parachute clubs or training centres it would be to no avail.  Even if they checked the whole of the UK, nothing would connect him to the job.  He didn’t even care if they checked European centres.  Smith had flown several thousand miles to South America, to an establishment in Argentina to be precise, on the basis that in the extremely unlikely event that police would consider checking as far away as that, the Argentines would not be inclined to go out of their way to assist British enquiries, especially as he had paid generously.  Anyway, he had used a false name and passport.

He pulled the night glasses down over his eyes and quickly found the only large building in the area, sat on its own, at least a mile away from the nearest farm.  Yes, there it was, the special goggles and the full moon lit up the big building perfectly including the focus of Smith’s attention.  Amidst the various improvements, alterations and extensions to the building over the years there was one small section of the high roof which was flat.  It was not large, around 40 metres by 10 metres, with a small brick building, more like a shed size really, at one end of the roof, approximately 7 metres square and 2.5 metres high.  It contained air conditioning equipment and the camera surveillance memory facility, the actual live camera operation being continually monitored by a warden in a ground floor office.

Smith homed in on the flat roof with all the expertise and countless practice jumps that his intensive training course had taught him, landing safely a few metres away from the small building.  He quickly gathered up the parachute and, folding it smaller but not correctly as if for another jump, merely to make it manageable, he removed the harness and tied the bunches of material to the harness with a cord, laying the bundle where the small building pressed up against the low one metre high wall surrounding the small section of flat roof that he had landed on.

Extracting the tools provided by Foster he moved to the door in the building, and using a pencil torch verified the lock details were correct and went through the procedure that he had practiced countless times in his mind.  The lock clicked and Smith carefully opened the door which he knew was not considered necessary due to its location and contents to justify being alarmed.  After all, who could get to it, why would they want to?  Once inside Smith closed the door behind him and looked around with the aid of the torch, there were no windows but he did not switch any lights on.

He found the appropriate camera memory bank and the specific reference covering his intended path inside the prison.  The bribed warden keeping live watch would not report Smith’s entry, he would merely say that he had seen nothing if questioned.  When the memory files were checked, interference for the exact period of time during Smith’s visit would obscure the images, this interference would be caused by the prepared program file that Smith now inserted into the USB and which he would collect when he had completed the job and was leaving.  Nothing whatsoever could be proved against the warden who would be presently legitimately scrutinising all of the other internal areas that the cameras covered.

Chapter Six

Smith moved to the area of the floor where he knew the big trapdoor would be, there it was, between the heavy metal racking and the air con refrigeration machinery.  It was a metre square and solid metal, too heavy to be pushed up from below but manageable for two men or one strong one to lift upwards from here.  He knelt and, checking lock details on the data sheet he had fished out from one of his several zip pockets, he used the appropriate tools again and was rewarded with the lock release action being activated after around 30 seconds.  He placed both hands on the bar attached to the trapdoor and with both knees bent in classic weight lifting position he exerted all of his strength to slowly lift.  It came upwards steadily and Smith peered through the now six inch gap and listened intently – nothing!

He remembered that for security reasons, on the rare occasions that this little building on the roof was visited, apparently two members of staff were lifted to the flat roof by gantry, eventually opening this trap door after completing their tasks, then staff from below manhandled a ladder into position below the trapdoor for their return.  He pushed the trapdoor right back so that it was completely open and looked down, the corridor was empty as expected and illuminated but not overly bright considering the time. ‘Lights out’ time was, a few minutes ago.  The floor was about 20 ft below.  He checked his watch, 10.21, he was on schedule then!  He took out a length of thin but very strong rope from another pocket in his clothes and secured one end to a leg of some metal racking that was anchored to the wall.  He threw it over the edge of the trapdoor, it almost reached the floor.

Smith eased himself over the edge and quickly descended the rope which was knotted every 12 inches.  He moved deftly and silently towards his target cell which was situated on his left about 25 metres away, he was on full alert for any sound or movement, the ineffectual cameras at either end peered at him.  In the unfortunate event of a warden suddenly appearing Smith was prepared to incapacitate him and quickly.  He reached the cell and, utilising the special tools again, commenced the unlocking procedure.  This was the most critical time of the operation, even when he gained access to the cell and went inside, he knew that if any wardens did choose to make an unexpected journey along the corridor the yawning opened trapdoor and the telltale rope hanging down would be enough.  In his mind Smith could imagine the klaxon alarms going off and the sound of a dozen or more running feet desperate to apprehend the intruder.  Smith pushed those negative thoughts out of his mind.

Carl Pawson lay dozing on his bed.  In that pleasant place just before falling into a proper sleep. So, he had been caught but things could be a lot worse.  The food wasn’t too bad, he had TV and books, they didn’t make him work, he was warm and dry and so long as he told the seemingly very understanding, almost sympathetic psychiatrist what it was prudent to tell him, what the man wanted to hear, then you never know, if he seemed truly penitent and was seen to be making apparent progress, there was no reason not to think that he could be out one day.  Until then he knew that he just had to make the best of it and of course, although they had taken away his freedom, they couldn’t take away his memories.  He was luxuriating in the memory of a young girl when a slight noise and then a small bright light being switched on in the darkness of his cell promptly brought him out of his pleasant dreamlike thoughts and plunged him into a nightmare.

Once Smith knew that the door was unlocked he put the tools away and, with the pencil torch in his right hand he slowly inched the door open, silently stepped inside and pushed the door closed but not locked.  Placing the torch on a nearby table with it pointing at the bed gave him enough light to reach the figure that was laying on the bed and now starting to stir.  Smith reached the bed very quickly indeed and clamped his left hand very hard over Pawson’s mouth, pressing down.  Pawson’s eyes were now wide open and he tried to speak but only the slightest groans were audible through Smith’s gloved fingers. Smith sat on Pawson’s legs to restrain any movement.

With his right hand Smith unfastened a long pocket on the side of his right hand trouser leg, running from just above his knee almost up to his thigh.  From it he withdrew a very thin steel blade about 12 inches long, needle pointed at one end but blunt at the other end with the last three or four inches taped up so that it could be held there.  He held it in front of Pawson’s terrified eyes.  Pawson’s hands scrabbled at the hand covering his mouth but to no avail, Smith was far stronger.

Smith bent his head so that his mouth was close to Pawson’s right ear.

‘This is from the little girl’s parents,’ he said as he plunged the blade deep into the left hand side of Pawson’s stomach.  The pain exploded on Pawson’s face and he made a tiny shrieking sound, muffled by the gloved hand across his mouth.  ‘This is from all the other people who hate your guts,’ continued Smith, withdrawing the blade and stabbing Pawson in the right hand side of his stomach, blood welled up from both of the deep wounds and Pawson gasped and made futile attempts to break free.  ‘And this is from me,’ added Smith, pulling out the blood covered weapon and, holding it in full view of his victim’s terrified eyes,  he turned it horizontal and moving his arm to the right he suddenly brought it forward with great force into Pawson’s groin forcing the blade in as far as it would go.  Pawson’s eyes widened almost impossibly as his mouth, still covered by Smith’s hand, involuntarily attempted to open and scream in a rictus of agony.  Smith twisted the blade as he pulled it free, evidently satisfied with Pawson’s facial expressions of pain.

Pawson lay, hardly moving now, faint whimpering noises barely audible, blood all over his stomach and lower area.  ‘Welcome to Hell you bastard,’ hissed Smith as he stabbed Pawson through the heart.  He wiped the blade clean on Pawson’s clothing and returned it to the long pouch on his leg, collected the torch, inched the door open straining to hear the slightest noise, and then, satisfied, he stepped into the corridor and closed and locked the cell door, pocketing the tools.  He quickly reached the rope and his athletic prowess and strength saw him ascend hand over hand to the floor above with no visible effort, a feat that bore testimony to his fitness.  Once back inside the small building on the roof he pulled the rope up and carefully and noiselessly closed then locked the trapdoor, opened the door onto the outside of the flat roof and double checked that every single piece of equipment that he had arrived with was stored back in its appropriate pocket or pouch including the camera “interference” stick in the USB.  He glanced at his watch, 10.45, just about the time he had estimated, he congratulated himself.

Chapter Seven

Extracting the transmitter he checked the frequency and pressed the communicating button.  ‘Calling collector, calling collector.’

Seconds later, above the noise of the slight static came the response, ‘Collector receiving, report status please.’

‘Brown bread,’ the cockney slang for dead was Smith’s only comment.

‘Wilco,’ was the pilot’s equally brief reply.

Both men switched off the their transmitters, the arranged code words would signal the helicopter’s return from its temporary location a few miles away in as near to five minutes as possible.

As the next few minutes dragged on interminably slowly as it seemed to Smith he half expected a host of alarms to go off accompanied by a battery of searchlights to be switched on however the prevailing peace and quiet was uninterrupted.  When planning the job together Smith and the pilot had agreed that although the prison would not welcome a helicopter flying too near it would be unlikely to be regarded as extremely suspicious and therefore actionable so long as the machine did not hover in close proximity or stay around for long.  They ought to be OK if the ‘copter just came and went, it would be considered perhaps merely pilot error or maybe temporarily lost or simply curiosity.  They had therefore worked out a daring strategy, once again relying upon Smith’s undeniable fitness not to mention courage.

As soon as he heard the unmistakeable clattering of the ‘copter far away and high up but definitely on its way, Smith put on the parachute harness with the chute tied up into as small a bundle as possible and again double checked the flat roof for any of his equipment, there was none.  He moved as far away from the brick building as possible and cleared his mind completely, preparing for this next crucial stage of the operation.  ‘God that helicopter is loud,’ thought Smith to himself, ‘enough to wake the dead.’  He gave a grim little smile, it was not loud enough to wake Pawson though.

The ‘copter, without running lights, was difficult to see but Smith had the advantage of at least knowing which direction it was coming from and the night vision glasses made all the difference.  Smith pushed the goggles up onto his forehead now that he had a fix on the machine, never taking his eyes off it for one second.

It was only 500 metres away now and perhaps only 20 metres above him and it had slowed right down to about 20 mph and was coming straight for him.  He flashed the tiny torch twice and put it away.  In the ‘copter the pilot’s own night vision glasses clearly displayed Smith and the pilot lowered the machine to around 11 metres above the flat roof, the 10 metre rope ladder which was dangling from the open sliding door of the cockpit was almost but not quite trailing on the flat roof.  He flew above Smith’s head but did not stop, Smith took a flying leap at the ladder, putting one arm through the narrow gaps between rungs and one leg on one of the rungs.  Just as the parachute jump had been earlier, both men knew that this was a once only opportunity, there were no second chances.

As soon as Smith had secured himself on the ladder the pilot gained speed and altitude rapidly until roughly 5 minutes later and perhaps 5 miles away from the prison at the far side of a large wood.  The pilot reduced speed and came down to hover a few feet above the ground enabling Smith to clamber up the ladder, pull it up into the cockpit and close the sliding door.  He sat down next to the pilot, extended his hand and shook the pilot’s hand.  Then without further ado the ‘copter quickly rose to its normal ceiling altitude and sped through the night at its maximum speed.  One hour later it was putting down 150 miles away at an isolated farm belonging to contacts who were conveniently “away visiting friends” that night.  Smith helped the pilot manhandle the ‘copter on its wheels into a large barn, closed the doors and both men left in separate cars.

Less than 48 hours later Smith was relaxing on the bed of a room in a four star hotel in Bermuda, the morning sun poured in through the open balcony doors overlooking the inevitable huge pool.  An attractive blonde in her early 20’s sashayed over from the door.

‘I’ve got the English papers for you darling,’ she said handing them to Smith.  ‘You won’t believe the headlines, someone has broken INTO prison and killed that bloke who murdered that little girl a year ago, serves him right if you ask me,’ she continued.

‘No,’ said Smith in feigned surprise, ‘let’s have a read.’  He quickly scanned the article, there was nothing relating to any clues whatsoever.

The girl added, ‘The opposition leader in Parliament is demanding a full enquiry and the Governor’s resignation.’

Smith said contemptuously, ‘Now why doesn’t that surprise me coming from him, he’s bloody clueless, what he should be saying is, whoever did it they should give him a bloody medal.’  He threw the paper aside and reached out and pulled the smiling girl towards him.