"Are you there sir? "
The voice on the end of the cell phone waited for a reply, a tinge of impatience in the darkly excited monotone as the helpless victim, blodied and bowed, awaited his fate and the inevitable answer to the question posed. David paused and contemplated the situation for a few moments longer, a tiny tug boat passing by on the gentle waves by the bridge, the lapping water pooling across the tiny stretch of beach towards the array of rusting metal anchors that moored the barges in place.
“ Do we have a green light on this one Mr Roberts? “ There was an air of nervousness in the voice, knowing full well that his boss was not a man to interrupt when talking or thinking, or to pressure in any way for fear of chastisement, or something far worse.
David sighed, eyes wandering far and wide out across the River Thames towards the appealing structure of the Millenium bridge, an army of tourists marching across in both directions like ants on the horizon. Just for a moment the cell phone slipped from his ear as his eyes glazed, razor sharp mind furtively recalling the days of his childhood when he played on the open banks of the Thames before the walls appeared and the nouveau rich brigade set up camp in the area. His father, the bare knuckle street fighter with hands like bunches of bananas and a nose broken so many times and in so many places, it barely knew which way to point any longer. The London scene of the sixties as gangland violence spiralled out of all control, and his ascent to power after his father was beaten to death by a mob on the doorstep of the very nightclub that he built with his own fight money from nothing. Shuffling somewhat uneasily, placing his weight onto his right hip, and the cell phone back up to his ear, he spoke slowly with the deep and gentle voice that had won the hearts and lust of many a willing vixen in his time, and sentenced many a hoodlum to slow and painful death. The expectant voice at the end of the Sony Ericsson now had a tangible air of urgency to it, the faint sounds of whimpering eminating from the bound and broken limbs and gaffa taped mouth of the injured man.
“ Tell him thank you for everything he taught me over the years. Tell him that I’ve know about his betrayal all along. Tell him that there are rules that must be adhered to in this game. Oh and tell him that I never forgave him for knicking Angela from me, that was a low blow. Make him suffer, Mickey, I mean really suffer and then fucking Kill him “
David closed down the cell phone with a well practised clamping of thumb and forefinger on his right hand, placing the shiny blue metal form into the warm confines of his overcoat pocket and letting out a little more slack on Alfie’s lead so as to afford the little furry fellow the opportunity to investigate the sandy shoreline in greater detail. Curiously, he watched the delight on his little dog’s face, eyes rolling, muscles flexing, nose twitching as every new scent entered his tiny nostrils, life a big adventure as they walked amidst the sand and pebbles. An overcast morning, rain heavy in the air as the storm clouds blew in with speed and ominous intent, one man and his dog enjoying the simple pleasures of some peace and harmony on the South Bank as the myriad of foreign tongues mingled and mixed into a delicious cocktail of cosmopolitan tone. Little did anyone who passed by the quiet pair know of the significance of that last phone call. Nor the stature and position of the diminutive man in the ill fitting, though henously expensive tweed coat who had the power to extinguish life at any given moment like the snuffing of a candle, for anyone foolish enough to cross his path or raise his East End hackles.
Alfie raised his head towards the sky, nose going ten to the dozen as the heady aroma of the waterfront cafés and European food outlets vied for dominance on the air. It was breakfast time for man and dog, time to wind their way back along the pathway to David’s exclusive penthouse with the commanding view over the beautiful old river. At the top of the steps stood two burly minders, body’s seemingly crafted from solid granite, muscular and purposeful, a stance that suggested they were ready for any eventuality. David hated the tiresome necessity of these overgrown buffoons with him wherever he went, though he understood the implications of travelling alone and the price on his own head by the other gangland bosses who would relish the opportunity of seizing his crown and ruling over his patch.
A man small in stature though tenacious of character, David bucked the trend for the designer clothes and passion red Ferrari’s that dogged those of his kind, opting instead for the softly spoken, quiet demeanour of a man with seemingly the world at his feet. Gazing up and nodding to one of the minders, he planted a foot onto the cement steps leading up from the beach, gently pulling on Alfie’s leash as encouragement for the little guy to follow his master, the passenger door to his elegant Black Mercedes opening in readiness for his arrival. By now the deed would be done and his arch nemesis breathing no more. David was always happy to distance himself from the sporadic acts of violence that liberally peppered the day to day running of his empire, leaving such grisly acts to those more skilled and adept than he. It had not always been the case, those early days on the East end streets, street fights and power struggles during which time his hands were blooded and bones shattered on many occasion as he rose through the ranks, finally crowned king of the hill after the natural death of Johnny Miles in the summer of two thousand and seven.
David knew that his decision today would have far reaching consequences, igniting a turf war on a biblical scale with every man for himself, backs to the wall and trust a rare and scare commodity. Then again, wasn’t that the way it had been since time began? But he also knew that forgiveness of one’s rivals would be viewed with loathing and disdain, a sign of his own weakness and an opportunity for others to take matters into their own hands. A boss must rule with power absolute, he must exhibit the characteristics of ruthlessness and aggression tempered with an understanding of those in whom he places what little trust he has available. If his father tought him anything in life, other than the need to bring down the bloke baring down on you at all costs before he throws his fists your way, then that was it. This was a time to act, to show the world that he was not ready to step down or bow out. The king was up to the fight and anyone stepping into the ring with him would better be prepared to suffer.
" Come on Alfie, time for some breakfast you little furry fucker! ", David walked the large steps to the top, the little dog duly following with obedience and anticipation of the giant bowl of food to greet him back home. Stepping into the rear of the Mercedes, the aroma of new leather and real mahogany wafting into the atmosphere with subtlety and class, the door closed with a teutonic efficency and reassuringly exotic clunk. Like a purring Puma, the Vee twelve powerplant burst into life and the vehicle moved away slowly. Another day for the man who’s decision making would have impact and implications far reaching and beyond the comprehension or knowledge of most who passed him by.
As the Mercedes moved off, David pulled a hand rolled El Morro, San Cristobal de la habana from the silver plated console in the centre of the rear seats, rolling it underneath his nose and savouring the deliciously rich aroma of mixed leaf before clipping the end with his favourite gold plated cigar clipping and slowly turning the cigar with careful revolutions as he lit the end. Wafting a vast plume of smoke into the cabin of the car, he turned to his driver and smiled.
" Stevie, I’m in the mood for some cheering up my boy. After all, it’s not every day that one loses a mentor as I have today. Play me something that I like, something to ease my pain, something loud and very fucking raucus "
As the car disappeared into the distance, the twelve speaker Bang and Olufsen unit pumped out the thrusting beat of ‘London Calling" by the Clash. How fitting it would seem.
Written January 19th 2011
Photograph taken on January 13th 2011 on the sandy beach on London;s South bank, near the Millenium bridge, London, England. .
Nikon D700 70mm 1/125s f/2.8 iso200 Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. UV filter
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Tagged: , violence , gangland , bloodshed , ’empire of the son’ , empire , hhodlum , Man dog hound mutt doggie doggy canine walk. walkies morning stroll London Southbank steps mono Nikon D700 , ‘#ilobsterit’