Brother’s Keeper: Episode 29

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay steps through the back door into the back garden and pulls out his M9. He aims for the grass a short distance ahead of him and fires a shot into the ground. He repeatedly shoots into the grass.

***

Alan screams in pain and sobs aggressively. His eyes are deep red and heavy from sobbing. He is tied to a chair in a dimly lit and expansive backroom of the restaurant – Sophia’s Place. The entire room is covered with heavy-duty clear polythene sheets and the walls are padded – no one will hear him scream.

Vasily rises from a crouched position by Alan’s feet to tower over Alan. He cradles a bloodied hammer and stares down to Alan’s feet with glee. All the toes, apart from the little toe, on Alan’ left foot are crushed; his right foot is untouched. There are several incredibly unnerving torture devices neatly arranged on a small table beside Vasily.

Natalia stands a short distance away, with Alan’s phone to her ear. Mr Petrov is sat at a desk at the other end of the room, watching Alan’s torture with a distant gaze.

‘Oh, I’m sorry,’ Natalia cordially says into the phone. ‘You’re the wrong Jason.’ She listens briefly and replies. ‘No, I’m not his girlfriend.’ . . . ‘Do you have his brother’s number?’ . . . ‘His brother, Jason … or Jay.’ . . . ‘Yes, he has a brother.’ . . . ‘No, he’s not as much a twat as Alan. I have to go, someone’s on the other line.’

She ends the conversation with a sigh and walks to Alan. She reaches for his face, but he recoils.

‘Alan,’ she says, easily hiding her exasperation. ‘That’s a different Jay.’

‘Take my car,’ he pleads, through tears.

She is amused by his plea and smirks – showing him her true character for the first time. ‘Just give me his number … the real one. We don’t want to hurt him.’

He shakes his head vigorously. ‘I promise. I’ll get your money first thing tomorrow …’

‘Shh! It’s too late for that now, Alan.’

‘Roman gave me his word.’

‘His word is nothing!’ Mr Petrov suddenly declares in English, and continues in Russian to Natalia. ‘Enough of this talk. Why hasn’t your brother called you yet?’

‘Take it easy, dad,’ she says in Russian.

‘It’s my son!’ he snaps.

‘Yes. HE is your son,’ she says sternly, almost adding ‘too’, but she is sure he fully grasps her sentiment.

He does fully grasp and slowly leans back into his chair.

She steps away from Alan and gestures to Vasily to continue the torture.

Vasily savours the moment as he slowly crouches and slowly raises the hammer above his head. Suddenly, he smashes the little toe, and Alan screams in severe pain.

Natalia nonchalantly turns away from Alan, who’s violently screaming, to her father.

‘You really need a mobile phone of your own,’ she says to him in Russian.

‘No, that thing kills people,’ he declares.

She stoically stares at him for a long moment, hoping the stupidity of his statement will dawn on him. That doesn’t look to be forthcoming, so she turns away from her father to watch as Vasily prepares to smash the toes on Alan’s right foot.

‘Well, have an extension put in here then,’ she says to her father, without looking at him.

‘You think I want to be receiving calls when I’m in this room? And stop making excuses for your brother. He knows you’re with me. He can call you. You would.’

She can’t deny that assessment.

‘Just tell me his number, Alan. You know you can’t keep this up. You’re …’

Alan giggles between tears, and this surprises them. He soon begins to laugh enthusiastically.

Vasily turns to Natalia for a moment, mildly befuddled. She shrugs and attempts to speak, but Alan beats her to it.

‘I know,’ he says. ‘But I just want to keep it up till this BDSM motherfucker cums. It’s the least I can do. I strife to satisfy.’ He smiles widely, baring his perfect teeth.

She laughs suddenly, and Mr Petrov and Vasily turn to her with confusion. They both understand English, but their grasp of the language and popular culture isn’t enough to fully understand Alan’s comment. Vasily turns back to Alan and angrily head butts Alan in the mouth, shattering three of Alan’s front teeth.

Alan screams in pain and coughs vigorously, spitting out loose and broken teeth with blood.

Natalia is visibly enraged.

‘Did I tell you to do that?’ she scolds Vasily in Russian. ‘Idiot!’

Vasily attempts to speak, but she shuts him up with a raised hand. He angrily turns to Mr Petrov, but Mr Petrov has no reaction – he’s returned to blankly gazing at them.

She gesture to Alan’s right foot and commands, ‘Continue.’

She stoically watches Vasily smash the big toe on Alan’s right foot and watches Alan scream and quiver – he’s in desperate pain and bleeding profusely from his mouth.

She pulls out a cigarette and reaches into her jacket pocket for her lighter, but it’s not there. She ponders for a moment and smiles as she remembers she left her lighter in Jay’s jacket. She opens her mouth to speak.

‘Superman!’ Alan declares, through immense pain. ‘He’s superman.’

Her smile broadens and she scrolls through the contacts on Alan’s phone to “SUPERMAN”. She calls “SUPERMAN”.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 28

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay takes a deep breath and walks away – it’s on now.

***

Jay softly lands in a dark corner of the safe house back garden after deftly scaling the wall and immediately notices a motion detector light above the back door. The light is off, but any sudden movement could switch it on. He slowly pulls out the M9 pistol – now with a suppressor attached – and carefully aims for the light bulb. He pulls the trigger and there is a sharp impact sound as the bulb shatters.

He waits motionless in the darkness for almost a minute before he stands and walks quietly, in a crouched position with his M9 raised, to the back door. He slowly attempts to open the door, but its locked. He steps back and scans the building – there is a slightly open upstairs window.

***

Jay slowly sticks his head through the window into an upstairs bedroom, which is dark and empty. He carefully climbs into the room through the window. He pulls out his M9 and walks quietly to the room door.

He pushes the door open very slightly and listens – loud noises from a television across the hall, with accompanying loud banter from male voices; two distinct male voices.

He steps out of the room and remains motionless in the hallway. Across from him are two doors. One leads to the toilet, which has its lights switched on, and the other leads to the room where the television noises and banter emanate.

He quietly walks to the room door. He swiftly opens the door and steps into the room with his M9 raised. Two uniformed London Metropolitan officers are sat on a sofa a short distance away from the door, jovially watching Top Gear on the large television hung on the wall, and with their assault rifles resting by their feet. They casually turn to Jay in the doorway and instantly become motionless as they stare nervously at him.

The older officer can’t stop glancing down to his rifle. Jay focuses on him and shakes his head. In the next moment, the younger officer reaches down for his rifle. Jay charges at the officer and viciously knees him in the head as the officer grabs the rifle. The officer collapses onto the floor, unconscious, as the older officer reaches for his rifle. Jay stumps on the rifle, trapping it underneath his feet, and smashes the butt of his M9 into the officer’s head. The officer slumps onto the sofa, unconscious.

Jay drags the younger officer to the column radiator attached to the wall. He pulls out the officer’s handcuffs and cuffs the officer’s wrists to the radiator. He then drags the older officer to the other end of the radiator and handcuffs him to it.

He pulls out their phones and radios and walks across the room to the television remote control. He increases the volume of the television to a deafening level and places the phone, radio, and remote on the sofa – far out of reach for the officers.

He walks out of the room to the toilet door and softly taps on the door.

‘Yes?’ comes a frightened whisper from inside the toilet.

Jay taps the door again and aims his M9 head height. The door slowly opens until the uniformed officer inside the toilet is staring down the barrel of the gun.

‘I’m the guy,’ the officer says frantically. ‘I’m …’

Jay swings the butt of the M9 into the back of the officer’s head. The officer loses consciousness on his feet and Jay catches him before he collapses.

Jay drags the officer into the room and to the radiator. He pulls out the officer’s cuffs and cuffs him to the radiator between the other officers. He takes the officer’s phone, radio, and shoes.

He places the shoes and radio on the sofa, slots the phone in his pocket, and walks out of the room. He shuts the door gently behind him and sneaks down the stairway.

He steps off the stairway into a small but brightly lit hallway and remains in a crouched position with his M9 raised as he turns to three doors – two open and one closed. The open door to his right leads to the living room, which is dimly lit with faint noises from a television; but there are no accompanying voices or sounds of movement. The other open door, which is in the middle of the doors, leads to a dark and evidently empty kitchen.

The closed door is closest to him on his left and he sneaks to it. He listens and the room sounds empty. He quietly opens the door and pushes it open to reveal a small toilet.

He quietly steps into the living room to see Cameron – looking extremely weary and almost unrecognisable from the picture he was shown – sat on a sofa, glumly watching the television, and her toddler is asleep on the sofa beside her with his head resting on her lap. There is a female officer sat on an armchair beside them, also watching the television but with far more enthusiasm than Cameron. An automatic shotgun leans on the wall beside the armchair.

They haven’t yet noticed him – this though is always the case; his target never sees him until its too late, unless he wants it; he’s a ghost in plain sight. He slowly advances towards them with his M9 aimed at the female officer’s head.

Cameron and the female officer see him approach at the same time. Cameron instantly reaches into her blouse to grab something as the female officer attempts to reach for the shotgun.

‘Don’t,’ he commands.

Cameron and the female officer stop; the female officer sits back comfortably in her chair, as if she’d rather die in a comfortable sitting position, but Cameron stares defiantly at him, still grabbing the item in her blouse in one hand and covering her sleeping son’s eyes with the other.

‘Pull it out slow and place it on the ground,’ he commands Cameron.

To the female officer’s utter surprise, Cameron slowly pulls a sawed off shotgun out from her blouse. Cameron wields the gun with ease; like she’s held one many times, and also looks like she’s fired one before and wont hesitate to fire it again. The wife of a Russian crime lord – a toddler in one hand and a sawed off in the other, par for the course, it seems. She fights her better instincts as she carefully places the shotgun on the floor by her feet.

‘Cuff yourself to the radiator,’ he says to the officer, and gestures to the column radiator a short distance away from her.

The female officer is reluctant to stand.

He lowers his gun and calmly says, ‘Do it.’

The officer walks to the radiator and cuffs her wrists to it, but the handcuffs are evidently loose. He stares at her expectantly, and she diligently fastens the cuffs.

He calmly walks to the officer, keeping an eye on Cameron, and the officer does her best to hide her fear as she stoically watches him approach. He swings the butt of his gun into the back of her head, and she falls to the ground, unconscious.

He takes her radio and her phone and walks back to Cameron.

As he approaches, she gestures to her son and passionately declares, ‘I wont let you take my son!’ She glances at the shotgun by her feet. ‘I’ll fight you to the death.’

He blankly stares at her for a long moment, before he places the phone and radio on the coffee table.

‘You don’t think I can?’ she angrily questions. ‘I’ll do …’

‘I’m not taking him,’ he says, and tucks his gun into his waistband.

She stares at him, deeply confused. ‘What do you want?’

‘I want three hours of your silence.’

‘What?’

‘Three hours,’ he says earnestly and pauses. ‘Without alerting anyone of what’s happened here.’

‘Why?’

‘You’ll know. In time.’ He glances at the wedding ring on her finger. ‘I need the ring.’

She glances at the ring. ‘He sent you to kill me.’

He glances at the toddler. ‘He sent me to kill you all.’

She is aghast and turns to her son, and he watches as she lovingly caresses her son’s head. She turns back to him, pulls off the ring, and hands it to him.

There is a moment of silent acknowledgment between them.

‘The officers upstairs are unconscious,’ he says, and glances at the female officer. ‘They are also handcuffed to the radiator. The one without shoes let me in.’

‘Sorry?’

‘You’ll see what I mean.’

She nods. ‘Thank …’

‘No,’ he says, and instinctively raises a hand to object. ‘Three hours.’ He gestures to the female officer. ‘They might wake up before then, but they can’t do anything without you.’

‘Okay. Three hours.’

He nods and pulls out the corrupt officer’s phone. He sends the blank text to the number Robert specified and offers her the phone.

‘You might need it. It belongs to the one without shoes.’

She takes the phone, and there is another quiet moment between them as she fights the urge to thank him.

He turns and walks away towards the back door.

He steps through the back door into the back garden and pulls out his M9. He aims for the grass a distance ahead of him and fires a shot into the ground. He repeatedly shoots into the grass.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 27

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

‘Fucking hell!’ Robert mutters, and pulls out a handkerchief to wipe dry his face, but then he smiles – he’s sure going to enjoy putting a bullet through the fucker’s head.

***

A luxury taxi slows to a halt in front of the Matthew’s family home, and Alan slowly steps out of the taxi – he’s incredibly exhausted. He leans back into the car to Derek, who’s splayed out on the back seat, and says, ‘Tomorrow, 8 AM. Prompt, okay? We need to sort some shit out.’

Derek nods, and Alan closes the door and watches the taxi drive off.

Alan turns around to walk into his driveway and immediately stops in stride as he stares at his Mercedes parked ahead in the driveway. He is visibly elated and walks quickly to the car.

He strokes the car as he walks alongside it and sees the key on the bonnet. He excitedly grabs it and smiles proudly – he knows Jay got it back, but how … His phone begins to ring, interrupting his pondering. He pulls it out and stares at the caller ID – it’s an unknown number.

He answers the phone and quietly listens for a response from the other end of the line, but there is just silence.

Impatient, he questions, ‘Yes?’

‘Alan?’ is the response from Natalia’s sultry voice.

‘Yes,’ Alan says, excited. ‘Yes … Natalia?’

‘Yes. How’s Stephen?’

‘He’s doing fine,’ he answers with nonchalance, and begins to pace along the driveway.

‘That’s very good,’ she says, attempting to bury his nonchalance with evident enthusiasm. ‘Are you with him?’

‘No … I just left him actually. His wife’s with him now.’

‘Oh,’ she blurts, oozing empathy. ‘How is she? How is she handling it?’

‘Err … I dunno … good, fine … she seemed fine. He’s doing fine.’

‘That’s good, really good. What about you? Jay?’

‘I’m all right, considering.’

There is a beat of silence.

‘And Jay?’

‘Good. Although he’s not here right now.’

‘Are you alone?’

‘Yeah. Yes, I am.’

‘I could come over if you need someone right now.’

He smiles to himself and takes a moment to contemplate. He glances at the house, wondering if Jay is home, and then sniffs his armpits.

‘I’m not home. I could come to you though.’

‘That would be lovely, Alan. I’m at the restaurant. We’re just closing for the night.’

‘I’m on my way,’ he says, and unlocks his car.

‘Good. See you soon.’

He ends the call and quickly steps into the car. He quietly reverses of the driveway and slowly drives off – hoping not to alert Jay, if Jay’s home.

***

Daylight fades as Natalia walks out of the back entrance of the restaurant – Sophia’s Place – and into its small car park, where her Mini Cooper and a couple luxury cars are parked. She watches with a smile as Alan’s Silver Mercedes rounds the corner into the car park and parks beside her Mini.

Alan steps out of the car and walks to her with a gleeful smile. She reaches out for a hug as he approaches and they hug affectionately. He kisses her on the cheek, just missing her lips, and she leads him towards the back door.

‘That was fast,’ she says.

‘I know,’ he says, and gestures backwards to his car. ‘It’s pretty fast.’

She taps the back door twice and they wait. She turns to him with a soft smile and he smiles back – she’s even hotter dressed casually, he’s thinking. In the next moment, the door swiftly opens and Gennady grabs him and aggressively pulls him into the restaurant. She calmly walks in after them and shuts the door behind her.

***

A short distance away and across the street from the semi-detached safe house, Jay hides in the shadows, watching the house intently. The house is nondescript, similar in everyway to the neighbouring houses on the quiet residential street. He glances at his wristwatch – it reads “20:16”.

The signal ought to have come a minute ago, but these things are never prompt, it’s the nature of the business. He’ll give it an hour … but just then the light in one of the upstairs rooms facing the street switches on, and then immediately off. Back on. Off. On. Off. On. Off. Then it stays off.

He takes a deep breath and walks away – it’s on now.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 26

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay walks purposefully along a quiet residential street close to his home and surreptitiously tosses the black bin bag into a skip he’d seen the night before; he then heads off towards Epsom railway station.

***

It’s early evening as Jay steps out of Guilford Railway Station and walks briskly towards Palm Palace Shisha Bar – about 15 minutes walk away.

***

Jay stands across the street from the shisha bar, observing the bar and its surroundings for almost a minute before he chuckles and walks across the street towards the bar.

He walks into the busy bar and immediately sees Robert sitting at the same table as the night before. He walks to the table and sits opposite Robert.

Robert solemnly stares at Jay as he strokes his half empty glass of double gin and soda. There is a thick brown envelope on the table beside the glass.

Jay notices Robert’s bloody lip and makes sure to make it apparent to Robert that he’d noticed it – that usually elicits a verbal acknowledgement; although most times the acknowledgements are tall tales or blatant lies, but he can detect that and it helps him further analyse the person.

Robert forces a smile. ‘You should see the other guy,’ he says.

Jay forces a smile; he knows Robert lied.

‘Want a drink?’ Robert asks.

Jay softly shakes his head.

‘I usually don’t drink, you know,’ Robert says, and glances at the glass. ‘It tastes fucking horrible.’

Jay doesn’t respond.

Robert stares at Jay for a long moment and then laughs softly to himself.

‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Details. You know the TARGET. The address for the safe house is …’ He pauses for a moment to look through his phone. ’23 Westcroft Close.’

He stares at Jay expectantly, but Jay doesn’t react.

‘Want to write that down?’ he asks.

Jay softly shakes his head.

‘Right,’ Robert continues. ‘I don’t know how many officers are in the house. I don’t care. For what I’m paying, it shouldn’t matter.’ He pauses for a moment, expecting a reaction from Jay, but there is none forthcoming. ‘We have a man in the house. At 8:15 – or 20:15 as you military boys say it – our man will disable the alarm. The moment he does that, he’ll fuck with the lights …’

‘Fuck with the lights?’ Jay asks with a raised eyebrow.

‘Switch em on and off a few times, you know. The upstairs bathroom … facing the street, I suppose … I’d hope.’

Jay nods.

‘He thinks you’re going to let him live, shoot him in the arm or something. You kill him.’

‘Okay.’

Robert pulls out a small piece of paper from his pocket and slides it across the table to Jay. Jay looks down to the paper, which has “07776543983” boldly written on it.

‘Send a blank text to that number with the man’s phone when it’s all done.’

‘I hope this isn’t one of your numbers?’

Robert chuckles. ‘No, it’s not. I am a professional too. But thanks for caring.’

Jay slides the paper back across to Robert.

‘You don’t want it?’ Robert asks.

‘I’ve seen it. I’m good.’

‘If you forget it though …’

‘I won’t.’

‘Okay then,’ Robert says with a hint of sarcasm. ‘Anyway, Cameron has a wedding ring. I want it.’

‘Okay.’

‘And the kid,’ Robert says, and pauses to consider the gravity of his next words. ‘You kill the kid too.’

‘That wasn’t …’

‘That is the deal. For the price you’re asking, I’m sure you can do it.’

There is a long moment of silence before Jay nods.

‘Thought so,’ Robert smugly says.

He pushes the thick brown envelope to Jay.

‘I was told the M9 is your weapon of choice,’ he says. ‘With hollow point bullets.’

‘Suppressor?’

‘Yes. I was told that too.’

Jay nods, and there is silence as both stare at each other.

‘Anything else?’ Jay asks.

‘No. We’ll meet here when you’re done.’

‘You’ll have the money?’

‘I always do.’

Robert cracks a distant smile and stares intently at Jay.

‘So, is your dad proud of you?’ Robert asks. ‘Being a serial killer and all.’

Jay doesn’t respond.

‘Not much of a talker, are you?’

‘I listen,’ Jay answers softly. ‘And it seems to me like you want to talk.’

Robert is pleasantly surprised and leans back into his seat with a smile. He opens his mouth to speak, but Jay stands and picks up the envelope.

Jay gestures out the window and says, ‘Talk to your man in the brown leather jacket waiting in the black Range Rover parked outside. I’ve got things to do.’

Robert’s genuine smile transforms into seething rage, but he fights to maintain a forced smile as he watches Jay walk out of the bar. He then slowly takes a sip from his glass and suddenly slams the bottom of the glass onto the table and all the gin and soda left in the glass splashes over him.

‘Fucking hell!’ he mutters, and pulls out a handkerchief to wipe dry his face, but then he smiles – he’s sure going to enjoy putting a bullet through the fucker’s head.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 25

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

The man in the golf attire pulls out a claw hammer from his waistband, raises it high above his head, but before he swings the hammer into Slim Charles’ head, Robert and the large white man with him at the Shisha bar burst into the room.

***

‘Vasily, stop!’ Robert commands the man in the golf attire – whose name is Vasily.

Vasily stops in the middle of his swing and looks at Robert – who’s visibly enraged – for a moment, before he turns to Mr Petrov.

Robert follows Vasily’s gaze to Mr Petrov and his visible rage is immediately dampened when he sees Mr Petrov staring at him with deathly intent. Robert opens his mouth to speak, but doesn’t.

Mr Petrov slowly turns to Vasily and nods.

Vasily turns to Slim Charles, still unconscious on the sofa, and begins to viciously smash Slim Charles’ head with the hammer.

Robert watches and struggles to restrain his rage as Vasily takes his time to savour every smash and its effects obliterating Slim Charles’ head.

Robert walks calmly to Mr Petrov and says quietly in Russian, but with a very poor Russian accent, ‘You didn’t need to do this. It makes me look bad.’

Mr Petrov instantly backhand slaps Robert in the face, and Robert begins to bleed from a cut on his bottom lip.

Natalia looks away from Mr Petrov and Robert to Vasily. It’s a grim sight watching Vasily do his thing, but she’d rather watch that; she can’t stand to watch Mr Petrov and Robert fight.

‘You’re making ME look bad,’ Mr Petrov says in Russian. ‘You can’t even handle some rich boys.’ He gestures to Slim Charles. ‘Look at what they did to your man. I’ll be handling them from …’

‘I …’ Robert begins to interrupt, but Mr Petrov backhand slaps him again in the face, and Robert bleeds more profusely from his cut lip.

Samuel – Robert’s associate; the large white man – struggles to contain himself as he watches Robert and Mr Petrov, and he’s keenly watched by Mr Petrov’s man in the adidas tracksuit – called Gennady.

Mr Petrov grabs Robert’s lavish silk blazer and uses it to wipe blood – from Robert’s cut lip – off his ring.

‘Roman, you’ve become a disgrace of a child, not to mention my first son,’ Mr Petrov says, and shakes his head – he only speaks Russian, although he understands English. ‘This country has spoilt you. And your mother too, God rest her soul, she spoilt you.’ He gestures to Natalia. ‘You are nothing compared to your sister. I raised her well.’

Robert – birth name Roman Petrov – nods and fights to hide his anger.

‘The man from Cuba agreed, yes?’ Mr Petrov asks Robert.

‘The Captain?’ Robert asks in Russian.

Mr Petrov stares stoically at Robert for a long moment.

Robert nods and continues in Russian – his father doesn’t acknowledge when he speaks English. ‘But for 200 …’

‘I don’t care about that. I just want my boy back,’ Mr Petrov says, and pauses for a moment. ‘I also want my ring back. Tell the Captain to take my ring back from the rat BEFORE he kills her.’

‘I’ll let him know.’

Mr Petrov turns to Natalia and demands, ‘Bag.’

Natalia picks up Slim Charles’ duffel bag and walks to Robert to hand him the bag. She stares lovingly into her brother’s eyes, but he looks away. She takes a step back to stand beside Mr Petrov.

Robert looks into the bag. ‘This is not 200 …’

‘I know,’ Mr Petrov interrupts. ‘It will not matter. You are going to kill the Captain.’

‘What?’ Robert exclaims in English.

Mr Petrov shakes his head in disgust.

‘His people want him dead. That is the deal,’ Mr Petrov says, and pauses for a moment to stare intently at his son. ‘You can do that, can’t you? Unless you are afraid to kill a man.’

Robert nods.

Mr Petrov turns to Vasily and commands, ‘Enough, Vasily!’

Vasily stops smashing what’s left of Slim Charles’ obliterated head. He pulls out a handkerchief from his pocket and takes his time to clean the hammer. He tosses the bloodied handkerchief onto Slim Charles’ lifeless body and turns to Mr Petrov.

Mr Petrov walks out of the room, closely followed by Vasily and Gennady.

Natalia takes a step to Robert – her younger brother – and attempts to speak, but he looks away from her, uninterested. She strokes his arm and walks out of the room.

Robert seethes as he stares at Slim Charles’ lifeless body.

Samuel watches quietly as Robert walks over to Slim Charles – who was a long time associate of Robert; both Samuel and Slim Charles had worked for Robert approaching six years and had become almost like brothers.

Robert crouches to Slim Charles and gently pulls out Slim Charles’ knife from its sheath inside Slim Charles’ jacket.

***

Jay – dressed smoothly in black – uses scissors to cut the bottom out of his trench coat right pocket. He places the coat and scissors on his bed and picks up the handgun.

He ejects the magazine of the gun to check if it’s full; it is. He reloads the magazine into the handgun and chambers a round. He tucks the gun into the right side of his waistband.

He wears the coat and buttons it up. He softly taps his left breast pocket and reaches in to pull out Natalia’s zippo lighter. He stares at it for a moment, and forces back a smile before he puts the lighter back into his pocket.

He walks to the full-length mirror in a corner of the room and stares at himself for a moment. He slots his hands into his jacket pockets and, suddenly, pulls out the gun through his jacket pocket and aims at his reflection in the mirror in one swift motion. He nods approvingly and returns the gun into his right waistband through the jacket pocket.

He grabs the bin bag, full of his bloodstained clothes, and walks out of the room.

He steps off the stairway and walks towards the front door, but stops and turns to stare at the cellar door.

***

Jay walks purposefully along a quiet residential street close to his home, and surreptitiously tosses the black bin bag into a skip he’d seen the night before, and then heads off towards Epsom railway station.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 24

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

‘I’ll do it,’ Jay says into the phone. ‘For two hundred thousand.’

***

The Mercedes slowly parks in the driveway of the Matthew’s family home. Jay steps out of the car, gently places the car key on the bonnet, and walks towards the house.

He quietly steps into the house and remains in the doorway as he keenly listens and observes. The house is quiet and everything within view is just as he left it. He shuts the door behind him and walks to the kitchen to grab a bin bag.

He walks into his room, pulls out Slim Charles’ handgun, and gently places it on the bed. He completely undresses and places all the worn clothes into the bin bag. He grabs a towel and walks out of the room, heading for the bathroom.

***

Slim Charles lay unconscious in the middle of his hallway, his wide chest enlarging and contracting with every deep breath and the blood on his battered face has congealed.

The house is silent, until the sounds from the front door being unlocked with a key pierces the silence. The door is gently pushed open, and Vera walks in. She immediately sees Slim Charles and screams.

***

Slim Charles is unconscious on a sofa in his sparsely furnished living room; the room is very tidy though, thanks solely to Vera’s cleanliness.

Natalia, dressed casually in tight jeans and a deep V-neck fitted tee shirt, and Mr Petrov, dressed sharply in gulf attire – a polo shirt and navy blue trousers – stand over Slim Charles. Two large sturdy men, one also dressed in gulf attire and the other in an adidas tracksuit, diligently stand a couple steps behind them.

Vera, doing her best to hold back tears, stands by the entrance of the living room and intently watches Natalia, Mr Petrov, and her unconscious battered boyfriend.

‘Thank you for calling us first,’ Natalia says softly to Vera, and Vera nods.

Mr Petrov gestures to the man in the gulf attire, and the man walks purposefully to Slim Charles.

Suddenly, the man slaps Slim Charles hard across the face and Slim Charles regains consciousness.

Slim Charles grimaces in pain as he regains awareness and then attempts to move, but the man holds him down.

‘Slim,’ Natalia says softly, and crouches to Slim Charles. She gently places a hand on his chest to calm him. ‘Take it easy. You’re badly hurt. Who did this to you?’

‘Alan’s brother,’ Slim Charles says through the pain.

Mr Petrov raises a finger in an inquisitive manner.

Natalia heeds the cue and asks Slim Charles, ‘Just one person?’

Slim Charles fearfully glances at Mr Petrov before he tentatively answers, ‘Yes. Yes, but he had a gun.’

Mr Petrov nods.

Natalia caresses Slim Charles’ arm and says, ‘Okay. You’ll be fine.’

‘I need the hospital,’ Slim Charles declares.

‘I know,’ she says.

Mr Petrov speaks for the first time; slowly in Russian he says to Natalia, ‘Tell him why he’s going to die.’

‘We’ll take care of you, Slim,’ she says. ‘But you really fucked up last night.’

‘I know …’

‘You actually don’t,’ she interrupts. ‘My father sent me to the club to get them.’ She glances at Vera before she continues. ‘And your actions put a stop to that.’

I’m sorry,’ Slim Charles pleads to her, and turns to Mr Petrov. ‘I’m so sorry, Mr Petrov.’

Mr Petrov nods in acceptance of the apology.

‘But, Slim,’ she continues. ‘The altercation in the restaurant – you know better than to do that.’

‘I didn’t …’ he begins to plead.

‘It’s too late for that now,’ she says sternly. ‘You know the consequences.’

‘Please, Natalia!’ Vera pleads, and hurries towards them, but as she scampers past the man in the adidas tracksuit, he swiftly pulls out a wire from his pocket, grabs her neck with it, and strongly tightens the wire around her neck – strangling her.

Vera struggles violently as life escapes her, and Natalia calmly watches her die.

Slim Charles watches Vera’s last living moments in deep anguish and struggles as hard as he can to escape from underneath the powerful grasp of the man in the golf attire, but he can’t; the man is easily holding him down.

Mr Petrov watches Vera until she dies and the man in the tracksuit gently places her lifeless body on the floor. He then turns to Natalia and says softly in Russian, ‘Invite the brothers to the restaurant. We finish this tonight.’

Natalia hesitates for a moment and then attempts to speak, but doesn’t and nods.

Mr Petrov gestures to the man in the golf attire and then he and Natalia take a deliberate step backwards.

The man drives an elbow into Slim Charles’s head and Slim Charles instantly loses consciousness. He then pulls out a claw hammer from his waistband, raises it high above his head, but before he swings the hammer into Slim Charles’ head, Robert and the large white man with him at the Shisha bar burst into the room.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 23

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay ignores Alan’s question and steps out of the hospital room

***

A taxi turns into Vicarage Road – a desolate street in Guilford, lined with terraced houses – and parks at the top of the street. Jay calmly steps out of the taxi, nods at the driver, and watches the taxi drive off.

He walks purposefully along the street, keenly observing the houses – searching for no. 45 – and his pace steadily quickens, until he is running at full speed.

He notices the Silver Mercedes parked ahead and slows his pace to a brisk walk. He quietly approaches the car and then looks at the house that the car is parked in front of – there is a metallic “45” embedded on the front door.

He walks towards the door, and as he approaches, he hears the door being unlocked and charges at the door.

***

Slim Charles, dressed as flash as usual and with the duffel bag over his shoulder, opens his front door and is immediately ferociously kicked in the chest. He is driven backwards and crashes hard onto the bottom of his stairway.

Jay calmly steps into the house, shuts the door behind him, and menacingly walks across the small hallway towards Slim Charles, who’s in evident extreme pain.

Slim Charles sees Jay approach, and is overcome with fear. He frantically crawls to the duffel bag, unzips it, and pulls out a handgun. He hurriedly attempts to aim for Jay, but Jay kicks his hand and the gun flies away from his grasp. Jay then kicks him flush in the Jaw and he crashes onto the floor, unconscious.

Jay picks up the gun and aims it at Slim Charles’ head, but he doesn’t shoot. He takes a couple deep breaths to calm his vengeful rage and then lowers the gun. He keenly listens for any movement in the house, but there is none; the house is utterly quiet.

He crouches to Slim Charles and slaps Slim Charles hard across the face.

Slim Charles wakes up and Jay calmly places the barrel of the gun between his eyes. Slim Charles stares at the gun, deathly afraid.

‘Look at my face,’ Jay says calmly.

Slim Charles looks up to Jay and attempts to plead for his life.

‘Don’t speak,’ Jay commands. ‘Just look at my face. If you ever see me again, run. Your life depends on it. I’m Alan’s older brother. If you ever see him, run.’ Jay pauses for a moment to allow the gravity of his words to permeate. ‘The guy you stabbed, I’m his friend. If you ever see him, run. Same goes for Derek. But if you decide not to run, and fight, you better be prepared. Be prepared to die … violently.’

‘I …’ Slim Charles begins to say before Jay swings the gun into his face.

Blood splatters across the room, on the bag and on Jay, as Slim Charles is knocked unconscious.

Jay rises and walks into the rather very tidy kitchen. He walks to the sink and washes the blood off the gun, and then washes his hands. He tears several sheets of paper towel and wipes dry his hands and the gun. He tucks the gun into his waistband and walks back into the hallway.

He stands over Slim Charles and scans the room for the Mercedes key. He spots the key on the floor beside the bag and steps over Slim Charles to walk to it.

He crouches to pick up the key and notices the bag is filled with money, but he doesn’t hesitate, he picks up the key and walks towards the front door.

He steps out of the house, kicks the door shut behind him, and calmly walks to the Mercedes.

He unlocks the Mercedes as he approaches, steps into the driver seat, and smoothly drives away.

As he drives, he pulls out his phone and scrolls through his recent calls to 07859007525 – Robert’s number.

He calls, and it’s immediately answered.

‘I’ll do it,’ he says. ‘For two hundred thousand.’