Brother’s Keeper: The Finale

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay stands over Natalia, holding the bloodied hammer in his right hand. His left hand is lifeless by his side, dripping blood. He tosses the hammer and crouches to pick up the shotgun. He aims for her head and blasts it to pieces.

***

He drops the shotgun and winces in pain as he slowly unbuttons his jacket with his right hand. He opens his jacket to reveal his bulletproof vest – the same vest that saved him in Afghanistan – with several shotgun pellets embedded in it. He thankfully smacks the vest and slowly picks out the pellets.

He pulls out Natalia’s Zippo lighter from his jacket and lights it. He walks to the torture table and carefully places the lit lighter on it. He then crouches to pick up the dagger and walks to Alan.

He cuts the rope knotted tightly around Alan with one deft swing and supports Alan’s unconscious body with his before it falls to the ground. He searches Alan for the Mercedes key and pulls it out of Alan’s trouser pocket.

He slowly and carefully carries Alan over his right shoulder, picks the Desert Eagle from the table, and staggers out of the room.

He staggers into the hallway with the Desert Eagle raised and is met with the gruesome aftermath of his carnage. He steps over the henchman with a knife lodged in his throat and stops at Samuel’s corpse. He grimaces as he crouches to Samuel and picks out the Range Rover key.

He staggers along into the kitchen and stops at the doorway to scan the room. He is unaffected by the merciless result of his vengeance as he stares through the dead bodies. He staggers across the kitchen to the gas cookers and opens all the gas valves. He then staggers towards the exit as quick as he can.

He steps out of the back door with the gun raised and quickly scans the car park – it’s desolate. He tosses the gun back into the restaurant and staggers as quick as he can to Alan’s Mercedes. He unlocks the car and gently lays Alan on the back seat.

He walks briskly to the Range Rover and unlocks the car. He opens the back door and grimaces as he reaches in to pull out the duffel bag filled with money. He rushes back to the Mercedes and steps into the driver seat.

He swiftly pulls out of the car park and speeds away just as the restaurant violently explodes and the raging flames light up the night.

***

Jay parks the Mercedes indiscriminately outside the A&E Department of Epsom Hospital. He rushes out of the car and pulls open the back door. He quickly pulls out Alan’s wallet and removes Alan’s watch and tosses them onto the car mat.

He grimaces as he carries Alan over his right shoulder and rushes into the A&E department. He walks through the half empty waiting room and barges into the active major incidents ward.

‘I need help!’ he screams. ‘He’s dying!’

Two nurses immediately rush to him and they lead him towards a bed.

‘What’s the …’ the older nurse begins to ask, and abruptly stops as the extent of Alan’s injuries becomes evident to her.

She and the younger nurse assist Jay in laying Alan softly on the bed and the younger nurse purposefully runs off.

‘What happened?’ she earnestly asks Jay.

‘You need to pay attention now, okay?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Just listen. He’s 26, a heavy drinker, social smoker, marijuana as well, and he snorts cocaine. He has no allergies. Isn’t currently taking any prescribed medication. No long term conditions. Blood type is O positive. You get that?’

She takes a moment before she nods, and then asks, ‘What is his name?’

‘I don’t know,’ he says, and stares over her head to a fast approaching Trauma team, which is led by the younger nurse.

They shove him aside and begin working on Alan, and he watches them work. He soon becomes overcome with emotion and fights back tears. He grabs the older nurse’s arm and she turns to him.

‘Tell him …’ he stops; he doesn’t know what to say. He lets go of her arm and walks away.

‘Where are you going?’ she questions him. ‘You are bleeding. You …’

‘I will be back,’ he says, and turns around. ‘Tell him I will be back.’

***

Jay stands over Stephen, who is asleep with an I.V still inserted through his hand in a patient room in a different ward of the same hospital. Across the room, Stephen’s wife is asleep in a cosy sleeping bag.

Stephen’s breathing is regular and his blood pressure on the monitor beside the bed reads relatively normal.

Jay softly shoves Stephen in the shoulder, but Stephen doesn’t wake up. Jay flicks Stephen’s nose and Stephen instantly wakes up. Stephen attempts to speak, but Jay covers his mouth.

‘Quiet,’ Jay whispers.

Stephen nods and Jay uncovers his mouth. Stephen scans Jay for a moment and is visibly concerned.

‘Are you okay?’ Stephen whispers.

‘Yes,’ he says, and pauses for a beat. ‘Sincerely, no, but I’m doing better than you.’

They smile at each other.

‘I know you won’t be in this bed much longer,’ Jay continues. ‘But Alan will …’

‘Alan?’

‘Yes, he’s downstairs in A&E.’

‘Was is the …’

‘That doesn’t matter anymore. It’s sorted.’

Stephen knows exactly what Jay means and nods.

‘Is Alan alright?’

‘No, but he will be. I need you to watch him from a distance while he recuperates. I need time, a couple days, maybe more. Downstairs, they don’t know who he is, and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as I can, unless the stubborn fucker wakes up and tells them, but I think he’s going to be out for a while.’

‘He’s that bad?’

‘Yes.’

‘And you’re leaving again.’

‘Yes, I need to finish something.’

‘You don’t.’

‘I do. Tell Alan I said …’ he pauses for a beat, gathering his thoughts. He’s not at all good at voicing his emotions; he hasn’t had any practice. ‘I’m not here, but I am actually here. I’m here for him. I will return.’

‘You want me to write this down?’ Stephen teases, and they smile. ‘I’ll tell him. Take care, brother.’

‘You too, brother. Wednesday, expect a package. It’ll come every three months till I return. Sort yourself out, take care of Alan … and Derek.’ He gestures to Stephen’s wife. ‘And her.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Thank you.’

Stephen watches Jay walk away.

***

Jay steps out of the hospital and walks briskly past a couple ambulances to the Mercedes parked outside the hospital. He steps into the car and speeds off.

He pulls out his phone, scrolls to Mr Smith’s number, and calls. It’s answered immediately.

‘Hello, Captain,’ Mr Smith softly says in his distinct soothing elderly Texan accent.

‘Hello, Lieutenant General Rupert Spencer-Harington. Yes, I know your name, as you know mine.’

There is a moment of silence.

‘Very well, Captain Matthews,’ Rupert, aka Mr Smith, says in a relatively younger and very cultured English accent – his real voice and accent.

‘You got my brother killed.’

‘No. You got your brother killed. You became a loose end. Your brother was simply collateral damage.’ He pauses for effect and continues. ‘And from what I gather, your brother was well on his way to getting himself killed.’ He pauses for a beat. ‘But unsurprisingly, you survive. You, Captain Matthews, are a very special soldier. What a shame. Oh well, we won’t underestimate you again.’

‘You won’t live to make that mistake.’

There is no response from Rupert.

‘I’m coming for you,’ Jay says. ‘I’m coming for you all.’

‘We’ll be expecting you.’

Jay ends the conversation as he slows to a halt at a red light. He opens the phone and picks out the red SIM card on the battery. He tosses the phone out into the desolate road and speeds off into the night as the traffic light switches to green.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 35

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay turns back to Alan, but then a sudden shotgun blast smashes into him and drives him across the room. He crashes onto the wall and collapses to the floor. He is lifeless and blood begins oozing from him.

***

Natalia quietly parks her Mini Cooper beside her brother’s Range Rover and hurriedly steps out of the car, holding her P22 pistol firmly. She walks briskly to the back door and rummages through her bag for the key. She picks it out and quietly opens the door.

She steps into the kitchen and is immediately startled by a gunshot, and then another shot. She takes a deep breath and walks on, but is then taken aback when she sees the dead bodies spread around the kitchen, each with a bullet hole in the head and two in the chest – all clinically done.

She steps into the hallway leading to the restaurant’s back room and stops in stride when she sees Gennady, laying dead with a massive hole through his head, Samuel, on top of Gennady with a bullet hole where his ear used to be, and three other dead men from her dad’s crew, one of whom has a knife through his jaw.

It is an immensely gruesome sight and she has to fight her impulse to puke, but just then there are two simultaneous gunshots from inside the room that startle her and fill her with immense fear as to the fates of her brother and father.

She walks on, but steps on and almost trips off a sawn-off shotgun. She looks down to the shotgun as she curses underneath her breath, and then she looks to her comparatively tiny P22 pistol and back to the shotgun. She quickly places the P22 pistol in her bag and crouches to carefully pick up the shotgun.

She pumps the shotgun as quietly as is feasible and walks purposefully into the room with the gun raised. Soon as she steps into the room, she sees Jay with his back to her. She carefully aims at him as he turns towards her, and shoots him in the chest.

The gun blast drives Jay across the room into the wall and he collapses onto the floor. She watches as blood begins to ooze from his body.

She remains in the doorway and scans the room. She sees Robert, who appears dead and is bleeding out, in front of the desk and races to him.

She crouches to him and drops the shotgun to cradle his head. She passionately sobs as she attempts to stop the bleeding from his neck, but she can’t stop it.

She screams with immense grief and shakes his head as she calls out to him, ‘Roman! Roman! Please, don’t …’

Suddenly, he opens his eyes and struggles to keep it open as he stares at her.

‘Natalia!’ Mr Petrov calls out from the other side of the desk, and that startles Natalia.

She attempts to respond to her father, but Robert opens his mouth in an attempt to speak … but he can’t manage it.

‘Natalia! Help me,’ Mr Petrov pleads in Russian, through severe pain.

Again, she attempts to respond to father, but then Robert fights to speak.

‘He …’ Robert just about utters, and stops to gather strength. ‘Killed …’ he pauses again. ‘Mother.’

With that, Robert dies in her arms. She embraces him tightly and shuts her eyes for a very long moment.

She opens her eyes and out pours a flood of tears. ‘I know,’ she says to him, and kisses him softly on his lips.

‘Natalia!’ Mr Petrov desperately calls out again.

She gently sets her brother’s head on the floor and picks up the shotgun as she stands. She walks around the desk to her father.

He’s bleeding profusely, seemingly from all around his torso, and a considerable pool of his blood spreads out from him. He looks up at her with relief.

‘My darling, help me.’

She pumps the shotgun and aims for his head.

He is in visible shock and then is overcome with fear. He attempts to speak, but she blasts his head to pieces.

She lowers the gun and begins wailing. It is loud, absolutely frantic, and goes on nearing five minutes before she gathers herself and turns to Alan, who is evidently breathing, although very faintly.

She walks to Alan, pumps the shotgun, and aims for his head, but just before she pulls the trigger, Vasily’s hammer smashes into the crown of her head and she collapses to the floor.

Jay stands over her, holding the bloodied hammer in his right hand. His left hand is lifeless by his side, dripping blood.

He tosses the hammer and crouches to pick up the shotgun. He aims for her head and blasts it to pieces.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 34

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Mr Petrov stands, alert, and watches Jay step into the room with two guns raised. Jay’s face is almost entirely covered in blood splatter, but there is calmness beyond the blood of several dead men. He turns and stares at Robert and Mr Petrov.

***

Jay stares at Robert and Mr Petrov for a long quiet moment before he turns away from them to walk towards his lifeless brother.

Mr Petrov is momentarily confused by Jay’s action, but it quickly dawns on him that the Captain is in fact Alan’s brother Jay. He attempts to swiftly reach for his revolver, but Robert pulls out the M9 handgun and, without looking up from the ground, aims for his father.

Mr Petrov stops in his tracks and is taken aback. His mind is further mired in bewilderment as he ponders if Jay and his son are working together; and, if so, for how long; or maybe Jay’s employers are betraying him. Suddenly, he smiles, because he admires the move by his son – ruthless and impeccably timed; better late than ever to prove yourself the son of Sergei Petrov. He looks back to Jay as Jay approaches Alan.

Jay crouches to his brother and fights back his emotions as he checks his brother’s neck for a pulse. There is a pulse, although very low, and Jay shuts his eyes tightly in relief. He scans his brother’s wounds and, again, his rage threatens to overcome him. He cradles his brother’s head and softly kisses his brother’s forehead, like he used to do when Alan was just a baby. He turns to Roman and Mr Petrov – they will pay dearly.

Mr Petrov looks away from Jay to his son, who is still staring down to the ground – this bloody coward couldn’t have set all this inmotion; he’s just a pawn; a bloody disgrace.

‘You’ve been played, you foolish boy,’ Mr Petrov says in Russian. ‘Look at me!’ he demands.

Robert, with teary eyes, looks up to Mr Petrov, and Mr Petrov is in visible disdain at his son’s tears.

‘You bloody coward. You are …’

Robert pulls the trigger and Mr Petrov flinches, but there is no gunfire. Robert repeatedly pulls the trigger, but still no gunfire – Jay had emptied the gun clip into the back garden of the safe house.

Mr Petrov realises the gun is either jammed or out of bullets. He swiftly picks up the revolver and shoots Robert – the bullet pierces through Robert’s neck and Robert crashes unto the floor.

Mr Petrov quickly attempts to shoot at Jay, but Jay shoots him in his right shoulder and the revolver flies away from his grasp as his arm becomes limp. He attempts to clutch his severely wounded shoulder with his left hand, but Jay shoots his left shoulder and that arm becomes limp. Mr Petrov screams in pain and falls back unto his chair.

Jay walks calmly towards Mr Petrov with both guns aimed at Mr Petrov’s head. Mr Petrov attempts to speak, but Jay shoots him in the belly with both guns and he collapses unto the floor.

Jay walks around the desk to Mr Petrov, who is bleeding profusely from his belly and shoulders and wailing in pain. He aims both guns at Mr Petrov’s head, and Mr Petrov looks up at him without an ounce of fear.

‘Finish me,’ Mr Petrov says in English, through pain.

Jay slowly lowers the guns.

‘You are finished,’ Jay says, and walks away.

Mr Petrov attempts to object, but he cant muster any words as he is in too much pain and losing blood rapidly – he is dying, slowly and ever so painfully.

Jay walks away from the desk but suddenly stops and turns around to Robert.

Robert is in his last moments of life as he bleeds profusely from his neck, but his dying eyes are focused on Jay.

There is a long quiet moment as they stare at each other. Jay nods softly at Robert, and Robert struggles to nod back but he can’t and instead slowly blinks at Jay. The share a moment of acknowledgment and then Jay turns to walk back to Alan.

He scans the small table beside Alan with the torture devices neatly arranged on top. He places both guns on the table and picks up a sharp exotic dagger.

He turns back to Alan, but then a sudden shotgun blast smashes into him and drives him across the room. He crashes onto the wall and collapses to the floor. He is lifeless and blood begins oozing from him.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 33

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay takes a deep breath and slowly exhales. Suddenly, he pulls out the knife and drives it into the throat of the square jawed henchman in one swift motion. He then simultaneously grabs the henchman’s Desert Eagle with his left hand and pulls out Slim Charles’ gun through his jacket pocket with his right hand.

***

Robert struts confidently past the square jawed henchman into the back room of the restaurant. He stops momentarily to stare at Alan, who is lifeless, absolutely battered, and tied to a chair as is customary when Vasily is on the job.

He turns to glare at Vasily, but then he hears the door shut behind him. He looks behind to see that Jay and Samuel haven’t been let in. He is alone. Immediately, his demeanour changes; his confidence withers into immense fear. He turns to his father, sat behind his desk and glaring intently at him, and this only reinforces his fear.

“Fuck that,” he thinks. “Fuck him.” He attempts to strut towards the desk, but as he approaches his fear threatens to overcome him.

He stands at the desk, like a student awaiting punishment from the headmaster.

‘Sit,’ Mr Petrov says, and gestures to a chair beside Robert.

Robert diligently sits.

Faint noises of continuous semi-automatic gunfire from just beyond the thick door seep into the room.

Robert is alarmed. ‘Can you hear that?’ he asks Mr Petrov in Russian.

‘I hear nothing,’ Mr Petrov stoically replies.

The faint noise of gunfire abruptly ceases.

‘Why did you do it?’ Mr Petrov solemnly asks.

‘Do what?’

‘Why did you kill my boy?’

In that moment, Robert notices the silver revolver on the desk in front of his father. He looks up to his father and sees the quiet rage in his father’s eyes. He’s seen that look several times before, although never directed at him, as if it was he’d be long dead. Now though, the look is directed at him – his life is in the balance.

‘I didn’t,’ he says earnestly. ‘It was a mistake. I specifically told the Captain not to touch Fyodor.’

Mr Petrov is evidently agitated by Robert’s response.

There are two loud knocks on the door.

‘I’m not ready for them!’ Mr Petrov screams at Vasily.

He returns his focus to Robert and there is a moment of silence as they stare intently at each other.

‘I’d respect you more as a man if you just admit you did it,’ he says, and pauses. ‘I understand. If I were you, I’d have killed him too.’ He pauses to allow that statement to sink into Robert. ‘You think I killed your mother, don’t you?’

Robert opens his mouth to speak, but he stops and doesn’t speak.

‘You’re a man now,’ Mr Petrov continues. ‘Well, you’re of age to know this things. Yes, I killed your mother.’

Robert leaps out of his chair, fuelled with rage.

‘Why!’ he demands with a scream.

Mr Petrov stoically stares at Robert for a long moment and then shakes his head in disappointment.

‘Now that you know for sure that I killed your mother,’ Mr Petrov says, and gestures to the revolver. ‘Kill me. Be my son. Do what I would do.’

Robert’s rage is on the verge of eruption as he stares at his father and glances at the revolver.

There is a long quiet moment as Mr Petrov casually waits for Robert to act, but then Robert’s rage begins to simmer and he sits.

Mr Petrov shakes his head in disappointment.

‘Now tell me, did you kill my boy?’

Robert doesn’t respond; he looks to the ground and fights back tears.

Mr Petrov stares intently at Robert with a mixture of shame, disappointment, rage, and resignation – shame, because he had a hand in raising a coward and his blood runs through the coward’s veins; disappointment, because even though he’d given Robert more than enough chance to grow into a strong and brave man like his father, Robert is in fact nothing but a coward; rage, because this coward has killed his son, his chance at redemption; and resignation, because he will kill the coward.

Mr Petrov turns to Vasily.

‘Bring in the Captain. Maybe he will be a man and talk.’

Vasily nods and unlocks the thick door. As he pulls the door open, there is gunfire and the back of his head explodes. He collapses backwards onto the floor and there is a large bullet hole in his forehead.

Mr Petrov stands, alert, and watches Jay step into the room with two guns raised.

Jay’s face is almost entirely covered in blood splatter, but there is calmness beyond the blood of several dead men. He turns and stares at Robert and Mr Petrov.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 31

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Robert gestures at the duffel bag, which is full of money, and says to Jay with a wide smile, ‘You want to count …’

Suddenly, a loudly ringing phone interrupts him.

***

Alan appears lifeless, but he’s still tied to the chair in the expansive backroom of Sophia’s Place. All his toes are smashed and bloodied and the fingers on his left hand are also smashed and bloodied. Vasily stands over him, cradling a bloody hammer and admiring his brutal work.

At the other end of the room, Natalia sits on the desk beside her father, who is evidently anxious and deep in thought.

‘I’m going to their house,’ she says to him in Russian.

‘You want one of the boys to accompany you?’ he asks, also in Russian.

She glares at him with a raised eyebrow, and he nods – almost apologetically.

‘Call your brother before you go,’ he says.

She nods and makes the call. It’s answered after a few rings.

‘Are you done?’ she asks Robert, through the phone.

‘No, why?’ he snaps at her.

‘What do you think, Roman?’ she replies, hiding her annoyance. ‘Alan is here. He has nothing for us.’

‘What’s he doing there?’ Robert angrily questions, and continues fuelled with anger. ‘I gave him till tomorrow.’

‘Calm down, dad wanted it this way.’

‘What the …’

‘Hold on,’ she says, and passes the phone to her father.

‘Why haven’t you called?’ Mr Petrov demands, in Russian. ‘I’ve been waiting.’

‘I was going to …’ Robert begins responding in Russian.

‘Going to?’ Mr Petrov questions with more than a hint of hostility. ‘The Captain has done it?’

Robert hesitates for a moment. ‘Yes, but …’

Natalia watches her father face fill with worry and she as well becomes incredibly worried, hoping its not what she fears.

‘But what?’ Mr Petrov demands.

‘Yes, he did, but …’ he hesitates for a beat. ‘Fyodor was killed. It …’

‘What?’ Mr Petrov screams.

Mr Petrov’s distraught startles Natalia and confirms to her that it is what she fears – Fyodor is dead.

‘It was an accident,’ Robert says. ‘Fyodor was caught …’

‘Bring the Captain to me,’ Mr Petrov sternly commands.

‘I can deal with him.’

‘You can’t deal with anything!’ he screams, and pauses for a beat. ‘Nothing, you fool! Bring him to me, NOW.’

Mr Petrov ends the conversation and stares down at his desk, seething. Natalia and Vasily watch him with deep sympathy as he struggles to fight back tears.

He slowly pulls open a desk drawer, picks out a silver revolver, and places it gently on the desk.

‘I’ll wait with you,’ she softly says.

‘No. You go,’ he says coldly.

Natalia attempts to object.

‘You go!’ he barks at her.

***

‘Fuck!’ Robert yells, and tosses his phone hard onto the ground, shattering it.

The room is silent as Jay curiously stares at the duffel bag, not at all bothered by Robert, although he is somewhat surprised that Robert can speak Russian – he isn’t entirely sure it was Russian, as Russian is one of the few major languages that he doesn’t at least have a passing understanding.

Suddenly, he recognises the bag – he’d seen it in Slim Charles’ house – and it immediately becomes apparent to him that Robert is in fact Roman and “What is he doing there? I gave him till tomorrow,” must be in reference to Alan.

He looks up to Robert and says, ‘I can help you with that.’

Robert stares intently at Jay, unsure of the exact meaning of Jay’s offer.

‘Your problem,’ Jay says, and gestures to the shattered phone. ‘I can help you with that.’

Robert takes a moment to contemplate and then looks to Samuel for approval; Samuel nods approvingly.

Robert takes a deep breath and says, ‘Okay.’

The room is silent as Jay and Robert stare intently at each other.

‘You’re going to need a weapon,’ Robert says, breaking the silence.

‘What about the M9?’ Jay asks.

‘I’ll be using that,’ Robert says, and pulls out the M9 from the brown envelope. He tucks the gun in his waistband and asks Jay, ‘Are you good with a knife.’

Jay nods.

Robert pulls open a desk drawer, picks out Slim Charles’ knife, and hands it to Jay.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 30

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

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

***

Jay calmly steps into Palm Palace Shisha bar – seemingly forever busy – and walks to sit on the empty chair opposite Robert. He places the envelope – containing the M9 – on the table.

Robert gently strokes his half empty glass of gin and sprite as he stares intently at Jay. He is tipsy – he’s had four glasses of gin and sprite – and is battling severe anxiety as he questions his decision to instruct Jay to kill Fyodor – his 2 years old half brother – and ponders its unavoidable far-reaching consequences.

‘I added sprite,’ he says, gesturing to his glass. ‘It tastes much better.’ He pauses and vacantly scans the bar. ‘I like sprite.’

He downs the rest of his drink and remains silent as he continues to people watch, and Jay stoically stares at him.

He turns back to Jay and asks, ‘You want a drink?’

Jay doesn’t respond.

‘I can’t imagine it’s easy to kill a kid,’ Robert says flippantly, in an effort to disguise his true sentiment.

Jay instinctively shakes his head as a response to the comment – “it’s certainly not easy,” he’s thinking.

‘You did it, right?’ Robert earnestly asks.

Jay doesn’t respond.

‘I know,’ Robert says, hiding his resignation. ‘I got your text. Well, not me per say. I’m professional.’

Jay pulls out Cameron’s wedding ring and places it on the envelope.

Robert reaches for the envelope and drags it to himself. He stares at the ring for a moment and nods.

‘Where’s the money?’ Jay asks.

‘I don’t carry that sort of cash around. It’s very conspicuous. I like that word – conspicuous.’

‘Where is it?’ Jay sternly asks.

‘It’s in my office … back of a little butcher shop where I lay my head during the day. It’s close. Might even pack you some fucking tasty sausages to take with you.’

Jay calmly stands and says, ‘Let’s go.’

Robert leads Jay out of the bar to a black Range Rover Sport parked in front of the bar. He turns to Jay with a smile and says, ‘I didn’t think my man in the brown leather jacket needed to hide any more.’

Jay hides a smile; when he was approaching the bar, he’d noticed Samuel – the man in the brown leather jacket – sitting confidently in the driver’s seat of the car. He follows Robert’s lead and steps into the back seat.

Jay slots his hands into his jacket pockets and clutches Slim Charles’ gun – tucked in his waistband – through the large hole he’d cut in his right pocket earlier in the day.

‘Captain,’ Robert says to Jay, and gestures to Samuel. ‘Meet man in the brown leather jacket.’ He turns to Samuel. ‘Brown leather jacket man …’ He gestures to Jay. ‘Meet Captain.’

Samuel and Jay acknowledge each other through the rear-view mirror.

‘I tried to get him to wear another jacket,’ Robert says. ‘I thought it had become too conspicuous.’ He laughs for a moment. ‘But he didn’t listen. Stubborn fucker, he is.’

Samuel exaggeratedly nods.

‘To the office,’ Robert instructs.

***

They are ten minutes into the journey to the butcher shop and the car is silent; you could cut the air with a knife.

‘So, Captain, you have a family?’ Robert asks.

Jay turns to Robert, but doesn’t respond.

‘I thought so,’ Robert continues. ‘You strike me as one of the no attachment types – nothing you can’t leave in thirty seconds flat and shit. You have it right; family is fucking overrated.’

With that, the car returns to silence.

***

The Range Rover parks by the back entrance of a high-end High Street butcher shop and Jay, Robert, and Samuel step out of the car. Robert leads Samuel, and Jay, who still has his hands in his pockets and is firmly clutching the gun, to the back door.

Samuel does his best to act cool, but is evidently on edge.

Jay, on the other hand, appears absolutely calm but his mind is in overdrive working out the smoothest way of eliminating them both, disposing their bodies, cleaning up the scene, and escaping in just over an hour – which is all the time he has left from the three hours of silence he’d requested from Cameron.

Robert stops by the door and stares expectantly at Samuel, but Samuel doesn’t react.

‘The key?’ Robert asks, and gestures to the door.

Samuel pats himself, searching for the key, and then has a moment of recollection. He forces an apologetic smile and walks briskly back to the car.

Robert turns to Jay and exaggeratedly shakes his head in disappointment. Jay sees through their elaborate charade and has the urge to put a bullet through Robert’s eyes right there and then, but no, he’ll wait till he gets the money.

Samuel steps into the driver side of the car. He opens the glove compartment with one hand and surreptitiously opens a secret compartment underneath the steering wheel with the other. He quickly picks out a matte black sawed off shotgun and tucks it into his jacket before he picks out the back door key from the glove compartment.

He shuts the compartment, steps out the car, and walks briskly back towards Jay and Robert.

Samuel opens the back door and Robert leads through a small hallway into an expensively furnished office. Samuel waits at the door, and Robert walks round to the front of his desk.

Jay glances back to Samuel at the door before he walks up to the desk.

Robert picks up a duffel bag from the floor and dumps it onto the middle of the desk.

Samuel reaches into his jacket and grabs the shotgun. His nervous finger is on the trigger and he waits for Robert’s signal to shoot Jay. It’s not his first rodeo, but he has only one shot, if he misses or isn’t quick enough, he knows he won’t live to regret it.

Robert gestures at the duffel bag, which is full of money, and says with a wide smile, ‘You want to count …’

Suddenly, a loudly ringing phone interrupts him.

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.