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 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 21

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

The hallway of the Matthews’ home remains quiet for a long moment until the loud noise of shattering glass in the living room pierces the silence, followed by a wild pleasured moan from Natalia.

***

Natalia, with her dress around her waist revealing her tight shapely breasts, is on top of Jay, who’s naked, as they passionately have sex on the floor of the living room.

A few feet away from them, a large piece of Alan’s now shattered orange juice glass rests on the floor beside the coffee table and is surrounded by a small pool of the juice. The rest of the living room is almost as untidy, as Jay and Natalia held no reservations about where and how they loudly and passionately had sex.

Suddenly, the intensity of the intercourse peaks; her moans become louder and more frequent and he fights to restrain a roar through gritted teeth as they both climax.

They are both panting as she lays on her back next to him – their body still in contact.

‘I need a smoke,’ she declares.

‘It’ll kill you,’ he teases.

She smiles, and he smiles back. There is silence for a long moment as neither knows what to say, or if to say anything at all. They just continue to smile at each other.

‘We should get going,’ he says, breaking the silence.

She nods and says, ‘Yeah. Alan would be waiting.’

His smile fades immediately she mentions Alan and he supresses the encroaching feeling of guilt. He stands and walks to his underwear on the floor in the middle of the room.

She sits up and watches him put on his underwear, and as he attempts to step out of the room, she instinctively calls out to him, ‘Jay …’

He stops, but in the moment he turns to her, she gathers herself and decides against expressing any feeling; it never ends well, and this time wouldn’t be any different.

‘When you switch your phone on, you’ll receive quite a few messages from Alan,’ she says stoically. ‘Ignore them. He was frantic, and very drunk. We were all very drunk.’

He nods and walks out of the room.

He steps into his bedroom and walks straight to his bed to pull out his phone from underneath his pillow. As he expected, it’s off. He picks out a travelling charger pack from his suitcase and connects it to his phone. A moment later, the phone switches itself on and begins to load.

He places the phone on the bed and pulls out some clothes from his suitcase. As he quickly dresses up, the phone begins to beep incessantly with notifications, and it continues to beep with message notifications as he picks it up.

He scrolls through the messages, which are mostly notifications of missed calls and voicemails from by Alan seemingly two minutes from 06:15 to 05:18, until he reaches a text message at 04:01, which reads – “I THINK ALAN IS DEAD!!!!”

He stares angrily at the text – angry for many reasons and with several different people, but, mostly, he’s angry with himself for not being there.

As he walks down the stairway, he sees Natalia in the hallway by the bottom of the steps. She’s dressed and cleaned up and holding his jacket. He walks to her and she hands him his jacket.

‘You look much better naked,’ she teases, and they smile.

They exit the house and she leads him to a black Mini Cooper parked in their drive way. She unlocks the door and they both step in.

She deftly reverses out of the driveway into the street and smoothly drives towards the hospital.

The car is quiet for approaching ten minutes as she focuses on the road and he stares out the window, trying to conceal several emotions he’s battling with – guilt, affection, and rage are the most prominent of those emotions, and also the most difficult to conceal as he hasn’t felt them in years.

‘What do you do?’ she asks.

‘Sorry?’

‘I don’t mean to pry. I know what Alan does. Just been guessing to myself the job you do that affords you guys that house. Because, and I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, it is beautiful and massive.’

‘It’s the family house. My parents bought it.’

‘Oh, okay. I didn’t see any pictures.’ She smirks. ‘And it didn’t seem to me like anyone over-30 lived there.’

He laughs softly.

‘I know what you mean.’

‘Where are they? Your parents.’

There is a moment of silence before he stoically replies, ‘They’re dead.’

‘I’m sorry,’ she says sincerely.

‘It’s okay. It’s been a while.’

‘I don’t know if that helps. Time …’ she pauses to briefly reminisce. ‘My mother died ten years ago. Cancer. Don’t think my brother is over it.’

Jay nods, and the car remains silent for almost a moment too long.

‘I’m guessing it wasn’t cancer,’ she subtly inquires with a statement.

‘You really don’t know?’

‘I’m sorry?’

‘How long have you lived in Epsom?’

‘A couple years.’

‘Fair enough. They were killed … in the beautiful house. It was all over the news, especially the local newspapers.’

Natalia is speechless.

‘I saw the guy,’ he continues, devoid of emotion. ‘I saw him.’

‘Sorry,’ she says, oozing empathy.

‘It’s okay. It’s been a while,’ he repeats robotically, as if he’s been saying that to himself in every quiet moment since it happened.

She stares at him for a long moment as they wait at a traffic light, struggling with how much more to say; how much more to feel.

‘My mother was killed,’ she says. ‘Shot in the head. But she did have ovarian cancer.’

Jay turns to her, but doesn’t know how to respond.

She smiles softly and says, ‘It’s okay. It’s been a while.’

He smiles back.

‘We should stop at the drive through. I’m sure the guys are hungry.’

Minutes later, the Mini Cooper parks in front of the hospital. Jay steps out of the car, but leans back in to say, ‘Thank you.’

‘My pleasure,’ she says. ‘Keep me updated with Stephen, okay?’

‘I will. See you soon, maybe.’

‘I do know where you live.’

He smiles and says, ‘You’re always welcome.’

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 20

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Vera’s terrified eyes can’t look away from Natalia as Slim Charles gets into the car and speeds off, just as the frantic screams climax.

***

Jay jolts up from bed, panting. He takes a moment to regulate his breathing before he glances at his wristwatch; it reads “08:46”.

He steps out of bed, and, just in his underwear, quickly walks out of the room. The house is still eerily quiet. He stares across the hallway to Alan’s room. The lights are still on and the door is still as open as it was last night.

He walks down the stairway, heading for the kitchen, but first he peeks into the living room. It’s empty and still tidy, so evidently Alan hasn’t yet returned home, and that surprises him. He shrugs and walks to the kitchen to prepare breakfast – oat porridge and a glass of orange juice.

He returns to the living room and settles on a sofa to eat the porridge. He switches on the television and flicks through several channels until he gets the news. He places the remote on the coffee table beside a half full glass of orange juice, which Alan had left on the table from the morning before, and he smiles as he stares at the glass.

The doorbell buzzes, and he shakes his head and his smile gets wider as he’s sure it’s Alan at the door, probably very groggy.

He bounces off the sofa and walks to the door.

‘Don’t tell me …’ he says as he opens the door, and is stunned to see Natalia, still in the black dress and wearing his jacket, standing in the doorway.

She glances momentarily at his ripped torso, then up to his face, and its evident to her that he is surprised by her presence. She smiles softly.

‘Don’t worry, I’m not stalking you,’ she says.

‘It’s not …’

‘Alan gave me the address. He’s in the hospital …’

‘Is he okay?’ he demands, incredibly anxious.

‘Yes, Alan is fine. It’s all fine now. But …’ she pauses for a moment. ‘Do you have somebody with you?’

‘No, I’m sorry.’ He gestures for her to enter the house. ‘Please come in.’

She walks into the house and is momentarily enthralled by the hallway decor. She turns to him and watches him shut the door and turn to her.

‘There is no easy way to say this,’ she says softly. ‘Stephen was stabbed early this morning.’

‘What?’

‘It’s okay. He’s stable now. Alan and Derek are with him. I’ve been there all night. It was never life threatening.’

He nods and struggles to hide his vengeful rage as he asks, ‘Who did it?’

She is surprised by the question and his coldness, and he can see that in her eyes.

He softens his demeanour and asks again, ‘Who stabbed him?’

‘The guy from the restaurant.’

‘You know him?’

‘No,’ she says without hesitation. ‘But I hear he’s called Slim.’

He nods.

‘Alan’s been trying to call you,’ she continues. ‘Your phone is off.’

‘Ah, yes,’ he says, remembering his battery was extremely low before he slept the night before.

‘He couldn’t leave, cos Derek is … you’ll see when you get there. Alan asked that I come tell you.’

‘Thank you. What hospital is it? I need to call a …’

‘I could take you. My car’s outside.’

He hesitates for a moment and says, ‘It’s okay. I’ll …’

‘No,’ she says commandingly. ‘It’ll be my pleasure.’ She slowly glances at his torso. ‘So, you look really good right now, but you might want to …’

‘Yeah, I’m sorry.’

‘Oh, not for me,’ she says, and smiles. ‘You look perfect. But the nurses MAYBE wouldn’t take too kindly to your dress sense.’

They smile at each other for a long quiet moment.

‘I’ll go …’ he begins to say, and turns to walk away, but she softly holds his hand and he stops.

He turns back to her and they gaze intently into each other’s eyes. Suddenly, they kiss passionately. As they kiss, he smoothly removes her jacket and tosses it as she kicks off her heels. She embraces him tightly and he grabs her bum and lifts her off the floor. She wraps her legs around him and he carries her off into the living room.

The hallway remains quiet for a long moment until the loud noise of shattering glass in the living room pierces the silence, followed by a wild pleasured moan from Natalia.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 19

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Robert bangs his fists on the table in an eruption of anger.

***

Jay walks in the shadows on the other side of the street from his home, keenly observing the well lit street. He intentionally walks past his home and past four more elegant detached houses before he suddenly turns to intently scan the street – it’s empty and quiet.

He quietly steps into the dark hallway of his home, shuts the door behind him, and remains motionless, alert – the house is eerily silent.

He quietly walks up to the top of the stairs, and again he remains motionless, alert as the eerie silence reigns. He glances down the hallway to Alan’s room. The room door is open and the lights in the room are on, but that’s exactly how it was left, right down to the degree of the open door. The room is empty.

He walks into his dark bedroom and, without switching on any lights, undresses to his underwear and gets into bed. He looks at his phone – the battery level is very low. He scrolls through his recent calls and lingers on Mr Smith’s number for a long moment before he scrolls down to Alan and calls.

It rings for a while before the voicemail service answers.

‘Hey, it’s Alan. Do what you do,’ says Alan’s recorded voice.

Jay ends the call and places the phone underneath this pillow. He closes his eyes to sleep.

***

In the VIP room of ON ANON club, Alan struggles to pull out his ringing phone from his pocket, but in his inebriated state he doesn’t manage it in time, and Derek, utterly inebriated, and Stephen, visibly tipsy, laugh at him.

Natalia watches on with a smile. She’s clearly not inebriated, not even tipsy.

‘Who was it?’ she asks Alan.

‘Jay,’ he replies.

‘Call him back.’

He shakes his head and attempts to speak, but he sees the waitress walking towards them with a tray of three Tequila shots.

‘Shots!’ he shouts.

He, Derek, and Stephen grab the glasses and down the shots.

‘Keep them coming,’ she says to the waitress.

Five minutes later, the waitress returns with three more shots, and the guys are very animated as they grab the shots and down them. The waitress turns to Natalia for instruction, and Natalia nods.

As the waitress leaves, Alan feigns throwing up on Natalia. She flinches, and they laugh heartily.

Another five minutes later, more shots arrive and the guys are less animated as they grab and down them. Natalia nods at the waitress.

Natalia watches the guys interact languidly as more shots arrive. They sluggishly pick the shots and, in their attempts to down them, pour most of the Tequila all over themselves.

Natalia shakes her head to the waitress, and the waitress leaves.

‘Let’s head back to mine,’ she says.

The guys do their best to muster excited responses.

She smiles as she stands and watches them struggle to their feet.

Alan stumbles and reaches out to her, and she holds him up.

‘I … I … fucking love you!’ he drunkenly declares.

She forces back a laugh and leads him out of the room.

Stephen, who is the most stable of the guys, supports Derek as they follow Natalia out of the room.

***

Outside the club, the two bouncers struggle to contain the inebriated people streaming out of the club and the not so inebriated ones eager to get in.

Across the street, the silver Mercedes Coupe is parked with its engine running. Slim Charles is sat at the driver seat, staring intently past Vera to the club. He is seething.

‘Fat fuck, eh?’ he mutters. ‘Okay. Okay.’

‘Calm down, baby,’ she says.

‘Oh, I’m calm. I’m fucking calm!’ he rages, and suddenly sees Stephen supporting Derek as they stumble out of the club. He bursts out of the Mercedes wielding his knife and marches menacingly towards them.

Derek sees Slim Charles approach and attempts to alert Stephen, but then Stephen also sees Slim Charles. Before Stephen can react, Slim Charles viciously drives the knife into his belly.

Slim Charles yanks out the knife and shoves Stephen and Derek to the ground. He immediately sees Natalia holding Alan up a short distance ahead of him and he freezes as she stares piercingly at him.

Alan, on the other hand, is too inebriated to recognise the gravity of the situation.

Screams erupt followed by commotion as people notice Stephen bleeding on the ground.

Slim Charles instinctively steps back, away from Natalia’s piercing stare, and then turns to run towards the Mercedes.

Natalia locks eyes with Vera, who is watching from the car, and Vera is overcome with fear. Her terrified eyes can’t look away from Natalia as Slim Charles gets into the car and speeds off, just as the frantic screams climax.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 17

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Alan looks at Jay, then Stephen, then Natalia, and then back to Jay. He considers lying, or apologising, but instead he defiantly declares, ‘Fuck that!’

***

Jay and Stephen aren’t amused, but Natalia fights back a smile and looks around for the waitress.

‘You guys want a drink?’ she asks, and glances at her luxury white gold Cartier watch. ‘We can all go back to mine afterwards. I’m expecting a few friends.’

‘Yeah!’ Alan excitedly exclaims.

‘Fucking sweet,’ Derek slurs.

‘I don’t know about that,’ Stephen instinctively objects.

‘Come on,’ Derek chides.

She smiles and says softly to Stephen, ‘It’s nothing like you’re thinking. Just chill, have a few drinks. I’ll personally make sure you’re home safe.’

Stephen nods in agreement, and she turns to Jay.

Jay stares back at her and it’s evident to him that she really wants him to come along, and he struggles to conceal a flattered smile.

Alan watches Jay and Natalia for a moment, with envy evident on his face. He grabs Natalia’s arm and says, ‘Let’s go dance!’

‘Let’s do it,’ she says, and stands.

Alan leads her out of the VIP room and Derek languidly follows.

‘I’m leaving,’ Jay says to Stephen, and stands.

‘Why?’ Stephen asks.

‘What do you think?’ Jay retorts.

Stephen nods knowingly. ‘See you in the morning then,’ he says.

‘Be good,’ Jay says.

Stephen nods and smiles and Jay smiles back. They bump fists and Jay walks out of the room.

On the busy dance floor, Alan’s attempt to dance is severely hampered by his inebriation, but he still knows how to move to a rhythm, as he hasn’t danced sober in years.

Natalia is amused and keeps a bit of a distance between them as she dances along with him. She spots Jay, and watches, over Alan’s shoulder, as Jay walks across a corner of the dance floor towards the exit.

Jay walks to a quiet area outside the club and pulls out his phone. He scrolls to the message from Mr Smith: “ROBERT 07859007525”.

He takes a moment to contemplate, and glances back towards the club – as if looking through the walls to what is at stake if he makes the wrong move.

He makes the call, and it’s immediately answered, but no one speaks, just lively background noise on the other end of the line.

‘Robert?’ Jay says.

‘Captain?’ Robert replies in a London accent.

‘Where do we meet?’

‘Oh, err … at mine?’

‘No. A public place. Are you alone?’

‘Well … yes. Yes, I am.’

‘Where are you?’

‘You are coming here?’

Jay removes the phone from his ear and stares suspiciously at it for a long moment, and then returns it to his ear.

‘… Captain?’ Robert eagerly calls out for the third time in succession.

‘Yes, Robert, I am coming to you. You are in a public place, aren’t you?’

‘Yes. Guildford … Palm Palace. Shisha bar.’

‘I’ll be there shortly.’

Jay ends the conversation and immediately turns to his left – Natalia stands a short distance away; she smiles at him.

She pulls out a pack of cigarettes and a Zippo lighter; she offers him a cigarette, and he declines. She nods and sensually places a cigarette between her lips. She lights up the cigarette and takes a long drag.

‘Meeting someone?’ she asks, and adeptly blows out smoke.

‘No, not exactly.’

‘Hmm, not exactly,’ she repeats, and wraps her arms around herself – she is cold. ‘The intrigue continues.’

He smiles, takes off his jacket, and wraps it around her.

‘Thank you,’ she says, and smiles.

He smiles back.

‘You’re not coming back to mine then? It’ll be fun, I promise I don’t bite.’

‘I’ll have to pass. Don’t think Alan would want me there.’

‘I want you there.’

He stares at her with a raised eyebrow, and she smiles.

‘Maybe some other time,’ he says.

‘Maybe.’

She tosses her cigarette butt to the ground.

‘See you then,’ she says, and kisses him on the cheek.

She walks away, still wearing his jacket, and he watches her, captivated.

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 16

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Alan cant help but glance back at the man, and the man smiles menacingly at him.

***

Jay, Stephen, Alan and Derek are sat around their table in the VIP room. Derek and Alan, both clearly inebriated, prepare drinks for themselves from the emptying bottles as they banter with Stephen, who’s evidently having a good time, although he isn’t trying to keep up with the professional drunkards. Jay, on the other hand, is distant, staring intently at the glass in front of him, which is full of vodka.

Alan sneakily gestures to Stephen to hold Jay down so he can pour the contents of Jay’s glass down Jay’s throat, but Stephen vigorously refuses. Alan huffs and gives Stephen the finger; Stephen returns the gesture.

Alan gestures for Derek to hold Jay down, and Derek excitedly nods. They simultaneously stand.

‘Don’t try it,’ Jay says, without looking away from the glass.

‘Ah!’ Alan exclaims. ‘You guys are no fun. I’m off to the bathroom.’

‘Me too,’ Derek says, and he and Alan stagger out of the VIP room.

Alan leads Derek into the dance floor and immediately locks eyes with the tall muscular man standing alone in a corner of the room. Alan nods towards the toilet and the man nods back.

Alan and Derek walk into the toilet and Derek immediately approaches the jolly toilet attendant. He blocks the attendant’s view of the door and starts up a conversation about the array of perfumes on the counter.

Alan walks into a cubicle, and, a moment later, the tall man steps into the bathroom, walks straight into the same cubicle, and closes the cubicle door.

Alan watches with excitement as the man briskly pulls out a cigarette case.

The man opens the case, full of longer than usual cigarettes, carefully picks out a cigarette, and shuts the case. He bites off the filter and pours out cocaine from the open cigarette onto the flat metal case. He hands Alan the now empty cigarette cylinder and pulls out a bankcard to make four lines of the cocaine.

Alan adeptly snorts a line of cocaine off the case and closes his eyes to savour the high.

‘It’s 60 quid a gram now,’ the man whispers.

Alan’s eyes jet open to stare questioningly at the man.

‘Hard times,’ the man says, and smiles. ‘From what I hear, you know all about that.’

Alan gives the man the finger and snorts another line of cocaine, and, again, he closes his eyes and tightly clenches his fists as he basks in the intense feeling.

‘You know Slim is looking for you, right?’ the man asks.

‘Fuck that fat fuck!’ Alan snaps, and the man chuckles.

Alan shoves the man aside and attempts to exit the cubicle, but the man grabs his arm and demands, ‘My money.’

Alan pulls out his wallet and hands the man several ten-pound notes.

‘That’s a hundred,’ Alan says as the man counts the money, and he exits the cubicle before the man can object.

Alan walks to the sink closest to the toilet attendant, and Derek immediately cuts short his conversation with the enthusiastic toilet attendant and walks into the same cubicle.

Alan takes his time to wash his hands, and the toilet attendant knowingly watches him. Alan smiles widely as he takes a paper towel from the attendant and slowly wipes his hands as he and the attendant stare at each other. He then looks indecisively through the perfumes on the counter, continuously reaching for a perfume but stopping midway; intentionally frustrating the attendant.

Derek steps out of the cubicle, and Alan shrugs at the evidently frustrated attendant and follows Derek towards the exit of the toilet, but he stops, pulls out two ten-pound notes from his wallet and tucks them into the breast pocket of the grateful attendant.

***

Jay and Stephen sit quietly at their table; Jay is still distant, in deep contemplation.

‘You should have a word with Alan,’ Stephen says. ‘Think he’s having some problems.’

Jay nods.

‘You don’t think so?’ Stephen asks.

‘I do,’ Jay says.

Stephen attempts to speak, but sees the waitress leading Natalia towards their table.

Jay follows Stephen’s eyes and sees Natalia. She looks absolutely stunning in an elegant black dress that showcases her curves.

Jay and Stephen instinctively stand as she approaches, and she and Jay cant keep their eyes off each other.

‘Do you guys need anything?’ the waitress asks.

‘No, we’re alright,’ Stephen answers.

‘Not right now, if you don’t mind,’ Natalia says to the waitress, while she and Jay maintain their gaze.

The waitress nods and walks away.

‘We weren’t expecting you,’ Stephen says. ‘I’m Stephen.’

She looks away from Jay for the first time and smiles at Stephen.

‘Natalia,’ she says to him.

She turns back to Jay and there is a moment of silence as they all wait for Jay to introduce himself.

Stephen nudges Jay, and Jay immediately grasps the cue. ‘Jay,’ he says, and they smile in amusement before they sit around the table; she takes the seat closest to Jay.

Again, there is a moment of silence.

Stephen attempts to break the silence, but Natalia beats him to it.

‘I saw you guys salute earlier,’ she says. ‘Soldiers?’

‘Well, yeah …’ Stephen begins to answer.

‘No,’ Jay interjects. ‘Not anymore.’

‘Yes, not anymore,’ Stephen concurs.

‘Oh, okay, why not?’ she asks.

‘Medical discharge, me,’ Stephen says. ‘I could show you my scar, but you probably don’t want to see it.’ He laughs and places an arm around Jay. ‘He just got tired of saving all our behinds.’

Jay modestly turns to Stephen and they share a heartfelt moment, stemmed from the endless hours spent together in battle and the even more relatively quiet hours spent together between those battles – band of brothers, forever.

Natalia smiles as she watches them, and a moment later, Stephen turns to her.

‘I can tell you the story,’ he says.

‘No,’ Jay says, and laughs softly. ‘She’s not interested.’

‘Don’t speak for me,’ she says. ‘I’m very interested.’

Jay smiles.

‘Right now, you are,’ he says. ‘Ten minutes in, you won’t.’

They laugh.

‘To put it concisely,’ Stephen says. ‘I and the other brothers in our platoon were caught in an ambush. Bloody Taliban everywhere.’ He gestures at Jay. ‘Our captain here, he saved our behinds.’ He pauses a moment. ‘No man left behind. Not one. Even if he had to carry your unconscious body two hundreds metres through a hail of bullets and explosions.’

There is a quiet moment as Stephen repeatedly nods, reminiscing, and Jay stares down to his feet.

‘Why wouldn’t I be interested in that?’ she sincerely asks.

‘It was concise,’ Jay says.

They laugh.

‘Alan should be back any moment,’ Jay says.

‘I’m not here because of Alan,’ she says. ‘I decided to come out for a drink … or two. This is the only place to be after midnight in Epsom.’ She smiles. ‘But I did know you guys were in here. So I thought to come say hello. Make sure …’

Alan and Derek stagger into the room; Stephen, Jay, and Natalia turn to watch them approach.

‘Fucking hell, you came,’ Alan says to Natalia. ‘Nice!’

Alan kisses her firmly on both cheeks, and she smiles politely.

Derek, who is most intoxicated, just smiles widely at her, and she smiles back.

Alan drags a seat very close to her and dumps himself on it. Derek, on the other hand, takes his time as he attempts to sit beside Stephen and still he almost falls to the ground; Stephen has to catch him and guide him to the seat.

Derek ploddingly attempts to prepare himself a drink as Jay and Stephen stare intently at Alan, not bothering to hide their disappointment.

‘You want a drink?’ Alan screams at Natalia.

‘Don’t worry, I’ll order something soon,’ she says.

‘Cool. Cool,’ he says, and turns to Jay and Stephen. ‘Why the fuck are you guys staring at me like that?

Jay gestures for Alan to wipe his nose, which has remnants of cocaine on the tip and around the nostrils.

‘What?’ Alan asks, confused.

‘Your nose,’ Stephen says, frustrated. ‘Wipe your nose!’

‘Oh!’ Alan says, and wipes the cocaine off his nose.

He looks at Jay, then Stephen, then Natalia, and then back to Jay. He considers lying, or apologising, but instead he defiantly declares, ‘Fuck that!’