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 32

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

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

***

Natalia parks her Mini Cooper in the empty driveway of the Matthews’ home and intently scans the house, searching for any sign that anyone’s home. The lights are switched on in one of the upstairs rooms facing the street, but no other lights are visible from the house.

She opens the glove compartment and picks out a pair of black leather gloves. She takes her time to wear them as she continues to scan the house. She reaches underneath her seat and pulls out a small Walther P22 pistol. She deftly unlocks the safety and checks if there is a bullet in the chamber – there is. She places the P22 in her Givenchy shoulder bag and steps out of the car.

She confidently walks up to the door and pushes the door buzzer. She stares up at the room with the lights on and waits for a long moment before she pushes the door buzzer again and firmly knocks on the door twice. She turns around to scan the quiet upscale residential street for a moment before she turns back to the door and picks out Alan’s house key from her handbag.

She unlocks the door and quietly pushes it open. She steps into the dark hallway – there are no lights switched on downstairs and no lights are visible from upstairs either.

She gently shuts the door behind her and calls out, ‘Jay.’

There is a moment of silence.

She switches on the hallway lights and walks to the open doorway of the living room; she looks in and its dark, quiet, and empty. She walks to the kitchen doorway and looks in; it’s also dark, quiet, and empty.

She walks quietly up the stairway and then stops at the top of the stairs. She remains motionless as she stares down the hallway to Alan’s bedroom, which has its door ajar and its lights switched on, and then to the closed door leading to Jay’s old bedroom just ahead of her, and lastly to the closed door leading to Jay’s present bedroom at the other end of the hallway.

She slots her hand into her bag and clutches the P22. She walks to Alan’s room door and pushes the door further open with her foot.

She steps into the aptly lit, flamboyantly furnished, but very untidy bedroom. She scans the room and notices a small framed picture on a chest of drawers – the first picture she’s seen in the entire house. She walks to the chest of drawers and stares into the picture – teenage aged Alan and Jay in loving embrace with their parents on a sunny holiday.

Her gaze remains on the picture for a long moment, focused on the mother, and then she suddenly shuts her eyes as she fights back memories of her dead mother. She opens her eyes and turns away from the picture to walk out of the room.

She opens the door leading into Jay’s old room and briefly stares into the dark and untidy room before she shuts the door and walks to Jay’s bedroom.

She pushes open Jay’s bedroom door and, even in the darkness, notices that the room is very tidy. She switches the lights on and is utterly surprised by how meticulously clean the room is. She carefully scans the room as she walks around. She stops at his travelling bag and stares at the baggage label attached to the handle – it reads from HAV to LHR via CDG. She takes a moment to ponder, and then, suddenly, runs out of the room.

The flight was from the Havana airport in Cuba, to London Heathrow, via Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. Jay is the man from Cuba.

Natalia, holding her phone to her ear, frantically races to her car.

‘Come on, ring!’ she exclaims, as she unlocks the car.

She dials another number for Robert as she steps into the car, and returns her phone to her ear as she quickly reverses out of the driveway and into the street. She speeds on, steering the speeding car with only one hand while listening to ringing tone of her call. She then loudly curses as her call is sent to voicemail.

‘Roman, be calm,’ she says frantically. ‘But as soon as you hear this, you kill the man from Cuba. He is Jay – Alan’s brother. Jay is the Captain.’

***

Robert’s Range Rover Sport parks beside Alan’s silver Mercedes in the small car park behind Sophia’s place. Robert, Samuel, and Jay step out of the car and Jay successfully hides his recognition of the Silver Mercedes, but it confirms to him that his brother is in the restaurant, and, if still alive and he dearly hopes so, gravely needs his help.

A phone begins to ring, and Robert quickly pulls out the phone – a different phone from the one he’d shattered in the butcher shop – and stares at the caller ID; it reads “Natalia”. He hisses and rejects the call and switches the phone to silent.

He leads Jay and Samuel to the back door and taps the door twice.

Gennady opens the door. He nods at Robert and steps aside to allow Robert and Samuel through, but he then stops Jay and attempts to frisk him.

‘He’s with me,’ Robert sternly says to Gennady.

Gennady hesitates for a moment before he steps aside.

Robert leads Samuel, Jay, and Gennady who is a couple steps behind, in a single file through the large kitchen full of men who don’t look at all like chefs or kitchen staff. Eight men in total, and they all look mean and readied for a fight – they are henchman, and all look of Russian descent.

Jay, with his hands in his jacket pockets and clutching Slim Charles’ gun in his right and Slim Charles’ knife is his left, keenly observes the men and his surroundings. He follows the train into a hallway and then past two sturdy henchmen, who are heartily eating, but they abruptly stop eating and follow behind Gennady.

The restaurant phone begins to ring loudly, but no one cares.

Robert leads to another large square jawed henchman, with a Desert Eagle prominently tucked in his waistband, standing in front of a sturdy door. The henchman taps the door behind him twice and steps aside as it opens.

Robert steps through the door and Samuel and Jay attempt to follow, but are stopped by the square jawed henchman. Jay stares into the room just as its doors close and his eyes light up. He saw Alan tied to a chair, lifeless, and bloodied. He becomes visibly enraged and struggles to regulate his breathing.

Gennady and the henchmen surround Jay and Samuel and slowly begin to converge. Samuel is visibly terrified, but Jay calmly shuts his eyes.

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.

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 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 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 22

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

Jay smiles and says to Natalia, ‘You’re always welcome.’

***

In a single room in the intensive care unit of the hospital, Stephen is peacefully unconscious on a bed, with IV therapy inserted through his left arm.

Alan slouches on a chair opposite the bed, compassionately watching Stephen and struggling to stay awake.

Derek is asleep on the floor beside the bed.

Jay steps quietly into the room, holding a bag of McDonald’s takeaway. He stares at Stephen for a moment, fighting back his emotions, before he walks to the bed. He stands over Stephen and stoically stares at him, as he fights to supress the violent memories of the last time he was close to losing Stephen.

Alan opens his eyes and is startled to see Jay; he quickly sits up and watches Jay for a brief moment before he says softly, ‘He’s going to be alright.’

Jay doesn’t acknowledge him, and there is silence for almost a minute before Jay quietly but authoritatively says, ‘Follow me.’

‘No,’ Alan strongly refuses.

They stare at each other intently for a quiet moment.

‘We’re not doing this here. Follow me,’ Jay quietly demands.

‘Doing what? No!’ Alan says with his voice raised.

‘Keep your voice down,’ Jay chides.

‘Don’t fucking talk to me like that!’

There is another moment of silence as they stare intently at each other, and Derek wakes up.

‘What?’ Alan angrily demands.

‘How could you possibly owe Slim 200 thousand?’

‘What the fuck?’

‘I overheard you.’

‘What?’ Alan exclaims. ‘Why the fuck were you listening to my conversations?’

‘Alan,’ Jay says commandingly, and Alan is instantly forced to calm down, although he continues to curse underneath his breath.

Derek struggles to his feet, but the struggles don’t end there, he struggles mightily as he languidly walks towards Jay – like a drunk zombie.

‘Why the fuck were you listening to my conversations?’

‘What’s wrong with you?’

‘Me?’ Jay loudly exclaims. ‘Wrong with ME? Fucking really?’

‘How did you …’

‘Fuck you! Where have you been all my life?’

Jay is taken aback.

‘Yeah,’ Alan continues loudly. ‘Where the fuck have you been?’

Jay attempts to speak, but Alan continues.

‘You think you can just waltz in after 5 years and fucking ask what’s wrong with me?’ He shakes his head violently. ‘How fucking dare you?’

Derek reaches Jay and grabs the McDonald’s bag. He stands, on unsteady legs, between Jay and Alan, with all his focus on the bag.

‘I …’ Jay begins to say, before Alan cuts him off.

‘Fuck that. Ever since they died you’ve never been around. Never was there for me … you were here, but not actually here.’

A quiet moment as Alan stares intensely at Jay, and Jay doesn’t know how to respond.

‘What?’ Alan continues. ‘You went to fight for your country? Like you give a shit about that. You fucking left me. Left me alone in that fucking house.’

Derek attempts to reach into the McDonald’s bag, but it falls to the ground. He languidly bends over to reach for it.

‘I begged you not to go,’ Alan passionately continues. ‘Not cos I was scared you’d die … Fuck no! You’re Superman. And, of course, you came back a war hero, of fucking bloody course.’

Derek rises with the bag, but it slips from his fingers and falls again. He sighs and languidly bends over to reach for it.

‘Good though, good … Cos I thought that was that. But no, fuck no. You got a job immediately in New York New York,’ Alan says, and pauses for a breath. ‘5 long hard years later …’

Alan suddenly stops and focuses on Derek, who is struggling to pick the bag.

‘What the fuck is wrong with you? Pick it up,’ he aggressively scolds Derek.

Derek rises without the bag and shrugs.

Alan gets off the chair, picks up the bag, aggressively plants Derek on the chair, and places the bag on Derek’s lap.

‘Good?’ he asks Derek.

Derek nods and reaches into the bag.

‘Jesus. No more drugs and alcohol for you. It’s not a good look.’

Jay struggles to hide a smile.

Alan turns to Jay and notices Jay struggling to hold back a smile. He then also struggles to hold back a smile, but he cant and smiles. Jay smiles too.

They smile at each other for a brief moment.

‘I made a few mistakes,’ Alan continues. ‘Firstly, being a banker.’

Jay is mildly amused.

‘I needed some quick money to plug a hole in an investment. I was high. I asked Slim. He introduced me to the guy he works for, Roman. Fucking cunt of a guy, but he gave me the hundred thousand in cash that same day. He expected 150 last weekend. That, of course, didn’t happen. The investment fucked me in the arse. Now Roman’s got me over a barrel.’

‘How are you going to pay him?’

‘I’m going to fuck someone else in the arse.’

‘Don’t do that.’

Alan is amused.

‘That’s the game, Jay. That’s what we do.’

There is a moment of silence.

‘Why does Slim have your car?’

Alan shrugs indifferently.

‘He’s my dealer. I owe him 800 pounds. He took my car till …’

‘800?’

Alan laughs softly.

‘Yeah, I know …’

‘You know where he lives?’

‘Yeah.’

Jay stares expectantly at Alan.

‘What are you going to do?’ Alan asks.

Jay doesn’t respond.

’45 Vicarage Road, Guildford,’ Derek interjects.

Jay and Alan turn to Derek, who is completely focused on eating a Big Mac.

Alan takes a step closer to Jay and they both turn to look at Stephen.

‘I’m sorry about him,’ Alan says, and Jay nods.

In the next moment, Alan smells Natalia scent oozing off Jay. He turns to Jay and attempts to speak, but Jay speaks before him.

‘Have you called his wife?’ Jay asks.

‘Well, yeah … left a voice message.’

‘Really?’ Jay questions, successfully hiding his disappointment. ‘Call her back,’ Jay says calmly. ‘And don’t leave till she gets here.’

Jay hands Alan a phone charger and walks towards the door.

‘I’ll see you tonight,’ he says.

‘Where are you going?’ Alan asks.

Jay ignores the question and steps out of the room.