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 29

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Roman gave me his word.’

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

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

‘It’s my son!’ he snaps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She can’t deny that assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Natalia is visibly enraged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brother’s Keeper: Episode 7

New to Brother’s Keeper? Read Episode 1

‘Alright then,’ he says to himself. ‘Home it is.’ He laughs softly, but he’s not amused.

***

Jay, dressed in a polo shirt underneath a sharp business suit, stands alone at the Heathrow Terminal 5 pick-up point with a small travelling bag by his feet; his airline ticket from Havana through Paris sticks out of the side pocket of the bag.

He is somewhat uncomfortable in his attire – he has to look the part of a travelling businessman – but he is completely uncomfortable with being back in England. He has to fight not to fidget and his growing impatience isn’t helping. He glances at his wristwatch; he’s been waiting twenty-five minutes.

A Silver Mercedes S-Class Saloon with tinted window stops in front of him, but he doesn’t acknowledge the car as that isn’t the car he’s expecting. The window of the back seat lowers, and Alan Matthews, strongly resembling his older brother but more slender and with a beer belly, sticks his head out of the window with a wide smile.

‘Superman,’ Alan calls his older brother with more than a hint of sarcasm. ‘Fucking get in, we can’t park here. Unless you want to fly home.’

Jay smiles – a genuine smile. He is happy to see his younger brother happy.

Jay opens the door and steps into the car. Alan switches a half empty bottle of Peroni beer from his right hand to his left and then he and his brother bump fists as the car drives on. Jay instinctively glances at the bottle, and the two empty and two full bottles in an ice cube bucket between them. Alan looks at the bottles and raises an eyebrow.

‘What?’ Alan inquires. ‘It’s not like I’m fucking driving.’

‘I didn’t say anything.’

‘Fuck off!’ Alan says jovially, and takes a gulp of beer. ‘Anyway, I thought you were fucking around when you called. But no, you’re here. That was sudden.’

‘I know, it happened fast.’

‘Didn’t it just. You are lucky today’s a bank holiday too. How long you here for?’

Jay glances through the car’s interior and then through the rear-view mirror at the elderly driver, who’s focused on the road ahead.

‘For a while, I think. Where’s your car?’

‘A while? Fucking hell. I wish I had your job.’

‘You don’t.’

‘Oh, I do.’ He laughs. ‘What exactly do you do again?’

Jay stares at Alan, without an ounce of amusement.

‘I forgot,’ Alan says, fuelled with amusement. But he hasn’t forgotten, it’s just in his character to be, for the lack of a better word, a dick. ‘It’s been years, you know.’

Alan looks into the distance of the motorway as he exaggerates trying to remember.

‘Security Consultant,’ Jay calmly says.

‘Yeah, that! I’d do that. You certainly have more holidays than us Investment Bankers.’

‘Right. Where’s your car?’

‘It’s being serviced, for fuck’s sake. Leave that alone.’

Jay nods.

***

The S-Class drives slowly along an affluent suburban street in Epsom, a town just outside London, and parks in the driveway of a large elegant detached house.

The elderly driver turns to Alan and says, ‘Hundred twenty-five Pounds, please.’

Alan turns to Jay. ‘I don’t have my wallet on me.’ And with that he steps out of the car and leaves Jay to sort it out.

Jay fights back a smile and pulls out his wallet and pays the driver.

He steps out of the car and is stricken motionless by the sight of the house; it’s just as it always is in his nightmares, even the greenery that surrounds the house, and shadows. It’s all the same. He hears the front door unlock; it’s the same sound. He hears his brother’s footsteps along the hallway inside the house; again, the same sounds. He can’t go inside; he knows the memories his home will evoke are even worse than the nightmares. His breathing becomes erratic and his pulse surges. He wants to flee.

Alan walks back to the front door and immediately recognises the excruciating struggle in his brother’s face. He understands and gives his brother a quiet moment to fight through, but it soon becomes evident that his brother might not succeed in that fight.

‘Jay,’ Alan calls out, with a hint of compassion.

Jay slowly turns to Alan.

‘Forgive me,’ Alan says. ‘I forgot about the red carpet.’

They smile at each other.