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Authors: Martina Cole

Tags: #Fiction, #Suspense

Maura's Game (52 page)

BOOK: Maura's Game
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“Sacred Heart of Jesus…”

God was good, He would give her peace and rest, she was sure of that. She prayed for that child as she prayed for her own children and the repose of her husband’s soul. It was important that she made everything right before she finally left this earth. She prayed then, harder than ever. She didn’t know what else she could do. The pain was worse; it was travelling across her chest and she was having trouble breathing.

She made herself breathe deeply and evenly and all the time she prayed. But the pain was excruciating.

She could see Benny and the severed head, see him holding it in his arms and laughing. She knew he didn’t feel he had done a thing wrong. At least her Michael had not been that bad, had had some decency in him. And Michael had had a hard start in life whereas Benny had been given everything the telly and the newspapers told you a child needed to get on in this world. Yet he was still as mad as a March hare and she knew it was only a matter of time before he caused something even worse than the latest debacle.

Yet she loved him, loved him with all her heart and soul. When he smiled at her or hugged her she felt like the luckiest woman alive. It was as if a wild animal had placed their trust in her, it felt extra-special. Benny had so little love to give that when he did give it, it was overwhelming because you knew you were one of a chosen few.

Sarah’s heart was beating faster than ever now and she was sweating profusely. She forced her mind back to her prayers and hoped the night would end soon so she could get up and face another day. Whatever it brought with it she knew she would cope. God made the back to bear the burden, as her own mother used to say. Sarah had a broad back and a strong faith, and that was all that she really needed. She might go to eight o’clock Mass, take Communion. That always seemed to settle her when she was worried about anything.

Tony Dooley and Gerry Jackson surveyed the barn and surrounding area, now lit by arc lights. It looked spotless. There was nothing incriminating left, not a tyre mark or footprint to say any of them had ever been there. The whole place would not show a trace from a forensic point of view.

They sat inside the barn and smoked a joint together as they reminisced about the good old days. They had a feeling on them that disaster had been averted and they could go home in peace and tranquillity.

At least that’s what they hoped, once the filth arrived. Then and only then could they all leave.

They were taking their fucking time.

Tony Dooley began to roll another joint.

“Man, I hate waiting about, don’t you?”

Gerry nodded.

“Not a lot of choice, is there? But once we get them in position we can get it over with once and for all. You know, it’s funny, Tony, but I always liked Vic. Me and Michael used to muck about with him years ago. It’s the gear, ain’t it? Sends them off their fucking trolleys.”

Tony nodded sagely.

“Seen it time and time again.” He licked the Rizla slowly and then said quietly, “It’s Roy I’m sorry for, you know?”

Gerry sighed.

“Tell me about it. If that was my boy I’d be in bits.”

“He’s a fucking nutter all right, Ger, but then such is life, eh? He should have been sorted when he was a kid.”

Gerry agreed with his old friend and was so glad that none of his sons had ever shown a penchant for abnormal behaviour. They were lairy little fuckers admittedly but then, that had been used by them to good effect.

They leaned back and smoked the joint, sorry for Roy and his troubles but happy in each other’s company. Both of them were dreading what was to come yet both knew it had to happen. In fact, they were amazed it had not happened before. Benjamin Ryan had been an accident waiting to happen for the last couple of years.

Gerry took a deep toke on the joint and watched his handsome sons as they finished the job in hand. He was proud of them all, and glad that they were perfectly normal run-of-the-mill faces.

A car drove down the lane and they watched warily as Maura and Garry walked out to meet it. Both instinctively put their hands near their weapons. After all this wasn’t over yet, not by a long chalk.

Carla was still awake and sitting on her bed, smoking a Silk Cut and feeling the deep fear that only an unplanned pregnancy can cause in a woman. She stared at the tester and once more the blue line was still evident. It had been there for the last five hours and yet such was her frame of mind she still hoped it was a mistake.

She was pregnant and it was Tommy’s child.

She sipped the glass of water by her bed and lit yet another Silk

Cut. This would cause murders. She wondered what the fuck she was going to do about it. Because the last thing she wanted at her age was a baby, another child.

Maura had been decent to her recently and that was going to go out of the window once she heard about this little lot. She picked up her mobile and rang Tommy’s number once more.

It went straight on to voice mail and Carla left him yet another message telling him to ring as soon as he picked this up because it was very important. She knew he wouldn’t, but still hoped that he would come and take her away from all this trouble and look after her and the baby. If he didn’t ring, then the child would have to be flushed away privately and with the minimum of fuss. That was all she could do because Maura would not want a reminder of Tommy Rifkind running around, that much she was sure of. Carla needed money and the only way she would see any was to get back into the fold as soon as possible.

She glanced at the clock. It was gone three in the morning and she knew she was no nearer sleep now than she’d been five hours ago. She had been such a fool to fall for Tommy Rifkind, but he had been so sexy and so dangerous. He had also been hung like a horse. She smiled as she remembered some of his moves. Now she was in the club and not sure what she was going to do.

She wished she had never met him and that the madness that had overtaken her had never happened either. But it had and she had to deal with it.

What was it Joey called it? A reality check? Carla was getting the worst reality check she had ever experienced in her life.

Maura watched as Chief Inspector Billings turned the engine off and sat stiffly waiting for them to come to him. She could see the hatred in him and feel the futility of it because he was not man enough to do anything about the situation he was in.

Today he was earning his payoffs and nobody pretended it was going to be pleasant.

“Hello, Mr. Billings. You were quicker than I thought.”

Maura’s sarcasm wasn’t lost on him or any of the spectators.

Garry opened the boot of the policeman’s car and removed a large blanket-covered package. He weighed it in his hands and with a big smile on his face placed it on the floor and uncovered four automatic weapons made specifically for the use of police marksmen.

“They’re clean?”

Billings nodded.

“Of course.”

Garry grinned.

“Good. Now you can fuck off.”

The three prisoners were aware that for them time had finally run out. Maura watched impassively as Vic and Abul were hustled out, kicking and protesting, even though they knew there was no way to avoid the inevitable. She’d told the others to leave her alone with Joe for a moment.

“I still don’t get it,” she told him.

“I know Rebekka hated me and maybe she had cause, but you, Joe. We were mates once.”

He looked frail and hollow-eyed but his voice was surprisingly firm as he told her bitterly, “Until you and Michael brought tragedy on my family.”

Maura was amazed.

“But you ain’t got a family, Joe. You’re the only eighty-year-old playboy I know.”

He sighed as he told her, “Everyone has family. Everyone has roots. You Ryans aren’t the only ones to value theirs. Sammy Goldbaum was my cousin.”

For a moment she couldn’t meet his eye.

“I never knew that.”

“I never advertised the fact. He was a wastrel, a gambler I’d have had people after me for his debts. But he was the son of my mother’s favourite sister, the only one on that side of the family to reach England during the war. The rest of them died in Lodz. On my mother’s deathbed I promised I would always look out for my Cousin Sammy, and when he died…”

Joe’s voice faltered for the first time.

“Naturally I helped out his wife and the children. And Rebekka was such a bright little thing, the daughter I never had. A head on her for figures like you wouldn’t believe. She trained as an accountant and came to work for me. Made me millions over the years, had a beautiful home, a son to be proud of. And still she couldn’t forget the way her father died. She hated the Ryans for what they’d done and when she came up with this scheme and begged me to help her well, what could I do? She was family. You know how it is.”

There was no need for her to reply. They both knew it was to safeguard her family’s position as top dogs that he was going to his death. Before he went though he extracted a promise from her that the Ryans would not make any moves on his businesses which were to pass to his heir, Rebekka’s son Sammy Kowolski.

No one dragged Joe from the barn. He walked out with head held high and climbed into the back of the car of his own accord.

Benny watched from a parked car as his friend since childhood was forced into the sterilised Range-Rover at gunpoint. He still wondered why Abul had fucked him up like he had but had lost the urge for revenge now. He knew he had to be on his best behaviour and not rock the boat in any way. He was chewing on his thumbnail, a sure sign of agitation, when he saw his Uncle Garry walking towards him. Benny put a smile on his face even though it hurt like fuck to do so and he wanted nothing more than to lie down and sleep.

When he realised he was actually going to be told to kill Abul, he was euphoric. He saw it as a fitting end to this whole sorry episode. This was his forgiveness, he knew it. It had to happen eventually but for it to be now and in this way pleased him no end.

He knew he had to make a good job of it and was determined to do just that. This was going to be his finest hour, he knew it. This would bring him back into the fold, the thing he wanted more than anything in the world.

Garry opened the car door and said to him gently, “Come on, you. Time to sort the men from the boys.”

Everyone watched as Garry and Benny walked slowly towards the Range Rover.

Sarah finally got out of bed and sat on the large overstuffed chair by the window. The dawn chorus had started and she listened to it with half an ear. Her chest felt as if it was going to explode. She took more deep breaths and forced herself to stand up.

Her arm was still dead. She rubbed at it with her good hand, wondering if she had had a stroke even while she told herself she had felt like this before and each time it had been when one or other of her children had died.

She walked slowly and carefully out of the bedroom and made her way down the stairs. She would not sleep now. She knew she might as well make a nice cup pa and wait for her daughter to come home.

Her arm was hanging loosely by her side. She held it into her belly with her good arm as she stepped slowly down the staircase.

She was parched and she was frightened, but of what she had no idea.

Benny looked into Abul’s face and smiled at him. He was handcuffed the same as the other two and there was no chance of escape.

“Get it fucking over with, Benny,” Abul said through a mouthful of broken teeth. He’d always been so proud of them, Benny thought. Handsome charming Abul, his best friend.

Vic started laughing.

“Shoot us, for fuck’s sake, then we can all get some sleep!”

Vic looked almost diabolical in the dimness of the courtesy lights inside the Range Rover. Benny shot him in the chest and he slumped forward. Joe the Jew fainted and Benny took him out next using a different weapon. Then he stared at Abul. Garry and Maura watched intently, as did everyone else, as Benny was handed a third gun and slowly took aim.

Abul was staring at his one-time friend and all the arrogance had gone from his face. He too was remembering them both as kids. Remembering the japes they had got up to. Remembering the way he had always been a part of the Ryan family. He had wanted to be top dog, had wanted to be the main man, and this was what it had brought him to.

“I’m sorry, Benny.”

It was almost a whisper.

“So am I, mate.”

Benny felt his hands quivering with nerves. He had never cared about violence before, never cared who he hurt, but he really didn’t want to harm his friend. Didn’t want to see Abul dead. Not now, not when he was in front of him looking at him like he used to when they were little kids and Benny had done something mean.

“Come on, Benny, we ain’t got all fucking night.”

Garry’s voice was low.

Benny looked at Abul one last time and then he slowly squeezed the trigger. This explosion sounded much louder in his ears than the other two. He felt the ringing start and dropped the rifle to his side as he stared at his friend.

He did not feel good about what he had done; did not feel good about it at all. The only person he had ever really cared about was gone. As Abul slumped forward across the passenger seat in the front of the Range Rover, Roy walked up behind his son and, turning him around gently, shot him in the heart.

Benny dropped to the ground, a look of surprise on his face.

Maura had turned away and Kenny had pulled her face into his chest to try and save her from seeing her nephew die.

“What the fuck was all that about?”

It was Garry’s voice she could hear.

“You should have waited until he was in the fucking motor like we agreed!”

Roy was kneeling on the ground, staring at his son’s lifeless body. Maura pulled herself away from Kenny and went to him.

“Oh, Maura, what the fuck have I done, eh?”

She cuddled him to her as she cried. Benny looked so innocent lying there; he looked like Michael had looked while he slept and she and Marge would sneak into his room and pinch all his change to go up the sweet shop.

BOOK: Maura's Game
10.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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