Authors: D C Stansfield
D C Stansfield
Grey Man to The Assassin,
“How do you
kill a man who hides in a crowd?”
“Easy,” said The Assassin to The Grey Man,
“Kill the Crowd.”
is an English county, south of London.
Rich in history and heritage, it has many tiny country lanes so narrow
that the boughs of the trees on each side of the road meet to form a canopy,
only allowing strong sunlight and rain to filter through.
At the end of these lanes there are
invariably small villages complete with thatched houses, a cricket green, a
pond and pubs that are so old and the ceilings so low that a modern man has to
duck so as not to hit his head.
It is a
place where middle England
their hats and it is
quietly disappearing as the 21
Century starts to take hold.
It all began in one of these peaceful little villages almost in the
centre of East Sussex just five miles east from where Rudyard Kipling had his
country manor, six miles south from Conan Doyle’s house and a stone’s throw
from A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood where Winnie the Pooh was born.
At one end of the village, at the top of the High Street is a large,
old pub with bay windows and an ancient, solid oak door.
Directly opposite is a butcher’s shop where
men in red striped aprons and straw hats talk all day about their cuts of meat
as they lay them out on polished stainless steel cold plates.
Next along is an assortment of tea rooms and
charity shops and in the middle of the High Street is one of the newest
buildings, a picture house built, so it proudly says on the outside, in 1911 to
show moving pictures and it still does to this day.
The High Street is finished off by another pub that had recently
In all it is a place for
people who work in assurance and insurance, banking and finance to come home to
after their long days in the city.
All of which made it so unusual to see a young thug walking down the
High Street like he owned it, repeatedly slapping his hands together in front
of his face and talking to himself loudly.
Every person he met studiously avoided looking at him as he was obviously
as high as a kite.
Many people crossed over
the road to avoid him.
Those that know him
call him Paul the Chemist, due to the fact he could get you any drug you liked.
He was having a great time he was” lovin’
it, lovin’ it, lovin’ it.”
The dealing was paying well enough
to feed his own habits and to put a few bob in his back pocket.
Plus for the first time in years, the Old
Bill was not breathing down his neck.
Saturday nights for him were now heaven, mainlining
heroin, injecting straight between the toes or under his armpit so no mark
would show on his sculptured heavily muscled body, this insured a trip like no
Sundays, chilling with the boys
smoking marijuana, normally pure Lebanese which left him mellow all day and
Monday through Friday popping one speed tablet after another to keep him high with
of course a few steroids for good luck.
His normal day job, if you can call it that, was doing a little dept
collecting for a dodgy protection racket and to make repossessions of anything
valuable from poor unfortunates who could not pay the heavy boys in London.
The repossessions he enjoyed the most, carting people’s prize
possessions away as they watched helplessly was terrific fun and he could
employ a little muscle when he wanted to, giving out a few slaps to people who
he knew would not complain or fight back as he was representing the big boys
and nobody messed with them.
The rest of
his time was spent in the gym obsessively pumping iron, hour after hour as long
as the speed and steroids fueled the burn.
A few months ago life had not been so good.
He had pushed his luck in London and was
getting lent on hard by the police, but a beautiful suggestion had come his way.
A good time girl he knew called Nicki who had
just had a baby, had been offered a new council flat in the sticks with the
rent, electricity and gas all being paid by the dole office.
A nice offer but she wanted to stay with her
boyfriend in London so she had offered it to Paul for £500 down and £100 a
month or, as she put it, “Slip me a monkey now and a ton a month and it’s yours.”
“Sweet” thought Paul.
and the boys moved in.
’ were two other
body builders, Donkey and Charisma Jim.
Donkey was a large, bald headed twenty-something thug who thought he was
called Donkey due to what swung between his legs but actually it was because he
was as thick as a plank.
Charisma Jim was a short, nasty looking man
who thought he was called Charisma because of his sparkling personality.
The joke being he was the most boring man on
The three of them were inseparable.
Life was drug dealing, drug taking, intimidation and the gym.
Paul had been concerned initially about the level of business he
might get when he had arrived but was pleasantly surprised by how many people
were desperate for the product and willing to travel to get it.
Unlike London, drugs were in short supply
here and he was the only game in town.
He was so busy so quickly with so many customers that he could not
believe the local police would not be all over him until he saw the force in
On the third Thursday morning after
his arrival, the police pulled into town and the fresh faced constable on his
bike rode past Paul’s window, new clean uniform with socks pulled over his
trousers and bicycle clips to hold everything in place.
The plod took one look at Paul, turned away
and peddled fast in the opposite direction.
“Result,” laughed Paul.
Paul decided that now this was his manor and set about showing the
locals who was in charge.
He fitted a
1000 watt stereo system in the flat and had it pumping music 24/7.
The local corner shop turned a blind eye to a
bit of shopping with no payment and the pub at the top of town gave out free
beer to stop any problems occurring.
fact that there had not been any problems until Paul had arrived was never discussed.
The only place Paul was wary of was the pub at the bottom of the High
Street. He had walked in there one night to be met by a middle-
fit looking man who he later found out was the new
Everyone called him Surge.
“Sorry boys” he said, “This is not for you.
Think you would have more fun elsewhere.”
Donkey was just about to go mental when Paul decided to cut his
There was something about this
guy he did not like, the way he stood in front of them all so calmly,
fear, not appearing to give a damn, the voice low and authoritative.
Paul had been round the police all his life
and there was something about this guy that reminded him of the Old Bill, “Maybe
an ex-copper,” he thought, so since things were going so well he decided it was
best to back off.
He stopped Donkey and said, “Sure mate.
No worries” and they left.
But Paul thought they would be back sometime
in the future and wondered what the pub would look like burnt to the ground
with the landlord still inside.
Collins the Assassin would never forget when he had received the
telephone call which brought him back from the brink.
It was the Monday after he had returned from
He had been sitting in the front
room of his large, old house in a London suburb and had been up all night thinking
about what to do next and whether he could carry on.
He had recently avenged his wife’s murder with the help of his son
Jonathan, The Grey Man and The Surgeon and then had taken his son to Israel
to try to ‘go home’.
But almost as soon
as they landed he knew it was all wrong.
This new Israel looked and felt so different from his youth.
He took Jonathan to some of his old haunts,
the place where he learnt to be a soldier, where he had met his wife and they
had married and where it had all started but the magic was gone.
He had promised himself during that mission that when the murderers
were all dead he would go to Israel to live his final years bringing his life
full circle, but he now realized his home had been where his wife lived and
Israel was a foreign land.
had decided to continue with university in England, they had both flown back.
As he sat alone, his thoughts flew back over the years.
To join the army as a very young man was
normal in those days.
When he was
growing up, Israel was a young country and needed defending.
Soldiering to him had come so easy.
He had a talent for weapons far superior to
With a rifle, any rifle, he
found that just a few minutes spent zeroing in the scope meant he never missed,
but his real talent had been with handguns.
A quick heft to feel the weight and balance and then the gun felt like
part of him.
He never appeared to aim,
just hit whatever he pointed the gun at, it was quite remarkable.
After many years of soldering he had gone into the Secret Service
becoming a watcher and then an assassin, which is where he had met and worked
with The Grey Man and The Surgeon.
When the three of them were at their peak, no one could touch them and
they were much sought after.
twenty years they ran together on various missions around the globe developing
an awareness and understanding beyond any other teams.
But just as he had started to feel every one
of his sixty five years and was settling down into retirement, his wife had
been murdered and he had gone back on the hunt.
The house felt cold and empty as if with his wife dying she had
taken a piece of home with her.
loneliness sat on him like an illness, a never ending pain,
Even though they
had spent many nights apart, for the past thirty years she had been a
started trying to filter through the heavy curtains but he still sat there in
the dark trying to work out his next move, always a decisive man, this lethargy
felt strange and worrying.
So the call when it
was a welcome
It was The Grey Man.
“Would you like some work?” he said.
“Sure,” said Collins.
“Okay,” said The Grey Man.
“We have a problem that only you can fix.
A quick question: how do you kill a man who
hides in a crowd?”
“Easy!” said The Assassin.
Collins, now full of energy and purpose, went upstairs.
In his bedroom was a false wall which when
taken down led to a small workshop full of the tools of his trade.
Rifles, shotguns and rows of handguns lined
the walls, all lovingly looked after.
sat at the laptop and downloaded a file from The Grey Man which he studied for
well over two hours.
The depth of information
on the mark was as usual, extraordinary.
Collins spent time looking at the man’s picture and committed the face
into his memory.
He called up The Grey
“It reminds me of a hit we did in Moscow back in September 2001.
Do you remember?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” said The Grey Man.
“I think that would do nicely.”
The Assassin then set out his needs.
“Any problems getting me these things?” he asked.
I don’t think so.” said
The Grey Man.
“We have a branch or two
of The Firm in Italy that can easily satisfy this order.”
Four hours later Collins was on a flight to Pisa, Italy.
As he landed he walked out the front of the
airport pulling along a small overnight luggage bag.
He followed the red line marked on the
pavement to help tourists to car park 5a and looked for the small Fiat.
The sun was beating down and the heat hit him
As he approached the car he got a
text with a number on it.
He pulled out
his phone and his front door keys, as he dialed the number he pretended to push
a fob on his keys.
The door sprung open
as the phone number operated an electronic switch in the car, this prevented
keys having to be hidden or sent in advance, one or The Grey Man’s inventions.
He opened the boot to store his overnight
case and found a leather
Collins looked round to ensure he was
was a grey folded raincoat and wrapped inside was a small earpiece, two guns
and a cross holster for housing them and a waist strap for the ammunition with
He removed the earpiece
and got in the car.
He reached across to
the glove compartment and took out the ignition keys and the prepaid ticket to
get out of the car park.
He slipped on the earpiece and The Grey Man’s voice came to him
They were operational so there
was no small talk.
He gave Collins the
postcode and name of the hotel just outside Pisa and Collins punched it into
and then drove slowly along the wonderful
old streets, passed the famous and beautiful leaning tower which was next to a
magnificent church and out into the Italian countryside.
Within a few miles he came to a big modern
hotel obviously built to house the thousands of tourists to Pisa.
Collins checked in under his work name of
Fowler, paid in advance for three days and gave over his passport, a hotel
requirement in Italy.
This was checked,
registered and given back.
credit card and driving license all supplied by The Firm and all legitimate.
He settled into his room and slept for a few
When he woke, he ordered a light
meal from room service and settled down for the night.
The hit was a difficult one which is why Collins was chosen.
A small, rotund Italian business man,
, a former Mafia
foot soldier had set up a side line selling weapons and explosives to terrorist
organizations around the world, a market that was growing and was very
Some of his weapons had found
their way into the UK and the powers that be wanted him stopped.
was a shrewd
Everything and everyone was
guarded and searched twice.
He and his
family lived in a huge mansion on top of the highest hill in the district with
nowhere for a shooter to find an angle.
Similarly the hotel he stayed in where he did most of his work and where
they brought his
was the highest building
around so a long range shot was out of the question.
He only travelled in a convoy of identical
limousines and constantly switched the positioning
so it was difficult to judge what vehicle he was in.
All food was made by his personal chef with
provisions from his own gardens and livestock farms.
He only moved from one of his properties to
the next, even this hotel which he owned had its own reinforced penthouse,
private entrance, special double thick concrete floor with limited access from
the elevator and closed parking.
went everywhere surrounded by a group of six to eight huge, fully armed
In amongst this crowd he could
hardly be seen let alone got at.
On the Wednesday morning Collins got a call from The Grey Man.
hand man had phoned down to the garage telling the chauffeur to have the car
ready in half an hour.
“Time to move,”
The Assassin started to dress, black jeans, black silk shirt and
Over this he slung the
overlarge, two gun holster with cross straps across his back.
He slipped in both guns and checked they
fitted and it was easy to get a quick draw.
Around his waist was the ammunition belt and he ensured both guns were
Over this he wore the soft grey
raincoat one size too big which was loose enough not to show the bulges of the
guns unless you looked hard enough.
The elevator system was a simple, ultra modern duplex arrangement,
two lifts side by side.
He walked out
into the corridor with his travelling case and the
The Grey Man, now hacking the
elevator system, overrode the controls on the right hand lift and the doors
were open as The Assassin walked up to them.
He took the lift into the garage, loaded the small travelling case
into the Fiat and walked back to the lift
which was still waiting for him with the doors open.
He took it to the first floor, stepped out
Alberto, pushed the lift button in the penthouse.
It only came directly to this floor when he
His boss was now ready and as
the lift arrived Alberto stepped in and produced a special electronic key which
only he carried and used to override the lift controls.
He put it in the key slot and twisted and now
the lift was under his command.
The lift was large but with seven big men in it and with
in the middle there was not much room to move.
Alberto pushed the button to the garage and
the lift moved.
He watched all the
floors go by one by one, the different floor numbers illuminating and going out
as they passed.
Finally as the garage
light illuminated they prepared to get out.
The doors opened and he realized there was obviously a mistake as
they were not in the garage but on the first floor.
Standing there, under the thin hall lighting, cloaked in shadow was
a little old man in a grey raincoat, unbuttoned except for a clasp at the neck
and worn like a cape with his arms inside the raincoat.
They all started forward but then
As if by magic, two mini Uzi
submachine guns with the shoulder stocks removed for a quick draw, appeared in
both his hands.
Everyone in the lift was
crowded together so no one could move to get out or reach their guns.
Alberto recoiled in horror.
In a split second his mind registered that
both Uzi’s were capable of shooting nine hundred and fifty rounds a minute and
had the larger 32 round magazines.
The Assassin pulled both triggers and the sixty four bullets hit the
eight men in just under two seconds.
bodies slammed back to the lift walls, blood and pieces of flesh flew
The Assassin was less than
ten feet away and the power of the machine guns were overwhelming as the rounds
passed through the bodies and ricocheted around off the steel walls, the noise
echoing around the building.
The Assassin ejected both spent magazines in one movement, reloaded quickly and
emptied the magazines again into the writhing bloody bodies.
He stepped forward to check on
who was lying amongst his men missing most of his
torso and head.