Crime Fiction. High Stakes. Part 1 of 2
“In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it”; was Ricky’s response to Jon’s dying pleas, “I have suffered from your cheating, it’s now your turn to suffer,” he whispered, as he drove the blood covered snooker cue right through Jon’s already battered torso.
“Throw him over,” he ordered his boys, brushing himself down and heading back towards the car, Dave and big Eddy, immediately obeyed and tossed Jon’s body over the cliff edge, into darkness toward the wave beaten jagged rocks eighty feet below.
2. Who’s Who?
Ricky, Richard Carter, owns and runs the Rolling Dice nightclub and casino on the outskirts of town, not a known villain as such but not a man to be on the wrong side of. Likes things done his way, keeps on top of things trying to ensure the smooth running of his highly lucrative business.
Dave and big Eddy, Ricky’s right and left hand men, run the business in Ricky’s absence and look after matters above and beyond normal calls of duty.
Dave Tring was brought up with Ricky, always been very close, their parents lived on the same street and they attended the same schools throughout the whole of their schooling, often in the same class. It is often joked that if you kick Ricky, Dave will limp.
Though big Eddy Melling has only been in Ricky’s employ for a short period of time he has gained his bosses trust and respect by following any order without question or hesitation. You could say that big Eddy is Ricky’s ‘heavy’, any leaning or threats; Eddy was the man to carry out the task.
Jon Houghton wasn’t in any type of paid employment; he was simply a man with a van, who wasn’t afraid of hard graft but would rather avoid it than chase it. He never advertised his services; his work just came in by word of mouth, anyway, advertising could have had consequences with the guys at the Social Services.
Jon had been married to Liz almost twenty-five years, during which time not much had changed with Jon, he still occasionally wore the same shoes that he got married in, saying that they were of better quality that any modern shoes. Liz worked part time as a mobile hairdresser, earning enough to keep her up to date with fashionable clothes and accessories. Together, Jon and Liz had one son, Anthony, known as Tony, a fitness fanatic who had won trophies for his physique from the National Body Building Association. Although a strong and physical young man, Tony has a desk job in electrical design, putting all his physical effort into his regular evenings at the gym.
A fourth family member living at Jon’s home is Jon’s dad, James. An active sixty-year-old man, who looked considerably younger than his actual years, keeps himself fit with his regular long walks, which he occasionally spoiled by stopping off at one of the many bars that he passed. James supports himself with his works pensions and also works a few hours at local bookmakers to provide him with extra beer money.
3. Change of Luck.
Jon could have been likened to Del Trotter, the one from the TV series ‘Only Fools And Horses’, in a way that he regularly quoted that “very soon, we will be rich”. He was continually testing out his ‘must win’ gambling theories on the National Lottery, on the Football Pools, at the bookies and of course playing cards and roulette at the local casino. Generally failing, but always giving excuse that his plan was perfect and that something beyond his control messed up his winning streak. Never the less, he never totally gave up, always thinking of new ways to beat a system.
Then, in the early hours one Saturday morning, Jon arrived home in what could only be described as a crazed panic.
“Be quiet you fool, Tony and your dad are fast asleep, and Tony is up early, he’s going fishing tomorrow” Liz angrily whispered.
“Liz, I’ve done it, I’ve worked out a system that can’t fail, on the card table, I tried it first on line, now I’ve tried it for real, it works.”
Heading towards the kitchen to make a brew, Liz replied “You did that weeks ago Jon, remember, and when you lost all your money you blamed everyone else at the table, you said someone took your card, or quit or something rubbish like that.”
Jon followed her to the kitchen to defend himself, “this time I can’t loose, it makes no difference what anyone else at the table does, myself and the dealer are the only factors that need to be studied.”
“Yes Jon, you’re right, heard it all before” Liz muttered.
At that point Jon produced a healthy wad of notes from his inside jacket pocket and slid it along the worktop right in front of Liz, “I wouldn’t call that losing, would you?” grinning like a Cheshire cat, “You could book that holiday with that, including spending money.”
Stuck for words, Liz gathered up the notes, mostly twenty’s, and flipped through them like a pack of cards, “Must be a few hundred pounds here?”
“Fourteen hundred and twenty pounds to be exact, I knew it could be done, I knew it.”
“Jon! Occasionally people do win, as you have in the past, it doesn’t mean that you have forecast it in any way, you’ve simply had a lucky night”. Liz said in a teacher like voice. “Don’t think that I am not happy that you’ve won, I am, very happy, so why don’t you stay away now, and quit why your moneys up?”
“But Liz I know I can do it again, and again, I will prove it next week, I could even go back tonight, on second thoughts no, I’ll wait till next week, don’t want to attract attention when I win again.” Jon replied to Liz’s doubt?
“Come on” commanded Liz, “time for bed, I’ll put this money somewhere safe.”
Next morning Liz woke Jon, “I’m going into town, I’ll call in the travel agents to see what offers are available, do you need anything?”
“No, book somewhere nice,” murmured Jon, still half asleep.
Jon was watching football on TV when his dad shouted, “Liz is home, taxi just pulled up at the front, looks like she’s been on a spending spree.”
Jon greeted her at the door and assisted her with the many shopping bags that she bore, “what the hell have you bought?” he gasped.
“New summer clothes, for me and you in Tenerife” she replied gasping for breath, “we go this Thursday.”
“I see,” Jon quizzically replied “booked a holiday going Thursday so I can’t go to the casino on Friday, no problem, I’ll prove my point when we get back.
“Oh yes, what have you got to prove Jon” laughed Jon’s dad “or shouldn’t I ask?”
“I take it that you haven’t told your dad about your latest scheme then, your magic formula?” “He won quite a bit last night James, thinks he’s devised a fail safe plan, that he can win whenever he feels.”
“Big win eh? You can buy the drinks tonight then son, and I’m in a mood to drink quite a few” James laughed.
“No problem dad, I’ll treat us all to a good few drinks, and a chippy supper.” Replied Jon, settling back down to watch the remainder of the match.
That night Jon kept his word and took the family, along with Tony’s girlfriend Lynne down to the local pub where they were entertained by revellers taking part on the karaoke.
All had a good night. All had ample to drink.
James sang his old favourite Sinatra song “My Way”.
Liz gave her rendition of Lulu’s “Shout” followed later by Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best”, which she purposely directed towards Jon.
Jon performed “Daydream Believer” a sixties song originally by the Monkees, then his old comedy favourite, Right Said Fred song “I’m Too Sexy”. During which, he attempted to perform a sexy dance. To no avail!
Tony and Lynne, up to this night had never got up on a karaoke, but after several drinks and pressure from the rest of the family were persuaded to enact the Grease musical, singing and dancing “You’re the One that I want” as John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, thoroughly enjoying the experience and looking forward to the next karaoke night.
4. Long Deserved Holiday.
The morning of the holiday arrived. Cases packed, passports, insurance and tickets checked, money checked.
Jon drove to the airport, Liz sat in the passenger seat and Tony crouched up in the back of the van. His job was to drive the van back home and pick up his parents a week later.
Check in went well, straight through customs with very little of a queue, into the departure lounge, a quick walk around the shops and to the bar for a beer and a sandwich. Flight board checked and found to be on time with just an hour to wait prior to boarding.
Boarded the plane, took off a few minutes earlier than schedule, a pleasant flight, arrived safely in Tenerife. A trouble free encounter through arrivals and onto the hotel, a small room but a decent sized balcony with an amazing view out to sea.
Unpack, wash and change, then down for dinner was the immediate plan. Jon poured two neat whiskies, as at that point, they didn’t have anything to mix with it. “Cheers, and here’s to a great holiday” Jon said with a smile as they chinked their glasses together.
After a lovely meal, during which Jon devoured three different sweets and sampled the red, white and rose wine, they were of course on an All Inclusive basis, they ventured out to explore the immediate surroundings.
Their hotel seemed to be surrounded by big bars, small bars, restaurants and cafes, though very little custom in any. Not that this was a concern to them, being on the All Inclusive package.
Then, just as they reached the main promenade, Jon’s face lit with delight, “would you believe it” he said excitedly, as he stopped looking at the bright lights ahead of him “it’s a casino, a chance to test and prove my system once and for all.”
“Had I known that this was here, I think I would have booked the one in Greece” Liz responded showing little concern, “your not going in unless I have something to do whilst your there, and your not taking all our money.”
“OK by me” Jon answered feeling a challenge “I will only need a bit of money, one visit and you’ll believe me.”
On the third night of their holiday, Liz wanted to watch the flamenco show put on by their hotel. This was of very little, if any interest to Jon so he sheepishly suggested that this was the ideal time for him to try out the casino. Liz agreed but insisted that he be back at the hotel by eleven when the show finishes and that he could only take one hundred Euros with him. One hundred Euros being an amount that they could afford to lose without affecting their holiday.
Liz obviously didn’t expect Jon to win but as the flamenco was entering its climax, Jon returned and sat beside Liz, taking her hand and presenting her with the two fifty Euro notes that she had given him to gamble with.
“So you haven’t lost then?” she shouted over the rattle of the final dance.
“That’s not it all” Jon replied in a cocky manor, “I have another fifteen hundred in my pocket. Didn’t I tell you it couldn’t fail? We’re on a winner. Just need to be careful not to be noticed as a regular winner who never loses.”
Liz kept her thoughts to herself, gave Jon a kiss on the cheek saying, “We don’t need to be thrifty for the rest of the holiday then?”
Although Jon really wanted to pay the casino another visit, he thought he’d pass up on it. Didn’t want to attract any attention, a foreigner, and two big wins in two visits, could create suspicion.
The rest of the holiday was spent relaxing around the pool during the days and enjoying entertainment laid on at the hotel or in the local bars during evening and nighttime.
All good things come to an end, time for goodbyes to new friends and staff, the usual exchange of phone numbers and addresses that will never be called, the coach arrived, and the journey home began.
To Be Continued...........
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