The Pontoon was situated near the river in Rotherhithe, at the end of a one way street. It was a dump, but a fully operational club nonetheless, complete with the obligatory stripper on a Saturday night.
A sleazy joint with a sleazy clientele, consisting of a few faces and many local villains, mostly of the small-time variety. In addition to them of course, was the thirty strong outfit who liked to call themselves the Twenty Ones and the club was their base.
The leader of this motley bunch of crooks, and owner of The Pontoon, was Big Jack Anderson.
Jack had made his money on the black market during the war. Even though he had been young enough and fit enough to fight for his country, he had somehow managed to avoid being called up. Instead, he had built up a thriving business supplying contraband and restricted goods to those who were willing to pay the highest price.
The person who had fronted the money for this operation was the same man who had lent Jack the money to buy The Pontoon; none other than Vinnie Reece, Big Jack’s cousin.
According to Ruby, Vinnie had done this at the behest of his dying mother, who had also asked him to accept a very low monthly repayment in return. Vinnie had never been comfortable with this, knowing how untrustworthy his cousin was, but it was his mother’s last wish, so against his better judgement, he had reluctantly complied. But he knew it was a mistake.
Sure enough, nearly ten years later, Jack had still only paid back a fraction of the debt, just as Vinnie suspected. Jack could certainly afford to pay, he just did not see why he should. Vinnie was already rich so why should he make him even more so?
Consequently, getting money out of him was like getting blood out of a stone as Jack knew that Vinnie would never welch on the promise he had made to his mother. Reece was a man of honour, whilst Anderson was most definitely not.
However, had the two men not been related, things would have been very different. Jack had a lot to thank his aunt for, because if it had not been for her, he would have undoubtedly wound up dead as nobody took advantage of Vinnie Reece and got away with it.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here