Joe and I stared transfixed at the bedroom door, awaiting the imminent arrival of the legend we had heard so much about. We had never seen Vinnie so did not quite know what to expect, but when the door finally swung open, it certainly was not the smiling matinee idol that entered.
Vinnie Reece stood at the bottom of the bed. He was tall, slim and impeccably dressed in a pin-striped tailored suit. Looking supremely fit, he had chiselled features which were healthy and tanned and a pencil thin moustache that was trimmed to perfection; his black wavy hair was sprinkled with silver at the temples and brushed neatly back with Brylcream. The only thing that marred his otherwise perfect features was a long scar that started on the bridge of his nose and finished in the centre of his right cheek, a thin line which remained white against his golden skin.
Vinnie Reece in all his impressive glory cut an extremely dashing figure. A figure that now stood smiling down at Joe and me as I lay in my makeshift hospital bed.
As he spoke, his voice was deep and warm, the South London accent betraying his Peckham roots. Roots which he was determined never to forget. Under different circumstances it could be the voice of terror but on this occasion it was thankfully amiable and cheerful.
“So you’re the two lads I’ve heard so much about,” he said, shaking both our hands firmly. “Alfie’s told me, and he doesn’t lie. He’s also told me that he owes you his life. That means a lot to me personally. Him and me go way back. Best friends, I suppose you’d call us. Kinda like you two.”
Vinnie sat down on the edge of the bed and thought for a second, then continued, “Listen boys, I know George Reilly and Vic Cassidy, and I’m sure I won’t upset you when I say I think they’re both pieces of shit – but that’s between me and them.” He paused again, “Whatever I think about your fathers doesn’t reflect on you.” He looked directly at us, a serious expression on his face, “Understand this. If there is anything I can ever do for you boys, just ask. If it’s within my power, I’ll do it. I’m in your debt – and I never forget who I owe.”
Joe and I were stunned into silence, neither of us knowing what to say to follow Vinnie’s last statement. Luckily, Vinnie lightened the mood for us, “So, Sean, when do you get to escape?” He asked.
We chatted with Vinnie for five or ten minutes, answering all his questions and telling him about ourselves, and he seemed genuinely interested. Then, when at last there was a lull in conversation, he almost reluctantly stood up and made to leave. He shook both our hands again and said sincerely, “Look after yourselves boys – and remember, if you need anything, anything at all, just ask.” He then turned, walked to the door and left.
We had known of Vinnie Reece for most of our lives but apart from the fact that he was very rich and powerful, had never really fully understood why people held him in such high regard.
Now, however, after meeting him, we most definitely did.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here