When Bass was certain that Violet had absorbed the news of her brother’s murder fully he spoke again. “Yeah, old Richie put up one hell of a fight. To his credit, he wouldn’t say a bleedin’ word, no matter what I did to him – nor his bum chum – that Irish monkey who was always by his side. What was it with them two anyway?”
But it was a rhetorical question. “It don’t matter,” he went on, “cos me and Jack reckon old Alfie must ’ave something ’ere that’ll tell us what we wanna know. Bound to ’ave. He probably don’t even know it.
Violet continued to fight against her ties, tears streaming down her face as she thought about poor Richie and his best friend.
“Question is,” Stone continued, “What is it you and me can do while we wait?”
Violet froze, immediately aware of Stone’s intent as he suddenly loomed over her. She tried to cry out, to scream, but her cries were muffled by the rag in her mouth.
She was wearing a loose floral dress which buttoned at the front and a heavy silver pendant that hung on a chain between her breasts.
Violet was unable to stop Stone as he grabbed the flimsy neckline of her dress and tore it open, ripping the material apart; the buttons pinging off in all directions, to expose her ample cleavage.
As the buttons scattered about the floor like hail stones, Bass pushed a calloused hand into her lacy white bra and roughly grabbed a handful of one of her plump breasts, squeezing it hard.
“Is that nice? Is that what you like, Princess?” He snarled, his voice thick with lust.
Violet wriggled frantically, fighting as best she could to fend him off, but it was futile, there was nothing she could do as he then reached down with his other hand and pushed it between her knees.
She was screaming madly now and struggling like a wildcat, but the rag in her mouth dulled the sound and the rope that bound her held her tight.
Then somebody else spoke.
“Get off her – now!” A gruff voice said.
Bass turned to see Alfie Noakes standing there in his pyjamas, clutching a sawn-off shotgun in his frail, liver-spotted hands.
“You heard me, scum. Get your fuckin’ hands off my daughter!”
Immediately, Stone removed his hands from Violet, the stain of her brother’s blood still on them.
“Alright, Grandad – it’s okay, no harm done – just a little fun, that’s all,” Bass said, his voice calm and even. “Let’s not get too excited, eh?”
“Get away from her!”
Bass did as instructed, slowly edging away from Violet with his hands half up in a submissive show. “Okay, Gramps, no problem – there you go, see? I’m away from her.”
“Whattaya doin’ in my pub?”
“Ah, well, you’d best ask him that,” Stone nodded, gesturing to the man who had just entered the room behind Alfie.
“Don’t move, Alfie!” Big Jack ordered. “I’ll shoot ya, you know I will.”
Anderson was holding a revolver in one hand and a scrap of paper in the other.
“Who’s that?” Alfie asked, his back to Jack, as his eyes darted from Violet and then back to Stone.
“You mean you don’t recognise my voice? Well, Alfie, I’m hurt. Really I am.”
“Jack? Is that you?”
“Hey, hooray! Give the man a cigar,” Anderson said. “You’re obviously not so bleedin’ senile after all.”
Big Jack Anderson was not so ’big’ anymore. His body had shrunk with age and he was a shadow of his former self, but he was still a treacherous snake, just as he always had been. Some things never change.
“What do you want?” Alfie demanded, “Why are you here?”
“And there you go again,” said Jack, “I’m surprised you even have to ask. I came for this Alf, this little bit of paper.”
“I know, hardly seems worth it does it? But believe me, this little bit of paper is worth an absolute fortune. It’s gonna bring me everything I deserve – money, power – all the things that should have been rightfully mine years ago but were denied me thanks to Joe fuckin’ Cassidy. Well not anymore. This bit of paper is gonna make me a king.”
Alfie was confused. What was he talking about and what did a piece of paper have to do with Joe?
But presently that did not matter. All that mattered was that Anderson had invaded his pub and Bass Stone had tried to rape his daughter.
At nearly eighty-six years old, Alfie had been lucky. His life had been good. But his kids had all grown up and moved away and his wife had died long ago. All he had left was Violet, his youngest and most precious. Her and his pub, they were the only things worth living for now and without them he was nothing.
Without Violet, his life would be unimaginable.
As his aged brain ticked over, a cine film played in his mind. He saw Joe Cassidy and Sean Reilly, Vinnie and Ray Reece, his wife, his kids, amongst them Richie and Violet.
A good life. And as good a day as any to die.
His time on this earth was done.
Then, with all the speed and strength he could summon into his tired old body, Alfie span round and fired both barrels of the sawn-off in rapid succession.
Big Jack, surprised by the agility of the old man, managed to fire off one wild shot before the blast from the shotgun blew him backwards, ripping through his stomach, decimating his torso and taking off his whole left arm.
Anderson was dead before his body hit the back wall.
His corpse then fell to the ground in a mass of blood and butchered flesh, leaving a huge red stain on the wall where it had hit.
However, Alfie did not wait to look and turned back to face Stone. But in the seconds it took for Alfie to kill Jack and turn back around, Bass had pulled a semi-automatic from his belt and fired off four rounds into the centre of Alfie’s chest.
Alfie staggered only slightly at the impact, before looking down at the four fresh new holes in his pyjamas which were now oozing blood. Yet he was somehow immune to the pain and merely observed his wounds with a detached curiosity, not quite able to comprehend their significance.
Slowly he lifted his head and saw Violet slumped in the chair.
The stray bullet from Big Jack’s gun had caught her below her left shoulder, an inch or so above where Alfie imagined her good, kind heart to be.
Her eyes were open, filled with pain, tears trickling down her cheeks.
Alfie had failed to save her. His final act in this world had ended with the death of his daughter and his only comfort was the knowledge that he would be joining her very shortly in the afterlife.
Bass Stone stood between him and Violet; evil of a kind Alfie had not witnessed in many a long year.
Magically, Alfie’s confusion abated, as if in dying a cloud had lifted. His mind suddenly as clear and as sharp as it had been thirty years before. Furthermore, he now understood the reason for Anderson and Stone’s visit that night, the reason why Violet and very shortly he, himself, had been murdered. He realised with absolute certainty what was on the scrap of paper that Jack had discovered and cold fear flooded his belly.
But in that moment of terrible realisation, Stone shot him between the eyes, sending him, at last, to death.
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