It was 6.30pm and Shaun had arrived back five minutes before to his small flat in Romford. He hadn’t noticed the man standing astride the black motor scooter. Why should he? Pizza delivery guys were ten a penny at this time of night round there. If he’d noticed maybe he would have asked himself ‘what’s such a big guy doing on a small scooter’.
The knock on his flat door surprised him. Visitors normally had to be ‘buzzed in’ first. He was further surprised when he opened the door to see a big guy holding a pizza box up high.
With that, the call was over. Before Paolo returned, Tony needed a word with Franco. Tony was definitely instinctive, but he was also impetuous. He had to sort things now to be able to get on with life.
Satisfied that Franco was suitably briefed, Tony could concentrate on getting some real work done. Work that would start to recoup the fortune he’d just lost to Shaun. It was too difficult to get back without the cops getting aroused, so he reconciled himself to taking a hit. With Franco on the case Tony saw it as a hit for a hit.
“Could Shaun have done this to Terry?” Tony asked the important question.
“I’ve no idea, but Shaun really went off with his tail between his legs and being such a cocky young man, that would have hurt. But whether it was enough to make him get even is anyone’s guess. It would make sense though, I guess.”
“OK, Liv, let’s leave it at that.” It was enough for Tony, who changed the subject. “Sorry to ask, but the cops say someone's gotta identify the body. You’re Terry’s next-of-kin. Are you OK with that, Liv?”
“I’ll try my best.”
Tony was being sensitive asking Livia how she felt before he launched into the real reason for his call.
“It comes and goes.” Livia replied “I’m still a bit in shock.”
“Of course, of course.” said Tony sympathetically.
“Any ideas who killed Terry yet?” she asked, paving the way for Tony’s real purpose.
“How well do you know Shaun?” he asked.
“Oh Shaun!” Livia laughed, “Oh I know Shaun. The cheeky bugger tried it on with me once. All that Blarney. Quite charming... until I told Terry about it. Terry went absolutely fucking mad! Told Shaun he was ‘dead meat!’”
After lunch, Tony asked Paolo to take a package to an address in West London. This would give Tony time to speak to Livia on the phone.
Paolo was delighted to get away. He wasn’t fooled. He knew exactly what Tony would be doing. He thanked his lucky stars that he’d sent the text to Livia in advance. This was one of the ways she could ‘make it worthwhile’ for him handing her half his ransom.
Paolo was keen for things to be clear, and subsequently to be ‘cleared up’ as soon as possible. Then Tony would stop the search.
When Paolo got back to the table Tony spoke.
“The cops said I gotta go identify the body.”
“Of course you must.” agreed Paolo.
“Of course fucking nothing!” said Tony tetchily. “I ain’t seeing no body, particularly if it’s Terry’s. Can you understand that Paolo? Does it make sense? Will they all think it strange?” Tony’s worry, perhaps that he might appear unconcerned about his twin, rather gave away his vulnerability. He had had his outpouring of grief. He didn’t want anything triggering any more.
“I understand totally Tony. You don’t have to. Livia’s his next-of-kin after all.”
Tony thought for a moment, before speaking.
“You see Paolo, people without Italian values ain’t got the same sense of loyalty we do. It ain’t in their blood. Do you know how Shaun got on with Terry. Did they get on? Did they?”
Once again Paolo swerved the question with his reply.
“I’ve no idea Tony. You’d better ask Livia when she gets back.”
Paolo realised Tony wouldn’t wait that long. He would probably call her straight after lunch. Paolo needed to prime her first. He went for a pee shortly afterwards and texted an advance warning. Over to Livia!
Over lunch in a local East End Italian restaurant, the conversation turned to Shaun, the only non-Italian member of the gang. Paolo let Tony make the running. He started by explaining why he’d taken Paolo to lunch.
“Quite frankly you’ve earned this Paolo; you’ve been a loyal friend. You have friends among the boys. You probably know ‘em better than me ‘cos you fix all their computers. What do you think of Shaun... honestly?”
“Well thanks Tony. Honestly, I’ve always liked Shaun. He’s different to us, but...OK I guess.”
Paolo wasn’t going to be executioner. Livia could do that!
Nothing more was said about Shaun all morning. Tony busied himself doing this and that and answering the stream of phone calls asking after him and trying to get an update on what they’d heard about Terry, who’d been named on the mid morning news feeds...”thought to be Terence Monelli, who’s rumoured to have underworld connections...”
Tony said very little, but thanked the callers for their support.
At 12.30, Tony announced “Come on Paolo, I’m gonna buy you lunch, Italian lunch!. Get your coat.” Tony’s emphasis on Italian signalled that he was brooding over letting non-Italians into the ‘business’.
"Fens?" Tony questioned. "Where the fuck's that?"
"Up beyond Cambridge. The flat place with the river they sent us after Terry. Where they found the body. It's called The Fens."
"Oh!" exclaimed Tony, whose mind was whirring. "Shaun! Fucking Shaun! I'll kill that Irish fucking bastard. Never should have let him in. He's a fucking crook!"
"Steady on Tony!" Paolo's voice of caution and reason belied his feeling of huge amusement inside. And pride! He knew how Tony worked and was working him. "Let's not jump to any conclusions... yet."
Paolo knew that the 'yet' had made up Tony's mind.
"Tony, don't you think we ought to leave this to the police?" suggested Paolo.
"Fuck no!" Tony exploded. "We find; we fix, capiche?"
Paolo expected that answer. He was as comfortable manipulating Tony as he was uncomfortable being manipulated by those women. Tony was brutal and instinctive, but not that bright. He made sure though that he had bright people around him.
"Do I think it's an inside job?" Paolo repeated Tony's question. "I think it might be. Someone clearly knows you and Terry and possibly knew how you would react. Who do we know grew up in the Fens?"
Tony and Paolo spent an hour or so talking through things. Firstly, they checked their stories to the police. Tony was pleased about the ransom denial. He had visions that if he let out that he'd paid a ransom, the police would have justification in going through his finances with a fine-toothed comb. That wouldn't do at all.
Tony quizzed Paolo about how likely it was that he would get somewhere with the 'fucking phone fiddling'. Paolo sounded doubtful.
"OK, fuck that then, let's talk about who coulda done this. Do you think it was an inside job Paolo?
Tomorrow was another day in many ways. For Tony, despite his grief and anger in equal measure, it was business as usual. At 09.30 he arrived at his office. Paolo was already there fiddling with a computer which was connected a mobile phone.
Tony grunted hello and then asked Paolo “What you up to?”
“Trying to see if I can identify where the messages came from, just to get some idea if someone’s out there with a grudge, someone’s got too greedy or maybe an inside job...”
“Let’s talk about that.” said Tony. “And what you said to the cops.”
The conversation later with Livia was warm. Paolo pressed her for details of how Livia might make it ‘worth his while’. Livia chuckled before answering.
“Well one way Paolo I’m sure you can guess, although of course we do have to be very careful for a while, particularly as Tony’s looking for any clues that might point to who might have killed Terry. It should be worth the wait though, unless I’m getting rusty with old age!” She chuckled again and continued.
“The other way is for me to point Tony towards a likely murderer... Get my drift?”
Livia closed the conversation saying she had to text him her bank details. Paolo would call her again when the transfer had gone through.
With heavy heart on one hand and a hopeful heart on the other, Paolo made the transfer to Livia’s new Cayman Islands Bitcoin account. It was very easy.
‘Just think how much has happened in less than 24 hours,’ thought Paolo, remembering the car dash, the successful ransom demand, the women, the police, riches and now half as rich by sharing... and the promise, he hoped, of sharing Livia’s bed and body too.
What a day!
The hairs on Paolo’s neck stood out. If Livia could have seen, she would have noticed his shudder. He was outfoxed. He quickly computed the situation and came to the conclusion that he had little option but to comply with Livia’s demands. In a way, he rationalised, it was only fair... if you can afford to be fair. Except Paolo had no real option. He should be thankful that she wasn’t demanding it all.
“That’s fine. Send over the bank details and I’ll sort it out tonight.” he offered.
“Thanks Paolo... and I’m going to make it worth your while...”
Somehow, Paolo was recovering a bit.
“You’re mighty pally with Tony all of a sudden! When did you talk to him?”
“Oh, earlier this afternoon. He’s very upset... about Terry of course, but he was spitting blood about the ransom he was tricked out of. If he finds out whoever did it, that’s another dead man walking!” Livia wasn’t about to sweeten any pill. She wanted her share of the money. Paolo took her last sentence as a threat; it was!
“I thought you and Tony didn’t really get on.” tried Paolo.
“Tony and I are now united in grief!”
“Why?... What for?” asked Paolo, trying desperately to compose himself and appear businesslike too.
“Silly boy!” laughed Livia, “you know perfectly well what for. For my share of the money. The ransom.”
”Tony didn’t pay any rans...” Paolo started to say.
“Don’t joke with me you naughty boy,” interrupted Livia. “Equal shares... I make that exactly two hundred thousand pounds each, isn’t it Paolo?”
The noise Paolo made at the end of the line prompted Livia to continue.
“I sincerely hope you weren’t planning to cheat me Paolo. You see, Tony told me exactly how much you took him for!”
When Livia called him back after about fifteen minutes, Paolo didn’t know quite what to expect. He was a little surprised to find her composed and almost businesslike.
“You OK now,” he asked.
“I’m fine now. Sorry about that. Now... I promised to tell you what I’ve done.” she replied.
“We visited the Cayman Islands, so I decided to open a bank account there. After all, a girl might need a hidey-hole now and then. And of course it’s now Paolo, isn’t it?”
Fearing trouble, “Huh?” was all Paolo could manage.
“I’ll text the account details in a moment.”
Paolo was flabbergasted by Livia’s apparent hypocracy. How could she be so grief-stricken when she had been the prime catalyst in Terry’s demise? How come she hadn’t thought about the effect of his death on Luka before she had Paolo murder his father?
Livia must have been overwhelmed by guilt and he, Paolo, was her outlet. That started to make sense to him... although he would never understand women.
He allowed Livia to cry without interrupting except the occasional “There, there.”
“Sorry Paolo” Livia managed to get out between sobs. “I’ll have to call you back in a minute.”