“Look Tony,” Livia said tearfully, “I’ll see if I can get airlifted somehow so I can get home quickly. I must get back to Luka.”
“Why? What’s the point? It ain’t gonna bring Terry back and Luka don’t need to know yet anyway. Just money down the drain. Take your time and try to get yourself composed, because the cops are sure to want to speak to you the minute you’re back.”
“OK, but can someone go round my house and get me something black to wear?”
“I’ll ask Marcia or Sofia...”
“No, sorry, but I don’t trust them Tony.”
When she’d calmed down a bit more Livia asked.
“Has Luka been told? Poor boy, he idolised his dad.” That wasn’t strictly true as, influenced by his mother Livia, Luka thought Terry was a bit of a fool and he resented the fact that he was very obviously the ‘junior’ twin.
“No” said Tony, “not yet. They only found the body earlier today.”
“It doesn’t seem fair. Here I am sunning myself on deck while Terry’s lying dead on the slab. But I missed him every day you know.”
“Yeah, I know” said Tony.
“And now I’ll be wearing black.”
Livia kept howling down the phone. Tony, himself trying to come to terms with the situation, was surprisingly sympathetic and tried to calm her. It was probably good for him as it took his mind away from his own grief and self-flagellation. He was convinced that Livia was genuinely devastated. ’Maybe she did love Terry’ he thought.
When she calmed down a little she asked him what had happened.
“Tell me everything Tony, everything”
Tony told everything, except the fact that he actually had paid the ransom.
’Why hasn’t Paolo called to tell me about the body?’ thought Livia.
Livia called Tony’s mobile. It was 8pm in Chigwell, where Tony had locked himself away. She didn't care when it was so long as there was enough time lapse for her to have seen BBC news on the Internet.
“Is it true, is it true? Is Terry dead? Have they found his body?”
Those three questions, followed by Tony’s affirmative grunt and “so they say... but I don’t believe them!” were instantly followed by Livia howling down the phone. Tony, still grieving, with guilt front of mind, was no match for Livia, who played to the gallery. She convinced Tony.
If Tony thought Livia was having a great time on the cruise, he was wrong. True, she had been having some fun at the start, but now she was bored of drinking champagne and sunbathing and even bored of the three fit young studs she had been playing cabin Olympics with. In prospect was the boring return home, where she wanted to be. But on the other hand, she knew the sense of being far away from home right now, providing her a cast iron alibi.
And she knew the moment she stepped ashore she must act the grieving widow.
Telling Tony it was very likely he would need to speak to him again in due course, DI Jackson then, surprisingly, told Tony he was very sorry for his loss and that the Met would do everything it could to track down and prosecute his brother’s killers.
As they left, Jackson asked, almost as an aside, if Tony knew where Terry’s wife was currently. Tony didn’t turn round, he merely said over his shoulder.
“Livia? Oh bloody Livia... she’s having a great time swanning round the Caribbean, otherwise I’d be asking her what she knows about this.”
’Interesting!’ thought Jackson.
The solicitor tried to comfort Tony, who wasn’t the kind of person you tried to comfort. Instead he asked DI Jackson.
“How can we be sure it’s Mr Monelli’s brother you found?”
“We can’t yet,”replied Jackson, “until we do a dental records or DNA check. The body was covered in slime. However, apparently the victim was missing all eight fingers.”
Hearing this, despite his anguish, Tony screamed “No, it ain’t Terry, he’s still alive. I know it. I’m his twin!”
The DI and solicitor exchanged a single look.
Jackson tried more questions for a while, but then called a halt.
“I can tell you Mr Monelli that we’ve just received news that the Cambridgeshire Police have found a body in New Bedford River where...”
DI Jackson couldn’t finish his sentence before Tony broke down howling. He was devastated and, Jackson concluded, only an Oscar winning actor could have put on a show like this. Lowlife scum Tony might be, but this wasn’t someone who had anything to do with murdering his own brother. This was genuine. The only way he might have contributed to his brother’s death was by failing to pay a ransom... but then Terry was already dead.
“Early?” asked Jackson, “and just what did you plan to do when you got there early?”
“Had to check out the location, work out where they was keeping my brother then jump them.”
“Jump them? That was risky. And tell me, why weren’t you prepared to pay a ransom for your own twin brother? Did you two not get on?”
“Monellis don’t pay no ransoms, ever! We agreed that years ago.”
“So when you arrived there and saw the police, what were your thoughts?”
“Someone double-crossed us and was setting us up. We had to get the hell out.”
Jackson moved on to the ransom and in particular how it was that Tony was up in Cambridgeshire the night before when the police were searching the river... and why he sped off. Tony had an answer for this too.
“They wanted half a million and wanted to do an exchange when they would hand over Terry. Seemed to me a very old fashioned way to get the money, but since I wasn’t planning to pay no ransom, I agreed. They sent us the location for the satnav and a time ...Midnight. Me and Paolo needed to get there early.”
Jackson’s immediate assumption that the New York Mob had been involved didn’t fit well with him. Based on experience, any dealings with the Americans and particularly the FBI was trouble.
Tony didn’t want any suggestion that he might have been involved with the American Mafia either, so he went on.
“Paolo says it could been anyone from anywhere using Internet phones. Apparently anyone can have an American number or anywhere else if they want. Some people might want to seem like they gotta posh office in New York...”
“Or more likely want to be untraceable.” Jackson finished off Tony’s sentence.
Tony was at his nicest at Walthamstow Police Station.... on the advice of his solicitor, one of the few people who could tell Tony what to do because “I’m paying him enough!”
In the interview with DI Jackson, Tony was quite the opposite to how he’d been the night before up in Cambridgeshire. He volunteered just about everything except about transferring the ransom money. He even explained about how they’d tried to trace the texts, and that they’d apparently been sent from New York.
Jackson sighed. “Seems like you’ve been keeping some really bad company Mr Monelli... like the Mob!”
Tony’s interview with the police at Walthamstow was carefully planned. Before he arrived he’d spent time briefing his solicitor on the situation.
The solicitor advised him to explain exactly what had happened and how for obvious reasons he had been warned off speaking to the police. He suggested Tony take along the fingers/pies which had been in a sandwich box in the office fridge but that, for once, he went along without his mobile phone. If they wanted him to hand it in, then best to get someone like Paolo to ‘clean it up’ first.
“And you paid them nothing!”
Paolo left the bar uneasily after taking a while paying the bill and visiting the toilet. His thought was that if Franco was tailing Sofia, he wanted him gone before emerging. He looked carefully each way down the street and then went the other way down Beauchamp Place and a rather circuitous route behind Harrods to get to Knightsbridge Underground station. He was spooked.
That had been exactly Sofia’s intention. It was a fabrication, but she wanted to unnerve Paolo and make him aware of the acute danger he was in. That would make him a softer target tomorrow night.
This was a hell of a day for Paolo. Sexually drained, twice, by dawn, lunch with one sexual predator, ducking and diving with the cops, drinks with another sexual predator, possible stalking, two prospective shag-dates and probably an update with Tony.
But on the other hand a stack of money transferred and as secure as a cryptocurrency can be.
But on the other, other hand, a call to Livia loomed. Livia, another beautiful, scary woman who seemed to have the highest level of sixth sense and intuition.
He was still infatuated with the idea of Livia... but the reality...?
The reality was that Franco had been nowhere near Knightsbridge. He hadn’t been instructed to spy on Sofia, or Paolo, but it was the kind of thing he might be told to do. Franco got the rubbish jobs like surveillance and ‘persuasion’ aka roughing up or occasionally permanently silencing people. Tony kept his people in ‘boxes’ and Franco was the ‘muscle’ and general gopher.
As Paolo had observed when discussing possible internal treachery, Franco was a lot smarter than he was given credit for by others. For instance, he wouldn’t have been spotted across the street.
Paolo wondered about Sofia.
By the time Paolo recovered from what was a really hard slap, he looked out across the street. Sofia had gone as had anyone across the street who might have been watching her. Paolo was rubbing his face as others gave him sideways looks and one guy even asked if he was OK. The women there wouldn’t have cared. Paolo had obviously insulted his female companion so they wouldn’t feel inclined to offer him any help.
As he went to settle for their drinks, he wondered what Franco might report back to Tony, assuming it was him spying on them.
Sofia whisked her hand away from Paolo’s sharply, and said calmly “Paolo, in a moment I am going to slap your face and storm out of here in a huff. I hope you’re OK with covering the drinks bill.”
“Why on earth?” Paolo looked suitably taken aback, even indignant.
Sofia continued calmly “Don’t look now, but a guy’s been standing across the road since we arrived and he looks like Franco. Tony may be checking up on me; he’s been rather suspicious recently. It’s for your benefit Paolo. See you around nine tomorrow.”
A hard slap and out swept Sofia.
Sofia closed the subject, realising she wasn’t going to be able to winkle out of Paolo the amount of the ransom paid.
“Well whatever... it’s Tony’s money, so why should I care? Marcia will take it hard though because she reckons what’s Tony’s is hers too! Now, Paolo, when am I coming round to your place again for a games night?” Sofia giggled.
Much as Paolo was relieved for the subject to be changed, and excited about ‘games’ with this fascinating woman, his diary was rather crowded next week with Marcia and Livia’s return.
“Tonight? Tomorrow?.” he suggested.
Paolo's last thought was brought into sharp focus with Sofia’s next throwaway line.
“Well, whatever ransom Tony paid, Marcia will have got it out of him and she’ll tell me. She tells me everything.” Sofia’s lie about her closeness to her sister seemed very believable to Paolo. He didn’t really want the two of them sharing notes about recent events, so he decided to try and close the subject now.
“It won’t even have been half a million,” he said “a couple of hundred thou max, but no more.”
“Don’t be daft, Paolo, a life is never bargained that cheaply!”