Marcia went straight back to her bedroom, while Sofia said she was off to the kitchen for a glass of milk. She thought she had heard someone else arrive back with Tony and was curious. She got her milk and headed off to the spare room to investigate. Opening the door, she saw in the half-light that Paolo was sound asleep.
Putting down the glass, she lifted the bedcovers and slid in beside Paolo. She put her arms round him... and then down, but whilst 'on parade' below, there would be no waking him yet. She would return later.
The two women opened Tony's bedroom door gingerly and saw him, fully-clothed spreadeagled on his bed, face down. He was neither expecting nor wanting visitors. He was shaking and sobbing into the pillows.
"Tony..." Marcia and Sofia called simultaneously.
"Go away... get out!" Tony managed to say. The two women turned to each other, raised their hands and Marcia nodded towards the door, which they closed after leaving. Only then did they allow themselves a gleeful grin. They didn't know exactly what had gone on, but were pretty certain it involved Tony's brother... and not in a good way.
Tony's executive house, in a gated community in Chigwell, had six bedrooms. The sixth was tucked away on the ground floor next to Tony's study. There Paolo crashed down. He quickly stripped off and jumped into bed. Seconds later he started a deep contented sleep.
Upstairs, both Marcia and, as she was staying over, Sofia heard Tony arrive and couldn't but hear his continuous sobbing. He had opened the floodgates and was releasing grief, although he was trying to stifle it lest anybody heard.
The two bodies that did hear met on the landing. They went together to Tony's bedroom...
Paolo was uneasy about saying nothing to Tony, but understood why conversation wasn't the flavour of the moment. Tony must be hurting really badly on a number of fronts... Terry's probable demise, the money, the speeding ticket, the helplessness and the dealings with the police. But if he was in anguish, he wasn't saying anything or making a sound. Tony merely stared straight ahead.
The only thing Tony finally said was "Take me home Paolo. You can crash down in one of the rooms too.... but let's not talk now."
Paolo did as instructed. It was 2.25am. He was knackered.
Paolo turned the SUV carefully in the narrow road and drove off the way they'd come, slowly. He wasn't taking chances. Tony said nothing.
Paolo slowed further as they passed the police activity by the river so Tony could see what he could. He saw nothing but four or five policemen with searchlights. As Paolo slowed, the police car following them did a quick bust on the siren to tell them to vamoose. There was nothing that Polo wanted to do more than get away.
"Tony, I'm so sorry.." Paolo started.
"You're a good friend Paolo, but zip it! Capiche?"
The two men were accompanied back to Tony's car from the two police vehicles. They were free to go home.
The officer who had cautioned Tony regarding speeding suggested.
"I would drive home very carefully sir. You appear to be very upset, which is maybe understandable. Indeed, under the circumstances, if your friend here has valid insurance, I would recommend that he does the driving."
That was the only concession to Tony's feelings. He was a smartarse bully-boy and that didn't generate a lot of sympathy. Surprisingly, Tony beckoned to Paolo to drive, which indicated how upset he was.
As the police officer wrote out the tickets, Tony was shaking, partly with rage, partly with anxiety.
“You found my brother Terry?” he demanded of the policeman, who didn’t look up, merely carrying on writing out the tickets, but did manage to mutter “I ain’t saying nothing... sir!”
“What?” Tony barked. His anger didn’t faze the policeman, who clarified.
“I’m not at liberty to say sir. It’s a police matter.”
“It’s a fucking family matter... concerning my brother. Is he in the river?”
“All I can tell you sir is that anyone we find in that river won’t be swimming!”
The police were needed back with the others. They had no time to take Tony off to the local station for questioning, particularly now Paolo had told all and how it had all fitted into place with the anonymous tip-off of a body in the river they’d received earlier.
Tony still insisted “I’m saying nothing without my lawyer”
“We’re not proposing to wake your solicitor to drive here at this time of night... and your friend has apparently told us everything. We’ll need to speak to you later... but there is the matter of speeding and failing to stop...
“I’ll say nothing without my lawyer. I know my rights!” Tony never spoke to police.
“Do you know how guilty that makes you seem, sir?” Tony said nothing.
By contrast, in the other car, Paolo said everything... well, not exactly everything. He explained how Tony’s twin brother was kidnapped and a compounding ransom had been demanded... about the fingers in the pies in the post, the cryptocurrency requirement, the need for proof of life and tonight’s race to the location coordinates provided. He said Tony had dealt with any ransom payment and he, Paolo, was Tony’s bodyguard.
All very believable.
As he handed over Tony’s mobile phone to the policeman, Paolo switched it off, meaning that it couldn’t be accessed without the security code, which, if asked, he would claim he didn’t know and Tony wouldn’t tell the police on principle anyway.
The police asked the two of them to get out of the car and indicated for each of them to go to a different police car to answer some questions.
“Don’t say nothing!” Tony instructed Paolo.
“We’ve got to Tony, otherwise they’ll think we’re up to no good!” Paolo called to him.
But Tony wanted his lawyer there.
It was six minutes to Midnight and Tony’s luck had just run out just as Paolo’s had come up trumps. It didn’t matter if there actually was a mobile signal because Tony’s belief was that there wasn’t, and that was enough to ensure that the Midnight cancellation deadline would be missed and all that that meant.
It had been such a close thing for Paolo, but with that spot of luck, he was both in the clear as far as Tony would be concerned and in the money too!
There was now just the rather tricky issue of the police...
Tony couldn’t have escaped by swerving right as he’d go straight into a field and to the left was the river. The police arrived at both sides of the SUV and indicated to Tony and Paolo to lower the windows, which Tony reluctantly did, slowly, buying time while Paolo continued to fiddle with the phone. The police wanted to suss out if the two were armed before ordering them out of the car.
“Hand me the phone please sir,” instructed an officer on the passenger side, adding, “whoever you’re calling, you’ll be lucky to get a signal round here anyway!”
Tony reckoned he was getting away from the pursuing police car, but his hopes were dashed when ahead he spotted more flashing blue lights and another police car acrossways, blocking the narrow road. He had no option but to step on the brakes and stop. They’d been caught in a pincer movement as the police knew the connecting road system much better than Tony.
The game was up as the police, wearing body armour, came up to the car from both directions. Tony sat where he was in the driver’s seat while, for effect, Paolo was fiddling with Tony’s mobile...
Tony was driving in earnest and at speed. He realised it would seem suspicious, so he determined that he must shake off the police car. There wasn't much else on the dead straight Hundred Foot Bank, beside the New Bedford River, Terry's resting place.
So fast and erratically was Tony driving that Paolo was fearing a little for his own life as he was thrown around. He could hear the police siren behind and wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing... for him. The area was so remote that he continued the deception concerning the mobile coverage.
“No network here Tony, We’ve gotta find some coverage!” Paolo was taking a real chance here that Tony would catch him out in his lie. However, Tony was wound so tight that he didn’t think anything through and merely focused on getting into an area of mobile coverage fast.
Tony put his right foot to the floor, accelerating away so fast down the straight road that he drew the attention of the police, who set off in pursuit. Tony was so mixed up mentally and emotionally and driven by the determination to save his money that he didn’t care.
Tony still crawled past the scene, then barked at Paolo “Cancel that fucking transfer NOW! We’ve been double-fucking-crossed!”
This was where Paolo’s timing calculations were weakest. Realistically there had to be some timing leeway otherwise Tony wouldn’t have agreed to paying the ransom without some chance to abort things if he didn’t get Terry back. Paolo couldn't be seen to be delaying the transfer cancellation for fear of giving himself away. He suggested waiting to see what the kidnappers had to say about current developments.
“Fuck waiting!... Cancel the fucking transfer!”
“I can’t Tony... there’s no network coverage!”
As they approached their destination at speed, Paolo suddenly shouted “Watch out Tony, looks like the place is crawling with cops. Some fucker must have tipped them off! Don’t slow down, it might look suspicious in a remote place like this. Drive past normally. I’ll text the kidnappers and see what’s happening.”
Tony ignored Paolo, slowing down as he passed the police cars at the side of the road, next to what looked like a river or canal. He checked out what was going on. A policeman at the roadside angrily beckoned him to move on.
Tony thought he understood...
Tony’s mad driving had meant that they were approaching the destination earlier than the route finder had predicted. This didn’t quite fit with Paolo’s careful planning. It was in fact the weak spot in the plan. This could blow the transfer of the ransom and Paolo’s get-rich-quick scheme.
“I would slow down a bit Tony if I were you. You could easily draw attention to us in a place like this.” Paolo’s attempt at reason prompted a simple response.
“Well you fucking ain’t me!” Tony was determined.
Tony sped on. Paolo’s warnings were pointless. He stayed quiet until...
The language in the car was blue and the hooting and fist shaking was regular. Tony didn't seem to understand the concept of not standing out. Paolo's efforts at calming him didn't work.
After the end of the M11, they headed on to Ely and then beyond.
"Where the fuck are they sending us!" shouted Tony, to nobody in particular.
Tony's mind was racing as they seemed to be going out into the middle of nowhere. It was flat as a pancake and wasn't anywhere he was familiar with.
"Who the fuck would want to come here?"
"Us, Tony, us!"
Tony had a German car “I want reliability, not Italian flashiness” he’d said, when he bought the luxury SUV. He drove it like one possessed, jumping more than one set of traffic lights. Not sensible, but he was on a mission to save his brother and his money. However, they weren't stopped on the way.
Tony reckoned that at that time of night he could improve on the online journey estimate but, inevitably, he lost time on the M11 where there was an extended 50mph limit and closures to a single lane for road improvements.... and an obedient driver ahead.