Sometimes, it was just too fucking easy.
She walked down Assembly Street, not a care in the world. I gave Beenie a nudge and whispered, “her”. He nodded and went to get the van.
I slowly walked down the street, making sure I was far enough away not to be visible. Not that she would have known. Fifteen, if she was a day, and out of her face on cheap cider. Perfect.
The van drew up at the corner of the street and Beenie dipped the lights. I quickened my pace to time my arrival with hers at the van. Beenie had climbed over the seat and had the side door ready. I grabbed her, he flung open the door, I threw her and myself inside, slid the door shut and Beenie roared off down the darkened streets.
Like I say, too fucking easy.
A quick jag and she was out. I took the time to chain her, but left the gag off for now. We’d had a couple croak in the past and it was too much like hard work getting rid of them. So we let them breathe naturally for a while.
I got in the front with Beenie and asked him for a fag. I needed to relax now. The adrenaline was still pumping.
“Fuck off and buy your own”.
Beenie always was a tight fisted bastard. In more ways than one.
“Beenie, we’ve got a drugged fifteen year old girl in the back of the van. Is this really the time to stop at the 24-hour garage for fags? No. I didn’t think so. Now give.”
Grudgingly he handed over a squashed pack of Regal King Size.
“You’re no still smoking this crap, are you”.
Beenie snarled something indecipherable. I really hated that bastard. I’m sure Mr Hague sent us on jobs together, knowing full well how I felt about Beenie. He was the worst kind of colleague. He wasn’t interested in planning, in accomplishment. If it were up to him, we’d grab them in broad daylight coming out of school.
I tried to explain that there was an art, a skill to be employed, but he was too fucking pig ignorant. Dragged out of his sty in Wester Hailes without one single redeeming feature. And worst of all, the bastard looked down on me!
He mistook discipline and a well-modulated voice as signs of weakness. A pride in appearance and a regard for the welfare of our victims as definite proof, and I quote, that I was ‘an arse bandit’.
If truth be known, when I first met him in Peterhead, he was the only one in our block volunteering for shower duty. That was the only thing that prevented him from giving me a good kicking. It was the classic ‘I know that you know that I know’ scenario. I wouldn’t hesitate in spreading the news around his favourite haunts. An arse bandit was bad enough but a submissive fistee would end up a bloodied lump behind the Volly.
I was snapped out of my reflection by Beenies sublime tones announcing that we’d arrived.
“Shift you arse, Levi, the tart’s waking up and Mr Hague’s watching.”
I clambered over the back, put the gag and the blindfold on and waited until the van stopped. The door slid open and Mr Hagues beaming face appeared.
“Well, boys, what have my two favourite operatives brought me this evening.”
Beenie got in first. “A nice young one, boss. Ripe. My kind of tart.”
“Of course, Beenie. We all know what a man you are. Fighting the young ladies off.”
Beenie was convinced, and I had my suspicions, that Mr Hague knew all about his preferences, and his constant assertion of Beenies virility was a thorn in Beenies side.
We carried her out and put her in the back of Mr Hagues van. She’d started to struggle a bit, but once she was out of her hands, well, who cared.
“The usual fifteen hundred boys”. Mr Hague handed over the cash, his rictus grin as infectious as always. Beenie grabbed the envelope, desperate to blow his wad. Fortunately, he remembered how arithmetically challenged he was, handed it over, and allowed to split in two. Seven hundred to him, eight hundred to me. A small gratification.
“Levi, can I have a word.” I was about to get in the van when Mr Hague called me over. “Beenie, you can head off. Levi and I have some business to discuss”. If looks actually could kill, I wouldn’t be telling this story, but Beenie was a good little boy and off he drove.
“I think its time you and talked about your future.” Oh, shit. I couldn’t remember having down anything particularly stupid recently, but with the amount of whisky I knocked back between jobs, who could tell?
“You’re reliable, intelligent and able to conduct yourself properly”. Mr Hague had been talking, I hadn’t been listening, so it was time to jump back into the conversation and hope for the best.
“One of my mid-range operatives has had some, well let’s call them personal issues, and I’m looking for a new linker. And I think you could be the man for the job”.
Now, I had no idea what a linker was, but I suspected that a) there was more money involved, and b) Beenie wouldn’t be involved so with a “sounds good to me, Mr Hague”, and a brisk handshake it was off into an infinitely better class of van.
Mr Hague was a pedantic driver, observing every nuance of the Highway Code. Which made it difficult concentrating on the fine detail. Apparently, a linkman was responsible for the actual smuggling of the girls out of the country. And, frankly, it sounded bloody dangerous. Worse than that, there had been no mention of money, and how much I could expect to be getting.
Now, I’m not a great fan of life, but if I’m going to die, there had better be some underage Thai hookers and a large amount of illegal drugs in my immediate vicinity. Otherwise, I’ll pass.
“So, you’re basically a front, a bit of banter, a soupcon of charm, while the diggers get on with the hard work.” Now that sounded more like it. How it worked was; the diggers kept the girls under wraps, the linkman chatted to potential interceptors, and kept the heating blowing in the opposite direction. Sweet.
There were three drops a month and I got paid £2500 for each successful one. Of course, an unsuccessful one meant life imprisonment for kidnapping. Which was fine if we got caught in the UK. In and out in about 8 years, assuming you kept quiet about the whole operation. A tad worse if you were caught in the Middle East, where they were likely to cut off your manhood and feed it to the local rats. Which made the death penalty in some other countries seem attractive in comparison. Naturally, if I were caught I’d be grassing up everyone I knew in a plea bargain, but decided it was too early in our new employer/employee relationship to share that with Mr Hague.
“First off, we’ll let you ride with Charlie for a few drops, watch from afar, get a taste for it, then start you off with a few European ones with a supervisor. Charlie’s been with us awhile now. One of the good ones. Now get some sleep. You can drive the second half.”
My dreams were jumbled as always and I so hoped I didn’t speak too loudly in my sleep. I’d got into the habit of taping myself at home, then playing back my night-time mutterings, just in case. Nothing too bad so far, just an indecipherable mumble. But best to be careful.
It only felt like five minutes had past when I was shaken awake for my shift. Three hours to go and we’d be in London. My knowledge of what I did had ended there. The van wen to London, the girls went God-knows where. My conscience was dirty, so it didn’t matter. Mr Hague asked me to wake him at Watford, and he’d guide us in from there. So it was we pulled into an underground garage near Highbury to meet my new mentor, Charlie.
A couple of un-introduced drones dragged the girl away while Mr Hague went over to a full on tinted window VIP-mobile. Ten minutes later out he comes along with a drop dead, hang my nads out to dry, gorgeous brunette. “Levi, meet Charlie. Charlie meet Levi”.
I shook her hand firmly, but not too firmly, gave her my best bit of rough-hewn charm via a knowing look and a twisted smile, and tried to check her out discreetly. Which, judging by the look on her face out, involved my tongue hanging out, drool rolling down my chin and my eyes running up and down her body, accompanied by a whoop and a holler.