Sunday 24 – Tuesday 26 December 2017
Ten minutes after taking the call, Ciaran was standing at the pick-up point waiting for Jeremy and Brennan to arrive. Storm clouds settled overhead, and if they didn’t pick him up soon, Ciaran knew he’d need a change of clothes before they got started on the job. Ciaran heard the vehicle before he saw it. Expecting Brennan’s transit van, he looked expectantly up the road, but was dismayed when he saw the black Range Rover approaching at speed instead.
He stepped back from the road’s edge, almost falling in the crudely carved ditch dug out by the farmer whose land was bound by the road. He steadied himself, and turned again to watch the speeding car coming straight towards him. As it neared, the rear passenger’s door flung open, and a thrashing human form was pushed, screaming, from the car. Ciaran cringed when he heard the body hit the road, a sort of liquid thud that instantly made him want to vomit. He resisted the urge to rush to the man’s assistance until he was sure the Range Rover was well on its way.
‘Hey, are you alright?’ he shouted as he ran towards the body. A low moaning was all the reply he got. Ciaran dropped to his knees, took the man by the shoulders, and gently rolled him onto his back.
A low moan again in recognition of his name.
‘Anthony?’ Ciaran repeated. ‘What the hell is going on?’
Anthony, in distress and shaking with intense pain, raised his left hand. It was crudely bandaged with filthy piece of blood soaked rag. He whimpered as he lowered his hand to his chest.
‘We’ve got to get you to a hospital.’ Ciaran looked up and down the road, praying for Brennan’s van.
‘Who did this, Anthony?’
‘Korsakov,’ Anthony whimpered.
* * * * *
Caroline burrowed down into Gina’s comforter.
‘Glad to see you’ve made yourself at home there, Caroline.’
‘I’d feel even more at home if you’d hook me up with your Netflix password, and make me a snack or order us a pizza.’
Gina kicked off her shoes, and settled in next to her friend. ‘No way I’m giving you access to my account.’
‘Spoil sport.’ Caroline poked her tongue out at Gina.
‘Real mature,’ Gina replied. She light-heartedly slapped Caroline’s thigh.
‘Does he know? Have you told him?’ Caroline’s rapid redirection of the conversation caught Gina off guard.
‘Does who know what?’
‘Ciaran. Does he know you’re working at Hennessey’s club?’
Gina stiffened. ‘No, and he’s not going to find out until I’m ready for him to know, so don’t go saying anything to him, Caroline.’
Genuinely shocked that her friend would ever consider speaking to Ciaran McCourt, Caroline quickly responded to the accusation.
‘As if I’d bother talking to him. I can’t stand him. Sorry, Gina, but if the two of you get married, don’t expect me to suddenly start being civil to him. He’s lecherous.’
She had to ask. It had bothered Gina since she and Ciaran had started seeing each other. The animosity between Caroline and Ciaran grew every week it seemed.
‘Why don’t you like each other?’
‘Because he’s a bastard.’
‘Just tell me. I won’t get mad. I’m not asking you to be best buddies with him. I just want to know why you don’t like him.’
Caroline knew the answer to that question would open a can of worms between she and Gina.
‘Leave it alone, Gina. Just chalk it up to one of those things you’re never going to understand.’
* * * * *
Brennan forced open the front door, and Jeremy and Ciaran dragged Groban’s limp body into the entryway and up the stairs to the master bedroom en suite. Droplets of blood marked their journey from the van to the en suite.
‘Floor! Put him on the floor!’ Jeremey shouted. ‘I can’t carry him any longer.’
They lowered Groban to the tiled floor, and Ciaran looked around the room for clean towels. He called out to Groban as he searched.
‘Anthony, towels? Where are your clean towels?’
Groban’s mumbled response sent Ciaran back out to the bedroom. He returned with a bundle of white towels, dropped them next to Jeremy, and immediately set about searching the bathroom cabinets and drawers for anything remotely related to a first aid kit.
‘Has he got the finger?’ Brennan yelled to Jeremy and Ciaran as he stomped up the stairs.
‘What?’ Jeremy called.
‘Has he got the finger? We’ll need to put it in ice if he wants it reattached.’
Jeremy looked to Ciaran for the answer. ‘Well, has he?’
‘How the fuck do I know? It’s not like after I realised what had happened that I quizzed him on the whereabouts of his missing appendage. You ask him.’
Jeremy shook Groban’s shoulders. ‘Anthony! Anthony! Have you got the finger they cut off?’
‘Anthony! Do you have the finger?’
Groban incoherently mumbled forcing Jeremy to lean down and put his ear to Groban’s lips.
‘I couldn’t hear you, Anthony. Tell me again.’ He waited for the reply. ‘Shit.’
‘What?’ Ciaran asked.
‘Korsakov’s sending it to Hennessey.’
‘Sending what to Hennessey?’ asked Brennan as he arrived at the bathroom door.
‘Anthony’s finger. Korsakov’s sending it to Hennessey.’
‘Holy shit, Ant,’ Brennan laughed, ‘what the fuck did you do to deserve that?’
* * * * *
‘Bike courier just delivered this for you Mr Hennessey.’
Hennessey took the small package from his employee, and turned it over in his hands hoping to find the details of who had sent it.
‘Thanks, Bruno. I’ve been expecting this.’ He took the package to his desk and tore the outer packing paper from the box. Bruno moved to Hennessey’s side and watched as his boss undid the box. Both men drew in breath as Hennessey revealed the contents of the delivery.
‘You were expecting that?’ Bruno asked.
‘No,’ whispered Hennessey, ‘not this. Not this.’ He dropped the box onto his desk, looked up at Bruno and back at the box. ‘You’d better call the police, Bruno. Do it now.’
. . . To be continued . . .