Ionian Gangster Boy
Despicable people, murderous deeds and self-preservation force
Morgan Burdett to
challenge the mafia underworld, which reveals his unknown Greek family.
Copyright 2017 Mikey Simpson
**]Chapter 1 – Deadly Business
Chapter 2 – Instinct
Chapter 3 – Close Encounters
Chapter 4 – New Direction
Chapter 5 – Accountability
Chapter 6 – Autonomy
Morgan looked out of the back doorway of his Father’s wine bar and took a long drag on his cigarette, before exhaling smoke into the chilly spring Saturday night air. He dropped the cigarette and stubbed it out with his trainers, before placing his hands into the pockets of his body warmer. It was springtime in Sheffield, and the cherry trees were in full blossom, the pink flowers had already started to fall along the footpaths of the city. Petals also covered the bins in the back yard of the family business, which contained another busy night’s volume of bottles. It was a lucrative business owning a bar along Ecclesall Road one of Sheffield’s more exclusive areas of the city.
His father’s wine bar ‘Burdett’s’ had been open for just over a decade. It had a select clientele of international business people, and wealthy patrons who knew how to spend their money. Likewise, Max Burdett knew how to wine and dine the best of the big spenders. He had employed one of the best chefs in the area. Imported exquisite wines and beers to complement the tasty peasant dishes his clientele craved. There was a price for this kind of service, but none seemed to mind. Max had a motto. ‘Everyone leaves with a smile on their face or they can have their money back.’ This meant if you weren’t a regular, you probably wouldn’t get a table.
It was also a saying, which had netted the Burdett’s a substantial bank balance; it had funded Morgan’s education through private boarding school. He had only just left Sixth Form College, with exceptional grades and was looking forward to a bright future. It had also paid for some of the most amazing Mediterranean holidays anyone could ask for, where his father invested money in yachts and holiday homes throughout Europe. Their last holiday had been to Bulgaria where they had purchased a vineyard in the hills near Sofia, to be developed into a luxury retreat and family wine label. Throughout the world, where ever and what ever his father invested in always yielded a decent return. However, his Father’s heart had always been in the wine bar, and that was why they had stayed in Sheffield. Amongst the gritty northerners with hearts of gold, wherever they had travelled this had always been home.
Morgan had finished his break and was adding one last box of empty wine bottles to the outside bins, when the chef and the kitchen helper startled him. ‘We’ve finished off in the kitchen so everything’s ready for tomorrow, Louise and myself are off. The rest of the bar staff have gone, so your father’s the last one entertaining the Italian party from Milan. It looks as if they’ve got something to celebrate. It’s turning into a late one.’ He smiled and gestured money by rubbing his fingers together. It was true, the group of men dressed in elegant suits with expensive shoes had been drinking Champagne all night with their order of best venison. The bill would be enormous, but they looked good for it, money would be no object for men who had a chauffeur that drove a Range Rover or Maserati.
‘Good night, see you around lunchtime.’ Morgan replied, as he looked at his watch – three o’ clock! It was later than he expected. He quickly wiped his hand’s down on the waiters smock and twitched his neck at the bow tie, which was a little tight around his collar. One last chore of cleaning the cellar and he would be done, then he could leave his father for the night and retire home.
Morgan entered the rear of the building and descended into the cellar, he ducked under a beam and opened a latched door to reveal a vast cool space, which was the storeroom. Contained within it was a walk in freezer, pallets that stored boxes of lager and bottles of red and white wine from around the world and cases of Moet Champagne, all were well stocked. He checked the kegged bitters and the mixers before moving to the far end of the cellar to hose down the floor. Soon everything would be fresh again once the smell of hops had been washed away.
The boy continued with a little fatigue, rubbed his eyes and yawned. Everything was quiet apart from laughter in the bar above. He continued with his duties until a mobile phone caught his attention, its ring tone of Pavarotti a famous Italian tenor was distinctive and one he found amusing. Morgan listened intently as agitated voices could be heard conversing in quick succession as the restaurant door opened. The drivers were summoned from their cars parked across the road.
The bar fell into silence as the extra footsteps walked through the front door. ‘Come and have a drink with us.’ Max called to them to join the party as he rose to get another bottle of Champagne.
‘There will be no need, they are not here to socialise,’ came a blunt reply.
Morgan listened with surprise as a rush of footsteps moved quickly across the floorboards above him. Screeching chairs were pushed aside on the restaurants wooden floor. ‘Wait a minute, what the hells going on here.’ Max could be heard shouting as there was a loud thud and then dust fell from the floorboards onto Morgan. The boy stiffened and froze his movements; instinctively knowing that something was wrong. What was going on? He listened intently to the sound of raised voices, tilting his head so he could hear more clearly.
‘Max, do you think you can double cross us?’ a thick, smooth accent asked.
‘We were led to believe that your outfit could handle this kind of volume successfully. Obviously we were wrong!’ A man slurred his words.
‘This seizure will seriously set back our organisation!’ The calmer of the two stated. ‘What are we to think? What are we to do with you Max? You know the repercussions for letting us down!’ one of the Italians said seriously.
‘This wasn’t supposed to happen gentlemen, the previous two runs were successful, and all the merchandise was delivered on time. I warned against shipping so large a volume! There is always a small risk, that the cargo will be seized! Max answered in a subdued tone. It sounded as if the chauffeurs had his father pinned down on the floor.
‘Those runs were the syndicates, but this is funded by our private money. This unforeseen error has cost us dearly!’ A voice said angrily.
‘This could set back our plans, it affects everything we have been moving towards’. The drunken man banged on a table.
Morgan pictured the two Italians who had previously been enjoying the evening’s entertainment. The skinny grey haired man was called Giuseppe. He was in his early forties with a quiff hairstyle from back in the day when gangsters looked dapper. He looked a stereotypical macho man with style and oozed power. His companion Luca in contrast dressed down in more casual clothes, a brute of a guy he was five feet six in height and stocky like a street fighter. Morgan again looked above his head, as the creaking floorboards could be heard moving under the weight of the other well-built men.
‘Everything is in place. This unexpected dent to our finances won’t change anything.’ Came a grim confirmation of a plot from Giuseppe.
‘Never the less you should show us some respect. We will need compensation. The sum lost is too much to let slip away.’ The drunk Luca had the financial loss implanted in his thoughts. ‘We would like to be offered the same terms as your seasoned clients, when deals go wrong.’ Came a statement.
Max cleared his throat. ‘Listen! You had the chance to enter into this operation at the terms I discussed. That would have been an equal cut, and would have covered you for this eventuality. You chose to ignore that deal and ignore my advice. Experience has shown me when you get greedy; you fall flat on your face’!
The statement sent the Italians into a rage; a couple of chairs were kicked over as they ranted. ‘Who the fuck do you think you’re double-crossing Max, we are not stupid businessmen. We know you have the customs people in your pocket’.
Max shouted back in an assertive attempt to calm the situation. ‘Wait a minute, we discussed all of this when planning the trafficking. I organised you a safe route, and dates for travel. You should have been able to take delivery of the expected merchandise tonight.’ There was a brief pause before Max continued. ‘You suggested being more hands on and handling the bribes, I think you need to look into your own connections and try to find out what happened. I feel you are playing me, and I don’t like accusations that tarnish my livelihood’.
Morgan sensed that the Italians anger was deflected for a few moments as his father gained the high ground to the argument. A man could be heard struggling; it was his dad, he was pinned down.
‘My successful record of business transactions and contacts speak for themselves, if you had let me handle everything at the cut I requested this might not have happened. Ten million pounds is a lot of money gentlemen. It’s not the kind of cash my outfit can effectively hand over’.
‘Fucking ten million! The street value, is the true value of our loss!’, the drunken Luca, flew into a rage again.
‘You mean you want greater compensation?’ Max snarled back. ‘We all need to find out what’s going on, before there is any talk of compensation.’
‘That’s not the answer we were searching for,’ Luca’s booming Italian voice spoke before taking another phone call.
As a one sided conversation raged over the mobile, Max struggled and shouted. ‘Get your hands off me! Get out of here, before I do something I’m going to regret.’ his warning, fell on deaf ears.
‘Max, you are not in a bargaining position, where are your allies when you need them?’ Giuseppe spoke calmly.
Max struggled against his captors. ‘I will get to the bottom of this, if my sources smell a rat I will deliver them on a platter to the Inzagi family and resolve this.’ He could be heard saying confidently.
In the distance, Morgan could hear a faint Luca finish talking on his mobile before returning to the creaking floorboards. ‘Our old boss need not know anything about this! It is our operation, and it is us, you need to answer to.’ Luca spoke to Max.
The room fell silent again. Morgan could sense the tension as his father lay motionless, and the boy knew that the situation had just become much more complicated.
‘Perhaps we should just take everything that belongs to you to settle the bill?’ Luca suggested.
‘Enough talk lets just seize his assets!’ His companion encouraged Giuseppe.
‘It might be easier to end this now, before other people try to get involved?’ Luca questioned.
‘You’re not smart enough to lay your hands on my money. Look at you, always making money off the back of others. If my clients don’t get paid! You’ll be dead.’ Max tough talked with the best, after all he had always been accustomed to negotiating with tough guys all be it in a business arena rather than life stakes.
The guests hesitated for a moment until Giuseppe spoke. ‘Luca pour us all large whiskeys. I think it’s time we gave a toast to the dead’!
Max struggled in an attempt to confront his captors. ‘Perhaps you have not noticed gentlemen, but you are in Sheffield, England not Milan. You touch me, and you will not leave this island alive! There will be repercussions for your business interests.’ Max said in an aggressive manner.
The Italians laughed. ‘Don’t try to threaten the big fish Max, the old school are making way for a younger generation. It’s time to do the house cleaning and a lot of your old pals are not in the picture. It’s a pity that it’s come to this! You letting us down like this! You were very much part of our plans. As you are now aware, there’s no room for error in our new organisation.’ Giuseppe’s voice gave an air of conclusion to the conversation, as Morgan began to feel panic overcome him.
As Morgan looked around the cellar tying to think of what to do next, he could hear Luca’s voice. ‘Salute.’ The men moved from standing directly above him.
Max could be heard in the restaurant above with panic in his voice. ‘Business is business, if you pull the trigger you’ll all be dead men. My associates value my services and the way I make money for them’.
‘Money! Isn’t that what has brought us to this! Goodbye Max! It wasn’t nice doing business with you!’ Luca spat out his final words.
‘Maybe when they catch up with you, it’ll be your old boss that pulls the trigger.’ Max’s voice could be heard breaking under the stress of the situation.
Luca laughed. ‘As of now he’s no longer a worry. We have reached a new dawn that does not include him, or you! God have mercy on your soul!’ the drunk said, as a series of shots exploded through the cellar roof missing Morgan by inches.
The boy raised his hand to his mouth and crouched to steady his buckling legs, all energy was sapped away as colour ran from his face. Morgan stared at the floor for a few seconds as his senses left him, what had he been doing listening and not reacting to his father’s plight. He had in effect stood by and let his father be murdered without lifting a finger, and this now lay heavy on his shoulders. A wave of guilt flooded over him as countless rescue scenarios flashed before his vision, until he became dizzy and threw up onto the clean cellar floor. Why hadn’t he distracted them, he could have made some noise? He could have run up the stairs to distract them from their argument, or used his mobile to call the police. However he realised that none of his instinctive reactions would have made any difference, it would only have resulted in both of them being killed.
He knew now that he could only save himself, a moment later the pupils in his eyes narrowed as he detached the anxiety from his thoughts, wiped the sick from his mouth and clenched his fist in anger.
Above, he heard the drunk continue his conversation with the dead. ‘You should never have fucked with the G’s, Max!’ Morgan tilted his head and looked at the bullet holes in the cellar roof, as blood trickled through. The reality hit him hard. His father had been executed! Tears came to Morgan’s eyes and streamed down his face, he started to sob uncontrollably, and there was nothing he could do to stop his crying from alerting the mob of his location beneath them. It triggered another number of shots through the cellar roof, shattering through racks of red wine that began to run like rivers of blood around Morgan’s feet.
The restaurant fell silent as both the gunmen and Morgan waited for any signs of movement. Eventually the men above spoke. ‘Luca leave no witnesses, if he isn’t dead already kill the boy’!
‘Yes, Giuseppe!’ came the cold reply.
A panicked expression ran across Morgan’s face; his heart raced away pounding adrenaline through his body to his brain. He could hear his heart beat in his ears as he tried to compose himself. It was hard to think straight, and try to remember what his father had prepared him for? With only a few more seconds to save his life, he reacted to the threat and picked up a full bottle of wine to meet his attacker head on.
A few moments later he could hear the heavy footsteps of Luca dropping down into the basement. He moved stealthily behind the cellar door and watched as the greasy haired figure of a man entered the confined space. Morgan seized his moment and with no hesitation drove the glass bottle down hard on top of the man’s skull. As the bottle broke the man fell to the floor with a groan. Time seamed to freeze as the scene played out in slow motion. Morgan knelt down to handle the fallen man’s pistol, he recognised it as a five shooter Smith & Wesson. It had a familiar feel as he gripped it and smashed it over the man’s large head, over and over until there was no sign of life. When he sat back and gasped for breath he realised that blood was splattered across his face and hands. The body in front of him was one of his father’s killers with his head open on the floor, but it didn’t give him any satisfaction. He felt cold, numb to his core as he looked down at the result of his actions.
The next few minutes played out in a blur as Morgan exited the property through the rear of the building on his heavy unsteady feet. He had been lucky that Luca had ventured into the cellar on his own; otherwise he would have been cornered and would have had to fight them off one by one. It would have been unlikely for him to survive.
He clenched the bloodied revolver as he scaled the surrounding fence to the rear of nearby shops. Eventually he walked down an alleyway onto the side street where his BMW was parked. As he ventured from the shadows he quickly glanced in the direction of the restaurant, there was shouting nearby as men poured onto the street.
Morgan wasted no time, and a minute later was speeding away via side streets and junctions along Ecclesall Road South in the direction of Dore to the family home, his legs shook uncontrollably as he breathed heavily trying to keep on top of his emotions. He accelerated to an unacceptable speed as he tried to think rationally. Perhaps the journey would help him to think of a way of preserving his own life. He had to somehow put barriers between him and his pursuers both physically and mentally, but how could he achieve that?
He tried to remember his father’s advice, guidance on the family business or how to handle dangerous situations, but it was hard when all he had tried to do was forget it. For many years he had wished his family could be normal. How he had urged his father to make the business legitimate, and to stop dealing with these kinds of people.
Morgan had in the end shut his father out, rebelled against Max’s structured regimented lifestyle of rules and actions that had been forced onto such young shoulders. As a youngster it had made Morgan miserable, to the point that his father had no other option but to place him in boarding school. However, when the school holiday’s returned, just when he longed to be reunited with his father, Morgan would again find himself at home wrapped up in grooming for a restrictive dangerous lifestyle he did not want. A recent argument had revolved around Morgan’s desire to go to university to study modern languages, he was a brilliant student destined for an independent life away from the business. This had not pleased Max one bit.
For some distance of the journey, he blanked out all of the horror from the restaurant to concentrate on his driving, he dare not stop at any traffic lights in case anyone pursuing could catch him. He used advanced driving to hug the contours of the road and whilst squeezing the maximum out of the two-litre engine he occasionally set off speed cameras. As he tried to increase the distance between his father’s killers he knew every second separating them counted.
Suddenly as, he approached the house a fox ran across his path making him swerve and smash into an old stonewall. ‘No.’ He shouted; as he inspected the drivers side flat tyre and the crumpled headlight and bonnet. Quickly Morgan restarted the engine and reversed out of the wall. He shifted the car from first gear into second in quick succession and set off down the hill to the house, straight away he could feel the flat tyre vibrate in the steering wheel, but he had no time to abandon it and walk to the house.
Suddenly he began to remember hours of his father’s advice, before anything else he needed to find the package that would be hidden in the house safe and disappear. He had reached his destination, with a new found confidence. He double-checked the rear view mirror for anyone following, and then juddered toward the gate of the mansion. He pressed the swab to the electric gate and laboured the BMW over the footpath and then along the driveway. His headlights illuminated the elegance of the stately Georgian house. Morgan stopped at the front of the building, dimmed the lights and quickly entered the house through its central grand doorway. He felt anxious because his mind was now clearer. He knew he had to find his father’s business accounts, and get as far away from Sheffield as quickly as possible. He pushed himself on to his objective, ran across the chequered tiled floor, down a long corridor where stairs would take him to the first floor. The boy passed under the chandelier that remained lit throughout the nights by habit, since as a little boy he had been frightened of the dark, after his mother died. He climbed the staircase with eagerness two steps at a time. However when he reached the top, his figure became strangely projected as a shadow on the back wall. He hesitated and looked back through the staircase window where he saw headlights shinning full beam through the gates to meet his stare. ‘Unbelievable! They’ve found me already.’ he cursed out loud, shaking his head as he moved quickly into the master bedroom. He ran towards his father’s closet where the safe was hidden.
He entered his father’s walk in wardrobe and switched on the light. Directly in front of him, he could see the CCTV screens for the security of the house. At the gates, his pursuers looked frustrated holding handguns down by their sides. The cast iron fence, tall wall that surrounded the property and snapping Dobermans at their feet would only hold them so long. Maybe just long enough, for him to make a quick get away.
Morgan reached into his pocket and pulled out the revolver, he could smell gunpowder on its sticky bloody barrel. He felt the right pocket of his body warmer. Pulled out a set of keys and picked one out of the bunch. He inserted it into the safe and punched a six figure code on the illuminated buttons with his blood stained fingers. The safe whirred and then released its contents, contents that would aid his escape.
Max was always well organised, and Morgan knew the field bag would help to preserve his life and contain everything he would need to know about the business. He grabbed the field bag and then ran from the master room along the corridor of the house to his well-proportioned bedroom. As he frantically gathered a hand full of t-shirts, shirts, shorts and jeans, he glimpsed his reflection in his mirror. He was covered in dried blood. Momentarily he froze, distracted from his actions until outside he heard gunshots ring out and the dogs whimper. Nowhere would the sound of violence be more out of place than Dore, now he knew he only had a couple of minutes before the mafia would try to get in the house.
Morgan grabbed his safari bag from on top of his wardrobe. Hurriedly jammed in two handfuls of clothes, and then grabbed his ipod from the nearby antique sideboard on his way out. As he fled his heart beat like crazy, and his hands shook whilst his legs turned to jelly, but he powered on along the landing and down the stairway with clumsy footwork. How would he have coped if he had been unfit, he now realised the benefit of all those hours pounding the streets on long distance runs. Along with his sudden teenage growth his body had developed into that of an athlete, at six feet he only weighed twelve stone, but his sparring sessions in the local gym proved he could knock anyone off their feet. How he’d like to do that now he thought! However there were too many of them, and they were heavily armed. He had no option but to leave so he carried all the possessions he needed in two bags with one hand, whilst pointing his way into the building’s basement with the other. The revolver cocked and ready to blow away anyone who would obstruct his path.
He made his way to a concealed door in the basement and punched a code into the lock to open it. Lights automatically lit the narrow passageway. He had made it just in time, because from behind he could hear the sound of breaking glass as his pursuers began to breach the last barriers between them. Acting quickly Morgan followed his instincts to hide, he had no option but to disappear and if need be vanish never to be traced.
Morgan ran along the corridor and opened another door into the spacious garage in the outhouses at the rear of the estate, inside was a black Porsche Boxster S with a full tank of petrol and new tyres. It had been his father’s car. The one he would take for a drive into the Peak District every Sunday morning, before he arrived back at the wine bar for the day’s business. Morgan sighed as he climbed into the drivers seat and adjusted it so he sat comfortably behind the steering wheel, he triggered the electric garage doors to open to reveal a deserted lane that led away from the village. Without hesitation he turned the key and the car jumped to life its engine roared as he switched on the lights, gripped the steering wheel and gear stick. With a squeeze of his foot and a turn of his hand the car burst into life. It manoeuvred out onto the lane, and around the distinctive stonewall bends that were the route into the Peak District. He knew the route he would take along the A57 Snake Pass over the Pennines to Stockport and Manchester Airport. He would avoid the A3 route. Because his pursuers might try to pick him off there. The boy had made it. With regret on his face he looked in the rear view mirror. Back towards the family home, he would never see again. ‘Son that was a well executed, plan!’ He could hear his father’s voice say as the car disappeared into the dark countryside.
The journey to Manchester was short it had taken just 55 minutes along the Snake Pass where he put the car through its paces, overtaking the occasional HGV and dodging cars around corners. This was how the pass earned its name with never ending winding bends, but its bite could be fatal if oncoming vehicles caught you out. Eventually a good half an hour later his adrenaline had returned to a more normal level. He dropped over the Pennines into Glossop, the first built up area since Sheffield fifteen miles behind him. Here, there were multiple speed cameras and sets of traffic lights around Mottram, which he roared through and along deserted streets. Finally, he could see the bright lights of Stockport as he punched the car along the M67, a short piece of motorway that led to Manchester’s far-reaching ring road the M60. Morgan was more cautious here, travelling at 90 mph on the anti-clockwise drive. However he did not follow the signs for the airport via the M56, but followed the M60 exit to Altringham.
It was now 4:30 as he glanced at the cars illuminated clock. He was becoming nervous again, his next move was crucial to his getaway and so he needed to be sure that the mafia or the police had not followed him. He checked his rear mirrors for any approaching car headlights, but not all was well as flashing lights pierced the gloom of night. For a minute, he manoeuvred over into the middle lane as a squad car ate up ground between them. He prayed, gripped the wheel and hoped that he would not need to enter into a high-speed get away. He could at this stage do without drawing more attention to himself as the patrol drew level with him before accelerating away along the illuminated motorway.
Disaster avoided, the boy made plans. He reached into the body warmer,pulled out his mobile and scrolled down the menu to dial taxi_man_airport. Within a few seconds he had a connection.
‘Hello Airport Executive Taxis.’ A man answered.
Morgan quickly replied. ‘Could I request a taxi for pick up at the end of St Andrews Street, Altringham to Manchester Airport in half an hour?’
‘I can have one there in ten minutes!’ The man said.
‘No! Half an hour will be fine, the names Smith,’ Morgan replied before he rang off to concentrate on his last minutes of the motorway before entering the rich Cheshire commuter town.
Morgan found his way to his father’s safe house with no problems, swung the car around the back of the property and into the garage. The roller shutter to the garage rattled behind him as he exited the Porsche, leaving its lights on so he could compose himself in the dim light. The boy could see his breath as he walked through the well equipped back of the garage, where the sink and storage cabinets lined up regimentally like part of a kitchen. He looked at his dimly lit figure outlined by the headlights, ran cold water into the sink and began to change out of his blood-splattered clothes. When he was naked he cupped his hands in the water and splashed his face to wipe his victims traces from sight, some blood ran onto his lips, and he spat out into the sink. Fucking Mafia! He thought. Minutes later he had wiped himself down and cleared any signs of violence from his appearance, he had quickly changed into blue jeans and a Lacoste t-shirt over which he wore a Nike tracksuit top. He had no choice but to wear the black trainers that had made up his waiters uniform. It would have to do; he thought as he zipped his safari bag closed and placed the revolver into his low ride jeans.
Morgan combed his wet hair into the centre parting. It dripped from the ends of the bobbed style he had grown through his teens and then looked at his watch, he only had ten minutes before the taxi would arrive. So the boy quickly looked in the field bag, pulled out a wallet and opened it. There was an abundance of cash cards and tucked away in one of the sleeves was a piece of paper. He unfolded it to reveal a list of pin numbers that would give him access to funds. He delved deeper into the field bag to see a notebook with coloured separators and markers, and a collection of letters and papers tied by a ribbon. He was just about to unravel it when he saw underneath a collection of passports tied by rubber bands. This made him fumble around looking for his own wallet that always contained his passport and a £1000 in cash, eventually with relief he found it among his discarded clothes.
Morgan unwrapped the collection of passports and placed them in order one by one on top of the bonnet of the car, he realised that the bundle contained duplicate passports in both his and his father’s names. There was American, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, Greek, Brazilian and another set of British Passports. He was bewildered and didn’t truly know what to make of the situation, why were there so many forged passports? He did not know , but he was relieved to have options, options that would help him escape and stay hidden from the spotlight that would be the Burdett name. With the bank accounts and passports at his disposal, he could travel and live anywhere in the world. He stood still and thought for a minute about what his dad had always said. ‘When your in trouble, lay low. Find a way to open yourself up to strangers and see who approaches you. Then you can decide who you can trust and who is your enemy.’ He still didn’t understand the wisdom of the words but was sharp enough to think about the best place to lay low? A place, he could mingle and become a tourist or seasonal worker? A place, he would not draw attention to himself? A place where he knew his father had lots of business interests and perhaps allies?
He glimpsed at his watch it was 4:58am his time was up and the taxi was waiting, so he made a decision about where to go. He gathered all the other passports together and tied them into a bundle, added his current British passport before placing them back in the field bag. The one left on the bonnet of the Porsche was purple and Greek; he looked inside at the details and read Morgan Nikolaos, place of birth Kerkyra, Greece, 27 April 1991. He read it again, Morgan Nikolaos, It shook him to his core, it was his mothers maiden name and indeed it was his real place of birth.
Morgan quickly gathered the bags together. Double-checked that his wallet and replacement passport were in his back pocket, before reaching into the car to switch off the lights.
He pushed the keys into his tracksuit top and pulled out his revolver before exiting the garage. It was still pitch black as he closed the door behind him. He was ready for any sign of confrontation and adapted his exit accordingly by gingerly walking in the shadows, along the shingle drive toward the streetlights. The boy double-checked the nearby alleyways and front gardens for any danger before moving toward the far end of the street where he could see the taxi, a black cab waiting for his fare. A minute later he tucked the revolver away in his jeans and jumped into the rear of the car. ‘The fares Smith, take me to terminal three departures.’
‘Right o,’ the driver said with a strong Manchester accent.
As the taxi pulled away from the junction Morgan looked back toward the house, approaching it from the far end of St Andrews Street was a set of headlights. The silhouette of a Range Rover could be made out; it could be no other than the mafia. Morgan was shocked, as he sank into the interior of the car; so many thoughts and concerns about his pursuers. Why had these men done business with his dad? Why had the deal gone wrong? Who exactly were they? How did they know he would come to Altringham? Finally how did they know where to find the safe house? If they knew this much and had tracked him this far would they be able to guess his next move and be waiting for him at the airport?
Morgan tried to compose himself. ‘Can you get me there a bit quicker, I’m running late for my flight,’ he said anxiously to the driver.
‘No problem, be there in five minutes.’ The car now zipped on with a sense of urgency passing through amber traffic lights at hotels near the terminal. Within minutes, the taxi pulled up outside the main departures entrance. ‘That’ll be a tenner, mate,’ the man asked for his fare as the taxi became stationary.
Morgan pulled out his wallet and produced twenty quid from his funds, he handed it over to the man whilst scanning the walkways for any sign of trouble. ‘Thanks,’ he replied, as he quickly exited the vehicle.
‘Here son, you need some change,’ the driver shouted, as Morgan pushed the car door shut.
‘Keep the change,’ the boy said hastily as he steadily moved along the walkway. He knew out here in the open he was a target and needed to get inside the airport as quickly as possible. A few moments later after hurried anxious steps he walked over the airports threshold with a sigh of relief. So far so good he thought, as he looked around to check oncoming vehicles under a stormy looking Manchester sky.
Now indoors Morgan’s dumped the revolver in the first rubbish bin he could find, before walking across the departures area to the orange ticket office of Easy Jet. Out of the corner of his eye he watched a number of odd-looking people, assessing any threat that might confront him. A feeling of paranoia came over him as he realised without the revolver he was defenceless. Although it would be a brave man who would attempt any kind of assassination, with so many armed police around.
Morgan approached the ticket desk and looked up at the list of destinations departing for locations around Europe. He quickly scanned Faro, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Dublin and Prague among other popular tourist hotspots, but he couldn’t find a flight for Greece. He must be mistaken so looked again, but again he couldn’t locate any flights to his chosen hideaway.
‘Can I help you?’ came a calmly spoken voice, with a hint of a Cypriot accent.
Morgan appeared a little confused, as a few seconds passed and the attendant looked wide-eyed at him over the counter. ‘Sorry! He said for his indecision, then a few more seconds later moved forward to the counter to lean on it in a fatigued manner. ‘I’m looking for a cheap flight to Greece,’ he smiled.
‘Which part of Greece do you want to travel to, the islands or the mainland? Athens or Rhodes, maybe Crete? The girl asked to narrow the choice, with a cheeky smile and a sparkle in her deep brown eyes.
‘Well I would like to leave as quickly as possible, so any available this morning would be great.’ He replied.
The attendant brought her index finger up to her lips and thought for a moment, before looking at a hidden monitor behind the desk. She pointed to it and then looked across to the boy. ‘We have two flights leaving between eight and nine this morning, you’ve just missed the flight out to Crete that left at 5:05am. Are you travelling on your own?’ She asked.
‘Yes!’ He replied.
The girl in her early twenties nodded and looked at him suspiciously, her long dark hair and skin tone looked more exotic than European.
‘My father owns a yachting firm and has boats scattered around the islands. Once a year I help him bring some of them all back to the marinas for the start of the tourist season. Plus I get a tan.’ he bent the truth to get around her suspicions.
‘It’s still a little cool to sunbathe, for my liking!’ she acknowledged his request whilst looking back at the screen. ‘The flights are to Cephalonia at 8:05am or Kerkyra at 8:25am, which one would you prefer?’
Of course, Kerkyra not Corfu he acknowledged his mistake with a nod of the head. Morgan couldn’t believe his luck. ‘Corfu would be my preference, I’ll take that one!’ he said thoughtfully.
‘That I’ll be eighty five pounds sterling for a single ticket, would you like a return?’ she asked, as if it might be an oversight not to purchase for the return leg of his journey.
‘No! A one-way ticket will be acceptable. I don’t know where I will be flying back from,’ he added to his cover story.
‘Can I take your details, please?’ she asked.
‘Morgan,’ there came a pause a he looked down onto his passport. ‘Morgan Nikolaos,’ he smiled before handing it over to the attendant, so she could check his details.
‘I see you will be going home?’
‘Home of sorts. It’s where I was born, and my mothers Greek.’ he smiled awkwardly.
‘Ah yes!’ She laughed. ‘Now I see the Greek in you.’ She was referring to his brown hair and brown eyes.
Morgan leant forward. ‘You know everyone wishes they were Greek!’ He made a joke that all Greeks understand, as their eyes met they both laughed.
‘That will be eighty five pounds sterling, how would you like to pay?’
‘Cash,’ Morgan said, as he opened up his wallet and peeled off five twenty-pound notes.
The girl again looked with suspicion as she accepted the transaction. Morgan didn’t care, this way his cards couldn’t be traced or a destination tied to the movement of funds from any of his accounts.
The attendant printed off a receipt, bundled everything together and returned it to him. ‘If you ever get to Larnaca in Cyprus, look up my father’s restaurant, ‘The Village Taverna’ his name is George Sallas. Say Ismene told you to call by,’ she fingering a business card amongst the official paperwork and blushed a little.
‘Efharisto,’ Morgan flirted with the attractive attendant. As he left the desk, he gestured with his paperwork and said, ‘Yia sou!’
‘Goodbye,’ the young girl replied as she followed him with her eyes across the departure terminal.
The time was now 5:25am so he hurried over to check in his safari bag at the Easy Jet counter, with his forged passports hidden away in its secret pocket he could now relax about being pulled up by security. The queue was minimal so he only had fifteen minutes to wait before receiving his seat number 1a and boarding pass, front seats for extra leg room. By the time he left Check In his thoughts were fixed on passing into the departure lounge, he dodged through other queues of tourists, baggage and screaming children and followed the illuminated sign for departures. As he turned into the narrow corridor leading onto security, something made him feel uneasy, so he hesitated and checked he had everything where it should be. It was then that he heard the unmistakable ring tone of Pavarotti. It couldn’t be a coincidence, now he knew for certain that the mafia were in the sea of commuters behind him. The boy panicked and rushed ahead, daring not to look behind. Had they been watching him long? Had they seen him check in? Had they too bought tickets on his flight to Corfu? His head was a mess as he reached airport security to place his field bag on the x-ray machine. He felt anxious about the hidden documents, passports and the wallet in his jean’s deep pocket.
A guard frisked him. ‘What’s this?’ the man patted the boy down.
Morgan was stopped in his tracks. ‘Oh! It’s a wallet.’
‘I asked you to empty your pockets the guard said with an ounce of arrogance!’
‘Yes, sure! I forgot it was there. These jeans are so comfy, and they have so many pockets,’ Morgan shrugged as he fumbled to retrieve it from his deep back pocket.
The Security guard snatched it from his grasp, quickly looked at it and then walked off.
Morgan froze for a second until he saw the wallet being placed on a plastic tray. It also was sent through the x-ray machine.
As the guard turned back around he gestured to the boy, waving his hands. ‘Well! What are you waiting for? Can’t you see there’s a queue behind you!’ He barked an acknowledgement that Morgan could pass through the metal detector to retrieve his possessions.
A few moments later as he started to walk away a female security guard approached him. ‘Excuse me young man!’ she pulled him over to one side.
‘Yes,’ Morgan said with apprehension.
‘I’ve been thinking about buying one of those Mac air laptops and wondered if you liked it? Would you recommend it?’ she asked, pointing to the bag at his side.
‘Oh! Yes, it’s perfect for project work or watching movies, listening to music, storing pictures and best of all it’s compact so you can carry it easily. I wouldn’t swap it for any other laptop!’ He said with relief.
‘I see a lot of students as well as business people are using them, it’s either one of those or an ipad.’ she said with a smile.
‘Welcome to the Apple revolution,’ Morgan added as he walked away, thinking what else could be hidden away in the field bag.
Minutes later Morgan was lost in the throng of people who were browsing the duty free shops of the departure lounge. He found a suitable place to observe the steady stream of people who flowed from check in. For ten minutes, he studied any businessman who looked vaguely Italian. He was just about to let his guard down, when he recognised a man in a charcoal grey suit.
Jesus! They have tracked me, he thought, He watched the man stop, and study the layout of the terminal. After five minutes, another joined the man, but instead of rushing around searching for their prey, they sat down and entered into a deep discussion. Their actions seamed calculated. They were opportunists and Morgan knew even in a place with so many witnesses and armed police they would have a go at killing him, if they had a chance to get away with it. He would have to be careful, he thought. Eventually his fears of being attacked faded enough for him to find a cafe area to reassess his situation. For what seemed like an age he reflected on his strategy to exit the country. There and then as he sipped a sweet espresso trying to inject some energy through caffeine stimulation, his thoughts became more clouded. Was this the best way of handling the murder of his father? Should he be running away or should he have found some way to fight back? Perhaps he should have turned on his father’s killers at the house? Then the police would have investigated him and his father’s business. There would be too many searching questions. Questions that he wouldn’t be able to answer correctly, to cover his father’s illegal business transactions. So many factors hit him hard. It was difficult to rationalise what he could have done differently, and whether it would have worked in his favour. Eventually he reasoned that his father’s eccentric past behaviour to him had been done for a reason; the so-called training and his tactical upbringing would offer him the best chance of immediate survival. Any alternative plan would have found him dead at the hands of the mafia or locked up by the authorities, after all there would be plenty of proof of his knowledge of the family business. He sighed and closed his eyes for a moment. His head needed to clear and become focused until he found a safe place to rest.
Half an hour passed and without any attention from the mafia. He was just about to relax when the assassins started to move around the shops. They quickly scoured the main area of duty free, it appeared that they were now looking for their target. One hand dragged their hand luggage behind them, as the other disappeared into their suit pockets. Morgan observed from safety while he sat within a group of travellers at a cafe. He ate a Danish pastry and finished a coffee as the men narrowed down their search. It wouldn’t be long before they turned their attention this way, he thought.
When the large group of travellers got up to move, he followed them for cover. He would have to do something, and quick if he was going to avoid being murdered. In desperation, he walked over to a payphone and dialled 999, when he was connected he gave the descriptions of the two men to the call centre. ‘Look I can’t tell you who I am, but believe me if you don’t want a lot of people blown up, you better not let them on a plane.’ Morgan hung up and returned to an observation point near the cafe. He had duped the authorities into using security measures. He would have to hope that the trick would work. Minutes later the two men had nearly found him, Morgan buried his head in a paper anxiously trying to keep calm. As they walked toward him, they began to move chairs in their path when four plain clothed police officers sprung on them, brandishing pistols in their faces. Mass hysteria overcame nearby travellers as crowds quickly dispersed. The Italians were seized, cuffed and dragged away. Their guns confiscated from their pockets were evidence of some wrong doing, Morgan relaxed as he knew that would be the last he would see of them and they no longer could stop him from leaving the country.
Minutes later as if nothing had happened Morgan made a mental list of things to buy which would help him pass the time away until his flight was called. However before he did any of that, he would need to exchange his remaining cash into Euros’, to pay for his exile in Greece. At the exchange counter, he handed over eight hundred pounds. ‘What is the rate of exchange on the Euro? He asked.
‘Not good! Where are you going?’ Asked the assistant.
‘Greece!’ Morgan tried to be as vague as possible.
‘At the moment the rate is €1.10 to a pound sterling.’
‘Ouch!’ Morgan replied as he recalled it being as high as €1.40 in the past.
‘Bet you wish they still had the drachma?’ The clerk smirked.
‘Yes, the pound certainly went further then!’ Morgan replied like an old man. ‘Could I have the Euros in a mixture of 50’s, 20’s and 10’s. I’m going to be travelling around a bit, and don’t want to get caught out with a high bill paying for something!’
The assistant rummaged around in his tray a then counted out new, crisp euro notes in higher denomination first. When they were all laid out, Morgan could see a mixture of orange, blue and burgundy currency.
‘Eight hundred pounds converted at a rate of €1.10 gives you eight hundred and eighty Euros,’ the assistant said.
‘Well that’s not going to go far! It’ll have to do for now.’ Morgan frowned before taking the cash and placing it back in his wallet to join his remaining eighty-five pounds. It would all be spent, shortly in the airport.
Morgan left the counter, and walked into the large duty free store. Here his pace dropped, as he took his time to browse through the latest offers on designer accessories. An hour later he had everything he needed, included a carton of Marlborough lights, a Zippo lighter, razors, aftershave a toothbrush and paste, sunglasses an electrical adapter and mosquito repellent spray. When he paid he needed a mixture of pounds and euros to settle the total of £185.00. However it was worth replacing the pair of orange tinted Oakley sunglasses, and D&G No1 aftershave he’d left behind at home.
Morgan walked away from the shop, stepped to one side knelt down and peered into the shopping bag, he took out the glasses from their case and placed them on his head, split the carton of cigarettes and placed the lighter and a pack in his pocket. The rest of his purchases he placed in the field bag and then threw the duty free bag away. As he returned to the cafe area he approached the departure information displayed on a bank of monitors; he fumbled around for his flight ticket and wished he could smoke a cigarette from the pack he’d just purchased. Agitated he pulled his orange ticket out of his pocket and read the flight number EZY1859, as he looked down the column of flights he found his Manchester to Corfu, Gate 21, Departing 08.25, Arrival 13:00hrs local time, he sighed but then noticed the flight leaving from Gate 23. Jesus he thought! There’s a flight to Milan departing fifteen minutes later.
‘Oh no!’ He said out loud. It dawned on him that there possibly could be more killers. If this was the case it would leave him exposed and in a extremely awkward position. Having to share the same vicinity with the people he was trying to avoid would be disasterous. Morgan’s head dropped as he pondered what to do! Should he cancel his seat? However it was too late now, his bag was checked in for the flight. If he was just simply to walk away, the bag would be opened, and his passports seized. This would leave him exposed, the police would quickly pick him up. He looked at his watch it was 07:45am. The time, which he had been wishing away, he now wished he could freeze. As he looked up the flight information updated, flight no EZY1859 was now boarding. He would have no choice but to carry on.
A few moments later Morgan had pulled himself together and followed a sea of people along the corridors toward the distant gate he would congregate near. As they left the main part of the airport behind, the hum of constant chattering became more concentrated to the conversations of just a few nationalities. He could make out the pigeon English of a few Greeks, Polish and Portuguese who had recently flooded the country for employment amongst the conversations of excited holidaymakers. If he mingled here amongst bright coloured clothes and English football shirts, he would not look out of place. Anxious minutes passed by as Morgan waited in line for his boarding pass to be checked. As the queue steadily thinned out, he neared the front and started to relax. Eventually he managed a smile with the air hostess, who examined his documents. As she held his paperwork a chill passed down his spine, as he heard the sound of Italian chatter coming from a nearby gate. His face became serious, as he watched out of the corner of his eye, stylishly dressed Milanese business people glide by. His glance only lasted a few seconds, but he sensed danger and the feeling that he was been watched. One last glance back and the boy made his way along the tunnel directly to the plane.
Once on board, Morgan placed the field bag directly in the hand luggage compartment above his head and settled into his window seat 1a of the Airbus A319, the extra legroom indeed would come in handy on this three and a half hour flight. He messed around with the seat and reclined it before immediately returning it to its original position, to the annoyance of the passenger behind. As the plane filled two middle aged Scousers sat in the seats opposite whilst the air hostesses seemed to be getting more anxious about the seats directly at his side. Morgan listened as they chatted on the phone and then realised the captain was ready to take off, and passengers were missing. He looked out the window at the wet tarmac steaming in the warm spring sun and then fixed a gaze at the terminals departure gates. After a few seconds of searching the walkway, he could see two men with heavy bags approaching Gate 21, Could these be the missing passengers?
As he pondered the question, another two men caught his attention. Who were they, why were they hiding? Moments later onboard the plane there was a commotion as two lads barged in through the aircraft’s doors.
‘Where the hell have you two been?’ questioned the air hostess.
‘You’re lucky! We were just about to take your luggage off,’ said the other.
‘Hey calm down!’ spoke the tall lanky guy with the black cap on.
‘It’s not our fault! Those bloody security people had us nearly stripped searched back there,’ He said with annoyance, and then asked. ‘Do we look like bloody drugs smugglers?’ he pointed to the large bags they were carrying.
‘No we’re DJ’s, and if any of these cd’s are damaged I’ll!’ the other scouser was cut off.
‘All right! All right! Just sit down said the posh blonde air hostess.’ who was getting her knickers in a twist, before the other hostess chirped into the conversation. ‘We’d better watch the drinks trolley with all these scousers on board,’ she laughed with some friendly banter to calm the situation.
‘Hey you can’t say that!’ Said yet another scouser.
‘I see what you mean Claire! They’re ganging up on us already!’
‘Calm down will you, we’re not scousers. We’re from Runcorn!’ said the small one.
All the laughter was a distraction to Morgan as the young men placed their bags alongside his above their heads, finally with relief the air hostesses disappeared and the plane door locked into place. Outside he now saw the two figures clearly in the window, one of the smartly dressed Italians with a black suit and bobbed black hair pointed his finger directly at Morgan like a gun and then motioned as if pulling the trigger.
He couldn’t believe it, after all the careful planning his father had made for an eventuality such as this. It was either sheer damn bad luck that they had found him, or something was wrong, very wrong with the people his dad trusted.
As the flight departed Manchester, Morgan sank deeper into his seat and submerged himself into deep thought, he separated himself from the banter and humour of his fellow travellers and peered out of the window at the dark clouds. It was there with his thoughts among the clouds that he tried to figure out why Max Burdett had been set up. It was fair to say that the current turbulent crisis with the worldwide recession and European monetary problems, had inflicted a lot of harm not just the ordinary person, but also the people high up in organised crime. A lot of firms had lost a lot of money by money laundering in property; a lot had deals go sour with partners across the world as dirty cash ran dry, it was now harder than ever to move money around as governments not bankers ran the banks and examined a lot of the immense money transactions. Morgan knew that even genuine business leaders and people of the establishment who had once been whiter than white, had approached his father to make a quick million from the lucrative drugs trade. With so much at stake in the current market and the increased interest and competition in the drugs trade, should it have come to so much of a surprise that Max had come to such a dreadful end. Morgan now realised that his father might have been involved in many more dangerous partnerships than he had first imagined. Only after studying his father’s financial statements and his numerous bank accounts would he understand the extent of his empire.
Forty minutes later as the plane left the coast of England below them, Morgan’s head began to swim with all that had happened in the last twelve hours. He couldn’t believe that the weekend had brought so much turmoil. His father was dead, they wanted him dead and he had lost his home and countless business ventures by fleeing to a foreign country for survival. He felt alone and highly vulnerable, uncertain of the moves he needed to make to stay ahead of his pursuers. What a mess he thought as he looked down and watched his hands as they started to shake, he could no longer recognise them as his, only the hands of a killer. In the pit of his stomach his emotions started to rush uncontrollably, wave after wave through his body. Suddenly he felt nausea and for a few seconds he lost his composure as he clambered from his seat looking for isolation. He barged past his travelling companions, and the air hostess to fall into the planes toilet cubicle. Just in time he locked the door behind him, before he was violently sick, over and over again, as if demons of despair were released from his inner soul.
A few moments passed before there was knocking on the door. ‘Hello! Are you alright in there?’ Came a shocked voice.
Morgan wiped his mouth with a tissue and pushed himself to his feet.
There came another knock on the door. ‘Hello! Do you need any assistance?’ The voice came across more calmly this time, whilst the other members of the crew could be heard talking amongst themselves.
Morgan looked at himself in the mirror, his eyes tired and bloodshot as beads of cold sweat clung to his forehead. ‘I’m all right! I’ll be out in a minute!’ He indicated to the cabin staff.
‘All right love! If there’s anything you need just hit the assistance button,’ the attendant said before turning to people outside. ‘He’s alright, just flight nerves I think!’ she reassured the people at the front of the plane.
Morgan gave the toilet a deafening flush before cleaned himself up by washing his face and again scrubbing his hands. ‘So these are the emotions you meant dad, when you said I would hopefully never have to follow in your footsteps,’ he spoke out loud as his eyes glazed over. The boy looking back from the mirror had changed, not in appearance but deep down inside he now knew what he was capable of to survive.
Morgan took a deep breath and slid the lock on the door open before stepping out, the aisle nearby was clear but the front of the plane was busy with the attendants stocking their trolleys to serve the thirsty holiday makers. As he approached the lads on his row of seats he could see the tall one was fast asleep. ‘Sorry about barging past earlier,’ he said as he inched past the middle seat.
‘I’ve had times like that on coaches. I hate winding roads; I’d puke every time.’ The young man grimaced. ‘The names Davie by the way,’ he shuck Morgan’s hand.
‘Oh, hi the names Morgan,’ he smiled as he settled back into his seat accepting the introduction.
‘I think Stevie my brothers out for the count; he pointed to the end seat and the collapsed figure with his arm hanging into the aisle. ‘My brothers a bit of a party animal, last night he had a leaving do and couldn’t resist going on a bender with his mates. Now look at the state of him, early morning flight n all! He should know better.’ Davie continued. ‘You flying on your own?’
Morgan hesitated for a moment, he was tired and his nerves a little raw. ‘I’ve heard that the Greek islands are a excellent place to find seasonal work. How about you?’
‘Same idea, a mate of mine did it last year and said he had a right laugh. You got anything lined up?’
Morgan thought for a moment. ‘I’m going to have a look around first. You know like a tourist, and then fall into something.’
‘Sounds good, I think if you’re willing to do anything to start with you’ll get by. Take us two, I probably shouldn’t tell you this but the cds aren’t ours. We got our tickets paid to bring them out to a friend of ours, he’s the DJ not us. Apparently the music’s so awful in Kavos this year, he’s willing to spend a fortune flying the new releases in.’
‘Are you sure that’s all that’s in the bags?’ Morgan asked.
‘I wasn’t before, but now I am. Those security bastards would have found something if we’d been stitched up!’ Davie yawned as the drinks cart came by.
‘Would you like a drink?’ The posh air hostess asked.
‘You got a sex on the beach, slippery nipple or orgasm?’ Davie asked with a smile.
‘No we’re all out of them you cheeky little devil,’ the blonde leaned forward. ‘But a slippery nipple sounds good,’ she winked playing the game.
‘Oh in that case I’ll just have a beer. You want one Morgan,’ he asked.
He thought for a moment. ‘OK, why not! It makes up for the lack of nicotine.’ Morgan said.
‘You and me both! Make that two lager’s each, I’ll see you about the slippery nipple later.’ Davie paid with a tenner.
As the beers went down the flight didn’t seem to drag on as much. Morgan relaxed and his spirits rose, when he ventured to the toilet just after the pilot gave his final sign off he looked again at himself in the mirror. Funny how a cheep couple of beers could raise the spirits he thought as he returned to his seat for the planes descent and final approach into Corfu airport.
Morgan checked his watch and moved the time on to one o’ clock Greek time as he approached the airport at Corfu town. It was exactly what he had expected it to be. A large modern building, a wash with cream and plenty of glass. He walked across the tarmac to see the large spaced letters ‘Kerkyra’ in yellow along the side of the terminal. The sun was bright, so he had slid down the Oakley’s from on top of his head and walked through the hot breeze and smell of diesel that always reminded him of continental Europe. Just before entering the main building he shared a crafty fag with the scouse lads, just a few puffs to calm his nerves before his final examination by the Greek authorities, one last test before being able to start his new life.
On entering the arrivals hall the scousers were in good humour and didn’t stop talking, like they were on speed or something. Obviously they were very excited, however they were loud and drawing attention to themselves. They undid their jackets due to the heat to reveal Liverpool kits and laboured with their bags as the straps dug into their shoulders.
‘Why don’t you come with us, we’re off to Kavos? You ever been?’ Davie asked Morgan as the brother raised an eyebrow at the invitation.
Morgan was caught out and stayed quiet for a moment. ‘Maybe I’ll meet up with you there. I’d like to see the island first before settling into a job,’ the answer was convincing.
‘You heard him, he wants to travel. He’s got a ticket to ride,’ Stevie said with annoyance at his brother. ‘Stop asking him!’
‘All right, but it wouldn’t harm to stick together,’ he turned and looked at Stevie.
The brother was a bit more guarded than Davie and it was clear to see he didn’t want Morgan to tag along, which he didn’t mind because the brother was doing him a favour. After all he needed to be on his own, it would be dangerous for them if they got caught in the middle of him and the mob. Morgan stood there with them in the queue and then decided it was time to leave. If security had picked them out in Manchester there was a reasonable chance that the Greeks might do the same, he didn’t want to get mixed up and asked stupid questions by the cops. He was under too much pressure already. ‘Listen you guys. I’ve got to go to the toilet again, dodgy tummy! He grabbed his stomach as if in pain, I’ll catch up with you outside or if not have a enjoyable time in Kavos. I might see you down there some time!’
‘Are you sure, you’re alright? We can wait?’ Davie asked as his brother punched him on the arm.
‘I’m fine, but I must have eaten something dodgy last night!’ Morgan pulled a face and then disappeared into the toilets. Ten minutes later he was nearly ready to throw up again. The stench and conditions of the cubicles were horrendous, and he couldn’t wait to get out of there. He held on for another five minutes and held his tracksuit over his nose and mouth to avoid smelling the foul odours. That’s it. I can’t take this any longer he thought, glad to see the back of his hiding place.
The customs gate was just about to close, as he appeared to offer his passport to the official. The guard had his back to him and was barking orders out to officers who were scurrying around in baggage collection examining luggage. When the officer eventually turned around he hesitated before taking his sunglasses and heavily embroidered cap off. He had four pips on his shoulder strap for decoration and a badge above the breast pocket, his name was Barak Panos and he was a Police Commander. He took a pen from amongst two thick cigars and wrote on his clipboard.
‘Where have you been?’ the policeman asked with genuine surprise, his eyes were piercing grey blue in contrast to his dark hair and moustache that suited his tanned skin.
‘Sorry! I needed to go to the toilet, dodgy tummy,’ Morgan again faked his symptoms for the official.
‘You must have been desperate, If you wanted to go, in there,’ he had a solemn face and pointed with his eyes to the W.C. as he examined Morgan’s passport.
Now the officialdom started in Greek. ‘What you been doing in England?’
Morgan’s Greek was OK but not that practiced, so he kept the answers brief, ‘Education!’
‘What you study?’
‘Where you study?’
He couldn’t hide the slightly noticeable Yorkshire accent, ‘Sheffield.’
‘Who you visiting?’ It was obvious that coming from a small island, when locals visited the guards become friendly or was that nosey!
‘Sorry I can’t stop and chat all day, I need to get on,’ Morgan pointed to his watch.
‘Public school boy indeed!’ The official smiled, then looked Morgan in the eyes and stamped his paperwork before letting him through.
‘Happy home coming, have a good time.’ The officer said.
‘Have a good afternoon, bye.’ Morgan replied as he retrieved his stamped passport and made his way over to collect his field bag.
As he stood next to the rotating luggage belt, he noticed that only a few bags remained. His luggage was making the rounds again so he waited for his cream safari bag to arrive. Next to him one of only a few remaining passengers, the middle aged scoucer from the front row of the plane spoke to him. ‘It looks like the two scallys have got themselves in trouble again!’
‘What you mean?’ Morgan asked.
‘You mean you’ve missed it? There’s been a right set to; the local police have nicked them along with some other fellows who shouldn’t have been in here. It was quite frightening seeing people pushed around like that. The guards hit one of the other chaps with his rifle, and marched all of them off into those offices over there.’ He pointed to mirrored panels.
‘Don’t point!’ Morgan said as he picked up his bag. ‘They might get you next!’ He laughed, but it was no laughing matter at all.
Minutes later Morgan was making his way through the nothing to declare gate, which was literally just a gate. On the other side there was an automatic glass door and then a waiting room full of tour operators and bus drivers. He walked past the tour operators signs and heard shouting coming from the deserted arrivals lounge. It was the commander shouting to his troops. Morgan tilted his head and slowed to listen to their conversation. ‘Keep the English boys in their holding rooms for questioning, while I deal with those Italians. I want to find out what they are up to.’ the commander instructed his paper pushing officials. ‘And Yannis.’ he shouted to another guard. ‘Get some men with machine guns out into the coach area, and see if you can pick out any more of them!’
They were quite explicit instructions. Something had certainly ruffled the Greeks feathers, for them to be acting this way. As Morgan passed through the sliding doors, more guards spilled out of side doors and started to mingle with the tourists, who inturn looked terribly concerned with the sight of all the hardware out on parade. Morgan glided on through and kept his head down as he avoided any eye contact with the officials or tour operators. He wanted to get out of this chaos, and away from the airport before he might be spotted, he wanted to feel free from danger and find a place he could be safe again to grab some much needed sleep.
Moments later there was loud shouting and a large crowd of tourists scattered near the terminal entrance, Morgan looked back to see more men being dragged from a car, and being led away with their hands in the air. The airports guards had been busy pulling out a disruptive element from the swell of new tourists to the island.
The boy hurriedly walked past the last few coaches and out from the shade of the airport, crossed the street under the pounding sun and approached a taxi rank. Before him a wrinkly olive skinned man appeared he was wearing a panama hat, smoking a cigar and holding prayer beads, his appearance conjured up the most unlikely appearance for a taxi driver. He introduced himself by taking off his panama and offering his services.
‘Thelo taxi?’ Morgan asked.
The man escorted him to his car away from the main row of taxis, whilst some of the other drivers glared at him for taking the fare. ‘Hey malakas, can’t you see it’s a taxi rank!’ abuse was directed toward him.
The old man ignored the comments and like an angel calmly took Morgan’s safari bag and placed it in the boot of a vintage silver Mercedes. Morgan jumped in the back and immediately sank into the well-worn leather seats. He placed his field bag on the seat half over his lap and looked at the Greek as he jumped in the car and started the engine. Tangled around the rear view mirror was a rosary, the cross dangled down and swayed, as the car drove away.
‘You here on holiday?’
‘Yes I need to get away for a bit!’ he said and wished he hadn’t, it made him sound desperate.
‘Where are we going the driver asked?’ He stared at the boy through the mirror.
‘I need to find somewhere that’s lively and has bars and shops and a lovely beach.’
‘Ah you want to go to Kavos,’ he remarked.
‘No anywhere but. I don’t want to go where there are lots of British tourists, they’re too loud!’ But that wasn’t the real reason; he just didn’t want to be spotted. It would be all over the papers tomorrow, and people would be looking for him.
‘Benitses? Glyfada? Pelekas? St George or Paleocastritsa?’ The man shrugged his shoulders and raised a hand to his suggestions.
‘They are not central enough to Corfu Town.’ was the boys reply. ‘Is there anything near the marina?’ Morgan asked.
The taxi driver nodded. ‘Past the marina there’s a resort called Gouvia, it’s a place for Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch people, remarkably little British. It’s lively enough with bars and shops and a pleasant beach.’ he said.
‘Is there a hotel that you can recommend?’
‘Maybe! A hotel with a pool?’ he asked.
‘One that’s nice!’ Morgan was getting more optimistic.
‘My cousin married into a family that own a hotel there. It’s OK from what I can remember. I’ve not seen her for a few years now. It should be open for business. I’ll take you there if you like?’ he gestured.
‘Great!’ Morgan said, glad to have eventually made progress; he would pass judgement on the driver’s decision later.
As the driver heard Morgan’s request, the taxi quickly altered direction at a junction. It sped off along a dusty road, that looked like it was entering a residential area of apartments and businesses. ‘We’ll take a short cut.’ the man said.
Morgan who was shocked by the erratic driving quickly put his seat belt on, then relaxed and placed his arm out of the window, perhaps he would be able to sleep shortly, he thought as he closed his eyes.
Morgan had only been asleep half an hour in the back of the taxi, when the driver came out of the Gouvia Bay Hotel and opened the car door to shake him. The boy woke with a start and nearly jumped out of his skin. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked.
‘The hotel! The one you asked about! We’re here!’ The man said as he summoned the boy out of his car. ‘Come! I will show you to my cousin.’
Morgan was unsteady on his feet; his head swam with confusion as fatigue nearly overcame him. He looked at his watch and saw it was nearing two o’clock. He yawned, rubbed his eyes and staggered a little on the walk up to the hotel along a small path. On entering reception he stumbled over the step. Jesus Christ pull yourself together! He thought as he smiled at the plump lady who was wearing a black and white polker dot dress behind the counter.
‘Maria this is the boy I was telling you about, he wants a room for his holiday.’
‘How long you stay?’ She asked with a strong Greek accent.
Morgan had not thought of all the finer details of his new life, but reckoned he would need a base for a while. ‘I’m not sure!’ was his reply.
This made the two cousins raise an eyebrow and then the taxi driver spoke remarkably quickly in a local accent, expressing his thoughts using his hands. The owner of the hotel replied with a torrent of equally hot-headed jabber, before rummaging around on her desk to rattle some keys.
‘You come with me! I’ll show you one of our best rooms on the top floor! It’s good you see! With a view, and quiet at night. Come! Come!’ she beckoned him to follow her up the stairs.
Half an hour later after a look at not just one room but three, plus a tour of the hotel with the taxi driver in tow, they were back at reception. The two cousins again were chattering away, Maria looking rather agitated by the tone her elder cousin was taking. Morgan felt a little awkward as he picked out a few words here and there and tried to piece their conversation together. Eventually Maria stopped talking to the taxi driver and spoke to him. ‘We are not officially open for the tourist season until next week. Therefore, the menu has very little to offer and the bar is not fully stocked, but you are welcome to stay.’
Morgan didn’t know what to say. He only wanted a room to rest. All this was too much information in an already overcharged mind. He stood there silent to think, but before he could answer the old man jumped in again to talk to her.
‘All right! ALLRIGHT!’ She cut the taxi driver short raising her voice with a look that would set you in stone.
‘Spiro my cousin is right! Because the hotel is not ready for business, he has asked me to offer you the room at thirty euro a night.’ The man slammed his hand on the reception desk. ‘OK! Are you trying to drive me out of business,’ she scowled at him again. ‘The room is for hire at twenty Euros’ but no meal at night.’
‘What about breakfast?’ The taxi driver scowled.
‘OK! We have cereal or toast, it’s not a problem.’ Maria said with annoyance.
‘In that case, I will stay for one week,’ Morgan said as he approached them and shook her hand. ‘Efharisto!’ The phrase rolled off of his tongue with a Greek accent.
Maria eyed the boy and looked him up and down before handed him keys. The room number was 245 and was the one on the top floor. He looked at it but was quickly asked for it back. ‘It needs maid service! You come back at five o’clock, and the room will be ready then.’ she said a little embarrassed.
‘But what about my bags?’ Morgan was a little uncomfortable at taking them with him, or equally so leaving them in reception for anyone to see.
‘Put them behind reception. It’s not England! Your belongings will be safe.’ the taxi driver said in a calm manner as he handed Morgan his safari bag from the cab.
‘All I will need is your passport for our records.’ Maria asked.
‘There’s no need for housekeeping. No paperwork, he’s Greek!’ Spiro advised in a serious tone.
‘How much do I owe you for the journey, Spiro?’
Spiro hesitated. ‘Thirty will be fine!’
Morgan opened his wallet and peeled thirty Euros from the bills and then added another ten. ‘Efharisto, for your help.’ The tip was the least he could do after giving Morgan peace of mind about somewhere friendly to stay.
Spiro graciously accepted and then walked over to Maria gave her a kiss on the cheek and a pat on the shoulder to say goodbye. ‘kalispera, yia sas.’ he said to them and then said. ‘Morgan when you need a taxi, ask Maria, she will contact me!’
‘Entaksi,’ Morgan replied but something was bothering him as the old man with the suit and panama quickly disappeared. How did he know his name and how did he know he was Greek? He wondered.
He took his field bag and placed it under the desk with the safari bag to the front to hide it, then took out his ipod before he looked around for Maria. She had gone, and the rest of the hotel was quiet and deserted. He guessed he could go and have a look around the resort to see what the shops and cafes had to offer. He needed a cigarette anyway so he wandered from the hotel, down a lane not knowing where it would take him. Minutes later he stopped along the lane and unwittingly turned his mobile on before taking a deep drag from his cigarette. On the corner in front of him was a grand looking building called the Molfetta Beach Hotel. It had signpost that directed him down to the resort beach, along another lane which had an open space to his right. He smoked the last remaining tobacco and then squashed its stub in the dry gravel underneath his feet before looking more closely at the open space. It was a football pitch of sorts and beyond it through shrubs and olive trees was a beach and sheltered bay. The boy smiled and walked on briskly down to the sea front where he surveyed what Gouvia had to offer, it was quieter than he had expected with few sunbathers taking advantage of the glorious afternoon sun.
Ten minutes later he had made his way out to the deserted headland where he had a clear view of the sea. He sat down on warm pebbles and crossed his legs to admire the panorama before him, to his left there were secluded bays and a vision of a white Greek church set out from the waterfront along an elevated pathway, while over on his right was the Kontokali marina packed with a whole range of crafts and vessels. Somewhere in there were his fathers boats. They were now his rightful property, however prooving it would be another matter.
Morgan laid back to soak up the sun, and it wasn’t too long before beads of perspiration appeared on his face ‘Phew!’ he said out loud as he unzipped and removed his black tracksuit top and pulled off his t-shirt. Lying back down on his garments he made himself more comfortable, although he could feel his keys and mobile phone digging into his back. As he lay with his eyes closed, he could feel the Nokia vibrating. ‘Oh no!’ he said as he realised it was receiving messages. His thoughts immediately returned to the murder of his father; he turned onto his side and rummaged into his pockets for its contents. As he lay on his front sunning his back he quickly scrolled through the missed calls of which there were twelve in total. The first was taken at six o’clock an unknown number. There was a call from Jake the chef at Burdett’s thirty minutes later and then the rest came from two unregistered numbers. He pressed the red button to cancel a reply and another alert instructed him that he had six new messages. He breathed deeply and then looked at the first one. It was from the police. ‘We would like you to call inspector Andy Sanders, of Sheffield Central ASAP.’ The number was listed. The next was from Jake. ‘Please call, something terrible, has happened at the bar! Hope you’re alright, police are looking for you.’ Another was more interesting, it was from Vince a London business associate of his father’s. ‘If you need anything give me a call.’ The next three were alarming. ‘Don’t think you can run, eventually we will find you!’ and ‘your father’s assets belong to us now; don’t think of making any plans to stop us keeping them! Finally ‘You’ll soon be joining your father!’ Morgan dropped the phone onto his clothes and lit another cigarette; the messages had done the trick and intimidated him.
He thought back to Corfu Airport and all the police action. He now knew the Italians the commander was talking about had been sent to pick him up. ‘Jesus Christ!’ He said in anguish as he sank his fingers into his hair to pull it in frustration. What could he do if they knew he was here? Surely they couldn’t take everything away from him if he had the legal paperwork and deeds to property? He was anxious, and these legal aspects only calmed him a little, he knew possession was nine tenths of the law and if these grease balls forcefully gained access to the assets it would be difficult to remove them. Morgan smoked some more and then tossed the cigarette away onto the pebble shore, he grabbed his mobile, stood up and threw it as far as he could into the sea. He had made a mistake by not destroying it in England. Now not only would the mob be after him but there would also be heat from the cops. He was beginning to wonder if coming to Corfu had been a smart idea after all. He knew now he wouldn’t be safe there.
Half an hour of contemplation in the heat of the sun had driven Morgan’s head to boiling point. He was half naked. However if he was going to keep cool, he would need to strip and take off his jeans. He looked around the beach to see only a hand full of sunbathers. Some way off in the distance, and a couple walking a dog towards the marina, before deciding to slip them off and wear only his boxers. Moments later he ran through a clump of dried seaweed, and dived into the crystal clear azure water of Gouvia bay. He swam around for a bit and watched some yachts anchor out at sea; it was indeed a perfect place to have a marina. Once he had cooled his head, he had to admit, if he were going to die, here would be better than being tracked down in England.
Once cool Morgan gingerly crept out of the sea and returned to his solitary place on the beach, he smoked another cig and noticed the blood from under his fingernails had been kindly washed away by the Ionian Sea. He smiled and laid back. From now on he was going to enjoy himself one day at a time, if he were challenged he would deal with danger but until it happened he would keep his head down and try to fathom out what the hell was going on. For now all he could hope to achieve was to feel more at ease, he sighed laid down to dry out and fell asleep under the warm Corfu sun.
When he awoke nightfall was arriving, he yawned and rubbed his eyes before looking out into the bay. There on the horizon was the last remnants of the day’s sun, glowing orange and setting fire to the underside of patchy cloud, it slowly went down to calm Greek music of playing mandolins from the Molfetta Beach Hotel. Morgan listened to the soothing sounds drifting around the bay as he felt the night air turn cool. Reluctantly he got dressed and made his way back into the resort up the lane from the beach and along the main street. Taking in the variety of shops that sold all the essentials to provide for a enjoyable family holiday. He noticed a few bars and restaurants were not set up for business yet. However a smaller kebab shop was doing a brisk early evening trade. He succumbed to the mouth water aroma of charcoal grilled pork, and chicken being prepared for some locals. As he sat outside the grill house, a man welcomed him with a menu. ‘You want something to drink?’
‘Which lager’s have you got?’ Morgan asked.
‘Amstel, Heineken, Budweiser, Mythos!’
‘Mythos will be fine!’
‘Large or Small?’ the man asked as his eye wandered, to watch two blondes walking by. ‘Swedish girls!’ he nodded his head in delight.
‘Large would be good I’m thirsty,’ Morgan realised; he’d probably spent too much time in the sun.
A few minutes went by as the man saw to customers in his shop chatting with his colleague who worked the grill. Morgan looked through the menu and watched the waiter pull four bottles of Mythos from the display fridge; he quickly pulled the caps off and poured one into two glasses on the counter. The others he placed on a tray glasses hugged the neck of each bottle to accompany two meals. The man expertly carried the tray whilst returning to the tables. Here, he spoke to two middle aged Greeks and gave them lager’s before returning to Morgan. The waiter poured golden liquid from the distinctive green bottle.
‘Good choice! Mythos is the best local lager.’ he sat the half full bottle down on the table and then straightened the nearby chairs. Fifteen minutes later the man brought Morgan another. The lager was indeed the best he had tasted for a long time, and it certainly quenched his thirst. It was a whole half an hour after Morgan had arrived when his stomach reminded him, it was time to eat. He raised his arm and attracted the waiter attention, who approached with a note pad and produced a pen from behind his ear. ‘You like to eat?’
Morgan had no idea what to order, he fancied a snack rather than a meal. ‘I want something small like a sandwich wrap, like those two guys sat over there.’
‘Well you’ve come to the right place then,’ he laughed. ‘You want Pork Gyros, in a pita bread with mixed salad & tzatziki, or Chicken Souvlaki in a pitta bread with mixed salad or a Donna Kebab?’ He asked.
‘The Souvlaki sounds nice.’
‘You want one or two? They are small but filling,’ he asked.
‘I’ll have two and some chips.’
‘What about another beer?’
‘Go on then but make it a small one,’
‘Entaksi,’ the waiter scribbled the order and then walked back towards the kebab shop, shouting the order to his fellow worker.
Morgan consumed his eagerly awaited meal while watching a few gecko lizards camouflage themselves in nearby shrubs. Eventually they climbed up a wall to disappear through a crack. Suddenly he had an idea to take advantage of his situation. He would, such as the lizard have to change his appearance, to keep one step ahead of his pursuers. He smiled and washed down the last of his food with a gulp of lager before leaving twenty Euros to include a tip for the waiter. Five minutes later after a little searching he found Claudia, an Austrian opening her hairdressers for the evening, she was in her twenties a trendy punk with three shades of colour in her hair. She welcomed him in and sat him down in the swivel chair whilst turning a cd player on to play club music from the underground scene in Vienna.
She placed a towel around his neck and clipped it into place before spraying it ready for a cut. ‘How much would you like me to take off,’ she asked with very good English.
‘The lot,’ Morgan replied.
She looked rather shocked and surprised as she bunched her hands around the weight of the bob. ‘Are you sure?’ she asked, recognising the cut of the hair was well maintained and the hair itself in excellent condition.
Morgan nodded. ‘I’m going to be stopping here indefinitely, and the heat is just too much to keep it long. I’m afraid it will have to go.’ He said in a determined tone.
‘Well OK, what would you like me to do?’
‘Short back and sides and leave an inch on top, the parting will have to go!’ Twenty minutes later he knew all about her and the reason why she had come to Corfu. When he left he felt like he had known her forever. She on the other hand, knew remarkably little about him. Other than he was searching for work in the resort. And that now he looked entirely different, from the person who had entered the shop.
‘Kali-spera,’ He said as he left to walk to the nearby chemists, where he purchased some blue contact lenses. An hour later he had a hand full of carrier bags that contained new clothes. He purchase two Lacoste polo shirts, one navy blue and one back. A red Ralph Lauren shirt and some Timberland walking sandals. Also more importantly a khaki pair of swimming shorts. All would come in handy and keep him cool in the hotter climate.
When he reached the hotel, it was again deserted although the light had been left on in reception. Morgan saw there was a note with his name on it and room key 216 like a paper weight lay on top. He picked it up, collected his belongings from under the desk and walked up four flights of stairs to his room. Half an hour later he sat on the terrace looking down on the main street below, it was quieter than he had expected as he watched the tourists milling around the bars, dodging the occasional scooter. In his room, his luggage lay to one side with his shopping bags strewn across the tiled floor.
Morgan observed his new world smoked one more cigarette and smiled to himself as he ran his fingers through his short cut hair. He was looking forward to tomorrow, to becoming a new person and being able to experience the freedom of adventure in a foreign land. He would start to build a new life and get to know the people of the resort. Like a gecko, he had started to shed his old self by manipulating his image and identity. He had given himself the chance to blend in with holidaymakers and workers and a chance to evade whoever came after him.
The boy looked at his watch it was now ten o’clock and decided to get his head down, so he could get an early rise the next day. He lay on his bed looking at the field bag, before closing his eyes. He had a head full of emotions to deal with and just needed to rest, he dare not open it until the morning.
The next day Morgan awoke to the sound of swallows flying in a cloudy sky, their calls filtered through a gap in his French doors that he hadn’t closed properly. He was a little fuzzy headed due to his deep sleep and the affects of the few beers the night before. His mouth was dry, and he was thirsty. He yawned and stretched before rummaging through his new clothes, to rip the price tags off. Ten minutes later he had a cold shower brushed his teeth and dressed before examining the field bags contents, he could put it off no longer.
Morgan aligned the numbers in the lock and pressed the button to release the flap, with a flick of the wrist the bag opened to reveal three separate compartments. He pulled the paperwork out which contained a cluster of letters tied together with a ribbon, the second compartment had a note book in it and the third contained a Mac air book and an iPhone with chargers. For a moment, he wondered how his father could be so organised and prepared for such a shocking ending to his life, but then his father was not a normal businessman. The notebook referred to many operations of smuggling, drugs, guns and even people in certain parts of the world. It referred to money laundering and the accumulation of assets such as breweries and vineyards in Eastern Europe plus many other business ventures. There were logbooks of assets, which belonged to him as well as third parties, names of people who ran the businesses along with contact numbers in Spain, Italy, Greece, American and South American amongst many more places in North Africa. Morgan’s curiosity flared as he quickly began to lay out in an alphabetical order bundles of paperwork, deeds and a notebook, to assess his situation further. He then quickly saw the relationship with many of the different clientele, who would often visit his father’s restaurant in Sheffield. The list of names was incredible. Some were people from the establishment who wanted to make a lot of money quickly by investing in an illicit trade. Others were business people who needed a cash injection into their troubled businesses. Many would never regain control from mafia involvement. Other information was about other mafia families who sought security through partnerships to build wealth. Finally, he looked through the notebook and concentrated on the information that related to Greece, he picked out the deeds and piled them together. The majority of property here on the island was owned by his father, who had built up a selection of villas for rental under the company of Burdett Premium Villa Rentals - Greece limited (BPVR Ltd) which alone had eight luxury places scattered around the island at beauty spots, another in Crete and one more in Cyprus. He also had eight yachts, which Morgan knew about registered to a company called Poseidon Boat Rentals Greece (PBRG Ltd). There were a number of other business concerns with two restaurants in Corfu and a nightclub called Ionian Stars in Ipsos plus an Import business that dealt with British goods distribution throughout Greece.
Morgan was shocked and found it hard to absorb all the information. It must have taken his father a lifetime to build up these contacts and networks. It explained why he had always been busy, cultivating new relationships and business partners. Some he had no doubt would be rivals, but somehow his father had managed each relationship or agreement separately to avoid conflict. That was until yesterday when it had all gone horribly wrong. Either his father had been double-crossed or someone had got greedy, trying to climb the ladder to success too fast.
Morgan was now more worried than ever, not only would the mafia family trying to kill him want this information, but rival organisations could also strengthen their power by knowing their enemies assets. The police would also value the information for shutting down organised crime and cleansing their ranks of spies. He had seen enough; he placed everything back in the bag apart from the laptop and iPhone, which he placed on charge. He spent ten minutes tidying the room, placing his clothes in a set of drawers, and hiding his wallet with all the cash cards in the tank of the toilet sealed in a plastic bag.
To make sense of everything and to plan for his survival he needed time to think and to do that he needed something to eat. As he walked out of the room he checked the time, it was only eight o’clock. When he walked through the deserted reception he admired his appearance in the wall mirror. He looked like a proper tourist. Armed with his wallet and alternative cash card with Morgan Nikolaos on it, he ventured out into Gouvia, today he would find his way around and equip himself better for his life in Corfu.
Minutes later he was walking along the lane in the direction of Molfetta Beach, there was a warm breeze and an overcast sky littered with dark grey clouds. As he walked he liked the feel of his sandals they were comfortable and practical with an ankle strap, which would enable him to move quickly if necessary. He walked another hundred feet until he found a great looking Cafe, which had a covered veranda and tables that faced the lane to the beach. Just in time he made it undercover before there was lightening, and a loud clap of thunder. It signaled a downpour of rain the likes he had never seen before. Without invitation, he picked up an English paper and sat outside the French doors to the cafe. He pulled his Marlboro’s from his pocket and lit one, before crossing his legs to watch the rain run like a stream on its way down the lane to the sea.
A young Greek girl came out to watch the downfall. ‘kali-mera,’ she smiled uncertain of his nationality.
‘Kali-mera, could I order?’
‘Ne,’ she said producing a pen and pad from her smock pocket. ‘What would you like?’
‘A Coffee and something light to eat.’
‘You like cappuccino and a pastry?’
‘Yes!’ he nodded before she disappearing back through the French doors in an industrious manner.
Eventually his ordered arrived a large cappuccino and a chocolate croissant, which he devoured in no time as he let the world pass him by. He caught the young girl’s eye and ordered another coffee.
‘You are busy?’ Morgan asked.
‘A little, my father bakes in the night and makes everything fresh. I need to stock the displays.’ she smiled.
‘How old are you?’
‘It’s good to work in the family business from an early age; you’ll learn a lot from your father,’ Morgan said.
The girl looked a little puzzled at his comments, coming from a boy only two years senior of her age. It led to an awkward moment as she left a receipt under the ashtray.
‘Lovely weather, just like being back in England.’ He commented to the girl as she returned to his table. He nestled the paper in his lap as she placed the cup on the table.
‘It won’t last long; we are expecting a heat wave starting at the end of the week,’ she smiled and then turned to look at the doorway. An unexpected voice talked from behind. ‘Like the weather the papers bring unwelcome news,’ the shop owner and father pointed to the paper Morgan held in his hand.
The boy turned around to acknowledge the man sporting a moustache with a white bakers smock and cap covered with patches of flour.
‘Hello, I was just saying it was raining just like back in England,’ the boy laughed.
‘Like I say, unwelcome news everywhere just like the weather,’ the man repeated himself before returning inside the property. ‘Catherine come inside; we need to stock the counters with sandwiches and cakes,’ he shouted to his daughter.
She gave a glum smile. ‘George, my father is worried this morning. All he talks about is the mafia caught at the airport yesterday; he says they bring terrible luck like the killings in Italy and England at the weekend. He’s not happy!’
‘Catherine! You’ve got work to do!’ he shouted from in the back where the ovens were.
Morgan was left alone to browse through the paper; on the second page, he found the related news. It was about a mafia war in Milan. There had been a car bomb and a series of shootings of mob people and officials that was spiraling out of control. The authorities were struggling to deal with the aftermath of violence which had now spread to Sicily and who knows where next! he read. He browsed through the dead and recognised names from his father’s records.
‘They bring trouble to our shores!’ The baker George returned to sit with the boy.
‘Sorry!’ Morgan replied.
‘They are here already and more will come. The Mafia are looking for someone, and they never rest until they are hunted down.’ George announced.
‘The island has problems?’ Morgan asked.
‘The police are edgy and will stick there noses into everything. You’ll see they’ll be round before too long, checking paperwork and asking for money. Mafia, all Mafia even the authorities,’ he started to get agitated whilst he drank an espresso and lit a cigar. ‘You’re lucky you’re only here on holiday, to live here will be hell until the someone they’re looking for surfaces.’ George spouted.
The two figures watched the rain pour down, as an occasional scooter would drive by. He confirmed his opinion ‘It’s bad for business all this trouble, like the weather!’ Just then the telephone rang in the store and the well-built man rose to answer it. ‘If there’s anything else you need ask Catherine.’ The baker walked back in the store.
Minutes later the rain eased, and the sun came out. Morgan paid, leaving a little tip and ventured out onto the lane to idle the day away. He entered into a long walk through Gouvia and down into Kontakali where he found the entrance to the Marina, he was met by the glare of a solemn faced security man in a sentry box guarding the entrance. However, it couldn’t put him off investigating the place further, so he walked down a long lane past the guard onto the main cafe and shops of the marina.
Inside the complex was the Marina supplies shop, packed full of essentials for boating. It was like an Aladdin’s cave so he purchased a few things he might need. At the checkout, he had accumulated a black lightweight waterproof jacket and fleece, a knife, sunhat, torch, binoculars, a book on sailing around the Greek islands and a throw over bag for carrying everything to the beach and on excursions. He paid again with cash, before sitting outside the marina restaurant to order lunch. Tomorrow he must get cash out of the bank, and for the first time use his new Alpha card.
The afternoon passed quickly by the Marina as he thought back to weeks spent boating. He had always had a passion for sailing encouraged by his father. Long boating trips during relaxed summer breaks were the times the two of them bonded. This was the time of his childhood when his father had prepared him for adulthood. During those trips around the Balearics and the year after the Greek islands along with trips to Morocco and Tunisia, he would learn such a lot about human nature. Time away from England played an important part of his upbringing; during these trips valuable lessons were learnt in how to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. Most important of their time alone concentrated on physical and mental development, psychology and gun craft.
Now years later Morgan understood his father’s lessons, they were not what he would call enjoyable memories. However, it was best to think of what he had learned as a game, like chess the one who studied the enemy longest and learned their tactics would be able to protect themselves. The one, who waited for the true character of people to be revealed, would be able to identify enemies. The one who could remain invisible the longest could have the element of surprise and could take time in handing out punishment to ultimately become the conqueror.
As Morgan finished his lunch he had finally been able to clear his head and come to terms with his circumstances, he now felt more comfortable with the fact that he probably was the most hunted man in Europe. He felt more at ease with the decision not to run any further and for the time-being watch and do nothing. Wait for things to happen rather than chase targets. One day he would be able to fight back.
As he sat at the café he sighed and watched the rain clouds being blown away. This breeze caught the sails of boats in their berths. He had been assessing his father’s crafts and others in the Marina. Nearby there were around thirty vessels. Eight, twenty five meter yachts that would be used by tourists, who craved the gritty hands on type of sailing. A large variety of motorboats and cruisers were also on display; most would be for hire to the wealthier clientele who wanted a powerful engine and a high standard of facilities. Millionaires or blue chip companies would privately own some. Then there were the other berths where the speed and power boats sat for easy access. People who hired these wanted a cheap thrill, or wanted to impress a girlfriend or family member, they could be hired for a half or full day, some of these craft cost as much as a yacht depending on the size and engine. Yes, all in all the marina was a place for the rich to hang out. Little did they know about the other side of the industry, about the smuggling and trafficking. Hence the presence of guards and the coast guard who had two gunboats stationed near the marina entrance.
It was mouth watering for Morgan to see the sight of so many boats. It reminded him of his youth, with his father sailing. Many a journey, in many of Europe’s more exclusive marinas, he now imagined was for illegal purposes. For a time, he concentrated on his book about sailing around the Greek islands. He drank a few beers as the sun burned through the cloud, and lit up all the colours of bunting and flags of origin draped on each boat. One day he would be back on one, with just the natural elements harnessed in the sails. He would again feel the salty breeze in his hair.
At around four, o’clock a welcome distraction left a row of nearby yachts, which displayed the blue and white cross and stripes of the Greek flag. It appeared that the Swedish girls who past the kebab shop the night before were workers at the marina. After a choppy day cleaning the hire boats, they were now walking their way back to Gouvia. Perhaps if he finished his last beer quickly he could catch them up along the lane between the two villages. He’d spent enough time watching the Poseidon Boat Rentals offices to get a feel of the people who ran it; he would come back another day and try to gain access to his property. A few moments later he had placed his book and waterproof in his bag and put his hat and shades on to protect him from the scorching sun.
Quickly he started to walk after the girls in the direction of Gouvia, he dodged puddles of water, which had collected at the sides of the lane and watched how the tarmac evaporated moisture as it collected the energy from the sun. Half a mile later he was gaining on them. They left Kontokali’s shops and restaurants, they ventured along a straight part of the lane with fields and shrub land on either side. Here the crickets danced and made their song that reminded him of his childhood in a warmer climate.
He watched the girls from behind as their hips swayed side to side, as they talked and laughed with one another. One was a true blonde and the other a more dull blonde. They were around his age, a little smaller than him at five feet seven, and they were hot. Their figures were a delight and as cars passed by you could see, just like the other night men looking at them. Occasionally they would get a peep of a car or scooter horn from their admirers; they would just wave and laugh. The clothes each wore were similar, khaki shorts and white trainers like a uniform, they had nearly the same shade bikinis under tied blue shirts, and they carried small bag packs. If he were to guess he would say these girls were sisters, sisters with assets to drive men crazy in the heat of summer, he quickened his pace to catch them. A few minutes later they entered Gouvia and luckily for him, they entered a bar across the road from his hotel.
As Morgan approached the bar he could hear music pumping along the street, as he entered he saw a plaque hanging over its entrance, the place was called Rooftops. On first impressions it had a youthful feel to the interior and was playing some entertaining chilled out dance music. Morgan liked it immediately; he had found his first bar with any kind of life and soul. Without any hesitation, he ventured to the bar and placed his bag by a stool. Five minutes later he had a cold beer and was nibbling at a bowl of nuts, watching Premier League football from the weekend. He saw Manchester United had won again and gone top with Liverpool a close second in the league table. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the girls talk to the bar maid, whilst sucking on the straws to satisfy their thirst. Behind them was a small dance floor and a DJ box. In the back was the toilet. He finished his drink, and they noticed he was looking at them; the waitress immediately came over to serve him.
‘What can I get you?’ she asked in a Scandinavian accent.
‘One more beer please, but could you make it a Mythos? I’m not too keen on Amstel.’
She nodded and delved into the big metal fridges behind the counter. ‘Here you go, the coldest I could find from near the bottom,’ she said as she placed a receipt in a shot glass nearby. ‘Have you just arrived?’
‘No I came in yesterday on an early flight and then fell asleep on the beach,’ he pointed to his red nose as evidence.
‘Everyone’s the same the first day, although I thought I was back home when I woke up today,’ She pointed outside at the damp footpaths.
‘How long you out for?’ she asked.
‘I’m not sure! The season hopefully, but it all depends on finding a job,’ Morgan gestured with his hands before pulling back on the lager.
‘The names Erika, and those two over there are Suzanna and Jenny, they work in the resort.’
‘Do you know anywhere where there are jobs going?’
‘None at the moment, but it’s the start of the season. Once more tourists arrive everyone will set workers on!’ she smiled and then shouted over the music to the girls to come over. ‘Let me introduce you to my friends. They might know of something!’
With no encouragement, the two blondes came over. ‘Hey’ they both said as they pulled stools up. ‘You are English?’ they asked, surprised to find a Brit in a mainly Scandinavian resort.
‘Yes! My names Morgan’
‘Oh that’s good, Morgan. Now we have someone to practice our English on. Let me introduce Jenny,’ she smiled at her friend. ‘And my name is Suzanna,’ said the true blonde who had blue eyes and freckles on her face.
‘Where are you from?’ Susanna asked as Jenny got themselves some more drinks and talked to Erika in Swedish.
‘I know that silly, I can tell with your accent. Which part?’
Morgan was surprised that she had already worked the UK’s geography out. There was no way to disguise it, so he told her. ‘I’m from Yorkshire.’
‘I thought so,’ she spoke in Swedish to Jenny and then Jenny smiled. ‘We had an English teacher from Leeds he had an accent like yours. However then he left, and we were taught by an American.’
It was true; the girls spoke eccentric English with an American twang. ‘That’s brilliant! So what brings you to Corfu?’ He was interested in keeping the conversation going.
They laughed again. ‘Don’t you know silly!’ Suzanna winked. ‘The same as you!’ she sucked on her straw a little suggestively. ‘To work!’ She had been listening to his previous conversation. A moment later she jumped from her stool and left the group chattering. When she disappeared to the toilet she caught Morgan watching her.
As the night wore on Morgan got to know they were from Stockholm, they were eighteen and had just finished school which was compulsory until that age. Their family was intermarried like many in Scandinavia with British people, like their grandmother Margaret and a few aunts and uncles. They were into football and supported Rangers football club.
‘Wow, so you guys Know a lot about the UK? He asked.
‘We have been to visit family and have been on school trips there. We as a nation like the British!’ She looked him closer in the eye as it was obvious drink was taking its toll on all three of them.
Morgan stumbled as he went to the toilet and this time he looked back at the group. Through a busy bar, he could see Suzanne watching his every move. A few minutes later he washed his hands in the toilet, and as he was due to leave noticed the condom machine, well it couldn’t hurt to be cautious. He thought inserting two-euro coins to receive a packet. He quickly placed the silver sleeves into his back pocket. When he returned to the bar, a round of Sambuca had been bought by Jenny to celebrate their new friendship. Morgan downed his and ordered another. By the time it got to Eleven o’ clock Jenny had had enough and bailed out. She whispered in Suzanna’s ear and made excuses for the two to leave. Suzanna on the other hand was going nowhere, she spoke to her friend in Swedish to provoke a wide eyed drunk expression on her friends face. She laughed and said. ‘Good night.’ before swaying a little as she left the now crowded bar.
Suzanna turned to face Morgan and smiled. ‘Get me another one, and tell me all about yourself.’
They drank for a while longer, but the pace dropped off as Morgan made up a fictitious lifestyle about himself. The information about going onto a University course on linguistics specialising on certain subjects was based on the truth, only that now he would never be able to go. He lied about his family and made up a scenario of a happy home and a small family. He was always careful not to mention any connections with the wine bar or his birthplace in Corfu. The subject soon turned to musical tastes and then boyfriends and girlfriends. Morgan realised that Suzanna had split with her boyfriend months before deciding to come in search of the sun and adventure.
It was way after twelve when they became intimate. Suzanna’s blue eyes were captivating, and her body alluring now he could see her bosom through an increasingly unbuttoned shirt. She was stunning and totally into him. At first he was a little guarded and distant to her advances, but this seemed to encourage her. She moved her body closer, and they looked into each other’s eyes before kissing, moments later she had her hands on his bum and felt the condoms in his pocket. Suddenly she broke off and ordered another round of drinks. Morgan paid for them as she pulled her chair closer.
‘Yamas.’ Suzanna said as she knocked it back and then as they both faced each other placed her leg in-between his. She lent forward again, kissed him a lot deeper using her tongue whilst stoking the inside of his leg with her hand. ‘Lets go!’ she whispered in his ear, but as she stood it was easy to see she wasn’t going far.
Morgan paid his tab and asked Erika. ‘Where does Suzanna live?’
‘She lives down a lane on the other side of the main Corfu road. You’ll never find it without a taxi and help with directions. You’d better take her home with you!’ she smiled. ‘We know she’s safe, take her!’
“What!’ Morgan said. Even though, it had been his intention to seduce her, he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to get anybody involved in his traumatic life.
Erika looked a little puzzled.’ You mean you don’t want to take her?’
Suzanna placed her hand behind his neck and spoke softly to him. ‘Take me, I’m yours,’ She looked him in the eyes and pulled at his hand. As she pulled at him, he had trouble picking up their bags.
A few minutes later he had managed to navigate the hotel stairs holding onto her and the two bags he was carrying, he fumbled with his key and eventually unlocked the door, as she pushed on it, both of them fell onto the floor, Morgan slightly on top of her. She kissed him passionately and wrapped her leg around his waist. ‘Make love, to me!’
Morgan kicked the door shut, and they embraced pulling at one another’s clothes removing a garment at a time on the way to the bed. He undid her bra and cupped her breast, her pert nipple hardened between his finger and thumb. ‘I’m good at tricks she said pushing him back onto the bed. Her hair tickled his stomach, as she welcomed him through her lips. Nothing had felt this good in ages he thought. She worked her magic on his body, coiled like a spring ready to explode. Affectionately he grabbed her to lay her on the bed, she was a vision he thought as he climbed between her legs. She sighed and pulled him close, kissed him and wrapped herself around him. Their two bodies in the heat of passion moved together in frantic motion. Moaning with ecstasy, sweat dripped off their bodies, as if the room was a sauna. Eventually they fell entwined into an exhausted sleep, he had expelled some of the demons of hate from his soul.
The next day Suzanna was a little embarrassed with the circumstances of their first meeting. She glowed red as she left the bed to take a shower. ‘Be careful the waters cold at this time in the morning,’ he shouted just before she shrieked with surprise at its temperature.
Morgan yawned and slumped over as he sat on the corner of the bed, holding his head in his hands to ease a hangover. He pulled on his boxers and ventured over to the dressing table mirror and winked at his reflection. Last night had been exactly what he needed. All the frustration of his youth; being tucked away in the boarding school had overflowed, as he sought to please his companion. He had missed being around girls and women as he grew up. It had been difficult to build a relationship with his father’s business demanding so much time at holidays and weekends. Yet one more reason that he had kicked against being a part of his fathers plans. Morgan sighed then looked again in the mirror, the new image works he thought overjoyed at his newfound sexual freedom. It felt fantastic!
‘Suzanna, you fancy breakfast?’ he called.
‘I’ve no time; I’m late for work, Jenny will be mad!’ she said as she stepped out of the shower water dripping off her body. With a quick rub down from a towel she paraded in all her glory before quickly putting on her uniform.
‘You haven’t got time for a coffee?’ Morgan asked.
‘Or a breakfast! How do you think I stay so thin! You can let me have one of your cigarettes,’ She took one from the packet on the side table, lit it and then hurried out of the room. ‘Might see you in the Bar, later?’ she smiled as her bag swung over her shoulder and she ran down the staircase, leaving smoke behind her.
How can she do that he thought nursing his head, it must be an occupational hazard of working here, he thought whilst getting himself ready. The time was ten o’clock and the resort outside the window was busy welcoming another sunny day to the island.
Morgan ventured outside the hotel for the second day in shorts and a black polo t-shirt, he was a little unkempt with two days stubble and blood shot eyes. He had packed to go into town but wondered if it might be best to leave it for a few days, the run up to the weekend might have busier streets he could use to his advantage. It was just after ten thirty and before he could do anything he would need a bite to eat. He wandered to the cafe & bakery by Molfetta beach and ordered a coffee and bacon sandwich, sitting with his shades on scouring the English papers for any updates on his father’s murder. Most tabloids had the same generic insight, but the Times had the most in depth article following certain scenarios of his dad’s life, but they had no concrete evidence to explain why it had happened in such a wealthy part of town. It quoted the police who at this stage were following enquires and would not comment on spiraling investigations. He noted that they did, however, desperately want to find Mr Burdett’s son, and were stepping up efforts to locate him. There was a picture of him from his school days, cap blazer and all. He couldn’t have sent them a better photo himself. The resemblance was terrible, he admitted to feeling relief, perhaps no one would recognising him after all.
When his head felt a little sharper, he followed his first instinct about venturing into town and decided to wait a few more days. He left the shop after purchasing a bottle of water and then bought a knock off Polo sport towel before slowly walking down to the beach, where he noticed the locals had now brushed away the washed up seaweed and organised rows of deck chairs with parasols at the waters edge. There were a greater number of tourists today, some already turning pink like lobsters under the strength of the sun. He walked to a more shaded area of the beach and made himself comfortable laying with just his shorts on to relax. If he was to stop here he would have to gain a tan like the locals, he justified being lazy.
A few days later he had a deepening tan, courtesy of his mothers genes, his hair was turning lighter with blonde streaks that he had not seen since he had been a child. He had got to know a few more of the bar owners and business people on his nights out and was enjoying himself perhaps a little too much, maybe tonight he would genuinely try to find a job by asking at the workers bar The Barrel.
It was now Friday the 26th, the sixth night of him going underground, and funds were now running dangerously low. Tonight, he thought would have to be an early one. Tomorrow he needed a clear head, so he could go to the bank. He made it out for around nine o’clock, after reading through more of his father’s documents and walked up the lane past Roof Tops to the last bar in Gouvia The Barrel. Beyond it in the distance was the wire fence of the Marina.
He walked in the bar for the first time; it was quiet compared to the ones nearer Molfetta Beach. There was background music and a group of lads playing darts at the far end where the bar was open-air and led out to the beer garden. Morgan sat on a stool and waiting to be served, he could see there were plenty of families outside watching football and the waitress had her hands full collecting the empties.
A few minutes later she came over to serve. ‘Evening, what can I get you!’ she asked in a cockney accent.
‘A large Mythos.’
‘That’ll be an Amstel draft then mi darling,’ she confirmed looking at him with her eyes wide, nodding her head. ‘We don’t sell bottles here love,’ she said as she brought a frothy pint sized glass over.
Morgan’s poor first impressions of the rundown place made him think, why do people come here? As the night wore on he began to realise the atmosphere and the local characters who drunk there made up for the decor. At about eleven o’clock, he was about to leave and collect his Kebab before retiring early, when as he sank the last part of his pint he received a surprising pat on the back from two unlikely characters. It was Davie and Stevie from the plane.
‘See I told you, I saw him, last night Davie laughed,’ as he turned to his brother.
‘You always remember a face,’ Stevie grinned. ‘What you having to drink Morgan?’ he asked.
The night flashed by as the two scousers told him about getting arrested. ‘You wouldn’t want to be held in those cells for long, they’re as bad as a sewer.’ Stevie said as Davie nodded and held his nose with his fingers.
‘Did you see any Italians?’ Morgan fished for information.
‘Come to think of it, we did. Why is everyone so interested in these guys? Everywhere we go! Once people find out we’ve been in the cells they ask about the Italians.’ Davie said with a grin. ‘It’ll cost you a few drinks though.’
There was a bit of a pause and then Morgan said. ‘OK! I owe you a couple from the plane, Spill the gossip.’
Stevie jumped in. ‘Anyway I got a better view of them than you. You ought to see the face of one of them, eye all closed up and a busted lip. The police gave them a good hiding; you could hear the punches in the cells next door. It was a bit loud with lots of cursing and shouting, plenty of banging about.’
‘The cops didn’t seem too happy about the situation. I think they’d got their hands full sorting them out, so they just let us go. No questions at all, better than the cops back home!’
‘You were shitting it, thinking we were next!’ Davie laughed at his brother.
‘No I wasn’t!’
‘Anyways, we think they were a hit squad. They were hard, apparently they didn’t talk. They didn’t give up any information only a few broken teeth.’ a guard said.
‘Some poor bastards going to get it, sooner or later.’ Morgan said thoughtfully, before getting the round in.
‘So what you doing here?’ Morgan was surprised to be drinking with them.
‘There’s no work down there in Kavos, all the bar jobs have been taken already! We were struggling for coin.’
‘So anyway this driver was dropping off English food, drinks and crisps to a big shop in Kavos.’
‘He’s an Evertonian!’ Davie says.
‘And we get talking about having trouble finding work.’
‘We don’t want to go back home!’ The pair were filling in the story bit by bit.
‘And he says that his gaffer up here in Gouvia wants some lads to help in the warehouse.’
‘Doing a bit of this, a bit of that!’ Davie couldn’t help himself.
“Tremendous scouse accent,’ Morgan said.
‘Runcorn actually,’ Stevie replied.
‘So here we are, and it’s great! A roof over our heads at the warehouse, some out of date snacks and money in our pockets. What’s better than that!’ Davie said.
It was thirsty work catching up. ‘It’s your round then. You’ve got work. I’m still looking and broke,’ Morgan said.
Stevie got some cash out and paid for the next lagers. Then looked around, at the new patrons entering the bar. ‘Talking about scoring, I had a decent crack at these last night, look at them! Very tasty.’ He waved at the girls walking in.
Morgan turned to look. ‘Hello Suzanna, Jenny, Erika,’ he said one by one as they lined up at the bar.
Suzanne blew him a kiss and winked as they all giggled in Swedish.
‘How many times do I have to tell you girls.’ a shout came from a tattooed man emerging from behind the bar. ‘Only English and Greek spoken in this bar!’ He appeared serious at first, but then laughed. ‘What can I get you?’
‘Hej Damien, hur mår du? Sorry! How are you?’ Erika asked.
‘Damien fick en solbränna.’ he replied.
‘Yes you have gotten a nasty sunburn, just like someone else I know!’ she pointed to Morgan whose nose was permanently a shade of red.
Stevie leaned on the bar and whispered. ‘You been there?’
Morgan just nodded.
‘You don’t waste any time do you. You lucky bastard!’
As the night went by, and the stars dissapeared in the first light of day, drinkers at the bar stepped outside into the beer garden to watch the sun rise. It was beautiful for Morgan to share one more night with Suzanna, but he had made up his mind that this would be their last. He didn’t want anyone to get hurt, physically or emotionally, anyway sooner or later he would have to do some nasty things and he wouldn’t be able to do that with the girl in tow. He would tell her later but for the time being, it was just right; they sat with arms around one another watching the day break.
At six o’clock, everyone went home as the bar closed. Suzanna was pissed off because Morgan had told her, he had things to do. ‘Like what?’ She had said impatiently, before getting upset and leaving with Jenny. He walked down the lane once the street had cleared. Stevie and Davie had swayed from left to right holding Erica up, arms locked over their shoulders. He felt alone and a little sad thinking about Suzanna. He walked on past the hotel not wanting to go to bed yet and lit a cigarette; his head was clearing from the affects of alcohol as he approached the junction by the Molfetta Beach Hotel. He made his way over to the cafe he always used for breakfast and sat next to the French doors. He was deep in thought looking down the lane when there came a tap on a pane of glass in the door.
‘Yassu Morgan,’ George the owner said as he opened the door. He appeared from the dark interior of his shop dressed in white like a ghost, flour on his hands and face.
‘What you doing here at this time of the morning?’ he asked.
‘Can’t sleep, got a lot on my mind at the moment!’ Morgan frowned rubbing his temples before finishing off his cigarette.
‘Come on through to the back. I’ll fix you up. Come, come!’ he said ushering Morgan in.
‘This place always smells so good.’ Morgan gave the man a compliment, as he smelt the aroma of fresh coffee and the baking of fresh bread from the large hot ovens.
‘This place is my life. The bread! The pastry! The cafe! I build this from nothing when I first get married. It has been good to me, but now I am getting older, and the work is hard.’
‘Perhaps you should take it a little easier!’ Morgan sat at an old wooden table in the kitchen, as the baker poured them some fresh coffee and placed a plate of hot croissants in between them. ‘Help yourself,’ he placed two plates out and some butter.
‘I don’t mind hard work because the business takes care of us. My wife and I have three daughters, and they are taken care of through this.’ He held up his dough-covered hands, to show Morgan.
‘Why don’t you retire!’
The baker laughed. ‘I have seven months of the year to make a living, with my hands and a handful of apartments I rent across the road near to the beach. Then we pack up and go to Athens, there’s little to do here in the winter.’
‘Oh I didn’t realise that, I’ve never actually thought about what happens out of season.’
‘That’s why I worry! I worry about dropping numbers of tourists. I worry for the islanders; everyone’s highly competitive with each other chasing the same tourists. It’s not like it used to be, when lots of British came out here in the eighties.’ He sighed and then carried on. ‘And this news about the mafia is going to make people mad. I heard the other day that there had been some trouble in the north of the island, a little place called Kassiopi. Some armed men have taken some rented villas; you know Mafia in a feud. The locals who looked after the villas were beat up quite badly trying to stop these guys. What can you do if the bastards have got guns. Nothing!’ He spat out his last words in disgust, before drinking his coffee and taking a bite of one of his croissants.
Morgan just sat in silence; his thoughts now compounded by what the baker was telling him. He felt uncomfortable and responsible, for what was happening to the islanders.
The baker continued. ‘Everyone now wants something for nothing, nobody builds, nobody creates the way the old people here used to make life work for themselves. I remember back then we seemed happier. We had little and family meant a lot. How times change, now we can’t afford to stop here in the winter, we have to work elsewhere,’ he sighed.
Morgan looked glum but then turned the conversation around. ‘You know! I have nothing to go back to England for, after my holiday. I was just thinking outside how enjoyable it would be to stay here for a while. You know get a nice tan.’ he raised his arm to show the baker.
‘Well now you know I have apartments, if you want to stay I would be pleased to rent you one at a special price?’
‘How much for the season, if I can find a job?’ Morgan asked.
‘We look after our workers here. Normally it would be two hundred and fifty euro a month for a studio, but I like you. Lets say a hundred and fifty euro a month for the rest of the season. You pay every month?’
The deal sounded terrific, a lot cheaper than the hotel. ‘OK it’s my last night tonight in the hotel, I will see you later about it!’
George smiled. ‘Ah to be young and have the rest of your life ahead of you, it would be nice to be in your shoes for a week. This is my life now. This is the way I live for my family!’
‘You’re right, your family need you, you should be happier! Life’s too short and then you die!’
George looked puzzled by the boys comment but didn’t question it. The boy looked tired, his eyes looked heavy. ‘I’ll let you rest your head for a while,’ he said as he continued with his baking.
Morgan sat and watched the flames from the ovens and drank more coffee, he watched the baker work and then laid his head down on the table before falling asleep. When he awoke it was to the clattering of trays in the kitchen sink. The baker’s wife and daughter were cleaning the ovens; the baker was nowhere in sight. It was ten o’ clock, after working through the night he’d gone back to bed for a rest.
A few minutes later he made excuses to leave, and thanked them for the bakers hospitality. He asked them for directions to the Corfu town bus stop and made his way there by crossing over the main dual carriageway. He didn’t have to wait long until an old blue bus stopped to allow passengers on at the front and back doors. Now he could have a day out of the resort, relax and see the sights. He would become a tourist for the day find his way around the islands main town and attractions whilst drawing out sufficient funds for living and any emergency. If he used the card in the capital, he would still give himself room for manoeuvre on the island, whilst they searched high and low to track him down.
Morgan looked at a tourist leaflet he had picked up when leaving the bakery it read. Corfu Town: When you explore the beautiful leafy streets of Corfu Town, you will find hidden treasures of architecture, wonderful churches, fortresses and even a palace. Historians will love the Archaeological Museum, offering an insight into Corfu’s past, as well as the neoclassical Museum of Asian Art, which houses some breathtaking pieces originating from China and Japan, and the Municipal Gallery of Corfu which showcases famous works such as the ‘Sphinx’ by Sp. Skarvelis and ‘The assassination of Capodistria’ by Haralambos Pachis.
He read the brief history of the island: The Old Town of Corfu is located in a strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea and has its roots in the 8th century BC. The three forts of the town, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, were used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. In the course of time, the forts were repaired and partly rebuilt several times, more recently under British rule in the 19th century. The mainly neoclassical housing stock of the Old Town is partly from the Venetian period, partly of later construction, notably the 19th century. As a fortified Mediterranean port, Corfu’s urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.
When Morgan left the bus in the main metropolitan square, modern Corfu Town seemed quite upbeat and cosmopolitan, the streets themselves did seem to be a mixture of Greek, Venetian, French and British influences as stonework and pillars marked where the trading houses and prominent public buildings were. He walked down the wide footpaths, which were now full of weekend shoppers, the main streets were a wash with teenagers on scooters dodging in and out of cars and buses. He spent some time window-shopping but as the time passed by, with a matter of urgency he followed the streets to the commercial part where all the banks were. There alongside the National Bank of Greece was the Alpha Bank; here was where he could replenish his funds. He stopped at the cash point but then realised that like, in the UK, his withdrawal would be limited to a small amount. So he ventured inside careful, to position himself away from any security cameras. After a long queue, he reached the front to be served by a frosty looking clerk with grey hair and square glasses.
‘What can I do for you today?’ the man asked.
‘I’d like to withdraw some cash.’ Morgan asked as he pushed through his cash card.
‘We have cash dispensers outside.’ the clerk said with an attitude as he shuffled some paperwork.
‘For a lump sum of five thousand Euros.’ Morgan replied.
The clerk looked a little wearily at the boy. ‘Have you any identification?’ he asked.
The boy provided him with his passport and the clerk checked his account on a monitor. ‘Which branch do you have your account with?’ the clerk asked suspiciously.
Morgan hesitated for a moment, according to his father’s notes all the bankcards he had been given had been set up and verified by his father, signing funds over to his son after his sixteenth birthday. ‘It’s an online account.’
‘I see and what’s the money for?’ the clerk was now starting to irritate him.
Morgan was just about to tell the guy it was none of his business when the bell rang for Saturday half-day close. It was twelve o’clock. ‘I need a new scooter, the old one’s packed in.’ he said in Greek.
‘Can I have four thousand five hundred in high bills, and the rest in fifty’s.’ he asked, to save a bulge in his pocket.
The man nodded and then punched in some information on the computer. A few minutes later Morgan’s heart rate had nearly returned to normal as he walked down the steps from the bank on his way to the Old Town, five thousand Euros safely tucked away with his passport in his shorts.
Morgan admired the Venetian old part of town. It was laid out in the 14th century according to the leaflet. It had lots of narrow alleys lined with multi-storeyed pastel-coloured buildings with red tiled roofs. As he walked down alleys crammed with character, he eventually found a pedestrian intersection. Here, the alleys met in a stream of tourist activity along the Liston, a row of cafes and restaurants, the scene was breathtaking with many arches stretching as far as the eye could see. In the panoramic backdrop reaching out to the sea was a green tree studded park with a cricket pitch in the middle of it. Rising above this in the distance was the museum and old forts, which dominated the bays surrounding the town. In the clear sky above, he could hear swallows and house martins screeching with delight at their surroundings.
He decided he would walk and take a closer look at the forts and made his way along the footpath past a taxi rank. After about ten minutes, he had reached the grand metal railings by the raised promenade, which indicated a steep gradient down to the coastal road to Kanoni and the sweeping shallow waters of the bay. Here, he welcomed a slight breeze, but it was much too hot to be standing in the mid day sun. Morgan sat for a while on a bench under the shadow of a palm tree. He watched the Ionian Sea with its steady stream of ferries and cruise ships navigating around the forts, a lifeline for the island bringing inquisitive people to a world heritage site.
As time passed by his throat started to get dry and he felt a little dizzy, he realised he was probably dehydrated and so followed a sign to the museum, there he would find a cafe and refreshing shade amongst the tall pillars of the grand building. He walked along the promenade past the main walkway to the forts following one of the main roads in an arc towards it, as he approached the neatly tucked away museum the number of pedestrian began to thin in this shady part of the town.
He was in a daze when a taxi screeched to a halt beside him and scared the life out of him.
‘Hello, my friend, I think you need a cab,’ a voice called from inside the old silver Mercedes.
As Morgan overcame his shock, he approached the car and realised it was the old taxi driver from the airport.
‘Yia sou Spiro! Are you trying to run your fares over now!’ Morgan joked pointing to the close proximity of his tyres to the footpath.
‘No but I am trying to help them from being followed,’ he pointed to two shady figures who were picking up their pace along the footpath. ‘What you waiting for, jump in!’ Spiro shouted, as the two men now burst into a sprint.
Morgan surprised by the men’s unwanted attention, pulled at the cab door and threw him self in.
‘Keep down,’ Spiro shouted as the car quickly accelerated before his wing mirror exploded into a thousand pieces.
‘Who are they?’
‘I’ll tell you who they aren’t. They aren’t police! Police don’t shoot you before asking questions not even here in Corfu!’ he said anxiously, as he followed the coastal road through the town quickly passing the museum.
Morgan slid around on the leather seat as Spiro negotiated a chicane like bend. He pulled himself up to look out of the back. ‘There’s a hole in the window,’ the boy shouted.
‘Keep down just in case they are following!’ Spiro looked through the rear view mirror, to assess any tail.
‘I thought I told you, to let Maria know if you needed a cab.’ the old man cautiously stated.
Morgan sat in silence for a moment, and then asked. ‘Do you know who I am?’ His comments were ignored.
Now it was the turn of the taxi driver to remain silent, as he skilfully weaved across town along crowded streets and congested side streets. It was obvious that he was covering their tracks and ensuring no one could follow them. ‘It’s OK. You can sit up now.’
Morgan pulled himself upright, and saw they were now travelling along the notorious dual carriageway that led away from the capital. Ahead of them were the main resorts to the north east of the island. They were speeding at 120km per hour as the car zipped past scooters and dodged buses and lorries. Soon they would have to slow to take account of the traffic lights at various intersections near Gouvia.
Very little was said for the rest of the journey. Spiro called Maria on his mobile. ‘Move your car off of the hotel driveway, and get me the old tarpaulin cover from the outside pool bar.’ he asked, and then had an earful of a one-way conversation, before putting the phone down. ‘Women!’ he said in an irritated tone.
As the taxi pulled into the resort along the main junction Spiro pulled over and stopped at the tobacco Kiosk. He returned with a pack of cigars. Minutes later they were parked alongside the pool to the rear of the hotel, ‘Go through into the bar and ask Maria to pour two large Metaxas, not the cheap stuff! I need a drink!’
As Morgan walked past the deserted pool area, he looked back to see Spiro covering the damaged Mercedes. The boy entered the hotel and was welcomed into the bar by Maria. ‘What has happened, where were you last night? Why has Spiro brought you back? What is Spiro doing with his car?’
Morgan ignored Maria’s questioning. He was dazed and confused, and he needed to know what was going on. ‘Maria can I get two large Metaxas, Spiro says not the cheap stuff!’
A few minutes later Spiro breezed into the bar wearing his panama hat puffing on a cigar. He approached the bar and downed a generous measure of the brandy. ‘Give me the bottle Maria!’ he gestured with his hands to his cousin behind the bar. ‘We’re going outside to the pool; bring me some mixer and ice. Come Morgan I think we need a chat,’ he barked.
They sat around the deserted pool as Maria came out with a tray of small mixer bottles and a cup full of ice; they were seated at the pools edge facing the hotel cooling their legs in the water.
‘Leave us alone,’ Spiro said as if he were dispatching a nosey waitress from their sight.
Maria looked back disapprovingly. ‘Don’t mess up the pool area remember I’ve got my first tourists coming later!’
Morgan sipped on his Metaxa and then coughed. ‘Pass me a mixer.’
The old man flicked his wrist and opened the small bottle of ginger ale. ‘I’ve had that car from brand new, and been in tight scrapes with it before. I never been shot at.’ He said before puffing on his cigar.
‘Sorry, It’s all my fault,’ Morgan tried to talk to the old man as Spiro took his shirt off to reveal his white vest underneath.
‘That car was a present from my late wife Alexis, bless her soul! Those malakas put holes in her!’
Morgan felt terrible but thought, better the car than him!
‘Malakas That’s what the Italians are! There always mafia, they don’t know how to do business unless they got muscle with guns. That’s not the Greek way,’ he turned to Morgan and knocked back his second neat drink. ‘Drink! Drink! He encouraged the boy to charge his glass. ‘Here have another one! Yammas!’ The two of them clinked glasses together and drank. This went on for the majority of the afternoon before Spiro relaxed and started to smile again, as the danger of the afternoon began to mellow. The old man was getting tipsy and started to talk about the old days on the island, the wealthy olive plantation and a vineyard in the hills where Spiro grew up. After a long conversation about the man’s life, it was obvious to see that the man sitting with Morgan was no taxi driver. His stories revealed that he was too well connected to be a peasant, yet he wasn’t a councillor or anything legal even though he knew the law. It was as if he owned a lot of the island, but was no landlord. It was a mystery, and no matter how direct Morgan’s questions were about the taxi driver following him, the man always managed to talk around them. Spiro although he never answered any of Morgan’s prying, did not dissuade the young man from warming to him, Morgan was glad to have such a character watching over him.
Eventually Maria brought some pork and chicken outside and made a barbecue next to the pool bar it was turning to evening now, as the sky glowed orange over the pine covered hills. It was hot with no air. The promised heat wave had arrived to the joy of the fireflies that were coming out to play in the dusk. Morgan took off his t-shirt and plunged into the pool, he would have a little swim before dinner. The boy dived a little to clear his head of the brandy then swam a few lengths as the charcoal began to glow red and orange on the big oil drum barbecue, which illuminated the bar area of the sun terrace. He watched Maria as she filled the table with Greek salad and dips; Spiro checked the tender meat covered with herbs as it cooked. To accompany the meal was a selection of wines displayed centrally on the table.
‘That smells delicious,’ Morgan said as he climbed from the pool.
‘It will be ready soon. Why don’t you freshen up before our guests arrive,’ Spiro placed his shirt and hat back on to look more formal.
Half an hour later Morgan had shaved off his stubble. Sprayed with No1 D&G aftershave which stung a little, dressed in his baggy jeans and red Ralph Lauren shirt. Running down the flights of stairs and passing by the bar area, he could hear the TV and English voices of Sky news chatting away. He thought nothing of it and opened the French doors to walk out into the pleasant evening air. His sandals gripped the slippery marble as he walked by the pool over to a group of people who gathered socialising with glasses of wine. As he approached he could see places had been set for seven people. In the centre, of the table was a plain sponge cake along with a tray of sweet baklava.
‘Yia sas,’ Morgan said as he approached the table.
‘Ah this is our first guest of the season,’ Maria welcomed the boy to the table. ‘This is my husband Panos,’ she said placing her hand on the stocky man’s shoulder. He had short black hair with grey temples and wore a gold medallion around his neck.
‘Pou ine i, Spiro?’ the boy asked, noticing he was missing.
‘He’s gone to the bar to get another bottle of wine,’ said one of the men, who was in his thirties, he wore a baseball cap and athletic clothing with Nike trainers. ‘My name is Ariston, pos se lene?’
‘Me lene, Morgan,’ The other man sat around the table introduced himself as Stavros he was smaller than all the rest and had golden hair with a side parting, he had chinos and a cream linen jacket that bulged on his left hand side. He greeted the boy and gave an uneasy smile before returned to talk to Maria.
A few minutes later Spiro returned with two bottles of red wine. ‘Where is Andreas?’ he asked as he inspected the barbecue. ‘The Kebabs are nearly ready!’ he placed the bottles in front of his place at the table and then walked off to speak on his mobile.
Maria brought out more food on a tray. ‘We have my husband’s favourite meal Stifado, and some stuffed tomatoes to go with the other food,’ she took the top off the casserole dish and handed out fresh bread.
‘Come Spiro, the food is ready!’ Maria’s husband Panos shouted as the gathering began to help themselves to the grill and fresh salad.
Once the hungry guests moved from the barbecue Maria passed Morgan a plate, and he too gathered at the grill alongside Spiro to examine what was on offer. There were chicken filleted pieces that had been marinated in oregano and basil, it looked a lovely golden brown colour set against his white plate. He also picked up a kebab and started to nibble taking one mouthful of the skewered pork, onion and pepper.
‘This is delicious!’ Morgan acknowledged Maria’s cooking.
‘So is the Stifado,’ Panos gestured to his wife with delight.
He was just about to return to the table when Spiro held his arm. ‘You and I need to talk. I have been watching the news from England. The authorities are widening their search abroad for you and are making demands for the local police in town to start searching for you. It won’t be long before they come to the resort knocking on the hotel’s door. Soon the English police will come! He nodded gravely.
‘So you do know who I am? Morgan asked.
‘You will have to come with us tonight, we can look after you and keep you safe,’ the old man spoke softly but with purpose.
‘Do you know who I am? The boy repeated.
The old man sighed, and the frowned at him. ‘I recognise you, from a long time ago when you and your father used to visit the island.’
Morgan picked at his chicken and broke a piece off to eat. ‘I can’t remember seeing you on our travels!’
‘I have always been in the background. Your father once bought wine from me!’
Morgan looked a little guarded. ‘How do I know I can trust someone who has been following me for days?’
The old man shrugged. ‘You were followed by more than just me. It is lucky for you that I saw those malakas, or you would be dead!
Morgan thought for a moment. ‘What would you have me do?’
‘You come with us to the vineyard. It is secure and out of bounds to the public.’ the old man gathered a pile of food on his plate and then turned to return to the table. ‘If you listen to me, we can keep you safe!’ he patted the boy on the shoulder. ‘No need to worry!’
Morgan placed some more chicken on his plate and rejoined the diners. He added some salad and stuffed tomatoes to his plate and then began to devour his meal. He looked across the table as Spiro pulled the corks out of the dusty bottles of red wine. ‘Anyone for 2003 Satanna’s Well Cabernet Sauvignon?’ he asked.
‘We are honoured, what’s the special occasion?’ Panos asked offering his glass to his elder.
‘It’s good luck to welcome in the tourist season, good luck for you that it starts officially in the hotel tomorrow,’ he filled everyone’s glasses and then stood. ‘Here’s a toast to good health, wealth and family. Yammas!’ Spiro saluted.
Morgan drank some of the red wine that smacked his lips and taste buds with a rich, smooth flavour before reaching over to examine the familiar wine bottle. The label was black, and set within it was the golden devils fork logo of the vineyard ‘Satanna’s Well.’ Indeed 2003 was a good year for the wine, but Morgan also recognised that it was the year his mother had died. The year he would start boarding school, and the year his father started to educate him for his future life. Morgan put the bottle down and looked at Spiro, just who the hell was this old man! he wondered.
As the night, passed by the stars lit up the sky and Maria put wood on the fire to illuminate her guests as they drank and ate the rest of the feast. Morgan got to know more about his companions, especially Ariston who it turned out ran his yachting firm at the marina. Stavros was a trusted worker from the vineyard who was never far away from Spiro, who himself called him, ‘His right hand man!’ whatever that meant?
Morgan could feel the heat building from the flames of the barbecue as the men sat in an arch around it finishing the remaining wine. It wouldn’t be long before they would say farewells to make their way home for the night. Morgan sat feeling a little uneasy about moving to the vineyard so talked again to Spiro. ‘I know I have a lot to thank you for today,’ the boy nodded towards the covered car at the back of the drive. ‘And I somehow know you are trying to look after me.’ The boy played with his wine glass. ‘But I have to turn your offer to move to the vineyard down!’ He sat on the edge of the seat addressing the old man. Before Spiro could answer Panos stood and looked at the two other men in the party. ‘Come my friends, I think there is a need for some privacy.’ Both Stavros and Ariston nodded and quietly left for the hotel bar.
At the side of the pool, the two remaining figures were silhouetted by the flames from the grill, some bats flew down and skimmed the waters surface, while others flew around in circles above their heads. Both of them felt tense.
‘I wish you would reconsider. The vineyard is large, and there is plenty of room to do as you wish,’ the old man pleaded.
‘I appreciate your offer and realise that I am in danger here, but I need to face my troubles alone and work out a way to expose those who want me tracked down.’
‘You can’t hold out on your own. There are far too many of them, and they have powerful people to protect them in high places.’
‘That is why I don’t want you to get involved. It would be too dangerous for you.’
Spiro laughed. ‘That is very kind of you, but I have faced danger all my life. This situation makes no difference. I’ve been on their hit list for a long time, why do you think Stavros stays close!’ the man said gravely.
‘Until I have exposed these people, I can’t trust anyone. I am coming to terms with who my father was, and who I am. Unfortunately, the time has come for me to make my own way in life, or fall trying. Only I can rectify the situation and resolve any issue regarding the family business.’
The old man nodded. ‘You have grown up so quickly and understand the nature of our world. I respect your wishes, and wish you well in what you are trying to achieve.’ The old man stood and spat into the fire. ‘It seems you have only one choice and that is to fight, may god have mercy on our souls. I’m afraid many more people are going to die, before peace will return to the island.’
‘I have a lot to fight for, but also have a lot to lose. My father tried to prepare me, If only I had been a more attentive student, instead of fighting him on business matters, only time will tell if I can expose my enemy and overcome their superiority.’
‘You have a lot to do. First things first, get out of the hotel and find somewhere else to stay, they will come soon and check everywhere for you.’ Spiro warned.
‘I have already found somewhere, but I need a job to blend in with the locals,’ the boy gestured openly with the palms of his hands.
‘In that respect, I can help. Find your way to the Gouvia Villa Club Complex and ask for Andreas. He is my nephew. He needs help in the restaurant. You have experience, and you are ideal to work there. Tell him, I send you!’
Morgan smiled and shook the old man’s hand. ‘You have been an enormous help, thank you!’
Spiro picked up an old jacket with leather patches on its arms and padded it down. ‘Here, I have something for you,’ the old man produced a revolver from his inside pocket. Remember it’s an old school revolver, aim wisely and always hit your target.’
Morgan frowned. It was an unexpected gift. ‘Thank you, I will use it on those that deserve it!’
‘I will be watching.’ Spiro stood with a tear in his eye. He shuck the boy’s hand and then turned and walked away. ‘Stavros get the car. We are leaving,’ a figure from the shadow of the trees by the drive appeared in the moonlight.
Morgan took a few moments to handle the gun, and then concealed the revolver in his baggy jeans. He drank the little remaining wine, and sat looking into the fire. Spiro had showed the hand of friendship and the boy recognised that his father’s teachings were coming true. Let them show themselves to you and you will know who is friend or foe.
Later once everyone had gone, Maria approached him in front of the fading fire. ‘Morgan it is nine o’ clock, and Spiro says it is time for you to go!’
The boy nodded and followed her back into the hotel, he quickly gathered up his belongings and paid his bill. As he walked down the lane toward the cafe and bakery a tourist bus pulled up outside the hotel, emerging from it were pale skinned British holidaymakers. The tourist season for the hotel had undoubtedly begun.
Half an hour later the baker had just left him in his new apartment, it was a basic studio with a bathroom, bedroom and fridge that opened onto a veranda. The veranda itself looked over a small stream that flowed across the grounds under a small footbridge and alongside the building. The apartments themselves were truly private as they were sheltered from the paths by large orange and lemon trees that were in bloom and smelled gorgeous.
His room was alone on the end of the block and had a metal table and two chairs for his use. Around the corner, three more rooms shared a communal space outside their French doors. Above him were two more floors, he had insisted on the ground apartment for ease of coming and going. The pathways were a series of rat runs that split off in various directions, to the great variety of holiday homes located there. He knew he could get back to the main street in three different ways and cut down to the beach in as many if not more routes. He could vary his coming and going accordingly to avoid being followed to his new home.
He hid his field bag under the slats of his solid bed and again placed the wallet in the water tank of the toilet, before venturing back onto the main street to buy some food supplies. When he returned back to the apartment half an hour later he used a small torch to light the way. He held it in his right hand whilst carrying two bags of food, water and wine. If he had to take cover for some time he would need to eat, so the receipt showed numerous packets of crisps and chocolate bars with other snacks amongst other things. He quickly unpacked and then took off his shirt and jeans and threw them over the bed. Tonight he was exhausted and too tired to venture out, tonight he thought I will stay at my new apartment and relax.
Morgan organised himself out on the veranda. He had opened a bottle of red wine to continue drinking and placed an old glass to use as an ashtray. On the ground, he had set some mosquito repellent smouldering away. He sat with his feet up on another metal chair, dressed only with his towel wrapped around his waist. There was a candle on the table that lit his surroundings as he relaxed and smoked a cigarette.
The boy poured some wine and drank a small amount, it was dry and sour compared to Spiro’s label, but he persevered. As he sat half naked listening to the stream, he closed his eyes and rubbed the tension away from his neck. When his eyes opened there was a figure in the dark looking directly at him, at first it made him jump and he nearly jumped off his chair to scramble for the revolver, but then he realised it was a woman.
‘Hej dab,’ she raised a hand to greet him.
‘Hello,’ Morgan replied. ‘You Swedish?’ He was trying to appear worldly wise.
‘Yes, from near Stockholm! You have just moved in?’ she asked.
‘Yes literally,’ Morgan smiled. ‘And you?’
‘It’s our second week,’ she said venturing closer to the light. She was a brunette with a freckled face and a dark golden tan, thin and petite.
‘Me too!’ He looked at his watch, it was now ten o’clock.
‘You’re nearly my neighbour, I live two doors down.’
‘Oh! Nice to meet you.’ Morgan raised his hand. ‘Are you going out for the evening?’ he expected she would be going to a nightclub.
‘No not tonight, my girlfriend has gone to meet someone. I’m not too bothered in going out alone.’
Morgan nodded in agreement at her.
She smiled and then hesitated for a moment and then walked away along the veranda.
Morgan yawned and rubbed his hair with his left hand whilst looking down at the stream and listening to the water again.
‘It is nice down here!’ the girl made Morgan jump once again.
‘Jesus!’ Morgan replied in shock for the second time in as many minutes.
‘Sorry!’ she hesitated again before speaking. ‘Are you here alone?’ she was inquisitive. ‘You smoke don’t you?’ she approached him.
‘Why?’ he felt a little off guard.
‘Oh just wondered if you wanted to share some grass?’ She produced a clear bag of the stuff from behind her back.
‘Do I ever, but I haven’t got any rollup or papers!’
‘Ah, one minute,’ she produced the papers and roller.
‘Ok! We can improvise, please sit down and have some wine’
She giggled a little and quickly drank a glass of wine. ‘My name is Haley.’
‘Hi, I’m Morgan.’
They put everything onto the table and opened two Marlboro’s to use the tobacco, sprinkling in an equal amount of grass in the centre of four papers. On his third attempt, Morgan managed to get the paper to stick and they had something that resembled a joint.
‘That’s the largest joint I’ve ever seen! You’re an expert!’
‘Don’t think so, but practice makes perfect.’ he said cheekily.
‘Excellent!’ her face, nicely proportioned features and bobbed hair could now be seen more clearly in the candlelight.
She was plain but beautiful
‘Just a word of warning before we smoke this, but this stuff makes me horny as hell!’
‘Doesn’t it for everyone, not that I need encouragement!’ She seemed eager. ‘Well light it then,’ she was getting impatient.
Ten minutes later Morgan felt a wave of relaxation flow over his body. The tension in his neck seemed to be drifting a little as he rolled his head and shoulders to feel more comfortable.
‘Are you having trouble with your neck?’ she asked.
‘It’s a little tense. I’ve been under a bit of stress recently.’
‘Oh you work in the stock exchange do you?’ she laughed.
‘No a profession with greater risks than that!’
‘I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you,’ he said to her amusement.
‘Here let me do that, I’m a beautician back home,’ she moved her chair and sat behind him, using her fingers to unknot his tired muscles.
He relaxed in the chair and passed the joint behind him. She took a drag and exhaled into the night around them, the sweet smell of grass drifted on the air. She passed it back and carried on rubbing his neck and shoulders in a more sensual way. A few minutes later they were high. Haley broke off for a second and took the last drag of the joint, when she turned him around she was naked. She leaned forward and kissed him deeply with her tongue blowing smoke into his mouth. The kiss suddenly turned into sexual stimulation as the drug sent pleasure waves to his brain. He reached forward to her and drew her close as his towel fell away. There on the veranda the two of them were naked kissing one another passionately, she took his hand and sucked his middle finger, her mouth was moist and warm to his touch. He pulled her close, but she fought his attention by wriggling free and leading him inside his apartment.
‘I’m so horny, fuck me hard and don’t stop until you make me come!’
‘Morgan’s head felt a little cloudy as if he might pass out, but his animal instincts took over as he positioned her head and breasts pushed down onto the bed. He nudged his way forward so he could push harder and slid inside her. He closed his eyes, as his mouth watered and rotated his hips to increase the pleasure; everything was so sensitive. She backed up on him until she shuddered and moaned grabbing him nearer and nearer. The boy dug deep into his stamina trying to satisfy her; finally he was exhausted, and then she grabbed him and climbed on top. ‘Tonight I’m going to give you the ride of a lifetime.’
Eventually they collapsed on top of the bed. ‘Jesus what’s a matter with you Swedish girls,’ he said, groaning to turn over to sleep.
‘I told you grass made me horny.’ She smiled and pulled one more time at his manhood.
‘No more go to sleep!’
‘It’s not often you hear that from a man.’ she purred, and then put her arm around him as they both fell to sleep.
The next day Morgan awoke with a pounding headache the likes he had never felt before, his temples were on fire, and his throat was as dry as the desert. He opened one eye and his blurred vision eventually aligned to see his apartment door ajar letting in a stream of sunlight, he turned over in bed and pulled the light sheet off his body, he needed a bottle of water from the fridge. After drinking the entire bottles content, he blew alcohol fumes from his mouth and shuddered before trying to rub life into his deathly looking face. A few minutes later he was throwing up in the toilet. He felt as green as he had ever been, like it was the first night out he had ever had, and what was shocking was it took him about half an hour to have the slightest recollection of his encounter with the girl from next door.
He began to shake so took a beer from the fridge and sat outside with the towel wrapped around him smoking a cigarette. It was hard on his body, but he knew the only way to cure his poisoned mind was to have a hair of the dog. So he gulped the lager down and smoked until a level playing field entered his mind and his senses returned. An hour and two lagers later he was human, his head full of his exploits, he was proud of his performance.
He looked on the table and saw the small bag of weed that Haley had left and then sensed that something was wrong, on his wrist where the TAG Heuer had once proudly been displayed was a ring of white skin. He rubbed his wrist in disbelief. Did he take it off last night? He scoured the apartment, and when he couldn’t find it, entered into a frenzy of checking his other belongings. He checked his jeans and found that although the revolver, wallet and cash card were there, four thousand of his emergency money had gone. He fell into panic and ran back into the toilet to look in the water tank, with relief he noted that the thousand he had kept back with the other cash cards had not been taken, along with the field bag that was still under the bed.
‘The bitch,’ he said out load flying into a rage. ‘Wait until I get my hands on her,’ he flew out of his apartment wearing just his towel and banged hard on the shutters of his neighbours. ‘Haley! What do you think you’re doing, taking my stuff!’ he shouted banging, some more to wake her up. He waited impatiently as the doors opened and a blonde girl peered out into the bright sunlight.
‘Hello, can you ask Haley to come to the door please I’d like a word with her!’
‘Who?’ The girl asked.
‘Don’t play around. Tell her to get the fuck out here, or I’ll come in!’ she looked startled at Morgan’s behaviour. A moment later her boyfriend suddenly appeared at the door.
‘What’s going on?’ Morgan took a step back.
‘I’m looking for Haley.’
‘Who the fucks Haley?’ the boy asked.
‘The other girl who lives here!’ Morgan shouted.
‘No one here apart from us mate, you’ve got the wrong apartment!’
Morgan stood there in a daze; the boy from the apartment tried to come out but was pushed back in by the girl. ‘No you don’t! Stay in here!’ she said to him holding her hand against his chest. It was a good job she did. Morgan was in no mood for messing around, and he would have dropped him there and then.
‘You don’t know a girl with light brown bobbed hair about five foot six, very slim?’ Morgan enquired.
‘Not seen anyone like that but there are dozens of apartments around here, if you don’t know exactly where she lives you’ll not find her!
‘You’d better go!’ she said anxiously as her boyfriend appeared at the door again.
‘Just fuck off will you and leave us alone.’ The apartment shutters closed with a clatter, leaving Morgan standing on the outside. Then and there he knew he had been played. No wonder he felt so shaky, he’d probably been heavily drugged, to knock him out. He still couldn’t come to terms with all the sex and sleeping together unless she just saw the moment and took it? Perhaps she was just desperate for money? Perhaps he had talked in his sleep and alerted her to the stash. He was relieved in a way that she hadn’t taken the field bag but as sick as a dog about the money, in total he now only had a thousand and thirty Euros’ and he didn’t want to have to go back to the bank, it was too dangerous. Now, he certainly would have to get a job! He was confused, but knew if she didn’t live next door she wouldn’t be far away. It was a hunch but from what she was wearing last night, she undoubtedly lived somewhere around Gouvia. If she did, he would come across her sooner rather than later.
He returned to the apartment, had a shower and found his damp shorts from the night before and threw on a black v-neck t-shirt. He placed the remaining money in his wallet and checked the revolver for bullets, spun the cylinder of the worn revolver and pressed the latch back for safety. He was taking last nights encounter as a warning, from now on he would carry it everywhere. He gathered his bag and put inside a towel and binoculars. At the bottom he placed the gun with his ipod and phone. On leaving the apartment he wedged a small stone in between the shutter doors as he locked them. If anyone entered whilst he was away, it would become dislodged and alert him of an intruder. Before leaving for the day he hid the bag of weed in vines of a climbing plant that grew up the apartments outside wall. Morgan’s feathers had been ruffled, as he ventured out from his studio he was determined to start his research on the Italians and find the mysterious girl. God help her.
As the sun started to warm the paths and roads of the resort Morgan could see that today was going to be another scorcher. Dotted around in the front gardens of hotels were lemon trees that were drooping from the heat. Morgan like the once green vegetation was wilting his t-shirt began to dot with perspiration, and he was beginning to wish he had stayed at the trickling stream by his apartment, out here in the open it was too humid the heat wave had arrived with a vengeance. Half an hour of window shopping and browsing the shops had left him tired, but had resulted in the purchase of some much needed safari shorts with baggy pockets. If it hadn’t been for the need to conceal a weapon on his person he would have passed on the chore, but the garment was a necessity.
He quickly took refuge from the sun under the canopy of the bakery and then sipped coffee whilst getting an update on current affairs from George the baker. Only a few minutes of reflection about the local news had passed when Davie and Stevie screeched to a halt on two scooters. ‘Hey we’ve been looking for you all over the place, and the woman in the hotel wasn’t immensely helpful!’ said Davie.
‘We got these bikes and need something to do. You want to take a ride up to Sidari?’ Stevie asked.
‘Aren’t you guys in work today?’
‘It’s casual, needed as and when work crops up. Manos has told us to lay low this week, some guys are checking out the books, and we’re not on them.’
‘Interesting!’ Morgan wondered if it could have anything to do with the mafia, another of his businesses was under threat.
‘Anyway we remembered what you said on the plane – about touring the island and now we got time to look.’
‘OK, I’m up for it!’ Morgan approached the scooters. ‘But not on those things.’
‘What do you mean, got these at a good price,’ Davie said.
‘I would hope so. Both bikes are dropping to pieces, and where’s your helmets.’
‘Hey man it’s too hot; you’ll get all sweaty! Look around nobody wears them.’
‘Yes but they got decent bikes.’ he kicked the casing on the scooter and it rattled.
‘It’s okay; it runs well, although you got to keep an eye on the oil level.’ Stevie said.
‘Hop on, if we go now we’ll be able to get back tonight,’ Davie said.
Morgan settled on the back of the bike, and they set off towards the dual carriageway. They got a few hundred yards along the road, and it broke down. ‘Guess it couldn’t handle a pillion rider.’ Davie said kicking it at the side of the road.
‘Where you get this pile of junk from?’ Morgan asked.
‘Across there at DB bikes,’ Davie pointed to a number of units and shops set back from the road.
‘Come on! I’ll give you a hand pushing it, we’ll take it back.’
The next ten minutes were eventful as they risked their lives struggling across the carriageway; the Greek drivers raised concerns with their horns for the object being dragged before them. Someone even shouted. ‘You’re supposed to ride it, not push it!’ Davie’s reaction was to stick a finger in the air.
It was hard work pushing the bike up an incline; the heat was incredible, and it wasn’t even mid-day yet. The two of them walked along the gutter of the road and stepped over a road kill cat. It looked like it had been there a while. The cats fur was hanging off, its half eaten body and could be smelled in the air. As they approached the bike shop, Morgan pushed the back of the bike to help it up the driveway to the shops front door. They sat on the bikes and waited for the owner who had acknowledged them to come out. As they looked at only a small row of new scooters, it was clear to see by the state of the rest that this was a back street operation. Here locals and the short on cash hired their transportation.
‘Where did you hear about this place?’ Morgan asked as sweat dripped off of his head, to leave a moist patch on his t-shirt.
‘Erica says he’s the cheapest.’
‘He might be the cheapest but look at the state of half of these. They need scrapping.’ As Morgan walked around them, he could see an assortment of bikes and parts piled up down the side of the shop.
The mechanic finished a call in his office, came out and nodded to the boys. ‘Yia sas.’
‘Yanis, the bike’s knackered. I’ve only had it for two days, and it’s died!’
The mechanic puffed on his cigarette and came over to look around it and then opened the gas tank to check the petrol level and then he played around some more, before shaking his head. ‘I thought I told you boys to check the oil level. These bikes are old and need a lot of oil to keep them running,’ he walked into his office and returned with some oil, poured some in the bike and then threw the can down the side of the shop. ‘Try that!’
Davie jumped on it and turned the key before pushing the ignition button and pulling back on the throttle. The bike fired and then coughed a little as smoke poured out the back.
‘Give it a ride down the side road and see if it’s OK’ said Yanis, waving Davie off as if he’d seen it hundreds of times before. Sure enough the bike rode all right, and the scousers seemed happy enough to stick with it. Morgan, on the other hand, wasn’t too sure. ‘If you think I’m riding on that all the way up to Sidari, you must think I’m stupid. Well kill ourselves or have to catch the bus back!’ This statement was compounded by the fact that Yanis brought out his business card. ‘If you breakdown don’t let anyone else but me pick you up. Only me!’
‘Why’s that? You think someone’s going to steal that thing!’ Morgan laughed.
Yanis crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow. ‘This is Corfu, not England. Different place, different rules!’
Morgan still wasn’t sure about setting off on a journey that he couldn’t guarantee finishing. He approached the mechanic. ‘Yannis look we’re all workers, and we need reliable scooters to get to our jobs, is there nothing better than these bikes that you can hire out?’
Yannis put his blackened hand up to his chin to think. ‘There’s nothing else available for the price you want to pay.’
‘How much is that? Say if I want one too, what do I have to pay?’ Morgan asked.
‘Theses bikes are sixty euros to the tourists, and I give them to you for forty a week. If you want better ones then it costs more!’ he pointed to the second row of scooters behind the new bikes. ‘They are eighty euro a week to the tourists I could do them to you for sixty!’ He opened his palms to the suggestions.
‘No we can’t afford that the lads said, we’ll stick with these!’
‘Yannis, which one of these is the best for sixty Euros?’ Morgan asked the mechanic to help him choose from the neatly lined up second row.’
‘The dark blue Piaggio is best. It’s fast and good up hills. Not like those, they are old and have seen a lot of miles.’ he pointed back to the boys bikes.
‘OK! I’ll take this!’
‘Come with me, you need to sign some paperwork!’ he encouraged Morgan to come back to his office and take a seat.
Yanis sat at his desk and lit a cigarette, before delving into his desk drawer to pull out a pad. ‘I need to ask you a few questions for the records.’
‘Ok Morgan said.
‘What’s your name, age and address?
Morgan Nikolaos, 17, and I live opposite the clothes shop in Gouvia.’
‘The ones, down by the beach? You got a number for the apartment?’
‘Who you rent off?’
‘Oh, OK!’ the mechanic wrote the information down in Greek.
‘You have a full driving licence, that you can drive a car?’
‘Can I see it?’
Morgan pulled his wallet out and produced the licence. ‘What details do you need?’
‘Only the License number!’ Yannis copied it down and returned it.
‘Sign please, and keep the top copy.’
Morgan looked at it and hesitated.
‘What’s the matter?’ Yannis asked.
‘It’s in Greek. I don’t know what I’m signing,’ the young man said.
The mechanic leaned over the paperwork and described the information was for insurance and a contract for hiring the bike over a set period, before smiling and asking. ‘So you sign the paperwork for hire until the end of next month?’
The boy paid ‘Does any of the paperwork go off to the police?’ Morgan asked foolishly.
‘Only if you get in trouble?’ the man asked suspiciously. Then added. ‘Do I look like a person who has a lot to do with the police?’
The mechanic came out to the forecourt and asked Morgan to follow the same procedure Davie had just exercised on the side road. As Morgan rode back up to the shop, Yannis was standing with a flimsy helmet. ‘Here you go! By law, you are requested to wear these, but it’s up to you whether you do.’ He stood watching some locals drive bye with no crash helmet, children stood between their legs holding the handlebar.
‘Oh one more thing, don’t try to take the bike down the path to the apartment.’
‘You’ll piss the locals off with the noise, and if you’ve had a few to drink you’ll damage the bike! There’s plenty of room on the main street. Park it there.’
This made him laugh out load. ‘OK!’. The mechanic was comical, telling him, “It was OK, to get wasted and drive the scooter with no helmet on!” What a crazy place this truly was.
Morgan placed his helmet into the storage area under the seat and then spun the scooter round, it wasn’t the best looking bike on the market like the new Peugeots or Piaggios, but it was practical and could probably take someone on the back, unlike the boys bikes.
‘Show us the way!’ Morgan shouted to Davie as they rode down onto the dual carriageway away from Yannis.
‘We have to follow the road signs for Paleokastritsa first, and then we can pick up directions from a junction.’ Dave held a map in his hand, as he drove along slowly.
‘OK, lets go!’ Stevie shouted and sped off in front by twenty feet, fumes trailing behind him.
At the first set of traffic lights, Morgan felt intimidated as the congestion built up behind them. He looked around nervously at the cars, pickups and numerous scooters that gathered around them revving their engines as if they were at a starting line waiting for a race to start. When the lights changed to green, the noise was deafening. Cars overtook the bikes and the scooters weaved in and out of one another, as they picked up speed to advance themselves out of the bustle. Soon the mass of traffic had spread out infront of them, until it vanished. Now they were alone, to sometimes ride alongside one another. The scenery also started to change as the two lanes converged into one fast moving road that started to snake through a more rural part of the island. For the first time he saw donkeys at the side of the road and old peasants working in the olive groves.
Half an hour along the road to Paleokastritsa they came to a fork in the road. Morgan was anxious to watch the two riders in front and follow them. As they neared the signs it was clear that they needed to peel off to the right, so he followed them into a little S shaped bend and then opened up the power to start climbing up the hillside road. As the group climbed higher they came to a ninety-degree right bend that again had a steep incline. Here along sheltered areas of the road Morgan experienced driving through pockets of warm air that felt like driving through an oven. The trapped pockets of heated air made the tarmac sticky to drive through and difficult to breath, these sheltered parts of the road soon gave way to a fresher cooler experience as they neared the mountains summit to smell the musky pine of the conifers that lined the roadside, where shepherds with flocks of sheep or goats grazed.
At the top of the mountain, was a little village called Skripero, here they stopped at a cafe and bought soft drinks. They sat on top of their scooters and looked back at their climb. It was incredible to see the panoramic view of the island, from the inland mountain villages that gave way to the valley roads which led to the coastal resorts, and the secluded bays and beaches that holiday makers craved. On the horizon, over a narrow stretch of water you could just make out mainland Greece and a little to the north Albania, between the land masses ships and yachts navigated the main straight to and from Corfu town.
It was eleven o’clock when they resumed their journey over the mountain range to descend into Corfu’s interior. They followed the snaking road along steep contours, which made it difficult to keep control of the bikes. Sometimes HGV’s trundled past and forced them wider than they would have liked, into the edge of the road. It was dangerous trying to avoid the potholes and loose gravel when taking the corners and at one point Morgan rattled the suspension of his bike, which forced him to stop and examine the bike’s damaged undercarriage. Minute’s later worst was to come when Stevie slid off the road into thick undergrowth, after misreading a bend. Morgan feared the worst as he approached the accident. Only when the dust settled, could they see that Stevie had managed to avoid a substantial drop onto the road below. After that Stevie understandably was a bit jittery and so rode at the back of the group. The road trip continued deeper into the islands interior along narrow roads that cut villages in two. The trees in the lower part of the mountain range offered cover, and cool protection from the heat of the midday sun. They were now making considerable progress, and it wasn’t long before the gradient eased, as they approached Sidari on the coast.
Around them, there was a lot to see in the countryside. It offered grazing land with peasant farms dotted here and there. Occasionally church bells were heard in the hills, and the bleating of sheep hidden in olive groves.
Morgan who had a full bike license had never come to terms with travelling on a bike in the UK. There had been no fun in it, perhaps it was because of the restrictive unfavourable weather or use of helmet that separated the rider from the sights and sounds of the roads. For whatever reason he had always driven a car, but now he could see the benefits of the cool breeze, the wind in his hair and the connection to nature as they drove through it. The bike was versatile and ideal for the island. It also offered a convenient means of getaway, along small narrow tracks and the claustrophobic towns not built for cars.
Morgan had started this trip at the right time with the aid of his companions, he was relieved that the boys had been with him on what could have been an intimidating navigation of the islands hill roads. The same roads that showed how compact the island was, with just 24 miles being covered in the journey.
On entering the town, the scousers pulled over near to a pastry shop where a narrow lane led in-between commercial properties down to the beach and sea. ‘Come on lets go and take a look!’ Davie encouraged them to stretch their legs and leave the bikes behind.
‘Where are we going?’ Morgan asked, taking his bag from around his shoulder.
‘There’s a series of cliffs here and isolated bays, I’ve been wanting to take a look since we got here.’
Sure enough as they walked across the sand, along dunes and then climbed a little onto formations that jutted out into the sea, to produce a series of canal like bays where the water lapped in to sandy shores.
‘Hey this is great!’ commented Stevie.
‘Bet you could fish off here,’ Davie held his hand to his eyes to reduce the glare of sunlight off the calm water.
‘Who’s up for diving in then?’ asked Stevie.
‘What over here?’ Davie looked over the edge. ‘It doesn’t look that deep to me!’ as he turned to look back a shirtless Morgan dropped his bag, ran and jumped off the cliff into the water below.
There was a large splash and then a few seconds passed before the diver returned to the surface, ‘Ah! Jesus!’ Morgan shouted as the shock of the water refreshed him.
‘Hey, you alright?’ came a call from above, as Stevie leapt past Davie who was peering over the edge. ‘What are you doing! You don’t know how deep it is,’ he threw a large rock into the sea near Stevie to try and measure the depth.
‘Come on you pussy!’ Stevie shouted his older brother.
A few moments later Davie reluctantly joined them in the tranquil azure waters that calmly washed the north shores of the island. ‘You guys are nuts, you might have broken a leg or something!’
‘It’s deep enough,’ Morgan laughed.
‘It’s not that deep, I touched the bottom,’ Jamie nodded, he looked at Davie to provoke a reaction.
‘Come here you little shit!’ Davie started to swim for his brother. ‘What would mum have said if we got hurt,’ He swam after Stevie who was already powering away back into the bay to the shore.
The water was exactly what Morgan needed to cool down, he dived a little and realised that If any of them had jumped another ten feet to the right they would have been crashing down on rocks in shallow water. That said no one was hurt so it seemed OK. He soothed his hung over head and swam into shore as the boys collected their belongings from the cliffs. It was time to get in the shade and relax in a bar until the sun’s heat diminished.
As the afternoon wore on the scousers played pool in a nearby bar they found that backed onto a decked area and the beach. Morgan had a couple of beers and then got changed into his new shorts, his others were still damp from the swim and wouldn’t conceal the revolver he now had on his body. After some banter with tourists, he broke away from the main bar settled in a comfortable chair under a palm to catch up on some badly needed sleep. The boys continued to drink and watch a repeated football game of Man Utd and Liverpool, whilst talking to the locals at the bar about jobs and the nightlife.
A couple of hours later the heat had been taken out of the sun, and the bar was awash with holiday makers wanting a tea time swill or a snack to set them up for the night. It was busy as Morgan woke to the sound of music pounding in the bar area as blonde haired waitresses started their shifts.
‘What time is it?’ he asked as he approached the scousers at the bar.
‘Four o clock dude, where’s your watch!’ Stevie could see the pale skin where it used to hang.
Not wanting to get drawn into a conversation he lied. ‘It came loose when we jumped into the sea.’
‘Christ, that was an expensive piece of kit. Do you want to go back and look for it?’
‘No, it will be buried in the sand by now. Don’t worry it’s insured’ He said.
‘Well it will make a present for a snorkeler,’ Stevie acknowledged.
‘Have you had a enjoyable beauty sleep?’ the bar man looked in disgust. ‘You’re missing drinking time, here have a beer!’
‘Yes come on we’re going to stay here tonight, the blondie behind the bar says she got a spare room above the bar for the night, what do you think?’ Davie was keen to take up the offer.
‘It’s not a bad idea, but I gotta get back to Gouvia to see a man about a job, if I don’t see him tonight it’ll get filled.’ Morgan made excuses to slip away while he had the opportunity. He had a chance to look over his father’s private villas that were rented in the resort.
‘Look man! It’s going to get dark soon, and those roads are killers, you’d better stop. Look at what we got to keep us company tonight,’ Davie gave a cheeky smile.
‘Let him go, if he wants to kill himself,’ Stevie rubbed the side of his leg that was grazed from his fall earlier in the day.
‘Look I’m sorry guys, but if I set off now I should be alright!’
‘OK, but we warned you!’ they both shook their heads, but as soon as they turned to face the bar their only concern would be to chat up the busty babes on display.
When Morgan walked down the main street the pavements were crowded with tourists window-shopping in the abundance of clothes, jewellery and electrical shops. These small premises were filled with bargains, and knock off gear. The street was one way, but still the odd scooter would weave along the road in the wrong direction as local’s went about their everyday business. The boy stopped to browse through the English Sunday papers in a rack and noted the speculation that he had made it to Greece under a false passport. The headline read ‘Burdett boy tracked to Greek islands,’ he read on. ‘It was only a matter of time before he would be held for questioning relating to the murder of his father, the police had many questions about his estate.’ Guess that says it all, now the mafia will step up their game before the police try to get involved. He felt uncomfortable as he rubbed his neck, the noose is tightening, he thought!
Morgan placed the papers back in the rack and mixed in once again with the tourists who appeared different shades of red from sunburn. As he neared the cafe and lane where they had parked he saw some road signs to ‘Canal d’Amour’ It pointed toward the rocky outcrops they dived from, ‘Sunset Beach and Peroulades,’ pointed westward away from the main resort and then the main towns were listed. To the East was Roda, Ahravi and the south-facing road led back across the mountains to Corfu Town. To memorise his route back to Gouvia, he turned and followed the angle of the interior road. Then looked up the hillside, to see a mixture of pastel coloured apartment blocks. In the distance beyond them, commanding the best views were more exclusive villas. Maybe they were the ones he wanted to see.
Now he had visualised the initial route back to Gouvia, he entering the cafe. He purchased a more detailed map, with his order of coffee and chicken salad sandwich. As he sat at the rear of the cafe in a red leather cubicle he studied the other routes of towns on the east coast of the island. Suddenly he was alerted by the sounds of Italian voices at the counter. He cautiously looked over whilst munching on his snack, to see two middle aged men sitting near the entrance. The Italians had a stylish way to do everything he thought as he watched them cross their legs to get more comfortable and read their newspapers. Morgan studied their animated hand movements as they spoke and drank their cappuccinos. It was odd that Italians would venture to a mainly British resort when they craved the historical centres, which satisfied their cultural tastes. Morgan watched from a distance as their macho presence was imposed on the cafes clientele. Their clothes were tailored and shoes expensive. The more Morgan looked at them, the more he knew they were men sent to find him. As one of the men reached into his cream linen suit for his cigarettes he looked back into the rear of the cafe, Morgan glanced down at the map but caught the sight of a dark brown holster on the man’s belt, it gave them away. Now it was obvious to see that these men were not tourists, he wondered if he had been recognised and followed there, if so they were there to kill or abduct him.
Morgan froze, and a few seconds passed before one of the men rose from his chair and walked towards him, he was unable to move until he broke off eye contact to prepare for the inevitable. He trailed his hand down into his right side pocket and cocked the revolver. A few more feet and he would have to react quickly to blow his head off and then kill the other, but the moment never came as the man changed direction and entered the W.C at the rear of the cafe.
Morgan sat and thought for a moment, he continued to chew on the mouthful of sandwich before swallowing it in a guilty moment of reflection. As the Italian flushed the toilet and made his way back to his companion Morgan could feel his clammy hand wrapped around the revolver his finger still on the trigger. How fitting that the men standing to leave the cafe would never know how close they had come to death in the sweet smelling cafe near to the Canal of love. Morgan relaxed and wiped his sweaty palm on his shorts. ‘Another coffee, parakalo.’ he shouted when they had left.
It was half past five by the time Morgan had composed himself enough to leave the cafe, he had asked the owner about the layout of the resort and where the more exclusive villas were. He had been given a detailed breakdown of the development of the town, and it seemed that he had two choices. He could ride up the hill to the highest point where the rich had their properties or he could venture along the coast a little following the signs for Sunset Beach where there were more established Venetian type villas which backed onto the cliffs, they had been rented out for years by an old Corfiot family.
The boy wished them well and made off on the scooter leaving the noisy sprawl of bars behind him as he drove off into the fading evening light. He circled around the one-way system and then peeled off the main road on his way up the hill to view the modern layout of seasonal apartments custom build for the influx of tourists. The road gave rise to numerous lanes that split off on both sides the pastel shades of blue, cream and peach separated one block from another. He continued to rise to the highest point looking out over the main resort and then found a mound of land, which had not been built on. Here, he pulled his bike into a picnic area before studying the holiday homes in all their glory. For a time, he marvelled at these villas. They had pools with secure mature landscaped gardens, large palm trees and beautifully manicured lawns. He watched children playing in the pools and saw many of the owners lighting barbecues for the evening dinner, tables set with food as relaxing owners drank wine.
As the sky glowed orange, he climbed back onto his scooter and drove around the cul de sacs. He wanted to see if any had signage from BPVR Ltd. All had expensive Jaguars, Mercedes and BMW’s parked on the drives. However nowhere did he see the black Alpha Romeo spider which had been driven from the cafe. Nowhere on the secure iron gates, did he see any sign’s. These were not his fathers; they were all privately owned properties of the wealthy.
A few minutes later he had ridden back down the hill and followed the road to Sunset Beach, it led him over a metal bridge which spanned a green river, where terrapins played in the shallows and herons lazily plucked small fish for their young. The ride continued and took him past a few remaining buildings before the road narrowed into a lane and farmers fields could be seen on the low land, surrounded by olive groves higher up the hillside. He pressed on in the increasingly dim light compounded by the old olive trees, wary not to use his lights until he had to. It was a decision that rewarded him, when he turned a bend to find other villas near to the cliffs of the coast. He pulled over near a farmers gate to see the light finally fade over their rooftops. In the distance he could hear the sea.
From his vantage point, he tried to view the properties in more detail, but it was hard to make out the architecture as the buildings were set in their own grounds behind walls. He wandered on foot along the lanes verge, walking where shadows now fell to mask his movement from anyone who may be watching. As he neared the first property, he knelt down by a pile of wood neatly chopped to a length for the next winter. On the other side of the road was a gate, tacked to it was a small sign it read ‘Private property’ in English and Greek and had the BPVR logo on it. He nodded and smiled to himself in satisfaction, he had found the property he was after. He knelt in silence and looked toward the villas and felt a strange recollection of the surroundings, he recognised the handle and the ornate craftsmanship on the gate from his childhood. He knew then that he had been here with his parents and stayed all summer long. He blinked and felt the urge to open the gate, to look inside the concealed grounds and connect with those fond memories. However just as he was about to run over and try to open it, car lights illuminated the lane as tourists made there way back from the beach. As they zipped past they revealed the location of a concealed car. When Morgan looked more carefully, he could see the glow of a cigarette from a car in a lane a hundred yards away. As he had expected, he had found the property and the black Alpha Romeo, with the worst kind of occupants. Men who had the villas under surveillance for one reason alone, to smash anything or anyone who stood between them and acquiring what they now regarded as their own.
As the evening passed the mafia chained smoked, and Morgan wished he could have one too, but resisted as he might be spotted. As he sat by the wood on the lane, he wondered why no one as yet had ventured from the properties, as you would expect from holiday lettings. Perhaps no one had hired them or worse still, perhaps the mafia were occupying them already? He thought.
Two hours later a VW Touran slowed and then pulled through the gates to park in front of the villas. The mafia wasted no time in following the van on foot, guns in hand. Minutes later Morgan heard shouting as the Italians forced the Greek man into the property at gunpoint. He walked over to the Italians car and noticed the Milano registration plate and parking passes displayed on the windscreen before looking inside. The interior was littered with packets of cigarettes and chocolate bar wrappers, behind the seats were canvas luggage bags and suit carry cases that were squashed into limited space in the two-seater sports car. He rummaged around and then found jammed under the drivers seat a black leather binder that had papers spilling from it, he pulled it out and saw an embossed logo of a fish spouting a fountain of water, underneath it was the letters FGM. He was just about to open it when shots were fired in the villa. Yet another assassination he thought as he felt disgust for their actions.
He shook his head, enough was enough, too many people were getting hurt it was time to take some revenge for what he and the people of the island had suffered. Morgan quickly looked for a way of ambushing the murderers when they left the building. It was then he quickly placed the binder into his bag and grasped his yachting knife. Perhaps direct confrontation would not be needed, he opened up the blade to reflect the moonlight. Morgan dropped to the floor wriggled as far as he could under the car and cut through the brake pipe to the front drivers wheel. The boy felt at the pipe with his fingers to ensure the brake fluid was leaking before snapping the blade shut and scurrying away back down the lane to his bike. For twenty anxious minutes he waited for the culprits to leaves the scene of their crime, he heard them laugh as one of them punched the other on the arm. Talking quickly in Italian they jumped in the car and accelerated quickly past Morgan’s hiding place. They were moving in the direction of Corfu Town.
Morgan contemplated going into the Villa but dare not, he didn’t want to see another dead victim or leave any trace at a murder scene; instead he jumped on his bike started the engine and set off in pursuit of the car. He couldn’t wait to see the destruction caused when their lives would come to an end.
As he followed the roads out of Sidari, he started to climb back into the interior of the island. On occasion he would brake to navigate the bends of the mountain and see fresh stains of liquid shimmer in the moon light, it wouldn’t be long before the brake fluid would run out, and then they would be at the mercy of the mountain.
Morgan made good progress with the moonlight aiding his vision; it took him another hour before he reached the rise of the mountain, which signalled the descent down to the coastal road that would lead back to Gouvia. As he passed the local shop in the village he saw the Alpha Romeo lined up outside it, he couldn’t believe that they had not crashed. He waited to check what was happening. Had they noticed something wrong with the car and pulled over? He couldn’t be sure, perhaps it would be better not to tail them in case they were suspicious; it looked as if he had failed in his attempt to kill them. He revved up his bike to create a safe distance between them, but as he started the second part of his journey he noticed the bike was running low on petrol. With a chill in the air, he rode his luck looking for the next available petrol station. A little further down the mountain he found one, and as he stood there on the forecourt, he watched the Alpha Romeo whiz past with music blaring out of the open top. He wondered if he’d cut the right tube to the brakes? How could he get back at them, if his plan didn’t work? Quickly he handed over ten Euros to pay for his fuel and then started the engine to chase after the killers, perhaps they could lead him to others and expose evil tricks they were about to unleash on the local population.
Morgan pulled back on the throttle and accelerated as fast as the bike would travel down the mountain road, he reached 70 kph as he crouched down to the handlebar in an effort to become more aerodynamic, it worked as he reached 80 kph and then 90kph, but as a car over took in the opposite direction it nearly clipped him off the road. With a jitter and adrenaline rushing through his veins he slowed to a more manageable speed to negotiate little bends than now came up on him quickly, he kept a close eye on the traffic behind and occasionally looked at the side of the road to see if the Italians had exited it. Ten minutes later he dropped further down the mountain road and remembered that a couple of bad bends were coming up. As he slowed he took the bend by swinging into the middle of the road before picking up speed again along the next straight piece of the road that led to another ninety degree bend, it was here when he approached that he saw the mangled wreck of the spider smashed into pieces by firstly boulders, and then two broken trees which now bent double into the metal work.
Morgan rode his bike through the rubble and dust, which had settled on the road and then parked his bike so the headlight shone directly on the wreckage. As he dismounted particles of dust could still be seen in the beam, he could smell burning oil and see bloodstains where the engine had been forced back into the driver. It appeared from the markings etched in the ground that the car had been forced into a spin after hitting a boulder and explained why the car was sitting at an awkward angle. Morgan inched forward as the strong smell of diesel hit the back of his throat, he looked more closely at the seats, where was the passenger? He was sure two had been in the car when they passed by, but now the passenger was nowhere to be seen; he rummaged around in his bag for the torch and then shone it around the overgrown surrounding undergrowth. Suddenly he heard some movement; surely no one could have survived a crash of this kind. But has he neared there was a loud band and a flash jumped out from a nearby shrub; a bullet hit him in the thigh on the outside of his leg. Morgan dropped the torch and crumpled to the floor in pain.
It was ridiculous, how could the other man have survived? Suddenly there was dialogue in the dark as the gangster spoke over the night air, with a gurgling sound. ’I thought it was you in the cafe, but Paulo convinced me to get on with the job in hand.’ he winced.
‘Who do you think I am?’ Morgan asked, looking around for a clue to where the gunman was laying.
‘The fucker that everyone’s after. You’ve had more people looking for you than Bin laden!’
‘So if you recognised me, why didn’t you get me while you had the chance?’
‘Paulo convinced me to leave you alone. ‘What can the boy do? He has no power or friends he can turn too. Let him be, we are gonna take everything anyway. Why kill him, let him see everything stripped away while he does nothing!’ The man grimaced.
‘How wrong you are!’ The boy dragged himself away from the groaning man who lay nearby in the dark.
‘Paulo was a excellent judge of character, until tonight. Now look at him!’ the gunman moved as shrubs rustled.
‘So you think you can finish me off and claim the praise of your boss?’ Morgan moved behind a tree stump for protection.
‘I’m going to need the sweet praise of the Virgin Mary to see me through tonight, but let’s see if we can’t both join her in the same evening!’ he moved closer to the boy wincing and gasping for breath.
Morgan kept quiet as the man picked up the torch and hunted him. He continued talking about his friend. ‘Paulo was misguided, one mistake in this business and you’re dead!’ he held out his pistol and fired a few rounds into nearby bushes before turning in Morgan’s direction. ‘Well I’m not going to make the same mistake,’ he said as he fired off a number of rounds toward Morgan, each one only missing by inches. ’Die you bastard like your father, the double crossing lying pig.’ The bullets were the gangsters last chance of survival, he had hoped he could cut Morgan down at close range, how could he miss, but with an unsteady hand miss he did and now it was Morgan’s turn to pay his respects to the fallen. Two further shots rang out in the night as traffic came to a halt on the main road above them, car lights illuminated the scene of the accident as Morgan stumbled through shrubs covered in dirt and blood, carrying his revolver low down by his side.
There came a voice from the lights. ‘Hey! Hey you down there are you all right?’ an American shouted.
Morgan hid his revolver back in the pocket of his shorts and replied. ‘I’m alright but the guys from this car need helping!’
‘Shit! It’s a fucking mess alright!’ the American came down to give him a hand as he limped back to the road.
‘You sure you’re alright?’ the man took a look at Morgan’s leg.
‘I’m fine, it’s only a graze. These crazy bastards ran me off the road back up there, before they crashed.’
‘Seen too many of these kinda things in my time. When I was a fireman.‘
‘Yes well I’m thankful that it’s only them being visited by the grim reaper.’ Morgan screwed his face up as he leaned on his bike.
‘Guess they been drinking or something to lose control of a car like that, he pointed at the Spider. ’I’d better check on them, just to be sure they are dead.’
‘They’re dead alright,’ Morgan nodded as he heard sirens approaching from the valley below. He watched the retired fireman carefully walk to the wreckage before pushing his scooter through a small group of people who had now gathered to watch the spectacle. As he passed parked cars, police and ambulance sirens began their final assent to the accident. Morgan like a ghost quickly vanished down an old mountainside road he had stumbled across. It was his guess that it was probably the original road that would lead down into the valley. As he freewheeled his scooter and was led around the weaving bends by the moonlight, he looked up into the sky and said. ‘Thank you!’ perhaps there is justice and a god after all.
Morgan waited until he had navigated the old track into the valley before he started the engine and turned on his lights, his hands were numb from the shock of the unmaintained road, the pot holes and tree roots that had left their mark on its surface. He could now see car lights ahead on the main Paleokastritsa road. He followed the track as it levelled. Brushed through overgrown trees that restricted the old road into a narrow single path. It was tough going and hard to navigate. He stopped just short of the main road and dismounted, every shock the bike had taken, every jolt had been radiated through his thigh. Now he was a safe distance from the accident he could assess how bad his injury was. There was a blood stained patch on his shorts. The entry and exit hole was through the flesh part of his outside right thigh, ten inches down from his hip. He hobbled away from the bike and unzipped his shorts to take a closer look. The bullet it would appear, had only damaged muscle not bone. However he was a mess. His loss of blood was not only visibly on his shorts, it was also trickling down his leg , and it was impossible to stop. He wanted to get changed and freshen up so people wouldn’t become suspicious by his bloody sight. However he was unable to physically bend over, far enough to replace his clothes. Alternatively he reached into his bag, pulled out a towel and wrapped it around his waist like a sarong.
A few minutes later his body began to stiffen as muscles tensed to protect his injury, he sat on the bike in agony and swilled his dry mouth out with water from a bottle he had in his bag, the remaining contents to wash blood away from his leg. Sirens pierced the calm night, high screams of an ambulance cascaded down the mountainside becoming more distant by the second. He threw the bottle to one side, and saw an abundance of wildlife in the form of lizards scurry across his path, how he wished he could move as fast as them, then maybe he would have a chance to evade the increasingly more dangerous obstacles that were bound to come his way.
The boy pushed the scooter off its stand and then rode it onto the main road to Gouvia, the only way he could remain out of the grip of the mob or the authorities was if he could find someone he trusted to help him. Perhaps he would find Maria in the hotel, and she could send for Spiro. He could even visit the baker and ask for his help, or maybe it would be best to pay off a GP in one of the clinics and get proper medical attention. Five miles later as he neared the resort he could feel the shock entering his body. He was sure it was a mental problem rather than life threatening, but all the same a cold numb feeling washed over him. He had to find someone and fast, he needed a place to rest and get warm.
The boy was thankful for a green light as he approached Gouvia Bay’s road junction, a few hundred metres, and he would need to slow down to merge with the resort traffic. Suddenly his attention was grabbed by a flashing neon light, the illuminated sign advertised the Gouvia Club Villa Complex. Not thinking rationally he instantly swerved and rode over the dual carriageway narrowly missing two cars coming in the opposite direction. He applied his brakes and parked near the resorts restaurant. Without wasting any time he walked toward the complex. It was a cream selection of modern architecture that comprised of a leather shop, convenience store and restaurant. The restaurant itself was ultra modern in its layout, he could see into the dining area through the walls of glass that made up its exterior.
Inside it was packed with diners who sat at designer tables. Each surface had a candle and a single flower placed in the centre of it. As he neared the door, he realised he could not enter without drawing attention to himself, therefore he limped on past the walnut bar area at the side of the building. He lingered around the rear of the property looking for the back door entrance that there inevitably was to the kitchen, it was only a matter of time before someone challenged him, as he knew he had drawn the eye of the waiter who was serving cocktails at the bar.
Five minutes later the chef of the kitchen rattled a solid metal door open, only when he neared the boy did he realise the boy was in serious pain. ’kali spera,’ he said with a compassionate voice.
Morgan looked at the chef and grimaced but said nothing.
‘Who are you? What has happened?’ The chef dressed all in white with an apron and cooking hat asked.
‘To onoma mou ine, Morgan and I’ve had an accident on my scooter.’ He lied to conceal the nature of his injury.
‘When? Where?’ The man bent over to look underneath his towel.
‘An hour ago on my way back from Paleokastritsa. I fell off the scooter onto some metal wire, after hitting a pot hole.
The chef took a closer look. ‘It went straight through your leg?’ he leant around to look at the back of Morgan’s bloody shorts.
‘Yes!’ Morgan felt pain as the chef put pressure on the wound.
‘Look, this is quite a serious injury. The bleeding needs to be stopped!’
The waiter joined them in the light from the doorway. ‘Why have you come here rather than the medical centre?’
‘Are you a guest at the resort?’ the chef asked.
There were too many questions to think up answers for, the boy felt faint and weak as his head began to spin, ‘Look you need to see Andreas, tell him Spiro sent me!’
‘Andreas? What’s Andreas got to do with this?’ the waiter said, confused by Morgan’s request. The two workers looked and frowned at one another as the boy collapsed.
The chef was the first to react as he instructed the waiter. ‘Get him inside, out of sight and call for Andreas!’
The waiter laboured to drag the boy in from the back yard; it became easier when they reached the shiny white tiled floor of the kitchen.
A few minutes later Morgan regained consciousness; he had been laid horizontally on towels behind a series of metal cabinets out of view from the restaurant. He could hear two men taking in Greek near the door.
‘Andreas the injury looks serious!’ the chef said quietly.
‘I know, but we cannot move him, he has to stay here!’ Andreas acknowledge the chefs concerns.
‘Look at him, he has lost a lot of blood,’ the chef explained anxiously. ‘He need’s a doctor maybe the hospital!’
‘Look I’ve been told the authorities can’t get involved, we have to deal with him here!’
The chef obviously concerned for the boy did not listen. ‘I will call for an ambulance!’
‘No! it’s too dangerous, people will ask questions about him!’
‘Andreas what are you talking about, he’s a young man who deserves medical attention otherwise it could affect his walk for the rest of his life.’
‘I know that, but my hands are tied. We deal with him here no one else gets involved. You understand?’
‘Listen you malaka. We cant treat this here, I’m no surgeon I’m a chef for gods sake!’ the chef was getting agitated.
It was beginning to dawn on Morgan that this might not have been such a bright idea after all. He wondered for a moment if he could get away and find the medical centre for some morphine, but as he moved to leave acute pain returned, and he blacked out again.
The Manager Andreas and chef argued in Greek for a few more minutes, until they reached an agreement. If they did not act to save and protect the boy, it could be possible that they would all not live to see the break of day. As the waiter closed any more orders for the evening and gave out free drinks to keep the dinners already eating happy, they closed the bar, locked the kitchen and prepared the floor area for a procedure.
‘I hope you know the risks of infection if I can’t stop internal bleeding.’ The chef looked Andreas in the eye as he laid a bottle of Metaxa on the floor.
‘Give the boy some brandy for the pain.’ Andreas held Morgan’s head as the chef poured a large glass of spirit into the boy’s mouth, before himself taking a swig from the bottle.
‘You might want some too! This isn’t going to be pleasant.’
The chef gathered lots of cotton napkins, scissors and a small thin knife together. ‘Get me a metal mixing ball and fill it with bottled water and bring some additional bottles.’ he asked the waiter before walking over to a charcoal grill removing the last remaining food from it and plunging a new thin metal spit roasting rod in the orange embers of the fire. On his return to the patient, the waiter placed a bowl down by the boy’s side and handed two large bottles over.
As the chef cut the boy shorts away with scissors, Andreas hung on his mobile taking a call from Spiro. Anxiously he reassured the caller that the boy would be alright before asking him to call him back later.
‘Are we ready?’ Andreas asked, returning to the chef’s side.
‘Just do as I tell you! Don’t question or hesitate, if I want something get it straight away, do you understand?’ He looked at the other men in the room. They nodded.
The chef washed the boys wound and then cleaned the area with napkins as a little blood still ouzzed out. ‘Go get me some pillows from the seats outside. I think it’s best if we work with him on his side!’ The waiter rushed off and returned with six, then they moved Morgan resting the cushions under his side.
‘Andreas, hold his leg up slightly. I need to clean and drain the wound.’ the chef prodded around the hole with the thin knife and retrieved a piece of the boys shorts; he opened a bottle of water and placed the neck of the bottle over the wound and squeezed hard. The water in the bottle clouded with blood for a moment as it flowed into the wound and out of the other side. He looked at the wound it was clean, some dirt and other residue lay in the pool of liquid now creeping along the tile grooved floor. He looked over to the waiter. ‘Come and hold him steady, he must not move.’ A few moments later he poured Metaxa over the hole and retrieved the red-hot roasting spit from the grill. George put a pillow over the boy’s face. The chef had beads of sweet on his brow as he lent close to the boy and inserted it into the wound. With a hiss, the tissue sealed over. It was the longest few seconds, any of them had ever uncounted. The boy screamed and reared up slightly as George held down his arms. As the boy passed out the chef removed the spit and examined his work. ‘It’s good! The bleedings stopped.’ he poured Metaxa over the brown sealed wound and then went to work with a needle and thread.
Two hours later and Andreas had said goodbye to the last of the dinners from the bar, he locked up the restaurant and returned to the kitchen. All three of the men sat around in the dim light drinking another bottle of Metaxa, smoking cigarettes looking down on their patient. ‘Do you think he’ll be alright?’ The waiter asked.
‘Yes he’ll be fine, as long as it doesn’t get infected,’ the chef said.
‘Thank Mary for that! Said George with relief as he crossed his chest and looked at the pile of blood soaked linen scattered around them.
‘One things puzzling me about the wound, If he fell off his bike onto a wire the wound would have been a lot worse than that. We’ve all seen the results of accidents from scooters on the island. Where’s his graze marks on his legs or arms or bruising to his muscles?’
‘Maybe he fell into the grass at the side of the road,’ Said George.
‘Yes maybe, but then he would have scratches from the trees or bushes!’ the chef held up the boy’s arm and shook his head as the boy groaned and rolled over onto his front. As the chef knelt down to quickly cover him up, he saw the outline of a gun by his side. He picked it up and examined it. ‘What the hells going on Andreas?’ Just then there was a loud banging on the restaurants side door. ‘Oh Shit! I hope that’s not the police!’ the chef tucked the pistol into his trousers.
Andreas peered around the kitchen door nervously, then looked back. ‘It’s not the police!’ the two men in the kitchen relaxed for a moment. ‘It’s Spiro and Stavros,’ a look of dread appeared on their faces.
‘Fucking hell what’s he doing here.’ the waiter jumped to his feet.
‘Don’t know but shut the fuck up! Don’t talk to him, the less he finds out about us the better. That way we might get out of here alive!’ the chef stood and lit another cigarette to calm his nerves.
Spiro calmly walked into the building as Stavros brought the boys scooter from the front of the restaurant and hid it with others that were lined up in the nearby complex car park. The grey haired Greek greeted his nephew with a warm smile and put his arm gently around him. ‘How are you Andreas?’
‘Entaksi,’ Andreas replied nodding his head as he welcomed the two visitors to the bar and poured them all a large Metaxa spilling a little on the bar.
‘You look a little drunk Andreas are you sure you should drink any more?’
‘Well we’ve had an eventful night!’ the manager nodded his head towards the kitchen.
‘Did you manage to treat the boy here, as I requested?’ Spiro gulped the measure of brandy and placed the glass back on the bar.
‘Yes Michael the chef stopped the bleeding and cleaned him up.’
‘How did everything go?’
Andreas shouted for the chef. ‘You better speak to the surgeon, he can advise a little better.’
Michael nervously walked into the bar as Spiro poured another round of drinks. ’Here have one of these, and tell me about the boy!’
‘Well he’s lost a lot of blood, and the wound itself was easy enough to clean. Hopefully there should be no more complications. The leg will heal in a short time. Although I’m no expert, the thigh muscle might be slightly damaged!’
‘What does that mean?’ Spiro frowned at the man.
‘The boy might walk with a slight limp.’ the chef did not appreciate the fierce stare directed at him.
‘Sounds promising, but as experience has taught me, you can never underestimate bullet wounds.’
‘Is the boy conscious?’
‘No but he keeps on waking before drifting off again,’ Michael looked tired from his efforts.
‘You have done well my friend! The boy you have saved is special to me, had anything happened to him there would have been repercussions for us all. I will always remember you for your help,’ he looked the chef in the eye and patted him affectionately on the cheek. ‘I salute you! Yamas!’ the old man threw another large brandy down his neck and gasped for a moment.
‘Lead me to him’ the old man lit a cigar and then followed both men into the kitchen. There before him, he saw Morgan’s motionless body. The boy’s leg dressed with large plasters, had spots of red blood soaked into them. The room itself looked like an operating theatre with clinical white walls and stainless steel cabinet it could even have been a mortuary. The old man shook his head at the blood stained towels and napkins that lay on of the floor. ‘Gentlemen, the place is a mess, all of the boy’s clothes, and the stained cotton must go,’ He shouted Stavros from the bar. ‘Find a metal drum and burn these in the back, he instructed the man.
Within fifteen minutes the room again returned to the function of a kitchen. The floor and back yard had been washed down, and the linen and clothes burned until there was no sign blood anywhere. ‘Good, it’s late! Why don’t Michael and the waiter go home!’ Spiro walked over to a nearby counter and reclaimed the old worn revolver, he had given to the boy. He gripped it in his hand and stood with his finger on the trigger. ‘I hope I can count on your discretion on this matter? Don’t tell anyone, not even your wives about what took place here tonight!’ The two employees backed off a little in alarm, as it was easy to see Spiro was intimidating them and making a threat on their lives. They nodded in agreement and eventually Spiro put the gun in his jacket pocket and allowed the men to pass.
Once the restaurant workers had left, Spiro checked on the boy before returning to the bar. ‘The boy’s not going to be able to be moved far. I want a key to one of the villas down by the bay.’ he demanded.
‘I have only one spare all year long, just in case we double book for some reason.’
‘That will do!’ Spiro acknowledge as he ushered his nephew out of the restaurant. ‘I will wait here for the key.’
Ten minutes later Andreas returned.
‘Where’s the villa located?’ Spiro pointed down towards the villas, as he grasped the key in his hand.
‘To be honest It’s a bit of a walk,’ Andreas realised, putting his hands on his chin to think about carrying the boy.
‘Lead the way,’ Spiro suggested as he shouted Stavros from the rear of the building.
Quickly Stavros arrived by his side ‘Yes Spiro!’
‘Get the car, we need to move the boy into the complex!’
A few minutes later Andreas and Stavros carried the boy by his arms and legs and laid him down on the back seat of the car. Within half an hour, they had climbed the steps and occupied a villa overlooking the bay. They had brought with them a box full of liqueur and supplies hurriedly put together by Andreas from the restaurant. It would last them the next few days and would limit the need to venture anywhere outside the villas four rooms, until the boy was conscious.
It was just after midnight, and the Villa complex was quiet Stavros opened the bedroom doors onto a patio and looked out over the tranquil bay it was a beautiful place. Inside Morgan rested in bed as bodyguards remained.
It would be another full day before Morgan woke to the sound of muffled voices outside as he opened his eyes he was disorientated by his surroundings. This was not his apartment, this was not his rickety bed! Where was he? He sat up and felt a sharp pain in his right thigh before seeing a vision of murder play in his mind. He held his head in his hands as the events came rushing back to him, a headache from hell pulsated through his temple. He’d had a high temperature and his bed sheets were damp with sweat. He wiped cold beads of perspiration from his brow, and inched along the bed to stand. The boy breathed heavily, looked down at his thigh at the dressings dried with blood and felt the heat of the healing injury. The surrounding pink skin had discoloured bruising where blood had run into the muscle, it looked a mess!
Morgan stood up and felt lightheaded before gingerly placing weight onto his injured leg; he was surprised at his ease of movement as he limped across the room covered in a bed sheet. As he peered through the bedroom door, he could see Stavros leading a cleaner away from the villa as she demonstrated that she needed to do her job. Spiro chuckled on a nearby seat and shouted. ‘Not this week efharisto!’ Morgan rummaged around his bag and found his swimming shorts, he struggled to get them on but eventually emerged from the villa wearing his dirty tshirt, smoking a cigarette.
‘Didn’t know how much I needed one of these!’ He blew smoke into the warm air and sat down with difficulty next to Spiro.
‘Ah! Glad to see you’re feeling much better.
Morgan had a spaced look on his face. ‘I’ve felt better!’ he ran his hands through his hair and coughed, then winced as his jarring movement put pressure on the wound.
‘You’re doing fine, to be up from bed this soon.’ Spiro walked over and patted him on the shoulder. ‘He’s a strong boy.’ the man said to Stavros.
‘What do you expect from…’ Spiro began to talk but checked himself. ‘You had us worried last night! People can die from leg wounds especially if the artery is damaged. You were very lucky!’
‘I don’t feel lucky.’
‘Well you are, without the help of the chef we would have had to take you to the clinic or hospital.’
The boy could tell that they had done more than stick a couple of plasters on his wounds, but preferred not to know the details. ‘You have been here all night?’ he asked.
‘Got here as quickly as possible, but the traffic was horrendous. There had been a terrible crash on the mountain and police were everywhere!’ Spiro spat the end of a cigar onto the grass.
‘You want to tell me what happened?’ the old man puffed on the cigar as he lit it.
‘I’d been up to Paleokastritsa for the day, and when I came back I hit a hole in the road and fell onto a metal wire.’
‘You sound convincing, but there are no marks on the bike to suggest an accident,’ Stavros said.
Spiro held his hand to quieten Stavros. ‘That’s a decent cover story and realistic,’ he produced the revolver from his jacket and tossed it to the boy. ‘But how do you explain the two missing bullet’s?’ he looked directly at Morgan.
The boy sighed and held the gun in his right hand, before thinking for a moment. ‘There was no other way! I tried to make it look like an accident, but one of the guys was like a bull, he just kept at me. In the end, he had his chance to kill me and didn’t take it, so I ended It.’ the boy gripped onto the gun tightly.
‘Well naturally the police are suspicious when a crash victim winds up with two bullets in him.’ Spiro laughed. ‘But they probably knew they were Mafia anyway, so what the hell.’ he consoled the boy a little.
‘It’s not nice killing people, but these guys give you no option. They don’t know how to do business without muscle!’ Stavros quoted Spiro’s saying.
‘Only problem is there’s been too much aggravation on the island from these types, and the police are getting fed up. There going to start banging some heads together themselves before too long,’ Spiro nodded.
‘What can I say, it was him or me!’
‘You have done what any one of us would do in the circumstances. It’s just a pity that he didn’t die in the crash.’ Spiro acknowledged.
‘But least now you’ve sent them a message!’
The boy was uncomfortable and looked at them out of the corner of his eye. ‘Why are you protecting me?’
Stavros leaned forward. ‘We’re not protecting you. We can’t do that, not here, there are too many mafia!’
‘We can only offer a little help! You have to do all the rest, whatever needs to be done to save yourself!’
‘Do you know me?’ the boy asked another searching question.
Stavros looked at Spiro and awaited a response. ‘We knew your father a long time ago when he first came to the island.’
‘We knew him well, he was…a tough man!’ Stavros added.
‘Yes when he was young, he was a man you wouldn’t want to cross. He did anything to make lots of money and make money fast!’ Spiro nodded.
‘There were many people who feared him, and a lot that died at his hands!’ Stavros stood and looked out into the bay.
‘In the eighties the locals had a name for your father, they called him Satanna.
‘It translates into Satan, he was called this because old alliances of the mafia families were smashed and chaos reigned wherever he went, it originated in Spain but soon spread like a legend. Some said he was the devil himself, working on overtime.’
Morgan shook his head. ‘This could not be my father, I recognise that he had his fingers in many illegal activities, but he would never be able act in this way.’
‘Oh don’t get me wrong he was a pleasant chap to your face, but if you stood in his way you were history.’ Stavros rolled up his sleeve and showed his arm to the boy. It had two pale circular scars on his forearm. ‘This is what happened when your father came to town! You were either with him or against him, and if you got in the way.’ he pointed like a gun on his arm and motioned pulling the trigger. ‘Bang!’
He did some terrible things to establish his network in the Mediterranean, no country escaped lightly. Here in Greece we had trouble, perhaps more on other islands, but here in Corfu too.’
‘It seams to me that those days are returning, but this time no fault of the old Satanna, but greedy men who would upset the balance Max cemented with new ties to the region,’
‘You remind me so much of him. You are your father’s son, and I have no doubt you may be forced again to act aggressively if you wish to overcome your enemy.’
‘Enough said, we have given you plenty to think about.’ Spiro said as a waitress from the restaurant approached with a tray of cold meat, bread and cheeses, and two bottles of red wine.
‘Yia sas! Andreas sends you his complements,’ the women said.
‘kali spera,’ Spiro acknowledged the gift as the girl filled the nearby table with plates and glasses.
‘Efharisto for your help,’ Stavros said as the waitress walked away. He quickly went back inside and returned with a blanket for Morgan. ‘Please sit and wrap up, you don’t want to catch a summer cold!’
Morgan thought this odd but wrapped up all the same as they sat and ate in the shade of an olive tree. The food was much appreciated a delightful mixture of olives and tzatziki, hams, salami, local cheeses and a large bowl of salad eaten with fresh bread, washed down with wine. Morgan for the time being ignored his injury and forgot about his worries as he drank a second glass of wine.
Spiro watched Morgan. ‘Eat and drink as much as you like, you need to build up your energy.’ The two men looked exhausted with red bloodshot eyes.
They sat for the remainder of the afternoon watching the tourist’s sunbathe on the lawn of the complex or down on the narrow beach in the bay, over to their left was the swimming pool where energetic children played and adults lounged not too far away in the bar. He could have almost been on holiday, and another few glasses of wine later Morgan like an over indulged tourist began to feel terribly drunk and sick.
Stavros noticed the boy’s behaviour and brought out a glass of cold water. ‘You need to drink this and then it’s time for you to go to bed and rest,’ he handed the glass over to the boy. ‘Tomorrow I will get you some pain killers to aid your recovery.’
Morgan gulped the glass down. ‘Yia sas, I think you’re right.’ the boy stood and nearly toppled over. With the help of Spiros and Stavros, he went to the toilet and then was made comfortable in bed.’ He fell straight to sleep.
‘You should not let him drink so much,’ Stavros said with annoyance to Spiro.
‘It will numb his pain and ease his sleep. With drink, there are no nightmares!’ Come help me finish the last bottle we have much to talk about. With that they left the boy for his rest and returned outside to watch the sunset, both men knew there were troubled times ahead.
Morgan’s second morning in the villa was another leisurely affair, he had woken at sunrise, and he guessed that it was only around seven o’clock. At first he didn’t notice his wound, but instead rubbed his arm where the Tag Heur had once belonged and gritted his teeth. That damn girl stealing his watch like that! It still bugged him that he had been such an idiot letting her stay, but sex was a powerful tool and not easy to turn down. He wondered if it had been worth the price? The price of the lost money and the watch his father had bought early for his eighteenth birthday. He thought of this a lot all morning long as he grouched around the apartment with a heavy head and an aching thigh. The confinement of the apartment started to get to him so he stepped outside for a smoke but there too the happy scenes of people enjoying themselves got to him. He was like a bear with a sore head and all the visions from killing the men and Spiro’s words about his father just spun around his brain. All of his actions had left him with the feeling of regret and guilt, yet he knew he could have done no different, he began to realise that Spiro might be right; maybe he was exactly like his dad. But how did he deal with these kind of thoughts how did he manage all those years killing people without going insane?
The boy noticed that Spiro had gone out when he limped down to the beach. He made himself comfortable sitting on the small wall behind the lounges full of sunbathers and then drifted off again into deep thought. He realised that if he was going to fend off his enemy, he would have to remain in control of his emotions. So there and then he invented another person in his head another person who would be the character that would carry out retribution, distribute violence and extinguish life. There in his head Satanna was reborn into a new man, one in the image of his father, an executioner. God help any of them who pursued him and who would not join him. As he left the beach to walk back to Stavros at the villa he began to truly follow in his father’s footsteps and become the master of his thoughts.
He had lunch with Stavros and took some painkillers, which had been bought from the resort shop, but hardly spoke a word, as his determined and aggressive mood grew, he became frustrated at his enforced rest. All he wanted was a speedy recovery so he could move on with his life. For the first time, he truly wanted to understand his father’s business and gain knowledge of the people he would have to deal with to retain his father’s estate. He would use this time wisely to study his father’s records and mastermind a plan for revenge. He was past caring about being killed he could run no longer. Now he wanted to turn the tables and organise himself against the mafia. Spiro had said that he needed to do it himself so he rummaged around for the phone his father had left him and turned it on. Moments later he scrolled down the contacts checking each one until he reached the end of the list. Here at the bottom was the contact, he had been looking for; here was the name of his father’s closest business partner in England, as he pressed the dial bottom it registered on the screen as Vince. As the phone dialled the boy’s expression changed, he sat on his bed and waited for an answer, eventually it came. ‘Hello Vince Collins.’ Morgan waited a few seconds as the man with a cockney accent tried to enter into conversation. ‘Hello! Hello! Anyone there! This fucking phone! Listen it’s a lousy reception. Hello! Listen call me back in five minutes.’ The man was just about to put down the phone when the boy spoke.
‘Hello! Is that you Vince?’
‘Hey, who else you fucking think it was gonna be? Who’s this?’ There was no reply. ‘Now look here who ever you are, I’m pissed off with all these fun and games you’re playing and I’m not gonna stand for it any longer. You got that?’
The boy talked. ‘It sounds like you’re having trouble Vince!’
The line crackled. Look this is a very bad line. ‘Who the fuck is this?’ the Londoner was getting angry.
‘Look anyone who steps outta line again, is gonna get it. I’m not joking – It’ll be curtains mate. I’ve called in my big boys!’
‘I’m glad to hear it! It’s about time you did something about this, it’s been over a week since it kicked off.’ Morgan remained calm.
‘Hey, hey! Now you got my attention, you want a piece of me, cos I’m gonna take a piece of you when I find out who this is!’
Morgan’s dad had always said that Vince was not the brightest match in the box. It seemed as if the boy would have to reveal himself, but suddenly the penny dropped. ‘Hang on a minute, quietly spoken voice and a bad line with a withheld number.’ It went quiet. ‘Is that you Morgan?’ his aggressive voice changed to a more subtle tone.
Morgan cautiously spoke. ‘Vince, I hope that phones not tapped!’
‘I fucking hope not or the old bills gonna be here any minute and that’s me done for.’ he rabbited on for a bit.
‘Vince! VINCE! Look I’m in hiding, and I need to see you to try and come to terms with what happened to my dad and what’s happening with his business.’
‘Too right and not before time. I’m up to my neck in shit here with the mob, Italians and old bill fuckin pestering me. Where the fuck are you!’
‘Listen calm down, you gotta get control of things and sit tight, don’t let anyone walk all over you.’
‘You mean you want the family business to still operate? Because people are pecking at pieces of it like hungry pigeons?’
‘Nothings changed, ventures still need to run; money still needs to be made. Put the word out, that you wont stand for any more shit. Slap a few people around a bit and find out who hit my dad! I want answers and I want them quick, so this mess can be cleared up and these people dealt with.’
‘Where you at? Are you gonna be alright? There are some bad people putting pressure on me, but I had nothing to tell them.’
‘Keep it that way, do some fishing and put business back on track. I’ll give you a week to get me the names of who’s been involved in this. Then I want you to come over to Corfu, a week on Sunday. Pack light and get a cab to the Old Fort, I’ll meet you down on the jetty with a boat. Don’t mention this to anyone. You understand?’
‘Yes, look I’m sorry about your father! I’ll speak to you soon. Keep your head down!’ With that he hung up.
Morgan put the phone in his pocket and limped back out to the patio, he leant on a chair and talked to Stavros. ‘You think the legs gonna be better a week on Sunday?’
Stavros looked puzzled and then shook his head. ‘You’re going be lucky to walk properly on that thing in one month, let alone one week. Why?’
‘I got guests arriving.’
A look of dread appeared on Stavros’s face. ‘Spiro’s not going to be happy when he hears about this!’
‘Spiro or no Spiro it’s something that I’m going to have to face up to, we all know that I’m the only one who can straighten this mess out!’
‘Like we said before, one way or another a lot of people are going to die over this! I hoped I wouldn’t see days like those again, but you got to do what you got to do.’ He folded the paper he was reading, and sighed. He placed his phone to his ear and then spoke. ‘Spiro, you better get back here, the boys got something to tell you!’
It was night time before the old man came back to the villa in his hand he had two bags, his field bag from the bakers apartments and a bag that clinked as he walked along, sticking out of the top were two bottles of wine. He was in a good mood. ‘Come! Come and sit outside,’ he gestured to the others as he approached the table outside the villa. ‘I got what you asked for.’ he passed across Morgan’s field bag. ‘And I’ve got something to show you.’
Stavros sat first as the old man uncorked two bottles of dusty red wine and poured three glasses. Spiro opened the bag and nodded approvingly as he looked inside, before placing it back at the feet of Stavros. ‘Andreas is sending steak tonight, this should go down perfectly with the wine.’ He smelled at the aroma as he swilled the wine around in the glass and placed it under his nose. ‘Have I mentioned that 92 was a perfect year.’
Morgan drank and nodded in agreement, before curiosity got the better of him. ‘What’s in the bag?’
‘I told you, it was a perfect year. It was the year I bought a set of these for the family, and now I would like to give one to you. Call it a late eighteenth birthday present!’ The old man presented him with a gift that set the scene for a night’s feast of food and drink.
That night Morgan learnt a lot about Spiro and his life on the island, he accepted his gift, as he knew it would come in handy some time in the near future. Now along with the field bag he would have all the tools, he needed to get to the bottom of why his father had been killed.
Morgan woke the next day with a pounding head, he reached over to the side table near his bed and took two painkillers, before hobbling out of bed to the bathroom. Mornings were always the worst he thought as he rubbed the aching muscles of his thigh. He sat on the toilet and then brushed his teeth before returning to his bedroom to get dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. The sandals would have to wait a while, he couldn’t stretch that far to put them on.
An hour later he had forced down a piece of toast, and had in his hand a satisfying cup of strong coffee. He made his way back to the living area of the villa and opened the French windows. It was early, but the sound of children playing by the pool could be heard over Greek music playing from the pool bar. Morgan walked outside and sat in the warm sun until he had finished his coffee. His time at the villa, and injury, was beginning to hit home the truth of his situation. If circumstances had been different in Sidari and the mafia had turned on him when they had the chance, he would have been dead. If he had been shot nearer the artery in his leg, he would have bled to death on the road back to Gouvia. He thanked his luck stars for being alive, but he knew his options were becoming limited. He was stressed and vulnerable and needed to get to grips with his situation. He had so far managed to avoid any contact with the Greek or UK authorities. However he knew if he was caught, he wouldn’t be able to protect any of the ventures in the business portfolio. He wouldn’t be able to stop assets being seized, and accounts being frozen, when a full criminal investigation took place. He knew therefore, that he had a lot of reading and examination of accounts and records ahead of him. With time against him, he would have to cram into every waking hour all account detail, to trace every pound that had been moved or invested. Once he had all this information he hoped he would be able to identify partners his father associated with and then begin to manipulate them in his favour. Eventually he hoped to understand the full scale of the companies markets and manage businesses accordingly.
Morgan took out marker pens from the field bag and began to flick through the last three years of business accounts. The portfolio was split into assets that consisted of Ocean vessels, Real Estate, and Alcohol/Brewery/Vineyard production. He knew for a fact that his dad distributed Alcohol: so the Distillery in Jamaica (Kingston Rum), Breweries in Poland (Weis Lager), Prague (Budviest Lager) and the newly acquired vineyard in Sofia – Bulgaria (St Catherine Wines) were easily identified within the Accounts. But what surprised him was the brands turnover, which was relatively low – like it only operated in a local market. He delved deeper to the end of year accounts and was shocked to find that the profit and loss final figures were dramatically inflated in relation to the sales of the two previous years. The sales had quadrupled, so that must mean that materials and labour costs would have increased at a steady rate with other overheads. This wasn’t the case the business was operating with artificially inflated sales to markets that did not exist. Here, export was the preferred method of increasing the demand, yet in England he had never seen any of the above mentioned on supermarket shelves. It had to be all a front. So he checked every company and every brand to investigate further, it could only be explained by one thing alone. The businesses were fronts to launder money from smuggling Tobacco, Alcohol, Drugs and whatever else Max had got his fingers into. But how had he made it work? How had he managed to get away with it to the sum of multi million pound dividend payouts at the end of the year to shareholders? He was beginning to get worried as he traced money from the companies to recognised corporations and even establishment figures. There was even an offshore account in the Bahamas for a charity named Burdett Foundation, which was cash rich with 20 million pounds in it, courtesy of you know who.
Morgan delved into other accounts that revealed, a publishing and printing business in Poland (Black Bear). It generated a massive profit each year of 40 million pounds. That would have to mean bestselling authors, but when Morgan checked for royalties – there were none paid to a single person. All copyright was reserved Black Bear – How convenient he thought, as he wrote information in multi-coloured pen upon the villas white washed living room wall.
The wall became more illustrated on the second day as Morgan introduced a rough sketch of a world map. It incorporated from left to right the Americas (North/central/South), Europe and below it Africa, with the remainder being roughly drawn to represent India/Asia/China and then all on its own Australia. Morgan added layer upon layer of information as the accounts were examined one by one. Eventually he examined the Real Estate and Yachting information from the Caribbean, Spain, Greece, North Africa and India. There were other bank accounts in Switzerland and Bermuda and machinery parts in Panama and a little known area of Brazilian rain forest that had been bought for five million pounds. In total, the banks had a split of cash: Bahamas 40 million, Bermuda 5 million, Switzerland 12 million, he was overwhelmed by figures.
The worldwide Real Estate and ocean vessels assets including Brazil came to a cool total of 20 million give or take a million.
As the information built up on the wall, contact names and Dividend windfalls sat alongside arrows that flowed between the yachting companies (payoffs – for smuggling) and payments to wholesalers on continental France/Spain. He understood how cash from sales were routed via Max’s Breweries before returning again to the UK via dividends. Other international merchandise came from Brazil, while receipts were picked out linking them to shipping (Panama or the Caribbean/ to European destinations) the cash finding its way through Kingston Rum to dividends paid into the UK or the charity fund in the Bahamas.
By the end of the week, there was a comprehensive web of information that implicated some extremely high profile people in Business and Government, worldwide. He also made note of prominent people of noble background. But better still he had the latest information of a newly developed business venture in India. It showed vast amounts of merchandise being distributed from the sub continent to Europe via the network of yachts in the Mediterranean. Without doubt, it was drugs. The profit from it was laundered through Max’s real estate lettings in Greece and Spain. He had double-checked his findings and was now sure that the dividends past only to one benefactor alone, based in Milan and called Inzagi. Last year alone, the operation had brought a profit of twelve million. This year the operation had been doubled, and the money now sitting in the various accounts represented 18 million pounds.
Morgan held his head in his hands and realised for the first time that he had the information of the venture that had brought the downfall of Inzagi and his father. But why? was it greed? He wondered if the assassins knew how well connected his father was? He wondered if they had any idea that it would create a gang war throughout Europe? Perhaps they had planned this all along, why otherwise would they kill powerful men and target businesses that provided a steady stream of wealth many would not be able to comprehend. To Morgan now sifting through the evidence, he now realised how much these shady figures would like to get to him, to take over the businesses he had written on the wall.
He had begun to realise that ultimately he had lots of enemies, depending on how he wanted to proceed with managing the business. If he changed the basis of how the companies did business then he too would be dead within weeks, the masses making money from the portfolio would not stand to lose an affluent income and comfortable lifestyle among societies elite.
Morgan was exhausted he had been hobbling around all week, the examination of documents had been slow. His mind was blown with all the figures and trails of money he’d tracked around the world, and then back to the UK.
He took a short shower to refresh himself and cleaned his wound. Morgan taped on a new dressing, struggled to pull on his shorts and had a shave. He looked in the mirror and realised the skin around his eyes was dark, his body weight had dropped due to the trauma of the wound and the heavy workload. He looked himself in the eye and asked himself was this the kind of life he wanted, was this how he was going to live out the rest of his days? Hiding away? Looking over his shoulders? Killing people? Sure he was young he now had contacts and all the information and money, but he wouldn’t be able to do as he pleased. He would always be asked to perform tasks he was not happy to carry out, supply drugs, and run anything that would turn a profit. Tied to a web of mysterious people who would no doubt pull his strings as he got to know them, if he got to know them.
Morgan rubbed down his wet hair with a towel and hobbled back to the masterpiece on the wall, picked up his mobile phone and took a picture of it for his records. He scrolled down the phones list of contacts and added names and numbers where appropriate, then sat back on the sofa to relax and close his eyes. His mind wondered and jumped around everything he had learnt that week. Suddenly his conscience got the better of him. His mouth watered as the pit of his stomach churned. He began to gag as he struggled to make it to the toilet to be sick. He was sure hidden somewhere amongst all the information, and money were ruined lives of people who had been used as property. If he looked hard enough, there would be people trafficking, slavery, and prostitution. Not to mention arms deals that would provide the tools for ethic cleansing, slaughter, civil war and famine. He wiped sick from his mouth and stood up from the toilet, and looked down at his wound. It was bleeding, blood trickling down his leg and onto the floor, like the blood of hundreds who had died to build up Max’s empire. Their lives were all the dirty money that now sat in vaults, not benefiting anyone apart from people who fed off vulnerable people and vice. These people could not see further than a pound sign or a dollar, do nothing else but cause more heartache, yet more corruption and death. Somehow he knew he needed to make a stand, somehow he needed to make a difference, that was the only way he could live with his legacy, live with himself and build a future that could make a difference and keep him alive.
There and then he knew he had to develop a plan. The only way he could keep ahead of the underworld and the authorities, would be to ensure there was a transition from illegal activities to proper trading companies. It would anger a lot of people who had made millions through Max, but if he wanted to walk away from his father’s past and be able to have a life of his own, he would have to take down anything that couldn’t work legitimately. The crucial problem was figuring out how to play the mafia who were after him, that should be easy. The hard part would be paying off his father’s old business partners, and with the rest of the capital invest legitimately in worthwhile ventures. He resigned himself, the latter would take longer to achieve.
‘Keep everyone happy without getting killed,’ he said to himself, as he redressed his wound. Moments later he walked outside into the sun, drew up a sun lounger and fell asleep, with a smile spread across his face.
It was over a week since he had spoken to Vince in London, and during that week a lot had happened on the sunshine island. There had been increased activity from the mafia as their ranks swelled to compensate for the loss of their two colleagues. They had exerted their muscle by forcefully taking an additional number of Morgan’s businesses, whilst attacking the people who worked for him. Now the locals were demanding action from the police, who up until now had been concentrating their efforts on finding the boy. It seemed the heat wave this early in summer had frayed at nerves and retaliation was now on the cards, the Greeks were taking advantage. The police were banging heads together to try and keep things under control. A number of the mafia had been deported before they could cause serious trouble, but there was always the chance that one had slipped by unnoticed. Any tourist could be an assassin, which made Morgan more edgy than ever. It was one big messy situation for the authorities, made worse by the arrival of the British police.
The increase in violence on the island in particular had not gone unnoticed in the media and now there were TV crews from various stations lobbying for information about Morgan. They knew he was there and linked him to the troubled streets. He was worried by one of the TV crews in particular. Sky News and their reporter Lesley Wright had already made inroads into tracking him to the north of Corfu Town. In the last twenty-four hours, she was prepared to offer rewards if flirting failed to gaining confidence of the local men, who claimed to have seen him, something the police had so far failed to do. Unfortunately for Morgan, it had now made it difficult for him to return to Gouvia, which drastically restricted his movement, so now he was sitting with his belongings in a speedboat tied up in the quayside by the slopes of the Old Fort at Corfu Town under the mid day sun
He recalled how the last week and a half had flown by as he nursed himself back to health, occupied by his research on his dad’s files and accounts by day and then eating in the restaurant at night. He had enjoyed the good humour and relaxed atmosphere. There had been pleasant company when Ariston along with Spiro and Stavros had eaten most nights with the rich clientele from Athens who stopped in the complex. He had lightly eaten and drank well, before retiring around eleven o’clock under orders to get much needed rest, and it had remarkably improved his injury, although he still slightly limped when he got tired.
He sat there in the boat with his arms crossed and his feet up near the steering wheel, not looking out of place in his khaki shorts, Lacoste polo shirt, Oakley’s and concealing sunhat. He struggled to get comfortable as he squirmed in the white leather boat seat. His stiffened leg was healing quickly, but had left scar tissue that itched like crazy. He reached down to rub it with enjoyment and brushed against a new pistol in his pocket. This was the present Spiro had given him.
Morgan sighed and smoked a cigarette before fidgeting with his recently reclaimed TAG HEUR watch. It brought a smile to his face; he was lucky to have found Haley the girl who had taken it from him over a week earlier. It was even luckier for her that she had chosen to wear it loosely around her wrist than sell it in a back street jeweller. By chance, he had spotted her whilst catching up with Davie and Stevie in the Whispers nightclub for a few beers. It was evident to see that she was hovering around to pick up some unsuspecting guy and then rip him off, whilst he lay unconscious in his bed. Morgan waited until it was closing time then followed the inebriated pair in a taxicab. He travelled back to a hotel and waited into the early hours, for her to show her shadier side. As daylight broke she did not disappoint him. He watched her sneaking out of the guy’s room, half naked, grasping a small bag full of trinkets and money. Morgan followed her and waited until she got to her front door before pouncing. For the second time in as many weeks, he had shocked himself by his brutal behaviour, but instead of killing her like the mafia, he had roughed her up a little throwing her around the room to unsettle her rather than beat her. When he had vented his disapproval at her earlier actions towards him, he calmly offered her a chair sat down and poured them both a Bacardi. As the sun rose early that morning, he produced his revolver and told her quietly who he was and why he was there on the island. He offered her two options. One was to work for him and help him to punish the mafia looking for him, and the other was a cold-blooded death. With his eyes glazed over he finished the Bacardi and picked up his revolver, she rose at the same time and agreed to his demands. He took back his watch, but she kept the money she stole. However from now on it had been agreed, she would perform deadly services on his behalf. Everything had worked out the way he wanted it to be, he thought as he suddenly snapped from his daydream and looked again at his watch. It was gratifying to feel a little bit more in control, but then realised the time had turned two o’clock, and something was wrong.
Morgan turned toward the airport and looked across Komeno bay. On the other side of the concentrated high rise buildings set at the end of a lagoon was the runway and then the airport, there you could almost reach up and touch the aeroplanes as they accelerated quickly along the short runway. He was getting agitated, where the hell was his expected guest. Morgan could hear the distant rumble of jet engines as the Britannia flight that was supposed to bring Vince departed. It climbed above the old roman part of town as it banked right and flew away from the island.
He started to smoke again this time to calm his nerves and pondered the situation. Vince had been a long established partner of his father’s, since he had been a boy. He had been on many trips with them to continental Europe, and he had frequently visited his father’s restaurant in Sheffield. Yet something about their family relationship didn’t seem right. It seamed as if it was always on a professional basis, rather than friendship. Morgan began to wonder how much he could trust the man.
The London flight had now left local airspace, and there was still no sign of Vince, who by the boy’s calculations should have been there half an hour ago. He quickly recalculated the man’s route taking a road accident in town into consideration. However the more he thought about Vince’s delay the more he sensed trouble, trouble that he could do without.
Morgan had given up on Vince half an hour later and had untied the boat from the quayside in readiness to start his journey back to Gouvia. As the engines to the speedboat ticked over, he guided the boat between other craft and out into the slightly deeper water of the bay. He was just about to open the engines when he heard sirens blaze out along the coastal road from Komeno. He swung the boat around and looked through his binoculars, as two police cars raced towards the heart of town. Blue flashing lights were joined by a number of sirens coming from the narrow streets in town; they seemed to be converging toward the Liston. The boy searched amongst the landscaped park and the island’s congested traffic. He concentrated on the crowds of tourists near the main streets to the Old Fort. Looking for anything out of the ordinary, which could be the object of the unwanted police attention.
After a few minutes, Morgan watched as more police cars came into view. Heavily armed officers frantically dispersed into the crowds, in the search for someone. That someone Morgan knew was Vince. He shook his head in disappointment. He realised there was no way the man could reach him without being spotted. So he sat and watched, as the boat sat calm in the water of the bay. As Morgan searched desperately for his father’s business partner, he suddenly spotted a man in his late forties dressed in a brown linen jacket, jeans a blue baseball cap and shades. The man had a small backpack and looked uncomfortably hot with red cheeks and a sweaty band around his cap. Through his binoculars, he did a double take and checked the direction the man was walking in. It would appear that he had made it after all, but was not alone. Trailing behind him were the shadowy figures of the mafia, who were now attracting the attention of the police.
Morgan watched Vince turn off the main footpath, along the pathway to the Old Fort and realised there was only one chance to assist the escape of his troubled contact. He would have to encourage Vince to jump over the walkway to the fort into the deep water of the quayside; it was his only hope of evading death at the hands of the Mafia.
The boy powered up the speedboat and headed back toward the commotion, waving his hand in the air and used the crafts horn to attract the man’s attention. Unfortunately, he could now see that it had also alerted the mafia to his actions. As Morgan approached the narrow entrance to the quay, he heard shots above him on the pathway. Suddenly his phone rang. ‘Hello!’ he answered quickly, as the boat grazed along other boats in the tight waterway.
‘Is that you in that boat Morgan?’ Vince winced.
‘Yes, I’m making my way directly to you along the quayside, below the pathway to the fort. You got to get down here quick!’ The boy heard another shot ring out in the afternoon air, as he powered the boat toward Vince.
‘Fucking hell! Where are you! I’m getting shot at here!’ Vince shouted, as the boy could hear the man scrambling around on the gravel of the path.
Another shot fired as police sirens once again started to sound, filling the bay as they homed in on the forts vicinity. ‘Vince! Vince, are you alright?’
‘Alright, alright, do I sound fucking alright!’ Came an agitated response. ‘How the fuck am I gonna get to you?’ Bang, another shot rang out. ‘These bastards are getting nearer.’ Vince was beginning to panic.
‘You only got one chance. You’ve got to jump from the walkway into the quayside.’
‘You are kidding me, that’s some drop,’ Vince shouted.
Morgan replied, ‘Walking down here will take too long. We’ll never getaway!’ Morgan realised bringing Vince was going terribly wrong. Moments later screeching tyres could be heard, as sirens bouncing off the confines of the fort walls down onto the quayside and echoing around the bay. Another shot rang out ricocheting off of the surface Vince was running along. ‘These guys are getting too close, there going to kill me Vince said with a crack in his voice.
Morgan could now see the action unfolding ahead of him, two men were chasing down Vince. He’s not going to make it, thought the boy as he passed under the bridge. Suddenly there was an outbreak of automatic gunfire that rang out. Bullets danced along the course way, zipping off in various directions. Doves scattered into the air startled by the fatal decision of the police to open fire on the gun totting assassins.
The boat drifted out of the shadow of the course way back into brilliant sunlight as a body fell from high above onto a nearby boat, staining the white exterior red with blood. For a moment, the boy dare not look expecting the worse, but as he grimaced and viewed the corpse he could see it was not Vince. He sighed in relief as a bag bounced off the seat to the side of him. Then moments later the water near the boat erupted into white foam as the man catapulted himself from the causeway. The boy quickly leant a hand to pull the pale looking Londoner from the water. ‘What took you so long?’ the boy asked, as the police started to swarm on the causeway above them.
‘Those fucking Italians, been chasing me all over town!’ Vince slumped into the bottom of the boat; his clothes were soaked and weighed heavily on his stocky frame. Morgan stumbled over Vince’s bag as he sat back in the driver’s seat of the boat.
‘Stop! Police!’ Came a shout from above, in an English accent.
‘Vince stay down in case they take a pop at you!’ Morgan shouted as he pushed the throttle of the speedboat into action. The craft immediately accelerated and raised itself in the water. In the distance they could hear the sound of gunfire, but it was too late to find its mark. Morgan navigated the boat out of the narrow channel and out into the open bay on his way to the north of the island. Ahead of them, they could see the ferries setting sail for Bari, Ancona, Paxos and many other destinations. Morgan angled the speedboat to jump the waves that were left in their wake, using the power of the craft to be guided on its way along the coast.
‘You ok, Vince?’ Morgan looked around at the tattooed upper arms of the man as he struggled to remove his wet clothes.
‘Fucking hell! I thought I was dead back there,’ he spoke a bit more calmly now, he’d got his breath back. ‘Good to see you!’ Vince slapped the boy on his leg in appreciation.
Morgan reacted in shock and then pain at the man’s actions. ‘Careful geezer, your not the only one who’s been shot at recently!’ the boy pulled his shorts up to reveal the dressing on his thigh.
‘Jesus! I knew that things were turning ugly here, but didn’t realise they had got that close to you.’ Vince shook his head.
‘It looks worse than it is,‘ Morgan covered it up and pulled back further on the power to set the craft skimming along the sea.’
‘We gotta be somewhere?’ Vince asked.
‘No! I want to get past the marina at Gouvia as soon as possible. There’s a gun ship there.’
Vince thoughtfully nodded in agreement to the situation. ‘You think they can catch us?’
‘Not if we’re quick to pass the bay. We could get anywhere up the coast to Albania or Croatia within a day, at this speed.’
‘Is that, where we going?’ Vince asked.
‘No! I need us to stay on the island. I’m going to take us to Kassiopi. It’s a busy fishing village, on the north coast of the island. We can hide the boat there and mingle in with the tourists, to get business sorted.’
‘You think the police will track us down?’
‘They might with time, but the islands a big place with lots of resorts. If it weren’t for the media people snooping around I doubt anyone would have tracked me to this day.’
‘You know that Lesley Wright she’s hot, very sexy little thing. Ain’t no wonder, she can open doors nobody else can find.’
‘Yes! Well, she certainly has worked her magic here. Although nobody seams to be exactly who they say they are, she’d better watch herself before she gets into trouble!’ Morgan replied.
‘I bet she thought this assignment was going to be a holiday. Some holiday when you’re in a bikini, getting shot at!’ Vince laughed.
Fifteen minutes later they passed a small island and the bay leading into the natural harbour Morgan pointed back to the marina at Gouvia. ‘That’s where my dad’s yachting operation is based!’ he said as they speeded on toward Kommeno, where millionaires owned sea front properties
Vince sat back, peeled off his wet jeans and rummaged around his backpack. He pulled out a polo shirt and shorts to cover up from the afternoon sun. His pale complexion was already looking a little red from his exposure to the unrelenting glare of summer. As he struggled to put on his garments against the movement of the boat they passed anchored yachts at secluded beaches. Morgan slowed a little and produced a map of the island to study. As their journey progressed, he read off the names of the east coast resorts. They quickly passed by Gouvia’s neighbouring villages, Dassia and Ipsos where there was an abundance of nightclubs. Barbati where the secluded beach was more accessible from the sea than its steep narrow lane, that clung to the hillside. Next was Nasaki, then Agni and Kalami.
‘How much further have we got to go?’ Asked Vince.
‘We’re two thirds of the way there another half an hour should do it, why?’
‘I’ve never been fond of boats, can’t swim that well!’
‘Well it beats having to drive; the roads are unusually narrow and wind around the coastal hills and mountains. Very dangerous for bikes.’ The boy could sense that something was wrong with Vince as he seemed distracted. ‘Vince what’s wrong?’
‘You think we can get something to eat soon, I’ve not eaten all day?’ he asked, patting his stomach.
‘Yes, sure! Hang on a minute. Ariston the guy who runs the yachting firm, told me of this harbour next to the sea where there’s a taverna.’ he looked at the map. ‘It’s called Kouloura, apparently hugely popular with people from boats. Should be around here, somewhere.’
‘You mean over there?’ Vince pointed with enthusiasm at a white building nestled by the sea, surrounded by pines and boats in the sea. The conversation had certainly sharpened his concentration.
‘You fancy a look?’ Morgan asked.
‘It looks busy, but I got to eat.’
Morgan wondered why the man was so keen to find food, perhaps by his physique he needed at least one full meal a day to keep his fuller figure. ‘Lets take a look,’ he guided the boat into the tiny bay and the harbour and tied it up. The place had an air of exclusivity, as they looked around the array of expensive yachts and boats moored up, with little room available for larger vessels.
‘I get the feeling it’s going to be expensive,’ Vince said stumbling onto the wooden walkway that led to dry land.
‘You got sea legs?’ Morgan laughed, but as he helped the man to his feet he could see his eyes were rolling a little. ‘You alright Vince?’ Morgan held onto the man’s arm to steady him.
‘I’m diabetic, and I need sugar, something, anything sweet! I need a bar of chocolate or a drink of orange juice.’ He started to lose his balance.
‘Hang on Vince, come on it’s not far to the restaurant. Morgan guided the man away from the harbour, up a few steps and onto the taverna. Once there he sat Vince outside on a metal chair and rushed inside to demand a glass of juice. Five minutes later Vince’s blood sugar level had quickly recovered, and a smile returned to his face. ‘Come on now we’re here we might as well eat!’
The two of them sat with their backs to the taverna under the shade of a canopy, which held out the last hot rays of sunshine from withered bodies of the clientele that sat various shades of red around them. They had studied the menu but asked for the house speciality and were swayed by the opinion of the well dressed waiter, who ordered muscles in a garlic and tomato sauce for starters and a mixture of dips and side dishes which comprised of saganaki – fried cheese, taramosalata, tzatziki dips and moussaka along with a Greek salad to be served all at once. Morgan ordered a carafe of white wine and a bottle of water for Vince to quench their thirst. Vince was the palest of the diners and was glad to have a back support as he recovered his strength. ‘Sorry about that,’ he apologised to Morgan referring to his untimely symptoms. ‘The last few weeks have been unbearable and have taken their strain on my health,’ he wiped away cold beads of sweat from his forehead.
Morgan looked around the nearby tables, listened but said nothing. He was assessing the other people eating at the taverna, to see if it would be all right to discuss delicate matters. There was a pleasant mixture of Swedes, Norwegian and a few Germans but no British who could easily recognise him if the conversation turned heated. Anyway all the parties seemed to be enthralled in their own topics of conversation; there were loud bursts of banter, jokes and laughing which lifted the volume of noise under the veranda. He decided it would be OK to talk freely. ‘How was my dad’s funeral?’ Morgan looked Vince in the eyes to assess how genuine the man was toward him.
‘Not good, only a few people dare turn up with all the police attention focused on the event. A lot of contacts that stayed away, continued to make moves on the streets and caused a lot of trouble!’
‘Not terribly respectful.’ Morgan looked sad.
‘The king is dead, long live the king!’ Vince said looking toward the boy.
‘That’s all well and good but I’m in exile and can’t claim any of the estate, the restaurant, Dad’s bank accounts or the family house. The mafia knew exactly what they were doing when they made the hit. They made it impossible for me to stay around and takeover.’ He pointed to himself in anger, realising now his dad was gone the family name rested with him alone. ‘They’re like vultures tearing away at all my father built up over decades!’ The boy made a statement.
‘It’s always been the same; it’s the nature of our business. Once the partners see a weakness they fight to secure their own interests.’ Vince said, regrettably.
‘What about you? Why haven’t you tried to take advantage?’ Morgan asked.
‘Because I have enough already and because I talked to your dad about other directions, other ways to make money,’ Vince said, sadly.
‘And what was his opinion?’ Morgan was particularly interested.
‘He would have liked to join me, but he was in too deep. Had too many people pressuring him for a piece of the action. You see your father was a mastermind. He could play people and at the same time make fabulous amounts of wealth.’
Morgan nodded. ‘I know I’ve seen the evidence.’
‘But that created problems for your father. He was leaned on by people in high places, and did things he didn’t want to do. In the end, he did well to keep all his contacts happy. To make sure they didn’t realise, he was making a vast amount for himself.’
‘I suppose if you build the empire, you decide where the funds go and how money gets spent. As long as ventures are successful then everyone’s happy.’ Morgan repeated what he had seen in the files and paperwork.
‘I provided your dad with muscle when he needed it. I was his contact on the streets of the UK, distributing produce, getting payments on time and policing arguments with the people we supplied. Now all that’s gone to shit, two of my guys are dead, and there’s tension and unrest about where the produce is coming from.’ Vince was getting terribly animated.
The boy continued. ‘This is why I have brought you here. I need to feel comfortable in dealing with you. I need to know why my father wasn’t warned about a possible attack? Why wasn’t anyone there to protect him that weekend? Why had you not been to Sheffield lately? And more importantly why haven’t you Vince tried harder to find me and offer me help?
Vince sighed and held his head in his hands. ‘I’m in pieces for you and your loss. I had spoken to your father the morning of the shooting and believe me there were no signs, to say anything like this would happen. I’ve gone over the weeks leading up to it and tried to think of any job or grumble that could have escalated to the old man being bumped off, and there isn’t one until that night.’
‘There was a customs haul in Plymouth on a chartered yacht. What seemed a regular boarding, seized a street value of £100 million coke and heroin, destined for the streets.’
‘I know that, it was all over the news! Someone lost a lot of money.’ Morgan said.
‘Well somehow your dad got involved with this guy Giuseppe from the Inzagi firm. They were trying to make big money fast. The deal your father had with them went wrong! It’s just came out that they wanted to make a move on the big boys in Milan,’
“So they blamed my dad, for letting them down with the funds?’
‘Looks like he was stitched up. Perhaps the other mafia families found out about the deal, and didn’t like it. You know I’ve been running businesses with your father for a long time. He used to do some crazy things, working for rival gangs at the same time, and neither of them would find out. That’s why he got as rich as he did by playing people and cutting deals.’
‘I knew he was more than just a business man, but his files show an empire all over the world with extensive contacts.’ Morgan stated.
Vince replied. ‘That’s good, it might make my job easier in unravelling London’s feuds and setting the playing field level again for everyone making waves. Before we lose everything apart from our lives.’ Vince continued. ‘Listen I would have come out, if you would have called me after the shooting. I asked high and low about a hiding place, and no one knew. At one point, we thought the mafia had caught you and buried your body.’
‘Well I managed to stay one step ahead until recently. I will kill them from a distance next time and cut the chances of getting hurt. We all live and learn.’ The boy had suspicions maybe justified, perhaps it was Vince who had given details of his intended getaway and that’s how his pursuers had tracked him so easily. Whatever had taken place he couldn’t prove with hard evidence, so he decided to use Vince to try to get near the mafia. “I didn’t know I could trust you until meeting you today. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to kill you.’ The boy had to play it cool and hard to fool the man about his actions.
Vince laughed but then realised that the boy was deadly serious.
‘You think you can run the business whilst I’m away?’ he asked Vince who looked another shade whiter.
‘Listen I’ve had just about enough death threats recently without one from you!’ His voice rose a little too high.
‘OK, like I said, I needed to be sure, so can we bury the hatchet and concentrate on the scum that started all of this?’ Morgan counteracted Vince’s anger.
‘We got muscle, and I got the info you need. It cost a lot of money and came from sources in intelligence; I’ve got the names of the guys involved and mug shots. We ain’t the only ones after these guys. They’re dangerous.’ He took out an envelope from his bag. Before Morgan there was a series of colour images taken in England and Italy showing six people. ‘Who are they?’
‘Members of a new Mafia family from Milan, the Giovanni’s are slick but nasty,’ Vince cringed. ‘The final image is the main man. Head of the family, his name is Roberto, and he’s been pulling lots of strings in Italy to succeed a lot of people have recently died.’
‘You think my father new that and was backing him, until it went wrong?’
‘Maybe, or perhaps he tried to halt their ascent through the ranks. Double crossed them and got burned like everyone else who stood in their way.’
Morgan sat for a few moments and watched Vince as he drank a glass of water, before speaking. ‘I want to keep loyal people onside as well as bring in new contacts. If it looks as if the Giovanni’s are the new force in Milan then we need to consider working with them. Perhaps it might be time to talk to them and consider some ventures in the future?’
‘Vince’s eyes narrowed, and he leant forward to the boy. ‘I hope you’re joking; these pricks will kill us all. It’s time to blow them away not work with them!’
‘Maybe they’ll listen to a deal from you? The heat’s on them in the UK. Perhaps taking charge of their interests on our soil would help them out. It might also lessen their temper towards our other assets in Spain and North Africa,’ Morgan replied.
‘It’s true! We might open ourselves up too far and get torn apart. Anyway what makes you think they will talk to us? After all, they killed your father. There going to think it’s a trap!’
‘No trap, it’s the business thing to do. It will calm everyone down and stop all the killings. Anyway it won’t be my suggestion to place the deal on the table, it will be yours!’ Morgan stunned Vince.
‘Wait a minute! I came out here because I wanted to extend my life expectancy, not shorten it!’
‘But it might be the only way to build confidence and start making substantial money again without people ripping each other off. It’s a risk we should embrace!’ Morgan watched Vince closely as the man scratched his head and sighed.
‘If you want me to open up shop again I can approach them, maybe you’re right and only I can do this to save everything from crumbling. It would stop the likes of the Russians from moving in on us. If I do I’m going to need you to sign accounts over to me?’
Morgan digested the scenario with their meal and finally smiled at Vince. ‘OK, you can take control of the UK operations and keep everyone we need sweet.’ He planned in his mind the minimal handover of accounts. The European Breweries, Yachting firms and Real Estate were already targets. By handing them over to Vince, he would be able to gain confidence with the mafia. Perhaps offer the aggressors the chance to get a piece of what they wanted and buy Morgan some time to figure out how to spread the fortune in the banks around a bit, Make it untraceable. Morgan set rolling a plan to bring down the bastards who had killed his father, before they became too protected.
Vince finished his meal. Maybe it was the food or the conversation, which had helped to aid Vince’s recovery. One thing was for certain, now Morgan had untied Vince’s hands, one way or another the mafia would be drawn into negotiations. It would only be a matter of time, before he found out who was truly on his side. From now on the pressure would be firmly on Vince, he would handle anything that seemed like a threat to the UK operation. All Morgan had to do was bide his time before deciding who to hurt.
After a smoke and another few glasses of wine the restaurant thinned of customers, and lots of boats in the harbour made sail, Morgan returned to the conversation at hand. ‘Will you be able to get a grip with the local market.’
‘I’ve tried to stabilise the warring factions with some success in the UK but the problems in European operations especially Spain have been harder to solve. The balance of power for a few Milanese families has swung. A new family has been flexing its muscles, to take a bigger slice of the action. It’s turning into a civil war. The Italian way of doing business is foreign to me and always has been, that’s why it’s been so difficult for me to try and control damage to our overseas interests.’
‘The same things happened here, instead of persuasion they’ve brought their guns and on occasion used them,’ Morgan rubbed his thigh to show the proof.
‘I’ve seen the headlines on the international news. The shockwaves and fallout from your father’s death, has been greater than anyone could have expected,’ Vince shook his head. ‘I’ve left the usual crew out on the streets in my absence to keep the peace in London. I’ll put them to good use on my return.’
As they put out their cigarettes the bill arrived, Morgan nodded to Vince in silence and poured himself some wine to occupy the void when the waiter was hovering.
‘Now you’ve handed the UK operation to me, I can act on your behalf, in your absence!’ The statement extended the silence as Morgan studied the implications.
‘I still want to be kept in the loop about rebuilding connections with the Italians, and I want you to know it’s crucial to use ultimate force against anyone who objects to this plan. Securing an alliance with Milan will be the key to the long term future.’ He masked his intentions of a double cross.
‘What about negotiating new deals, new contracts with incentives to stay with us.’
‘It might be the only way to pacify people, and bring them more inline with our thinking!’ The boy knew if anyone was still loyal to his father’s memory, they could damage his plans. Financial gain was the only way to keep them in line, until his enemy and rival could be taught a lesson.
Morgan looked out on the small bay as the sunlight started to fade. He opened his wallet and settled the bill using Euros and then they made their way back to the harbour. It was now only half full, but as they jumped back into the speedboat he could see new boats and yachts sailing towards them full of hungry people who needed a mooring for the night. The boy eased the speedboat out of the harbour and then set course out to the Albanian straights. The speedboat hugged the coastline, giving enough room to avoid collision, with the numerous craft bearing down on their course. ‘That was a fabulous meal, as appetizing as Ariston had recommended,’ Morgan said.
Vince relaxed in the seat at his side and took a couple of calls on his phone, before turning to the boy in the fading light. ‘The cats out of the bag, the cops know I’ve left the country. They picked up Harry and Bob earlier today for questioning. They’ve just been released.’
‘Times of the essence then. We’ll have to come up with a strategy to financially pull everything together. It’s our last chance to approach the new big fish and align our business with their interests, before they decide to take us out.’ The boy increased the boat to full speed and navigated around the northeast corner of the island, bearing down on the little fishing village of Kassiopi. When they arrived it was dark, and they were guided into the harbour by buoys and the lights of tavernas and boats shored up in the resort. It was a picture postcard scene that greeted them as they secured their craft and climbed up an ancient stonewall onto the walkway of the old village. Nestled along the waterfront were numerous tavernas and shops crowded with tourists enjoying their holiday. It should be easy to slip away from any police, find a place to stay. Morgan needed to develop a plan for revenge. They left the boat at the far end of the harbour obscured by larger vessels and some Greek fishing boats. They hid the key under the floor mat before making their way across the main service road where rows of tables were laid out uniformly around the harbour. Beyond them tavernas could be made out, old properties that were hidden by verandas.
Morgan picked one of the classier tavernas, without the red or blue checked tablecloths and uncomfortable wooden chairs. He admired the simple, but effective menu and the name of the establishment ‘Baraks Place.’ Morgan approached the waiters and asked, ‘Can we have drinks at the bar?’
‘Sure thing!’ An Aussie said from the bar.
Morgan turned to Vince. ‘You want water?’
‘No I fancy a couple of beers, it’ll be alright I’ve had a large meal.’
‘Coming up, take the weight off your feet fellas,’ the bar man said.
Morgan settled into his bar chair and gulped the beer down. ‘Nice bar!’
‘Yes came here five years ago to tour around Europe, arrived here and been here ever since,’ he pointed to the pictures behind the bar. There were Aussie and Kiwi flags and lots of photos with people having a fabulous time.
A few minutes later Morgan made enquires. ‘We came in by boat today have you any rooms available for a couple of nights so we can rest up, before pushing on around the island?’
The bar man shrugged in a Greek way. ‘It’s difficult at this time of the year. Some travellers asked the other day, and we couldn’t find anything!’
Morgan thought for a moment. ‘We would be willing to pay well, plus we would take anything with two rooms!’ he said with a hint of persuasion to the chap.
‘Look there is a place that is empty at the moment but you might just be better staying on your boat!’
Right thought Morgan sarcastically. ‘It’s not that kind of boat!’ with that said, the bar man seemed to grasp the urgency in Morgan’s voice.
‘Righto! I’ll make a few phone calls and see what I can do, but no promises!’
As the night wore on Morgan started to talk to a group of Kiwi’s who had just moored up in the harbour, he was in a more cheerful mood as he quenched his thirst. ‘If we can’t find anywhere soon, we might have to sleep with you guys!’ He pointed to the group of twenty somethings and laughed, but it seriously wasn’t a joke.
After a couple of hours waiting, they were provided with a key. But then subsequently robbed of two hundred Euros for the hire of the house for a week. The directions to the house, given by the barman were a bit vague to follow in the night, so Morgan was keen not to fuel himself with anymore drink until they found the location which was set back from the sea front
After a drink of Ouzo and a shake of the hand to cement the deal, the waiter and the groups of travellers wished them a good night. Morgan and Vince walked among the crowd of tourists and along the harbour past the rest of the tavernas to leave the crowds behind. They walked up a narrow lane that led away from loud music and sport bars that were starting to get busy with revellers. Morgan walked with a slight limp as his leg became tired until he found an open space. It was the town square and was filled with park benches of elderly locals who held prayer beads and wore suits and hats. They ignored all the tourists and continued to chatter and drink wine as small children ran around their feet screaming as they played. It was an idyllic scene of generations enjoying each other’s company. Morgan adjusted the bag pack strap that cut into his shoulder and wrestled with his field bag as they left the square behind, they were intoxicated and swaying a little under the weight of their luggage.
‘Which way did the barman say?’ Vince asked.
‘It’s just a little further up this lane towards the main road at the top. Look out for a wall covered with red flowers, we need to take a path nearby.’
They passed a pastry shop and a car park on their left, until the lane became a quiet residential area with a wider street, the houses here were modern and painted white rather than the pastel shades of tavernas. The properties were a mixture of houses and apartments with balconies and roofs with red terracotta tiles. As they neared the small path, they left the road and squeezed through parked cars. They entered the shadows of an old stonewall, covered in a clematis climbing plant. The sweet smell of its pollen floated on the warm night air. ‘Here we are! The path should be nearby!’ Morgan said, as the darkness was illuminated by car lights, Vehicles making their way down to the harbour.
A moment later Morgan was pushed off his feet. Vince rugby tackled him down a series of steps, that showed they had found the narrow pathway. ‘What the hells a matter with you Vince?’ he asked as they tumbled into a heap and lay on ancient flagstones.
‘Where?’ Morgan asked.
‘A squad car was making its way towards us on the road.’ Vince pointed back up the dark steps to the opening in the wall.
‘Do you think they saw us?’
‘Not sure, wait here I’ll check!’ Vince pulled himself up and climbed the steps to look out where the streetlights illuminated the entrance of the path. A few moments later he looked back. ‘They’ve driven passed, down to the harbour!’
‘Good, but it looks like they’re going to be checking for boats.’ Morgan pulled a torch out of his bag to light the way along the path.
‘It won’t be long before their crawling around here looking for us!’ Vince replied picking up his backpack and helping Morgan to limp ahead.
‘Come on lets find the apartments.’ The boy illuminated the uneven cobbled pathway up some steps until they came to a dead end. ‘This is the one! The house, with a blue gate!’
Vince tried the latch and pushed it open; the hinges creaked as they entered a small yard that revealed a run down fishing house. ‘Well it’s certainly not a penthouse suite!’
The cottage had a stained rendered wall, along it grew a similar climber to the one that decorated the paths wall. The property had old style Venetian window shutters and looked as if had been neglected for a number of years. ‘How much did you pay for this dump?’ Vince asked.
‘A small fortune! The waiter said there was remarkably little available as the resort was busy, the only place he could find was a private property not normally hired out. Because of that I would need to hire it for the week, rather than a couple of days.’
‘They certainly know how to make money.’ Vince said as Morgan unlocked the property and ventured inside.
When they turned the lights on to their surprise, the house was exceptionally spacious and delightfully decorated with exposed stonewalls, renovated pine ceilings and a terracotta tiled ground floor. They stood in the modern kitchen that contained oak units with a black marble work top, scaling the wall was a cast iron flue that connected to a large wood burning stove and by the only window on this side of the property was a Belfast sink.
‘Certainly didn’t expect this!’ Morgan locked the door behind them, and walked through to the front of the property where the living room again surprised them. It was a vast room that had an olive beam trailing across the ceiling. On one side it had a dining table and on the other a series of brown leather sofas were placed around a coffee table facing a 42 inch flat screen TV. In the corner a leather wing back arm chair sat next to a compact library of books. Again there was a wood burner and gathered around it were a stack of neatly arranged chopped logs, it looked very cosy.
’Someone’s taken a lot of time to renovate this!’ Morgan announced nodding his head in appreciation to the interior design.
‘Someone who has quite a lot of money,’ Vince walked over to the TV and a side cabinet, inside was a Bang & Olufsen stereo system and a turntable. He slid the unit’s door right back and found a collection of old Greek records. ‘It doesn’t feel right that we should be here! This is obviously someone’s private holiday home.’
‘Yes, but whose?’ Morgan walked over to the library, to read through the collection of books. ‘Someone who likes crime novels and Greek mythology and enjoys traditional music.’
Vince looked on the far wall, there were signed Olympiacos football shirts and basketball shirts displayed tastefully. ‘He’s someone who’s got taste, influence and is well connected.’
‘Yes my father would have been proud to display sports memorabilia like that.’ Morgan opened up the French doors that led onto a big balcony; it overlooked the rooftops of the old fishing village. Above the tiled roofs, boat sails could be seen in the distant harbour as the salty smell of the coast breezed into the house. He admired the vista before going back inside and walking up a spiral staircase that displayed black and white photography of the historical island. It led to two first floor bedrooms that contained two double beds and a bathroom with both a shower and bath. Above him was a third bedroom, in the attic conversion. ‘Wow what a pad!’ Vince remarked as they threw their luggage into the bedrooms.
‘We’re lucky not to be in a hotel, perhaps the police will overlook us here!’
They made themselves comfortable, but the house lacked one crucial thing, air conditioning. Without it, they soon found themselves back out on the balcony sifting through the information on businesses, bank accounts and handing over some access rights so Vince could control the cash flow. ‘You do realise that these accounts have been set up in my alias name! The first thing you need to do is find yourself a reputable counterfeit man, to get a passport made up with these details.’ he wrote all the information and passport number down for Vince to put in his small note book.
‘Good thing I’m a criminal and know all he best people in the business.’ he laughed.
‘Be careful to use someone you can completely trust, the last thing we need is for these details to fall into the wrong hands.’
‘I have someone in mind; he works in intelligence and can get anything we need. He’s come through for us many times before!’
‘Can he make people disappear?’
‘That might be a little bit more difficult and pricey. Generally it’s more for queen and country, but if the national interest comes into it, it’s possible!’
The conversation dried up as both of them sat and looked out toward the harbour, the breeze made the humid air bearable as they both nursed their sunburnt arms and faces. ‘You think it might cool down a little tomorrow. I’m not used to this kind of climate?’
Morgan pointed onto the horizon where an electrical storm could be made out dancing along the Albanian coastline, lighting up the night with varying displays of raw energy. Around them the breeze stiffened and the air-cooled. ‘A change is in the air, I think before the night is out a storm will be with us!’ Then for the first time that night the sound of the crickets, was interrupted by a distant rumble of thunder. ‘When it rains it will pour, perhaps it will wash away some of the blood which has been spilt here, so we can all make a fresh start?’ Morgan placed his hands behind his neck and rested his feet on a spare chair. ‘From being a child, I have always been drawn to storms. They have so much power and grace. Nature has such a selfless way of separating the weak from the strong, and punishing people who are not wary of imminent disaster.’
‘Survival of the fittest?’ Vince added, before standing. ‘Look, I’m beat! I’m going to turn in for the night, it’s been a long day!’ he made his way back inside and up the stairs to bed.
Ten minutes later Morgan was back out on the balcony after double-checking the house was secure, and the door locked. He pulled the cork out with his teeth; poured himself a large Metaxa from a bottle he had found in the kitchen and raised a glass to the storm. ‘Here’s to Spiro,’ he said realising it was the man’s favourite hard drink. Then he raised it once again. ‘Here’s to you Max Burdett, If you’re up there looking down I hope you can be proud of me. I hope I will become the son you trained for this occasion.’ he gulped the remaining content of the glass and quickly poured another.
The boy continued to drink and turn his thoughts to his father, the more he drunk the heavier his heart weighed with grief for the man he would never see again. He hadn’t been given the opportunity to say goodbye properly with one last embrace or to attend a sombre funeral, to hear the fateful words, ‘Ashes to ashes, dust to dust!’ and it hurt. Tears started to stream down his face as he remembered how regimented his father had always been to him. How he had always tried to make it up to him, with long summer breaks, after a long year at boarding school. What he would give to have him here with him tonight, he cried out loud in despair. In double vision he saluted his father one more time as the bottle eventually ran out, he had drunk more than he realised. ‘Dad if you are with me if you are looking down on me give me a sign!’ he consumed the very last drop of brandy left in the glass as lightening bolted nearby across the sea followed by an eruption of thunder. Morgan held his head in his hands as his surrounding began to spin. ‘I will do what ever needs to be done to kill every single one of them who plotted to kill you!’ he said, as the first dots of rain began to fall on him.
Morgan picked up his laptop and paperwork, slid them inside the house just through the French doors out of the danger of water, then let the heavy, warm rain wash over him. He sat for a good half an hour not moving letting the torrential rain bounce off his body until his clothes could absorb no more and he was dripping wet, eventually he rose and then staggered in from the balcony peeling his clothes from his body until he was cool and naked. A shiver ran down his spine as he covered himself with a blanket, he collapsed onto the three-seater sofa and fell into a deep sleep. Outside the storm grew closer and louder as rain lashed at the open doors by the balcony, water like tiny streams collected in the tiles grooves and travelled on a journey into the home. Soon it reached the laptop and his papers, the ink began to run on the pages, his father’s handwriting began to fade as the water spread. Morgan subconsciously dreamt of the police and one person in particular. Barack, the officer who met him at the airport from the plane. As he lay there he couldn’t hear the sirens in the village below, he was unaware of squad cars sirens racing away from the harbour and the hotels they were checking, they once again had given up their search for him in return for more grizzly crimes.
Morgan turned and laid on his back snoring over the fading police sirens and the dull ring tone of his phone that was muffled in his wet shorts it buzzed away trying to attract the boys attention to no avail, as he gained missed call after missed call. It would be nearly mid day before he would surface and realise the consequences of such a volatile storm, when they would realise that the mafia had struck once again deep at the heart of his families business inflicting harm on anyone who stood in their way.
Vince was the first one to rise as the storm clouds evaporated and the heat of midday started to break through on the rain swept island. He looked out of the first floor window and could see lots of the locals mopping out their properties after the last twelve hours downpour. It was a little chilly so he had a warm shower before putting on some jeans and a blue long sleeved Lacoste shirt, incredible he thought I come all this way from grey London and it rains. The stocky man walked over to the bedroom mirror and combed his hair and splashed on some Aramis aftershave the same aftershave he had always worn since the eighties.
Morgan began to stir as Vince rummaged around in the kitchen; he started to come around to the smell of rich Italian filter coffee as the aroma filled the air. He opened his eyes when Vince turned on the lounge TV and slapped him around the face. Their eyes met as the boy pulled the cover back over his head. ‘I took one look of you from the staircase, and realised you would probably need this more than me!’ he held out a cup of steaming coffee.
Morgan sat up and took the cup. His head dropped before he propped it up with his hand. ‘What time is it?’
‘Not late enough by the looks of you!’ Vince could smell the alcohol on his breath. ‘Have a coffee and then get yourself back to bed, you need to sleep it off!’
‘You know you’re not a bad old sort,’ Morgan paid the man a complement as he gulped at the coffee to moisten his dry mouth. He looked green as if it were the first time he had drunk, and got up with a hangover. ‘Think I might have a shower, to wake myself up!’
‘Looks like you had one already!’ Vince laughed as he looked around the room and the wet tiled floor. ‘What happened down here last night?’
‘Damned if I know?’ the boy grimaced at his sore head before standing to tie his blanket around his waist like a sarong. He shuffled off as Vince picked up his wet shorts and t-shirt to throw them outside to dry in the warmth of the emerging sun. ‘Take some water with you and take some paracetamol from my room, they’ll make you feel better!’
All Morgan managed to give in reply was a mumble, before he disappeared upstairs. Ten minutes later he could be heard throwing his gut’s up. The full affects of his nights binge came back to haunt him, over and over again.
‘That’s my boy!’ Vince said sarcastically before laughing.
Vince popped out to the shops as Morgan slept through the afternoon. The man avoided going down to the harbour, in case policemen were lingering there. Instead he called into the little pastry shop, they had passed the night before. He sat and ate a large slice of pizza and a baklava dessert with a cup of coffee, then picked up supplies to take back to the house. Bread, Milk, sugar, chocolate, a couple of extra feta and spinach pies for the boy and a copy of yesterdays Sun newspaper to read out on the balcony.
When he arrived back at the house, there was no sign of life and the shutters to the bedroom were firmly closed, so Vince quietly got changed into shorts turned the TV off and sat outside on the balcony to catch a tan. Harry would only take the piss if he didn’t come back with one, he thought as he too drifted off to sleep in the warm sun. It was night time when they both heard the ring tone of the boys phone. He found it buried in his clothes and answered it.
‘Hello!’ the boy asked still distracted by his headache.
‘Where the hell have you been?’ Spiro asked.
‘In a safe house in Kassiopi!’ the boy replied yawning and stretching is free hand.
‘What the hell are you doing up there?’
‘Vince got shot at, and with that TV crew being in Gouvia I thought!…’
Spiro cut him short. ‘You heard the news?’
‘No!’ replied Morgan.
‘Well it’s a good job you didn’t come back to the resort last night, it’s a blood bath!’
‘What do you mean?’ the boy asked.
‘Andreas is dead, they blew up the restaurant and then the office at the Marina. Ariston managed to escape on a yacht, but some girls who have been staying at the office have been killed!’ Spiro was agitated. ‘I’ve been trying to get hold of you all day!’
‘Sorry, I’ve been occupied!’ Morgan paced the room as Vince watched on anxiously. ‘Turn on the TV,’ he instructed.
‘That reporter Wright’s been snooping around again! If you can get Sky News you’ll get an update.’ Spiro said.
‘OK I’ll take a look and call you back!’
‘No need to call me back, you just make sure you’re waiting down in the harbour before midnight, a fisherman will be waiting to take you to Ariston’s yacht. It’s time you and your friend got off the island!’
Morgan was just about to argue when Spiro hung up the phone. Over the next ten minutes he tried in vain to reconnect to Spiro, but the phone was engaged. Finally he gave in to Spiro’s request, turned to watch the Sky News channel and take in the full horror of Wright’s graphic report.
Before him was the news feed live from the island as the channel handed over airtime to the crisis unfolding on the island. The young tall blonde presenter took centre stage in the main car park outside the luxury villa complex. Plumes of smoke rose behind her, as the cream coloured building smouldered away. There were numerous burnt out cars by the crumbled structure of the buildings. ‘Welcome to Corfu and the latest update of unrest on the troubled island,’ the bronzed blonde started to walk and step over fire hoses that trailed along the floor supplying the necessary water to damp down the occasional flame. ‘Last night at around midnight explosions ripped through two businesses in this once peaceful resort, leaving five dead and countless injured. The scene from this restaurant behind me is of carnage. As a car bomb exploded it indiscriminately ripped through this popular dining place.’ She skilfully manoeuvred around to a police car and approached the commanding officer that politely joined her in front of the camera. ‘I am joined by Corfu Towns Police Commander, who is in charge of this investigation to bring the culprits to justice!’ she smiled at the man and placed the microphone between them.
‘Could you tell us a little bit about what happened here last night?’ she asked.
The Commander in full uniform and cap took off his sunglasses to address the audience. He was military looking, with a clean-shaven face and square jaw line that had a dimple in his chin. ‘The police arrived at the scene at 12.30am to find a bomb had been detonated from one of the cars parked directly outside the restaurant. Luckily a lot of the restaurants clientele had already left after dining, but unfortunately, all the staff and other members of the public left inside perished due to the nature of the explosion.’
‘Do we know if any of the people killed were British?’
‘It can be safe to say that the manager of the resort and staff have been identified. The other two victims are wealthy businessmen from Athens, who were here on holiday. So in aswer to your question, no, none of the victims here, or at the marina were British.’
‘Could you tell me a little bit more about the attacks, do you believe that they are linked?’ Wright again placed the microphone between them.
‘The bombs were very similar and designed to be concealed for maximum damage. Whoever planted the bombs wanted to make sure that the targets would be destroyed along with any occupants. We are looking for exceptionally ruthless people, who will stop at nothing to get there way. The two bombings are linked and have targeted businesses that may have been involved in organised crime.’ he said.
‘Now as you are aware we have been hot on the trail of Morgan Burdett, the boy from England who is wanted for questioning about the slaying of his father back in Sheffield. Could you tell me if these incidents are linked to him?’
The Commander straightened up a little uncomfortable at the question, but nevertheless answered it. ‘The two properties do not belong to the Burdetts although the yachting company has ties back to the UK. We are investigating their connections to organised crime here and in Europe to see what links we can find!’
‘Have the people who died at the Marina been identified?’
‘Not at present, we are looking for the owner of the yachting company to come forward for an interview, but as yet we have not been able to track him down.’
‘A guard at the marina stated that the two bodies were of young women who worked for the yachting company, can you confirm this?’
‘Not at the moment until they have been identified by the owner or other workers!’
‘Does that mean that there could be a direct link to someone trying to kill the boy or anyone associated with him?’
The Officer once again became uncomfortable by the intrusive questioning. ‘Whilst we feel that there is undoubtedly evidence surrounding last nights atrocities and other various beatings and killings on the island, I cannot at this moment directly link any of this to the boy. Today, we still cannot confirm that Morgan Burdett is actually here on the island.’ He frowned awkwardly.
‘So you are saying that we can’t contribute any of this to the fact that he is in hiding somewhere in Greece.’
‘It’s possible that the factions of the Mafia are trying to hunt him down as we are. But the facts are that even to this day, no-one has sighted anyone who looks like the boy and until he has been interviewed we might not be able to piece everything that has happened here and abroad in Spain, Italy or even the UK to the slaying of Max Burdett!’
‘What are your next steps to try and contain the situation?’
‘We have been joined in our hunt for the boy by colleagues from Sheffield, and we will be examining all avenues in successfully bringing him in for an interview. I would also like to add that no stone will be left unturned in bringing the people who have done these despicable acts to justice. As from today a special task force has been set up to screen all visitors to the island.’
‘What would you say to any British tourist who is thinking of cancelling their holidays to the island because of the troubles!’
‘When you look at the fighting that has broken out along the Mediterranean, you cannot pick out one place more than the other in relation to more killings. However, it is true that there is more emphasis here because of all the rumours about a possible hiding place. I would think about safety seriously, but the same could be said for a lot of popular tourist destinations at this moment outside of Corfu and Greece.’
‘Could you clarify the term Satanna for the record and how it relates to the island?’
The Commander was shocked by the phrase. ‘It has been mentioned a lot in the press recently that Satanna has returned to these shores, and will exact revenge on his enemies. That he will stop at nothing, to kill anyone who harms his people or property. The term has not been used since the late eighties. Then so many hostilities wreaked havoc in our homeland, and many people died at the hands of the mafia. It has not reached that scale, and I will not hesitate to use resources at my disposal to protect the innocent public.’
‘But don’t you agree that there are similarities between the eighties and what is now unfolding around the young boys disappearance?’
The commander was becoming flustered by the in-depth interview. ‘I’m afraid I can’t comment any further on the case until more evidence is found.’
‘But can you guarantee a greater police presence in the resorts to put the peoples minds at rest. Surely the locals are as jumpy as the holiday makers with so many threats being thrown around by the Mafia on the island?’
‘This is not Milan and certainly not Sicily, the Mafia have no power here,’ the policeman was by now getting quite hot under the collar as Lesley Wright relentlessly reeled off more questions. ‘I cannot comment any further!’ were his last words before breaking off to talk to a gathering of heavily armed policemen.
Wright angled herself to find the most revealing camera angle for her sign off. ‘As you can see from the presence of so many well armed officers the authorities are starting to crack down on suspected mafia, with an introduction of road blocks throughout the island. With more guns on the street, the authorities are trying to stop the spread of violence. This week alone has seen a number of mafia lives taken in a Corfu town shootout. More innocent bystanders were also killed in the usually quiet resort of Gouvia. Perhaps this might become a more common sight until the capture of Morgan Burdett or until the so-called Satanna unleashes a bloodbath to rival the eighties. Here on the island of Corfu, Lesley Wright is signing off for Sky news.’
Morgan sat on the leather sofa and sighed before turning to Vince. ‘Guess we better get packing, Spiro wants us off the island before midnight!’
‘Midnight but I’ve only just arrived. How am I going to get a suntan now!’ the cockney complained.
‘We’d better get everything together so we can get to the fishing boats at nightfall,’ Morgan confirmed again.
‘It doesn’t sound like a bad idea. The police are going to stretch out the long arm of the law. Before too long, they’ll start checking private houses’
It had occurred to Morgan that they might be able to get away on the speedboat once again, if it had not been seized already. If they moved with speed they would make Albania or Croatia further up the coast in little under an hour, but once there what would they do? Where would he go from there? How could he get back at the mafia he had to defeat to survive? He considered his options and decided to be guided by Spiro who had up to this point been extraordinarily helpful in times of need, they would go where they were told for the time being and then bounce back when the time was right. Morgan rushed up stairs and threw all his belongings into his cream safari bag and then collected his laptop and damp papers together in the field bag. Within half an hour of the instruction they were out of the house and back in Barack’s Taverna talking to the barman and handing the keys back over.
‘That was a short stay gentlemen,’ the Aussie said, as he graciously received their presence at the bar. ‘You decided not to stay?’ he asked with a puzzled look.
‘We have been called away on business and have to be collected tonight!’ Morgan shrugged.
‘Pity the weather forecast has predicted calmer weather for the next few weeks. You would enjoy it here in the sun!’ he looked at Vince who nodded in agreement.
‘I could certainly do with some of that!’ he looked down at his pale complexion.
‘Here have two beers on the house!’ the barman brought over a golden pint of lager, which turned Morgan a shade of green.
‘Hair of the dog, the best remedy in the world.’ The barman laughed as he left them to fill up his fridges.
‘Wonder if it can do anything for sea sickness?’ Vince frowned as he sank his beer and wiped his mouth. ‘I ain’t the best sailor in the world!’
‘You’ll be fine!’ Morgan comforted the agitated man, before realising the harbour had just filled up with policemen who were now examining the speedboat. ‘Looks like we might not make it after all!’ Morgan nodded towards the sea front over Vince’s shoulder.
‘Fuck! What we gonna do now?’
‘Staying calm is the first thing to do. We have to play this cool and attract only the fisherman’s attention or it will be all over.’ This was the closest he had come to loosing everything. It would take only one eagle eyed cop, and his plans to regain all his father’s operations would be exposed to the authorities. His enemy would devour what assets were left, and leave him out in the cold. With no support from Vince’s contacts, it would be easy for Morgan to be killed.
Morgan began to panic as his phone rang.
‘Hello is that Morgan?’ Asked a man with a dry Greek accent.
‘Yes! Who is this?’
‘I am the fisherman who comes for you, but my friend we have a problem, there are too many police here to let you board in the harbour.’ The phone went dead for a moment as both people thought of a solution. After a few moments of heart stopping tension, the Greek spoke. ‘You will have to meet me in the next bay. I will pick you up there!’
‘Which bay? Morgan asked as his eyes panned out on the harbour to scour the coastline.
‘Follow the road away from the police to the left of the harbour, it will take you onto a lane that hugs the coastline. When it starts to level you will find an old series of steps that will bring you down into a sheltered bay. It is safe there. That is where I will meet you!’
‘I am setting off from the harbour in a blue fishing boat, you will see my boats light soon!’
‘What about the police will they not track you?’
‘No, they have been checking the boats. I am now free to go!’
‘OK, we are going to set off walking now!’ Morgan became very anxious, when more policemen with a boat trailer arrived at the waters edge to retrieve their captured speedboat. He looked over to Vince. ‘Come on while the police are distracted and being kept busy with the boat we should go!’
The two figures left the bar and mingled in with the other tourists who were out for an evening walk, the night was calm compared to last night’s storm, and many of the holiday makers were stretching their legs after a whole day spent indoors. As they left the harbour and joined the lane they could hear the chug of a boats engine making its way from the noisy tavernas. Ten minutes later Morgan searched his way down the marble steps with his flashlight down to the white-pebbled shoreline of the bay, the waves slowly lapped against rocks as they peered out into the nights calm, searching for a sign of the boat.
As they waited they heard voices back on the roadside high above them, but only when the boat eventually approached did they realise that it was the police who had been mindful to watch the craft leave the harbour. When the vessel came nearer the sailor scoured the bay to pick up the boys flashlight. Suddenly there was a lot of shouting from above.
‘Quickly my friends!’ the man shouted from the boat as he approached them. ‘Jump on board!’
Morgan shone his light toward the craft and realised that the boat sent to save them was an old vintage speedboat with wooden panels and leather interior. The fisherman offered them a hand as they jumped from unstable footings into the bottom of the boat as it scrapped against rocks of the bay.
They adjusted their balance as the boat powered up and manoeuvred away from the shallow water into the main boating lanes that surrounded the island. Morgan looked back on the lights of the fishing village and the angry police men who were shining their flash lights out to sea. The boat purred as a jet of water was catapulted into the air behind them leaving white bubbling water in their wake.
‘Some fisherman you turned out to be!’ Morgan stated turning to the middle aged man who indeed did wear an old Greek flat fishing cap, although the boaters he wore spoke of a wealthier man than his appearance might suggest. ‘Where are we going?’
‘Cephalonia!’ the fisherman shouted. ‘Sit back and relax, nothing will catch us in this!’
Two hours later and they were off the island of Cephalonia, they rendezvous with a yacht, ready for the next passage of their uncharted voyage.
As they approached they could see the yacht was a sixty-foot vessel of some age, it was white in colour well maintained and immaculate in appearance. The red ensign flew over the stern of the craft where the name Kelsey registered in Portsmouth was written. However on the boats old polished bell was the name Sophia. On top helping them aboard was a red eyed unshaven Ariston, unkempt in appearance, he wore a grey fleece, navy Gant shorts and a Ralph Lauren baseball cap around his neck held on an elastic string were sunglasses and over his shoulder he sported a well worn AK47.
‘Welcome aboard!’ Ariston bent down collected their baggage and offered them a hand to pull them up, his expensive boaters gripped the wooden varnished deck as they clambered on deck. ‘You make excellent speed. I was not expecting you for another hour.’ he said to the fisherman.
‘There were too many police; we had to set off as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I think they spotted us!’ he took off his navy cap and scratched his grey hair. ‘You better set sail straight away and get some distance from the island by daybreak.’
‘Entaksi! Efharisto! Yia sou!’ Ariston said goodbye to the fisherman who in return waved before leaving, then in minutes had vanished from sight.
Ariston helped them to settle into the yachts quarters, and then opened the sails to harness the last remaining breeze from yesterdays storm. He looked at his watch and calculated that they could, with the current get fifty miles before daybreak. By then they would be amongst the main routes of the Mediterranean, that connected east to west Europe. They would, then be very hard to find. Still he clung to his Kalashnikov but reckoned they soon would be able to sail in relative freedom to any of the Greek islands and beyond, without any interference from the authorities.
Continued in book 2
Ionian Gangster Boy – Voyage of Discovery.
When Morgan's father is executed for a gangland deal that goes wrong, he soon finds out that being connected to the underworld is not what it should be. With the mafia on his trail to seize his fathers assets and the police wanting him for questioning and to expose his fathers underworld connections it can only be a matter of time before he's caught or worse ends up dead. A fast paced thriller with a Greek Connection full of twists and turns and a heart thumping finish.