Tsim Sha Tsui District
Friday, 31 December,
Fireworks had filled the black night sky over the vast expanse of Kowloon
Bay since long before sundown. The continual bursts of gaily colored explosions formed a constant illuminating umbrella
over the plethora of various sized boats carpeting the bay, each packed with
Throughout the Sha Tsui district an enormous
throng undulated though the avenues spilling over into every side street and
back alley while the crammed piers of the bay area at the city’s edge were
peppered with scurrying children in traditional costume terrorizing locales, tourists
and merchants alike lighting off harmless firecrackers
The largest human mass migration in the world had peaked. The Spring Festival was in full swing.
However, not all present were in party mode.
Down on Austin Street a dishevelled Westerner in a red knock-off Puma track
suit continually glanced over his shoulder as he hurriedly made his way through
the packed streets of downtown. The harried man went unnoticed by everyone,
everyone save one man calmly but doggedly stalking him through the melee.
The track suit suddenly turned west onto Austin Road and crossed over onto
Nathan where he skirted Kowloon Park apparently heading for the waterfront.
Though still a full city block away, the younger guy in the dark jacket,
blue Polo shirt, khakis and dark blazer was gradually closing the distance, almost
seeming to know where his prey was heading.
Increasingly desperate but maintaining his composure the track suit
ducked into the low lighting and soft music of the Pierside Bar & Restaurant, a swank dockside place where people gathered
to be seen, to impress each other or to use as a means of expensive foreplay.
Disregarding the dozen people already in line he slowed his pace to
maintain a low profile.
“I’m sorry sir, we’re fully book–” Ignoring the well-dressed, attractive
Asian receptionist at the podium he darted around the tables, past the bar and
headed into the stairwell leading down to the restrooms but the hostess
signalled a member of the floor staff and he was suddenly cut off by a large
“Toilet for customer only!” The enormous Samoan waiter declared as he
stepped in front of the man. The runner quickly grabbed his lower abdomen and
assumed a look of agony.
“Yes, sorry. I want to have only a drinks in the bar. It is possible to
have two Manhattans on the bar, yes please?” He offered the waiter a fifty
pound Sterling note which only briefly saw the light of day. After showing the
bank note to its new home in his hip pocket the big Polynesian looked him over
then stepped aside.
Just as the track suit disappeared down the stair his pursuer stepped
through the front door and quickly scanned the floor just in time to see the
big waiter walking away shaking his head and, behind him, the flash of the red
track suit off to the left descending the stairwell.
“The year of the rabbit! How appropriate!” The blue blazer whispered to
As the receptionist was occupied escorting a party of four to their
table the blazer leaned over and quickly scanned the open reservation book. She
returned in time to see him but not in time catch him looking at the book.
“I’m going to grab a quick drink at the bar while I wait for the others
to arrive.” He casually informed her as he stepped away.
“I’m sorry sir, may I have the name of your party?”
“Yes of course. It should be under the name of Yakura,
with the Hatsutashi Corporation. Reservation’s for
nine.” Hands in pockets he smiled and shrugged. “I’m early.”
Her delicate finger diligently shot to the reservation book and scanned
“Of course sir. Thank you. Please enjoy your drink and I’ll send someone
over as soon as the rest of your Party arrives.”
“Chi chi!” With a slight koutou he thanked her. “You’re very kind.” He headed towards the bar.
Once at the bar he ordered a drink and veered off to the staircase.
At the base of the wrought iron stairs he was faced with a wall forcing
him to choose left for the ladies or right for the men’s’ room. There was no
way out except back up the stairs.
Additionally there were no doors on the entrances to the rest rooms
proper. The required privacy was afforded by the two entrances being set back
from the walled off area by a few feet.
With no one in sight he cautiously headed to the entrance of the Ladies’
Room. Suddenly a toilet flushed and he retreated. As he stood back by the staircase,
a well-dressed middle-aged woman emerged, smiled at him and headed upstairs.
Quickly but silently scurrying back into the ladies he dropped to floor
and scanned underneath the two rows of stalls and spotted nothing.
Chancing there was no one balanced on a toilet he ducked back into the Men’s
simultaneously producing a 9mm Berretta sporting a silencer.
He quickly poked his head into the space just in time to see his prey
peeking out the door of the center stall.
A sharp ‘CRACK!’ was immediately followed by a thud and the stall door
slowly closed over but stopped when it hit the red track suit who had just lost
the room temperature challenge. A slowly growing pool of blood seeped onto the
As he holstered his pistol and moved to the body, the young man
“Just like Quantico. One shot, one kill!”
With little effort he dragged the man back up into an empty stall, removed
the man’s jacket and placed it over the blood stain.
“Appreciate you wearing red, fella.” He whispered to the corpse.
He propped the corpse up on the toilet and after being sure the stall
door was locked he quickly rummaged through the dead man’s pockets and relieved
him of his belongings.
A half hour later, sitting in his 12th floor suite across
town in the Hyatt Regency off Hanoi Road, a glass of scotch by his side, he
inventoried the take by spreading it along the glass coffee table.
In a manila envelope there was over 1,200 Sterling, 1,700 U.S., 13,400
Yuan and an odd mixture of coins. In a large alligator skin billfold he found a
three day old British Airways plane ticket, return, a boarding pass dated for
the 3rd and Columbian and Venezuelan passports. Both passports contained
photos of the man, the man he had just erased,
but under two different names.
He double checked the envelope, wallet and passports for anything
“SHIT! It’s not here!”
He separated and pocketed the cash, stashed the passports in the room safe
and burned then flushed the travel documents before heading down to the bar for
a night cap.
The first leg of his flight back to D.C. would be wheels up at 07:00 so
he planned a light night.
Outside a soft drizzle had developed and a little further south, at the far
end of the public rental docks in Kowloon Bay a small, open speed boat gently
bobbed in the water. One of the two men sitting in it impatiently glanced at
his wristwatch as the other hunched down against the cold, damp breeze.
It had just gone nine-thirty.
“¡Mierda! No, no vendrá!”
“NO! No vendrá! Vámonos.” The big guy
grumbled as he fell back onto his middle seat in the boat.
“Pero señor –” The driver insisted.
The single engine skiff sped off into the night.
Waxman’s 24 Hour Pharmco
31 December; 21:18 Local
Axel’s mind drifted
back to the Spanish bird he’d chatted up on the weekend in that kip over on
Wardour Street. He easily lost himself in memories of how the lights of the
Aquarius Lounge played off her soft brown skin and how her tight fitting red
silk dress accented those black eyes glossed over with booze, hash and sexual
arousal . . .
that wanker! The voice grated through his ears and saturated his brain
as it echoed off the pale, lime green tiled walls of the toilet.
All Night Chemist’s was a local institution slowly shifting its inventory over
the years from general household products to pharmaceuticals, compliments of Sir
Clive Martin’s recent support of the government’s failing methadone program.
out of his fantasy, the coarse sound of the toilet brush suddenly came into
focus as he scrubbed harder and faster to dissipate his anger.
man, late middle age, impeccably dressed in a rumpled, 1970’s olive green suit
and blood orange tie, swung his right leg in a wide arc to facilitate his forward
motion across the floor to where the youth slowly emerged from the last toilet stall
on the right.
evening officer Coleman.” The nineteen year old stood up in an attempt to give
the false impression of respect, his condescending tone well-rehearsed. Coleman
stared at Axel’s double nose ring.
keepin’ lad?” The parole officer removed his small,
sweat stained fedora to reveal a balding pate and wiped the inner head band
with a discolored handkerchief. Axel idly ran the toilet brush back and forth
under the rim of the crapper in sync with Coleman’s hat strokes as he
automatically responded in his not-so-bright Birmingham dialect.
officer Coleman! How are you and the missus this fine December eve?”
smells of urine and cleaning fluid combined to form an unidentifiable odor.
be better lad! Thanks fer askin’.
I trust all’s in order here?” He set the accoutrement back on his head.
takin’ it up the ass you old geezer?” The teen uttered under his breath as he
bent to replace the tools of the trade on the small chrome trolley standing
next to him.
that you say?”
“I say, is
she still givin’ you a gas, you old sheik?!”
“Ohh! Absolutely old boy! Thanks fer
askin!” Are we in good form this evening?”
As if you
give a fuck, you breathing antique! “Sterling, officer Coleman. Simply sterling!”
Coleman was well past his sell-by-date, but was no dunce by a long shot. What
he lacked in ambulatory capability he more than compensated for with
on track, is it?” Coleman baited.
had been attending Axel’s case since 1995 when the then fifteen year old was given
a five year probationary sentence for being an accomplice in a carjacking. Now
with less than a year to go, Coleman didn’t want Axel to form the
mis-impression he was out of the woods.
thank our fine Members of Parliament for passing the Juvenile Offender’s Work
Release Bill. Otherwise where would I be? I’m sure it had your full support
sir?” Axel baited.
misguided, politically correct, sheit piece of bleedin’
heart legislation to slip through the cracks in the last ten years. Thank you for
feel that way, Officer Coleman.”
make our appointment at the parole office this afternoon now did we Axel old
this we shit, geezer? You got worms?
“Had to do
a double shift, sir. Bills you know.”
shift is it? Very industrious. The Board will be impressed.”
sir.” Impress this fucker!
I should pop by and say hello to Mr. Waxman. Be rude not to.” Coleman tested.
check out my story then get the hell outta my life!
excuse me if I don’t show you out officer?” Axel raised both his hands to
display his oversized, pink rubber gloves. “I’m up to me elbows here.” Axel
smirked to himself as he turned and limped out of the toilet.
Realizing he had no choice at this point in the scheme of things but to sit
back and wait for the hammer to drop, Axel kicked the cleaning trolley in anger
and sent it crashing into the far wall.
If it had
been the first, second or third time he had lied to Coleman he might have
skated out with a slap on the hand. But then . . . CRACK!
sound might not have been a shot at all. Maybe one of the dozens of piles of
crap on wheels the Pakies used to get around this
shit hole of a neighborhood.
two sharp reports were unmistakable.
know why he ripped off his apron and latex gloves, but he wasn’t about to dwell
on it as he quietly squeezed his head through the front door of the toilet into
the small vestibule leading out to the main floor. The dull glare of the old
fluorescent lights seeped in.
gingerly opened the outer door and peered up the cosmetics aisle, he could see
officer Coleman, up near the front, sitting on floor near the end cap of aisle
three, his hat upside down in a pile of deodorant cans.
Music orchestral rendition of Tom Jones” “Sex Bomb” crackling over the
speaker system catapulted Axel into the surreal.
man, sitting propped up against the feminine hygiene products, looked bad. His
breathing was sporadic and his blood covered left hand was clutching at his
chest. Staring back he slowly tipped over, stopped breathing and stared up at
the Colgate toothpaste across the aisle.
by the American Dental Association.
Officer Coleman!” Axel sympathetically mumbled.
black, his Jay-Z hat turned to the side, appeared from around the front end cap
display up front while two others frantically mashed cash register buttons
fruitlessly trying to open the two till cash boxes. The younger of the two
peered down the aisle, saw the toilet door close over and yelled to the others.
THE BACK!” The crooked hat suddenly ran at a dead sprint towards the toilets. A
second, the one with the gun, vaulted over the till counter and jogged behind him
as the third one vanished from sight. Then, suddenly, the young one slowed to a
walk as the one with the gun yelled after him.
“Oy, T. J.!
Lemme at ‘em firs!” The Jay-Z hat halted at the
toilet door and slowly pushed it open for the armed, older assailant, as if he
were a celebrity rock star about to take the stage and perform a show.
this wasn’t far from the truth.
the most street wise individual in Brent, but he knew the difference between
the hunters and the hunted.
By now he
had ducked back into the ladies’ toilet and was moving as fast as his brain
would tell his fingers to empty the liquid soap bottle all over the floor in
front of the door. He grabbed an aerosol can of glass cleaner, adjusted the small
yellow spray cap to wide open, hugged both the spray bottle and his cigarette
lighter close to his chest and tried to press his body harder into the wall
behind the door.
stepping through the lady’s room door after his brother, young T.J. told his
legs to move but there was no response. It was if someone had glued his feet to
the floor. His brain wouldn’t process what he his eyes were seeing.
never heard Gerard scream like a girl but now his high pitched, uncontrolled screams
of agony filled the room as he clutched his flaming face.
mulatto boy was actually following his older brother around the floor with the
improvised flame thrower until his entire head was engulfed in blue-white
flames. Gerard struggled wildly to regain his footing on the slimy green, soap
coated floor but without success. The crackling of his flame engulfed head was
only briefly interrupted as his scull hit the concrete floor and echoed through
the small toilet space.
dropped the spray bottle and deftly retrieved the Glock 17 from the floor.
older teen’s struggles slowed to an occasional,
it was all T. J. could do to raise his hand straight out in front of him in the
hope it would stop the oncoming bullets.
over his second victim Axel burst out of the toilets and onto the main floor,
the pistol held stiff-armed in front of him. When he saw no one he paused. Backed
against the rear wall he ejected then checked the load in the magazine. Three
raced. Three rounds left meant that Coleman was probably killed with this gun. Axel’s
prints now on the weapon.
controlled heavy breathing and with trembling fingers he gingerly slid the
magazine back into place.
of the shop looked to be clear. He prayed there were only three and the last of
them had run off.
way through the open office door in the rear corner, the weapon in front, his
confidence now mustered, he watched the third youth continue to pommel the now
unconscious Mr. Waxman with a short length of pipe.
STATISTIC!” As if choreographed, the black teen turned, stood motionless and
held his breath. He dropped the pipe and, on seeing the pistol, shot his hands
into the air. The two foot length of steel slowly rolled off to the side. Axel
looked at Waxman’s bloody face as the old man struggled to sit up.
drenched in sweat, hands quivering just enough to expose his fear, slowly
lowered the gun. The black youth drew a faint smile and gingerly lowered his
police entered through the front door of Waxman’s 24 Hour Pharmco and an
andante, instrumental of Groove Armada’s Everybody
Looked the Same faded into
its monotonous conclusion, three shots rang out from the rear office area.
shallow end of Brent’s gene pool had just been culled.
northerly howled south rattling the Christmas lights strung across the main
portico of the Soho Hospital for Women. A string of similar lights with several
burnt out bulbs hung halfway down an adjoining window and, as if trying to draw
attention to its dilemma, banged repeatedly against the glass panes.
Vauxhall Cavalier drifted through the dark, driving over the thin wisps of snow
swirling down Charlton Street, past the medical facility away from the wind and
towards the school on the corner.
Aloysius parish grounds, only seven short years ago, was twice the size it is
now. However, with the receding economy, even the church was faced with
and a half of parish property was sold for a sacrificial price, just over fifty
per cent of its appraised value, thanks to Monsignor Riley’s good conscience,
and was purchased in 1992 by Alex Goldman, a man with a vision.
has since taken up residence at the Sunhill Fields
Burial Grounds, St. Luke’s, but his vision lives on.
Security Transport Ltd, the only unlisted, unmarked and one of only three secretly
licensed security transport firms in the greater London area, had remained a
thorn in the side of the big boys such as Securicor, Binks
and United Armor since its inception. Goldman’s brainchild was the smallest armored
transport company in Europe, four vans and one 1988 black Cavalier, but was the
one to turn to when money was no object.
Hamlet were the only company to guarantee the safety of the crown jewels as
they were transported across the country for the Queen Mother’s 70th
birthday celebration. The royals were more than pleased, if not a little
suspicious, when their Secretary of Affairs opened the sealed bid and found
Goldman had bid £1. At the bottom of the page was a hand written note, “For
Queen and country.”
British subjects got their yearly dose of royal pomp and circumstance, the
Queen got her much needed notoriety, and, now three years later, Hamlet’s position
in London’s world of corporate security was well established.
church, convent and school grounds just off Phoenix Street, it was necessary
for the unmarked vehicles to enter and exit the compact, high security compound
through the well monitored Charlton Street security gate.
into and out of the compound was restricted to between the hours of six in the
evening and the onset of the morning rush hour and the opening of the St.
Aloysius school which was approximately six a.m. Regular business was handled
at their off premises office in Broadgate Tower in central London.
by one of the pressure sensitive monitors buried in the road bed, four of the compound’s
CCTV mini-cams automatically rotated to intercept the Vauxhall as it slowed to
enter the gate.
camera transmitted the vehicle’s image to the main monitor in the security
office for identification, the second scanned a fifteen meter radius around the
car for any secondary activity while the third and fourth utilized their
infra-red and Starlight night vision capabilities to reinforce the information
being transferred to the night crew inside.
servos had hardly ceased their high pitched whine when all the required data
had been transmitted, processed and referred back to the entrance’s custom
designed auto lock system. Following a brief delay the armor plated gate ponderously
later as the large gate slowly closed over behind it, the Vauxhall drove past a
small warehouse, one of only two structures on the grounds. Parking in front of
the adjacent structure, known as ‘the front office’, Goldman’s nephew Anakin,
whose parents’ first date was at a Star
Wars film, climbed out of the car and approached the office door then punched
in his seven digit code, placed his chin on a tray near the door, and peered
with one eye into a red peep hole. The retinal scan complete, the door clicked
open and he entered.
had re-invested his profits wisely.
inside the spacious, overly elaborate office he went straight to his Louis XIV
desk, pressed a button and spoke into the intercom.
Evening Mr. Banbury.
“Have a good
Christmas did you?”
Very good sir, wife spent the entire bonus check!
“That’s what they do
I suppose. Anyone else around?”
Just the last two guards who’ll be with van number 1989.
“Alright. Have a good
night George. And Happy New Year!”
To you as well Mr. Banbury!
Banbury flicked to
another channel and again spoke into the intercom.
we on schedule?” A static laced voice responded immediately.
Last one’s out in twenty minutes sir.
Hal. Give me a bell when they’re through the gate.”
Will do sir. The dispatcher
responded as he returned to his mini TV on the desk next to him.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer has the story, a CNN
Sergei Khrushchev, son of Soviet leader
Nikita, the Soviet Premier who once removed his shoe banging it on the podium
while yelling ‘we will bury you!’ to President Kennedy, will take the oath of
citizenship for the U.S. in Rhode Island in three days. Following a long arduous
background investigation by the intelligence services, Sergei, along with wife
Valentina will become a U.S. citizen later this week.
himself, the two guards in the warehouse
and the dispatcher the only ones in the compound Banbury was surprised
when there was a knock at his office door.
recognized the voice of his GM Peter Grahams.
sixty-something, heavy set man in a cable knit Cardigan and khakis entered.
have a minute?”
you can Peter! Drink?”
one!” Anakin moved to the walnut wall cabinet and fixed two scotch and rocks
handing one to is colleague.
another profitable four quarters.” Peter offered.
“Why are you
not making ready to have your annual New Year’s shag with the missus?” Anakin
“I’m. . . I’m
having second thoughts.”
have been together some time now and comes a stage in a marriage when-”
Not about my marriage. About the company’s plans to stash so much cash around
the city. If we keep the trucks here –”
late for that mate! The last one leaves directly!”
recall them. It’d be a lot safer to sit on them here until Monday. Besides the
Peelers are just four blocks away. If something were to happen they could be here–”
chum, I get your concerns, I really do. I tossed and turned for the better part
of a fortnight before I decided to okay it. But if you look at it- ”
not convinced it’s worth all the risk.”
aside from the fact that the contract is worth nearly fourteen million Sterling
in commission not to mention how far ahead of the game we’ll be if this Y2K thing
actually does rear its ugly head? Not to mention
the projected rise in rate after the Continent institutes the change over to
the Euro!” Anakin argued.
“Bank of England’ll be happy enough I’d say.” Peter
reluctantly reaffirmed. Grahams smiled at that prospect. “Hard to
believe that all those eggheads who spent half a century giving us computer
technology could overlook something like missing the potential damage that could come from not using ‘00’ just to save a bit
of space.” Grahms tried to relax and took
a seat. “Anakin, please don’t misunderstand, I’m completely behind you with the
precaution of stowing over two billion quid in trucks around the city for a day
so, and kudos for secretly selling it to the Big Four bankers, I’m just a bit
nervous about not letting on to the Board that we’re doing it.”
“Peter . .
. we tell the Board, who each have their little, pet stockholders, and sure as
Tony Blair is lying about Afghanistan, the plan gets leaked to the public and
there goes the plan. And if the Y2K does hit and we didn’t go through with it,
the whole company, stockholders and all, would be fucked into a cocked hat!”
“And if it
doesn’t hit?” Grahams pushed.
“If it doesn’t,
a couple of billion quid sat in a couple of armored vans for a night or so, all
the dosh is back nice and snug in the vaults by Monday morning and nobody’s the
wiser.” Grahams still wasn’t convinced. “Besides, if it’s good enough for the
Yanks and the Canadians to do it, it can’t be such a terrible idea for a
little, off-the-map, independent set up like us to do it!”
have a bad feeling, that’s all I’m saying.”
understandable. It’ll be alright.” He poured two more drinks. “Look if it’ll
make you feel any better, you have a key to my office.”
nodded as Anakin went round behind his desk and produced a single sheet of
paper. “This is a list of all the GPS locations by van numbers and drivers. These
are ten digit grid coordinates, like they use in the military. Very precise! It’s
the only complete copy in existence! I took the precaution of not letting even
the dispatcher have the locations. Only the drivers are privy to them and then
each driver was made to memorize his location and his alone.” He folded it into
and envelope then locked it in the top drawer of his desk and brandished the desk
key. “Now there are only two people on the planet who know of its location and
you’re right.” They shared their second drink. Grahams threw his back in one
shot. “What could go wrong?” Peter’s retort lacked conviction.