“He was massive,” I said. “Nearly seven foot and built like a bear. Shaved head, black beard, tattoos up both arms and across his neck. He wore a vest and jeans, both black. Not the kind of guy I wanted to mess with. But he looked at me,” I took down my shot of whisky in a large gulp. “He looked at me like he knew me.”
Jim poured me another drink, larger this time, and passed it over the bar.
“What did you do?” he asked.
“What do you think I did? I left. I got up and walked out. The club doormen were blocking the doorway but when I hit between them without so much as slowing they parted like skittles. I wasn’t letting anything get in my way.”
“And then you came here?”
“Well, yeah. Who else would I come to? So, do you know who I mean? Do you know this guy?”
Jim took a drink himself, clearly considering how he could answer.
“Mmm,” he mumbled. “I think I might.”
“So?” I pressed after a moments silence. “Who is he?”
“He’s The End, mate. That’s what they call him, The End.”
“Mmm. I’ve never seen him myself, thank God, but that’s the point mate. This guy’s like the Angel of Death. If you’ve seen him, it can never be a good thing. It’s cos you’re top of his list – if you know what I mean.”
“So, he’s what? A hitman? You’re telling me he’s a hitman?”
He nodded and drank again.
“I’m afraid so, mate. And if he was staring at you, you’re in big trouble. This guy isn’t just good. He’s fantastic.”
“Big trouble? Exactly how big?”
“Big Big,” he said. “The biggest. If the chatter I hear is right, he’s a pro. Keeps his contracts to the letter. Never fails.”
“Never. He’s not your traditional hitman. He’s the big time. The End.”
We both drank.
“But…” said Jim with a hint of deviance. “You could always turn that to your advantage.”
“The contract. From what I hear there are four elements. The mark, the place, the time, and the method. The mark is you, we know that. Since he’s let you see him in town, we know that this is where he’ll try to do you. The time is questionable. It can’t be yet. If it was meant to be when you saw him at the club, you’d be dead by now. But it can’t be long either. And as for the method, knowing this guy, that could be anything.”
“So? So how exactly does that help me?” I was starting to get irate.
“Well, if he doesn’t stray from his contract, if the date and, more importantly, the location is set, then just get out of town. Look at it this way; the time and place of your death are already written, but if you’re not there, it can’t happen.”
“You think that would work? You think he’d just let me go?”
“It’s worth a shot. I can’t think of a better plan. Can you?”
Jim lent me his ice cream van for the trip. It wasn’t fast, but it was transport. A big hulk of a van it was, and fully stocked too. ‘Lucky Jim’s‘ it said above the windscreen, I hope it was right.
I had family in Jersey and knew that would be the best place for me to lay low for a while. I threw my gear into a bag, a few changes of clothes, a couple of pairs of shoes, and my granddad’s service pistol, and then I headed out.
It wasn’t until I was on the road that I even started to question who had set me up. I’d pissed people off in the past, for sure, but no one recently. I’d not stepped on any toes, I’d had no arguments, nothing. And the only one I’d owed money to was Jim. But he was cool. He didn’t care when I paid.
Slowly, I drove the van onto the ferry. I was nearly home. Nearly safe. Nearly free. But, as I stepped down from the driver’s side and locked the door, something hit the vehicle just to the right of my head and I jumped. Looking down at the ground I saw a bare apple core rolling across the deck. And then a crunch.
I turned and backed up against the side of the van. It was him. Just a dozen feet or so away from me, sitting on a car bonnet, and biting into another apple like it was normal.
“Morning,” he greeted me with his mouth full.
“You can’t be here,” I said. “You’re not meant to be here.”
He looked at me, puzzled.
“You’re meant to be back in town. You’re not meant to stray from the contract.”
“Oh, so you know about that,” he smiled.
“Mark, place, time, method. Yeah, I know. And I saw you. Back at the club. I saw you.”
“I know,” he said, taking another bite of his apple and throwing it overboard. “That was a shock for me too.”
“Yeah,” he said, standing up and leaving a dent in the car bonnet.
“Where?” I asked as he walked towards me.
“The nine-fifteen ferry to Jersey,” he said, now towering over me and reaching into his jacket. “Jim said you’d be here.”