Glancing up at the lift as it reached the fifth floor Alex paused. So far everything had gone without a hitch. That though didn’t mean someone wouldn’t be out there in the corridor. It could be a guest or even a hotel worker who might make the hit. Not that he would be aware of it straight away. The men in grey suits as they were termed were a lot more subtle than a straight out bullet to the head.
Alex licked his lips as he slowly stepped out of the lift. Nobody seemed to be about as he quickly went towards were his room for the next couple of days would be. Swiping the key, Alex popped his head around the door. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. A well made bed with the customary purple décor of the hotel chain. He could easily be in Barcelona, New York, even Stoke On Trent rather than Gotham as all the rooms looked the same.
Cautiously Alex stepped inside carefully scanning the room. Standing aside he looked inside the bathroom which was meticulously cleaned with the customary shampoo and soap miniature bottles. Not that Alex would risk opening them in case the grey suits had put some type of poison in them.
Putting his suitcase on the bed Alex checked the room for bugs or anything that looked remotely suspicious. Sighing with relief, maybe picking Gotham to escape and to meet his contact wasn’t that bad a idea after all. This was a mad, volatile city with the added bonus of trying to find someone would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
Nobody took much notice of the balding middle-aged man whose face resembled a forlorn potato that had seen better days. To the passers-by Wilf looked any normal office Joe who had been working at the same company for over twenty years.
No doubt he had a wife and perhaps a grown up kid or two who had his dinner ready as soon as he came home from work. Wilf was someone who lived in a nice semi-detached who picked his wife up from the shops or met up on their weekly Friday drink with Bert and Muriel.
First impressions though can be misleading as Wilf was one of the top assassins for the men in grey suits. It was why he was here in Gotham to ensure that Alex Cresswell was permanently silenced.
The fool actually thought he was safe in Gotham. That the men in grey suits were not already on his trail and knew he was in the city under a false alias. Every step Alex had made had been monitored. Time though was running out as it had to run to a conclusion one way or the other.
It was why Wilf was out and about in Gotham surveying the layout of the land and thinking of the best way doing the job.
Standing by the Gotham river, Alex watched the mobile phone drop down and hit the water. He couldn’t take any chances of it being traced although admittedly that might be too late.
Brooding, Alex decided to go for something to eat. There was that café nearby that seemed to be populated by kids. A place that the men in grey suits couldn’t infiltrate or could they?
Anguish etched upon his face like the ripples of water as his mobile phone hit the plunging depths of the Gotham river. He needed some food but know that it would be safe. Maybe buying a pre-made sandwich in a supermarket and some crisps would be better.
‘Listen to me buddy and just do as I say,’ a voice whispered behind Alex’s ear.
A sharp instrument was pressed against his throat as Alex froze. The bastards had got him and they were going to put this down to a mugging gone wrong.
‘Please, can we talk about this.’
‘Shut the fuck up. Where is your wallet?’
The knife was pressed hard against his throat that a blood oozed from the scratch as though to show that he wasn’t messing.
‘My inside pocket.’
Quickly the mugger went and slid his hand and pulled his wallet out before doing a customary search.
‘I, I, lost it.’
‘Man, it ain’t your day is it?’ Laughed the mugger as he threw a surprised Alex away from him.
‘Please show some mercy. Just take me back and I promise I won’t say anything.’
Now the scruffy mugger looked bemused as he rifled through the wallet taking the cards and loose dollars inside.
‘You can go man. All I wanted was your wallet.’
The eyes goggled in disbelief that the man was just a mugger. A shudder went down his back as though he had a spasm. It showed that Alex was still too vulnerable and furthermore if some bum could get to him how did he stand a chance against the men in grey suits? Maybe it was time to get in touch with his contact and see if things could be speeded up.
‘Bungalow Wilf?’ A loud Cockney voice cried in surprised. ‘Upon my soul it really is you!’
Turning his head round in surprise, Wilf saw his old army and SAS pal Alfred Pennyworth. Pausing, Wilf knew that he couldn’t pretend that he didn’t know him. After all his Scouse accent would be a giveaway. However his mission may be slightly compromised considering that his passport said he was John Wilson. What on earth were the chances that they would meet each other in Gotham of all places?
‘It’s been a while hasn’t it? Last time I saw you was a few years ago at the reunion bash..’
‘A good night from what I remember.’
‘Is er Alma here?’
‘No, here on business. Some conference I have to attend tomorrow.’
‘Say, I’ve half an hour to spare and I know a decent little boozer near here if you fancy a catch up?’
A couple wouldn’t harm. Wilf thought. After all he had to kill a bit of time before going over the plan for tomorrow.
It had to be said it was a nice little bar and the Cobblepot Penguin lager was a tasty light little beverage that he would have to look out for when he got home. Glancing across the road, Wilf was sure that he had just seen Alex walking down the road and into a convenience store. Not that it mattered. Planning and timing even with such a tight timeframe was still everything.
Wilf looked at his glass and wondered if he should get off. ‘Go ahead then.’ Another one after this and he would definitely have to go.
‘If I didn’t know better I’d say you were just surveying the layout of the land.’
‘Just enjoying the scenery and the beer.’
There was a slight sigh as Alfred thought back to a previous mission that had gone wrong. ‘It was a pity that you weren’t with us and Reggie on that mission when we lost him.’
Wilf smiled. He didn’t think much of Reggie. Never thought things through that it was no surprise that the mission got compromised and two had been captured with one being killed.
‘Everything always went like clockwork when you were in charge.’
‘Planning is everything but sometimes things can throw everything in the air.’
‘Give over. You were always two steps ahead!’
After enjoying another pint and a chat about the football the pair said their goodbyes with Wilf conveniently forgetting to give Alfred his number. Breathing hard he decided to go back the hotel ready to make plans.
Something though was up and Wilf could spy a couple of shifty characters that looked like they may cause trouble. Glancing around he quickly weighed up his options as Wilf continued to walk as though he was not aware.
‘I wouldn’t if I was you,’ Wilf said as he casually grabbed hold of the would be mugger’s arm and wrenched the knife out of his hand. A swift punch to the face sent him sprawling as he then pointed to the knife to the mugger’s mate who tried to come to his assistance.
‘Sorry lad,’ Wilf said as though he was giving him a parking ticket. ‘But I can’t have you chasing after me. Word of advice. Pick your next victim properly next time.’ With that he calmly punched and kicked him in the stomach before continuing to stroll unmolested back to his hotel room.
Getting the pay and you go mobile phone was pretty much easier than it was trying to get hold of his contact. In the films they always got through straight away rather than going through to voice mail. He knew better than to leave a message.
Biting his lip, Alex took a bite of the meat feast roll that he bought from the shop and winced at the awful salty taste. Thankfully a swig of diet coke swilled the taste away but the hunger meant that he ate as much of the roll as possible.
All kind of thoughts raced through his head. What if the men in grey suits were already onto him? He had to get out of here as soon as possible. Once he was out of their hands there was nothing they could do. Alex would pass on the information and then Boris would provide him with the protection and change of identity as promised.
The intense surge of having to contact Boris coursed right through him that Alex could feel the relief as he finally got through.
‘We need to meet as soon as possible,’ Alex whispered even though he was on his own.
‘You just need to be patient. Let us make sure everything is in place.’
‘I got mugged today….’
‘That was unfortunate.’
‘Unfortunate? For all I know the men in grey suits may be outside now.’
‘So far you’ve thrown them off the trail. You could be in Timbuktu for all they know. All precautions have been taken.’
‘Maybe I just ought to go my own way.’
‘Okay, okay.’ Boris sighed. ‘I’ll be in touch later to see if we can speed things up.’
With that the phone went dead.
The plan had already been devised. Every possible scenario had been thought of. All that it needed was Alex to start the clock and then they would swing into action.
Wilf already knew from the bug that they had put in Alex’s shoe tongue that his arse had already gone. It was quite wise of Alex’s handlers to meet in Gotham central train station tomorrow at half past eleven. After all it would be packed with commuters and tourists for anyone to try anything. Nevertheless Wilf was sure that they would get Alex without anyone knowing.
The race to Central station
Sleep had eventually come for Alex despite his mind whirring over what could happen. He had dreamt of a bomb going off but waking up knew it was too blatant for the men in grey suits.
Paranoia had settled into his sleep deprivation brain that Alex felt quite light headed. Originally he was going to get a taxi but he chided himself for being foolish. After all the grey suits would just take him somewhere else and then… a cold shudder went down his spine. No, getting the metro or bus would be the best away. As Boris advised stay where people were around.
Things had not started off well for Wilf as Alex went to the wrong platform and quickly rectified his mistake by racing across the opposite platform and jumping on the in coming train. The doors had slammed shut in Wilf’s face as he wondered if Alex was intelligent to try and shake off any tailing.
‘No matter,’ thought Wilf. He knew Central station was the place to get to and so long as he got there in time then he could get back on track. Luckily another train pulled up a few minutes later although Wilf wasn’t too happy as the train ground to a halt due to a ‘giant bat figure,’ being seen prowling the lines.
Getting off the train, Alex carefully looked round to see if anyone was tailing him. The relief was oozing out of him like a lid being taken off a over boiling pan. Part of it was still bubbling away but he was only half an hour away from safety. Not that Alex would be thanking that stupid Bat figure holding up the train.
Carefully the gun was held high up with the target on Alex. Slowly he pressed the trigger as he knew that this was going to be a hit.
Something told Alex to move quickly away with a loud bang hitting the plastic railings. His heart raced like the trains racing through Gotham central as he looked up in horror to see a woman grabbing hold of a child. Snatching the spud pistol, she shouted an apology as she furiously told her son off.
‘Little bastard,’ Alex muttered as he saw potato dripping down. Carefully he looked around for the Gazette newspaper stand by platform fifteen where Alex was to meet his contact.
By now Wilf was off the train as he quickly tried to get his bearings. Timing was everything now and if Alex met his contact first then he was fucked. Not that anyone would be aware as Wilf walked in the casual manner of a tourist who had the day to himself.
‘Hey buddy. Are you waiting for someone?’
‘Do you have my gazette?’
‘Did you pick it up this morning?’
‘Hey, we get one on the way. Why don’t you follow me?’
‘Sorry, I’ve made a mistake.’
‘Come on let’s get going. We’re late as it is.’
Alex stared at the middle-aged man whose face looked like it had seen better days. It was a good American accent he had to give them that. Quickly he moved away as the man protested loudly and moved towards a bemused rail guard as Alex asked train times to get to the West village. A crackle went on his radio as it seemed that the CCTV had suddenly gone down.
Moving swiftly, Alex then popped into a coffee shop to try and shrug the man off and was relieved that it must have worked. Then again he could be monitored. No matter one of Boris’s colleagues would be here.
‘Got your Gazette here.’
Alex turned round to see a forlorn man who certainly had a presence about him. His heart was beating fast as though he had spied a rescue boat whilst being stranded on a sinking ship.
‘Did you pick it up this morning?’
‘Eight thirty as always. How’s Millie the cat?’
‘Still not eating.’
‘You want to try Batchworth’s. Eight out of ten cats prefer it.’
A smile broke out like the sun edging out the clouds on Alex’s face. He was safe there was no doubt about it. Nobody could know the passwords that he had been given.
‘Is the train on time?’
‘It is. Time to leave dodge as they say.’
‘You don’t know…’
‘Please,’ smiled the man like a genial Uncle. ‘Let’s wait until we’re out of here. We’ve got people in place but we need to get out slowly. A car’s waiting round by the entrance.’
The man sighed. ‘We picked a crowded place because they are unlikely to try and do something here in the open. However on a train, you feel a little nick and you have a heart attack a few minutes later. There are still ways and means my friend. A car means safety after we make a few switches of course.’
Alex nodded as they moved slowly and into the car after the man had loaded his bags in the boot.
‘Boris said you were very nervous,’ the man said as they drove away.
‘Understatement. These people will stoop to anything to stop me passing on the information I have.’
‘I don’t need to know,’ the man said. ‘The less the better, know what I mean.’
Slowly the man went to his phone. ‘Activate now. We won’t be long.’
‘We’re, we’re are we going?’ Alex stammered as the car rolled into a large unit on a disused site near the docks.
‘You’re going home,’ Wilf smirked as he removed his disguise. It was mainly to confuse any CCTV that might be about.
‘Shit! You’re not…’
‘What Boris? Let me say it’s not personal and for what it’s worth you won’t feel a thing.’
‘No, no, no!’ Alex screamed as he scrambled to get out of the car.
Nonchalant, Wilf got out of the car and with two other grey suits pulled a sobbing Alex out. It was done in the professional manner of a vet administering a lethal injection to a dying animal.
‘Thought you lost him for one minute.’
‘I did but the panic had already set into him for some reason. He arrived too early really. Gave me enough time to clock him chatting to a guard. The rest, well it was straight forward.’
‘Paper work is all in order.’
Wilf grunted. No doubt Alex didn’t envisage for his body to be disposed of using a acid to burn away his remains. It was a long job but it was done with the efficiency of the men in grey suits. After all no body meant no questions, no embarrassments for people in high places.
Everyone would presume as Boris did when his contact told him that Alex had failed to show that he had done a runner completely. After all he had sounded flakey on the phone. Of course it was a blow but then these things happen. Maybe Alex would get in touch later.
The main thing was that they also had the papers and the USB key that contained the information that Alex was going to pass on. Wilf idly held it in his hands and thought it was a high price to pay for what seemed so little.
The flight was pretty routine as was the food. Getting off the flight was like any other. Waiting for the luggage, then making your way to immigration. Passport checked, a serious look and then waved through.
Wilf looked around to get his bearings as he worked out where he had parked his car at Manchester airport. Throwing his bag into the car, Wilf switched picked his phone from the glove department and switched it on.
‘Hello love,’ Wilf said. ‘I’ve just landed.’
A pause as Alma sounded happy to have her hubby back.
‘Steak and kidney pud. Sounds fantastic.’ Wilf replied. ‘Shouldn’t be long, depending on traffic.’
Wilf was as good as his word as he pulled up outside his semi-detached house with his young granddaughter Georgia running down to be picked up by her loving Granddad.
‘My you’ve grown,’ Wilf beamed.
‘Do you want to see my painting?’
‘You’ve done a painting? I can’t wait. Come and show me then.’
‘Wilf, I’m putting the tea out,’ Alma yelled.
‘Well timed,’ Wilf grinned. After all timing was everything.