Ionian gangster boy, p.1
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       Ionian Gangster Boy, p.1

           Mikey Simpson
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Ionian Gangster Boy
Ionian Gangster Boy

  Deadly Business

  Book 1

  Despicable people, murderous deeds and self-preservation force 
Morgan Burdett to

  challenge the mafia underworld, which reveals his unknown Greek family.

  Mikey Simpson

  Copyright 2017 Mikey Simpson

  Content

  Chapter 1 - Deadly Business

  Chapter 2 - Instinct

  Chapter 3 - Close Encounters

  Chapter 4 - New Direction

  Chapter 5 - Accountability

  Chapter 6 - Autonomy

  Chapter 1 - Deadly Business

  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. Y
ou 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 bod
y 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 a
t 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 thinkin
g 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 ro
ads; 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?’

  ‘A levels!’

  ‘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 pu
shed 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.

  ‘Entaksi, OK.’

  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.

 
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