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Close by Martina Cole

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Authors: Martina Cole
Tags: Fiction, General, Crime
looked like his brothers had at his age. All brawn and no real brain. But he was an amiable lad with a kind heart and his first serious girlfriend.
    Although Pat respected the Williams brothers as businessmen and counterparts, he was more than aware that he was the one people wanted to deal with. The Williamses were also aware of that fact but they did not let it bother them at all. They were happy enough with the way things were because it meant that Pat dealt with the minutiae of their daily lives. Which left them to get on with what they did best, strong-arming. Shrewd enough, they had no finesse, they didn't want it; fear of them was more than adequate recompense. They were hard nuts, and they had their place in the world.
    Terry was collecting rents in and around Custom House when he was shot in the face. He took the full force of the bullet as well as the glass from his driver's-side window; this left him a bloody wreck and guaranteed a closed coffin for his expensive and lavish funeral. He was still alive when the ambulance arrived, but he drowned in his own blood on his way to hospital, something his mother would have nightmares about and would never come to terms with.
    He was calling out for her as he died, by all accounts, but this in no way diminished his credibility or his standing in their community. Everyone wanted their mums when life threw them a curve. They were often the only people who stood by you no matter what you had done or, more to the point, been accused of. Men had been given life sentences and the only person to visit for the duration of their tariff on a regular basis was their mother. All the time you had a mother you had somewhere to go and someone to care.
    Terry had died calling out for his mother, that alone would have to be addressed by his brothers, let alone the sheer fucking front of the perpetrator thinking they could get away with such a heinous act. Their mother was in absolute bits and that was something none of them could bear to see. This whole debacle was an outrageous and diabolical liberty, mainly because no one could find any reason for it. There was no one in the frame, no enemies wandering abroad and no grudges that warranted such extreme action. It was a complete and utter head-scratcher. Terry wasn't even trumping someone else's old woman, he was on a fucking love job. There was no reason whatsoever for his murder and the sheer senselessness of it only made his brothers all the more determined to get their revenge.
    But the one thing they were agreed on was that when they found out who had been the perpetrator of such a daring and needless killing, the woman who had given birth to them would get that person back bit by bit through the post. For every hurt their mother experienced, they would pay it back tenfold.
     
     
    Pat was sitting with an old friend in a drinking club he had recently acquired when he heard the news about young Terry.
    The murder of the bookie Jamie Curtis had not really affected him; he had put it down to a grudge of some description, personal maybe, or a private bet that had gone wrong. James would not be the first book-maker to take on a few private bets. The trouble with private bets was that the bookie had no redress if it all fell out of bed. As the bets were not accountable to people like himself, meaning they did not go through the books he earned from, meaning he earned fuck all off them, Pat had no reason to make sure they were paid in full. Why would he? A big debt could turn nasty, everyone knew that; gamblers were like junkies, once they were given their fun upfront with no money changing hands, they had a tendency to be a trifle lax when the bills started rolling in. They were more inclined to look elsewhere to spend the money they had left.
    Most bookies would sell a debt like that on and take whatever they could get for it, leaving the punter to take his chances with whatever lunatic eventually came after them. And make no mistake,

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