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Martin Dixon

Martin Dixon
Author

Double Switch

How to get rich with a shotgun and a flamingo

 

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SYNOPSIS

Following the death of his wife in a car crash, Doris has been helping Stanley Holden to come to terms with his life. Now, Stanley has a plan. He wants to retire but first he needs to do a bank and a jeweller, which means a shotgun and a flamingo. Small fry Benny and Frankie Morgan don’t have a plan - or much of anything really. All Benny knows is that he’s sick of holding up garages and cafes and needs a big score. And it seems like Stanley is the answer to his prayers. DI Dave Simmons is tasked with chasing the small fry but he has a hunch that something big is about to go down. He just needs to sort out the who and the where.

 

FIRST CHAPTER

Six-thirty Friday morning Stanley Holden sat at the breakfast bar of his hundred grand kitchen refit, scraping butter onto toast, wishing he hadn’t been so tough on Cliff Mint and his mate. Wondering why he’d never got a handle on the mate's name. But, so what, he was just one of those someones who came along then disappeared. A guy who didn’t know who Stanley was either. Cliff though, he was a different story altogether. A tough dependable who had hated spending most of his grown up forty years sweating, wondering if his boss of the moment was considering rearranging some portion of his anatomy or inside a jewellers hoping to scarper before the cops arrived. That was until five years ago when he had met Stanley, literally bumping into him as he left the jewellery shop. The one with the alarm shrieking. Heard sirens rapidly getting closer sweating as he saw his getaway getting away. Standing on the kerb, head inside a ski mask, gripping a bag full of goodies with gloved hands, with nowhere to go.

  Stanley had glanced along the street. Both ways. Saw the lack of interested people and said, “Need a lift?” Cliff noticed the man spoke slowly with a matter of fact manner.

  Cliff had replied, “Sure, why not,” and followed around the corner to the sixties Mercedes 250SE pillarless coupe parked in a spot conveniently out of sight of any CCTV.

  “Some car,” he had said.

  “Nice, eh,” Stanley had replied, “Inherited from my dad. He bought it new. 1966 it was… where to?”

  Cliff had slung a nervous glance over his shoulder as he said, “Anywhere away from here… Tout de suite if you get my meaning.”

  Stanley had said, “Sure. Let’s go to the park, then we can sit on a bench and have a chat.” Adding, “By the way,  Stanley Holden. I’d shake your hand but the driving gloves… Now, duck down so you won’t be seen as we hit the cameras.”

  “Cliff Mint,” Cliff had replied from under the dash looking at the gloves wondering who wears driving gloves these days. Glanced at Stanley’s face and saw a casual smile that had a hint of something special. Stanley hummed and tapped the wheel as he concentrated on swinging into the traffic and slowly driving to the junction to turn right. Past the cop car hitting the kerb as it swung in front of the jewellers.

  “Looks like that place has lost a bit of stock,” he had said and gave Cliff a grin full of teeth. “You can sit up now and take that thing off your head. It makes you look creepy.” And that was when Cliff Mint had stopped sweating. Two years ago Cliff had noticed a difference. Stanley had suddenly changed and started to become more… reckless was the best way he could describe it but that was not all. There was something else he couldn’t put his finger on.

As Stanley spread the marmalade and picked up the slice, the view out to the garden dragged at his thoughts. Through the gloomy mix of early morning and thick clouds he stared down the flat, green lawn to the borders of carefully planted shrubs just starting to fill in. Joan’s borders waiting for the approval that would never come. He gazed a few moments longer, chewing toast, unaware of the deep furrows scrunching his eyes. Then clicking back on, he spun the bar stool and grabbed his mobile off the charging lead. Flicked through contacts to M and, with a complete mood swing, pressed Minty.

  “Hey, Minty, it’s me,” he said, adding some of that early morning zip into his voice.

  “Thought you’d phone,” came the reply wrapped up in a yawn.

  “Not too early?” replied Stanley, letting a small chuckle slip out as he heard a lady’s voice say something muffled. Heard the ruffling of sheets. A door opening. Knew Minty would be going downstairs away from the lady Stanley suspected might be getting on the serious side.

  Minty said, “You know me, it’s always too early and yes, before you ask, you did wake me.”

  “Sorry,” Stanley replied, not really meaning it. Heard the kettle click and a door bang then a sudden violent curse.          “You okay? You sound like you’re in a mood… Your lady no good last night?”

  “Sure she was, she’s the best,” and that told Stanley she was definitely no one night stand. “It’s early and I ain’t awake, that's all.” said Minty, “I just caught my fucking finger in the door… Say, thanks for the kind words yesterday. You do realise it wasn’t my fault, don’t you?”

  “Yeah, I know… That’s what I’m phoning about.”

  “They’d moved the stuff, that was all. It was nothing but bad luck.”

  “Like I said, I know… I was… momentarily exasperated. That’s all.”

  “Is that an apology?”

  “Not so much. More of an explanation,” said Stanley with Cliff suspecting there was a wide grin involved.

  But that was as good as it was going to get. Cliff knew that. The man was fair. Chewed him out now and again but he was fair. And the places he set up… well, they required no sweating and that meant more than a lot in anyone’s book. So he just said, “Thanks.” Then, “Are we going to hit the place again?”

  “Maybe, when they’ve restocked.”

  “So, what’s next?”

  “Not sure. I’ve a couple of things I'm working on… How about a bank?” Stanley threw in hoping.

  “Are there any left?” said Minty with some surprise.

  “Sure there are.”

  “With cash in them?”

  “Sure, what would be the point of hitting a bank only doing credit card stuff. I’ve got this idea how a one-off might work.”

  Cliff took a moment, then said, “Yeah, okay then. Banks are good if there’s cash in them but the scheme’s gotta be surefire. I’ve got things going on.” Thinking if Stanley had an idea he would already be working on it and it was sure to be… unusual.

  Now Stanley did smile, “That’s what I wanted to hear. Tell you what, I’ll work on it some more and be in touch.”

  As he hung up Stanley heard the rattle of cups and the lady shout something about being lonely, then he poured coffee from a cafetiere, picked up the mug and moved through to where soft seating had a view of the garden. Past the two low back sofas, dodged around the coffee table to stand and gaze out of the tri-folds. Picked up on his thought pattern about Joan. You might have thought smiling like that he was content but inside he was just all screwed up. How long had they lived here before…? Counting backwards he decided twenty-two years. Stared at the flower beds. The new ones. Two years old and looking good. She sure had known about plants.

  Heading back to the breakfast bar he cleared away his plate. Slipped on white Gucci Ace Webs, the trainers with the black and red stripe. Zipped up the ankles of his designer tracksuit bottoms and untucked his T-shirt. Black with a red vertical stripe. Headed out, past the long white oak dining table, to the side door and into the utility then the room behind the garage. Fired up the strip lights and watched the tubes flicker and ping until they caught white and bright lighting up a room crammed with high-end equipment. Pushed the treadmill button and ran intervals for thirty minutes. Glanced at the tall mirror fixed on the end wall checking his action. Saw a guy six foot three, had some weight but looked slim. Someone who kept in shape. Grinned at his long greying hair. Not so bad for sixty-two. Sprinted the last thirty seconds then a slight pause and over to the multigym to work a few sequences. Weights not too heavy though, working reps until he felt weak. Back to the treadmill and repeat and that’s where he did his best thinking. Pounding out the kilometres. Later he would punch the bag and tone up his timing on the punch ball. Work through all the moves his dad had taught him.

  Shame about the Manchester jewellers but he had to admit it, Minty was right. It was just bad luck. There was no pattern. No amount of intel would have indicated they would shift the stock when they did. Now though, how about the bank. There was a particular one on a street the other side of town near the bookies, the bingo place and chip shop. An arcade just around the corner. And guess what, they all dealt in cash. And they all banked a full six day’s takings on a Monday morning before ten. Add the till cash and there would be up to a hundred grand. The cops: nowhere near. Their nearest cop store, a good twenty minutes. Cruising patrols? They didn’t really do them anymore. Most of the details he had sorted but there were just two problems: he needed a man with a sawn-off and a flamingo.

 

By seven-forty-five he was showered, dressed in chinos and a fancy shirt and stepping out of the door. Looking at the sky, he went back in and grabbed a raincoat. Down the drive onto the road, he glanced back at his place liking the old world look. Tall gables. Big windows. A smart, upbeat place tucked neatly at the end of a dead-end in East Dulwich. Briskly headed to the station just off Lordship Lane and caught the next train to South Bermondsey.

  Even though the clouds were thickening, Stanley thought he’d walk to the cafe. Why go there, to that particular cafe, all the way from Dulwich? To keep an eye on Doris. Although Doris would say it was so she could keep an eye on Stanley. But, either way, it didn’t matter. They were both screwed up.

  By the time he’d done thirty minutes it was spitting. Forty minutes it was hammering. Hunkered into his raincoat, collar pulled up, he stepped up pace for the last couple of minutes to the cafe. Around the back just off Tower Bridge Road he passed a side street and noticed a white van parked on the corner. The screen a bit misted. Two… were they fellas sitting in the front? Something on the dashboard. Glanced again, I know what that is. The fella in the passenger seat picked it up. Stanley glanced up at the CCTV above the main entrance to an office building and, without breaking stride, smiled. Down the street and into the deep doorway of the café where he could see through the glass into a large crammed space. Tables spread wide. Loads of chairs. Lots of people nattering. Long counter down the end with a hatch to the kitchen. Bright lights making the place look sterile.

  Stanley took off his coat, gave it a shake and hung it over his arm. Brushed his hand through his hair rubbing out some of the water before patting it flat. Pushed open the door to be hit by cafe row. A mix of cups clattering in saucers, rattling cutlery, scraping chairs and garbled conversations bouncing around off the hard floor and walls. Stood a few moments scanning the place for a seat before heading towards the window a couple of tables back from the office door. He nodded as two women stood, then hung his coat over the back of a metal chair where it dripped. Sat and waited for Doris to come over.

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