Would I be able to trust a killer that couldn’t spell? The small card on the board in the back street strip club had not inspired confidence. However, I was poorer than a homeless church mouse so “cheep” was what I needed. The rendezvous point was a run down tatty old pub in the seedy part of town called the Labour in Vain.
The bar was filled with dense clouds of cigar and cigarette smoke, at any moment I expected to hear a fog horn to guide me to the bar. There was a smoking ban on but these people had never obeyed a law in their lives. I could just hear Tom Waits’s raspy voice coming from the jukebox, a track called Closing Time. I smiled to myself at the irony as if this lot ever left the pub at closing time. I ordered a pint of ruby mild from the one eyed hunchbacked barman and wandered over to the snug in the corner trying not to spill my drink but not carefully enough. A huge gorilla appeared suddenly out of the mist and he now wore half of my mild. The beast must have been six foot nine and I could barely make out his head through the smoke.
He muttered a creative string of expletives, most of which were anatomically impossible, and waved me away like I was a tiresome fly. I was grateful that he spared my life.
The snug where I was to meet the enforcer was already occupied. A big man was sat there. He was in his late fifties. His face was so pock marked it looked like a child’s map of the moon. His Remaining hair consisted of two tufts floating away at odd angles to his over sized head. He wore a dark jacket that had so many stains on it you would be hard pressed to ascertain the original colour. It was open to reveal just a string vest underneath. I shuddered daring not to look too close for fear of losing my breakfast. If this was my man I was not confident he would be up to the job in hand.
“Are you Cyril?” I asked hoping the answer would no.
“Aye lad takes the weight off your plates of meat like.”
He gestured magnanimously with one meaty calloused paw to a vacant seat opposite him and I sat as instructed. The smell of his body odour hit me like a physical slap to the face. I just about stopped myself from retching. I wondered and not for the first time that day if I was doing the right thing.
“So lad I see you brung it with yer.” he said nodding towards the cloth covered object I had laid gently on the floor beside me.
My voice quivered as the full extent of what I was doing hit home. “Yes.” I said weakly.
He smiled a gap toothed smile at me. This did little to put me at ease it merely brought his ugliness to the fore. I took a big gulp of my mild with a shaking hand.
“Let’s not prolong matters lad my fee is £50 as we discussed. Do you have the cash?”
Bloody hell this guy was as blunt as a sledgehammer to the knee caps.
I simply nodded my face pale.
“Hand it over then.”
With shaky hands I passed him the cage and he removed the cloth. Thankfully little Pedro was still sound asleep despite the noise from pub. His little green head drooped cutely as he snoozed. A tumour on his wing glistened pinkly in the unnatural pub light.
“It’s a handsome budgie lad. Are you sure you want this job doing?”
Cyril cooed gently at the little chap and tapped the bars.
I nodded feeling my eyes sting and moisten. I fumbled with my wallet and quickly handed over the cash. It would be a mercy killing anyway.
“Ok lad your cheating bitch of a former partner will get this little chaps head in the post before the week is out.” Cyril grinned at me nastily.
A dirty deed dun reel cheep as the ad said.