Authors: Stavro Yianni
Tags: #Crime, North London, Thriller, Drugs, Ethnic, Greek Cypriot, Guns, Drama, Yardies, Gangs
THE SURVIVAL GAME
Copyright © 2012 Stavro Yianni
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organisations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
Cover art by Andy Fielding
eBook editions by eBooks by Barb for booknook.biz
Thanks to everyone who helped in the production in this novel: The Yianni family. The Old Witch. The Internet. A special thanks to Giedre Pociute for her input.
Author’s note: Although this novel is set in London, I’ve taken fictional liberties with the geography of the real place.
To Andrew Yianni. Thanks for the trips, bruv…
‘Better to reign inna Babylon, than serve inna Zion.’
John Evangelou was surviving.
He pulled up in the dark alleyway behind
Best Kebab Restaurant
, turned the DnB down on low
and killed the engine. He placed his half-done
between his lips as he stepped out of the car. The moment his feet touched concrete, something scurried past him, making him flinch. He now found himself staring at the black cat that had raced past him and stopped just ahead, its holographic eyes glaring back at him like hi-viz reflectors.
John hated cats. Especially black cats.
He flicked his
in its direction. ‘The fuck outa here!’ he said firmly.
The cat dodged the
with lithe dexterity. It returned the gesture with a vicious hiss before darting beneath the fence to their left, leaving John alone with only the dingy, corridor-like alley in his sights. It snaked off into a swampy darkness somewhere in the distance. A sudden breeze cut into him, causing gooseflesh to sprout out all over his arms. He began glancing around edgily, feeling like there were a million pairs of eyes all focussing in on him at once. And a single, unprecedented thought now entered his mind.
You know, if I got jumped here, no one would see…
It was the first time in six months the realisation had surfaced in his mind. And right then, he was suddenly asking himself why. After all, it was very dark
and he was all alone…
After a second or two of staring into that particular dark abyss, he came to, shaking his head.
What’s wrong with you,
he asked himself sternly.
Who’s gonna jump you? You’re just being paranoid as usual…
Yeah, and this wasn’t the time to be stalling, or to be thinking about crazy stuff like that. This was work, and he had to be professional. Besides, if he hung around any longer, he probably would get jumped…
He got himself together and quickly went round to the boot, realising how much better it would be to get out of the alley and into the brightly lit streets. He swung the boot open, snatched up his travel bag, and closed the boot up again. He threw a firm palm at the dark side of the alley and left it behind, now heading for the grill, the sweet aroma of barbequed meat leading the way like kids following the Pied Piper, black cats in dingy alleys now a distant memory.
When he finally reached the grill, he took a second to stop and stare at the tacky Christmas lights flashing randomly in the window, the words—
Omar: Best Kebab Restaurant
—embossed in silky, joined-up lettering across the shop fascia.
He shook his head and laughed to himself; it got him every time.
This gaff’s a proper cheap night out,
he thought to himself with mild amusement.
John didn’t really care about all that though; he wasn’t stopping to fill his belly. It was his wallet he wanted filling.
He stepped into the restaurant to be greeted by the tonal sounds of a £2.99 panpipes CD and the Polish waitress.
John winked at her. ‘All right, Gertrude?’ he asked.
Gertrude returned his greeting with a warm smile. ‘Hi, John,’ she said.
‘He’s out in back,’ she replied.
‘Cheers.’ John winked again as he walked past her and the mostly empty tables of the restaurant, a few of which had people sitting at them, eating lamb
, plain boiled rice, and salad.
John reached the bar and the headwaiter, who was busy fixing drinks. ‘How’s it going, Imran?’ he asked him.
‘Hey, Johnny, my
,’ Imran replied. ‘You wanna beer?’ he asked, the ‘r’ on beer rolling forever.
‘Ain’t got time. Meeting Omar,’ John informed him.
I think he’s in the backside.’
Yeah, he’s definitely a something in the backside, mate…
John knew Imran meant ‘out back’ as opposed to the ‘arse’ variety of backside, which was where he was heading. He walked past Imran and the bar, Imran going the other way with a tray of beers, a Tequila Sunrise, and a toothy grin. John then entered the kitchen, a blast of charcoal heat and cooked meat hitting him like an invisible wave. Hassan was busy cooking at the grill; his back turned.
‘Alright, Hass?’ John shouted over his shoulder, but Hassan didn’t hear.
John continued regardless, making his way to the left and knocking on the door at the end of a narrow dimly lit corridor.
‘Yes?’ a voice from beyond the door replied.
John. Come in.’
John opened the door and entered; Omar was busy keying something into a PC perched on a desk, which had been pushed up against the whitewashed wall.
‘I’ll be with you in a second,’ Omar said, his eyes never leaving the monitor screen.
‘You watching that Internet porn again, Omar?’ John asked him dryly.
Omar burst into a fit of cackles as if it were the funniest thing the
had ever heard in his life. With his yellowing, brown-stained teeth; slicked, greasy hair, and bony head, he could easily be passed off as a ‘grade A’ perv, so it wasn’t such a dumb question.
‘You know me too well, Johnny,’ Omar replied, just as he started typing faster.
‘Yeah, Omar. Too well…’
John went and placed the travel bag down on the desk next to the PC.
After a few more seconds of keyboard clacking, Omar clapped his hands together, and turned his attention away from the computer and straight to the travel bag.
He instantly unzipped it and took a peek inside. Soon after, he was nodding his head in appreciation. ‘Good man, Aziz,’ he said, then looked up at John. ‘Huh?’
John shrugged and nodded in agreement. ‘He’s all right, I suppose…’
Omar opened the desk drawer, pulled out a large brown jiffy bag from inside, and handed it to John. John checked it out, going through the merchandise while Omar took the cash out of the travel bag and started sifting through it. No one was ever going to try and stitch up the other in this deal; both parties knew that, but still the checking and double-checking went ahead regardless as if it were programmed into them. Just a touch of paranoia or some other
Omar started piling the cash on the desk in thousands, binding them together with the rubber bands he was grabbing from the bundle next to his keyboard. It was all so casual as if the notes in his hand were nothing but money-off coupons. 26p off a tub of margarine.
John put everything back in the jiffy bag, satisfied it was all in order. He then noticed Omar’s hands were shaking as he sorted out the cash. ‘You all right, Omar?’ he asked him. ‘Been at the charlie again or summink, man?’
Omar burst into a fit of cackles and shook his head. ‘
you make me laugh…’
John nodded. ‘I know; I should be doing stand up, not this shit…’
Omar finished counting the cash, and then clasped his hands together, an avaricious gleam in his eye making him look like Fagin from
‘We’re all good, John,’ he said with a grin.
Yeah, everything was fine.
as they say in Green Lanes.
John took back the travel bag. He placed the merchandise inside and zipped it up.
‘How’s the wife?’ Omar then asked; now that business was over, pleasantries could commence.
‘She’s still with me…’ John replied.
Omar blurted out a shortened version of that manic laugh, lasting just a second. ‘And the baby?’
‘Another couple of months…’
‘You’ll be a new man, John,’ Omar declared.
‘Yeah, no problem, Omar. See you next month…’ John said before leaving the room with his goods.
Outside, Hassan was still at the grill, back turned. John just walked past him and entered the dining area where Imran was entertaining guests with his bright white teeth, while Gertrude was serving. John went by unnoticed as he opened the front door, holding it open for two more guests to enter.
Next up, he was back on the street, the sound of cheap panpipes now a distant memory.
Another run done…
He casually strolled back towards the alley and to his car, lighting a fresh
, and whistling a random tune that was suddenly stuck in his head. He tried his best to name it, but struggled. Soon it was nagging him. He turned into the alley just as it clicked in his mind that the tune was
I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
He smiled to himself, relieved.
That’s what it is… I knew—
Something made him stop dead in his tracks, his heart skipping a beat.
There was a darkened figure next to his car.
He squinted his eyes to get a better look, leaning his head forwards just to make sure.
Yeah, there was definitely someone there, man.
And they were bent over, looking into his car through the driver’s window.
John didn’t like that. Didn’t like that one bit.
‘Oi!’ he shouted, throwing his fresh
to the ground.
The figure instantly straightened as if shocked by an electric charge, its head turning in the direction from where the voice came. John now flinched himself ’cos the last thing he’d expected to be staring at was the killer from Scream. But, that’s exactly what he
now looking at. The initial shock proper freaked him out, but once the realisation set in that the black eyes and twisted mouth painted against the white background were a mask, he came to the quick conclusion that it must be a kid messing around.
But, it’s too tall to be a kid,
his mind countered.
’s standing at least six foot,
John felt his face scrunch up as anger flushed his body. Whoever or whatever the fuck this prick is, they’d got his back up messing around with his car, and he was gonna let ’em know about it. He stepped towards him/her/it with fast strides, his worn out Reebok Classics crunching on the grit beneath them.
He pointed a stern finger. ‘What d’you think you’re doing to my car?’ he asked in a voice loaded with aggression.
The kid/man/woman whatever-the-fuck behind the Scream mask opened up its palms in a show of innocence, then gave John an exaggerated shrug.
‘Yeah, right, mate. Nothing,’ John replied with an ironic smile. He cocked his thumb over his shoulder. ‘Get the fuck away from my car before I switch on you.’
The Scream mask turned to the side. It then swung back, and then back again, in no time it was full-on shaking its head in defiance.
That got John’s back right up.
Who was this little
and what the fuck did he want?
He took the bait full on. He started marching forwards with the intention of shoving this prick out of the way, getting into his motor, and going back home. In response, Scream stopped shaking its head. Like a cool pro, it unzipped its jacket, reached inside, and pulled out a gun in one fluid motion. It pointed the business end of the gun at John as casually as a kid aiming a rubber band at a teacher’s back. John was stopped dead in his tracks for a second time. His chest seized up. It took a second for him to realise that, yeah, that
was a gun he was having pointed at him.
’ he blurted before Scream put out its free hand and began curling its fingers inward as if it were telling its dog to ‘come here.’
‘Give me your bag,’ a voice from behind the mask ordered, and John now knew it was a man behind the Scream mask. A man with a Russian(?) accent. Eastern European, definitely.
John looked from the Scream mask to the travel bag in his hand.
The bag? Twenty grand’s worth of merchandise? Hand it over, just like that? Are you fucking serious?