Frankie Fey

by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 24

Battle Ready

'So,' Frankie sighed. 'By sticking my oar in I've made an implacable enemy instead of helping the neighbours. We'll have to watch our backs constantly. Having met Miss Thrope, I take seriously her determination to evict us. She will have dozens of Tonys and Owens and Happys to do her bidding. We'll never be safe. I should have kept quiet.'

'Don't be silly, Frankie. She hadn't given up on us; "85" is the most important part of the land deal. It's good she's shown her true colours, now I won't feel bad opposing her.'

Karmai is right,' Con said firmly. 'If anything it makes it more important that ever that we eliminate the risk.'

'Eliminate?' Sylvan left the question hanging.

'She shrugged when Frankie told her about the suicide and said that those who lose, deserve whatever happens for not taking precautions.'

'You're right. She's arrogant. That's why she agreed to see him. She wanted to see what she was up against. Now she thinks she's onto a winner.'

'Are you saying I'm a wimp, Sylvan?'

'I wouldn't dare. But it's essential that none of you are associated with my impersonation of a male prostitute. Therefore, keep out of the way when I visit Vic.' He turned to Ingenio. 'Any chance of a new identity and papers to go with it?'

'And what name would that be under, sir?'

'Ivan Swindle?'

'Too explicit.'

'Max Diddle?'

'A bit cryptic.'

'Bill Smith?'

'Too original.'

'Joshua Godber?'

'He wouldn't be poor enough.'

'Martyn Hill?'

'That'll do, but I can't sing.'

They drove to the nature reserve at South Head, parked in a secluded spot and ate the lunch they'd brought with them. Ingenio opened his portable office and soon produced a fake employment pay-sheet, telephone bill, bank statement and Council Rates Demand in the name of Martyn Hill. He also took and printed two photos. One of Sylvan clothed, the other naked, both with a backdrop of sea and sky.

At half past four Sylvan knocked at the scuffed door of a unit in a run down block of ten. Vic, who had a superficial resemblance to Sylvan, seemed more nervous than overjoyed to meet his possible replacement.

'Hi, You must be Vic, I'm Martyn. We spoke on the phone from Buddy's office.'

Vic shook hands. 'Gidday, Martyn. I wonder if I've been a bit hasty. Now I've had time to think I realise there are problems.'

'Such as?'

'Someone will have to ring and tell the bitch there's been a change of escort.'

'Who would normally do that?'

'Ronaldo, the boss.'

'Ronaldo who?'

'Just Ronaldo. It's a fake name. He's pale, fat and floppy. Talks like a toff. All fake la di da. Butter wouldn't melt in his mouth.'

'I can manage that.'

'And you'll have to fax a photo and proof of identity to Maria—Thrope's security woman.'

'No probs. All that remains is for you to tell me everything I need to know so I don't stuff up.'

'Right. You'll need this disc to hold up to the security camera at the door to prove you're from Ronaldo's agency, and a password that Maria will issue when you phone her.'

Twenty minutes later, Sylvan could repeat every step perfectly, and had given Vic three thousand dollars in new notes and a promise that he would swear he had mugged Vic and forced him to cooperate, if things went belly up and the bitch wasn't put out of circulation and Vic was charged with whatever charges could be brought against him.

'I hear she's pretty ugly.'

'In mind and body.'

'How'd she get that way?'

The story of how Miss Thrope had achieved her deformed physical state had passed from escort to escort for several years. As to her deformed mental state and hatred of all men, it was assumed to be a consequence of her defacto's murder attempt and his subsequent acquittal of all charges when an all-male jury decided the fire had been an accident. The important thing was that if the slightest twinge of surprise, alarm or horror alighted on an escort's face on the first or subsequent encounters with the dame, or if her disfigurement were to be mentioned, he would be abruptly dismissed and never find work with that abuser of male flesh again.

That evening, Constantine, who could put on a posh accent, telephoned Maria. If Ronaldo's accent was fake then it would be inconsistent, so it wouldn't be strange if Con didn't sound exactly like him. Maria didn't question his veracity, nor his explanation that Vic was suffering a nervous breakdown so had arranged a replacement for the next visit. When requested, he faxed the photos and identity papers and waited while she studied them. 'He looks suitable,' she admitted, 'and his documents are satisfactory. Does he know where to come and all the rest?'

'He is as well prepared as all our stable.'

Maria's sudden laugh ended in a snort of derision. 'Stable! That's brilliant. They arrive like proud wild stallions and leave broken in.' She disconnected without further talk.

They had two days to reconnoitre, plan and allow nerves to replace confidence in Sylvan's head. How to get Miss Thrope to give the land back; that was the burning question. Their target lived in a riverside dwelling in a gracious tree-filled suburb. They drove to a nearby shopping centre, split up, wandered the surrounding area and both sides of the river, then met up to discuss the problem.

Obviously architect designed, the house looked like an unstable arrangement of stainless steel and glass boxes, the top one being cantilevered over the river. A two-metre-high stone wall topped by razor wire enclosed the entire property. Steel garage doors wide enough for a large car were the only entrance.

'We need to buy a boat.'

'What sort?'

'Aluminium dingy.'

'Can't we hire one?'

'And leave our names and addresses, credit card details and tell them why we want it?'

A boat shop at the marina near the mouth of the river had exactly what they needed, so they paid cash, secured it to the roof rack of the Toyota and drove to a boat ramp for small river craft like theirs, a kilometre up stream from the Thrope residence.

Pretending to fish they rowed slowly past, secretly photographing anything interesting. The fortress-like boundary wall continued right along the edge of the river, denying all ingress or egress on that side as well as front and sides. After exploring for a few hundred metres up and down river from the house, they returned to the ramp, loaded the dinghy and returned home where Google maps would provide answers to what lay inside the wall.

'Satellite views are an intolerable invasion of privacy,' Con sighed. 'No one has any idea when a photograph is being taken. I've read that people who've been caught nude sunbathing in their back yards, or in parks or on the beach have sometimes run into trouble when their faces haven't been successfully pixellated.'

'But they're useful. Now we know what lies beyond the wall. Lawns and trees but no flower gardens. A tennis court, a swimming pool and pathways. She may not have a view of the river from the garden but has a fine one from upstairs, especially that large room jutting out almost to the edge of the water. I imagine it's the lounge.'

'I can't believe she got permission to build that monstrosity.'

'Money, Karmai, money.'

'It's a bloody eyesore,' Frankie exclaimed. 'All that glass and steel. I'll bet it's bullet proof glass. And remember the reflections? She can see out but no one can see in.'

'Unless it's dark and she has the lights on inside.'

'She's probably got glass that turns opaque at the flick of a switch.'

'It's a fortress,' Sylvan muttered. 'I really don't see how…'

'How what?'

'How to implement our plan.'

'What plan?'


They brainstormed. Wrote ideas on paper. Drew pictures. And all came to the same conclusion. Impossible.

According to Vic, Maria the security person watches the sessions via hidden cameras so she can intervene if things get out of hand. He's never been able to spot them, but sometimes she said things when he came down that indicated she knew what had happened. She isn't a bad person. She bandaged deep cuts, and put plasters over others when needed, but otherwise seemed uninterested in what happened upstairs.

'If there are hidden video cameras, there's no way Sylvan will be able to extract the concession from Thrope before Maria calls for backup. Therefore she has to be abducted and worked on elsewhere.'

'Okay. But what'll we do with her if she refuses?'

'Equally important, what'll we do with her when she's done what we ask?'

For some reason everyone looked at Frankie as if expecting him to know.

He frowned. 'She's maimed and angry and full of hate, and can't possibly be happy, so we put her out of her misery.'

Silent nods. It wouldn't make them as bad as her and her minions, because it was pre-emptive self defence, but it wasn't how they would choose to do business. Even if she did as she was instructed they'd never be able to trust her not to renege on the deal and take revenge. But before that problem arose they had to decide where to take her and what force they were prepared to use.

Sylvan was studying the satellite images. 'There's a very narrow balcony; more like a ledge really, in front of the room cantilevered above the river, and the sliders are ajar.'

'How can you tell?'

'There's a small bit of curtain poking out onto the balcony at the bottom.'

'You're right.'

'So if I can open them and get her out there, I could toss her over the handrail into the water where you'll be waiting with the boat.'

'And how will you escape?'

'I'll jump in after her.'

'You reckon you can toss a struggling body a few metres out into the river?'

'How big is she, Ingenio?'

'Average height. Solid. Probably sixty kilos. Three bags of wheat.'

'If you truss her tightly you could toss her like a caber.'

'Truss her with what? Sylvan will be naked.'

'But she won't.'

'She's not going to let him undress her so he can strangle her with her pantyhose.'

'Do women still wear them?'

'No idea.'

'The curtain looks as if it's that net stuff,' Sylvan said with increasing nervousness. 'I could possibly wrap her in that. If not, there's sure to be something I can grab.'

'While she's stabbing you in the back, screaming her head off, and Maria's calling in the heavies.'

'We could hire a hot air balloon and hover overhead, drop a line and…'

'Drift off over the ocean and never be seen again.'

'Stuff a phial of chloroform up your bum and dowse her.'

'Vic says Maria does a cavity search.'

'The woman's paranoid.'

'Remember what she said; if anyone gets hurt, it's their own fault. She's just making sure she never gets hurt by her toy boys.'

'How deep's the water in front of the house? '

'A couple of metres.'

'That's plenty, if she lands on her side.'

The only real danger for you, Sylvan,' Karmai said with a shake of his head, 'is that you're too nice. You'll be worried about hurting her. It's the reason heavies get away with terrorising people; they love inflicting pain. Take a leaf out of Frankie's book, he saw someone aiming a gun at us and four seconds later there was an arrow in his neck.'

'You taught me that,' Frankie said softly, 'when you shot Tony and his mate the instant they proved they were murderous.'

'You'll have less than a minute, Sylvan.' Karmai's face was more serious than anyone had seen it before. 'You will have to immobilise and silence the Thrope woman by being quick and brutal. If you worry about hurting her, you're dead. Try and get her out of sight of a camera, then kneel or bend in front of her, pretend to suck her twat or something, then shoot up and head-butt her so hard she conks out instantly. As long as you hit either the nose or just above, you'll have enough time to slam her again then drag her clothes down to secure her arms and legs, or grab something handy. From head-butt to tossing over the balcony should take less than thirty seconds. No gag because it might choke her if she's thrown in the water, and then you've wasted our time.'

In the absence of any other plan, they organised everything required, went over all details till they were rote, then crossed their fingers while Sylvan practised springing up and head-butting, then immobilising with clothes and strips of curtain.

The nearer the time came for action, the more insecure he became.

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