Fishy Business

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Three men involved in the fish(y) business are successful.

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FISHY BUSINESS

The bridge that crossed over the motorway was occupied by eight boys divided into two groups of four. One group was facing the oncoming traffic, and the other saw the back of the vehicles as they exited from beneath the bridge. The first group of boys that the cars and drivers had to contend with, was made up of young boys who were all launching large pieces of rock and bricks. The launching of said missiles took place just at the moment cars passed below, shattering the windscreen and giving the driver no possible chance of escape from the assault. The second group of teenagers stood directly opposite to the others, but back to back, as the poor beleaguered drivers felt bad enough about having their windscreens shattered, they were doused with paint pouring down on the backs of their vehicles.

Christopher Paulson was driving along steadily in the blue van he used for work. He wasn’t in a hurry, as he had started out early enough to get to his destination without having to rush. He was in the far lane of traffic when he saw the boys launch what looked like rubble over the bridge onto the car windscreens of those who passed below them. Chris took out his mobile from a pocket and rang the police to inform them of what was happening. He had inside information about what was happening, and hoped that his mate would not do anything too silly and get caught. After all, the idea of the boys had been his.

 

The desk sergeant who took the call immediately swung into action and called all the police cars in the area to make for the bridge. It wasn’t the first time a group of teenagers had been up to no good on the bridge. The young people found it funny to cause havoc among the already stressed out drivers, who only wanted to get through their journeys as quickly and as safely as they could. Nobody had any desire to get involved with a dangerous attack while in movement.  

The sound of police cars was heard and the boys made an attempt to run off. But it was fruitless on their part, as the police had closed both sides of the bridge and the boys had no escape. On ground level the motorway was closed off, so that the destruction and the paint thrown over could be examined thoroughly. The drivers were told they could wait or turn round and go onto a secondary road. Christopher was annoyed because anyone who was driving on the motorway was still a victim as a result of the boys. He stayed where he was, and rang up his wife and workers to inform them of the events. Then he backed up to where there was an exit from the motorway, even though it wasn’t exactly the one he wanted, he just wanted to get off the motorway as quickly as he could.

 

That evening the arrest of the boys was on television, and their ages meant that most likely they wouldn’t get any decent punishment at all, just a slap on the wrist. From the images on the screen they were not at all worried about the fact that what they had thought of as fun, was in fact just plain dangerous. One boy kept repeating, “You can’t arrest me. I’m too young.” Over and over he kept on, till one of the policemen told him to be quiet. When the boy’s mother turned up to collect her son, she said the same words. “You can’t arrest him, he’s too young.” It made anyone who was listening to the pair of them, wonder what could be done to control the youngsters’ violence.

 

Christopher got to his destination not too late. His wife, Lottie, was waiting for him, “You seem all right to me. The van isn’t damaged so I suppose you must have dodged the incidents on the bridge.”

Christopher said nothing. He didn’t really want to say anything, but get on with his work and then have a rest. His three workers came out of the workshop and helped him unload the goods for the fish trade from inside the van.

 

Finn saw the news on the television. He was more than pleased that he had felt he wasn’t up to driving along the motorway that day. For ten whole days, Finn had been sequestered in his bed by his wife, Anita, since the first day of a severe attack of flu. Anita kept the fish and chip and fresh fish shop open, with the help of those who did the deep-frying for her. Finn felt like a fool for not noticing how run-down he had got in the run up to the flu. Anita rang Christopher, who did business with Finn, and told him about the flu. Christopher said, “Get him better as soon as you can. I’ve got a good job coming our way and don’t want it lost on account of Finn being ill. Anyhow, wish him the best from me. OK?”

Anita knew what their idea of business was, and at times wondered what would happen to them the day it was discovered. Till then, she kept the shop with its restaurant going, and hoped all would be well.

Finn stayed in bed for the prescribed week, and on the following morning rang Christopher to tell him the good news that he was up and about.

“Are you feeling up to going for a spin?” Christopher asked.

“Yes, that’s OK by me. Where are we going? Somewhere interesting?”

“I’m not sure, but we need to take a look at something. Have you been keeping up with the news about the boys on the bridge?”

“No, not really. Why do you ask?” Finn asked himself what was coming next.

“It would appear that one of our associate’s cars was in the assault and suffered a smashed windscreen and had paint tipped over it as it exited from beneath the bridge. I’m wondering where that might possibly put us,” Christopher said worriedly.

Finn breathed deeply and replied, “There’s no point in making yourself ill unnecessarily. If he gets caught, then there’s not much we can do about it, is there?”

“No, of course there isn’t. See you at midday on the corner of your street.”

Christopher rang off, and Finn strode over to the window to see the state of the weather. He didn’t fancy another week in bed with Anita hovering over him. He then went downstairs to the shop and restaurant to see how business was doing. Finn and Anita had decided to live over the business as long as the business was going well and they were fit enough to continue to run it. The house was quite large, deceptively so. There were two well-sized floors with all the rooms any family could possibly need. It had been well done up, and nobody could say it hadn’t been worth it. The living-room had a large bay window which gave onto the street. Behind it there was a kitchen, and a bathroom. On the top floor there was a bedroom almost as large as the living-room below, there were two more bedrooms that looked out onto houses and gardens at the back, and there was a second bathroom. Every room was spacious and with every modern safety device installed. Finn was taking no chances.

 

Christopher sat in his car waiting for Finn, who had been a friend and business partner for many years. He hoped to give up some of his activities ‘one of these days’, as he was always putting it to Lottie. He was looking forward to the day when they would be able to retire and live off their money. Lottie wasn’t so sure she wanted Christopher to retire, only to be under her feet interfering with her fairly independent life style.

Finn walked towards Christopher’s car, feeling no desire whatsoever to go for a spin. Christopher pushed the passenger door open for Finn to get in. “You look a bit peaky to me. Do you feel up to it?”

“You rang asking me if I felt like a spin, and here I am. Where are we going?” Finn asked.

“We’re going to see our associate who was involved with the scandal of the boys on the bridge. The police keep on asking him about charging the boys, but he isn’t saying anything.”

“I agree with him. He won’t get any joy out of the police. Where’s his vehicle?”

“He got it out of the way before the police arrived at the bridge. But they’re after anyone who can give them a clue as to what happened.”

“It’s easier for him to write off the vehicle and destroy it, than to say anything to the police. What exactly seems to be the trouble?” Finn asked, noticing how there was a slight mist rising from the earth. He shuddered at the thought of the cold when they got out of the car.

“The main trouble is that his number plate has come out clear enough to read on the motorway cameras. Have you got any ideas of what he could do to save his neck?”

Finn sat thinking for a while, but his eyes were on the mist that might become fog. He knew very well the fix their associate was in, but how he was going to extricate himself was another question.

 

The men arrived at the house of Kelvin, their business partner, who came out of the house looking rather downcast.

“Hello. What’s up?” Christopher asked him.

“I’ve been on the phone to the insurers about my car that was under attack today by the boys on the bridge, and it seems it will take some time to get any money out of them. By the way, thanks for ringing the police and informing them about the boys. That was a neat stroke of using your brains. I was worried that someone might smell a rat.”

“Why are you so surprised? After all, you set the boys up to do the dirty work, so that you would get the repair work on your car done, plus the insurance money. Let’s face it, there must have been something wrong with your planning. Well, have we got any new business, or not?” Finn asked.

“Come inside, and we’ll have a chat about that,” Kelvin said, showing them into his finely furnished home. “How’s the fish business, Finn?”

“Fine, thank you,” Finn replied.

“Never mind all the chat. Let’s get on with serious matters, that’s what we’re here for,” Christopher said.

“One of my informers has told me of a shipment of pearls that will be on their way from Asia during the next couple of weeks. Are you interested or not?”

“How will they arrive here, with all the coast guards hanging around the ports?” Finn asked.

“They are being delivered inside packets of dried cod.” Kelvin answered.

“I thought pearls came in oysters,” declared Finn. “I’ve never seen a pearl in a piece of cod.”

Christopher and Kelvin stared at him with looks of incredulity on their faces.

“You’re a real dummy! Must be due to all that deep frying you do. The pearls will come inside the cod, and therefore allay suspicion. Nobody expects to open up cod and find a pearl, do they?” Christopher said to his associate and friend.

“All right, don’t rub it in. Supposing the cod is inspected, what do we do then?” Finn asked, worried about his fish business.

“It appears that the captain of the ship has been bought, and so we’re not expecting any trouble. Satisfied?” Kelvin replied.

“When will all this adventure take place?” Christopher asked Kelvin.

“The captain sent me a message saying at the end of next week. We’ll have to go to the Norfolk coast to pick up the ‘pearl cod’ from a fishing boat, and hand over the payment. That’s the way it works,” Kelvin told Finn and Christopher.

“You must be in very dire straits to take a risk with those boys, and now with the cod,” declared Finn.

Kelvin sighed and said, “If I were a woman, I’d probably burst into tears, but I’m not, so I can’t, and as a result I have to think of other ways to get back on track business-wise.”

“How much were you done out of in that money laundering scam you were in?” Christopher asked his old mate.

“Too much, and it’s still far too embarrassing for me to talk about. Are you two all right about the fish job?” Kelvin asked looking from one to the other.

“Of course we are. The job and the money don’t sound too difficult to me. Do they to you, Finn?”

“No, it all sounds all right, as long as we don’t get stitched up by one of the men on the fishing boat. For me it’s OK, because I have the shop and restaurant, but for you two it might prove to be not quite what you expect it to be.”

“We’ll worry about that when the time comes - if it does,” Christopher said in reply.

 

The following week saw a series of events that outstretched even the wildest imaginations. A fishing boat that was carrying shellfish caught in the Mediterranean, was boarded by the Italian coast guard when the parts of dead humans were found in the nets. How they got there nobody knew. The news was given a spot on the television news, which disquieted the trio involved in the ‘pearl cod’ job.

That event saw a series of phone calls between Christopher and Finn. Kelvin had his nerves stretched to the limit. So desperate he was, to make some quick money in order to recuperate what he had lost in the money-laundering job. The insurance company wasn’t helping either. The inspectors were being too thorough with their inspecting. The boys weren’t saying anything. They had been handsomely paid for the job, which made their families happy. The idea of using underage boys had been the solution, because they were too young to be sent away and to be accused of doing anything criminal. Kelvin didn’t want to contact the other two, in case he was caught and his mobile was examined. Christopher and Finn maintained low profiles.

 

Lottie and Anita had been friends before they had got married. Anita had originally been Christopher’s girl friend, and Lottie had gone out with Finn so as to make up a foursome. In time, they had changed partners on a permanent basis. At the beginning, Lottie used to ask Anita for advice about Christopher’s likes and dislikes. Anita never asked Lottie about Finn, preferring instead to use her brains and intuition. Neither couple had reproduced, perhaps because of the illegal nature of their work-lives. It was considered unfair to bring children into the world when the head of the household might be sent away for some years. The days that led up to the ‘pearl cod’ job, the two women got to talking about their men. Anita invited Lottie round to the house for a fish dinner sent up from the restaurant downstairs.

“Don’t you ever get tired of fish, Anita?”

“No, I don’t. Sometimes I have roast chicken, thick soup, a pie and vegetables, for a change. If you don’t want fish, you can have anything else you like. Just because I’ve offered you fish, doesn’t mean you can’t have something different.”

Lottie said, “No, it’s all right, Anita, I’ll stay with fish. Have you any idea where Christopher and Finn might have gone?”

“No, I haven’t any ideas about those two. They go where they please, if there’s money to be made. They’re becoming more and more mysterious as time goes by. Have you thought they could be going funny in the head?” Anita queried.

“What! Both of them? I don’t believe it!”

“How are our finances doing?” Anita asked.

“They’re coming along nicely. We’ve made more money than our husbands this year. Have you thought of what to do with yours yet?” Lottie asked.

“I’d like to live in a place where we don’t have to keep looking over our shoulders. As we are now, we live in the dark because the men are trying to keep themselves out of the clutches of the law.”

“I know what you mean. Christopher’s a nice man, but he prefers to make money in an illegal manner, and that will only last till he gets caught. I can see our secret money being eaten up by legal costs, if we aren’t careful.”

“Haven’t you any clues as to what they are up to?” Anita asked Lottie.

“Sorry, no, I haven’t. Christopher’s keeping very quiet about the new job. Although, when I think about it, he never says much about his work.”

The women changed the subject of the conversation, and had a large glass of wine each, while they watched a comedy film on television.

 

The decisive night had arrived. Kelvin was alone in his car on a small spot on the Norfolk coast. He was sitting quietly, and looking through binoculars at the sea. He was able to make out some small lights far out at sea, which he followed with his eyes. He got out of the car and walked down to the stony beach, and saw a small motor-boat drawing up to the shore. He went up to it and introduced himself. One of the two men in the boat handed him a large wooden fish-box, which Kelvin opened and felt around inside. He examined one of the dried cod and found a small plastic bag with pearls inside it. He handed over the money, which the men received and counted before turning their small boat round, to return to the larger boat, which was moored away from the beach in deep darkness.

Kelvin got back into his car and drove off back home, happy with the night’s work. He stopped in the middle of the countryside, and rang Christopher and Finn, telling them of his success.

 

Christopher said to Finn, “We’d better be going over to Kelvin’s for our share in the booty. He says the pearls are fantastic.”

“OK. Let’s be off, then,” Finn replied.

Kelvin’s two accomplices drove off in Finn’s car, to see what Kelvin had brought for them to get rid of. The night was getting foggy, fortunately for them they were well wrapped up in thick winter jackets. Finn had no desire to spend another week in bed, with his last experience of being under Anita’s thumb was still fresh in his mind. It had been Finn who had suggested the thick jackets and a hot drink in a flask, in case they had to sit in the car waiting for Kelvin.

 

The light emitting from Kelvin’s house was dim, and was the only light on in the house. Christopher and Finn got out of the car and went up to the front door. They pushed it open.

Kelvin was sitting at the table with his head resting on his hands on the table, and didn’t move when they entered. A plastic bag full of pearls was on the table near him. From the look of the cod on a plate, it appeared that Kelvin had partaken of some of it. Finn picked up the plate to examine the cod more closely. “This stuff is off. It smells contaminated to me. Have you felt his pulse?”

“He hasn’t got one! We’d best be off before anyone gets here,” Christopher said, grabbing hold of the bag of pearls, and rushing out of the house with Finn right behind him.

“Do you think this has anything to do with that net full of fish found by the Italian coast guard the other week?” Finn asked.

“Do you think the contamination is due to pieces of dead body being found with the fish?” Christopher asked.

“I don’t know what to think. Anyhow, we’d best be off home, before Anita and Lottie begin thinking, which is a dangerous activity for our wives to do.”

They got into Finn’s car, and made straight for home, where each one had a wife waiting for him. They counted out the pearls while still inside the car, fifty-fifty, half each.

 

Christopher hid the pearls in his shaving cream in the bathroom, and went to bed. Lottie smiled to herself. Her husband had no secrets with her around.

 

Finn went up to his bedroom and found Anita sitting up reading a novel. She smiled at him as he entered the room. “Had a good night?” she asked in false innocence.

“Yes, it’s not been bad at all.” Finn went into the bathroom and had a hot shower. Anita wouldn’t let him get into bed unclean.

 

The next few days Christopher and Finn wore themselves out trying to find out about Kelvin. They never heard anything about their old associate’s death.

 

What they didn’t know, was that Kelvin had ‘recovered’ from the so-called ‘fish poisoning’, which was rigged to produce the appearance of dying. Earlier, he had hidden the majority of the pearls, and had left the smaller bag of pearls for his associates to take. They would never discover his duplicity. Kelvin’s excuse was that he needed the money more than they did.

 

The boats still arrive along the Norfolk coast with all kinds of illegal cargo, and Kelvin is the biggest broker for their goods, but doesn’t cheat on any of his mates any more.

 

But then! Christopher and Finn continue thinking he’s dead. And as far as they are concerned - he is.


Submitted: November 16, 2014

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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