'Joe, my friend.' Ahmet beamed at me and moved forwards, covering me in a bear hug. He was massive; twenty stone at least and his terrible skin bore testament to working long hours in a kitchen. 'How is my friend, Don?'
'Don's good' I said. Don, my partner, would be tucked up in bed, I thought. Not that I begrudged him that. He didn't need the hassle at his age. It was horses for courses. Don had the contacts to bring work into the agency. I had the energy and stomach for the work.
'I appreciate what you are doing for me. You and Don are true friends to me.'
'Not a problem, Ahmet.' I knew when Don told me about the job it was going to be long hours and potentially dangerous. It was more a personal favour. Don and Ahmet went back years.
I watched Darren walk over to the woman stood next to the till.
'His sister' Ahmet explained.
I nodded and looked around. The takeaway was still busy. A handful of small groups sat waiting for their food, shouting and laughing about the night's escapades. At least some people had enjoyed their night.
Behind the counter, Ahmet had two members of staff preparing the food. One was stood quietly at the kebab skewer, shaving thin strips of meat into a large vat. Ahmet took me through to the back of the shop. Closing the door to his office behind us, he sat down behind his desk, the noise and heat disappearing instantly.
'Did you have any trouble tonight, Joe?'
'Not as such.'
'No one attempted to steal from Darren?'
'Then that is good.' He looked relieved. 'I would still like you to continue for a while longer, if you are able to.'
I moved a pile of invoices off a chair and sat down. 'There might be a problem with Darren, though.'
Ahmet shook his head. 'Darren is such a good worker. He worked for my brother for a long time. Gus was always telling me Darren was such a hard worker. An honest man. I am very lucky that I could persuade him and his sister to work for me instead.'
So much for Darren's bigger ambitions, I thought. I told him what I'd seen earlier that night.
Ahmet looked worried. He must have known how much trouble this could bring him. 'We must sort this tonight, Joe' he said to me.
'I still cannot believe this, Joe' Ahmet said to me. 'It's not the Darren I know.
I have never had such trouble in all the twenty years I have been in this business.'
I turned the heater up in the car and continued to watch. Following Darren was easy.
His car stood out, even in the dark.
It helped that Ahmet was in touch with the shop, so we knew exactly where the deliveries were heading to.
The first two drop offs went as normal and from the car it was impossible to see whether Darren added any side orders to the deliveries. We watched him get back in his car and set off towards the next address. I listened as Ahmet called the shop to check in. Knowing the address, I eased off and headed there using a different route.
Ten minutes later I was pointing at Darren. 'There he is' I said, switching the engine off. We parked a couple of cars behind Darren's Punto and looked up at the tower-block. A handful of lights were still on, but the area was quiet; the kind of place which invited fear. The kind of place where anyone could ring and order food, give a random address and intercept you on the stairs.
'I still cannot believe Darren is doing what you say' Ahmet said to me.
I said nothing. Takeaway delivery was the perfect cover for selling drugs, whether Ahmet wanted to face up to it or not. We watched Darren press the buzzer on the communal door. He stood back until he got a response. Speaking into the intercom, he shook his head and started to walk away, the pizzas still in his hand.
It was Halloween night and the weather suitably matched the mood of the evening. Like a parody of a horror film, the wind howled at forty miles per hour, blowing the dried up autumn leaves up into mini tornadoes down the deserted and dimly lit street. The odd raindrop fell from the sky, threatening to pour down but unable to carry out the threat to its full potential.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Scene In Suburban Hell By Laura Fry
Nothing unusual ever happens in Sandwalsh. People don't tend to move away to pastures new. They know their neighbours, even if they are not exactly friends.
Perhaps they cry into their IKEA pillows every night, out of boredom, depression or sheer frustration, but if they do, they most definitely hide the unfortunate fact from public view. What people think is
Fiction - Career Opportunities A Joe Geraghty story
I was sat on an amplifier in the band's rehearsal room on Wincolmlee, secreted away on Bankside, a decaying industrial area of Hull. In front of me was the city's hottest band, Witham, presumably named after the area on the edge of the city centre.
Talk about a lack of imagination. From the way they were lounging around the room, I assumed I
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Hand that Rocked the Cradle By Lin Whitehouse
Hearing his mother's footsteps, the boy climbed out his bedroom window. They were both angry. He wanted to run away but it was a long drop and he might hurt himself.
She shouted when she saw him, sitting on the tiled roof, suddenly scared and remembering a time she had climbed out of a similar window.
He hugged his knees not wanting to look at her; she could not look away
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Resurrection By Leah Scarpati
The rhythmical drip-drip of condensation echoed around the cave. Kate couldn't see her hand in front of her face, were her eyes even open? The fall had shattered her torch as well as her ankle; as the pain continued to bite, panic rose. She couldn't feel her toes.
Hours of calling for help had been swallowed by the chasm of darkness,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Latter-Day Luddite Saves the Day By Laura Fry
The police were on a coffee break, at a loss. Despite all the technology, the wanted man had got the better of them. They didn't notice the young woman at the opposite table with an old-fashioned tape recorder, on her way to teach a friend's child German.
She had found the man who had just left the café somewhat suspicious and pressed record.
This latter-day Luddite was able to tell
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Lost Property By Manuro
My dreadful husband died at an elephant hospice. To this day, whenever I see a sick elephant I feel a rush of overwhelming joy! I changed my name in 1979 and never foresaw the problems this would entail - car insurance, washing machine hire purchase agreements.
Women are named through male lineage: we disappear over time, our identity the property of others.
Fiction - Two Sides of the Same Tattoo Needle. By Leah Scarpati
Well I can certainly say I've learned my lesson! Mummy had always warned me about expressing myself through body art, tattoos, piercings and such like; but the more she told me not to, the more determined I became to disobey her.
"It's just not what people like us do dahhling," she purred in-between a long drag of a cigarette and a sip of her dry martini. "Just because
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Beginnings and Endings By Lin Whitehouse
It's a hypothetical question, what if - my father hadn't died in June - I hadn't known about my husband's girlfriend - I hadn't looked up when I did?
I was caught in a web and struggled to avoid his gaze, felt myself flush. I drowned in his smiling eyes. Could he see my outer sorrow, sense the inner excitement I concealed?
It's funny, funerals signify an end, but I felt something was
Fiction - Hangover By Leah Scarpati
The day ended as it had begun - disastrously. From the minute she opened one sticky mascara eye, then the other and the hangover woodpecker began to tap-tap-tap at her head; she knew the day was a right off. Her head hurt so much she could she feel her hair growing, her tongue was dry like an arid river bed and was fixed to the top of her mouth;
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Say No More By Joe Hakim
I'm on my way to the shops. I don't see him until I nearly step on his head.
I look down at the man on the floor, and notice he's on a bike - crotch on seat, feet on pedals, hands on handlebar. Like he's been zapped by a super-villain's freeze ray and toppled over.
I look around to make sure it isn't some kind of prank.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he replies.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A Depressive and a Botched Suicide By Laura Fry
And once again boats sail down the Danube, but you; don't worry about me any more, I'm like leaves, the wind blows me away, wolves die alone...
The mourners read the translation of the deceased's beloved Croatian song. The male voice booms from the CD through Hull Crematorium, bringing additional shivers to the late autumn Yorkshire morning. The European flag
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Fun and Games By Shep
It was easier than he thought. Several swings of the bat and his problem had disappeared like the last drag of his cigarette. He looked at the windows adjacent to where he stood; half expecting to see the neighbours looking on with horror and disgust, but there was not a face in sight.
He smiled to himself and walked down the garden path back to his front door. Read more...
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Conversation In A Small Room By Manuro
'I went to the shops
And bought a new toffee
Hammer. The old one got
Damaged during the 'incident'
With those burglars.
You remember, waking up with
Some Burberry-capped thug in
Fiction - Beyond An Accidental Shoreline By Christopher Skolik
Dennison had covered some disturbing assignments in his time;
Neo-psychopathology and its preoccupations concerning future psychological abnormality.
Contagious mental illness and media psychosis, the way suicide or spree killing spread thru lines of communication.
Mutant-criminology and the adaptation of deviancy in our strange new psychological landscape.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Pain in Vain no Gain By Joan Moffat.
Sweat trickled down my face, droplets formed on my nose. Sharp pains tore at my back muscles.
Leaning over, as I struggled, constricted my breathing and squeezed my stomach into cramp.
Red flashes floated before my eyes. I was about to faint. I began to weep.
Why had I got myself into such a stupid situation? I was the victim of my own vanity.
I struggled more.
Fiction - Faster Than the Speed of Silence By Leah Scarpati
The phone's ringing again - the second time today. Its shrill chime echoes around the house, reverberating through the hall and into my warm little cocoon of a living room. It makes me nervous. It's like a foreign body, stealthily making its way through the house, looking for me- preparing to bump me off, to throw something at me when I least expect it.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - A is not only for Apple By Lin Whitehouse
Is this what it feels like to sit on death row, morbidly freefalling through the past? I keep averting my eyes from the clock face but the minute magnet holds me hostage.
Had I done enough to be reprieved?
Another hour swallows my resolve not to panic, in God's name how long does it take to open an envelope?
Perhaps the results aren't what we predicted.